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School Board OKs consolidation of bus routes

The Hartsville/Trousdale County School Board gave its go-ahead last week to plans to consolidate two of the county’s bus routes beginning later this month.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield cited a continuing shortage of bus drivers as part of the reason for the move during last Thursday’s board meeting.

“We are short on bus drivers, and if someone’s out we don’t have any replacement for them,” Satterfield told the board. “I’ve recommended that we double a bus route to be most effective and less invasive to parents.”

Beginning on Monday, Nov. 27, routes for buses No. 17 and No. 5 will be combined. A letter was sent home to parents explaining the schedule changes.

According to a copy of the letter obtained by The Vidette, students currently riding bus No. 5 will be picked up approximately 35 minutes later each morning, while students currently on bus No. 17 will be picked up 25 minutes earlier than currently.

Afternoon drop-off times will not change for bus No. 17, but bus No. 5 will drop off roughly one hour later than currently.

Students on both routes will be bused to Trousdale County Elementary School to wait for afternoon delivery and will be supervised by school personnel while at TCES, the letter says.

“We’re trying to give parents advance notice so they can make any adjustments in their daily plans,” Satterfield said.

The board also voted to proceed with plans to create a mobile book & meal bus that would begin operating next summer.

RELATED LINK: BusLetter

A bus has already been designated for the project, which is intended to provide books to students and also work with the summer feeding program, which provides meals to students.

“We have a real passion for serving children to make sure they’re fed and reading,” said School Board Chairman Regina Waller. “I’m very excited to see this come to life.

“We’ll provide the bus, an air conditioner, the wrap to make the bus more recognizable, a driver and the books as resources allow.”

The Hartsville Rotary Club and Summer Backpack Program are also working to assist with the project, and a committee of school officials and Rotarians is scheduled to visit Lebanon and Murfreesboro later this month to view similar projects already under way.

The board also approved a request to hire an architecture firm to look at various projects and come up with plans for the board to review.

Four listed projects were: replacing exit doors at TCES, interior painting at TCES, storage cabinets and student cubbies at TCES, and potential safety improvements to the football stadium.

“We want to keep it safe and sturdy and be able to make some recommendations to the board,” Satterfield said.

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

NCTC receives $2.8 million to expand broadband in Trousdale, Smith

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett recently announced that NCTC would be the recipient of a $2.8 million USDA Broadband Community Connect grant.

This grant will bring broadband Internet service to 278 unserved and underserved households in the Riddleton, Dixon Springs and Pleasant Shade communities of Smith County, along with an as yet undefined adjacent area in Trousdale County.

“Broadband infrastructure is vital to our economy and quality of life in rural America. Yet, today nearly 40 percent of rural residents and businesses lack access to the same quality service available in urban centers,” Hazlett said in a recent trip to Tennessee and Kentucky.

Submitted photo
George McDonald showing one of the many ways he uses the Internet for his farming business with this electronic grain dryer controller. NCTC will receive just over $2.8 million from USDA Rural Development to expand broadband service to parts of Trousdale and Smith counties.

NCTC CEO Nancy White said, “George McDonald came to us last fall and asked if there was any way that NCTC could help the residents of Smith County who have no Internet. Timing was good as the USDA Broadband Grant application window was open. We took a chance, and with the great support of the local residents, Mayor Nesbit and others, we completed the application on time. We are delighted to have won this grant to be able to help our neighbors as we also continue to build fiber to NCTC members inside our service area.”

George McDonald of Catesa Farms lives in the Riddleton area and has worked very closely with NCTC to make this grant a reality.

“State of the art equipment will be able to be controlled remotely, and we can now participate in live auctions that we previously could not. We are excited to have these improvements coming to our business and look forward to using dependable high-speed Internet to meet our business’s daily needs in an ever-changing world,” McDonald said.

Many residents will be able to work from home, communicate better with their friends and family, and have the reliability of a local provider to connect them to an advanced network like they’ve never experienced before.

Mayor Michael Nesbitt stated, “In today’s world, it is unthinkable that there are areas in the country that cannot even get a landline telephone to dial 911. I am happy to work with NCTC to bring phone access, as well as high speed broadband, to a section of our county that could not get it otherwise. Rural businesses, students, and others need this service desperately. I am very thankful that we have local cooperatives serving Smith County.”

For more information on this grant or NCTC, visit nctc.com.

CoreCivic prison cited for ‘noncompliance’ in state audit

Audit findings released Tuesday by the state comptroller’s office were heavily critical of conditions at CoreCivic’s Hartsville prison.

The Trousdale Turner Correctional Center was cited in the report for “noncompliance with contract requirements and department policies” and also said that staffing reports at the prison “may not be reliable.”

The audit raised questions about the oversight being provided by the Tennessee Department of Corrections at the facility, which opened in January 2016.

File photo / Hartsville Vidette

“This report goes back to July 2014 and, as we’ve acknowledged previously, there were challenges with bringing the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center up to full speed after its opening. We’ve worked hard to address the challenges we’ve faced, and while we still have work to do, we are making progress,” CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said in a statement regarding the audit.

“For example, we’ve significantly increased pay to attract and retain employees, with the starting salary at Trousdale now more than $16 per hour. We’re also offering immediate signing bonuses and relocation bonuses to make sure we’re an attractive option in a competitive Tennessee labor market.”

According to the report, Trousdale Turner had unstaffed posts defined as “critical” on several days, had a roster that did not match state-approved staffing patterns and was consistently short-staffed.

Critical positions are defined as ones that would jeopardize the security or safety of the facility if left unstaffed.

Lack of staffing has been a near-constant criticism of Trousdale Turner since its opening, especially in the number of guards. For a time after opening, CoreCivic contracted with a third party to fill positions – a practice which ceased last year, according to past reports.

Analysis also indicated instances of officers working 16 hours or more at a time and noted a lack of staffing rosters that were requested by auditors.

RELATED LINK: State comptroller’s audit

Another finding cited “multiple instances of noncompliance” with state policies at Trousdale Turner, including a lack of grievance and sick call forms. Also, only one of four pods had instructions for obtaining medical care posted, which is required by TDOC policy.

In its response, TDOC noted a lack of monitoring staff and having a single contract monitor at the facility. The contract monitor is charged with ensuring compliance with policies, contract provisions and directives from TDOC.

CoreCivic received a five-year, $276 million contract to operate Trousdale Turner. State law essentially allows for only one private prison in Tennessee, but Trousdale County contracted with CoreCivic and serves as a pass-through with county government paying CoreCivic after receiving the money from the state.

The audit also notes that the mix of inmates transferred to TTCC could be responsible for some issues, citing “those with disciplinary issues, inmate compatibility issues, or … gang affiliation.” Former warden Blair Leibach noted at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this year that when a new facility opens, existing prisons tend to transfer their problem inmates.

“Instability in leadership” was also noted, with Trousdale Turner currently on its third warden since opening.

“TDOC recently conducted a follow-up audit at Trousdale Turner and while we are still awaiting the final report findings, we are encouraged by the initial feedback and look forward to its release,” Gilchrist said.

“We appreciate the strong oversight by our government partners and remain committed to operating safe, secure facilities with high-quality reentry programming.”

Mary Mancini, chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, issued the following statement:

“We didn’t need an audit to know private prisons are immoral and should not exist. There should never be a financial incentive for incarceration. This audit confirms there is insufficient oversight of the private contractors and that outsourcing is not about efficiency, but about using public dollars to create corporate profits. The Tennessee legislature should end the use of private prisons immediately.”

County Mayor Carroll Carman told The Vidette he wanted to review the audit findings before commenting.

The complete audit is available online at comptroller.tn.gov/repository/SA/pa17275.pdf.

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

Dylan Ferguson surrenders to Trousdale officials

A man on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top 10 Most Wanted list surrendered Thursday morning to Trousdale County officials.

Photo courtesy of TBI

According to the TBI, Dylan Cecil Ferguson, 20, turned himself in at the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office. Ferguson was added to the TBI list after escaping from the Macon County Jail on Wednesday along with two other prisoners: Jeffrey Strong and Matt White. Reports said the trio dug a tunnel in their jail cell and got out through a wall. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office said the men then stole a truck, which was later recovered.

Both Strong and White remained at large and the search for them was ongoing.

Neither Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell nor Macon County Sheriff Mark Gammons were immediately available for comment.

Ferguson was facing criminal homicide charges in the 2016 death of a Trousdale County man, Brandon Michael Fye.

A family member helped coordinate Ferguson’s surrender, according to the TBI. He was returned to the Macon County Jail and will likely face felony escape charges as well.

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

TBI seeks escapees from Macon County Jail

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a new addition to its ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list: Dylan Cecil Ferguson.

Ferguson (DOB 11-16-96) is wanted by the Macon County Sheriff’s Office and the TBI, after escaping from the county’s jail today, along with two other individuals: Jeffrey Strong and Matt White. All three subjects may be traveling in a stolen, white, 1990 Ford F-250 with Tennessee tag 3B5-7V2.

Ferguson faces charges, including Criminal Homicide, in connection to the death of a Trousdale County man in 2016 and should be considered armed and dangerous.

Ferguson is a white man, who stands 6’2” and weighs approximately 150 pounds. He has brown hair and green eyes. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should contact the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND. There is a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to Ferguson’s arrest.

Chamber plans second annual Community Thanksgiving Meal

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its second annual Community Thanksgiving Meal to give thanks and to honor the spirit of the people of Hartsville.

The meal will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 4-7 p.m. at the Eleanor Ford Theatre in Trousdale County High School.

“The idea behind the Thanksgiving dinner is to bring longtime residents and new residents together, to take time to introduce each other and build that sense of community,” said Chamber Director Natalie Knudsen.

Chris Gregory / File / Hartsville Vidette
Members of the community enjoyed food and fellowship at the 2016 Thanksgiving Meal.

The meal will be free to all who attend and will consist of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and pie, and will be available in either a regular or light portion. There will be wait staff on hand as well.

While requests for to-go meals were honored last year, Knudsen said that will not be the case this year.

“There will be no to-go boxes unless you are a Meals on Wheels customer or if you call in and make a request,” Knudsen said. “Leave a name, address and phone number, and we will contact them so you’re not having someone knock on your door at night unexpected.”

Anyone who is unable to attend can request a meal be delivered by contacting the Chamber at 615-374-9243. Deliveries will be made by members of the Volunteer Fire Department.

The event has grown substantially in just one year.

“Last year we planned to feed 500 people, and we were out of food in about an hour and a half,” Knudsen said. “We’re planning for 800 this year.”

There will be a 30’ x 50’ tent outside the auditorium where those in attendance can enjoy pie and coffee, hosted by the Red Hat Ladies.

There will also be a slideshow on the history of Hartsville, artwork from local students and gospel and bluegrass music.

“The Church of the Firstborn has worked with (county historian) John Oliver to create a slideshow of Hartsville that will be on two big screens,” Knudsen said. “I think that will be amazing to see.”

Live entertainment inside will include Jimmy Rayburn, Dr. Cassandra Bates, the Smith Chapel singers and local clogger Emily Brown.

The Chamber is seeking volunteers and donations to assist with the meal. For more information, contact Knudsen at hartsvilletrousdalecoc@gmail.com or call 615-374-9243.

“It’s meant to be a community event where people can come and meet their neighbors and friends. There are a lot of new people in Hartsville,” Knudsen said.

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

Dr. Badru opens new Broadway medical plaza

Hartsville’s newest medical facility opened for business over the weekend with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new St. Mary’s Medical Plaza/Zion Wellness & Medical Clinic.

Dr. Alexander Badru has moved his Hartsville office from its former site on McMurry Blvd. to a renovated office on Broadway. The new location formerly served as Dr. Floyd Reed’s office before his retirement.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
A ribbon cutting was held Saturday for the new St. Mary’s Medical Plaza, operated by Dr. Alexander Badru.

The Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting on Saturday and the Badrus opened the facility to the public for tours, free blood pressure checks and blood sugar checks.

“Our patients will be able to stay in this community, at our local hospital,” Badru said. “They won’t have to go out of town to get care.”

Since announcing the plans to renovate the Broadway location in early 2016, Dr. Badru and his wife, Demetrice, have worked hard to bring their dream to fruition.

“The old building has been gutted and we totally rebuilt it from floor to ceiling,” Dr. Badru said. “My wife picked out everything from colors to floors and tables and chairs! She’s done a great job on this project.”

Zion Wellness will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for its patients’ needs. Badru, who also operates an office in Lebanon, said he plans to be at the Hartsville site four days a week. Kalie Faulkner, a nurse practitioner, will also be on site in Hartsville full time. Badru has closed his Carthage office.

“We consolidated this office and Carthage,” he said. “Most of our patients in Carthage said it was no problem for them coming to Hartsville.”

Dr. Badru is working in conjunction with officials at Trousdale Medical Center to bring specialists to his office on a regular basis as well.

“Dr. Badru has been an amazing partner to the hospital,” said Mike Herman, who serves as the hospital’s chief executive officer. “We are working together to grow medical care in this community.

“Our goal is to have the specialists’ clinic up and running in December. We are actively pursuing cardiology, general surgery, obstetrics/gynecology and orthopedics to allow our community to seek care here vs. traveling to outside cities.”

Badru and Herman said they hope to be able to provide patient rehabilitation services as well, but that process is still in the works because of regulatory concerns.

Badru is board certified in internal medicine and also in treating those fighting various addictions, such as alcohol and drugs. Those services will also be available at the Hartsville office.

“A lot of people in our community have to go to places for dependency treatment that take cash, but not insurance,” he said. “We work with insurance to provide necessary treatment and counseling programs that we work in conjunction with.”

Dr. Badru said the St. Mary’s name came from his family background in Nigeria.

“St. Mary’s is a name that always been in my family,” he said. “My mother was known as ‘Mama St. Mary’ and she had a hospital in Nigeria when I was very young. She retired and started a church called St. Mary’s.”

Zion Wellness can be contacted at 615-374-4700 and is located at 213 Broadway.

“This is my hometown. The people in Trousdale County deserve the very best services and care without having to drive 25-50 miles,” added Demetrice Badru.

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

Mayor requests $90K to complete Justice Center

Hartsville’s new Justice Center was on display Monday evening for members of the County Buildings Committee, which met in the new facility.

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Justice Center was renovated from the remaining portion of the old Co-op building on Main Street.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
County Mayor Carroll Carman leads a tour of the county’s new Justice Center, which is near completion.

During the meeting, County Mayor Carroll Carman gave those in attendance a tour of the building, which features two courtrooms, new offices for judges and clerks and prisoner holding areas.

Carman also submitted a request to commissioners for $90,000 for costs that exceeded the original budget, including change orders and some work still remaining. The committee voted its approval for the request, which will next go to the Budget & Finance Committee, which meets on Monday, Nov. 20.

If approved by the entire Commission, the money would come from remaining funds in the county’s Capital Projects Fund and would not require a draw from fund balance.

“I am, overall, very pleased with the work that’s taken place here,” the mayor said. “When you enter into an old building like this, you run into problems that no one would have thought about. In the final analysis, this represents about 1.7 percent of the total project.”

The County Commission originally approved funding of $1.76 million for the Justice Center, and the winning bid from Beasley Construction came in at just over $1.8 million. Including the $90,000 request, Carman presented a final estimate of just over $2 million for the project.

The mayor cited a need to add an area for prisoner transfer, which added roughly 1,700 square feet to the building, as part of the reason for the extra cost. Carman also noted that engineering fees, which totaled around $160,000, were not part of the original estimate.

Other extra items not on the original plans were outside lighting and a guardrail for the sidewalk on the back of the building that overlooks Little Goose Creek.

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” said committee chairman John Oliver. “I think we’ve done well here and our overrun is very little.”

Carman said he anticipated moving the courtroom personnel to the Justice Center sometime after the first of the year.

“I have some (things) to work through, and we’ll deal with the rumbles as they come,” Carman said.

An open house for the community is also planned, but no date has been determined as of yet.

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

TCES, JSMS get high marks on TNReady

Trousdale County students outscored the state average in every category of last year’s TNReady tests, according to results released last month.

Students in grades 3-11 take TNReady assessments in English language arts, math and science at the end of each school year.

Trousdale students ranked third statewide in grades 6-8 Math with 62.5 percent of students scoring either on track or having mastered the subject material. Grades 6-8 Science ranked No. 7 statewide with 84.3 percent on track or mastered. Both were well ahead of the respective state averages of 35.8 and 61.4 percent.

Grades 6-8 ELA (English/Language Arts) were at 38.7 percent on track/mastered, which ranked 33rd statewide and was 5.1 percent above the state average.

“We felt pretty good that we were above state average in every category,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “We have areas we have to work on, but when we have aligned standards, assessment and curriculum, we’ll see even better results down the road.”

At Trousdale County Elementary School, grades 3-5 ELA ranked 13th statewide with 45.8 percent on track/mastered and grades 3-5 Math was 23rd in Tennessee with 49.5 percent on track/mastered.

“We put a lot of emphasis on early-grade reading,” Satterfield said. “To have that level of achievement, we fell good about.”

High school scores were released earlier this year, as previously reported in The Vidette. Those scores had the high school rated No. 1 in the state in Integrated Math II scores and No. 2 in Integrated Math I.

In all, Trousdale County Schools were more than 10 points better than the state average in seven of 14 reporting categories and exceeded the average in all areas.

Satterfield did address three areas – U.S. History, English II and 6-8 ELA – which exceeded state averages but did not see the growth in scores that the district had hoped to achieve.

“Obviously that’s an area of focus going forward,” Satterfield said, “but our achievement (in History) was in the low 80s last year and we moved to 34. We feel we’re making good progress.”

Additionally, the state released its District Accountability Determinations, with Trousdale rated as Achieving – or meeting growth expectation on average. The district missed on an Exemplary rating by 0.09 points.

However, the district did rate Exemplary in subgroup scoring, defined as Black/Hispanic/Native American, Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities.

“We had an exceptional school year, and state designations such as these do not diminish our many successes,” Satterfield said. “This is the first year that we have received new TNReady assessment results for grades 3-8 and only the second year for high school end-of-course subjects. We will just keep analyzing, working and improving as we continue to implement the new state academic standards and assessments.”

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

Haley’s Hearts 5K raises estimated $21,500

Supporters braved the cold Saturday morning in Hartsville City Park for the seventh annual Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Runners cross the start line at the beginning of Saturday’s Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K.

The event is one of two fundraisers for Haley’s Hearts Foundation, which provides assistance to families with children suffering from congenital heart defects (CHDs). Ryan and Tina Chasse started the foundation in memory of their daughter Haley, who died in 2010 at age 5 from complications from a CHD.

According to the Chasses, Saturday’s race had over 150 pre-registered participants and raised approximately $21,500.

The foundation wishes to thank all those who registered, donated or otherwise participated in Saturday’s event. All the money raised goes to help families of children with CHDs and also to fund research at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

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

Help recognize Trousdale County’s volunteer work

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Vidette editor Chris Gregory serves on the Trousdale County committee).

Trousdale County will accept nominations for the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Star Awards, and there’s an easy way to nominate a worthy local volunteer.

The annual award recognizes “outstanding volunteers from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties,” according to the Volunteer Tennessee website.

“This is the first year Trousdale County has participated in the Volunteer Star program,” said Trousdale County committee member Chris Gregory. “It is an honor to be able to recognize the dedication and hard work people in this community put into making our world a better place.”

Nominations for youth and adults may be made by contacting The Hartsville Vidette by phone at 615-374-3556, in person at the office at 206 River Street, or by email at cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Nomination forms will be available at The Vidette office and may be returned there or to the county mayor’s office at 328 Broadway.

Nominations for Trousdale County honorees will be accepted through Dec. 15. At that time, a committee will go through the nominees and select one youth and one adult to send on to the state level.

“The deadline to get them in to the state is Dec. 30,” Gregory said.

Participating counties, including Trousdale, will name one outstanding youth and one outstanding adult. Those named a 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Star will gather in Franklin in February to be honored and celebrate volunteerism in Tennessee.

More information about the Governor’s Volunteer Star program is available online at tn.gov/finance/article/vt-gvsa.

NCTC welcomes USDA official as part of broadband tour

North Central Telephone Cooperative welcomed Anne Hazlett, who serves as Assistant to the Secretary USDA, Rural Development, to the area recently to see how NCTC is working to bring Internet service to rural customers.

Hazlett said she has a vision for what broadband can do for rural America and a better understanding of the needs of local residents after touring parts of southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

“I’ve been inspired by what I’ve seen,” Hazlett said.

Submitted photo
NCTC held a welcome ceremony on Oct. 18 for USDA official Anne Hazlett, third from right, who was touring parts of Kentucky and Tennessee to see NCTC’s efforts to expand broadband service in the region. Pictured with Hazlett are, from left: Nancy White, CEO of NCTC; Steve Jones, Macon County Mayor; Trousdale County Mayor Carroll Carman; Harriett Cannon, acting USDA Director for Tennessee and Michael Nesbitt, Smith County Mayor.

Hazlett came to Kentucky and Tennessee hoping for “a conversation about telecommunications” and to hear about the needs of rural residents in the area. During the visit, NCTC CEO Nancy White hosted Hazlett at the Mt. Zion Community Center in Allen County, Ky., along with the site of a newly built fiber optic broadband network hub on Halltown Road in Hartsville and a tour of Macon County. Both facilities and the new fiber-optic broadband network in the surrounding area are made possible by grants and loans from the Rural Utility Service.

Hazlett said she appreciated the opportunity to hear from local officials and area residents.

“You cannot know what the true needs are in communities without getting out here,” she said.

White said the trip created opportunities for Hazlett to see those needs firsthand. “Policymakers in Washington are making decisions every day that affect rural Americans and no one is going to tell our stories for us,” White said. “We were very pleased for the opportunity to show Ms. Hazlett how a reliable broadband connection can help rural Tennesseans and Kentuckians. It is very encouraging to see someone so deeply committed to being a voice for rural America.”

Hazlett began her day speaking at the fall meeting of the Kentucky Telecom Association and the Tennessee Telecommunications Association. While there, she praised those in attendance for their leadership and innovation in serving rural Americans.

“You all know the challenges of serving these areas and you’ve met them head-on,” Hazlett told the crowd of rural telecommunications executives, employees and vendors. “These are simply critical services, not just for communities to survive, but to thrive.”

Before being named Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development in June, Hazlett worked on agriculture and rural issues for more than 15 years, including as Republican chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. She also served as Director of Agriculture for Indiana and the Chief of Staff to the Indiana lieutenant governor.

County Commission fills three vacant seats

The Trousdale County Commission elected three interim commissioners and discussed an increase in the trash collection rate Monday night.

Elections were held to fill vacant spots in districts 3, 6 and 9. Five candidates total were up for the jobs, one in District 3 and two each in districts 6 and 9.

Gary Walsh was the lone candidate for District 3, and in his speech, he promised to use his experience as a veteran to best serve the city and county.

“My interest in here is to serve the county,” said Walsh. “I’m currently retired Navy, I moved up here to Tennessee, to Nashville in ’94, and got to Trousdale County in 2000 with my wife. One of my big interests is the veterans. I want to take care of the veterans here in the county, and I’m just here to again be involved in the community, be involved in what’s going on and make this county a better place for all.”

Walsh won the District 3 seat with no opposition.

The candidates for District 6 were Jace Green and Amber Russell. Green was called upon first to speak but wasn’t present at the meeting. In Russell’s speech, she talked about her eagerness to work with the current commissioners.

“I have been watching you guys for a while, and now I finally get the opportunity to work with you guys,” said Russell. “I have met opposition in the town before, and I met it, and I think I did quite well with it and opened the doors of an office that have been open for four years. Maybe you guys have seen lately that I am involved in a lot of stuff, because I don’t like being idle. I like being a part of things, I like seeing how they work and I would like to do that with you all.”

Russell won the 6th District seat.

In the 9th District, both candidates were present, Rachel Jones and David Thomas. Jones spoke first about her desire to give back to the community.

“I think you reach that point in your life where you want to give back, and I have reached that point in my life,” said Jones. “I want to give back to the community that I live in, that has done so much for me and my family. I want to give to my neighbors, my friends, my church and just my community. I heard recently about a man who passed away. They described him as a man who always went above and beyond, an ‘and then some’ person. I want to be your ‘and then some’ person.”

Thomas spoke next about the work he had done within the county and his eagerness to get things done, but ultimately, Jones won the 9th District seat.

After their inductions, the interim members were allowed to sit in on the rest of the commission meeting and vote on resolutions and ordinances.

One such ordinance that received a lot of attention concerned a trash collection rate increase. The proposed increase would be $3 more per month for county residents to have their trash picked up.

One concerned citizen pleaded with the commission to reconsider passing the ordinance.

“I’m here to discuss the rate hike, not because of the $3, but because this is the third rate hike in 9 years,” said the citizen. “I don’t believe it’s a fair rate hike.”

The citizen said in looking at the county budget, he felt the current rate was already more than enough to pay for the trash collection service.

Mayor Carroll Carman countered the point. He said the increase wouldn’t even fully repair the deficit the county had, rather it would just “put a Band-Aid on the situation.”

When it was put to a vote, the ordinance passed with 17 votes for it, two votes against it and one commissioner absent.

Trousdale needs mentors for TN Promise

Trousdale County is searching for around 10 mentors to meet the demand for Tennessee Promise students in the 2018 high school class.

The Tennessee Promise program allows high school graduates to get two years of free tuition at any community or technical college in the state.

Mentors are able to sign up online and will be paired with a student who the mentor will help guide through the process of meeting important deadlines, registering for college and answering any questions they may have as they begin their journey as a college freshman next fall.

A mentor only requires a time commitment of about one hour per month, and the impact a mentor could have on a student’s life can be significant, particularly for those who are the first in their family to go to college.

Currently, Trousdale County has eight of the 17 mentors needed to meet student demand for the class of 2018.

“Our high school seniors are taking the next step in their life and many are the first in their families to further their education past high school. As mentors, our job is to encourage them and help answer their questions,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Natalie Knudsen. “We serve as taskmasters by reminding them of important deadlines for applications, community service and admission requirements. Students often don’t know that they need you until they have a question but then you can be a valuable resource. Sometimes it is something as simple as understanding their class schedule but that can seem like an insurmountable hurdle to them at the time. For instance, I was able to help a couple of my mentees confirm their community service hours at the last possible date and that enabled them to stay in the program and receive their tuition assistance.”

According to Tennessee Achieves data, 59 Trousdale County students in the high school graduating class of 2015 took advantage of the Tennessee Promise initiative, which started with their class.

Trousdale County had 80 Tennessee Promise applicants in the class of 2015, and 39 of those students completed their first year.

Tennessee Promise part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative, launched in 2013, which has the goal to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025.

TNAchieves also introduced its #FindAFriend campaign. When a mentor finds someone new to become a mentor, make sure they list his or her name in the “How did you hear about tnAchieves?” field of the application.

The recruiter will then be entered into a drawing to receive gift cards to area restaurants and attractions, tickets to sporting events, gift baskets from chambers of commerce and several other prizes.

Interested participants may register to become a mentor at tnachieves.org/mentors/apply. The deadline to register is Dec. 1.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Xavier Smith, Lebanon Democrat

Tri-County launches broadband pilot program

Tri-County Electric held a public meeting last Monday with homeowners to discuss details of the utility’s plan to provide broadband Internet service to Trousdale County.

Twenty homes along Highway 10 will be the first to be eligible for service as part of a pilot program designed to test both Tri-County’s ability to provide broadband and how receptive the community is likely to be.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

“We’re very excited about bringing broadband to Trousdale County,” said Paul Thompson, Executive Vice President/General Manager of Tri-County. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Customers in the pilot program will receive the same service that Tri-County plans to offer across Trousdale County in an estimated 3-year timeline.

Tri-County will eventually 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.

However, only the 50/50 package will be initially available to those in the pilot program. Thompson said the other packages were expected to be ready in 2-3 months and upgrades would not cost customers anything.

“You’ll be able to stream video if you want, and that’s just our base package,” Thompson said.

Tri-County will also offer VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), or phone service over the Internet, for $39.95 a month. That will also be ready in 2-3 months, and will include unlimited local and long distance within the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and parts of Mexico.

An installation charge of $1,500 will be waived for customers who opt to participate in Tri-County’s Demand Response Program.

As Thompson explained to the audience, Demand Response involves installing “smart” thermostats that can be preset and also checking water heaters.

“It will be seamless to you. We’re not going to make your house cold or run you out of hot water,” Thompson said. “This is being done all over the country. We’re just getting to it here.”

Customers who opt out of the Demand Response will have to pay the installation fee, but at a prorated rate over 24 months.

Tri-County is still working to begin providing service to all of Trousdale County over the next three years. The western portion of the county has been identified as Phase 1, with plans to have that area wired over the next year or so.

Tri-County will hold more public meetings in the future when the utility moves closer to beginning work in those areas.

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

Trousdale students set new ACT standard

Trousdale County students set a new standard on the ACT, scoring an average of 21.3 in the 2016-17 school year.

Statewide, the average reached a high of 20.1, making about 1,800 more Tennessee public school graduates became eligible for the HOPE scholarship by earning composite scores of 21 or higher.

Additionally, public school students improved in every section of the ACT by increasing their average score in English, reading, math, and science. The average ACT score for public school students in each subject area was:

19.6 in English, up 0.1 points,

20.5 in Reading up 0.1 points,

19.4 in Math, up 0.2 points; and

20.3 in Science, up 0.2 points.

The average scores in Trousdale County were:

21.2 in English,

21.3 in Math,

21.0 in Reading, and

21.1 in Science.

“Other than being ranked 15th out of 146 school districts in Tennessee, we are ecstatic that for the third consecutive year our ACT scores have risen above an average composite of 20.0,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “The most recent composite average of 21.3 is the highest in the history of the school, making Trousdale County one of only 23 school districts that met the state’s goal of an average ACT score of 21. Another amazing point is that our economically disadvantaged subgroup had a composite average of 20.0.”

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield

Tennessee has focused on increasing ACT results over the past several years. The class of 2017 was the first one to have access to a free opportunity to retake the ACT, which the department expanded this year to ensure more students can retake the exam. Nearly 26,000 students statewide in the class of 2017 participated in the department’s first ACT Senior Retake Day last fall. Of those, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score.

TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson said during last Thursday’s school board meeting that 74 of 80 seniors in the class of 2018 had signed up for this year’s ACT retake, scheduled for Oct. 17.

The reported averages use students’ best ACT scores — meaning that if a student took the ACT multiple times, the score included in last week’s results is his or her highest score. This data is different than the results reported nationally by ACT, which are based on the last score a student received, regardless of whether it was the highest, and also include private school results.

In Trousdale County, 51.6 percent of students scored a 21 or higher, while 31.2 percent scored a 19 or less.

“Our success can be attributed to intentionally focused instruction in every classroom every year. We can see significant increases in student learning from the elementary school, to the middle school, culminating in the high school,” Satterfield added. “Our teachers, students, and administrators exemplify a winning culture that is permeating throughout our school district. We only hope to continue our success so that all students will be prepared for successful careers.”

Additional takeaways from the 2017 ACT results:

Almost 1,000 more graduates hit all four college ready benchmarks on the ACT test in 2017 compared to 2016.

Within each subject area, 57.4 percent of public school students met the college ready benchmark in English, 30.6 percent met the benchmark in math, 40.7 percent met the benchmark in reading, and 31.1 percent met the science benchmark.

23 districts now have an average composite at or above 21, up from 18.

48 Tennessee school districts have an average ACT composite above the state average.

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

County commissioner denies harassment charge

A Trousdale County commissioner is denying charges that she harassed members of her former church.

Kendra Belcher, 48, who represents the Tenth District on the County Commission, was arrested Monday evening and charged with harassment.

Kendra Belcher

According to the arrest affidavit, Belcher is accused of sending text messages to the pastor of Zion Missionary Baptist Church and four other members, which “caused the whole church to be alarmed, and to fear physical harm as well as harm to the church building.”

Belcher told The Vidette she had recently left the church over disagreements with how the church was being run. While she acknowledged sending text messages to church members, she adamantly denied threatening anyone.

“I haven’t hurt anyone, nor did I threaten anyone,” Belcher said when contacted by The Vidette. “I’m not the person that… pastor made me out to be.”

The Vidette attempted to contact the pastor, Bro. Terry Ray, but calls were not returned.

Belcher offered her resignation from the County Commission on Thursday but later opted against stepping down.

Belcher was released on $15,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in General Sessions court on Dec. 8.

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

ARC celebrates Hartsville facility with ribbon cutting

Friday was a celebration of economic development in Trousdale County with both the ribbon cutting of ARC Automotive’s new Hartsville facility and the dedication of a new industrial access road built in the PowerCom site.

County and state officials came out to recognize over $7 million worth of development in Hartsville.

“This was a blessing, that ARC Automotive came this way,” said County Mayor Carroll Carman. “We rejoice in their presence in Trousdale County.”

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

ARC Automotive, which is headquartered in Knoxville, announced in May 2014 that it would build a facility to expand its capacity for airbag inflator production. ARC also has a plant in Morgantown, Ky.

The facility currently has 12 full-time employees and will have between 60 and 70 employees once production is ramped up to capacity. ARC has invested $5.7 million in the PowerCom facility since the 2014 announcement.

“I feel very privileged to be part of this investment and opportunity to bring jobs to this area,” said Tim Frazier, general manager of ARC’s Hartsville plant. “One of the things that stands out about Tennessee and Hartsville is the sense of community. Whenever I meet (folks) out in the area, they’re very friendly and helpful.

“ARC could not be here on its own. Tennessee Central, Tri-County (Electric), Trousdale County, TVA, everyone has been very supportive here.”

The project was delayed slightly after a number of planned economic incentives were removed by the state. Tennessee’s Department of Economic Development mistakenly classified Trousdale as a Tier I county instead of Tier II, putting Trousdale (in the state’s eyes) on par with Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties.

Appeals to the state were later accepted and Trousdale returned to Tier II status. The reclassification allowed for nearly $900,000 in incentives for ARC.

“This project is, as economic developers, something you dream about,” added Charly Lyons, Executive Director of Tennessee Central Economic Alliance (formerly Four Lake). “It took a while, a lot of things happened.

“This company puts Trousdale County in the automobile industry, which is an excellent opportunity. It’s becoming pretty dominant in Tennessee and in the South.”

“It comes down to the vision locally for us to be able to lay out a project anywhere,” said Clay Banks, regional director of TNECD. “We know a job is a direct pathway to economic prosperity.”

ARC provides inflators for automotive airbags and has over 70 years of experience in design technology. Some of the company’s newest technological advances will be utilized at the Hartsville plant, Frazier said.

“What we are doing here in Hartsville is not being done anywhere else,” he said. “We’re developing a new gas generate for the propellant for the airbag industry. Hartsville is the only propellant manufacturing site in ARC.”

Once production reaches capacity, Frazier said the Hartsville plant would create 1,000 kilograms, or just over 2,200 pounds, of propellant every day, which will be used in 7 million cars annually.

 

Access to site

Prior to the ARC ribbon cutting, another ceremony was held to formally open a new industrial access road, Tennessee Central Boulevard. The road begins at the intersection with Trousdale Way and extends over a mile, going up to ARC’s site located near the CoreCivic prison.

The road was built using Tennessee Department of Transportation funds and came at an estimated cost of $1.6 million, according to Carman. The State Industrial Access Program provides funding and technical assistance for highway access to new and expanding industries in Tennessee.

“We congratulate Trousdale County on what we feel is going to be a great project,” said Will Reid, assistant chief engineer of operations for TDOT. “We always look forward to working with local municipalities to help stimulate economic growth.”

“This road has been about four years in the making,” Lyons added. “I want to thank TDOT, Trousdale County and Tennessee Central for making this happen.”

The road was built by Vulcan Materials after some delays because of environmental studies and other required surveys.

“We were standing on gravel three years ago, and in some areas, thickets, briars and bramble,” Carman said. “Now we have a beautiful road that is going to really open up our industrial park.”

Lyons also thanked current and former members of the Tennessee Central board of directors, including Carman, Smith County Mayor Michael Nesbitt, Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt, Mae Perry, Phillip Holder, Shelby Linville and Jake West.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver and State Sen. Ferrell Haile, who were both in attendance, were also recognized for their support of TCEA and for the TDOT program that allowed for the road construction.

“Anytime we get to be part of opening a brand new road, it signifies progress and shows we’re moving forward,” Weaver said. “Good roads and good people on the team make for what we all want to see: good jobs and being able to get there.”

“Roads lead to opportunities,” Haile added. “This will be an economic boon for citizens, not just for Trousdale County, but surrounding counties.”

Part of the ceremony included dedicating two connector roads in the PowerCom park that were named for former Tennessee Central employees: Teresa Lane (named for longtime office manager Teresa Carman) and Rigsby Road (named for Don Rigsby, former executive director of TCEA).

Trousdale County was also recognized as a ThreeStar county, which recognizes communities and local leaders who work to impact the community’s competitiveness in a global economy.

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

Assistant fire chief Larry Guffey passes away

Hartsville and Trousdale County paid their respects over the weekend to Assistant Fire Chief Larry Guffey, who passed away on Oct. 3.

Guffey, 73, was a charter member of Hartsville’s Civil Defense before joining the Volunteer Fire Department in 1986, according to longtime friend and Fire Chief Jimmy Anthony.

Submitted

“Larry had a total of 25 years with the Fire Department and even longer with Civil Defense,” Anthony said. “The chief before me (James Thomas) was here when Larry came on.

“James once told me, ‘There’s only one thing wrong about Larry. I wish we’d had him 10 years ago!’ ”

Guffey reportedly was stricken ill while working and was taken to Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, where he later passed. His body was escorted home Tueday evening by members of the Fire Department.

Members of the community lined Highway 25 with their vehicle headlights on to honor Guffey.

“We’re all replaceable, but his dedication and loyalty to the Fire Department was outstanding,” Anthony said. “You couldn’t ask for better help or a better man.”

Services were held on Saturday for Guffey at Anthony Funeral Home, and he was interred at the Dixon Springs Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Mark Presley
A memorial to Larry Guffey’s service with the fire department was on display during his memorial over the weekend.

He is survived by his wife, Judy; five children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Donations may be made to the Hartsville United Methodist Church in Guffey’s memory.

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

Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K to be run Oct. 28

The Haley’s Hearts Foundation will hold its seventh annual Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Pre-registration for the fundraising event is under way and ends on Friday. The pre-registration cost is $30 for adults and $20 for youth, according to the event’s Facebook page. Entrants will receive a T-shirt and bandana.

Race day registration will begin at 7 a.m., with the race scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Registration on race day will be $35.

Submitted

The Forever 5K is returning to its traditional morning start after changing to an afternoon run last year.

“It went OK last year,” said Ryan Chasse, who founded Haley’s Hearts along with his wife Tina. “We didn’t get the numbers we wanted, but it was still a great turnout.”

Haley’s Hearts was set up in memory of their daughter Haley, who passed away in 2010 at age 5 from complications of a congenital heart defect, Ebstein’s Anomaly.

The foundation assists families who have incurred significant expenses because of illness of death from congenital heart defects, and also raises awareness of CHDs.

Over the years, Haley’s Hearts has helped families with medical expenses and donated to the Pediatric Heart Institute at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. According to the Chasses, the foundation provided an estimated $36,000 in support for families and donations to research last year alone. Since its creation, the foundation has donated $78,000 to PHI at Children’s Hospital and $105,000 in assistance to families.

Last year’s Forever 5K raised approximately $22,500. This year’s event is hoped to do even more and will again be a color edition, with chalk sprayed as runners cross the finish line. A non-color lane will also be available for those who don’t want to be hit with the chalk dust. A family friendly 1-mile run is also available for those who don’t want to run a full 5K race.

“We get great support from the community,” Chasse said.

To sign up, visit haleyshearts.org, email haleysheartsfoundation@gmail.com or call 615-374-1326.

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