Op-Ed: County commissioners should have higher priorities then their pay

With the time drawing near for Trousdale County government to put together its planned budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, there will be some tough decisions to be made.

So I found it a little bit curious and frankly, a little bit disturbing last week when the Local Government Services Committee chose to take up the idea of raising pay for county commissioners.

The proposal as presented roughly doubles the monthly pay for commissioners, from $50 to $100 for the monthly meeting, from $20 to $75 for the monthly work session and from $20 to $40 for each committee meeting attended.

Chris Gregory

By comparison, Smith County pays $25 per committee meeting and $100 per Commission meeting. Wilson County pays $400 per month and Sumner $500 per month.

I get it. Everyone would like to see a bigger paycheck (myself included!). And we’re not talking about a great deal of money. But Trousdale is a small county, without a strong base of businesses that bring in large sales tax dollars like you see in Sumner, Wilson or even Macon County. Property tax pays quite a bit of the bills for county government and we need to be watchful of how those dollars are spent and raised.

And as I said, there will be some hard choices to be made come budget time.

The sheriff’s office is expected to make a strong push for raises for its deputies, as the department has lost a number of experienced officers to surrounding counties in recent months. Granted, we can never match what law enforcement makes in Lebanon or Gallatin, for example, but I can’t think of a good argument against doing something to benefit those who help keep our county safe.

But the county’s Law Enforcement Committee hasn’t met to take up this matter.

Also, raises for other county employees – some of whom make as little as $10 per hour – is also expected to be up for discussion. $10 per hour is, to be frank, disgraceful in my view. That has to be addressed.

But no committee has met to look into that possibility either, as of yet. I imagine it will come up during budget time. Granted, raises can’t be voted in during a budget year. But why couldn’t commissioners have gone ahead and come up with a plan to have ready when preparing the next year’s budget?

Improving fire protection is also an area that needs addressing. Outside a five-mile radius from the downtown fire hall, there effectively is no fire protection at present. That means a lot of the new homes in the western end of Trousdale County – where our growth is strongest – would be in a world of hurt if, God forbid, a fire break out.

But fixing that means building a fire station, or possibly more than one. It means equipment and manpower. That costs money too.

The school system has requested funds for needed improvements at the elementary school and safety renovations to the football field. While an exact price tag is not currently known, early estimates put those numbers at over $2 million.

There are also outstanding debts to consider. The County Administration building is still being paid off. We just spent almost $2 million on a Criminal Justice Center. The Water Department has a new sewer plant that cost millions. Those are just the ones I thought of in the first few seconds as I write this.

Granted, Trousdale County is in excellent financial shape. The county has a fund balance exceeding $3 million and the debt payments are more than manageable.

But there are issues that will soon need addressing. I would have liked to see members of our County Commission focus on those first and save their own pay for later.

Our elected officials do work hard at doing a thankless job and it would be impossible to pay them what the job is actually worth. But with other priorities to deal with in the near future, I just don’t feel this is the right time to effectively double their pay.

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

Trousdale sheriff’s office plans Drug Takeback event

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is set for Saturday, April 28. As part of this major health and safety initiative, the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office will host a take-back event in Hartsville from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

According to the DEA’s Atlanta Division, formerly Tennessee’s field division, a record 34 tons (68,053 pounds) of drugs were collected in Tennessee during the October 2017 Take-Back Day. On that one day, Tennesseans turned in more drugs than Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio combined.

Metro Creative Connection

To help maintain these record-setting numbers, community members are encouraged to stop by one of these local take-back locations to drop off their unused or expired medications, especially pain relievers and other prescription drugs. Law enforcement officers and pharmacists will be on hand to accept the medications and safely dispose of them, no questions asked.

The take-back event will be held in the Sheriff’s Station Lobby, 210 Broadway Hartsville.

“Fifty-three percent of Americans who use prescription drugs recreationally got them from a friend or relative according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” said Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell. “Take-Back Days are a safe and easy way to protect your loved ones and to get these drugs out of your home.”

Count It! Lock It! Drop It! is a comprehensive community initiative funded by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation that works to empower and educate individuals on how they can help prevent prescription drug misuse,” said Kristina Clark, co-founder of Count It! Lock It! Drop It!®. “The initiative’s focus is three easy steps anyone can take to prevent others from accessing their drugs: Count their pills, keep them locked away, and safely dispose of them in an official drop box.”

“With 64 percent of Tennesseans’ knowing someone who has become addicted to prescription pain medication, we want to provide more opportunities for people to safely dispose of their medications,” said Dr. Andrea Willis, senior vice president and chief medical officer at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day occurs twice a year, so we can better prevent these addictive drugs from getting into the wrong hands.”

If you can’t make it to a take-back event, visit countitlockitdropit.org/drop-box-finder/ to find a drop box in your community.

Count It! Lock It! Drop It!® (CLD) is a comprehensive community initiative for prescription drug misuse prevention based in Coffee County. With support from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, and the community at large, the initiative is leading a statewide effort to combat the misuse of prescription medication. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 7,636,112 opioid prescriptions were written in 2016, and it is CLD’s mission is to create a cultural shift around prescription drug misuse to help keep communities safe and drug-free.

In April 2017, Americans turned in more than 900,000 pounds of prescription drugs at almost 5,400 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Tennesseans discarded 31,183 pounds of prescription drugs. In its 12 previous take-back events, the DEA and its partners have collected more than 6.4 million pounds – about 3,200 tons – of pills. For more information on the National Take-Back Initiative, visit deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.

Jack McCall: I was one accident-prone child

All kinds of mishaps occur while one is growing up in a large family. My father was the oldest of nine. I am the second of five. And every child seems accident-prone in different arenas. My brothers, John and Dewey, seemed more inclined to break bones than any of the rest of us. I was big on getting licks on the head and injuries that required stitches.

When I was two years old, I fell in the tobacco barn where my mother and father were stripping tobacco and hit my head on the wagon tongue. That required stitches just above my left eyebrow. I still have the scar to prove it

I once fell backwards off a speeding bicycle while riding double behind my brother Tom. The back of my head hit the hardest part of the gravel road when I landed. Talk about being addled. They say I didn’t make much sense for a day or two.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

When I was seven or eight years old, “The Jackie Gleason Show” with the June Taylor dancers was responsible for one of my more unusual head injuries. The June Taylor dancers always closed out the show, and they were spectacular. Their costumes were fabulous, and could they ever dance! Whirling, spinning, dancing – they were a choreographic marvel for their time.

The dancers usually wore long skirts and sometimes they would spin so fast their skirts would stand out parallel to the floor. At the end of their routine they would fall to the floor forming a circle. The director would go to a ceiling camera view, and as they moved their arms and legs, it gave a perfect simulation of a kaleidoscope. Their performances were unforgettable.

One evening after finishing my bath, I was headed for my bedroom wearing nothing but a towel. As I walked by the television, the June Taylor dancers were right in the middle of their routine. Watching them spin around the dance floor gave me an idea. I decided that I could make the towel that I was wearing stand out around me just like their skirts were. So I started spinning. I should have known that it wouldn’t work. I had the towel pinched tightly above my hip. I decided that I needed to spin faster. I did. That’s when the room started spinning faster! I was in trouble. Suddenly I found myself on one foot. The room got sideways. I began to fall. The back of my head hit the square edge of my bedpost, knocking me semi-loopy. That’s not the worst part. When I put my hand to the back of my head my fingers found a deep gash in my scalp. I looked at my fingers – red. It is no fun getting metal clamps put in your head.

But that mishap was not my most memorable. My most unforgettable injury was sustained on a Sunday morning and (of all places) in church.

When I was a boy, I sat under the sound of the Gospel of some very fine preachers. To most of them, straight-up-and-down 12 o’clock meant absolutely nothing. As a matter of fact, most of them didn’t find their second wind until some time after 12 o’clock. It made for a very long service for a young boy. I usually took something with me to make the time go by faster. A simple puzzle or a pen and pad would usually do the trick.

One Sunday I took four dark-green soldier figures with me. Each was about two inches tall and made of very hard rubber. I had a whole set of them, but I thought four would be sufficient that day. Besides, it would have been hard to slip a whole army into church. I remember each of them even now. One was standing up straight with the butt of his rifle against his shoulder as if he were firing his weapon. Another had dropped to one knee and had his arm extended with pistol in hand. Another was lying on his stomach, resting on his elbows with his rifle in firing position. The last one had his arm raised and was in the process of throwing a grenade. I played with them until the big hand on the clock made it up to twelve. That’s when I got bored.

Then I had what seemed to be a great idea. I retrieved my pocket knife and began to remove the weapons from my soldiers. First, I sliced the rifle from my standing soldier. Then I removed the rifle from the one who was lying down. Next I cut the pistol out of the hand of the one who was on one knee. The grenade was the last weapon to go.

At the feet of each soldier there was a thin slice of rubber that represented the ground and provided stability for standing. I decided to remove that next. I found that to be more difficult. I had one soldier firmly in the grip of my left hand and was bearing down with considerable force with my knife, much like a whittler would hold a piece of whittling timber, when the knife’s blade slipped off the soldier. It had nowhere else to go.

The big blade of my pocket knife plunged through the thigh of my new chocolate brown wool pants and into my leg.

There are a thousand things that run through your mind when you’ve stabbed yourself in the middle of a church service. One thing you don’t want to do is jump up and scream, “I’ve stabbed myself!”

I did the sensible thing. I laid my knife aside and quickly peeked through the inch-long slit in my wool pants, whereupon I saw blood. Then I did another sensible thing. With the thumb and forefinger of my right hand, I “pinched it off” and applied pressure. I looked at the clock. It was 12:10. I would pinch my leg to hold off the bleeding for the next 20 minutes, acting as if nothing had ever happened. When church was finally over, I tried to appear nonchalant as I headed straight for the truck, still applying pressure to the wound site.

When we arrived home after church, I showed my mother the slit in my pants and the gash in my thigh. She simply said, “Well, I guess you will be wearing stitched pants until you outgrow them.”

I wore the battle scar on my leg for a much longer time.

But I was thankful – thankful I had not stabbed myself earlier in the service that day. I might have bled to death.

Look Back: Hartsville horses outraced Andrew Jackson’s

“All men are equal… on the turf or under it!”

This pithy remark was often spoken at the racetracks of old. Its implication was that in death, we are all equal. And on the turf of the racetrack, one man’s money was as good as anyone else’s!

This was indeed true, for horse racing appealed to both rich and poor, black and white, young and old, male and female.

In our past two articles, we have seen how Irishman Dr. Redmond Barry was the first man to introduce thoroughbred horses to Middle Tennessee. He began to breed thoroughbreds, keeping them at the stables of William Donelson. William was the son of Nashville founder John Donelson and the brother of Rachel Donelson Jackson!

Submitted photo
This is a photo of Captain William Alexander’s home place in Hartsville, made around 1900. The couple in the picture is J.W. Darwin and his wife. The Alexander stables contributed to the early thoroughbred culture of Tennessee.

Redmond Barry had local connections. His wife Jennie was from Hartsville, being the daughter of Captain William Alexander. The Alexander home is still standing, being one of the oldest houses in our city limits.

But Alexander had more connections to early racing besides the efforts of his esteemed son-in-law.

Captain Alexander invited Colonel Green Berry Williams to move to Hartsville and come to work for him. That work was breeding and training horses!

At the time in 1806, Williams was living in Virginia. But he found Alexander’s offer attractive and he packed up and moved to the banks of Little Goose Creek.

More importantly, he brought three thoroughbreds with him: Post Boy, Dragan, and Henrietta. The last two had been sired by Dare Devil. Needless to say, those were impressive credentials at the time.

Williams had been riding horses in races since his youth and was training horses for a wealthy Virginia farmer when he accepted Alexander’s offer.

A few years later, Green Berry Williams was lured away from Alexander to work for Captain Jesse Haynie, another prosperous landowner.

Haynie’s home and estate are long gone, but his place was only four miles west of Hartsville. The line separating Sumner County and Trousdale County cuts through his old farm.

Haynie’s stable of horses and the skills of Green Berry William made for a winning combination when in 1809 they acquired the thoroughbred Maria.

Remember that name!

Maria became Andrew Jackson’s nemesis!

Now we will add one more name to our story: jockey Monkey Simon.

Like many of the boys, or men of small stature, that were used to ride the champion horses, Monkey Simon was African American. Books have been written on the contributions of black Americans to the world of horseracing, not only as jockeys, but as trainers.

Simon had been brought to this country as a child during the slave trade. He was said to have come from a royal family in his native Africa. Although he is best known as “Monkey” Simon, the “Monkey” part of his name was actually racetrack slang for any rider, regardless of color.

His small size was partially due to his having been born a hunchback. But that didn’t stop him from being one of the best jockeys in the profession. He stood four feet, six inches tall and weighed in at a whooping 100 pounds!

Maria was usually ridden by Monkey Simon!

General Jackson, whose presidency would come later, had seen Simon ride and knew that he pushed the limits on what was legal and what was illegal on the track – always managing to avoid being disqualified for his actions.

Before one race, Jackson ran into Simon and said, “Now Simon, when my horse comes up and is about to pass you, don’t you spit your tobacco juice in his eyes!”

Monkey Simon wasn’t the least bit intimidated by Jackson. He quickly replied, “Well, General, I’ve rode a good deal against your horses but, Hell, none were ever near enough to catch my spit!”

Next week’s article: Can Andy Jackson beat Haynie’s Maria?

Community Pregnancy Center offers cooking classes

The Community Pregnancy Center hosted a free cooking class on Thursday, April 12. Young women and mothers were invited to learn to prepare healthy, cheap, and easy meals.

Submitted photo

Last week’s class covered recipes using eggs in combination with vegetables and meat as a main course. Participants were given basic tips on healthy and affordable food choices as well as the importance of gathering a family together around the table for mealtime. The class ended with sharing the meal of a soufflé, several quiches, a salad, bread, and dessert.

The class will continue meeting on Thursday evenings during the month of April. Upcoming sessions will focus on two or three main dishes as well as soups, salads and side items. Meeting time is from 6:30-8 p.m. in the kitchen at the Center, which is located at 783 McMurry Blvd. East, Hartsville.

Anyone interested is welcome to join in, but since space is limited, please call ahead if you would like to attend. Contact Judy Abbotoy at 615-388-2357.

The Loop: Rep. Weaver’s legislative update

While the federal government has only just commenced conversation about the opioid epidemic, Tennessee leads the way in fighting the situation here at home. This week, House Republicans passed legislation to combat the state’s opioid problem head-on: Tennessee Together.

Tennessee Together is a multi-faceted plan comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through the proposed 2018-2019 budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. The plan incorporates recommendations made by Speaker Beth Harwell’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

Terri Lynn Weaver

In 2016, there were over 1,600 opioid-related overdose deaths, one of the highest in the nation, and statistics show the numbers are only increasing. Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from opioid-related overdoses — more than the daily number of traffic fatalities.

Legislative solutions included in Tennessee Together include limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions, with reasonable exception and an emphasis on new patients, as well as education for elementary and secondary schools through revisions to the state’s health education academic standards.

Additionally, the plan invests more than $25 million for treatment and recovery services for individuals with opioid use disorder. These services will include an increase in peer recovery specialists in targeted, high-need emergency departments to connect patients to treatment immediately.

Tennessee Together increases state funding to attack the illicit sale and trafficking of opioids through additional law enforcement agencies and training, and includes updates to the controlled substance schedules in order to better track, monitor, and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs — including fentanyl. Finally, the plan provides every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose prior to paramedic arrival.

House Republicans are dedicated to working closely with the Governor to address Tennessee’s opioid problem. While the Tennessee Together plan is a huge step in the right direction, expect additional time and resources to be spent on the opioid front in the coming days.

Advocates Applaud Passage Of New Adoption Legislation

House lawmakers joined together this week for the unanimous passage of House Bill 1856. The bill streamlines the adoption process in Tennessee, adding updates to the law desperately needed to serve children and families across the state better, advocates say.

House Bill 1856 simplifies the surrender form — which was previously very complicated — and updates the language to reflect what the courts have ruled on the issue.

The bill also clarifies parental abandonment, makes the law consistent with U.S. Supreme Court cases on absentee fathers and protects biological fathers attempting to assert parental rights. It eliminates the six-month prior residency requirement for adoption petitioners and expands the opportunity for active duty military personnel to use Tennessee as their legal state of residence to adopt children here.

The bill makes big changes to current law, but most importantly, it streamlines the process and makes it easier to understand. This is important for children in Tennessee because it allows them to be in a more stable environment in a much timelier manner.

Having passed the House, the bill now awaits passage in the Senate.

Tennessee Stolen Valor Act Passes In General Assembly

Last Wednesday morning, House members unanimously passed a measure to strengthen identity protections for our military veterans.

House Bill 2130, also known as the Tennessee Stolen Valor Act, is designed to safeguard the identities of Tennessee veterans who serve the state and nation by cracking down on instances of theft and fraud involving those who attempt to imitate them.

The measure creates a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $2,500, for anyone who impersonates a veteran or individuals who fraudulently represent their service with the intent of obtaining money, property, services or any other tangible benefits.

The legislation comes after a recent case in Northeast Tennessee involving a con artist who lied about his military service to steal from veterans. The initiative is the latest in a series of Republican-led measures designed to honor Tennessee veterans and their service.

Over 10,000 Adults Have Applied For Tennessee Reconnect Scholarship

Application opened in February; Adults can continue to apply at TNReconnect.gov.

This week, House Republicans joined with Gov. Haslam to announce that over 10,000 adults have applied for Tennessee Reconnect, the state’s program for adult learners to earn an associate degree or technical certificate tuition-free.

The application for Tennessee Reconnect opened on Feb. 15 of this year and 10,497 applications had been submitted as of April 10. Tennessee Reconnect is a groundbreaking program that covers tuition and mandatory fees at a Tennessee community or technical college for eligible adults that do not yet have a college degree.

Among those who have applied for the scholarship, more than two-thirds have previously enrolled in college and just more than half of all applicants have attended college in the past five years. The average age of applicants is 34 years old and nearly 90 percent of those who applied plan to work while enrolled through Reconnect.

The Tennessee Reconnect program was passed by the General Assembly in 2017. Adults hoping to enroll in community or technical college in fall 2018 are encouraged to apply by April 15 to ensure time to complete all enrollment steps. The application for Reconnect requires four simple steps:

Complete the application at TNReconnect.gov

Apply to a local community college or eligible Tennessee Reconnect institution,

File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at FAFSA.ed.gov,

And enroll in a degree or certificate program at least part-time.

The Tennessee Reconnect program is part of the broader Drive to 55 initiative — the push to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Studies show that by 2025, at least half the jobs in Tennessee will require a college degree or certificate.

Tennessee is the first state in the nation to offer all citizens, both high school graduates and adults, the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate tuition-free.

Initiative Promoting High Paying Jobs In Tennessee Passes

House Republicans passed a measure that promotes high-paying jobs in Tennessee this week on the House floor.

House Bill 1917 continues the Go Build Tennessee Program through 2024 in order to raise awareness about an abundance of high paying jobs available in communities across the state. The measure strengthens existing partnerships so that students who are interested in the trade industry can utilize Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) campuses to learn the skills they need in order to pursue these high paying careers.

The Go Build Tennessee program was created with the passage of the Go Build Tennessee Act in 2015. It established a nonprofit corporation and board to run the program funded by $3 million collected by the state in surplus licensing fees.

Since Go Build Tennessee began, 74 percent of students in our state said they were more likely to pursue a career in the trades after hearing the program’s message.

Construction and trade jobs are some of the highest paying in Tennessee with an average salary well above median household incomes in most communities. The overall goal of this initiative is to address a shortage of qualified applicants for current vacancies.

House Bill 1917 now awaits Gov. Haslam’s signature.

Letters to the Editor: April 18, 2018

Dear Editor:

To the people of Trousdale County and the Ninth District in which I reside:

I would like to say that we have a great bunch of people within the county and in my job at the Convenience Center, I probably meet or see 98 percent of the county’s taxpayers.

My job, I feel, is very important to the county taxpayers. I am a taxpayer myself and I consider myself working for the county’s taxpayers and I try to do the best job I know how.

To the people of the Ninth District, I am asking to be re-elected as County Commissioner for Trousdale County, where I have served for the past 32 years. I have served on the Commission in the same way I have in the past, as sincerely as I am about the job people see me doing throughout the week at the Convenience Center.

Now I am asking for the Ninth District’s support for re-election as County Commissioner. If I don’t make it by your home, I am asking for your support and vote.


Richard R. Johnson

Ninth District Commissioner

Dear Editor:

I would like to send a special ‘Thank You’ to the two ladies at the Hartsville Post Office.

I have lived in a number of states and towns – large and small – and the two local ladies are the best at their jobs that I have experienced. They greet me and others so well, and seem to always make my day brighter.

Thank you, ladies, for your excellent work and helping us have a smile on our faces after we leave your office. Bless you.

Doug Goke


Guest View: Women have important leadership skills

If you asked business leaders about the most important leadership skill, no doubt you would receive as many answers as the number of leaders you asked. Some might say it is setting rules and insisting they be kept. That’s authoritative leadership. Others might say it’s learning to build an influential model where your employees feel respected and are subsequently more committed to the job at hand.

As Dollar General’s former CEO, I lean more toward the latter observation. Real leadership is your ability to relate to others. Women have a greater handle on this than men — it seems to be in the feminine DNA to be naturals at building relationships. Women get it. Men are competitive, but women broaden competition, adding to it consideration for the needs of others and how to fulfill them — a very big key to success in business.

Submitted photo
Cal Turner Jr.

Critical to building strong relationships is moving beyond the use of guilt or blame. Today’s society is bogged down with defamation labels, which pretend to describe whom a person is. Folks, a true leader never uses labels to do that.

My mother taught me one of my life’s most important lessons. She would say to me after one of my childhood misdeeds, “Son, for a good boy, you get into a lot of trouble!” Looking back, I realize the lesson she taught me was to separate the person from the problem, which allows genuine learning from the problem; yet the learning opportunity is gone once everyone lapses into finger pointing and blame.

My mother wasn’t the only woman I learned from. I learned directly on the job, mainly from my stark realization that I needed other people. There were many necessary tasks that I couldn’t do well when I first began in the business world. I realized I would position myself better if I admitted those gaps of skill and acknowledged that I needed other people. I needed the relationship-building that women seem to do naturally. I needed to have a genuine interest in others — not merely in winning alone. Competition can harm leadership. If you consider leadership to be nothing but refereeing who wins and loses, then you’re no leader.

Learning to relate well to others helped me become more successful in the business world. I would visit Dollar General’s direct competitors, introduce myself and tell them I would like to learn more about their store. After they got over their initial shock, we would mutually share our company problems. My competition taught me some of my best lessons. There were certainly occasions when the competing store’s manager was offended that I’d offer my ideas, but I found that throwing out my best ideas encouraged my competitor to make a comment or observation that I hadn’t considered. Learning to overcome my natural competitive drive and be more relational definitely helped our success.

Don’t get me wrong. I learned important business skills from men, including my father. But I learned my leadership principles from women. If men would take time to learn some of women’s natural relational skills, they would be more effective leaders.

Today, many women try to adapt to the male playbook in business. I do not recommend that because it limits everyone’s potential effectiveness. If anything, men should be more like women when it comes to leadership! The legendary performer and philanthropist Dolly Parton is a perfect example. Her ability to relate to others in both an entrepreneurial and artistic setting is second to none. Not surprisingly, she has profound thoughts about leadership. One that has resounded the loudest to me is this: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”

No male on earth could have said it better!

Cal Turner Jr. is the son of Dollar General Co-Founder Cal Turner Sr. Cal Turner Jr. was second in command at Dollar General from 1965 to 1977 and CEO from 1977 through 2002. Under his leadership, the company went public in 1969 and grew to more than 6,000 stores and $6 billion in sales. Today, Mr. Turner is Chairman of the Cal Turner Family Foundation and author of the forthcoming book, “My Father’s Business.” The book is available for pre-order at multiple online retailers.

Community Calendar: April 18, 2018

POLICY: Information for the Community Calendar submitted in person, by mail or fax is due by noon Monday for publication. Items mailed should be typed or printed and sent to: Community Calendar, The Hartsville Vidette, 206 River St., Hartsville, TN 37074 or brought to the office during business hours. Free listing of nonprofit events, community club and government meetings. We reserve the right to reject or edit material. Include name and phone number in the event we have questions.


Thursday, April 19

6 p.m. – School Board

The Hartsville/Trousdale County School Board will hold its regular monthly meeting at the offices of the Board of Education, 103 Lock Six Rd.

6 p.m. – Parks & Recreation Committee

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Parks & Recreation Committee will meet in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Monday, April 23

7 p.m. – County Commission

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Wednesday, April 25

10 a.m. – Water Board

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Water Board will hold its regular monthly meeting in the county mayor’s office, 328 Broadway.

3 p.m. – Title I Meeting

Trousdale County Elementary School will hold its annual Title I meeting to discuss spending of 2018-19 Title I funds for the upcoming school year and to review the Parent Involvement Plan. The public is welcome to attend.

Thursday, April 26

6 p.m. – Purchasing Oversight Committee

The Hartsville/Trousdale Purchasing Oversight Committee will meet in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.


Cooking Classes

The Community Pregnancy Center (783 E. McMurry Blvd.) will be offering a FREE beginner’s cooking class each Thursday in April at 6:30 p.m. Call 615-680-8026 for more information.

Spring Cleanup

Hartsville/Trousdale County Public Works will hold its annual Spring Cleanup from April 16-20. Guidelines are: one pickup truck load per stop and only tree & shrub trimmings will be picked up. Trimmings MUST be left at curbside for pickup. This service will ONLY be offered in the old city area. For more information, call 615-374-9574.

Bake Sale/Car Wash

St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church will hold a Bake Sale & Car Wash fundraiser on Saturday, April 21, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Hartsville Foodland parking lot. Please come and support us!

Free Pet Tags

Fix Trousdale will be offering FREE pet ID tags at the Little League fields on Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Stop by the concession stand to get your free pet tag!

Dreamland Open House

Dreamland Animal Rescue & Sanctuary will hold its first annual Open House and Litter Mate Reunion on Sunday, April 22 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at its facility, 10 Kelley Lane, Lebanon (Trousdale County side). Silent auction, gray mare rides for kids, live music, door prizes, vendors and much more! Participants are asked to bring something from wish list: paper towrls, Clorox wipes, bleach, liquid laundry detergent, Purina one chicken and rice puppy. Parking in hay field across the road.

Do Re Mi Singing

Everyone is invited to the Do Re Mi Gospel Music Academy’s Spring Singing on Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. We will be singing out of the ever popular “Heavenly Highway Hymns” songbook at the Do Re MI River Retreat, 275 Cedar Bluff Road, Hartsville.

Spay/Neuter Transport Date

Fix Trousdale’s next transport date for low-cost spay/neuter service of pets will be Thursday, April 26. Do you have a dog or cat that needs to be fixed? Give us a call! We offer high quality, convenient, affordable spay/neuter services including vaccines, dewormer, and transportation from a central Hartsville location. Visit our Facebook page to see our reviews and to understand who we are. Fix Trousdale wants to help all residents be able to afford to fix their pets- to proactively address pet overpopulation through prevention. Please share and help us spread the word. 615-571-0472.

Jackie Wilburn Memorial Sing

The Jackie Wilburn Memorial Sing will be held April 27-29 at the Smith County Ag Center. Performances at 7 p.m. April 27-28, 2:30 p.m. April 29. Performing will be Jonathan Wilburn, the Inspirations, the McKameys and the Primitive. Call 615-735-2650 for more information.

UT Extension Book Club

Sumner County’s UT Extension Office will be having its About Book club meeting on Wednesday, May 2 from noon-1 p.m. at the UT Extension Office in Gallatin. Selected book of the month is “Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde” by Franny Moyle. Our book club is open to everyone and meets every other first Wednesday of the month. For more information, call the UT Extension office at 615-452-1423.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection

The Household Hazardous Waste Collection event day will be Saturday, May 12 at the Convenience Center from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Items being accepted: oil-based paints, solvents, fluorescent lights, paint thinners and harsh cleaning agents. BE SURE to separate latex and oil-based paints. Excluded items: medical & infectious waste (except needles and sharps in puncture-proof containers), ammunition & explosives, radioactive wastes, including smoke detectors and empty containers. Conditionally exempt small quantity generator waste (from non-household sources sucg as business, schools, farms, churches, etc.) is acceptable by appointment only. Residents can recycle/dispose of paint and electronics daily at Convenience Center. Sponsored by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Call 615-374-9574 or 615-374-2461 for more information.

Mrs. Bridgewater’s Chicken Extravaganza

The annual Mrs. Bridgewater’s Chicken Extravaganza will be held Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Dixon Springs. A fun-filled day will feature chickens on display, chicken judging, food, live music, antiques, arts & crafts and chicken-themed games. Proceeds benefit the Dixon Springs Preservation Association. Call John Oliver, 615-633-4717, for more information.

Food Pantry

The food pantry at Hartsville Church of Christ (Halltown Road) will be open on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Please use the backdoor entrance.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteer drivers to deliver meals to elderly within Hartsville city limits. Drivers especially needed on Fridays. Call 615-374-3987.

American Legion

Attention all former military members! American Legion Post 56 of Trousdale County would like to invite you to come spend time with us and get information on the benefits the Legion has to offer. You served your country well, now let us know how the country and your community can help you! Call John LaFleur, 860-268-7303 for more information.

Adult Education

FREE GED/HiSET CLASSES! The Adult Learning Center holds adult education classes each Wednesday at the middle school. Call 615-374-1131 to schedule an appointment.


Thursday, April 19

11 a.m. – Bowling (lunch at Wendy’s)

Friday, April 20

9 a.m. – AF Exercise

10 a.m. – Tai Chi

11 a.m. – Yoga

Noon – Rook games

12:15 p.m. – Chair Exercise

1 p.m. – Wii Bowling

Monday, April 23

9:30 a.m. – Wii Bowling

11:30 a.m. – Bingocize

1 p.m. – Zumba Gold

Tuesday, April 24

9 a.m. – AF Exercise

10 a.m. – Yoga

11:30 a.m. – Current Events

Wednesday, April 25

9 a.m. – Line Dancing

11 a.m. – Chair Exercise

Noon – Rook games

12:15 p.m. – Walk w/ Ease

1 p.m. – Bible Study

Sheriff’s Reports: April 18, 2018

Editor’s Note: The following are suspects booked in the Trousdale County jail during the specified timeframe. All persons charged are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

April 9

Jacqueline Nichole Harding, 36, of Hartsville, was charged with theft by Deputy David Morgan. Harding was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for May 11.

Glen Edward Turner Jr., 52, of Hartsville, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Wesley Taylor. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 12.

Nicole Lynn Parker, 45, of Hendersonville, was charged with worthless check by Deputy Dusty Cato. Parker was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

April 10

Christy Gail Hurston, 45, of Sevierville, was charged with intro/poss contraband in penal institute, simple possession/casual exchange by DTF’s Brandon Gooch. Bond was set for $5,000 and General Sessions court date was set for May 14.

Kenneth Edwin Sapp, 39, of Hartsville, was charged with simple possession/casual exchange by Deputy Joseph Presley. Sapp was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Mallory Katlyn Raines, 28, of Hartsville, was charged with probation violation, aggravated robbery by Deputy Wesley Taylor. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

April 11

Early Haywood Walker, 36, of Bethpage, was charged with abandonment/nonsupport of child by Deputy Jordan Davis. Cash bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 13.

Jessica Nicole Scruggs, 32, of Hartsville, was charged with failure to appear by Deputy Brad Basford. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for May 14.

Samantha Nicole Nelson, 24, of Gallatin, was charged with driving on suspended/revoked license by Deputy Jordan Davis. Nelson was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for April 20.

Nicholas Bryan Bratcher, 20, of Carthage, was charged with evading arrest by motor vehicle by THP Trooper Cothron. Bond was set for $2,000 and General Sessions court date was set for June 22.

April 12

Christopher Wayne Pedigo, 27, of Lebanon, was charged with mfg/del/sell controlled substance, possession of weapon during felony, drivers license revoke/suspend/canceled, resisting arrest by DTF’s Brandon Gooch. Bond was set for $18,000 and General Sessions court date was set for May 11.

Charles Daniel Armstrong, 31, of Hartsville, was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful drug paraphernalia by Deputy Tony Wrinkle. Bond was set for $4,000 and General Sessions court date was set for May 25.

April 13

Cameron Matthew Sullivan, 29, of Hartsville, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Dusty Cato. Bond was set for $2,500 and General Sessions court date was set for June 18.

Christopher Shane Keith, 22, of Portland, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Dusty Cato. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Melinda Ann Law, 41, of Lafayette, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Wesley Taylor. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Kenneth Matthew Dix, 58, of Hartsville, was charged with domestic assault by Deputy Wesley Taylor. Bond was set for $1,000 and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

James Budgie Wright, 61, of Hartsville, was charged with possession of Schedule II drugs by DTF’s Brandon Gooch. Bond was set for $3,500 and General Sessions court date was set for May 14.

Tyresha Desmajay Burnley, 20, of Hartsville, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Jesse Gentry. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Cory Dewane Maynard, 35, of Hartsville, was charged with drivers license revoke/suspend/canceled by Deputy Joseph Presley. Maynard was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

April 14

Alexis Lee Simone Limbaugh, 20, of Hartsville, was charged with failure to appear by Deputy Wesley Taylor. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Joshua Howard Granstaff, 33, of Lebanon, was charged with DUI, unlawful drug paraphernalia by Deputy Wesley Taylor. Bond was set for $3,000 and General Sessions court date was set for June 22.

April 15

Kassie Joyln Fisher, 31, of Hartsville, was charged with failure to appear by Deputy Jesse Gentry. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for April 27.

Randall Scott Beach Jr., 22, of Hartsville, was charged with possession of Schedule IV drugs, public intoxication by Deputy Jordan Davis. Bond was set for $4,000 and General Sessions court date was set for May 18.

Descendant of Andrew Jackson to address Historical Society

The Trousdale County Historical Society will host a man Saturday with a name recognized across the nation – Andrew Jackson!

The speaker for Saturday’s Historical Society meeting will be Andrew Jackson VI, a descendant of the famous general, Indian fighter, horse breeder, congressman and seventh President of the United States.

Painting; oil on canvas; overall: 51.8 x 43.8 cm (20 3/8 x 17 1/4 in.)..framed: 74.9 x 66.7 cm (29 1/2 x 26 1/4 in.);

Andrew Jackson VI is a judge and lawyer who resides in Knoxville, but traces his lineage back to Rachel Jackson’s nephew, whom she and Andrew adopted. The couple never had children of their own.

Mr. Jackson is an accomplished fellow himself, having served as an Assistant District Attorney General for Knox County and twice being elected as General Sessions Court judge for that county.

Bearing such a recognizable moniker, it is no wonder that this Jackson is accustomed to speaking about his famous predecessor. In fact, he enjoys delivering talks about the former president, whose likeness also graces America’s $20 bill.

In his private life, Jackson VI is married and he and his wife, Janet, have two daughters – one named Rachel and the other Rebekah.

Saturday’s meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in the County Archives building, located behind the administration building on Broadway.

All meetings of the Trousdale County Historical Society are open to the public and anyone interested in the history of our county, or in the many tales that can be told of “Old Hickory,” is welcome to attend.

Boy Scouts Council to honor John Oliver

The Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America will recognize John Oliver at its 2018 Trousdale County Good Scout Award Dinner later this month.

The Council’s Walton Trail District will make the presentation on Thursday, April 19, at the Hartsville/Trousdale Community Center at 6 p.m.

County Mayor Carroll Carman will serve as the master of ceremonies.

John Oliver

“We will be honoring John Oliver for his many years of selfless dedication to the success and growth of Trousdale County. John has continued to exemplify the Scouting ways and has remained an upstanding citizen in the community putting service above self,” said Thomas Preston, District Executive with the Walton Trail District.

Each year, the Walton Trail District of the Middle Tennessee Council considers nominations for the Trousdale County Good Scout Award. The Good Scout Award recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law by helping others and by doing their best at all times. This prestigious award honors those whose personal and public contributions enhance our community and the world in which we live. This award is also the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s highest honor for individual or corporate citizenship in local communities.

The Walton Trail District serves over 500 local scout participants in the counties of Trousdale, Wilson, Macon and Smith, teaching them citizenship, physical fitness and leadership development. Contributions from the Fundraiser will go directly to support the programs of the Walton Trail District, Boy Scouts of America.

Everyone is invited to attend. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP with Preston at 901-569-2082 or at tpreston@mtcbsa.org.

Jack McCall: Memphis restaurants nourished my soul

For me, it is always a treat to stay at the world-famous Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Over the years, I have had to privilege of staying there many times. My wife, Kathy, and I were there again a few weeks back.

I was making a speaking presentation for the Master Pools Guild, an international association of swimming pool builders. I found that most of the members build between 15 and 20 pools each year for “high-end” clients.

I mentioned to the executive director that Waylon Jennings once had a swimming built in the shape of a guitar. To which he replied, “Yes, I know. We built that pool.”

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

The members of the Guild were great folks who were fortunate to have created and maintained a family environment for their meetings over the years. It was fun   being with them. Staying at the Peabody was icing on the cake.

Kathy and I arrived in Memphis the afternoon before I was to speak the next morning. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, we decided to stay an extra night and enjoy the sights and sounds (and food) of downtown Memphis. We were not disappointed.

Each day, at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Peabody Ducks (which are also world famous) arrive via elevator at the first floor of the hotel where they make their march to the water fountain located in the center of the lobby to have a swim. It is quite the spectacle as hotel guests line the parade route from the elevator to the fountain. After the ducks have gleefully frolicked in the fountain’s water for a few minutes, they return to the elevator and disappear. It is hard to explain, but there is something joyful about this simple routine that has been practiced thousands of times over the years.

When in downtown Memphis you simply must experience Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous Restaurant. Since 1948, The Rendezvous has served the best “dry” ribs to be found anywhere. If you prefer pork ribs of the “wet” variety you might be disappointed, but you won’t be disappointed in the experience. The Rendezvous is a “happening.” It is a marvel to watch a team of five or six chefs, enveloped in a cloud of smoke, cooking ribs over direct heat. These folks have cooking and serving down to a science. The Rendezvous is just up the alley from the Peabody. If you are in the area, I suggest you check out the Rendezvous. Best you arrive early (it opens at 4:30 p.m.). They are busiest between 7 and 11.

Speaking of food, I asked the hotel staff at the front desk on the second day, “Where’s the best place to eat nearby?” All four staff members answered in unison, “The Blues City Café!”

We found the Blues City Café on Beal Street just across the street from B.B. King’s Blues Club. Described as a “juke/joint eatery,” the Blues City Café specializes in “soul food of the Delta region.” It, too, is a “happening.” Blues music moans and the conversation is loud and welcoming. And the food? Well, we returned for lunch on the following day.

All the food is prepared right in front of you behind glass in the open restaurant by two chefs who are nothing short of wizards in the kitchen. I noticed one sign in particular above their work area that read, “Steaks so good it’ll make a train take a dirt road!” Another sign warned, “***Caution**** Men Grilling.” And grilling they were!

The menu featured such entrees as Seafood Au Gratin served with garlic croutons, Golden Fried Catfish, BBQ Ribs, 3-Way Skillet Shrimp, Memphis Strip Steak, and “Chef Larry’s” Down South Turnip Greens.

Over the years, I have been in a lot of eating places, and this one rates right at the very top. I’ll be going back for the turnip greens.

The Blues City Café made our latest Peabody experience one to remember.

Look Back: State’s first horse race had Hartsville ties

In 1804, the first real horse race in Tennessee took place in Gallatin – and Hartsville played a role in that momentous event.

Of course, men had been racing horses for centuries and the American frontier was no different. Men, boys and even ladies would look at a neighbor’s horse and then at their own mare or stallion and think to themselves, “Why, my ole’ Solomon could outrun that nag of theirs any day of the week!”

If they were willing to make a little wager on such a notion, the race was on!

Submitted photo
The American Thoroughbred horse is a mix of several bloodlines and makes for an especially beautiful animal. The effect of bluegrass on the bones of Tennessee horses made for a horse destined to race. This horse was once part of the Hermitage Stud farm in Nashville.

However, two things happened in the early 1800s that forever changed the friendly bets and races between neighbors and would go on to create the world-renowned racing events and sites of today, such as Churchill Downs.

An Irishman and his Hartsville connections were the prime players in this change!

Redmond Dillon Barry was born in Ireland in 1766. He studied medicine and served in the British Royal Navy as a surgeon. His sympathies, however, lay with the Americans and he immigrated to this country.

Before 1802 he had settled in Sumner County, which at that time included most of what is now Trousdale County. He quickly bought up land and became a prosperous farmer, while also studying law and eventually becoming a lawyer.

But more importantly to our story, when he arrived in Middle Tennessee he brought with him two things: Grey Medley, the first thoroughbred stallion to come west of the Cumberland Mountains, and the first seeds for bluegrass.

Bluegrass was neither native to here nor to our neighboring Kentucky, but it thrived here. The grass was naturally high in calcium and the limestone found in the soil of Middle Tennessee only made it better for any animal that grazed upon it, while also making their bones stronger. That was ideal for a racing horse!

Dr. Barry began breeding his thoroughbred stallion and other men in the area would follow suit. One of them was none other than future president Andrew Jackson.

Now back to that horse race in Gallatin in 1804.

Andrew and Rachel Jackson were there, as was just about anyone of any social or economic standing in the area. We know that Hartsville was well represented.

This was no race between two farmers over rough country roads!

This was a race over a cleared and even track, the horses were thoroughbreds and the riders were professionals, with crowds on both sides of the track and large sums of money bet on whose horse could outrun whose.

Andrew Jackson had brought his prize horse Indian Queen to the racetrack. The excitement was great and bets were placed, but Indian Queen lost to Polly Medley, a horse from the stables of Dr. Barry, the Irish doctor turned American.

And our story has another twist!

Hartsville resident Captain William Alexander was in the picture. The captain and his wife had four children, two sons and two daughters. One daughter, Mary Brandon Alexander, would marry General William Hall – a future governor of Tennessee.

The other daughter, Jennie Alexander, was considered a rare beauty. She was known as “the Cumberland Beauty.”

It’s no wonder that the beautiful Jennie had caught the eye of the Irish horseman! She was Mrs. Redmond Barry!

Now we see the Hartsville connection, but there was more.

The 1804 race set off a chain of events.

Hartsville’s own James Hart saw the potential and before the year was over, he had established “Hart’s Racing Ground.” Andrew Jackson was also severely bitten by the racing bug. He too established his own racetrack, the celebrated “Clover Bottom” and he set out to have one of the best thoroughbred horse stables in Tennessee. And thoroughbred racing became a statewide obsession!

The next few years would witness great races and small, and one of the most famous races involving Andrew Jackson took place right here in Hartsville!

A reminder that the Historical Society will meet this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the county archives building. See our separate article on our speaker.

Mary Ann Baker seeks election to County Commission

Mary Ann Baker is announcing her intention to run for a seat on the County Commission representing the 10th District.

A resident of Trousdale County for 30 years, Baker is a 1992 graduate of Trousdale County High School and has worked for the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force for the last 21 years.

Mary Ann Baker

“I want to be involved, and I think Trousdale County needs more people to get involved,” Baker said. “I care about what happens and I have an interest in what’s best for Trousdale County.”

Baker said increased support for law enforcement and managing county growth would be among her top priorities if elected to the County Commission.

“I’ve noticed that we’ve lost a lot of good officers; the pay is an issue,” Baker said. “Trousdale County is growing and it should grow. I just don’t think we should grow real fast and we need to be aware of what’s going on.”

The daughter of Cheryl Porter and the late Edmond McCall, Baker is married to Karl Baker and has two sons, Garrett and Karlton.

“I will try to see as many of you as possible within the next months, but if I am unable to meet with you, please accept this as my request for your vote and support,” Baker said.

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

Tea Party plans ‘Meet & Greet Candidates’ event

The Wilson County Tea Party will hold its ‘Meet and Greet the Candidates’ event on Thursday, April 26 from 7-9 p.m. at Music Valley Baptist Church at 7104 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet.

All voters and candidates for school boards, county and state offices in any of the counties in the Sixth Congressional District are invited.

Public domain-US

“This year’s countywide elections Aug. 2 promise to be the most exciting in years,” said Tom Hoffman with the Wilson County Tea Party. “Many more vigorous candidates from all political persuasions are running, including conservatives, liberals, independents, Republicans and Democrats. Our Meet and Greet the Candidates will provide you an opportunity to meet candidates one-on-one in a relaxed casual setting and to ask them the burning questions that are of greatest concern to you.”

The event is sponsored by the Wilson County Tea Party and Tennessee Sixth Congressional District Tea Party.

“Education really speaks to our group,” said chairman Rob Joines. “This meet and greet allows for the populace to be educated without a filter between them and the candidates.”

Joines said a list of attendees had not been finalized yet, but that Tea Party members were working to get both state and county candidates to attend. Candidates will have their own tables set up to allow potential voters to come by, ask questions and learn more about them.

“They can ask their questions and have an open exchange,” Joines said. “You can talk to each candidate and tell them what’s on your mind.”

Contributing: Chris Gregory, Hartsville Vidette

State plans to eliminate two TN Ready tests next year

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Monday the approval of recommendations that will reduce student testing in 2018-19.

The recommendations are the first to be released by the state’s third Task Force on Student Testing and Assessment – which includes educators, parents, and education leaders from across the state – and they resulted from months of analysis and discussion, as well as additional surveys of high school teachers and parents.

In addition to Monday’s recommendations, Commissioner McQueen also announced additional ways the state will further reduce testing in Tennessee next year. Altogether, these steps will reduce the number and length of student tests and streamline the assessment administration.

Candice McQueen

The task force’s recommendations for 2018-19, which Commissioner McQueen affirms, are to:

1. Eliminate the TNReady chemistry end-of-course exam; instead, the department will provide a chemistry test form as an option for local administration and scoring;

2. Eliminate the TNReady English III end-of-course exam; additionally, the department will prioritize adding a statewide dual credit English composition option that will be available beginning in 2019-20;

3. Collaborate with the Tennessee Board of Regents to use the TNReady U.S. History end-of-course exam as a dual credit exam and help students earn college credit from their TNReady score.

In addition, next year the department will:

4. Eliminate the stand-alone field test for at least the next two years;

5. Reduce time on the TNReady English language arts exam in grades 3 and 4 to make it a combined 78 minutes shorter; this will not impact the ability to generate TVAAS, and the department will still generate scores across all four performance levels.

While Tennessee students spend less than 1 percent of the school year taking state-required assessments, the department has taken steps over the past three years to reduce the burden of testing on students and provide a more positive and efficient assessment experience. In addition to the task force’s recommendations for removal, they also re-affirmed the value and need for the current TNReady exams in grades 3-8, as well as the other end-of-course tests.

“Since my first day as commissioner, I have been listening to and learning from teachers and parents across the state, and repeatedly I hear that we must make every effort to protect instructional time,” Commissioner McQueen said. “At the same time, we hear from our teachers, advocates, and parents how important our state test is in providing big-picture feedback about how our students are doing and guiding future instruction. We believe these reductions and adjustments reflect our commitment to reduce testing where we can and streamline administration while still providing this key feedback loop and meaningful information for teachers, administrators, and parents.”

The Loop: Rep. Weaver’s legislative update

Greetings to the fabulous 40th District!

Arguing in a case heard by the Supreme Court in 1819, Daniel Webster said, “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy.”

Keeping taxes low is a fundamental principle for all levels of government. Less taxes means more money in your pocketbook. History tells us of the excessive taxes Britain burdened upon the colonies without their representation. The very reason they ventured across the Big Pond from Europe was due to the high discriminatory taxes that stifled economic growth and penalized certain groups of people. Free markets and limited taxes equal maximizing your wealth.

Terri Lynn Weaver

Tennessee has and continues to follow the formula of a low tax base. Currently, we are the lowest taxed and lowest debt state in the nation. By cutting taxes, we have boosted our economic growth due to years of strategic, fiscally conservative and thoughtful investments across our great state. Because of you, the folks of the 40th, you have afforded me the task to be vigilant and to ensure limited government remains contained. High-tax states like California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and New York could learn some lessons from our red state. Check out the website howmanytalks.com. The data will fascinate you!

A week ago, Gov. Bill Haslam introduced an amendment for the fiscal year 2018-19 budget proposal that will be considered by this 110th General Assembly. With a $37 billion budget, this includes additional improvements for broadband, higher education, opioid addiction and school safety. This budget amendment will be introduced to us in the final weeks of the legislative session. The budget is the final thing we will vote on and that is expected to be sometime in the middle of April.

To have a job and provide for your family is a blessing indeed. It is paramount that folks can take care of their families and in return make their communities a better place to live. By instituting work requirements for those who receive benefits from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and TennCare, approximately 58,000 able-bodied adults who are not meeting the work requirements but still receiving assistance will now be able to take part in the overabundance of jobs. Incentivizing them to move from dependency to self-sufficiency, HB1551 seeks to meet that goal. This legislation will not apply to Tennessee’s seniors or disabled residents.

When touring all my district’s K-12 schools this past fall, I was asked by many of our teachers and principals to help give us relief from the complicating methods of state testing. HB2247 is designed to not only save $6 million on the cost of testing but will simplify testing methods for students as well. Not only that, it will free up additional resources by restoring the time lost in giving the tests, so teachers can do what they do best, TEACH!

I will continue to work to make the testing process as seamless as possible and continue work to identify other areas where we can improve. Some of the best news I’ve heard in a long time that I would love to share is that last fall, high school graduation rates for the 2016-17 school year reached 89.1 percent – the highest in recorded state history! A salute to our students and teachers!

Our national motto – “In God We Trust” – can now be displayed in schools across Tennessee. With the passage of HB2368, perhaps this will help future generations of students better understand the importance of faith and remind them that the very bedrock of our nation was built on the principles of the God of the Bible.


Because He lives,

Terri Lynn Weaver

Guest View: Autism awareness means more resources, research

Parents making sense of a diagnosis of autism can sometimes feel overwhelmed and alone.

Candy Alford-Price, my longtime friend, made me aware of just how isolated parents of autistic children can feel. Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports many children are living with ASD, and they need services and support, now and as they grow into adolescence and adulthood. There is no better activity for an association than to help policymakers understand what our teachers experience on a daily basis and assist them in helping our educators meet the challenges they see and get the resources they need.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

For a number of reasons autism prevalence figures are growing. The definition of autism has been expanded along with a better diagnosis of the disorder. Autism is a spectrum of behaviors, and every autistic person is different in terms of onset, severity, and types of symptoms. People with autism have issues with non-verbal communication, a wide range of social interactions, and social activities.

Autism is a growing global health priority, and April is National Autism Awareness Month. The objective is to increase knowledge and understanding of autism; recognize the talents and skills of people with autism, and generate awareness to the needs of all people with autism.

We know boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. The CDC released data on the prevalence of autism in the United States. This surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) have some form of autism. Whether this an accurate assessment or not, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, says by 2025, half the children born in the United States will be diagnosed with autism.

If that figure is even partially accurate, society better begin to prepare in earnest. The Autism Society estimates that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism. Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average. More importantly, there is no medical detection or cure for autism.

While significant, the data is more than just numbers, it is about real people, real families and our need as a society to address any challenge we meet head on. We are improving in identifying autistic people, as well as accepting them. Imagine the impact we can have on those whose lives are touched by autism every single day. We must recognize that all children are created in the image of God and have potential. However, as a culture, we must make certain the support and resources they need to realize that potential is available to educators and parents.

Autism is treatable. However, children do not “outgrow” autism. Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. The CDC believes we must promote early identification of children with ASD. That burden is likely to fall on pediatricians, children’s hospitals and ultimately on public schools. We will need to design services for children and families affected by ASD and increase professional learning and development for the professionals who provide services. Research will continue to be needed in this emerging field, as well as developing policies that promote and align with improved outcomes in health care and education for individuals with ASD.

April is Autism Awareness Month. Blue is the color. Light it up Blue!

J.C. Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville.

Guest View: Proper care is key to treating addiction

Most of us have been impacted by addiction. Whether it be through a parent, spouse, child, friend, co-worker or neighbor, few of us are immune to its effects, and unfortunately this trend is growing.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tennessee had the country’s 14th-highest rate of deaths due to overdose (1,630) in 2016, a statistically significant 10 percent increase from 2015.

As a nation, we’re losing Americans in what should be the prime of their lives at record high numbers to an unprecedented drug crisis. To ensure the future of our local communities and our nation at-large, this cannot continue.

Bob Vero
Photo by Hatcher & Fell

Fortunately, we can change this startling statistic. Addiction is a disease that we know can be treated, but we must do more to ensure that we are providing people with the highest quality treatment and safest possible care.

Today, many seeking addiction treatment simply have no access to proper care – or, sadly, in some cases, to any care at all. It’s estimated that up to 30 million Americans are living in rural counties where no treatment options exist. In areas where some treatment options do exist, many are receiving insufficient care because there are no quality standards for addiction treatment.

This lack of standards means that a person seeking care at five different treatment centers may receive five different treatment protocols. In many cases, these protocols might not be comprehensive enough. Since addiction has biological, psychological and social factors, individuals may need a range of services, including residential care, Intensive outpatient, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, addiction education, peer support and assistance with finding employment and/or housing to sustain recovery.

For the health and wellbeing of our country, we must provide additional resources to ensure everyone has access to the right addiction treatment and develop standards that incentivize providers to offer the best care – delivering positive outcomes.

Congressmen Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Gene Green of Texas, along with Senators Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, have proposed a new bill that could reduce barriers to lifesaving care in some areas hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. The Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018 would establish and fund Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers (CORCs) in areas with high rates of overdose deaths.

Funded centers would provide a full continuum of treatment services including medically supervised detoxification, counseling, peer support, residential services, housing and job placement support. All centers would report the outcomes of people they treat as well as the effectiveness of interventions, which could provide much needed perspective on best practices that can be deployed nationwide.

In addition, Tennessee Congressman Marsha Blackburn and Senator Lamar Alexander are taking strides to address strategies and secure sufficient resources for prevention, treatment and law enforcement that can help save lives.

All of us at Centerstone commend congressional members for their leadership in proposing meaningful solutions to combat the opioid crisis and provide evidence-based care for members of our community seeking addiction treatment.

As a nation, we must do better to ensure those struggling with addiction receive effective care. As Congress continues to debate solutions to the opioid epidemic we urge leaders to take decisive action on legislation that supports evidence based, comprehensive care. Ensuring treatment standards is a critical step in saving lives and stemming the tide on opioid crisis.

Dr. Bob Vero is CEO of Centerstone (centerstone.org), overseeing the company’s Tennessee-based operations. Centerstone is a not-for-profit health care organization dedicated to delivering care that changes people’s lives.