Oldham’s Market is site of break-in, cigarette theft

Photos courtesy of Chris Oldham

Oldham’s Market & Deli was the site of an overnight break-in early Thursday morning.

According to store owner Chris Oldham, three men in a vehicle described as a Ford Edge pulled into the front parking lot shortly after 12:45 a.m. They broke the glass on the front door with a claw hammer and pried the door open.

Oldham said the perpetrators “went straight to the cigarette racks” and stole between 35 and 50 packs of various brand of cigarettes before quickly leaving.

Security video of the three suspects

“They were in for a minute and six seconds,” Oldham said.

The break-in triggered the store’s alarm and Oldham arrived within minutes to find the thieves already gone. Estimates of damages were not immediately available.

The door was fixed later Thursday morning.

Security video got pictures of the vehicle and the three men. The license plate of the car was not readable because of salt and ice, according to Oldham.

The vehicle came from the east along Highway 25 and left in the same direction.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department at 615-374-3994.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Community Center can serve as shelter in need

Trousdale County Government wishes the public to be aware that shelter is available for the homeless population during the worst of winter temperatures.

The Community Center, located on Main Street, also serves as an emergency shelter when necessary. That requirement was part of the FEMA grant which helped pay for renovation of the former Co-op building.

Questions were raised on social media Tuesday evening as to whether the building should have been opened up for Hartsville’s homeless.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Hartsville’s Community Center can also serve as an emergency shelter when needed.

“We’re available if we get a call from someone who needs a place,” said County Mayor Carroll Carman. “We’ve done that once this winter already.”

Carman said that opening the building without a request was probably not realistic, citing questions as to whether anyone would be willing to take shelter in the Community Center, as well as the costs of having a county employee man the facility while in use.

Sheriff Ray Russell echoed similar concerns, while noting that he and his deputies routinely check on known locations where the homeless tend to congregate and offer shelter as needed. In the past, the Sheriff’s Department has housed people who needed shelter in the jail.

“We go around, I’ve gone around, and we offer them to come to the jail, feed them, even take care of their dogs,” Russell said. “Anything to get them in out of the cold; we’re going to make every effort we can.”

One person, described by Carman as a young man, reportedly froze to death in recent weeks. That individual’s name has not been released and there are said to be other circumstances that contributed to the death. However, further details were not available.

Anyone who needs shelter from cold temperatures can call the County Administration Building at 615-374-2461 or the sheriff’s department at 615-374-3994.

“If they call 911, or EMS, or the sheriff’s department, we will make sure they have a place that’s warm to stay,” Carman said. “But we’ve only had one person this winter take advantage of that.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Tri-County plans public meetings on broadband

Tri-County Electric will be holding a number of public meetings in the coming days to inform residents about its plans and timetable for providing broadband Internet service to Trousdale County.

The utility sent postcards with dates and times for the meeting to all its customers who reside in what is planned for Phase 1 of the project. Phase 1 covers most of Trousdale County west of Broadway in downtown Hartsville. Tri-County has previously announced plans to wire most of the county over a three-year schedule.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Meetings will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. at the Trousdale County courthouse (200 E. Main Street) and at 1:30 p.m. at the Castalian Springs Community Center (2800 Hartsville Pike, Castalian Springs). Other meetings will be on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 5 p.m. at the Castalian Springs/Bethpage Water Utility District building in Bethpage (1010 Hinton Road), and Thursday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Philippi Church of Christ (970 Highway 25W).

While only customers in Phase 1 received postcards notifying them of the meetings, any member of the public is invited to attend.

At a previous public meeting last year, Tri-County announced that it would have three packages of broadband service: 50 Mbps/50Mbps (upload/download) for $49.95 a month, 100/100 for $59.95 and 1 GB for $89.95. The utility also plans to eventually offer VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone service for an additional $39.95 per month that will include unlimited local and long distance within the U.S.

Tri-County has also applied for broadband grants through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Recipients of those grants are expected to be announced sometime in January.

“While we are still waiting to hear from the ECD Broadband Grants, we are excited to begin community meetings in Phase 1 of our fiber build-out,” said Paul Thompson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Tri-County. “Attendance at these meetings will help us gauge interest levels and determine where our project begins.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Winter weather comes to Hartsville

Winter made its presence felt in Middle Tennessee over the past week, with a pair of systems delivering snow and ice to the area, including Trousdale County.

GALLERY: Winter comes to Hartsville

The first system brought around an inch of precipitation Friday afternoon and evening, and caused schools to close in preparation. The National Weather Service declared a Winter Weather Advisory and Trousdale County government also closed Friday, with County Mayor Carroll Carman declaring an administrative day.

Crews worked over the weekend to clear the roads.

On Monday, the NWS declared a second Winter Weather Advisory for Middle Tennessee, lasing through Tuesday. Temperatures were expected to plunge and snow accumulations of 1-2 inches were anticipated. As of Tuesday morning, snow was continuing to fall in Hartsville.

Temperatures were expected to remain below freezing until toward the end of the week.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Planning Commission OKs residential construction plans

The building boom is continuing in Trousdale County, as evidenced by last Monday’s meeting of the Planning Commission.

The Commission gave approval in some form to four lots for development for homes and apartments, totaling an estimated 102 residences once all are completed.

Approval for a final subdivision plat was granted to the owners of the former site of Knight’s Greenhouse on Highway 231. A multi-residential development planned for a 10-acre lot east of the Hartsville Housing Authority and behind Anthony Funeral Home also received a site plan approval.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Developers told the Commission that the property was planned to consist of quadriplexes, with construction beginning in perhaps as little as two months.

Two preliminary subdivision plats also received approval but will have to come back for final approval. One on Melrose Drive will consist of 35 lots on roughly 10.75 acres and will be a planned subdivision, while the other, consisting of 28 residential and two commercial lots, will be on roughly 16 acres on McMurry Blvd. East adjacent to First Baptist Church.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Local Government Services Committee, County Mayor Carroll Carman and Building Inspector Dwight Jewell reported on the increase in building permits in Trousdale County in recent years.

According to a chart prepared by Jewell, his office issued 99 permits in 2017. Jewell noted that four more permits were issued after the report was compiled but before the end of the year, raising the total to 103.

By comparison, 65 building permits were issued in 2016, 72 in 2015 and 50 in 2014.

“From the time I started tracking this in 2011, it’s right at 400 homes. A fourth of the growth has been in this past year,” Jewell said. “From what I see on the forefront, we’ll exceed that in 2018.”

Carman said if 100 new homes were estimated at $150,000 each, that would expand the county’s tax base by as much as $150,000.

“We are growing,” Carman said. “The future of our county looks bright.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

State issues education report card

Trousdale County parents can view the progress of their children in school via the latest version of the state’s Report Card, which was made available online last week.

Parents can visit tn.gov/education/data/report-card.html to view achievement and growth measures – in addition to metrics such as student enrollment, HOPE scholarship eligibility, school climate, and many others – in one central location. The update includes data from the 2016-17 school year.

The Report Card is designed to help educators and families access and gain better understanding of information about their schools and district.

Photo courtesy of tn.gov

“There is nothing in the state Report Card that has not been previously reported,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “Our areas of refinement or challenge exist with Literacy growth results. We are focusing time and resources on improving those areas.”

Satterfield trumpeted some highlights from the Report Card, such as:

A graduation rate of 97.9 percent;

An ACT composite of 21.3, the highest ever for the county and ranking 15th statewide; and

Ranking in the top 10 percent for achievement in every student reporting category for the 2016-17 school year.

“We have much to be proud of from this past year, and the Report Card allows us to once again celebrate the successes of our schools, like graduation rate and ACT scores, while seeing where we can grow and improve,” Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen added in a statement. “The state Report Card provides a clear picture for parents, educators, and communities to see how our schools are performing, locally and across the state.”

Also new this year, the Report Card shows the full set of TNReady state assessment results for students in grades 2-12. TNReady replaces the old TCAP assessment and is fully aligned to Tennessee’s academic standards, with a particular focus on students’ problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. High school students showed across-the-board growth on their end-of-course exams, and students in grades 3-8 set a new baseline in the first year. The report card also includes the first year, baseline-setting results from the new optional grade 2 assessment, which was administered in 100 districts.

Also, Trousdale County schools announced last week that end-of-year report cards for the 2017-18 school year would not be mailed out until June 22.

In a letter sent to parents, Satterfield cited a delay in TNReady assessment results for grades 3-11, which account for 15 percent of a student’s final grade. TNReady tests will be given during the assessment window, which runs from April 16 to May 4.

“The department has guaranteed all student grade reports by June 15. Our teachers will come in the following week to average student grades and mail report cards to parents,” Satterfield said. “The June 22 report card release will still allow schools and teachers sufficient time to plan student schedules for the upcoming 2018-19 school year. This will not affect the release of senior grades or transcripts since seniors do not take TNReady assessments.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports

Vandals strike Hartsville man’s holiday display

Vandals struck at a Hartsville man’s home just before Christmas, damaging one of the larger holiday displays in the county.

James McCall came home to find that his extensive holiday decorations had been torn up by an unknown individual or individuals. A neighbor had noticed the damage and phoned McCall, who returned to his home on Latti Reese Road with his family on Christmas Eve.

“They tore just about everything across the front (yard),” McCall said. “I had lanterns across the front, a 12-foot Santa Claus that was ripped up, candy canes that were kicked around, some tossed in the creek.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Some of the damaged display items are seen here.

The vandals also tore up McCall’s mailbox and did other damage to the property. McCall estimated the total damages at between $1,500 and $2,000.

Neighbors helped retrieve some decorations that had been tossed in a nearby creek, and sheriff’s deputies found some items out on Starlite Road.

McCall has been decorating his home and yard for the holidays for a number of years and takes months setting up his displays.

McCall said sheriff’s officials had not yet found who was responsible.

“Whoever did it, I’m pretty sure, knew we weren’t home,” McCall said. “They would have been taking a chance, making noise, if we were here.

“I put the displays up for people to enjoy, so I hope whoever tore it down enjoyed it as much. I wish I could get ill over it, but I just can’t.”

Anyone with any information can contact the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department at 615-374-3994.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Health Department offering free flu shots

Flu season is here in full force, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee and even some school systems closing because of illness.

The Trousdale County Health Department is working to protect the entire community by providing free flu vaccinations to area residents on a first-come, first-served basis.

A small amount of vaccines is still available, and to ensure they can be used to protect health will be provided at no charge to patients until supplies are depleted. Appointments must be made to receive flu vaccines, and are now being scheduled at the clinic on East Main Street.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

“Anyone, even healthy people, can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and it’s very important to get vaccinated. We recommend that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine,” said Brittany Tate, Public Health County Director. “It can still protect you, especially those who are more susceptible to illness, such as the elderly and infants. We also encourage pregnant women to get vaccinated.

“There are different strains of the flu, but you can still be protected with a vaccine.”

The flu vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness or death from influenza such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children, as well as healthcare workers and family and friends of anyone at high risk. Expectant mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to protect themselves and pass protection on to their unborn babies.

Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive flu vaccines at the clinic. Please call the Trousdale County Health Department at 615-374-2112 to book your appointment. The clinic is located at 541 East Main Street, and open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

County Democrats welcome candidates for governor

Trousdale County Democrats came out to hear two candidates for governor at a self-styled “Campaign Kickoff” dinner on Nov. 17.

About 70 people were in attendance at Hartsville’s Community Center to hear both former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and State. Rep. Craig Fitzhugh speak on what they each saw as the issues that will define the 2018 campaign to succeed Bill Haslam.

Dean said he wanted to focus on education, public safety and economic development in his campaign. He spoke of his record while serving as Nashville’s mayor from 2007-15, including during the Great Recession and the 2010 flood.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Former Nashville mayor Karl Dean addresses a Trousdale County audience at a November dinner. Dean is one of two Democrats seeking his party’s nomination for governor in 2018.

“We had to make decisions about how to move the city forward while still balancing the budget,” Dean said. “We were not going to go to the citizens and say, ‘Balance our books while you’re fighting to balance your own books.’

“We added to education and public safety, and continued to invest in the city.”

During his time as mayor, Dean said Nashville went from 33rd in the state to third in teacher pay, and said Nashville became a more livable city.

Dean said he would, as governor, work to “build a coalition” with members of both parties and independents to move Tennessee forward.

“I believe the people of Tennessee want a governor who will be pragmatic, use common sense, and get things done rather than an ideologue,” he said. “Mayor LaGuardia from New York in the 1930s said, ‘There’s no Democratic or Republican way to fill a pothole. People just want the pothole filled.’ That’s want people want to see in the governor’s office.”

Fitzhugh, a native of Ripley who represents Crockett, Haywood and Lauderdale counties in the Tennessee House, currently serves as the Minority Leader and touted his experience in state government and in private business, where he serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Ripley.

“I’m getting around and letting folks know me,” Fitzhugh said. “I’ve learned a lot about state government and what happens to taxpayers’ money. That experience will serve me should I be elected.”

Both candidates cited strong support for public education. Dean called education “the overriding issue” in Tennessee, while Fitzhugh described himself as “a strong proponent of public schools” and noted his opposition to a state voucher program.

“There is no place for vouchers in Tennessee,” Fitzhugh said. “I believe very strongly in public schools and have fought for them in the legislature.”

Dean also called for more vocational and technical training for those who choose not to attend college. Fitzhugh called for more education funding, saying that Tennessee was 42nd nationally in the amount of money spent on schools.

Craig Fitzhugh, who currently serves as House Minority Leader, offers up his vision of the role of Tennessee’s next governor to a Trousdale County audience.

“We need to have better teacher pay, better abilities for rural communities to have quality schools,” Fitzhugh said.

Both candidates also spoke in favor of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a position the General Assembly has not been willing to endorse thus far. Gov. Haslam’s plan for such expansion died in committee during a 2015 special session.

“The biggest moral failure we’ve had in this state during my time in the legislature was not to take that $3.7 billion. It’s a sin,” Fitzhugh said. “If I’m elected, the first thing I will press for is to get it done.”

“It was a huge mistake when the legislature didn’t do Medicaid expansion,” Dean agreed. “We turned down access to $3.7 billion to offer affordable health care to our citizens.”

Dean said Tennessee was No. 2 in the nation behind Texas in rural hospital closures, because of the lack of Medicaid expansion.

“How hard is it to keep people in a community when the hospital closes? How hard it is to get citizens to move into a community and attract new jobs when the hospital closes?” Dean said.

Economic development was also an area of focus for both candidates.

“We have to make sure we do all we can to keep rural and small-town Tennessee life,” Dean said. “Rural broadband is essential, town centers and squares need to remain vital and active places that continue to attract people.”

Fitzhugh called for better opportunities for all Tennesseans, saying, “We all do better when we all do better.”

Fitzhugh said he envisioned more high-paying jobs, including more focus on infrastructure and education.

“Roads plus education plus broadband equals jobs,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

2017: Year in Review

2017 is finally behind us, and what a year it was in Trousdale County! Downtown Hartsville is growing and revitalization efforts continue, and the county’s population also continues to grow, with many new faces showing up in our community. There was plenty of news to be found in Hartsville, and here is a look back at the past year.


· The Gallatin Gun Club signed a contract to purchase land and move its facility to the northern part of Trousdale County, off Highway 231. Area residents launched an online petition to stop the move, citing noise and traffic concerns. The deal eventually fell through after a land survey showed the proposed site did not fit the club’s stated needs.

Metro Creative Connection

· Leah Verville was sworn in as the county’s Register of Deeds, replacing Mary Holder, who retired after almost 40 years in office. Verville was appointed by the County Commission to hold the seat through the August 2018 election.

· The National Football Foundation’s Middle Tennessee Chapter announced that it would honor football coaches Jim and Clint Satterfield with its Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award. The award was jointly presented to Clint and Jim’s widow, Eleanor, at a March banquet.

· Trousdale County’s Jake Gregory was named to the TNHighSchoolFootball.com All-State team as an offensive lineman following his 2016 sophomore season.

· Winter made a brief visit on Friday, Jan. 6 with a snowstorm that dropped about an inch of snow and forced schools to close at 9 a.m.

· Trey Park’s playground reopened after a nearly two-month closure to allow for the replacement of equipment and work to resolve drainage issues in the park.

· State Senator Ferrell Haile was appointed as Deputy Speaker of the Tennessee Senate.

· Gov. Bill Haslam announced his proposed IMPROVE Act to raise gas taxes and use the money to fund a backlog of transportation needs across the state, including two projects in Trousdale County. Haslam would later visit Lebanon and Carthage as part of a statewide tour to promote the plan.

· The County Commission approved a $250,000 Capital Projects Fund for use as needed in the county.



· Tri-County Electric joined efforts to promote legislation that would allow electric cooperatives in Tennessee to provide broadband service. The legislation eventually passed and Tri-County announced plans to wire most of Trousdale County within an estimated three-year timespan.

· The Trousdale County Health Department announced it would provide free flu vaccinations to any county resident.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its first annual Father-Daughter Dance at the Community Center. Tickets sold out quickly with a near-overflow crowd on hand for the event. The date for this year’s event has not been set as of yet.

· County Mayor Carroll Carman gave his “State of the County” address to the Chamber of Commerce, in which he highlighted a new county administration building and community center, as well as a new sewer plant and water line upgrades.

· Trousdale County High School held its basketball Homecoming, with Austin Ford being crowned king and Jamey McKoin queen.

· The Trousdale County Fair was named second runner-up in the A Division at the Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention, winning an award for the second time in three years.

· Keller’s Restaurant and Keller’s Bar & Grill each began liquor sales on Feb. 3, after voters passed a liquor-by-the-drink referendum by 51 votes in November 2016. The two sites are the only ones in Trousdale County so far to serve liquor.

· Wilson Bank & Trust celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Hartsville branch.

· A Hartsville woman, Alisha Mondoni, was among two killed in a shooting in Macon County. Two men were later arrested and are facing charges of first-degree murder.

· Hartsville’s TCAT campus launched a new Certified Nurse Technician class at its Lebanon campus.

· Haley’s Hearts Foundation held its seventh annual Chili Supper and Winter Carnival as one of its two annual fundraisers. At the time, the event brought in nearly $16,000 to help those with congenital heart defects.



· Trousdale County’s basketball teams saw their seasons end in the quarterfinals of the Region 4-A tournament. The girls finished with a 9-18 record, while the boys finished 11-19. It was the first time since 2013 that both TCHS teams advanced to regional play.

· State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, whose district includes Trousdale County, said she would not support the IMPROVE Act.

· Trousdale County Elementary School held its first National Reading Day event, inviting community leaders (including myself) to come and read to students.

· Trousdale County High School went on lockdown on March 2 after a reported online threat that was later shown to be false. The online activity was determined to have taken place from a school computer.

· Rob Atwood won the 140-pound weight class AAU state wrestling title in the juniors (ages 10-11) division.

· Fifth-grader Willow Jones was the state winner in the Tennessee Tar Wars poster contest. Students in the competition designed anti-tobacco posters. Jones’ winning entry was to be used as a T-shirt and billboard design.

· Taylor Simmons was crowned as 2017 Miss Trousdale, with Hannah Hailey claiming honors as 2017 Jr. Miss Trousdale.

· TCAT and TCHS announced plans to create a Mechatronics program to allow students to delve into design, manufacture and maintaining electronic products. TCAT received a state grant of almost $950,000 to fund the project.

· Hartsville residents reported a number of fake IRS calls demanding payments of bogus tax bills. Officials reminded the public that the IRS will never make such calls.

· The County Commission approved funding for the building of a skate park to give local youth a safe place to ride and get them off city streets. The park opened later in the summer.



· Trousdale County had the fourth-highest rate of population growth in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population grew by 5.2 percent from April 1, 2010 through July 1, 2016, the dates covered by the survey.

· Bailey Hines was crowned as Miss Trousdale Elementary, while Whitney Dansby was crowned as the 2017 Fairest of the Fair for Trousdale County.

· Blair Leibach, then warden at Hartsville’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, addressed the issues the facility endured since its 2016 opening at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Leibach, who was replaced during the summer by Russell Washburn, said things were “settling down” at TTCC.

· The Hartsville Little League held its annual Rally Day, opening its 2017 season.

· TCHS and the Chamber of Commerce held the third annual Career Day, with juniors and seniors meeting with representatives from over 20 businesses and employers.

· The Trousdale County Planning Commission proposed changes to the county’s regulations on gun ranges in light of the controversy over January’s Gallatin Gun Club proposal. The changes were eventually approved by the County Commission.

· Commissioners also approved a $1.869 million bid for the renovation of the remaining portion of the old Co-op building into a criminal justice center. Construction on the project began shortly thereafter and the center is expected to open sometime this month.

· The IMPROVE Act passed the state legislature, and officials expected a boost of over $443,000 annually to Trousdale County once fully implemented.



· Trousdale County Schools received a Read to be Ready grant to expand its summer reading program over the next three years. The grant allowed for 25 students to participate, with the schools identifying the students.

· TCHS senior Wiley Barton signed a baseball scholarship with Cumberland University.

· The annual Mud Volleyball Tournament raised funds for scholarships for TCHS seniors, while Seed Morton’s annual Car, Truck & Bike Show raised over $1,500 for Relay For Life.

· The TCHS football team held its Lift-a-thon, with junior Xavian Seay winning for highest combined total with 1,130 pounds.

· Logan Hewitt tossed a no-hitter and struck out 17 batters for the Yellow Jackets baseball team in a district tournament play-in game against Red Boiling Springs. The baseball team finished with a 9-16 record, while the softball team finished 0-13. The JSMS baseball and softball teams finished with respective records of 6-4-1 and 12-3.

· A Saturday afternoon fire on May 13 destroyed the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street and caused power outages throughout Hartsville as the heat melted power lines and ruined a transformer. The abandoned building had been quarantined after inhabitants were reportedly caught making methamphetamine on site.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its most successful golf tournament to date, netting around $8,500 after expenses. Nineteen teams participated in the event as Long Hollow Golf Course.

· A public meeting allowed Hartsville residents to look at proposed plans for the Main Street Streetscape project, which will rework the area from the Post Office to River Street. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2018.

· TCHS bid farewell to 94 graduating seniors from the Class of 2017, who totaled over $2 million in scholarships, grants and awards.



· Tri-County Electric officially announced its plans to wire Trousdale County for broadband after passage of state legislation allowing such a move. Work began late in 2017 and is expected to be completed over a three-year span.

· Trousdale County held its Relay For Life event to raise funds to fight cancer as part of the American Cancer Society’s campaign.

· NCTC held a groundbreaking on its own broadband project in Trousdale County, which will serve roughly 8.4 miles in the northern end of the county. The project was to be completed by year’s end and was funded through a federal grant.

· School Board member David Crabtree was charged with criminal trespass and vandalism after reportedly breaking into the home of his father. Crabtree, who had failed to attend a board meeting in over a year at that time, had moved out of county.

· A rockslide on Highway 25 near Carthage closed that section of road so repairs could be made. Delays in the project kept that portion of highway closed until late December.

· The Budget & Finance Committee rejected County Mayor Carroll Carman’s original budget proposal, which included a 5 percent raise for county employees. A revised budget later received commissioners’ approval that provided for bonuses rather than raises and kept a discount for early payment of property taxes.

· A sewer line break near Highway 141 caused sewage to be dumped into the Cumberland River and forced the Water Board to approve an emergency repair. The line in question was said to have been in place since the 1970s and had badly decayed.

· Hartsville’s Community Pregnancy Center opened its doors on June 19 after a grand opening ceremony. The center provides classes and support for expectant mothers in the area.

· Local magician Alan Fisher was invited to participate in a magic convention on Louisville, where he earned an invitation to the World Grand Championships, which will take place in South Korea in the summer of 2018.

· The Christmas For Kids cake walk raised over $2,100 for the organization, which provides clothes and gifts for underprivileged children in Trousdale County.

· Ryan Sleeper was named the boys basketball coach at TCHS following the resignation of Chip Sparkman, who left to take a job at La Vergne. TCHS also hired Scott Booth to serve as defensive coordinator of the football team.

· WSMV-Channel 4 ran a series of heavily critical stories on CoreCivic’s Hartsville prison, interviewing former staff and citing lack of transparency, reports on mishandling of medical issues with inmates, staffing problem and gang activity.

· Jerry Helm retired as general manager of the Water Department after 11 years of service in that role.



· Trousdale County held its annual Fourth of July event in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Hartsville’s recognition as a town by the state legislature. Over 50 vendors were in the park after the parade and the community turnout was much stronger than in recent years.

· State Rep. Judd Matheny visited Hartsville as part of his campaign for U.S. Congress in 2018. Matheny is seeking the seat currently held by Diane Black, who has announced a run for governor this year. Black officially announced her candidacy in August.

· “Yellow Jacket Rocks” became a local fad, with painted rocks turning up across the county. The idea mimics the “615 Rocks” promotion and was the brainchild of 10-year-old Emily Brown.

· A Dixon Springs man was charged with aggravated assault in connection with a shooting in Lebanon.

· Wilson Bank & Trust was named one of the top workplaces in Middle Tennessee for the third year in a row in a survey sponsored by The Tennessean.

· Jennifer Holder was named Chief Nursing Officer at Trousdale Medical Center, while local nursing student Megan Jones received the Credo Award, presented for outstanding performance while serving an internship at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

· Eighth-grader Mason Maddox competed for the second straight year at the Quarterback Academy’s Dual Skills QB Competition, which invites players from across the country.

· TCHS and JSMS announced they would join the elementary school in providing free breakfast and lunch to all students beginning with the 2017-18 school year. A federal program allows low-income districts that meet certain criteria to provide free meals to all students.

· Razors Barbershop closed its doors on July 29 as owner Justin Hallum opted to move to Lebanon in order to be closer to family.

· The school system announced that it would end the “Power Wednesday” concept in favor of “Power Friday,” also moving from late start to early dismissal on those days in order to optimize time for teacher development.



· The annual Trousdale County Fair brought a good crowd from Aug. 3-5 and featured returning events such ‘Family Feud’ and a LEGO contest, as well as new events that included a concert by the Rode West band and a cash giveaway.

· The annual Kids Count study rated Trousdale 48th among Tennessee’s 95 counties in terms of child wellbeing. Education, however, rated second statewide in the report.

· The Charter Review Committee took up proposed charter amendments to allow for the removal of elected officials who fail to attend meetings on a regular basis. The amendments are expected to be up for approval by the County Commission beginning in January, and if passed would go before the voters in August.

· A Hartsville man was acquitted of a homicide charge in Macon County after being found not guilty by reason of insanity. James David Rentfro was ordered held at a mental health facility pending evaluation and further hearings.

· Hundreds of people descended on Hartsville for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 as Trousdale County was nearly dead center along the visible path through North America. County schools took students to the football field and provided eclipse glasses for viewing of the event. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in the Hartsville area was said to be 500 years ago. The Hartsville Rotary Club also sold eclipse glasses to members of the public.

· John Rose of Smith County announced that he would also seek election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee’s Sixth District.

· The Trousdale County Yellow Jacket football team kicked off the 2017 season with a 13-0 shutout of Smith County in the Tobacco Bowl Jamboree. The Yellow Jackets opened the regular season with a 10-7 victory over Class 6A opponent Lebanon.

· The County Commission voted to declare a vacancy on the School Board, removing David Crabtree, who had failed to attend any meeting since early 2016.

· Trousdale County’s Risey Scruggs, 95, was invited to perform with the Grand Ole Opry. Scruggs is a noted fiddler and has been playing since his boyhood days.



· Two county commissioners, Andy Jellison and Michael Satterfield, resigned their seats citing other obligations. Both had attended few Commission meetings over the previous 18 months.

· Trousdale County High School had the highest percentage of students in the state scoring as on track or mastered in Integrated Math II on the TNReady tests, the state announced. TCHS also rated second statewide in Integrated Math I, 13th in Biology and 16th in Chemistry.

· Destinee Burnley was named Homecoming Queen for JSMS at its ceremony. Attendants were Sarah Dickerson and Madison Farley.

· Tri-County Electric sent eight lineman and four crews to Georgia to assist with efforts to restore power following Hurricane Irma.

· · The County Commission gave initial approval to plans to raise garbage pickup fees by $3 monthly beginning in January. The move was designed to help address a nearly $100,000 deficit in Solid Waste.

· SaGrace Farms opened its flower shop on Main Street near the corner of Damascus.

· Trousdale County Schools announced plans to offer a $100 cash drawing each month for students who miss one day or less of school in that month. One student from each school receives the award.

· The County Commission appointed Johnny Kerr to fill the vacancy on the School Board. Kerr resigned his seat on the County Commission to accept the appointment and will serve through the August 2018 election.



· The school system saw lower than expected growth in its TNReady scores, according to state reports. The elementary school saw the worst results of the three schools.

· The Volunteer Fire Department bid farewell to assistant chief Larry Guffey, who passed away on Oct. 3. Guffey had been a member of the VFD since 1986 and previously had served with Hartsville’s Civil Defense.

· A ribbon cutting marked the opening of a new industrial access road in the PowerCom industrial park and the opening of ARC Automotive’s Hartsville facility. The two projects represented an investment of over $7 million in Trousdale County, while ARC is expected to bring between 60 and 70 jobs to Hartsville once the plant is in full operation.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its second annual Bass Tournament and its first Mother-Son Dance as fundraising events.

· Commissioners approved a request from Sheriff Ray Russell to increase dispatchers’ salaries by an estimated 60 cents per hour.

· Tri-County launched a pilot program for its broadband efforts, holding a public meeting with residents of 20 homes along Highway 10. The pilot program allows Tri-County to test its ability to provide service and gauge the willingness of customers to take service.

· TCHS students scored an average of 21.3 on the ACT, marking the highest-ever score at the school and topping 20 for the third year in a row.

· Baylee Huffines was named Homecoming Queen at TCHS. Attendants were Ashton Scott, Tori Simmons, Whitney Dansby and Q’Londa Maynard.

· The County Commission filled three vacancies among its ranks, appointing Gary Walsh, Amber Russell and Rachel Jones to serve through the August 2018 election.

· The annual Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K raised approximately $21,500 for the foundation to help families and children.



· Trousdale County students outscored the state average in every category of the TNReady tests, ranking third statewide in grades 6-8 Math and seventh statewide in grades 6-8 Science.

· County Democrats welcomed two candidates for governor (Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh) to a dinner at Hartsville’s Community Center. Each candidate addressed his vision of the next governor’s role and priorities for Tennessee.

· Dr. Alexander Badru opened his new medical clinic on Broadway at the former site of Dr. Reed’s office.

· The Community Pregnancy Center held a Chili Cook-off and Fall Festival in Hartsville City Park as a fundraiser.

· One of three escapees from the Macon County Jail turned himself in to Trousdale County sheriff’s deputies after one day on the run. Dylan Cecil Ferguson, who is facing criminal homicide charges, was returned to Macon County. The other two escapees were later recaptured as well.

· NCTC received a $2.8 million grant to provide broadband service to underserved areas of Trousdale and Smith counties.

· The Yellow Jackets’ football season ended in the second round of the playoffs with a home loss to Marion County. TCHS finished 8-4 under first-year coach Brad Waggoner and won the region championship for the first time since 2014.

· The Chamber of Commerce held its Open House Shopping Days and Community Thanksgiving Meal, which served over 600 people.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County EMA

· An EF-0 tornado hit parts of Trousdale County on Saturday, Nov. 18 and did damage to homes, barns and a Hartsville electric substation. The warning siren in downtown Hartsville failed to go off during the tornado warning, raising questions of EMA staff. An interruption in the signal was cited as the most likely cause of the malfunction.

· A home invasion in Trousdale County resulted in three people being tied up, with one forced to leave with the invaders. That victim was dropped off in Wilson County and was unharmed. At last report, no arrests had been made.

· A state audit of Hartsville’s CoreCivic prison found ‘noncompliance with contract requirements’ and other problems at the facility. State legislators cited the audit during December hearings on the Department of Corrections. CoreCivic noted it was working to address the problems.

· County commissioners approved a $90,000 request to cover cost overruns on the criminal justice center, which is expected to open in January.



· Twelve Trousdale County players were named to the All-Region football team, highlighted by juniors Keyvont Baines and Jake Gregory, who were respectively named Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. Both were also later named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A All-State team.

· Hartsville held its annual Three Days of Christmas, featuring the FCE Candlelight Tour of Homes, Chili Supper and Community Concert, Christmas Parade and Dickens on the Square. The Red Hat Ladies won top honors for their entry in the parade.

· Harassment charges against a county commissioner were put on hold after both parties were ordered to have no contact with each other for six months. Charges against Kendra Belcher are expected to be dropped at a June hearing as long as the no-contact order is followed. The dispute reportedly arose between Belcher and members of her former church.

· The School Board set the 2018-19 school calendar, with the first day of school scheduled for July 26, 2018.

· The elementary school held its second Reading Day, inviting community members to read to students.

· A Hartsville girl was shot during an armed robbery at Fann’s Market in Castalian Springs, but was recovering at last report. One suspect had been arrested, with law enforcement seeking two others.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Nominating petitions available for 2018 county elections

County elections will take place in August 2018, with the county mayor and all 20 seats on the County Commission among the positions scheduled to be on the ballot.

The Trousdale County Election Commission and Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton have provided the following information on nominating petitions for anyone wishing to seek elected office.

All nominating petitions and any required supporting documents must be filed before noon on Thursday, April 5, 2018, in the Trousdale County Election Commission office in order to appear on the August 2018 Election Ballot.

File photo

1. All petitions must be obtained from the Trousdale County Election Commission Office. Each petition must have the candidate’s name and office sought completed at the time the election office issues the petition. January 5, 2018 is the earliest day to pick up a nominating petition.

2. An individual may pick up a petition on a candidate’s behalf. Also, an individual may return the petition for the candidate. However, only the candidate may complete the candidate’s section and the candidate’s signature on each page. (No titles may be printed with the candidate’s name.)

3. Each petition issued will be treated as a public record. Petition information will be available to the public and media.

4. No photocopies of any petition will be accepted as a replacement for the original. If you lose your original petition, you must start over by obtaining another original petition from the county election office.

5. A candidate’s qualifying petition is required to have 25 nominating signatures, other than the candidate’s signature. These signatures must be people who are eligible to vote for the candidate. It is recommended that you obtain at least 50 signatures due to the fact that some people may not be registered voters, may have become ineligible to vote, have not changed their address with the Election Office or other issues which disqualify a signature.

6. All candidates are encouraged to return their nominating petition before the last day of the qualifying period to avoid missing the deadline. Nominating petitions will be checked in the order in which they are returned.

7. The State of Tennessee does not use “filing fees” as part of the nominating process.

8. The members of the Trousdale County Election Commission have the legal responsibility to place only the names of candidates on the ballot who have met all the necessary qualifications. A nominating petition is part of the process along with residency, felony inquiries and qualification checks.

If you have any questions about a nominating petition for the August 2018 election, please contact the Trousdale County Election Office at 615-374-2712 before the April 5, 2018 qualifying deadline.

Volunteers help spread Christmas cheer to local kids

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Author is a member of the Rotary Club and serves on the committee which helps oversee Christmas For Kids)

An annual Hartsville tradition was carried on last week as Trousdale County Christmas For Kids distributed clothes and toys to over 170 local children.

Members of the Hartsville Rotary Club and other community volunteers gathered at the Hartsville Church of Christ’s fellowship hall on Wednesday to hand out gifts.

Christmas For Kids was founded in the 1980s by Regina White, who ran the program until stepping down in 2016. A committee of Rotary Club members now helps coordinate the program in conjunction with the Community Help Center.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Members of the Hartsville Rotary Club and community volunteers pose before beginning last week’s distribution as part of the Christmas For Kids program.

“We want to thank the Hartsville Church of Christ for allowing us to use its facility to help bring a Merry Christmas to children in Trousdale County,” the Rotary committee said in a statement.

“We also cannot express enough thanks to the volunteers who came to assist with shopping, bagging items and distributing to those who need some help this time of year. It’s our privilege to be able to serve our community in this manner.

“Christmas For Kids could not exist with the generous financial support it receives from all of Trousdale County, from individuals, civic groups, businesses, churches and more. We give our heartfelt thanks to all those who help make this program a success each year.”

Each child received a new coat, shirt, pants and shoes, and then was able to choose from toys available. Some toys were purchased, but many were donated through the Trousdale County Rescue Squad’s annual toy drive, which was held after the Hartsville Christmas Parade on Dec. 9.

“The Sheriff’s Department and Rescue Squad have been longtime supporters of Christmas For Kids, both in raising funds via the annual cakewalk and collecting toys through the annual toy drive,” the Rotary committee said. “Their support goes a long way toward making Christmas For Kids successful and is greatly appreciated.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Op-Ed: Little Hartsville experiencing some growing pains

Our little town of Hartsville is growing, as is Trousdale County. Unfortunately, the growing pains are becoming a little difficult in two key areas.

First, traffic. What is typically considered to be a big-city problem has become an issue here, specifically along Highway 25 from the high school to the first traffic light.

In the mornings and early afternoons, the line of cars can back up past the high school. I had the misfortune a couple of weeks ago to hit that area at the wrong time (why I didn’t think to take Old Highway 25 into town still escapes me) and got caught in front of the Co-op. Fifteen minutes later, I was through the intersection – I could have walked that in considerably less than 15 minutes! I can only imagine how long it takes folks who hit traffic further up the road.

I’ve heard folks blame the location of the high school and the arrival of the prison for the increase in traffic. I don’t know about the high school. As the parent of a recent graduate, getting in and out isn’t that bad if you know what you’re doing. The parking lot clears out in the afternoon by 3:05, in my experience. Traffic starts to back up then, but I would say just as big a factor is the number of people who work outside Trousdale County who are returning home around that time. That can’t be helped; it’s just a fact of life we deal with.

The question is: how do we fix it?

The intersection needs a turning lane, first and foremost. Unfortunately as a state highway, doing so would require a TDOT study, engineering work as well as construction, which would make matters worse for a good while.

A bypass running near the creek and coming out on Broadway has also been suggested by some. One problem: the creek makes that whole area a flood plain. Building a road through there just is not feasible.

One quick fix that would help: ban ALL left turns onto Halltown Road. People can drive a short way down to Andrews Avenue, turn left at the second light and then take Rogers Street over to Halltown.

Preventing people from sitting at that intersection while waiting to turn would go a long way toward fixing the problem. I urge our Highway Commission to take a look at the idea.

The other problem we are having is in the sheriff’s office. It’s no secret that a number of officers have left the department in recent weeks and months to take higher paying jobs elsewhere.

I certainly don’t blame them for doing so; in that position I would probably find myself doing the same thing.

A number of people have begun to call for increased pay for deputies to try to keep the good ones we have and make Trousdale County a more attractive destination for potential law enforcement officers.

It’s a good idea, but caution needs to be taken. Trousdale County does not have the sales tax base of a Gallatin or Lebanon – we simply cannot match the resources of larger communities and so have to be watchful. Matching such amounts would almost certainly require a property tax increase – which would go over well with the voters in an election year, I’m sure.

Additionally, our officers make decent money now. At a meeting of the county’s Law Enforcement Committee in October, those in attendance (including myself) were provided with a sheet listing each employee of the Sheriff’s Department and their salaries for the 2017-18 fiscal year. These numbers are a matter of public record and should be available to any citizen who asks.

While I won’t name individual deputies, let me just say that starting pay was listed as $16.06 per hour for deputies ($35,910.16 annually) and reached $19.93 per hour ($44,563.48 annually). Courtroom officers, jailers and dispatchers make less than those numbers, in general.

Trousdale County needs to take a hard look at its own pay scale as compared to nearby communities. The Vidette has started that process as well, and hopes to be able to report as such in the near future. Once a basis for comparison is available, a serious discussion can begin on how to address deputy pay locally.

These brave men and women who protect us do deserve more money; let me be clear on that point. I do expect the County Commission to address the matter at budget time in May and June of next year, and I also expect that John Q. Citizen will be playing closer attention to this year’s budget discussions. We just need to be careful in helping these folks out without dipping too much into the taxpayers’ pockets.

Chris Gregory is managing editor of The Hartsville Vidette. Reach him at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Hartsville girl reportedly shot in Fann’s Market robbery

A Hartsville girl is said to be recovering after being shot Wednesday evening in an armed robbery while at work.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Officials with the Gallatin Police Department and Sumner County Sheriff’s Department said the robbery took place at Fann’s Market on Highway 25 in Castalian Springs.

Facebook reports and family members identified the victim as Victoria Crook, 18, a 2017 graduate of Trousdale County High School. The injuries were said to be non-life-threatening, and were described in one report as gunshot wounds to the elbow and leg along with a grazing wound in the midsection.

One suspect was reportedly in custody and one other, described as a Hispanic male in some reports, was being sought by law enforcement. Other reports said two suspects were being sought. The suspect or suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Gallatin Police Department at 615-452-1313.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

CoreCivic, Hartsville prison draw fire from lawmakers

Lawmakers used a hearing this week on reauthorizing the Tennessee Department of Corrections to take aim at CoreCivic and the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

The hearing came on the heels of a scathing audit released last month that noted staffing problems and other violations of TDOC policy at the Hartsville prison, which opened in January 2016.

Lawmakers heard from one former guard at Trousdale Turner, who alleged prison officials neglected prisoners’ health.

Ashley Dixon, who worked at the prison for seven months before resigning, told the committee, “I witnessed two deaths during my time there of prisoners due to medical neglect. Both experiences changed me and both deaths will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

One death was reportedly a diabetic inmate who did not receive insulin shots, while the other allegedly committed suicide by swallowing dozens of blood pressure pills.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

In both cases, Dixon claimed prison staff failed to respond until it was too late.

Dixon also claimed she was told to downplay language in reports describing physical encounters with inmates.

Allegations have plagued the facility since it opened, including reports of gang activity and prisoner abuse.

A lack of correctional officers has been a consistent problem at TTCC, one both the current warden and his predecessors have acknowledged. CoreCivic has moved guards from other facilities to Hartsville to fill needed slots and previously contracted with an outside company to provide staff. That practice has ended, according to previous reports.

TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker told lawmakers that CoreCivic had paid a $43,000 fine this summer for violations regarding prison counts, but said there were no plans to issue fines for staffing violations.

Parker also said more recent inspections of Trousdale Turner have shown improvement at the facility.

CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist made the following statement to The Vidette:

“While we’ve shared publicly that we’ve faced challenges at Trousdale Turner, we’ve been working hard and taking action to address those challenges. Our most recent facility-wide audit by TDOC reflects those efforts, as our facility was found to be in compliance with 97 percent of the required standards. While we’ve made significant progress, we know we still have work to do.

“CoreCivic has worked to make improvements in a number of areas. On staffing, ensuring all critical posts are filled is a top priority, and we’ve taken steps like significantly raising wages – the starting hourly wage for a new corrections officer at Trousdale Turner is $16.50, the highest in the state – while also providing signing bonuses, relocation bonuses and incentives for experienced staff. Additionally, we’ve worked to improve our processes around shift rosters to make sure the information is properly maintained and easily accessible, as well providing clarity around the times critical posts are and aren’t needed to avoid any confusion. TDOC has added an additional contract monitor to Trousdale Turner to ensure we are properly meeting all of our obligations to our inmates.

“We’ve also worked to make Trousdale Turner a place where inmates can prepare to successfully return to our communities. For example, nearly 700 inmates are enrolled in reentry programming ranging from educational opportunities to group therapy. We provide vocational training in high-demand careers such as masonry and computer programming, which helps people secure jobs once they’re released, and offerings like cognitive behavioral intervention and substance abuse treatment help inmates learn important life skills.

“We take very seriously our responsibilities to the legislature and our partners at TDOC. We appreciate their strong oversight and remain committed to operating safe, secure facilities with high-quality reentry programming.”

One lawmaker, Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said he would draft legislation for next year’s session of the General Assembly addressing privately owned prisons in Tennessee.

TDOC officials also said they would levy further fines against CoreCivic if the company continues to fail to meet guidelines in its contract with the state. The company has a five-year, $276 million contract to run Trousdale Turner through 2021.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

School Board approves 2018-19 calendar

Trousdale County students will head back to school in July once again, according to the 2018-19 district calendar which was approved by the School Board this week.

The board opted to go with the third of three proposed calendars, which has the first day of school on Thursday, July 26. The last day of school will be May 15, with graduation on May 17, 2019.


“The state assessment is locked, and we try to build our calendar around that,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “We want to be sure our students have an opportunity to be successful.”

As in previous years, teachers were invited to vote on all three options and pick the option they preferred. The earlier, or “traditional” option, received just over half the vote.

The first option had the same start date, a longer Christmas break and a later ending date. The second option had a later starting date, did not begin Christmas break until Dec. 24 and also had a later graduation date.

The 2018-19 calendar has Fall Break running from Oct. 15-19 and Thanksgiving Break from Nov. 21-23. The fall semester will end on Dec. 14, with school resuming on Jan. 3. Spring Break will run from March 25-29.

There are six administrative days built into the calendar with no school, as well as two days off for elections (Aug. 2 and Nov. 6) and a day off for the Trousdale County Fair (Aug. 3).

The School Board also approved funding for an air conditioner and generator for a planned mobile library/food bus to begin operation next summer. Satterfield said he estimated the cost to be between $15,000 and $20,000, but noted that $9,400 of that total would come from grant funds the school system already has in place.

The board also approved Jan. 11, 2018 as Food Service Appreciation Day.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Cold day, hot time for Hartsville Christmas celebration

Christmas may still be a week or two away, but it definitely felt like winter during last week’s “Three Days of Christmas” celebration in Hartsville.

Trousdale County began its Christmas celebration on Thursday night with the FCE Candlelight Tour of Homes.

Three area homes were on display, including Dixona, one of Middle Tennessee’s oldest homes that dates back to the late 1700s.

On Friday, the annual Chili Supper and Community Concert fundraiser was held at the new Community Center.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
The Red Hat Ladies ride atop their prize-winning float during the Hartsville Christmas Parade.

Money raised goes toward the school system’s Backpack Program to help feed children in need. As of Monday, organizers said the event had raised over $2,500.

“Especially important are the member of Hartsville United Methodist Church, the Church of the Firstborn and the Hartsville Rotary Club, along with the Trousdale Elementary Chorus and the Hartsville Community Chorus,” said Kathy Atwood, supervisor of Coordinated School Health. “We also appreciate everyone who made donations or came and ate. Our Food BackPack Program relies on our community for support, and again the community has stepped up to make a difference.”

After the chili, the crowd moved to the courthouse, where the TCES Singers performed for an upstairs courtroom that wound up with standing room only. Jack McCall read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as well.

The lighting of the Christmas tree capped Friday night’s activities.

GALLERY: Hartsville Christmas Celebration 2017

Parade day

Saturday began early with the annual Methodist Men’s Country Ham Breakfast at First United Methodist Church, followed by “Breakfast With Santa” at the courthouse and pictures with Santa at Wilson Bank & Trust.

The Hartsville Christmas Parade began shortly after 10 a.m., with Grand Marshal Risey Scruggs leading the route along McMurry Blvd, Broadway and Main Street before a packed crowd.

The bitterly cold weather didn’t keep folks from coming out to enjoy the festivities.

There were over 150 registrations in the 2017 parade, and the Red Hat Society took the overall grand prize for best entry.

After the parade, the third annual Dickens on the Square got under way with plenty to see and do.

As live music played from the courthouse steps, folks were treated to crafts and vendors, a cake walk that raised over $350 for Christmas For Kids and a costume contest.

A number of people, including a group of TCHS students, were decked out in Dickens-era costumes. Costume contest winners were: Linda Gregory (women), Jerry Richmond (men) and Stanley and Jane Farley (couple).

The celebration ended with Jack McCall’s telling of ‘A Christmas Carol’ from the courthouse.

“Wow! This year’s parade was one of the largest in history, and it was great to see everyone turn out despite the cold temperatures,” Knudsen said. “Our Dickens celebration was well attended. I know our vendors had a good sales day and really enjoyed heat and restrooms in the Community Center. There was plenty of free hot chocolate and cider to keep everyone warm.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.



Grand Prize – Red Hat Society

Best Float – Citizens Bank

Best Themed – Wilson Bank & Trust

Best Commercial – Caleb McClellan, Peterbilt Truck

Best Car – Tony Keisling

Best Truck – Phillip Smith

Best Tractor – Jason Towns

Best Motorcycle/ATV – Dion Burnley

Best Pet Entry – Dr. Towns Veterinary Services

Best Kids Entry – Cub Scouts

Best Horse – Lucas Scruggs

Belcher, church members ordered to have no contact

A Trousdale County commissioner was ordered to have no contact with members of her former church during a court appearance Friday.

Kendra Belcher, 48, who represents the Tenth District, appeared in General Sessions Court before Judge Kenny Linville to face charges of harassment that were filed in October.

Kendra Belcher

According to court records, Linville ordered Belcher to have no contact with the pastor and four members of Zion Missionary Baptist Church. The case was continued until June 8, 2018. Charges are expected to be dropped at that time as long as the no-contact order is followed.

At the time of her arrest, Belcher told The Vidette she had left the church over disagreements with the way the church was run. She was accused of sending text messages to the pastor and four others that “caused the whole church to be alarmed, and to fear physical harm as well as harm to the church building,” according to the arrest affidavit.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of this situation, and I’m glad I can put it all behind me,” Belcher told The Vidette.

The Vidette attempted to contact members of the church but had not heard back at press time.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Five indicted in escape from Macon County jail

A Trousdale County man is one of five people indicted by a Macon County grand jury in connection with last month’s escape of three inmates from the county jail.

Photo courtesy of TBI

At the request of 15th District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, on Nov. 8, agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined investigators with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Task Force in investigating the escape of Dylan Ferguson, Matthew White and Jeffery Strong from the Macon County Jail. On Nov. 9, Ferguson surrendered to officers and was taken into custody in Trousdale County. That same day, agents developed information that led to the arrest of Matthew White’s wife, Sky White, who had active warrants out of Macon County, at a hotel in Bowling Green, Ky. Matthew White was also taken into custody in Bowling Green on the night of Nov. 9.

The final fugitive, Jeffery Strong, was arrested the night of Nov. 10 in Macon County. The investigation further revealed that Tabitha Swaffer was responsible for serving as an accessory to Sky and Matthew White after the escape.

On Dec. 4, the Macon County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging all five individuals with counts related to the November escape:

Dylan Cecil Ferguson, 21, One count Felony Escape, one count Theft of Property, one count Vandalism.

Matthew Allen White, 29, One count Felony Escape, one count Theft of Property, one count Vandalism.

Jeffery Dewayne Strong, 32, One count Felony Escape, one count Theft of Property, one count Vandalism.

Sky Lynn White, 30, One count Accessory After the Fact.

Tabitha Ellen Swaffer, 38, One count Accessory After the Fact.

Ferguson is currently being held in Riverbend Maximum Security Prison; the other four at press time were in custody in the Macon County Jail.

Hartsville’s Three Days of Christmas

The Three Days of Christmas are here – along with our first cold snap of the season! But we have plenty of warning so bundle up and enjoy all the great events happening in Hartsville this week. It really didn’t feel like Christmas at 65 degrees, anyway.

Our first event, The Candlelight Tour of Homes, is being held on Thursday evening, Dec. 7. Three homes will be on the tour, including the historic Dixona, in which presidents and princes have laid their heads over the past 200 years.

We’ll meet at the Community Center at 5 p.m. for light refreshments and the buses will leave promptly at 5:30 p.m. The FCE club sponsors this fundraising event, with all proceeds being used for scholarships to assist local youth in attending 4-H camps this summer. Dixona is not handicap accessible. Tickets are available in advance for $12 at Wilson Bank & Trust, Citizens Bank and the UT Extension office, or $15 at the door.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Friday’s events include the Chili Supper and Youth Concert fundraiser for the Backpack program.

The Chili Supper begins at 5 p.m. in the Community Center, with the Youth Concert and Jack McCall’s presentation of “The Night Before Christmas” to follow in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse. All proceeds go to fund the Backpack Program, which provides food for vulnerable youth in our community. Tickets are $5 per person or $20 per family.

Immediately following the concert at the courthouse, we’re inviting everyone to join us in singing carols on the courthouse steps as we officially light the community’s Christmas Tree.

“Dickens on the Square” events kick off early on Saturday, Dec. 9, with the annual men’s Country Ham Breakfast at the Hartsville United Methodist Church on River Street. Serving runs from 7-10 a.m. The United Methodist women will also be holding a bazaar and bake sale in conjunction with the breakfast.

Breakfast with Santa also begins at 7 a.m. in the downstairs courtroom at the courthouse. Bring the kids for a FREE breakfast and a chance to meet and talk with Mr. and Mrs. Santa and photos. Amanda Carman graciously loads the photos on Facebook so you can share free of charge.

The annual Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Hartsville-Trousdale Chamber of Commerce, steps off at 10 a.m. on Saturday. If you or your group would like to be judged for one of 12 trophies, please be in line by 9 a.m. as we are prejudging the parade; otherwise lineup is at 9:30 a.m.

Please see the Vidette or its Facebook page for the parade lineup. The entry fee for the parade is a new, unwrapped child’s toy for Christmas For Kids, and the toys will be picked up as parade entries pass in front of the courthouse. A big “Thank You” to Rachael Petty, who handles all the entries and lineup for the parade! Your parade announcer will be Regina Waller, who always does a great job.

Immediately following the parade, “Dickens on the Square” begins with events in and around the courthouse and Community Center. There will be old-fashioned kids games, free hot chocolate, a cake walk sponsored by the Rotary Club, a magician performing on the courthouse steps, caroling and costumed characters outdoors.

Indoors at the Community Center, we will have FREE face painting and cookie decorating for the youth. Our wonderful collection of unique local vendors will also be in the Community Center. Stop in, warm up and finish – or if you’re like me, start – your Christmas shopping! You can shop for handmade jewelry, great food, clothing, cookware and oils, and also watch pottery being made.

PigPen Barbeque will be there with a delicious food offering – including chili!

The afternoon wraps up at 2 pm with Jack McCall’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol” in the upstairs room of the courthouse. This is truly something you must see this holiday season!

So bundle up in layers, run to the Co-op for your hand and foot warmers, and spend the Three Days of Christmas in Hartsville.