Lewis moves to 7th on VCU’s steals list in 85-51 win

JeQuan Lewis (1) leads the VCU offense against Howard. (photo courtesy VCU)
JeQuan Lewis (1) leads the VCU offense against Howard. (photo courtesy VCU)

Former Cougar JeQuan Lewis moved to seventh on the all-time steals list as he led VCU to an 85-51 romp over Howard Tuesday night in Richmond. While Lewis led the Rams with 17 points in only 15 minutes of action, his six steals moved him past Eric Maynor into seventh place with 172 in his career. Howard had no answer for VCU’s quickness as the Rams used a 14-0 run early in the game to build a double-digit lead. VCU’s 48-22 lead at intermission accounted for the most points scored in the first half this season. Lewis hit 4 of 7 from the floor, including 3 of 5 three-pointers, and 6 of 7 free throws. In addition to his 6 steals, Lewis had 5 assists to go over 400 for his career. The 10-3 Rams travel to Fairfax, Va., Friday to open Atlantic10 Conference action against George Mason at 7 pm on the CBS Sports Network. The Vanderbilt Commodores, with junior Rachel Bell from Creek Wood and freshman LeaLea Carter from Dickson County, play their final non-conference game today when they travel to Memphis for a 4 pm contest on ESPNU. Bell leads Vanderbilt with 12.8 points per game while Carter got her first collegiate start in last week’s loss to Louisville. Vandy is 4-1 on the road this season and has won 8 straight over the Tigers. Vandy opens SEC action at Texas A&M Monday.

Sheriff’s office increasing patrols for New Year weekend

Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe
Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe

The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office to enhance drunk-driving enforcement through the holiday season. The statewide “Booze It and Lose It” campaign is part of a national mobilization to prevent drunk driving. The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting DUI saturation patrols over the New Year’s holiday weekend in an effort to decrease the number of impaired drivers on the roadways and help ensure everyone arrives safely to their destination in the New Year. “We have strict laws with extra enforcement efforts related to DUI, yet many people still make a selfish choice to drive impaired,” said Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe. “The Dickson County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the THSO, will be working extra patrols this holiday season to prevent and detect DUI drivers. If you choose to ignore the law and drive under the influence, know we will be working to provide you with a sober ride, though the destination will not be home or another place of celebration, it will be the Dickson County Jail. Help us keep Dickson County safe and make a choice to join us and drive responsibly.” Increased state and local messaging about the dangers of drunk driving, coupled with sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, aim to drastically reduce alcohol-impaired driving. “This time last year, there were 223 lives lost to impaired-driving crashes across Tennessee,” said THSO Director Vic Donoho. “Our partnership with local law enforcement is vital to combat drunk driving this holiday season.” A single DUI conviction can cost an individual $5,000 or more, in addition to jail time. An offender also could be required to attend drug and alcohol treatment, a victim impact panel or install an ignition interlock device inside his or her vehicle. “Any penalty imposed by law pales in comparison to the injury or death of a loved one,” Bledsoe said. The THSO provides grant funding to support the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office’s efforts during the “Booze It and Lose It” holiday enforcement campaign. For more information about the THSO, visit tntrafficsafety.org.

Mayor to address state of county at chamber lunch

Mayor Bob Rial
Mayor Bob Rial

Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial will start the new year with a state of the county update at the January luncheon for the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce. The luncheon for chamber members is $13 and will be at noon Monday, Jan. 9, at GreyStone Golf Club at 2555 Highway 70 East. On a recent Power Lunch program, Rial said the first priority of the new year for the Dickson County Commission will be a proposal for a new school. Rial has already outlined to the county commission and school board how the county’s improved financial status has put it in a position to borrow up to $40 million for school capital projects in 2017 without needing a property tax increase to pay for the additional debt. The Dickson County School Board is expected to make its pitch for a middle/high school in the Burns area early next year with hope to begin construction this spring and open in August 2019. In preliminary discussions between the commission and school officials, Rial has said he also wants to know how the school board plans to come up with the money to operate the new school. Estimates have ranged as high as $4 million in annual operating costs. Rial has said it would take a 44-cent property tax increase to create that additional revenue while school officials have said not all of that money will necessarily come from new revenues and some could come from savings in other parts of the school system. The mayor also has said the county is in a position to borrow up to $30 million in 2017 for other county capital projects, which could include a new criminal justice center to alleviate overcrowding in the Dickson County Courthouse Annex and improve security by putting all of the county’s courts and supporting offices in one location. The commission already has approved the purchase of 2.2 acres on Highway 49 next to the Courthouse Square for the new center and Rial has said he expects to issue a request for qualifications soon to begin design work. The commission also has approved the purchase of property on West Iron Hill Road on which it plans to build a new station for the Dickson County Emergency Medical Service and a volunteer fire department. The county plans to use surplus funds for that project without having to borrow money. The capital plan also could include funds for work at the Dickson County Public Library, which re-opened last week after a section of exterior wall fell on Nov. 20. The mayor has said a new library building and county government satellite office in Dickson could be part of a future capital project. The deadline for chamber members to RSVP for the luncheon is Tuesday, Jan. 3. Reservations can be made by calling the chamber at 615-446-2349.

Higher landfill tipping fees will take effect Feb. 1

With final approval from the Dickson County Commission, the new tipping fee schedule at the Dickson County Landfill will go into effect Feb. 1. Without discussion Monday night, the county commission approved proposed increases in the fees for waste that crosses the scales at the landfill on Eno Road. Solid Waste Department Superintendent Jim Lunn said the tipping fee increases are needed due to increased costs in a new contract to have the county’s garbage hauled to Benton County for disposal. Following the commission’s vote Monday, Lunn said notices of the new fees will be included in bills sent out in January and will take effect Feb. 1. Lunn emphasized that the fee increases only affect tipping fees for waste brought to the landfill and will not impact the county’s $10 monthly sanitation fee. At the work session earlier this month, Lunn said the additional cost will be passed on to the mainly commercial and industrial users bringing waste to the transfer station so the sanitation fee charged to residents will not be increased. “Part of the importance in raising this fee is that we don’t have to revisit our sanitation fee. We can leave it alone by hitting our commercial and industrial and making up some of this cost increase,” Lunn said. The commission approved a new 10-year contract with Waste Management Inc. to haul the county’s trash from the transfer station at the landfill on Eno Road to the West Camden Landfill in Benton County. Waste Management’s fee for hauling class I household waste increased from $27.48 per ton to $31.66. The commission approved increasing the tipping fee from $36.85 to $42.87 per ton. The new schedule also increases the fee for construction and demolition debris from $25 to $32 per ton. Tipping fees generate just over $1 million in annual revenue while the $10 monthly fee generates about $2.3 million. The total operating expenses for the Solid Waste Management Department in the 2016-17 budget are $3.6 million. The county instituted the $10 fee in 2011 to make the department an enterprise fund that generates revenue to cover its expenses without any money from property taxes.

Dickson Co. unemployment drops to 4% in November

As seasonal employment picks up heading into the holidays, Dickson County’s unemployment rate dropped in November. According to statistics released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, there were 1,020 Dickson County residents receiving unemployment benefits in November for a rate of 4 percent of the workforce. That is a decrease from 4.4 percent in October and almost a full point less than the 4.9 percent rate in November 2015. Dickson County was one of 81 counties that saw unemployment decrease last month, while 10 counties reported an increase and four were unchanged. Williamson County continues to have the state’s lowest rate at 3.4 percent while Lake County is the highest at 8.3 percent. Overall, Tennessee’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.8 percent while the rate for the U.S. dropped from 4.9 to 4.6 percent in November. Dickson County’s rate of 4 percent is the lowest since hitting a 15-year low of 3.6 percent in May.