Arrest made in Macon County shooting

Photo courtesy of TBI
Rodney Garrett

An Antioch man was arrested Thursday in relation to a Feb. 11 shooting in Macon County that left two people dead.

At the request of District Attorney Tommy Thompson, TBI Special Agents joined the Macon County Sheriff’s Office in investigating the shooting. James Turner, 44, of Macon County, and Alisha Mondoni, 32, of Hartsville, were both found in a vehicle at 5100 New Harmony Road in Macon County by a neighbor, who called 911.

During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that led them to Rodney Garrett, 29, and Keithandre Murray, 22, as the individuals responsible for the deaths of Turner and Mondoni.

On Thursday, Garrett was arrested in Nashville. He was transported to Macon County and booked into the Macon County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder. He was being held without bond and as of Friday morning no court date had been set.

The TBI is also looking for Murray, who was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on Thursday evening. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Photo courtesy of TBI
Keithandre Murray

Murray is described as a 22-year-old African-American man, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs approximately 175 pounds. He is described as having black hair and brown eyes, along with tattoos on his right arm, wrist and chest. He should be considered armed and dangerous.

There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to Murray’s arrest.

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

Trousdale schools to be closed Friday

Trousdale County Schools will be closed on Friday because of growing numbers of sick students.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield made the announcement Thursday morning in a letter that was sent to faculty and staff.

In the letter, Satterfield stated, “…We have decided to close school for Friday, Feb. 17, in an effort to extend the holiday break so that the mode of transmission may be decreased of the disease causing pathogens that we have identified within the student population. Our custodial and food service staffs will concentrate their efforts on cleaning and disinfecting to ensure clean facilities when our students return on Tuesday, Feb. 21.”

Wilson County Schools have been closed most of this week, while Macon and Smith Counties both have been closed as well.

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

February 17, 2017 School Closure Notice

Wilson Bank celebrates 20 years in Hartsville

For 20 years, Wilson Bank & Trust has been serving the people of Hartsville, and the bank is ready to celebrate that milestone.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Wilson Bank & Trust will celebrate its 20 years in Hartsville next week.

The bank will host an event on Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 2-5 p.m. At 3 p.m., the original employees will reunite to mark the 20-year history. Bank officials from Lebanon are also expected to attend.

“We’ll give away some door prizes, and have refreshments,” said branch manager Lisa Beal Dies. “When we started this bank, we knew we had a huge obstacle ahead of us. But we work for a very good, sound organization. We’ve been very blessed.

“Even though we are a big bank, we’re very much a community bank.”

Among the prizes given away will be a $100 gift card basket.


Bank’s history

Starting a new bank was the combined brainchild of two people: Glen Haynes & Dale Dies.

“Haynes, Dies, Lisa Beal Dies & Linda Gregory were all working at Community First Bank in Hartsville,” said Lisa Dies. “Community First announced in October 1996 that they would be selling to First American.

“All of us had been there for many years. We didn’t know if we would have jobs or not, but Glen knew that some of us would lose our jobs.”

Dale Dies, who had contacts with Wilson Bank & Trust, helped set up a meeting at which bank officials expressed interest in opening a branch in Trousdale County.

“We were interested in going with them, and it’s worked out very well for us,” said Haynes, who served as branch manager until he semi-retired in 2014. “I hope it’s worked out for Trousdale County as well, and I think it has.

“We have everything that a consumer could hope to have: a mortgage department, insurance, investments, everything.”

Submitted photo
Employees and bank officials pose outside a trailer which was the bank’s original home when it opened in February 1997.

The bank, then titled Trousdale Bank & Trust, opened its doors on Feb. 20, 1997, utilizing a trailer in the Foodland parking lot, across the street from the current location on McMurry Blvd.

“That first day was a beautiful, warm February day, and people stayed lined up the whole day,” said Lisa Dies.

According to Lisa Dies, 47 accounts were opened on that first day of business, and the bank has grown at a phenomenal rate since then.

“The first year we were open, our total assets were about $12 million. We’re right at $91 million now,” said Lisa Dies. “The community’s been good to us, and we’ve tried to be good to the community.”

The bank started with six employees, of whom Lisa Dies and Linda Gregory are the only original employees remaining. The bank now employs 11 people at its Hartsville location.

WBT moved quickly to purchase property for a permanent building. Construction began immediately thereafter, and the current location opened on March 8, 1998. The building was expanded in the early 2000s, adding an upstairs meeting room and extra space to the rear of the building.

The name was changed to Wilson Bank & Trust in 2014 to provide conformity among all branches. WBT has 27 branches across Middle Tennessee with $2.2 billion worth of assets.


Community service

Ever since its opening, WBT has strived to be a positive influence on the community by way of a number of programs that continue today.

The bank recognizes a Yellow Jackets Player of the Week during football season, something that began the first year. The bank also has held an annual Farmers’ Luncheon since 1998 and participates in the Christmas parade each year. WBT recognizes the Top 10 students at Jim Satterfield Middle School, and provides a scholarship each year to a graduating high school senior. In addition, the bank hosts an annual Veterans’ Luncheon, Solid Gold Fish Fry and Family Fun Day.

WBT also has a School Bank program, through which elementary school students can open up accounts into which they can make deposits each month at school.

Submitted photo
Groundbreaking was held in 1997 for the bank’s permanent site, which opened in 1998.

“That’s been very successful. A lot of those kids have grown up and now have accounts with us,” said Lisa Dies.

Lisa Dies also recognized the members of the bank’s Community Board, many of whom have served since the bank’s opening. The board currently consists of Mark Beeler, Jerry Helm, Kenny Linville, Ron Moreland, Mike Cornwell, Tammy Dixon and Michael Towns.

“We meet every month and talk about ways to bring in new business, about events that are coming up,” Lisa Dies said.

“They’re the eyes and ears of the bank in the community,” added loan officer Seth Thurman.

Over those 20 years, WBT has worked to maintain its standing with the community, and officials said they are truly grateful for the support Hartsville has shown.

“Our whole premise was to be a good neighbor for Trousdale County,” Haynes said. “Hopefully, that’s what we’ve been able to do.”

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

Local woman killed in Macon Co. shooting

A Hartsville woman was among two people shot and killed early Saturday morning in Macon County.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Macon County sheriff’s deputies and TBI agents were called out after a reported shooting around 1:30 a.m. Saturday in the 5100 block of New Harmony Road, just north of the border with Trousdale County.

Authorities later identified the victims as James Turner, 44, of Macon County, and Alisha Mondoni, 32, of Hartsville.

According to television reports, Mondoni was dead in a car in the driveway, while Turner was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died Saturday afternoon.

The TBI, along with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department, were still investigating as of press time. The shooting have been classified as a double murder, according to authorities.

Authorities said they were collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses who may have additional information.

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

Haley’s Hearts plans annual Winter Carnival

Haley’s Hearts Foundation is preparing to hold its seventh annual Chili Cook-off and Winter Carnival.

The fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Trousdale County High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door, and this year’s theme is ‘Mardi Gras Madness.’

Attendees can eat all the chili they can handle, along with tea or lemonade. There will also be carnival games, a silent auction, vendor booths and sweets to eat!


All proceeds from the carnival go to assist individuals or families that have incurred significant expenses because of illness or death related to a congenital heart defect (CHD). The foundation also works to raise awareness of CHD, as well as sponsoring the Forever 5K each year.

Haley’s Hearts was founded by Ryan and Tina Chasse in memory of their daughter Haley, who passed away in 2010 at age 5 from complications caused by a CHD.

Also returning this year will be the dodgeball tournament, which proved a popular event last time. The entry fee is $40 per team, and teams must have eight players (two female).

“We’ll have the games, the cake walk, the dodgeball tournament which was a big hit last year,” said Tina Chasse. “We think it’ll be huge again this year.”

For more information on the carnival or on Haley’s Hearts Foundation, call 615-374-1326 or go online to haleyshearts.org.

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

Trousdale veterans meet with state leaders

Trousdale County was well represented last week at the annual Veterans Legislative Day in Nashville.

Amber Russell, who serves as the county’s Veterans Service Office, joined American Legion Post Commander Dan Belcher in making the trip to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and discuss proposals of concern to veterans.

“They have a day where they talk about legislation, and invite veterans into the discussion to get their insights,” Russell said.

Submitted photo

The two top items on the veterans’ lobbying list are restoring property tax relief for disabled veterans and hiring preferences for veterans, their spouses and widows.

In 2015, an exemption of $100,000 in home market value was put in place by the legislature for property taxes. The veterans group wants that limit raised to $175,000, where it had been previously.

“There were tax exemptions taken away from veterans having to do with land taxes,” Russell said, “and now we’re fighting to bring them back.”

The other proposal would allow private businesses to establish hiring preferences for veterans or their spouses. According to organizers of the Veterans Legislative Day, over 30 states currently allow some form of hiring preferences for veterans.

Attendees also saw the Vietnam Traveling Wall, a 3/5-scale replica of the actual wall in Washington, D.C. The guest speaker was U.S. Air Force Capt. (retired) William Robinson, who spent nearly 7½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“He is a super nice guy,” Russell said.

Among the politicians in attendance were both of Trousdale County’s representatives in the General Assembly, State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver and State Sen. Ferrell Haile, as well as Gov. Bill Haslam.

Russell, who took the post as Trousdale’s VSO just a few months ago, said she was impressed with the turnout and learned a lot from attending.

“You see what’s coming, and people’s views, and what it will be in the future,” she said. “It was a learning process. The important thing was building relationships to use for veterans who need help.”

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

Gov. Haslam addresses gas tax plan at Carthage stop

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam spoke at a town hall meeting in Carthage on Friday afternoon to discuss his proposed IMPROVE Act, which is designed to address the state’s growing infrastructure needs by way of an increase in the gas tax.

Around 150 people turned out at the Smith County Agricultural Center to hear the governor

Currently, Tennessee taxes gasoline sales at 21.4 cents per gallon – a rate which remains unchanged since 1989. Haslam’s proposal would increase that by 7 cents for gasoline and 12 cents for diesel. The plan, which is designed to bring in $278 million annually for transportation projects, also adds $5 to the average vehicle registration fee.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam greets Trousdale County Superintendent of Roads Bill Scruggs during a stop in Carthage on Friday.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam greets Trousdale County Superintendent of Roads Bill Scruggs during a stop in Carthage on Friday.

“We have a fundamental problem in Tennessee. We fund roads and bridges the same way we did back in 1988,” Haslam said. “The 21 cents that you pay now… is today equal to 11 cents. It means the state is left with half as much per gallon to build roads that cost twice as much as they used to.”

The IMPROVE Act also calls for a half-cent reduction in sales tax on food and adds an open container law, which would eliminate a penalty that keeps Tennessee from receiving some federal funds.

While taking questions from the audience, Haslam was asked about whether a tax increase was necessary, given that Tennessee had a surplus of nearly $1 billion in last year’s budget.

“In Tennessee, we pay the lowest taxes in the country, as a percentage of income,” the governor said. “Where I come from, a surplus is a good thing.

“But three years ago, we got to the end of budget time and we were short. We don’t always have a surplus, and funding a long-term need out of a short-term surplus is not a great idea.”

Under the IMPROVE Act, a total of 962 projects throughout the state would start within the next eight years, including two Trousdale County road projects.

Those are a 4.2-mile expansion of Highway 141 from the Cedar Bluff intersection to Highway 10, at a listed cost of $23.2 million. The other project is safety improvements on Highway 10 from Lafayette to Hartsville, a 10.76-mile stretch at a cost of $2 million.

RELATED LINK: Video of Gov. Haslam’s visit (courtesy of Smith County Insider)

The IMPROVE Act would also add additional revenue to each county’s road budget. According to estimates provided by the state, Trousdale County would see an extra $488,890.89 annually in its road budget.

Asked about making the gas tax a percentage of cost rather than a fixed amount, Haslam said the idea could lead to huge costs on drivers as the price of gasoline went up.

“What’s not fair about that is gasoline prices,” the governor said. “All of a sudden the state would start collecting a lot more money from you when the price went up. I’m just afraid you would see times we were charging you too much.”

Haslam also said the proposed law including language precluding the General Assembly from raiding the increased road funds for other purposes. In the last two years, Haslam said the state has repaid $275 million in previously borrowed monies from the transportation fund.

Another questioner asked whether the increase in diesel rates would be passed on to consumers and offset the reduction in sales tax on food.

“The transportation cost of goods is 3 percent. Our increase will be 1.1 percent of that. If you buy $100 worth of food, your costs go up 4 cents,” the governor responded.

Haslam said he believes now is the best time to act on addressing Tennessee’s transportation needs.

“As governor, I’ve got 23 months left,” he said. “I would love to walk out the door and say, ‘While I was governor, we cut $500 million in taxes, had the lowest debt possible, increased funding for public education and planned to have community college free for every Tennessean.’

“But I can’t do my job responsibly and say the state will be fine in five years with the path we’re on. I can’t ignore that.”

Haslam said he is open to hearing other ideas from the General Assembly, but said he did not envision calling a special session if the legislature does not act.

“There are other options besides raising taxes,” he said. “That’s taking general fund money, that’s paid for by Tennesseans, and using it for roads which are used by everyone. It seems basically unfair to me.”

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

Mayor gives ‘State of County’ address

County Mayor Carroll Carman gave his “State of the County” address Tuesday afternoon during the February meeting of the Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce.

The mayor started by noting the changes to the downtown Hartsville area over the last year, including a new county administration building and new community center. Carman noted that the community center was built mostly with grant funds, and that “taxpayers in Trousdale County participated just a small amount.”

The mayor noted that since the community center opened in October, it had been reserved between 50 and 60 times for events.Carroll Carman

Carman added that the county is sound financially, with what he called “a good fund balance.”

The mayor touched on the impact the opening of CoreCivic’s (formerly CCA) Hartsville prison has had on the community, both in jobs and in a property tax payment of over $1.5 million.

“The ramp-up has been tough,” Carman said, “but they’re coming along. The nice thing, from a government standpoint, is that we got the big check. That is a boon to the county.”

Carman also noted the upsurge in new home construction in Trousdale County, especially on the western end of the county. According to Carman, the building inspector’s office has been averaging 6-10 permits a month.

“Five or six years ago, if we had 1-2 permits a month, we were doing pretty good,” the mayor said. “Now, it’s a blessing to the growth in our county. Rooftops pay taxes, and we’re gaining rooftops.”

He also noted an estimated $12-13 million in construction by the Water Department, including a new sewer plant and water line upgrades.

Carman said the project that has garnered the most comments over the last year has been two sidewalk renovations on East Main and River Streets.

“We spent $19,000 on East Main and $32,000 on River Street,” Carman said. “If we could do one of those projects every six months for the next five or 10 years, we would have all of our sidewalks in order, just about.”

The mayor briefly touched on future plans, including the conversion of the remainder of the old Co-op building into a planned criminal justice center. Work on that project is anticipated to begin later this year at a planned cost of $1.75 million.

Carman also said he hopes to continue to lower property taxes, something that has occurred each of the last two years. The mayor said he also envisions paying off some debt in the next budget year.

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

Schools hold Homecoming ceremonies

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Trousdale County High School held its Basketball Homecoming last Friday before the Yellow Jackets took on Watertown.

At center are Homecoming Queen Jamey McKoin and King Austin Ford. Pictured from left are: freshman attendants Ben Chumley and Karissa Goss; sophomore attendants Hayden Clark and Whitney Dansby; senior attendants Colton Gammons and Tyresha Burnley; junior attendants Braison Raney and Kaylynn Dalton.

Jim Satterfield Middle School held its Basketball Homecoming earlier this season. Pictured at

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

center are Queen Sidney Gregory and King Cameron Rankins. At left are 7th-grade attendants Tyler Dixon and Kailen Donoho. At right are 8th-grade attendants Elijah Henderson and Claire Belcher.

Keller’s begins liquor sales at restaurant, bar

Starting last Friday, Trousdale County residents no longer have to go out of town to get a drink with dinner.

Keller’s Restaurant, and the adjoining Keller’s Bar & Grill, began serving wine and mixed drinks to their customers Friday evening.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette Owner Bubba Keller pours a shot Friday evening in his bar.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Owner Bubba Keller pours a shot Friday evening in his bar.

Voters passed a liquor-by-the-drink measure by 51 votes last November in its fourth appearance on the ballot.

Owner Bubba Keller said he’d “been waiting a long time to get liquor by the drink here.”

“It’s finally here, and I think it’s going to be a good thing,” Keller said. “I hope the people who voted against it will see what it will do for our town. I think we’re 5-6 years from seeing Trousdale County be totally different, as a good thing.”

Keller said for the time being, only wine would be available in the restaurant. Meanwhile, mixed drinks will be offered in the bar.

The Vidette spoke with management at both Hartsville Taco Co. and La Quesadilla, and both restaurants do not plan to pursue liquor licenses at this time. Beer was already available at both establishments.

“We’re a family restaurant,” one manager at La Quesadilla said. “I’d rather have families dining here enjoying themselves, than have alcohol sales.”

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

Trousdale County Fair receives state award

The Trousdale County Fair was recently honored by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for the second time in three years.

Trousdale County’s fair, which is the longest-running youth fair in the state, was named second runner-up in the A Division at the 95th annual Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention in Nashville.

“As we look forward to this next year, we’ve got things that will make us grow,” said Fair Board President Kathy Atwood. “We’re growing and doing what we need to be doing. We have an award that says so!”

Additionally Macey Hawkins, who was named the 2016 Fairest of the Fair in Trousdale County, competed against 53 winners from other counties. While Hawkins did not place among the top 11 finishers, Fair Board members expressed their pride in Hawkins’ reign as Fairest of the Fair.

Trousdale’s fair was also honored in 2014 as second runner-up.

The 2017 Fair is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 3-5.

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

Businesses show support for broadband initiative

Tri-County Electric is joining with other electric cooperatives in Tennessee to raise citizen awareness of the hurdles faced in bringing broadband service to rural areas.

A website (takeactiontn.com) has been launched which contains information on the lack of broadband, contact information for legislators, reports from both the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations along with other resources.

According to the website, “Changing the law will provide co-ops with the option to develop a broadband service for their consumers or form effective partnerships with existing providers, which will create new opportunities for rural and suburban Tennessee.”

Screenshot from takeactiontn.com

Screenshot from takeactiontn.com

“The website is a joint effort of electric cooperatives and set up by our statewide organization, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association,” said Tammy Dixon, Marketing Manager with Tri-County. “Although it seems like those of us in Trousdale County are the only Tennesseans suffering from lack of broadband, we aren’t. Two studies (one conducted by ECD and the other by TACIR) show a much larger problem.

“We appreciate the support of the local businesses who are helping us with the website. They’re going to try to keep people informed… It’s important for us to stay active until something passes.”

Trousdale County sought to partner with Tri-County in 2016 to provide broadband service throughout the county, but a ruling from the state comptroller’s office halted the efforts.

On Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam announced his proposed Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, which if passed will allow electric cooperatives to provide broadband service. Current state law does not permit co-ops to provide Internet.

According to a press release, the proposed law would provide $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the plan will permit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve their digital literacy skills and maximize the benefits of broadband.

“I am 100 percent for that law; there is no downside for Trousdale County,” said County Mayor Carroll Carman. “We want it to pass desperately.”

“We’ll wait until we see the actual legislation, but we look forward to the opportunity to provide broadband in Trousdale County,” added Dixon. “We have known there is a need and have worked to try and find a solution.”

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, whose district includes Trousdale County, has said previously she would “carry water” for expansion of broadband service.

A survey conducted in 2016 found that 13 percent of Tennesseans, or 834,545 people, do not have access to broadband at the federal standard of 25 megabytes per second of download speed and 3 megabytes per second of upload speed. Also, 34 percent of rural Tennessee residents lack broadband access.

For more information, visit takeactiontn.com.

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

TCHS announces Honors, Scholars graduates

Trousdale County High School is proud to announce its list of Honors and Scholars graduates for the Class of 2017.

To be a Scholar graduate, a student must complete or be on track to complete 14 of the core curriculum courses and three of the identified elective courses. Core courses are Algebra I and II, Geometry, English I-IV, Physical Science, Chemistry, Biology, U.S. History, World History, Government and Economics. Elective courses are Physics, Biology II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus and Dual Enrollment courses.

To reach Honors level, students must meet the Scholars criteria and all ACT readiness benchmarks.TCLogo

Honors graduates will be (listed by class rank):

1. Salem Sullivan

2. Ali Sullivan

3. Courtney Galloway

4. Sydney Beaver

5. Paige Hrobsky

6. Jamey McKoin

7. Kelly Bell

8. Natalie Presley

9. Mason Quinn

10. Wiley Barton

11. Dalton Hackett

12. Michaela Kelly

13. Gracie Hammock

14. Caitlyn Morton

15 (tie). Valerie Ring

15 (tie). Kristian Whisenhunt

17. Tanner Lannom

18. Benton Duplichan

Scholars graduates will be:

19. Michaela Hodge

20 (tie). Callie Shockley

20 (tie). Taylor Simmons

22. Makenzee Dixon

23. Jordan Cotton

24. Ally Gregory

25. Alexis Morris

26. Aliya Hobby

27. Kaitlin Taylor

28. William Crowder

Expect some changes when filing taxes

As tax season gets under way, those who file for the Earned Income Tax Credit are reminded of needed documentation in order to avoid potential trouble with the IRS.

According to the IRS website (irs.gov), filers who claim the EITC must prove their child or children lived with them for more than six months, and must also prove relation to the child.

The IRS lists school records, medical records, adoption documents or court records as acceptable proof.

Metro Creative Connection

Metro Creative Connection

Trousdale County Schools will provide documentation upon request via the Board of Education office (103 Lock Six Rd., 615-374-2193). Parents are asked to call ahead before coming to the BOE office in order to avoid longer wait times.

“People will need to get paperwork showing the semesters kids were in school and the address they’re filing from,” said local tax preparer Regina White. “If they don’t do this and go ahead and file, they can lose the (EITC) for 10 years.”

This year, taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 18, to file their 2016 returns and pay any taxes due. The customary April 15 deadline falls on Saturday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until at least the following Monday. But Emancipation Day, a D.C. holiday, is observed on Monday, April 17, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day. By law, D.C. holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do.

Additionally, a law change this year requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns claiming the EITC or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until at least Feb. 15.

The IRS website also states that even though the IRS will begin releasing EITC and ACTC refunds on Feb. 15, many early filers will still not have actual access to their refunds until at least the week of Feb. 27.

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

Milk lawsuit could benefit local consumers

After a class action lawsuit was settled in late 2016, Tennesseans who purchased milk at any time since 2003 are eligible to receive a portion of the settlement.

The lawsuit, which originated in California, was Matthew Edwards on behalf of others v. the National Milk Producers Federation. The lawsuit alleged that the Milk Producers Federation participated in an illegal conspiracy to pay farmers to prematurely send their cows to slaughter in order to reduce the supply of raw milk.

The settlement also includes people who have purchased milk in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Metro Creative Connection

Metro Creative Connection

The settlement provides for $52 million in recovery for those affected. According to boughtmilk.com, a website devoted to publicizing the class action lawsuit, individuals could receive anywhere between $45-$70, while organizations or businesses could receive between $1,260-$1,960.

In addition to those who bought milk, the settlement includes those who bought other fresh milk products, such as cream, half and half, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream.

To register to be among those who receive compensation from the settlement, visit boughtmilk.com for specific instructions. The website also contains links to all court documents from the lawsuit.

Claims may also be sent by mail to Fresh Milk Products Antitrust Litigation, PO Box 43430, Providence, RI, 02940-3430.

The deadline to register as part of the settlement is Jan. 31. Participants who register online or through the mail will be sent more information about how to claim their settlement at a later date.

County Commission OKs capital projects fund

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission gave its approval to a $250,000 Capital Projects Fund during Monday night’s meeting.

The fund will be set up using monies from the county’s fund balance, which stood at around $3.2 million at the first of the year, according to numbers presented at the previous week’s Budget & Finance Committee meeting.

“We’ve talked about doing something like this for a long time; we’ve just never had the money to do it with,” said Commission Chairman Mark Beeler.

Commissioners also authorized the mayor’s office to apply for a 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The county has routinely applied for, and generally received, such grants over the past several years.  Each CDBG thus far has gone toward water and sewer improvements in the county.

Two rezoning requests also met with approval: one, on second reading, to rezone 74 acres on Browning Branch Road from A-1 to R-1; and the other, on first reading, to rezone the WTNK station on Marlene Street from R-1 to C-1.

The WTNK rezoning will come up for a public hearing and second reading at February’s Commission meeting.

A request for $15,575 in funds to hire an executive assistant trainee in the county mayor’s office also met with approval Monday.

Four budget amendments for the school system also received approval:

$600 in increased revenue from state grants;

$9,700 in increased revenue from contributions and gifts;

An additional $2,500 in increased revenue from contributions and gifts; and

$1,342,896 in a loan for energy-efficient improvements at the three county schools.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield told the Commission work was well under way, with lights nearing completion and work beginning on water improvements.

In his mayor’s report, County Mayor Carroll Carman estimated that plans for a new criminal justice center could be ready to bid out in 3-4 weeks. $1.75 million in funding to convert the remainder of the old Co-op building into the CJC was already been approved by the Commission last year.

Carman also said he would likely ask commissioners in February for funds to do needed repair work on both the public library and the UT Extension office.

A number of board appointments also came before commissioners Monday. All received approval:

Tara Watson-Post and Leah Verville for three-year terms on the Library Board;

Bobby Joe Lewis to both a four-year term on the Beer Board and a two-year term on the Highway Commission;

Stephen Chambers and Teresa Carman to four-years terms on the Industrial Development Board;

Kathy Atwood to a four-year term as the county’s Health Officer;

Freida Cornwell, William Beasley and Jerry Ford to two-year terms on the UT Agricultural Committee;

Mark Harper (filling unexpired term till January 2020) and Peggy Taylor (four-year term) to the Board of Zoning Appeals; and

Tracy Belcher, Holly Haskins and Linda Carman as notaries.

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

Media group takes stand against ‘fake news’

Concerned with the proliferation of fake news and its potential to tarnish the credibility of real journalism, the Local Media Consortium published a position statement last week on “fake news” – or what it prefers to call digital propaganda.

The LMC is a strategic partnership of leading local media companies, including The Hartsville Vidette, that represent more than 1,600 news sites in thousands of communities across the United States. The complete position statement is published on the LMC website at localmediaconsortium.com/fakenews with excerpts published in members’ editorials.

“Every day we work with heavily vetted, high-quality service providers that share our commitment to foster growth in the digital age so we can preserve the media’s watchdog role without fear or favor,” said Rusty Coats, executive director of the LMC. “Our members and partners comprise a powerful representation of the business, publishing and tech world. We are releasing this position paper to affirm our commitment and strength in numbers to quash the reach and destructiveness of digital propaganda.”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The LMC’s position and principles on fake news include:

• Refuse to reward misinformation: The LMC urges its members, partners and the ad-tech industry to more fully vet the companies and organizations with which they do business. It implores advertisers, marketers and the adtech community to refuse to reward “news” from untrustworthy sites. It applauds Google’s commitment to develop policies to keep ads off dubious news sites, and it asks others to follow suit.

• Support local: The local news media plays a vital role in protecting against misinformation. The LMC calls on readers, viewers and corporate America to recognize the value of reputable, local news organizations. Get to know local journalists and broadcasters. When reading a “news” story, become familiar with its source and confirm that it is associated with a reputable parent news organization.

• Acknowledge that fake news is not news at all: “Fake news” should not be put on par with “light news” or “odd news.” Rather it is purposeful misinformation, misdirection and propaganda. The LMC calls on its members and the industry as a whole to remind those within the business and political arenas that it has high journalistic standards when it comes to news.

• Look within: The LMC asks its members and partners look within their own newsrooms, websites and social media outlets to determine how they can best protect their constituents from deceptive news. This includes educating readers and viewers about examples of this propaganda through editorial content. By refusing to do business with digital propaganda pushers, media outlets have the strength to quash its reach.

“It is deeply concerning to see the sheer scope of digital misinformation propagating around the globe, but assuring to see our members and partners band together to address these concerns head-on,” said Christian A. Hendricks, the McClatchy’s Co.’s vice president for products, marketing and innovation, and LMC executive board member. “We look forward to collaborating with the industry to implement measures that quash the spread of digital propaganda and protect the sustainability of local journalism – one of the principles on which the LMC was founded.”

The Local Media Consortium is a strategic partnership of leading local media companies focused on increasing member companies’ share of digital revenue and audience by pursuing new relationships with a variety of technology companies and service providers. The LMC was founded in 2013 to address the needs of advertisers, which seek to reach high-quality audiences on brand safe local digital properties at scale. In addition, the LMC provides members with access to leading technology and content solutions by fostering key partnerships with companies including Google, Monster, Yahoo and others. LMC membership encompasses more than 75 local media companies in top markets across the United States and Puerto Rico, and includes more than 1,600 publications. The LMC audience footprint currently spans 155 million unique monthly visitors and its member companies serve more than 4 billion page views to readers.

More information is available at localmediaconsortium.com.

Haslam announces plan to raise gas tax

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam last week announced a comprehensive and strategic plan to cut taxes on food and manufacturing while updating how the state provides Tennesseans the safe and reliable transportation network needed to support future job growth.

The IMPROVE Act, “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy,” is the first piece of Haslam’s NextTennessee legislative plan, policy proposals aimed at building and sustaining economic growth and the state’s competitiveness for the next generation of Tennesseans.

“Under the conservative fiscal leadership of the General Assembly and this administration, state government is smaller, $500 million in recurring costs have been cut out of the state’s operating budget, and together we’ve cut taxes by $270 million annually,” Haslam said. “Because we are a smaller, less tax reliant state government, it is time to build on the vision of what the future of Tennessee looks like and requires. This proposal is the next step in the conversation about how we’re going to position the state to address expected growth, maintain Tennessee’s economic momentum and remain competitive as we continue recruiting high quality jobs.”

Gov. Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam

The IMPROVE Act cuts the sales tax on groceries another .50 percent ($55 million) to 4.5 percent, making a total cut to the sales tax on food of 1 percent, or $101 million, during Haslam’s administration; makes Tennessee’s franchise and excise tax on manufacturing businesses more competitive by allowing companies to go to a “single weighted sales factor” ($113 million); and cuts the Hall income tax 1.5 percent this year with a commitment to cut it another 1.5 percent next year (3 percent, $102 million) – a tax that is statutorily required to be eliminated by 2022 but without a specific schedule to do so. IMPROVE cuts taxes by an estimated $270 million annually, bringing the total number of cuts made and proposed since 2011 to $540 million annually, roughly nine times more than any other administration.

The IMPROVE Act also includes a balanced and equitable transportation plan that keeps Tennessee a pay-as-you-go state and its roads debt free. Tennessee last addressed how it funds its roads and bridges in 1989 when it raised its fixed tax rate to 21.4 cents per gallon, creating a transportation network that spurred the economic growth the state has seen during the last three decades. Due to inflation, increases in construction costs and the cost of land and better gas mileage, the state comptroller estimates that 21.4 cents in 1989 is now worth approximately 11 cents a gallon.

In July 2015, Haslam launched a statewide discussion on the state’s transportation and infrastructure needs. In November 2015, he put out a list of projects already approved by the General Assembly but lacking funding, in addition to project needs heard during the 15 meetings across the state.

The IMPROVE Act increases the road user fee by 7 cents for a gallon of gas and 12 cents for a gallon of diesel and increases car registration fees by $5 for the average passenger vehicle. It places an annual road user fee on electric vehicles and increases charges on vehicles using alternative fuels. The proposal also includes a 3 percent charge on rental cars and changes the state’s open container law to allow the Tennessee Department of Transportation flexibility to use $18 million in existing federal dollars on roads. Fuel taxes would be indexed – but also capped – to the Consumer Price Index in order to keep up with the rate of inflation.

The IMPROVE Act would bring in $278 million in new dollars to the state for projects while limiting the impact on the average Tennessee motorist to approximately $4 a month. All funds would go toward transportation, including the 2 percent typically reverted to the General Fund, to provide funding for 962 projects across all 95 counties plus an additional $39 million to cities and $78 million to counties. The legislation would also allow municipalities, only if approved by local voters through referendum, to impose a surcharge on their sales tax rate that would be solely dedicated to public transit projects.

The governor also announced that his FY 2017-2018 budget proposal would use surplus one-time funds to finish repaying the Highway Fund by transferring $120 million from the General Fund.

“We’ve lowered the cost of government and experienced revenue growth so we’re lowering the cost of food and bringing business taxes on manufacturers more in line with our neighbors. At the same time we have to ensure we have a transportation network that is not only highly ranked but also debt-free, just like it was given to us,” Haslam added. “Together these proposed tax cuts and investments will move the state forward and position the next Tennessee for continued growth, prosperity and opportunity for our children and grandchildren.”

Additional pieces of the governor’s NextTennessee plan will be announced in the coming weeks. Haslam is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address on January 30.

Repairs completed at Trey Park

Repair work inside Trey Park has been completed and the play area is once again open, according to Public Works officials.

The play area closed in November to allow for work to resolve drainage issues that have plagued the park for years, and for the replacement of some play equipment that had degraded over time.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette Part of the memorial fence around Trey Park had to be removed to allow for drainage ditches to be completed, as shown here.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Part of the memorial fence around Trey Park had to be removed to allow for drainage ditches to be completed, as shown here.

Drainage ditches have been dug and will eventually be extended all the way to the creek.

“We’re done as far as the drainage goes,” said Public Works Director Cliff Sallee. “We still want to get some topsoil around the bottom parts of the slides. We’re going to build big, wide slopes off the slides so kids will have a place to land.”

Sallee also said there are plans to have grass grow in the play area, rather than adding more wood chips or a completely new surface such as gravel or shredded rubber, both of which would be more costly.

“We spent $3,000 to $7,000 a year on wood chips, and they just float away,” Sallee said. “Grass seems the best choice. It’ll be harder to maintain, but it looks like the best option in the long run.”

Sallee also said some of the worn-down playground equipment had been replaced, which cost around $6,500. Nearly all of that funding came from donations from CoreCivic (formerly CCA), Keller’s Restaurant and from two fundraisers held in the park in 2016.

“Almost all of it was paid for by donations,” Sallee said. “The citizens really gave for this.”

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

Southern Home & Garden Show moves to new site

Wilson Bank & Trust’s annual home show has a new home.

The Southern Home & Garden Expo presented by WB&T will take place at the new Wilson County Expo Center Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11. Offered as a resource to help homeowners with any type of home-related project, the free event provides access to dozens of Middle Tennessee businesses in the home improvement industry.  Home improvement seminar sessions will also be scheduled throughout the two-day event, featuring speakers from Home Depot, Michael’s Cover Up and Absolute Kubota.

Submitted Wilson Bank & Trust’s Southern Home & Garden Expo will take place at the new Wilson County Expo Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11. The event offers free access to experts from throughout Middle Tennessee in areas like home building, decorating, remodeling, financing and more, all under one roof.

Wilson Bank & Trust’s Southern Home & Garden Expo will take place at the new Wilson County Expo Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11. The event offers free access to experts from throughout Middle Tennessee in areas like home building, decorating, remodeling, financing and more, all under one roof.

The Southern Home & Garden Expo takes place Friday, Feb. 10, from 4-8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 11, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. There is no charge for admission.

Besides collecting project ideas and talking with industry experts, visitors to the Expo can register to win a variety of prizes, including a few large giveaways from Wilson Bank & Trust to be announced soon, as well as $2,500 in Benjamin Moore paint products from Fakes & Hooker and more. WB&T will also offer special construction financing rates available only during the event.

Exhibit space can still be reserved for the Expo. Home-related businesses interested in reserving a booth can contact Becky Jennings at 615-443-6635.

The growing home show has some room to expand at the Expo Center, which opened in late fall. The Southern Home & Garden Expo, which will take place in the 45,000-square-foot main exhibit area, was among the first several shows to be booked at the new facility.

For more information about the Southern Home & Garden Expo, call 615-444-BANK (2265) or visit wilsonbank.com/expo.

Wilson Bank & Trust, member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender, is a locally owned bank established in 1987 to provide personal and professional service in a hometown setting. One of the top banks in the South in stability, products, technology, growth and earnings, WB&T currently operates 25 full-service offices in eight Middle Tennessee counties, offering a full range of financial products that include secondary market mortgage loans and online banking services.