School Board proposes 2017-18 budget

The Hartsville/Trousdale County School Board approved its proposed budget for the 2017-18 year during last Thursday’s meeting.

RELATED LINK: Proposed school budget for 2017-18

The budget proposal, which totals just over $11.7 million, includes a request of $50,000 in new money, which would be designated for raises for non-certified employees such as janitors and other support staff. If approved, it would give those employees a $575 annual raise.

Most of the proposed increase would come from growth money, or the increase in the amount 1 cent of property tax brings to the county. That growth would cover an estimated $30,175 of new funds, with the county asked to kick in the remaining $19,825.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield

In the 2015-16 budget, the school system funded a $50,000 increase as a one-time bonus from its own funds, with the understanding that the county would pick that up in the future. The County Commission did so for 2016-17, while adding an additional $50,000 for non-certified staff.

“Last year when we went to the County Commission, our context was all focused on increases for teacher salaries,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “Now we want to get to the commitment level that we had made for non-certified.

“In speaking with the mayor, the only revenue increase is $50,000, but only $20,000 from additional county funds. We’re willing to take the $30,000 from growth money and put toward that.”

The budget also provides for a new ESL (English as Second Language) teaching position, a part-time guidance counselor, a Mechatronics teacher for a new program beginning this fall and increases to the district’s Strategic Compensation Program.

“We’re getting more Spanish-speaking students every year, and there’s a need for (ESL),” Satterfield said.

Under the SCP, teachers can earn bonuses based on reaching benchmarks during the school year. The added SCP funds would put K-2 teachers on the same potential level as middle and high school teachers, increase the bonuses for hard-to-staff positions and further reward teacher leaders.

The budget also provides for the continuation of free breakfast and lunch at the elementary school, which Satterfield said has gone very well over the last two years.

The school budget also incorporates an estimated increase of $660,000 in Basic Education Program (BEP) funds from the state.

“The governor’s new education budget created millions for BEP,” Satterfield said. “It’s an estimate, but we stand to gain from it.”

While state funding for the school system is increasing, Satterfield also noted rising costs in areas such as insurance, which according to the budget goes from $285,000 to over $450,000 next year.

The school system also plans to dip into its own fund balance to the tune of $511,478 for one-time costs, such as new curriculums in K-5 Reading, K-8 Math and 6-12 English Language Arts, Chromebooks for every students in grades 6-12, technology upgrades and other expenses.

The budget must be approved by the County Commission, which will likely take up the matter during countywide budget hearings, which are scheduled for May 30-June 1. The school budget is expected to come up on May 31.

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

Public meeting offers info on Main Street plan

Trousdale County residents got a sneak peek at the future of downtown Hartsville during Monday’s public meeting on the upcoming Main Street project.

The project, which is expected to run along Main Street from Littleton Street to River Street, is designed to reinvigorate downtown and provide a more aesthetically pleasing view to the area.

Funding for the project is via a Streetscape grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation of $700,000, with an additional match of $140,000 from Trousdale County that has previously been approved by commissioners.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Sketches showing proposed improvements to Main Street were on display at Monday’s public meeting.

A remodeling of Main Street is the focus of the plan, with expanded sidewalks on both sides of the street, crosswalks and greenery as part of sketches that were available for viewing Monday.

The Main Street sidewalks will be expanded by three feet, according to the schematics, with both lanes of traffic on Main Street shrinking to 11.5 feet. Concerns about tractor-trailer traffic along River and Main Streets was brought up, but few answers were available.

According to Kimely-Horn officials, there will also be expanded parking opportunities as part of the project. The sketch of Main Street showed parallel parking on both sides of Main Street, with diagonal parking on both sides of Court Street. Repainting existing parking lots on Foxall Street and by the gazebo on Main Street to clarify parking spots is also part of the plan.

Work on parking spots will also be done along Foxall Street, River Street as far as the rear of the courthouse and behind the buildings on the north side of Main Street.

The possibilities of the project have been compared to those of Gallatin, which received a similar TDOT grant to redesign its downtown square.

The county also received a $175,000 grant from TDOT last year for a study of transportation needs along Highway 141 through downtown Hartsville. That grant is designed to help develop plans for future transportation systems, land use and growth management.

Kimley-Horn officials said there is still around a year’s worth of engineering and environmental work to be done before construction can begin, hopefully in summer 2018. Once construction begins, estimates are that it could be completed in 3-6 months.

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

Trousdale’s first responders to compete in blood drive

Local fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel are teaming with the American Red Cross for the inaugural Hartsville Battle of the Badges blood drive to see who can recruit the most eligible donors in their community to donate blood.

Individuals can join the Battle of the Badges blood drive by donating on May 31 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Hartsville Community Center, located at 303 Main Street in Hartsville. Donors’ blood donations will help decide who wins bragging rights.

Battle of the Badges is a friendly competition to encourage community members to join their local first responders and perform their own heroic act with a blood donation. All presenting donors during the blood drive will get to cast a vote to help decide the winner.

“EMS, fire and law enforcement units know firsthand how important it is to have blood readily available for emergencies,” said Stephanie Ezell, district manager of donor recruitment, Red Cross Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region. “By hosting this blood drive, they are helping ensure that blood is on the shelves before it is needed.”

To make an appointment for Battle of the Badges, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Public meeting planned for Main Street project

The community is invited to attend an Open House meeting to discuss the upcoming Main Street project and Downtown Hartsville Transportation Study.

The Open House will be held on Monday, May 22 from 4-6 p.m. at the Hartsville Community Center (old Co-op building) on Main Street. Design consultant firm Kimley-Horn will host the discussions.

“Anyone interested can offer input, and it may be valuable input,” said County Mayor Carroll Carman. “They are there to answer questions for the community.”

This artist rendering shows the potential for downtown Hartsville as a result of the Streetscape project. A public meeting will be held Monday, May 22.

In 2016, Trousdale County was awarded a Streetscape grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation for improvements along Main Street. The grant covers $840,000, which includes a match of $140,000 from the county, which was approved last year by commissioners.

The Streetscape project will involve remodeling and improving Main Street from the post office to the intersection at River Street. Improved sidewalks, revamped parking, crosswalks and greenery are all intended to be part of the project. A start date for the project has not yet been determined.

“This grant gives communities in need of infrastructure improvements a chance to enhance the pedestrian and vehicular functionality and aesthetic,” said Nate Sweitzer, a landscape architect analyst with Kimley-Horn. “In Hartsville’s case, this grant gives them an opportunity to improve the downtown infrastructure to help strengthen the local economy and create a safer environment. For Hartsville, this includes sidewalks, on-street parking, travel lanes, curbs, landscaping, etc.”

Sweitzer compared the possibilities to that of Gallatin, which received a similar grant a few years ago to redesign its downtown square.

The county also received a $175,000 grant from TDOT last year for a study of transportation needs along Highway 141 through downtown Hartsville. That grant is designed to help develop plans for future transportation systems, land use and growth management.

Recommendations related to both projects will be up for discussion during an open forum. For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 615-374-2461.

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

TCHS celebrates its Senior Day

Teachers, students and administrators gathered along with families last Friday at Trousdale County High School to celebrate the school’s annual Senior Day.

A number of organizations were on hand to present scholarship awards to students from the Class of 2017, and each of the seniors set to graduate were recognized during the assembly.

Assistant principal Ben Johnson told the assembly that 85 of the 94 seniors had met the requirements of the Tennessee Promise program, which provides two years’ free tuition at any community college or College of Applied Technology in the state.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Soon-to-be graduates listen along with the audience to assistant principal Ben Johnson at Trousdale County High School’s Senior Day.

According to Johnson, the total amount of awards to the Class of 2017 between local awards, university awards, grants, lottery scholarships and state discounts was $2,025,675.

The Top 10 members of the Class of 2017 were: valedictorian Salem Sullivan, salutatorian Ali Sullivan, Courtney Galloway, Sydney Beaver, Paige Hrobsky, Jamey McKoin, Kelly Bell, Natalie Presley, Mason Quinn and Wiley Barton.

Of the 94-member class, 28 were graduating with either Honors or Scholars recognition.

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

Students also graduating as Honors were, aside from the top 10: Dalton Hackett, Michaela Kelly, Gracie Hammock, Caitlyn Morton, Valerie Ring, Kristian Whisenhunt, Tanner Lannom and Benton Duplichan.

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.

Students who earned Scholars level are: Michaela Hodge, Callie Shockley, Taylor Simmons, Makenzee Dixon, Jordan Cotton, Ally Gregory, Alexis Morris, Aliya Hobby, Kaitlin Taylor and William Crowder.

Senior Superlatives were: Mr. & Miss Stepping Stone, Wiley Barton & Jamey McKoin; Neatest & Best Dressed, Easton Stacy & Taylor Simmons; Most Versatile, Mason Quinn & Sydney Beaver; Most Likely to Succeed, Mason Sullivan & Salem Sullivan; Most Dependable, Garrett Chaney, Casey Higgins, Paige Hrobsky & Natalie Presley; Most Athletic, Colton Gammons & Makenzee Dixon; Friendliest, Jay Gregory & Gracie Hammock; Best School Spirit, Jordan White, Chris Guimont & Ally Gregory; Most Courteous, Connor Brown & Michaela Kelly.

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

Fire destroys tobacco warehouse on White Oak

A massive fire that destroyed the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street interrupted what had been a peaceful Saturday afternoon in Hartsville.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Hartsville/Trousdale Volunteer Fire Department responded to calls of a blaze at the abandoned building, which is widely known to be used as a shelter by some of the homeless community in Hartsville.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Members of the Volunteer Fire Department work to put out a fire Saturday that consumes the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street.

Trousdale EMS also responded to the scene, but sheriff’s officials told The Vidette it was believed that no one was in the building when the conflagration started. However, one spectator said they thought they had seen someone fleeing the building after the fire got started.

The flames melted nearby power lines and destroyed a nearby transformer, causing temporary power outages as far away as River Street and Cemetery Lane.

Sheriff Ray Russell told The Vidette that the building had been quarantined recently after inhabitants were caught allegedly making methamphetamine. Russell added that two people had been arrested Friday evening after being caught on scene. Their names were not immediately available.

As of 4:45 p.m., fire crews were still on the scene working to douse the flames. The Water Department had also sent out a backhoe to assist in demolishing the twisted steel remains of the building.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to assist with road closures along White Oak from Broadway to Damascus. That stretch of road was expected to be closed until into the evening, perhaps overnight.

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

Family Fun Day planned for Saturday

The Trousdale County Health Council will put on a #1 For Life Family Fun Day on Saturday in Hartsville City Park.

The free event will begin at 10 a.m. with a Bicycle Rodeo for kids (who need to bring own bikes and helmets).

Activities will begin at 11 a.m. and include a Frisbee toss, football toss, sack race, hula hoops, dancercize, three-legged race, jump ropes, balloon toss and egg race.

A rock climbing wall will also be on hand and a kiddie train.

From noon-2 p.m., there will be a celebrity dunking booth ($1 kids/$3 adults). There will be a hula hoop contest at 2 p.m. and a triathlon obstacle course at 2:15 p.m.

There will be door prizes handed out every 30 minutes and the first 100 participants will receive a gift bag including a T-shirt.

A free lunch with hot dogs and other snacks will also be available for those in attendance.

The Health Council wishes to thank the sponsors who have helped make this event possible.

“We’ve had generous sponsors,” said Health Council chair Brenda Harper. “It will be fun for the whole family!”

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

Op-Ed: Republicans’ health care plan makes me sick

The House of Representatives passed a truly reprehensible bill last week with their “American Health Care Act.” And you better believe I am ticked off (if this wasn’t in print, I’d use stronger language) about it.

The AHCA, if it becomes law, opens the door for insurance companies to either deny coverage or charge substantially more for pre-existing conditions, something the 2010 Affordable Care Act put a stop to.

How many people out there have a “pre-existing condition?” If you’ve ever been hospitalized, odds are you have a pre-existing condition. Take medication for anything? Pre-existing condition. Ladies, ever been pregnant? That’s defined as a pre-existing condition too!

Do we really want to go back to the days when you could be denied coverage for any arbitrary reason? Or where you might technically be able to get coverage, but only if you can afford to shell out a small fortune for it.

This bill provides for “high-risk pools” where those denied individual coverage could get help. And it offers a paltry $138 billion over 10 years – $13.8 billion per year. I’ve read estimates of up to 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, meaning they could be denied coverage under the ACHA. That works out to $1,061.54 per person. Anyone care to bet what kind of coverage a “high-risk” person could get for a thousand bucks? I’m betting on none, which means all of a sudden if you get sick, you could be facing ruinous medical bills. Or you just die. It’s a wonderful choice our representatives are giving us.

The AHCA also allows insurance companies to charge higher premiums for older Americans, something that was limited by Obamacare. If that limit goes away, get ready to watch your premiums skyrocket.

The demise of the individual mandate to have insurance is also ridiculous. Without everyone participating, the entire system collapses. If you only have to have coverage when you get sick, what do you think would happen to costs? Again, you’d be facing a choice of the lesser evil – pay out the nose for insurance, pay exorbitant medical bills or die.

This bill would also strip millions of Americans of their health insurance by ending the expansion of Medicaid, which has benefited millions of Americans. Granted, ending Medicaid expansion wouldn’t do anything in Tennessee because our state legislature, in its collective “wisdom,” opted not to participate. But look right across the border at Kentucky.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, as of November 2016 over 355,000 people who did not have coverage before Obamacare now do, and the state’s uninsured rate had fallen from 20.4 percent to 6 percent. I like to think we could have duplicated such results in Tennessee, had we merely had the foresight to do so.

I don’t write this column as praise for Obamacare. It’s definitely not perfect and could use substantial improvement. To me, a “Medicare for all” plan would be a good place to start. But instead of putting their efforts into improving the current law, Republicans in Congress have wasted seven-plus years casting over 60 useless votes.

Thankfully, the Senate may kill the AHCA. Lamar Alexander, who chairs the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, said the Senate would “be writing our own bill” in remarks made after the House vote.

Maybe the Senate can restore a little sanity to the process.

I personally plan to contact both our senators to ask them to oppose the AHCA, or at the very least, to put forth a measure that preserves the good things about Obamacare. If you, the reader, want to preserve the ability to get decent health coverage, I strongly urge you to do the same.

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

Car Show goes off despite wet weather

Rain dampened the turnout, but not the spirits at Seed Morton’s annual Car, Truck & Bike Show on Saturday.

The sixth annual show at First Baptist Church drew 51 entries and raised over $1,500 for Relay For Life.

“Even with the rain, we had more spectators than I’ve ever had,” Morton said. “If it hadn’t rained, I think we’d have had over 100 entries.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
This 1931 Ford Model A was one of 51 entries at last week’s Car, Truck & Bike Show.

Best of Show went to Hartsville’s Joe Morgan for his 1970 Chevelle. Other awards went to Ted Laver of Mt. Juliet for a 1937 Ford Coupe (Pastor’s Choice), Doc Croslin of Scottsville, KY, for a 1957 Chevy (Mayor’s Choice), Hartsville’s Brian Crook’s 1968 Plymouth (People’s Choice) and Little John Steiger’s 2004 Harley Custom Fat Boy (Best of Show – Bike).

Top 10 finishers were: Jamie Guess (1970 Ford Torino), Roger Towe (1956 Chevy), Claude Hailey (1965 Chevelle), Daniel Boze (1970 Hemi Cuda), Bill Cook (1953 Studebaker), Eddy Gregory (1970 El Camino), Ronnie Flatt (1952 Chevy Bel Air), Ray Worley (1970 Chevy truck), John Billingsley (1931 Ford Model A) and Kenny Bess (1967 Chevelle).

Morton expressed his appreciation to all those who participated and to his sponsors: First Baptist Church, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Wilson Bank & Trust, Citizens Bank, Custom Packaging LP, Gary & Julie West, Tri-County Electric, Early Bird Café, Farm Bureau, Darrell’s Auto Parts, Pretty Quick Auto, Woodard Tire, Fred’s, Co-Op, Minit Mart, G&L Garden Center, Hartsville Pharmacy, Piggly Wiggly, Hartsville Alignment, Goodyear and the Whosoever Will Men’s Bible Class.

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

Good clean fun had at Mud Volleyball Tournament

Saturday’s annual Glenda Fisher Mud Volleyball Tournament had plenty of mud and plenty of fun.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Chilly weather didn’t affect the enthusiasm of the participants at Saturday’s Glenda Fisher Mud Volleyball Tournament.

Held on Saturday at the high school, the tournament served as a fundraiser to provide scholarships to Trousdale County High School seniors.

“We had eight teams this year, up from last year,” said event organizer Valerie Towns. “If not for all the rain we’ve had this week, I think we would have had more.”

The tournament, named in memory of the former bookkeeper at TCHS, has raised around $40,000 over the years for scholarships.

Towns expressed her gratitude for those who came out to play, as well as to the Volunteer Fire Department for watering down the volleyball fields to ensure plenty of mud.

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

Schools receive ‘Read to be Ready’ summer grant

Trousdale County Schools have been announced as the recipient of a Read to be Ready Summer Grant, according to the state Department of Education.

Trousdale is one of 212 grant recipients across the state, with a total of $8.5 million being awarded.

“The Read to be Ready grant is a three-year grant,” said Linda Carey, Supervisor of Federal Programs for Trousdale County Schools. “It’s completely different from school. We want children to feel like this is something they can come and enjoy.”

The program is for students who will be entering first, second or third grade this fall and are not on grade level in reading.

Photo by Metro Creative Connection

Students will get to choose their own books, and the school system has partnered with Barnes & Noble, which will provide two books. Plans are to use grant funds to purchase four more books for participating students.

“Hopefully by the time they leave, they will have their own personal library,” Carey said. “High quality, high-text, colorful books that kids can take home and own for themselves.”

There will also be field trips as part of the program, including the library, Nashville Zoo and Kentucky Down Under. According to Carey, animals will be the theme for the summer program.

“We’re going to have different locations, perhaps the library or maybe the park, places where they don’t normally read,” Carey said.

“It’s not intended to look like traditional school,” added Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. “They want students to have a love and appreciation of reading itself.”

The school system has already identified students who will be invited to participate in the Read to be Ready program. The grant allows for 25 students, with one teacher for every five students.

Participating students will get transportation, breakfast and lunch as part of the program, which will run from 7:50 a.m.-12:10 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will start May 26, run through June 16, and then resume in July for two weeks before the school year starts.

“We’re excited about it,” Satterfield said. “It fits within our reading goal, that 90 percent of our third-graders will be reading on grade level by 2022.”

The Tennessee Departments of Education and Human Services, with support from First Lady Crissy Haslam, have partnered to expand the Read to Be Ready Summer Grant program through an investment of $30 million over the next three years.

The Read to be Ready Summer Grant Program, which was started in 2016, is designed to support students even after the last day of school, and results from the first year indicated for the nearly 600 students who participated, there were increases in their abilities to read fluently and decode words, increased phonemic awareness, and increased confidence and interest in reading.

“Summer reading loss can have a significant impact on the academic progress made by our students during the school year,” Mrs. Haslam said in a press release. “These Read to Be Ready summer programs are an innovative and strategic approach to combating that summer slide and improving reading proficiency across the state.”

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

Hartsville pool ready for May 20 opening

Trousdale County’s swimming pool is ready to open on May 20, Public Works officials said during last month’s meeting of the Parks & Recreation Committee.

“Everything’s up to speed; we’ve got almost everything renovated,” said Public Works Director Cliff Sallee. “Everything looks good.”

Among the work that has been done at the facility is insulating the concession area and adding an air conditioner, painting the shower stalls and replacing the shower heads.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
The Hartsville City Pool is set to open on May 20.

Lifeguards and other positions have been filled, Sallee told committee members.

Prices will remain the same on admission and concessions this year as well.

The pool will also offer a $10 discount on family passes on the opening day, something that has been done the last two years and has proved popular with the public.

“We’ve done well with it the last two years; they’ve sold really well,” Sallee said.

The pool’s final day will be July 22, the weekend before school starts.

The pool will also be open to the public during Hartsville’s Fourth of July celebration.

Salle said work had also begun on the new skate park, with 35 truckloads of gravel having been delivered to the site as of the April 20 meeting. It is still estimated that the skate park should be ready by July.

Committee members also discussed preliminary ideas for another Fall Festival in October. The second annual event was scheduled for Oct. 7 in Hartsville City Park.

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

Cut bad hay now for better crop later

The UT Extension office has received lots of questions lately, with folks asking, “What is going on with my hay this year!”

Some producers have said, “I won’t make half a crop.” That sentiment tends to be commonplace across the state and the Mid-South this year.

Our erratic weather patterns this spring has caused the fescue to set seed early. Under stress, grass makes seed instead of leaves.

Photo from pixabay.com
Erratic weather throughout the spring has left farmers wondering how to deal with low-quality first hay cuttings.

In a recent article for Drovers magazine, University of Missouri Extension forage agronomist, Craig Roberts said the problem with the fescue seeding out early is two-fold. Not only is there no undergrowth of leaves, but the seed heads and stems contain the highest level of endophyte. This endophyte is toxic to cattle and cause issues such as decreased weight gain, appetite loss, lower milk production and increased heat stress.

So the question for most farmers is, “What do I do with this lower quality, first cutting?”

The best option, according to University of Missouri Extension specialists, is to harvest the hay or mow the seed heads so that, provided adequate moisture, a higher-quality second cutting can be harvested. Even in pastures, the seed heads should be mowed for improved livestock gains.

Harvesting hay as soon as the weather permits will also give most producers the best option for a quality second cutting, and the toxic endophyte in the hay declines in storage.

If producers seek a second cutting of hay, follow UT Extension fertility recommendations and apply the appropriate fertilizer immediately following the first cutting for the best yields and quality for the rest of the year.

If you have any questions, remember that the University of Tennessee Extension Office is open to all, regardless of race, color, age, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status or religion.

Good luck and I hope that good weather prevails!

County officials applaud approval of IMPROVE Act

Officials in Trousdale County praised the Tennessee legislature for its passage of the IMPROVE Act last Wednesday.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature piece of legislation will raise Tennessee’s gas tax for the first time since 1989, with the added funding designed to tackle a $10.5 billion backlog of road and bridge projects across the state.

Under the bill, the gas tax will increase by 4 cents as of July 1, with 1-cent increases in both 2018 and 2019. The tax on diesel will increase by 10 cents over the same three-year period

“I’m plenty excited on that,” said Superintendent of Roads Bill Scruggs. “That will be almost a third of what my annual budget is. That’ll be good.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
An expansion of Highway 141 from this intersection at Cedar Bluff Road out to Highway 10 is among the projects the IMPROVE Act is designed to address.

According to Scruggs’ estimates, the increase will bring just over $264,000 to Trousdale County’s Highway Department the first year, and over $443,000 once the increase is fully implemented.

Scruggs said he planned to use most of the influx of new funds for paving and striping. Currently, paving one mile of road in Trousdale County costs between $65,000 and $70,000, according to Scruggs, once materials and labor are included.

“It’ll be a big game-changer for us; we can get a lot of roads caught up by doing that,” Scruggs said.

While noting long-term equipment needs within the Highway Department, Scruggs added, “Equipment is nice to have, but it doesn’t benefit people as much as paving.”

County Mayor Carroll Carman echoed Scruggs’ appraisal of the benefits for Trousdale County.

“As mayor, this does a tremendous blessing to Trousdale County,” Carman said. “The IMPROVE Act was handled in such a gracious way by our governor, who made sure the tax cuts would be beyond the tax increase.”

The County Commission designated $108,000 in the county’s 2016-17 budget to the Highway Department, marking the first time Trousdale County had given tax money to roads.

Asked if that funding would remain in the 2017-18 budget, Carman declined to comment, except to say that the Highway Commission would discuss the matter in the near future.

Trousdale County has two projects in the list of over 900 projects the IMPROVE Act is designed to address. One is an expansion of Highway 141 from the Cedar Bluff intersection to Highway 10, at an estimated cost of $23.2 million. The other project is safety improvements along Highway 10 from Hartsville to Lafayette, at an estimated cost of $2 million.

TDOT officials, when contacted by The Vidette, said there was a 13-14 year program to have all IMPROVE Act projects completed, under contract or under construction. Timelines on specific projects were not available.

The bill also includes a 1-cent reduction in the sales tax on food to offset the gas increase. There is also a $113 million cut in corporate taxes paid by manufacturers and a 1 percent cut in tax on earnings from stocks and bonds.

During Wednesday’s debate on the House floor, Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, estimated the average family of four would save $2.18 per month once the gas tax and sales tax are adjusted.

The House passed the IMPROVE Act by a 60-37 vote, with Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, who had sought other options since the gas tax proposal was submitted, among the no votes. A proposal she backed to substitute tax revenue from auto sales in place of a gas tax increase was voted down by the full House.

Weaver did not respond to requests by The Vidette for comment.

The Senate quickly followed the House’s lead, passing the bill on a 25-6 vote. One amendment made in the Senate required the House to vote again on the plan. That vote came Monday evening when the House approved the amended version by a 67-21 vote.

Gov. Haslam released the following statement after the Senate’s vote: “The IMPROVE Act is the largest tax cut in Tennessee history, makes us more competitive as we’re recruiting manufacturing jobs and keeps our transportation network safe, reliable and debt-free for the next generation of Tennesseans. While there remains action to be taken on this legislation, I want to thank both chambers for their votes today on the IMPROVE Act, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Reps. Barry Doss (R-Leoma) and Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) for their work carrying the legislation.”

Haslam toured the state earlier this year promoting his plan, including stops in Wilson County, Gallatin and Carthage.

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

Mud Volleyball Tournament scheduled for May 6

Time to get dirty, Trousdale County!

It’s time once again for the annual Glenda Fisher Mud Volleyball Tournament, which will be held on Saturday, May 6 at Trousdale County High School.

This worthwhile event has raised over $30,000 for local scholarships over the past 12 years. The tournament was started in memory of Fisher, the longtime administrative assistant and bookkeeper at TCHS. Mrs. Fisher, known as Momma Fish or Momma G to many, passed away after a battle with bone cancer.

Submitted photo
The Hooterville Cheapshots won the 2016 Glenda Fisher Mud Volleyball Tournament and will be back to defend their title at the 2017 tournament on May 6.

The tournament, started in her memory, raises money for scholarships that are awarded to deserving seniors every year to assist in furthering their education. These scholarships have been awarded to TCHS graduates who have attended four-year universities, two-year community colleges, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Hartsville and even mortuary school.

“During the time she was bookkeeper, her No. 1 priority was the students and what was best for them,” said Valerie Towns, Fisher’s daughter and a teacher at TCHS. “She believed that every student should continue with some type of education after high school. She always wanted ‘her kids’ at TCHS to succeed and this scholarship helps to honor that.”

This year’s tournament will feature some changes. There will be two classifications of players: one for those in grades 7-11 and one for grades 12-adults. There will also be prize money awarded to the winning teams.

The Hooterville Cheapshots and Mudd Ducks, who finished 1-2 at the 2016 tournament, have also issued a challenge to all comers to compete.

“Special thanks to Sandy Toney and Blankenship Bodyshop for their sponsorship,” said Hooterville player John Young. “Please form your team today and play in the 2017 Hartsville Glenda Fisher tournament on May 6 and compete against these two teams and many more!”

“Mud volleyball has something for everyone – whether a player, fan or someone looking for a great place to eat lunch,” Towns added. “Bring your lounge chair, sunscreen and children and enjoy a fun day in the sun. You also need to be prepared to get muddy!”

Towns also expressed her thanks to the Volunteer Fire Department, whose staff helps keep the courts muddy throughout the day.

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, with play starting at 9 a.m. at   TCHS. The entry fee is $100 per team. If you have any questions, please call Trousdale County High School at 615-374-2201.

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

Seed Morton’s annual car show is next weekend

For anyone who appreciates a fine automobile, truck or motorcycle, Hartsville has just the thing next weekend.

Former racer Seed Morton has scheduled his sixth annual Car, Truck & Bike Show for Saturday, May 6, at First Baptist Church, located at 773 McMurry Blvd. If there is rain, the show date will be moved to May 13.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
The sixth annual Car, Truck & Bike Show will be held on Saturday, May 6, at First Baptist Church.

Registration will be held from 8 a.m.-noon, with the first 100 entries receiving dash plaques. There is an entry fee of $15 per vehicle. All proceeds to go Relay For Life and the fight against cancer.

The show has grown since its beginning, drawing a record 86 entries last year. Morton is hoping to keep that progress going.

“We’ve been blessed over the years with good turnout and great sponsors,” Morton said. “I’m very excited about this year’s show.”

Trophies will be awarded to the top 50 finishers at 2:30 p.m. In addition to Best of Show, there will be Pastor’s Choice, Mayor’s Choice, People’s Choice, Top 10 Cars/Trucks and Top 3 Bikes awards.

There will also be door prizes, food, fun and music!

Morton expressed his thanks to Danny Cowan, who will provide the music, and Steven and Jessica Byrd, who are providing the food.

Morton also expressed his appreciation for the following sponsors: First Baptist Church, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Wilson Bank & Trust, Citizens Bank, Custom Packaging LP, Gary & Julie West, Tri-County Electric, Early Bird Café, Farm Bureau, Darrell’s Auto Parts, Pretty Quick Auto, Woodard Tire, Fred’s, Co-Op, Minit Mart, G&L Garden Center, Hartsville Pharmacy, Piggly Wiggly, Hartsville Alignment, Goodyear and the Whosoever Will Men’s Bible Class.

For more information on the car show, call Morton at 615-374-9419 or Tammy Steiger at 615-374-2941.

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

Bid approved for new criminal justice center

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission approved a contract for construction of a new criminal justice center Monday night at its April meeting.

Bids for the CJC were opened last Thursday, with the lowest bid being submitted by Beasley Construction for $1.869 million.

The Commission had already approved $1.75 million for the project, which will utilize the remaining portion of the old Co-op building on East Main Street. After architectural and engineering fees, as well as deductions from the bid, the need for more funds was recognized.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps
The eastern portion of the old Co-op building will be converted into a criminal justice center.

“We hit the construction costs real close, but missed on the engineering and architectural costs,” County Mayor Carroll Carman told commissioners.

“This may seem like a lot of money, but compared to buying land and building from scratch, we’d be talking $5-6 million,” added commissioner John Oliver.

The resolution, which received a 16-1 vote of support, also includes $160,000 in additional funding for the project. That money will come from a capital projects fund which commissioners okayed earlier this year.

Wayne Brown cast the lone no vote. Commissioners Bill Fergusson, Andy Jellison and Michael Satterfield were absent from Monday’s meeting.

In other action Monday, commissioners approved:

A resolution allowing the mayor to sign a contract for $44,200 in Litter Grant funds;

On second reading, a rezoning of a 3.62-acre lot on Puryears Bend Rod from R-1 to R-3;

On first reading, an ordinance to amend wording in the zoning regulations pertaining to outdoor shooting ranges; and

On first reading, an ordinance to amend personnel policies in county government with regards to disciplinary actions, workplace violence and harassment, and county employees who volunteer for the Fire Department or Rescue Squad during regular working hours.

A number of budget amendments also passed (all were internal transfers or accepting grants):

· $2,358 in flood grant money from 2010 (goes to Water Department and closes out that grant);

· $5,437.50 in grant funds from Tennessee Central Economic Authority to go toward construction of an industrial access road in the PowerCom park;

· $7,050 for 14 defibrillators to be placed in county buildings, which matches a grant received by the Trousdale County Health Council;

· $8,325 to pay county employees who volunteer with Fire or Rescue Squad during their regular working hours;

· $12,160 in Tobacco Grant funds;

· $4,000 in Workman’s Compensation for the Solid Waste Department;

· $5,000 for the building of a fence around the old landfill on Gammons Lane. This became necessary after a state inspector found animal tracks on the site. The tracks were later determined to be from cattle.

· $302,172.35 in state-aid funds for a paving project on Old Lafayette Road, which is set to begin next week;

· $121,740 for technology in the schools; and

· $1,850 in grant funds from the state for regular instruction on schools.

Commissioners also approved one notary: Cassi Foret.

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

4-H students succeed at Area II Project Achievement

Photos courtesy of UT Extension

On April 12, Trousdale County 4-H’ers competed in the Area II 4-H Project Achievement Day. These 4-H’ers participated against 4-H’ers from 10 Upper Cumberland counties at the Hyder-Burks Pavilion on the Tennessee Tech Farm in Cookeville.

At this competition, 4-H’ers in the fourth and fifth grade competed in a project demonstration and middle school 4-H’ers competed in a 4-H Project Exhibit.

4-H’ers earned the opportunity to attend the contest by winning their 4-H Club demonstration contest or by competing in the 4-H Science Fair at Jim Satterfield Middle School.

It was a great day for the Trousdale County program, as most 4-H’ers placed and others did a great job with their projects. Demonstration winners were: Avery McEvoy, Kallie Jo Cornwell, Brylee Potts, Joseph Pinzur, Christian Dalton, Kai Urick, Reagan Petty and Emmy Johnson. Interactive Exhibit winners were: Morgan White, Claire Belcher, Heath Chasse, Caden Hall, Ellie Crabtree and Delsin Urick. Demonstration winners in Entomology and Environmental Science were Willow Jones and Espen Maddox.

Legislators debate seat belts on school buses

A proposal to require seat belts on school buses in Tennessee drew criticism last week from District 40 Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver.

In remarks to the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, Weaver called the proposed bill “emotionally driven” and “bad policy.”

The bill is sponsored by Chattanooga-area Rep. JoAnne Favors. A Chattanooga school bus crash last November killed six students. Police say the driver was speeding and he now faces vehicular homicide charges.

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
Adding seat belts to school buses and hiring monitors could cost Trousdale County $220,000 annually, according to school estimates.

Weaver said she believes seat belts could potentially endanger students who might not be able to remove the restraints if a bus were to catch fire or wind up in water.

“Since 20009, we have had 11 deaths, children or adult, (on buses),” Weaver said. “A bus can be in flames in two minutes. Going off a bridge into water, we can have 50 to 80 children in one bus. In one accident, that could be extremely tragic.”

Weaver added that she had received letters from bus drivers throughout her district opposing such a measure.

The bill calls for buses purchased starting in July 2019 to have seat belts, and for all buses in use to have such systems by July 2023.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said he wanted to see more studying of the proposal before deciding whether he would support it.

“On the surface, it seems like the right thing to do in light of the tragedy in Chattanooga,” Satterfield said. “However, there is a lot of information coming from various sources that seat belts would not have saved a single life in Chattanooga. I just want legislators to ensure that the law justifies the means.”

Satterfield said, based on discussions with transportation supervisor David Cothron, adding seat belts to buses would probably increase the price of a bus between $5,000 and $10,000. He also said the need for extra bus monitors would add more costs.

“Early elementary students will be unable to buckle and unbuckle students, therefore, requiring bus monitors on most all buses. This would increase our transportation budget an additional $220,000 for monitors alone annually that the state is not providing and would therefore place the cost on the local county government.”

The House Education Committee delayed discussion of the bill until this week’s meeting. The State Senate version of the bill has been referred to the Finance, Ways & Means Committee.

On Monday, the House unanimously approved companion legislation to create more oversight of school transportation. Among that bill’s requirements are that school bus drivers be at least 25 years old and have five years of unrestricted driving privileges and requiring buses to be equipped with phone numbers on the bumper for complaints.

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

County looks to rework gun-range regulations

Changes to Trousdale County’s zoning regulations with regards to outdoor shooting ranges were presented to the Planning Commission during its April 10 meeting.

The Planning Commission earlier this year appointed a subcommittee to recommend changes after a controversial proposal submitted by the Gallatin Gun Club, which would have relocated to Trousdale County.

The proposal fell through after residents living near the proposed site rallied opposition and the land proved not large enough to accommodate the club.

“There were a few things that we thought the language need to be clarified as to what it meant,” county building inspector Dwight Jewell said to the Planning board members.

Jewell added that, to his knowledge, the Gallatin Gun Club was no longer looking at options within Trousdale County.

The amended regulations will include, but is not limited to, the following restrictions:

Parcel must be 10 acres or greater;

Point of discharge of firearm must meet minimum distance requirements from occupied structures, public or private roads – 1,000 feet from rear of shooting range and 250 feet in all other directions;

All projectile and shot shall fall within property of shooting range; and

Decibel levels measured at property line shall not exceed 70 dB.

Site plan approval will also require a sound abatement plan, defining the dissipation of noise within the range.

“That is probably the toughest part of the site plan submittal in our regulations. 70 decibels… is a tough standard to meet. That’s about normal conversation,” added Rick Gregory, representative from the Greater Nashville Regional Council.

The proposed changes must be approved by the County Commission at two separate meetings. First reading is expected to be at the April 24 meeting, followed by a public hearing and second reading at May’s meeting.

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