Tigers to Face Signal Mountain in State Playoffs

The DeKalb County Tigers are in the state play-offs after defeating the Smith County Owls 13-0 on a cold and blustery Halloween night in Smithville Friday.
The Tigers will travel to Signal Mountain for the first round of the 4A playoffs on Friday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. The Eagles of Signal Mountain are 8-2 with a 4-1 district record. They have defeated East Hamilton 28-19, Tyner Academy 35-0, Bledsoe County 56-0, Red Bank 49-13, Grundy County 70-14, Bradley Central 27-7, Chattanooga Christian 49-14, and Sequatchie County 58-3. The Eagles have lost to Notre Dame 35-3 and to Greeneville 31-10
This is the fourth consecutive year the Tigers have earned a berth in the play-offs. It’s their sixth appearance in the last seven years. “Its something that has never happened, going four years in a row. A group of seniors who have had the opportunity to go to the post season four times in their playing career at DeKalb County High School. It’s very special. Come Monday we’ll get back to work. We just got film on Signal Mountain and the coaching staff is already preparing,” said Tiger Coach Steve Trapp. “Overall they are 8-2. They are district champions. In our quad the top four seeds are all district champions. We are a five seed and they are a four seed. There’s also a 10-0 team and a 9-1 team in Livingston, who is a two seed and Hixson who is a three seed and a district champion at 8-2 and then Signal Mountain so quad two is a very tough quad but we step up to any challenge we face and are excited to have this opportunity,” said Coach Trapp.
In the game with Smith County Friday night, neither team scored in the first period but Quarterback Steven Jennings got the Tigers on the board with 1:32 left in the second period on a 10 yard touchdown run. Matthew Poss added the extra point to give DeKalb County a 7-0 halftime lead.
Neither team scored in the third period but DeKalb County added another TD with 8:34 left in the fourth period on an 11 yard run by Quarterback Steven Jennings. The extra point attempt was no good but the Tigers went on to win 13-0.
DeKalb County finishes the regular season at 5-5 overall and second place in the district at 4-2.

Circuit Court Clerk Katherine Pack to Speak at Chamber Prayer Breakfast

The annual Chamber Prayer Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, November 25th at 7 AM at the DeKalb County Complex Community Theatre, 712 South Congress Drive, Smithville.
Katherine Pack will be the keynote speaker. Katherine is a lifelong resident of DeKalb County. She has served as Circuit Court Clerk for the past 12 years. She is a very active member of Elizabeth Chapel Baptist Church where she teaches an adult Sunday School class, plays the piano, helps with VBS, and sings in The Living Christmas Tree production. Katherine is very community-minded including involvement with the Smithville Senior Citizens, DeKalb Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Foster Care Review Board, Drug Court Community Board, Rotary Club, and DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department Citizens Academy. Katherine has 3 wonderful children – daughter Tish and husband Chris Summers, son Todd and wife Melissa Pack, and daughter Kate Pack. She has 2 grandsons Brayden Summers and Ty Morris. Katherine loves DeKalb County and is honored to be speaking at the Chamber Prayer Breakfast.
Special music will be performed by Josh Issac and by keyboardist Tomomi McDowell. Suzanne Slager will perform the National Anthem while local Boy Scout Troop #347 presents the flags. Prayers for our community, our leaders, and our children will make this a meaningful and memorable experience.
A delicious breakfast will be catered by Jason Evans, head chef at The Inn at Evins Mill. Leadership Director Jen Sherwood and the Leadership DeKalb Class of 2015 will serve the beverages. Doors open at 6:30 AM.
Tickets are $12 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber office, from the Chamber Board of Directors, or by calling the Chamber office. We’ll be glad to hold your tickets at the door.
Chamber Executive Director, Suzanne Williams says, “I would like to invite everyone to join us at this special event in giving thanks to God for the abundant blessings He has given us in our county. The Prayer Breakfast is a wonderful way to begin the holiday season.” For tickets or additional information, call the Chamber at 597-4163.

Turnout for Early Voting Down

A total of 1,559 persons took advantage of early voting in DeKalb County during the two week period from October 15-30. That’s down from four years ago when 1,989 people voted and way down from two years ago in a Presidential election year when 3,196 people voted early here.
The largest single day turnout was the last day, Thursday October 30 when 267 showed up to vote, including 158 in person and nine by absentee.
A total of 456 voters in Smithville cast ballots plus 69 property rights voters. The City of Smithville has two liquor referendums on the ballot November 4th.
The DeKalb early vote breakdown in the state house districts are as follows: A total of 1,177 voted in District 40 (Terri Lynn Weaver’s district) and 382 voted in district 46 (Mark Pody’s district) plus any absentees that may come in later.
The precinct breakdown of early voting is as follows:
Alexandria: 79
Temperance Hall:49
Edgar Evins State Park:5
Snow Hill:78
Church of God:362
Cherry Hill:19
Rock Castle:3
Johnson Chapel:59
County Complex:199
Blue Springs:42
Church of Christ:202
The vote totals each day are as follows:
Wednesday (October 15): 85 in person and 16 by absentee for a total of 101
Thursday: 82 in person and 2 by absentee for a total of 84
Friday: 77 in person and 1 by absentee for a total of 78
Saturday: 62 in person
Monday: 98 in person and 3 by absentee for a total of 101
Tuesday: 92 in person
Wednesday: 80 in person and 7 by absentee for a total of 87
Thursday: 122 in person and 9 by absentee for a total of 131
Friday: 89 in person and 2 by absentee for a total of 91
Saturday: 58 in person and 5 by absentee for a total of 63
Monday: 116 in person and 6 by absentee for a total of 122
Tuesday: 99 in person and 10 by absentee for a total of 109
Wednesday: 167 in person and 4 by absentee for a total of 171
Thursday: 158 in person and 9 by absentee for a total of 267
Election day is Tuesday, November 4. Voting at all sixteen precincts in DeKalb County will be from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Listen for LIVE coverage of local election returns Tuesday night when the polls close at 7:00 p.m. on WJLE AM 1480/FM 101.7 and LIVE streaming on www.wjle.com

Trial Date Delayed Again for Former UCDD Officials

The trial date for former UCDD officials Wendy Askins and Larry Webb has been delayed again in U.S. District Court.
The case was scheduled to go to trial on December 2 but has now been reset for July 14, 2015.
Attorneys for Webb, Edward Yarbrough and Alex Little filed the motion seeking the delay on October 16 stating they needed more time to prepare because of the complexity of the case and the busy trial schedule of the attorneys in other cases.
U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger signed the order October 21 resetting the jury trial for July 14, 2015.
WJLE has obtained a copy of the motion filed by Webb’s attorneys which states “As grounds for this motion to continue the trial date, the defendant (Webb) would state: On May 23, 2014, this court entered an order setting this case for trial on December 2, 2014. As the court is aware, the allegations in this case involve fraud transactions that are complex. Similarly, the discovery materials have been voluminous.”
“Due to the busy trial schedule of counsel for Mr. Webb and deadlines for filing briefs in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, counsel submits that additional time is needed to prepare for this case. For example, between now and the trial date, counsel for Mr. Webb are scheduled to be in trial for an attempted murder case in Davidson County, and represent the victim in a rape case headed to trial as well. In addition, counsel must file no less than four appellate briefs before the trial date.”
“On October 16, 2014, counsel spoke with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmie Lynn Ramsaur, and she represented that the United States does not oppose defendant’s (Webb’s) motion to continue. In addition, counsel for Mrs. Askins also stated that he did not oppose this request.
“Mr. Webb will file a signed Waiver of Speedy Trial, which will be submitted forthwith”.
“Wherefore, for the reasons detailed above, the defendant (Webb) would respectfully request that his motion to continue the trial of this matter be granted”.
In her order resetting the trial date, Judge Trauger wrote that “As soon as it appears that the case will be tried, the parties shall notify Judge Trauger’s courtroom deputy of the anticipated number of trial days that will be necessary.”
“Any plea agreement shall be consummated by noon on the Thursday before the trial, and the courtroom deputy notified thereof. Any proposed plea agreement shall be submitted to the court by noon on the Friday before the trial. No plea agreement will be entertained unless it is in compliance with this Order.”
“In advance of any plea hearing, the United States Attorney shall submit to chambers a document that lists the elements of each offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty and the statutory penalty for each, including period of incarceration, fine, and period of supervised release applicable”.
“If the case is to be tried, the parties shall file the following by the close of business on the Tuesday before the trial”:
“An agreed set of jury instructions. Alternative versions of jury instructions on which there is not an agreement, with citations to supporting authorities. An agreed verdict form or alternative versions, and motions in limine”.
“Responses to motions in limine shall be filed by 4:00 p.m. on the Friday before trial. Parties shall deliver to chambers a computer disc containing all proposed instructions and verdict forms that are filed,” the judge’s order concluded.
A federal grand jury in September, 2013 indicted Askins and Webb as a result of the Living the Dream investigation. Their charges include theft, bank fraud and money laundering.

4-H Members Finish Chick-Chain Project

A number of 4-H members recently completed the 4-H chick-chain project. The chick-chain project began this past Spring when the 4-H members received a group 20 baby chicks. They had the responsibility of providing them with everything from feed and water to shelter and love.
The final step in the project is the annual 4-H Chick-Chain Show and Sale. The 4-H members who started this Spring with 20 chicks brought back five pullets for the show. They were judged and graded based on maturity and growth of the bird into groups of blue and red pullets. Trent Jones of Carthage served as judge of the chick-chain show. A pen of Grand and Reserve Champions were selected from all the entries.
The 4-H members received ribbons and prize money based on how their chickens placed. This year’s Grand Champion pen was raised by Jamison Trapp. The Reserve Champion pen was raised by Summer Crook. Other 4-H members who exhibited chickens at the show were: Briana Agee, Jenna Cantrell, Morgan Clifton, Katie Colwell, Clayton Crook, Lynsey Ellis, Haidyn Hale, Lily Martin, Will Pursell, Madison Ray, Skylar Southard, Kristopher Stansberry, Parker Vantrease, Hagen Waggoner, and Brendan Wagner. At the conclusion of the show, the pullets were sold at auction. Mr. George Taylor served as the auctioneer. The proceeds from the auction will be used to purchase chicks for next year’s project.
Picture captions:
Jamison Trapp exhibited the Grand Champion pullets at the 4-H Chick Chain Show.
Summer Crook exhibited the Reserve Champion pullets at the 4-H Chick Chain Show.
DeKalb County 4-H members who exhibited chickens at the 4-H Chick-Chain Show and Sale were: Briana Agee, Jenna Cantrell, Morgan Clifton, Katie Colwell, Clayton Crook, Summer Crook, Lynsey Ellis, Haidyn Hale, Lily Martin, Will Pursell, Madison Ray, Skylar Southard, Kristopher Stansberry, Jamison Trapp, Parker Vantrease, Hagen Waggoner, and Brendan Wagner

Several Charged or Cited for Assaults and Driving Offenses

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has made arrests and issued citations in several assault and driving related offenses in recent days.
36 year old Reina Jose Diego of Monterey is charged with a third offense of driving on a revoked license. She was further issued citations for violation of the light law and violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance).Her bond is $4,500 and she will be in court on November 20. Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, October 21 a deputy spotted a red car with a brake light out. After stopping the vehicle, the officer spoke with the driver, Diego. A computer check revealed that her license were revoked on August 15, 1998 for failure to file after an accident. Diego had previous driving on revoked offenses on March 31 and August 9, 2010. She was placed under arrest.
39 year old Gregory Lynn Morris of South Mountain Street, Smithville is charged with driving under the influence and driving on a revoked license. His bond is $5,000 and he will be in court November 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, October 24 a deputy received a call about a white truck that had crashed into a fence on Keltonburg Road. Upon arrival, the officer found Morris walking away from the scene of the accident. He spoke with Morris who admitted to being the driver involved in the wreck. Morris was unsteady on his feet and his speech was slurred. He admitted to having consumed a 24 ounce beer and then driving. Morris submitted to and performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. A computer check revealed that his driver’s license were revoked on July 6, 2004 for a DUI. He was found to be driving on a revoked license on September 29, 2009. Morris was placed under arrest.
22 year old Vanessa Renee Poss of Old West Point Road, Smithville is charged with domestic assault. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court November 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 13 Poss allegedly punched her husband in the left eye causing swelling and bruising. She also allegedly punched him multiple times in the back of the head while he was holding their eighteen month old child in his arms. Poss then allegedly hit both of her husband’s trucks with an axe, shattering the windshields and passenger side windows. She was determined to have been the primary aggressor.
30 year old Harley Davidson Smith of Tullahoma and 34 year old David Jason Lewis of Baxter are each charged with assault. Bond for each is $1,500 and they will be in court on November 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 13 Smith and Lewis allegedly grabbed and punched each other while both were inmates incarcerated at the jail.
52 year old Richard Chapman of Oakley Hollow Road, Alexandria is charged with aggravated assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court November 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 15 a deputy responded to a physical domestic complaint on Oakley Hollow Road. Upon arrival, the officer spoke with a woman who said that Chapman punched her in the face and tried to choke her. She had a bloody nose, blood on her cheek and lip, and handprints on her throat. Chapman had scratches on his left arm and the left side of his stomach, which appeared to be defensive injuries. He was determined to have been the primary aggressor.
29 year old Sara Nicole South of Foster Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked or suspended license. Her bond is $2,500 and she will be in court November 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 15 a sheriff’s department detective saw South operating a motor vehicle on Short Mountain Highway. With prior knowledge that South’s license were revoked, the deputy stopped her vehicle. A computer check confirmed that her license were revoked for failure to file after an accident. She also has another case pending in court for the same offense. South was placed under arrest.
45 year old Tina Gail Clark of Lincoln Avenue, Smithville is cited for violation of the light law, violation of the financial responsibility law, and simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). She will be in court on November 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, October 20 a deputy stopped a maroon Jeep for a light law violation and spoke with the driver, Clark. She gave consent to search and the officer found in her vehicle .6 grams of marijuana. She admitted that the marijuana belonged to her. She also could not provide proof of insurance.
42 year old Melissa Lawson Norris of Clear Creek Road, Liberty is cited for violation of the light law, violation of the financial responsibility law (no insurance), possession of drug paraphernalia (pipe), and simple possession of a schedule VI drug (marijuana). She will be in court November 20. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, October 21 a deputy spotted a silver car with a light law violation. The officer stopped the vehicle and received permission to search from Norris, the driver . Upon an investigation, the deputy found 8.2 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia (pipe) in Norris’ purse. Norris also could not produce proof of insurance.

MTUD Merges with Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District

Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District is pleased to announce that Middle Tennessee Utility District (MTUD) has merged with the Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District of Cumberland County. Under the merger agreement, Middle Tennessee Utility District remains as the surviving utility and modifies its legal name slightly to Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District (MTNG), serving a twenty two county area. MTNG CEO James Hodges commented, “This merger is definitely a win – win situation for the customers of the two merging Utility District’s”.
The Board of Commissioners for both utilities met separately in June, 2014 and approved by resolutions the agreement and plan of merger.
A petition seeking approval was filed on October 1st with the county mayors in each of the counties served by MTUD and the Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District. A public hearing was held last Thursday, October 23 in Crossville, at which time county mayors in attendance representing the service areas of the two utilities voted to approve the request.
MTUD served over 56,000 natural gas customers in all or a portion of twenty one counties including Bledsoe, Cannon, Coffee, Cumberland, DeKalb, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Jackson, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Overton, Putnam, Rhea, Rutherford, Smith, Van Buren, Warren, White, and Wilson Counties. The Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District served over 2,500 customers in a portion of Cumberland and Fentress Counties.
In the petition, MTNG asserts that “the merger of the two utility districts will provide for more efficient and convenient natural gas service in the areas served by both districts. The customers served by Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District will benefit by reduced rates and additional services. The customers of the petitioner (MTNG) will benefit from the added customers by spreading operating costs, providing access to additional natural gas pipeline supply, and allowing opportunities for customer growth in the resort and traditional communities served by Upper Cumberland Gas Utility District further spreading the operating costs. The proposed merger is economically sound and desirable and will serve the public convenience and necessity”.
Since the utility’s service area has grown from its beginnings in 1955, MTUD will further amend its map and legal boundaries to reflect these expansions. “In the years following the creation of the petitioner (MTUD), neighboring communities and counties have invited it to provide natural gas service. Those requests have been honored under authority found in Tennessee Code Annotated (state law) but the territorial limits described in the 1955 order (creating MTUD) have not been amended to reflect these expansions. An amendment of the map and legal description of the present service area as well as the expansion arising from the merger are sought to redefine the incorporated boundaries,” the petition states.
The petition to merge has also been filed with the Tennessee Utility Management Review Board, but for notice purposes only. The UMRB is not required to act.

Kate Miller Appointed to School Board

A new member has been appointed to the Board of Education from the fourth district.
Kate Miller, wife of Billy Miller will be succeeding her husband on the school board.
The county commission voted Monday night to make the appointment. Kate Miller will serve as an appointee until the next regular election in August 2016. At that time, an election will be held to fill the remaining two years of the term.
Billy Miller, who was elected to his second four year term on the board in August, was forced to resign after accepting a new job with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation which does not allow him to hold public office. His resignation from the school board became effective September 30.
Kate Miller’s name was the only one placed in nomination by the county commission Monday night.
As required by law, County Mayor Tim Stribling had a public notice of the vacancy published in the newspaper more than seven days prior to the October County Commission meeting. The notice included the procedure under which the vacancy was to be filled.
According to the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) before the county commission could take a vote on filling the vacancy, the chair (County Mayor Stribling) was required to allow voters of the county an opportunity to submit names to the county commission for consideration. The names were to be submitted in writing to the chair prior to the meeting or submitted in person at the meeting.
Stribling said Kate Miller was the only person to send him written notification that she was interested in filling the vacancy. He read the letter to the county commission in which she wrote “Dear Mr. Stribling and county commission members. This letter is to inform you of my interest in being appointed to fulfill the term of school board member for the fourth district. The DeKalb County school system has been an integral part of my life for many years. It is not only where I received my education but where my children are also being educated. As the mother of a fourth grader and a seventh grader, I have worked extensively as a parent volunteer. I have had several leadership positions in the PTO and have served as room mother multiple times. I feel like this association to our schools has provided me with a good picture for some of our educational needs. If selected as the board member from the fourth district, I can promise that my every decision will be thoughtfully considered and would be made in the best interest of our children. It would be a real honor to serve on the DeKalb County School Board and I would gladly accept this appointment,” wrote Kate Miller.
Miller was unable to attend Monday night’s meeting.
County Mayor Stribling then opened the floor to give anyone in the audience from the fourth district wanting to be considered for the position a chance to be heard. There were none. Stribling asked if the county commission wished to place any names in nomination. Third district member Jack Barton nominated Kate Miller. There were no other nominations.
Fifth district member Jerry Adcock then asked “Are we going to vote on this tonight?”
County Mayor Stribling answered “It’s up to you (county commission)”.
Adcock said “No I think we need to bring people in and let them interview like we did last time.”
Stribling replied “You’ve got to nominate someone before you bring them in to interview. This is according to CTAS. I can ask our attorney to speak to it.”
“We conferred with CTAS and it’s in the code (state law). This is the way you do it,” said County Attorney Hilton Conger.
Commissioner Barton then moved to cease further nominations. Fourth district commissioner Jonathon Norris seconded the motion. On a voice vote, all voted yes except for Commissioner Adcock.
County Attorney Conger said that if the commission wanted to interview Miller, they could postpone their vote on her appointment. “You do have the option. You don’t have to take your vote tonight if you want to interview,” said Conger
Adcock then said “Alright I’d like to make a motion that we interview”
County Mayor Stribling asked Adcock, “You want to interview Ms. Kate Miller?”
Adcock replied “Or anybody else that wants one”
“Jerry, there’s not anybody else. We’re going to interview Ms. Kate Miller, “answered County Mayor Stribling.
“Then there’s no since in making the motion (to interview),” said Adcock
County Mayor Stribling then called for a roll call on Miller’s appointment to the school board and all county commissioners voted in favor.

Parents Found with Meth Labs In Presence of Children

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department has made arrests in recent days after finding parents with meth labs in the presence of their children.
36 year old Michael Shone Saylors and Ashley Dawn Saylors of West Main Street, Smithville are each charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and two counts of aggravated child abuse and neglect. Bond for Michael Saylors is $400,000 and $350,000 for Ashley Saylors. They are to appear in court on November 13.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, October 14 after receiving an anonymous tip of a possible meth lab, a deputy went to the Saylors’ home to do a probation visit of Michael Saylors. Upon receiving consent to search the home, the officer found a meth lab. Two 11 year old children living in the home were also present. Inside a wooden trunk, the deputy discovered a gallon of muriatic acid, lighter fluid, two cans of crystal Drano, a can of drain opener, four cold packs, lithium batteries, three loaded syringes, four empty syringes, fifty coffee filters, six feet of plastic tubing, five funnels, and a plastic bag containing lye. The deputy also found a marijuana grinder, rubbing alcohol, digital scales, Iodine, and aluminum foil. The officer spoke with Ashley Saylors who admitted that she knew these components used to make meth were in the house. Due to the strong chemical odor, the home was quarantined and everyone inside the residence was directed to step outside. Investigators were forced to use purifying respirators to keep from inhaling the harmful chemicals. The children were taken to the emergency room of the hospital for evaluation and their clothes were removed and placed in quarantine.
According to Sheriff Ray the home will remain under quarantine until the homeowner has it properly cleaned.
In a separate case, 20 year old Nichole Breann Higgins of Young Green Road, Smithville is charged with initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and aggravated child abuse and neglect. Her bond is $275,000 and she will be in court November 6.
Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 22 a sheriff’s department detective and deputies went to a residence on Young Green Road on a complaint of a possible meth lab. Upon arrival the officers spoke with the homeowner who gave consent for a search of the residence. They also spoke with Higgins and she gave permission for a search of her room in the home where several items were found used to manufacture meth. Higgins’ one month old son was also present . Found in Higgins’ room were a Mason jar containing bi-layered meth oil, Coleman fuel, Coleman fuel burner heads, two Coleman cylinders, acid, Pyrex glassware, coffee filters, lithium batteries, turkey Basters, aluminum foil balls, and a propane torch. These items were found next to the baby’s clothes, diapers, pacifier, and the bed where the baby slept. Higgins’ was arrested and the home was placed under quarantine.
The homeowner will be responsible for having the residence properly cleaned.
Meanwhile 28 year old Curtis Allen Lloyd of Rosewood Lane, Smithville is charged with possession of a schedule II drug for resale (methamphetamine). His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on November 6. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, October 22 a sheriff’s department detective stopped Lloyd for speeding on Highway 56 south. The officer received consent to search Lloyd’s car, a 1997 Lumina and found a baggie containing a white powdery substance still partially wet. The substance field tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed 1.1 grams. Lloyd was placed under arrest.

Halloween Events Scheduled This Week

Fall is in the air, pumpkins are on porches, and massive amounts of candy are calling! Halloween is just around the corner, and your local and state fire officials want to make sure safety is kept in mind while celebrating this popular October holiday.
The 11th Annual Boo Bash was held Saturday night in Alexandria and several other Halloween events are scheduled this week in Smithville.
“Halloween is an exciting time, especially for kids, but precautions need to be taken to make sure that fun does not lead to fire danger,” said State Fire Marshal Gary West.
One of the major culprits for holiday fires is candles. Halloween, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is one of the top five calendar days for candle fires. NFPA statistics show that decorations are the item first ignited in more than 1,000 reported home fires each year.
The Volunteer State has not been immune to the dangers unattended candles can cause; from 2009-2013, Tennessee fire departments responded to 464 structure fires that were started by candles. These fires resulted in 9 deaths, 28 injuries and $10.38 million in direct property damage.
“Using battery-operated candles to illuminate your Halloween pumpkins is a great alternative to candles,” said West. “They can keep your celebrations festive, while also making them safer.”
It is also important to stress fire safety in regard to haunted houses that may be operating in your area. Visit the Codes Enforcement section of the State Fire Marshal’s website to learn more about the safety requirements for haunted houses operating in Tennessee (http://commerce.tn.gov/sfm/fpcesect.shtml).
Follow these important tips to ensure your Halloween is fire-safe:
•When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long, trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your children wear masks, make sure eye holes are large enough to allow unobstructed views.
•Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
•It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a flame candle, use extreme caution and keep them well attended at all times. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace matches or a long-nozzle candle lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters and such high-traffic areas as doorsteps, walkways and yards.
•Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
•Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their faces with their hands, and rolling over and over.
•Use flashlights or other battery-operated lights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
•When attending a Halloween party, look for ways out of the home/venue and plan how you would get out in an emergency.
•If you have a Halloween party, check for cigarettes under furniture cushions and in areas where people might have smoked, before you go to bed.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Visit our website at www.tn.gov/fire for more fire prevention tips. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter.