Rachel Tuck voted SGA president at Tennessee Tech

A former Trousdale County High School student is set to take over the highest position in student government at Tennessee Tech this fall.

Rachel Tuck, a 2014 graduate of TCHS, was recently elected as Student Government President at Tech for the 2017-18 school year.

Rachel Tuck

“I saw the SGA president come speak at my freshman orientation, and (student government) seemed like something students needed to do,” Tuck said. “It’s been a journey ever since then, meeting with both student groups and the administration.”

Tuck, who served as SGA Chief of Staff for the 2016-17 school year, said participating in student government has enriched her time at college and provided insights into more than just classwork.

“Getting to see the other side of how the university works and learning about more than being a student,” she said. “In student government, you get to write bills that actually effect change on campus.”

Tuck received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics earlier this month, taking just three years, and will be pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration. She said her long-term goal is to attend law school at Belmont University.

Tuck said Thomas Brewer, an associate vice president at Tennessee Tech, encouraged her to stay one more year and pursue her Master’s degree, which also gave her the opportunity to run for SGA president.

“He offered me to stay as his graduate research assistant and continue some of the research that I’m doing,” she said. “I’m not complaining; it’s great education!”

Tuck is also president of the Tech chapter of Young Americans for Liberty and helped establish the EAO Foundation in Hartsville during her time at TCHS. She was also the 2013 Miss Trousdale winner and in 2014 represented Trousdale County at the American Legion’s national High School Oratorical Contest in Indianapolis.

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

Jack McCall: Remembering God as source of our strength

In last week’s column I wrote about a recent trip to Charleston, S.C. On that trip I had the pleasure of meeting an accomplished shuttle driver, an older black man named William. After watching him deftly work his way around a traffic backup, I complimented him on his work. He informed me that he had been driving a taxi or shuttle in Charleston since 1978.

With that compliment, the floodgates of a most interesting conversation were opened wide. After informing me that he knew every street and road in Charleston, he shared his philosophy on driving and on life.

“When you know all the roads and streets, and you are willing to take whichever one you have to, you can always get to where you are going,” he said with an air of confidence.

Submitted photo

I made a mental note of that.

Then he was off and running with the conversation.

“When the last hurricane was bearing down on Charleston, I-26 and I-95 were backed up for miles,” he continued.

“Everybody was trying to get out of town. All the downtown streets were clogged up. My wife called me and asked what we were going to do. ‘I’m coming home,’ ” I said. “And sure enough, I made it home through all that traffic.”

“When I got home my wife was in a panic,” he said.

“What are we going to do?” she squalled.

“I don’t know about you,” I said, ‘but I’m going to bed!”

Then he half-turned to me in his driver seat as we continued on our drive.

“You know, they say the safest place to be in your house in a hurricane is in an inside hallway. I guess the hallway has more support. My wife and two daughters were in the hallway hollering and crying and I was in the bed.”

“I told them to shut up all that crying and screaming. I’m trying to go to sleep!”

Then he turned philosophical again.

“You see, son,” he said. “If it’s your time, it don’t make no difference if you are stuck in traffic on I-95, or if you are in downtown Charleston, or in the hallway of your house hollering and crying, or in the bed. When the Lord comes for you, he gonna find you! And if it ain’t your time, you are as safe in a hurricane as anywhere else.”

“My late mother shared a similar philosophy with you,” I responded. “When night begins to fall and there are tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm and severe wind warnings being reported in the area, this is what she said: ‘I just crawl in the bed and pull the covers up under my chin and go on to sleep. I know the Lord is going to be up all night anyway, and I know He will take care of me.’ ”

“That’s right. That’s right!” my driver exclaimed. “Your mama was a smart woman!”

Suddenly, my shuttle was in front of the Francis Marion Hotel, where I would be staying for the evening. It is a grand hotel. You remember Francis Marion I’m sure. He was the famous “Swamp Fox” of the Revolutionary War. He gave the British fits by attacking their columns and then disappearing into the Carolina swamps.

I thanked my driver and gave him a generous tip. He thanked me graciously. I watched as he drove out of sight.

That night I was invited on a dinner cruise with the company for which I would be making a speaking presentation on the next day. It was a perfect evening to be out on the water. The air was cool, a very pleasant departure from the afternoon’s heat. A new moon sailed slowly across a beautiful, blue evening sky. From our boat, the captain pointed out the unique architecture of Charleston’s historic waterfront. Many of the buildings were built by the British in the late 1700s.

The next day, I delivered a two-hour keynote and then, after lunch at the Francis Marion Hotel, I was off for the Charleston Airport.

It was a great trip. Charleston is one of my favorite cities.

But the high point of this trip was not the Francis Marion Hotel, or the dinner cruise, or the Charleston Waterfront. This trip was made special by a shuttle driver named William, whose brief conversation let me know I had met a man who could say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”

Look Back: Mrs. Cothron’s country store worth its own article

In the not-so-distant past, every community in Trousdale County had its own country store!

A country store had everything the farmer, housewife or barefooted child needed. From nails to kerosene to clothing to boots to flour to penny candy – well, you get the idea.

In February 1973, a writer from the Nashville Banner visited Cothron’s Store in the Cato community. He wrote a nice long article about the store and its owner, Mrs. Mary Cothron. A copy of the article was recently donated to the Historical Society and when I read it, I immediately thought that it should be reprinted for everyone to se. So my article this week and next will be the full account, as written almost 50 years ago. The article is reprinted with permission of Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Room.

Reprinted with permission of Nashville Public Library, The Nashville Room
This is the picture of Mary Cothron that ran with the 1973 article in the Nashville Banner. She is shown at the door to Cothron’s Store.

When Mrs. Mary Haynie Cothron helped her husband open their small grocery and dry goods store in the Cato Community near here 34 years ago she didn’t plan on making it a career.

She was 58 when the opened the “once thriving” business in 1939 and despite her 92 years and a drop in the number of customers, Mrs. Cothron makes a daily 6 a.m. trek to “open up for my neighbors.”

Her first customer each day “almost without fail” is Ray Gregory, a farmer who lives near Cato, a small village type community that sets beside Dixon Creek about three miles north of Dixon Springs in Smith County.

Their early morning business transaction goes like this: “Morning Miss Mary, I’ll be needing a pack of cigarettes.”

Mrs. Cothron instinctively hands a pack of Winstons over the counter and collects the money before Gregory leaves on his day’s routine that “most always” begins by buying a pack of cigarettes from Mrs. Cothron.

A good day of business now consists of “five, six or maybe seven customers” whereas in time past “the store would be jammed on days the folks would come into town to stock up.”

One immediately realizes they are stepping back in tie upon entering the store, which is filled with the aroma of an old pot bellied coal stove. Mrs. Cothron tends to a pot of boiling pork setting atop the stove as she related the events of her life.

“I’m gonna put this with some black eyed peas,” Mrs. Cothron said as some juice splashed out and sizzled away on the glowing stove.

Her husband, John Cothron, died Feb. 1, 1951, about two months before he would have been 90 years old.

“He died of old age – that was back in a real cold time. But he was younger than I am now,” Mrs. Cothron said as she explained that he was a farmer and it was she who always had the responsibility of opening up the store.

“But I don’t intend to stop keeping store just because I am 92. I’m content and as long as I’m at the store, my friends can drop by to visit me.”

The store’s stock is another step back in time. There’s boxes of men’s and women’s shoes that “go back to those early years.” They’re now covered with dust with the pencil written prices barely visible. Boy’s shoes range in prices from $2.15 to $4.50.

A washpan can be bought for $1.25. Dippers can be obtained for 75 cents.

“There’s not much demand for them though. We used to have a good dry goods trade. We used to take special orders on shoes for people,” Mrs. Cothron said.

In a corner sits a pair of 500-pound scales that were bought by her husband. Over on one of the ancient wooden counters is a pair of meat scales that was there when the Cothrons bought the business.

“An inspector used to come by pretty often to inspect the scales, but it’s been years since one has been by,” Mrs. Cothron said.

NEXT WEEK: Read the remainder of the Banner’s article on Mrs. Cothron’s store!

Trousdale school system honors top teachers, staff

Trousdale County Schools honored its teachers, administrators and other staff during last Thursday’s Employee Appreciation Banquet.

Held in the high school auditorium, a steak lunch was provided courtesy of the Cattleman’s Club.

“I think about all the students that come through your school and how much every day, you guys are the cheerleaders,” School Board Chairman Regina Waller told the audience. “You encourage, you wipe tears, you are the ones who touch these children’s lives every day.”

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Mary Ellen Kemp, center is presented the TCES teacher of the year award by her daughter, Cecelia Stricker and principal Demetrice Badru.

The three principals presented Teacher of the Year awards to Mary Ellen Kemp (elementary school), Amber Claywell (middle school) and Sandra Taylor (high school).

Kemp, who is retiring after a 38-year teaching career, was given a tearful tribute by her daughter, Cecelia Stricker.

“It’s my privilege to honor the most influential person in my life,” Stricker said. “She has touched hundreds of students’ lives in more ways than we will ever know.”

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield presented the third annual Director’s Award to Kellie Porter, who teaches first grade at the elementary school and also organized the community Reading Day in April.

Amber Claywell receives the JSMS teacher of the year award from principal J. Brim McCall.

“It’s the person who overall epitomizes the goals and leadership of the district, and reflects those ideals that we would like to have across the district,” Satterfield said. “She’s embraced our pre-K and kindergarten model, and she is recognized as an expert that other districts are requesting her to go in the summer and train them.”

Other awards included Custodian of the Year (Vicki Thaxton); Educational Assistant of the Year (Cathy Kelley); Bus Driver of the Year (Shannon O’Saile); Food Service (Jennifer Durham); Professional & Administrative Support (Angie Williams) and Student Representative (Paige Hrobsky).

Retirement awards were presented to Kemp, Taylor and Penny Dallas.

Awards were also given for those personnel with perfect attendance during the 2015-16 school year, and for those teachers who showed what Satterfield called “outstanding growth outcomes with students” over the school year.

Sandra Taylor receives the TCHS teacher of the year award from principal Teresa Dickerson.

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

County Commission has light May agenda

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission’s May meeting dealt with mainly routine matters Monday evening.

Several budget amendments were passed, most of which were internal transfers and end-of-year adjustments:

$85,592 in General Services Fund;

$7,000 for the Library Reserve;

$16,500 in Urban Services Fund;

$19,000 in Solid Waste Fund;

$9,000 in Ambulance Service Fund;

$7,240 in Highway/Public Works, and

$7,000 in the school system.

Internal transfers typically move money from one line item into another to deal with unexpected costs and do not cost the county any additional funds.

Commissioners also approved on second reading two ordinances. One amends wording in zoning regulations regarding outdoor shooting ranges. This matter came up earlier this year when the Gallatin Gun Club proposed to buy a site in Trousdale County. That deal later fell through.

The second ordinance amends personnel policies in county government regarding disciplinary actions, workplace violence and harassment, as well as county employees who double as volunteers for the Rescue Squad or Fire Department.

An ordinance to rezone a 1.44-acre piece of property on Honey Prong Road from A-1 to R-1 also passed on first reading.

Commissioners backed two resolutions, one to renew support for Tri-County’s efforts to bring broadband Internet to the county, and one to approve a bid for work on water lines in the Taylortown/Fort Blount Road area.

Two new members were approved for the Planning Commission. David Thomas and Mark Swaffer will replace Barry Taylor and David Freeman, who both recently resigned their seats on that board.

Three notaries were approved as well: Judy Dodd, David Story and Betty J. Locke.

In his mayor’s report, County Mayor Carroll Carman noted that work was progressing on the criminal justice center, and that the sidewalk project on Andrews Ave. was set to begin this week. Carman said a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year was not yet ready, but that a framework should be ready by the time budget hearings are held next week. Those hearings will be May 30-June 1 at 6 p.m. in the courthouse and are open to the public.

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

Watertown to host wine festival on June 3

The town’s first wine fest will arrive in Watertown on June 3, event organizers announced recently.

The event, organized by Muddy Root Records in conjunction with the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail and the Watertown Chamber of Commerce, will feature a train ride from Nashville to Watertown with wine tasting on the train, followed by a wine festival in Watertown.

The air-conditioned vintage 1950s streamliner train will feature wine tasting and entertainment. After it arrives in Watertown, the wine festival will begin there.

The following wineries will participate in the event: DelMonaco Winery, Stonehaus Winery, Highland Manor Winery, Holly Ridge Winery, Red Barn Winery, Northfield Vineyards, Cellar 53 Winery and Chestnut Hill Winery.

Tickets are now on sale and cost between $65-$200. The admission includes a seat reservation, exclusive early access to the festival, tastings from eight local wineries, a commemorative wine glass and live music on the train. Everyone on the train must be at least 21 years old.

Seats are reserved and assigned in the order they are purchased. If groups wish to sit together, tickets should be purchased at the same time.

Festival organizers encourage attendees to dress with a vintage look, though it is not required.

Those who ride the train should arrive at the Tennessee Railway Museum by 8:30 a.m. on the day of the festival.

For more information about the festival, and to register for tickets, visit wineontherails.com.

Businesses urge Black to reject border adjustment tax

Ahead of Tuesday’s House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), Americans for Affordable Products (AAP), a national coalition of nearly 500 small businesses, retailers and trade associations united to stop the BAT, announced the launch of its local campaign to educate lawmakers and citizens about the harmful effect the proposal will have on the state of Tennessee.

A BAT would give tax breaks to American companies that ship products to other countries, and would strip away tax breaks from American companies that import goods from other countries. It is designed to remove the incentive for companies to move jobs overseas for tax reasons.

AAP is calling upon Tennessee’s entire congressional delegation, including Diane Black, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, to oppose what it calls an “ill-advised policy that will not only make everyday goods more expensive for Tennessee residents, but it will make it even harder for job creators to do business in the state.”

In a press release, AAP quoted two small business owners in the Sixth District, which Black represents in Congress.

“As a jeweler, I frequently look to imported goods to provide my customers what they expect,” said Michael White, owner of White’s Jewelers in Springfield. “If the Border Adjustment Tax is passed, our industry will immediately take a hit. Costs will go up, and so will the prices that consumers must pay.

“While I support comprehensive tax reform, I call on Rep. Black and the rest of the Tennessee delegation to oppose the Border Adjustment Tax. Main Street America already struggles to compete and prosper, whether it is a hometown jeweler like me, or the biggest auto dealer in middle Tennessee. We cannot succeed if an obstacle like this is put in our way.”

“If a coffee roaster like myself is hit by a 20 percent tax on imports, it is a significant threat to my business,” added Mat Lasater, owner of LASATERS Coffee & Tea, a coffee and tea franchising company with eight locations in Middle Tennessee. “Coffee beans are not grown anywhere in the United States except Hawaii, and I have no choice but to import. Companies like mine stand as examples of how small businesses can thrive in America. To hit us with something that drastically increases the cost of our primary product sends a deeply disturbing message to small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

According to AAP, the BAT will increase the costs on everyday essentials that Tennesseans rely on, like food, clothing and medicine, by $1,700. It would have devastating consequences on the retail industry, which supports 42 million jobs in the United States. Dollar General Store, Autozone and the Tennessee Retail Association are members of the coalition.

Guest View: Why does Diane Black support flawed health bill?

Writer’s block hits virtually everyone who puts finger to keyboard at some point. This usually happens when the writer can’t think of anything to write about. But mine is different. I have too much to write about. Let me explain.

This paper only gives me so many column inches, and this week they are supposed to be devoted to the health care bill Congressman Diane Black voted for a few weeks ago. The deeper I dug into the bill, its implications and the motivations for its passage, the more hurtful and downright mean-spirited I find this legislation to be.

There is simply so much wrong with it, I didn’t know where to begin. In summary, I think it is a betrayal of Diane Black’s constituents, her former profession, and the many who could die if it became law.

Betray is a harsh word, but I think it fits. Here’s why. First, according to a recent Quinnipiac University national poll, only 21 percent of Americans approve of the bill.

Next, it is likely millions of people will lose insurance under the plan Black voted for. An earlier version of the bill was estimated to cost up to 24 million people their insurance, while the new bill has yet to be scored by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. That score is expected this week, and that figure is not likely to change much.

According to a recent study in the journal Health Affairs, the current ACA law has dramatically improved numerous measures of health outcomes, most particularly in states that allowed Medicaid expansion. (Our GOP legislature has refused to allow such expansion in Tennessee.) It is simple; people with insurance are healthier and less likely to die. Congress should want that.

Next, Black often points to her former career as a nurse, showing that she is sympathetic to the needs of patients and well aware of the “failures” of the ACA. Interestingly the American Nurses Association strongly opposes the repeal of the ACA and the replacement bill supported by Black. To quote their letter to Congress: “In its current form, the bill changes Medicaid to a per capita cap funding model, eliminates the Prevention and Public Health Fund, restricts millions of women from access to critical health services, and repeals income based subsidies that millions of people rely on. These changes in no way will improve care for the American people.”

Congressman Black usually fails to mention that the ACA “failures” she refers to are often due to the lack of Medicaid expansion in Republican-controlled states.  The increase in enrollees and federal funding such expansion would provide would help the marketplace.

And what about our children? Black offers us strong “pro-life” rhetoric, but her enthusiasm seems to wane after life exists the womb. According to an article in The Atlantic, children “constitute the single largest eligibility group in the Medicaid program and would be affected by changes to its funding structure the most. And the AHCA certainly aims to change that funding structure. Its rollback of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and its changes to Medicaid financing would slash the program even below pre-Obamacare levels, to the tune of a cumulative $880 billion reduction between 2017 and 2026.” That does not sound pro-life to me.

Older Americans are similarly hurt by the bill, as they will be paying much more for insurance in many cases.

Finally, one of the most hideous aspects of this bill is the “high-risk pool” feature. This is the part that allows people like Black to claim the bill protects people with pre-existing conditions, but in reality gives states plenty of leeway to ask for “waivers” and very little money to support the pools. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, pre-ACA high risks pools operated by many states had rates 50-100 percent higher than the average market.

This bill has the potential to throw millions of people off health insurance, offers tax breaks to big companies and the rich that are financed by cutting Medicaid, gives those with pre-existing conditions a possible death sentence depending on what state they live in, and is opposed by every single health profession association I could find.

It was hastily written, not scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and has a dismal 21 percent approval rating.  It was created not to solve problems or fix the imperfect Affordable Care Act, but rather to score political points. If it somehow becomes law, and even one American dies from its consequences, then all those that voted for it, especially those who were nurses, will deserve getting booted from office.

Leonard Assante is the Democratic State Executive Committee member for District 18, which includes Trousdale County. Reach him at leonard.assante@gmail.com.

Letters to the Editor: May 24, 2017

Dear Editor:

The AHCA (American Health Care Act) makes me sick too…

But for very different reasons than stated in the commentary in the May 11 edition of The Vidette, or the phony “analysis” done by AARP in the May 18 edition.

File photo

It makes me sick because it’s very existence is based on the now common assumption that the responsibility for our health and those we care about lies with the government, and not with ourselves. That is the fundamental problem with ANY government-proposed health care solution. It should not exist, because it is not the proper role of government, period. And before you start telling me I don’t “care” about old people, or children, or sick people, or orphans – look in the mirror.

How many of those people have you actually helped yourself? And even if you are helping others and still believe that the government should care for individuals, keep this in mind: Government equals force. Government does not equal love, nor compassion; it is pure, unadulterated force. It takes from one person to give to another, and it cannot “give” something that it has not “taken” first.

We have forgotten that over the years, and have been too quick to turn over our responsibilities to the government. Not just for our healthcare, but our safety, our education, etc. This is the wrong direction, and the solution is not more government involvement in our daily lives, it is less.

There is a good case to be made for pooling resources to care for those who do not have family or friends with enough resources to help, but that can and should still be done privately, and that is the whole basis for private charity giving, which has the benefits of keeping donations voluntary, services close to those in need, and with a much more personal touch. That is the real American Way.

Greg Clements



Dear Editor:

Notice to all parents/guardians:

All students entering the seventh grade MUST have the following NEW immunization requirements:

Tetanus/diptheria/pertussis booster (Tdap)

Verification of immunity to varicella (chicken pox)

Proof of these immunizations MUST be provided on the Tennessee Certificate of Immunization Form. Pharmacy and generic printouts will not be accepted. Also, proof of these immunizations must be provided to the school before the first full day of the 2017-18 school year.

Please contact your physician or the Health Department to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Danna Burton

Trousdale County Schools

Guest View: Physical activity will help mental health too

May is Mental Health Month, designed to raise awareness of mental health conditions and to improve wellness for all. One in five Americans has a treatable mental illness, and we all experience stress.  The American Academy of Family Physicians reports two-thirds of visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms. Clearly, we must consider our mental health along with physical health and recognize how they impact each other.

Mental health is more than taking care of yourself “from the neck up.” The connections between physical and mental health are compelling. It’s remarkable how treating your body right contributes to a well-toned mind. Now is an ideal time to adopt the following four lifestyle habits to ensure you are taking care of your “whole-person health.”

Be active – Regular exercise and physical activity can help prevent and improve health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. They’ve also been shown to help reduce anxiety and improve mood. One study showed people who exercised regularly were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or anxiety in the following five years. Whether it’s a walk outside, a trip to the gym or mowing the lawn, being active supports your mental and physical health.

Be nourished – You’ve likely heard “you are what you eat.” It’s a nice reminder since what you eat can impact your waistline as well as your mental health. Your dietary choices affect how your brain functions and can even influence your mood. Eating a balanced diet that incorporates whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice), lean protein (nuts, eggs, grilled chicken) and fruits and vegetables will nourish your body and mind.

Be rested – Sleep serves as your body’s reset button each evening, and a good night’s rest supports mental and emotional resilience. The Sleep Health Foundation notes “chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking, depression, anxiety and emotional vulnerability.” Establishing regular sleep habits — a consistent bedtime and wake time, putting aside electronics and creating a comfortable sleeping space—rewards body and mind.

Be first – Self-care is an important practice for overall wellbeing. Take active responsibility for your physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health. That may mean spending time alone to recharge, exploring personal interests or saying “no” to something instead of overcommitting once again. It isn’t “selfish” to be concerned with self-care. You can’t help others power through life when you’re completely out of batteries.

Embrace the idea of whole-person health by trying out lifestyle habits that promote mental and physical wellness at the same time. Integrating care for your body and your mind is essential to overall wellbeing. Centerstone, a mental health and addiction services provider, supports individuals through whole person, coordinated care. For more information, call 888.291.4357 or visit centerstone.org.

Mandi Ryan, MSN, RN, is director of healthcare innovation for Centerstone.

Community Calendar: May 24, 2017

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.


County Budget Hearings

Hartsville/Trousdale County government will hold hearings on the proposed 2017-18 budget on Tuesday, May 30, Wednesday, May 31 and Thursday, June 1. All meetings will be at 6 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse and are open to the public.

Wednesday, May 31

10 a.m. – Water Board

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

Monday, June 12

7 p.m. – Planning Commission

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Planning Commission will meet in regular session in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Tuesday, June 13

7 a.m. – Executive Committee

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Executive Committee will hold its regular monthly meeting at Dillehay’s Café.

6 p.m. – Local Government Services Committee

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Local Government Services Committee will meet in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

7 p.m. – Election Commission

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Election Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting at the office of the Administrator of Elections, 214 Broadway.

Thursday, June 16

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.

Monday, June 19

6 p.m. – Budget & Finance Committee

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

7 p.m. – County Commission

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission will hold its regular monthly work session in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Monday, June 26

7 p.m. – County Commission

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


Christmas For Kids Cake Walk

The Trousdale County Emergency Services will host its annual Trousdale County Christmas For Kids Cake Walk on Saturday, June 3 at Hartsville City Park. Food will be served starting at 6 p.m., with cake walk at 7 p.m. All proceeds go to Christmas For Kids, which helps our hometown kids have a great Christmas! We will have food, cakes to win and numerous items to auction off. Donations will be accepted all day on June 3 and are greatly appreciated!

Memorial Day Service

Hartsville United Methodist Church, 224 River Street, welcomes all current and former servicemen and women to honor our fallen veterans at service on Sunday, May 28 beginning at 11 a.m. Lunch will follow in church Fellowship Hall. For more questions, call Amber Russell at 615-808-1054 or Natalie Knudsen at 507-381-5157.


Beech Grove Methodist Church will hold its Homecoming service on Sunday, June 4, at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served afterward. All are invited!

Effort Meeting

Zion Missionary Baptist Church will hold its Effort Meeting starting Sunday, June 4. Services will begin nightly at 7 p.m. with Bro. Terry Ray and Bro. Jeff Likens. The church is located at 2225 Puryears Bend Road, Hartsville. Everyone is welcome!

Vacation Bible School

Come join us for Vacation Bible School! Vacation Bible School will be held June 5-9 from 5-8 p.m. each day at First Baptist Church Lafayette. We invite everyone 4 years old and up. There will also be an adult class. Accommodations can be made for children younger than 4. Youth grades 7-12 are invited to stay later for youth activities. Please contact Ashley Crowder at ashleydcrowder@gmail.com or Kristy Scruggs at 615-666-3127 for more information.

USDA Commodity Giveaway

Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency will hold a USDA Commodity Giveaway on June 7-8, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Trousdale County Park. If weather is bad, giveaway will move to First Baptist Church, 773 E. McMurry Blvd. Commodities are for low-income families in Trousdale County. MCCAA does not discriminate on basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Call Amy Anderson, 615-374-3489 for more information.

Rocky Creek Men’s Day

Rocky Creek Fellowship Church will hold its Men’s Day program on Sunday, June 11. The theme will be “Men Taking a Stand.” 11 a.m. speaker will be Pastor Danny Reed. 3 p.m. speaker will be Pastor Jerry Brown of First Baptist Church, Castalian Springs. Lunch will be served at 1:30 p.m.

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 Ruby, 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, May 25

11:30 a.m. – BP by Suncrest

Noon – Birthday Dinner

Friday, May 26

9 a.m. – AFEP Exercise

10 a.m. – Walk w/ Ease

10 a.m. – Tai Chi

11 a.m. – Yoga

Noon – Rook games

Monday, May 29


Tuesday, May 30

9 a.m. – AFEP Exercise

10 a.m. – Yoga

Wednesday, May 31

9 a.m. – Line Dancing

Noon – Rook games

1 p.m. – Bible Study

Sheriff’s Reports: May 24, 2017

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.

May 15

Kimberly Dawn Dozier, 35, of Westmoreland, was charged with drivers license revoke/suspend/canceled by THP Trooper Carter. Bond was set for $1,000 and General Sessions court date was set for July 14.

Cindy Joe Kitts, 48, of Hartsville, was charged with criminal trespass by Deputy Randy Linville. Kitts was cited to court and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

May 16

Dantwan Leslie Crump, 26, of Hartsville, was charged with aggravated assault by TDOC’s Nathan Miller. Bond was set for $1,000,000 and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

May 17

Jessie Lee Dickens, 47, of Hartsville, was charged with public intoxication by Deputy Troy Calhoun. Bond was set for $500 and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

David Phillip Gordon, 40, of Hartsville, was charged with probation violation by Deputy Wesley Taylor. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

May 18

Daniel Johnathon Hardison, 20, of Bethpage, was charged with bond conditions violation by Deputy Eric Langford. Bond was set for $1,500 and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

Willie Edward Ashford, 53, of Watertown, was charged with DUI by Deputy Grant Cothron. Bond was set for $3,000 and General Sessions court date was set for July 21.

Kelly Lewis Harper, 26, of Hartsville, was charged with criminal trespass by Deputy Eric Langford. Bond was set for $1,500 and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

Tiriac Francee Weir, 42, of Hartsville, was charged with failure to appear by Deputy Grant Cothron. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

May 20

Dustin Jay Bain, 36, of Hartsville, was charged with DUI by Deputy David Morgan. No bond was set and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

May 21

Erick Oswaldo Reyes Rios, 26, of Hartsville, was charged with assault by Deputy Joseph Buehler. Bond was set for $5,000 and General Sessions court date was set for June 9.

Shana Renee Moran, 35, of Springfield, was charged with possess legend drug without prescription, mfg/del/sell controlled substance, intro/poss contraband in penal institute by Deputy Grant Cothron. Bond was set for $45,000 and General Sessions court date was set for June 23.

Schools recognize Character Counts winners

When character counts, Trousdale County Elementary and Jim B. Satterfield Middle Schools are able to rise to the occasion.

Character Counts! improves the lives of the children who engage in the program- and the communities that embrace it and it gives youth, adults and communities a framework for ethical living.

Andrew Nelson, a student at TCES, received a new bicycle and helmet from the Hartsville Rotary Club as part of the Character Counts program.

Character Counts! is the nation’s most widely used character development framework, adopted by schools as well as youth, sports and civic organizations. It is based upon shared beliefs and consensus values, the “Six Pillars of Character.” These are qualities and traits associated with good character.

Trousdale County Elementary and Jim B. Satterfield Middle Schools are on their way to becoming well-rounded citizens thanks to the program. Each nine weeks, three pillars are incorporated into each school. For the most recent nine-week period the three pillars were Trustworthy, Caring and Responsibility.

The nominations for students to be recognized for displaying these pillars are as follows:

Trousdale County Elementary School

Kaleb Blackwell, Iesha Neal, Dixie Chandler, Cohen Smith, Elijah Johnson, Andrew Nelson, Lathan Johnson, Jude Williams, Lierra Sykes, Peyton Scruggs, Kaylee Darnell, Zoey Vaughn, Ashlyn Elmore, Sierra Foster, Parker Day, Ty Swords, Matthew Chambers, Holly Wood, Cannon Sanders, Holden Sarell, Khloe Jewell, Sophia Waterhouse, Bentley Reece, Diane Winter, Cooper Batey, Branden Denham, Fernanda Rodriguez, Izzy Winkles, Khalean Moore, Nevaeh Malone, Mason Rieger, Joselyn Santiago, Kinzley Burgdorf, Melanie Pedigo, Keelyx Moore, Easton Young, Mollie Holder, J.Mac Crabtree, Melvin Marshall, Carlito Mendez, Max Morton, Kanden Wade, Ayden Chism, Heaven Moss, McKenzy Thomas, Matthews Duke, Nicolas Crocco, Dalton Beckmann, Jake Fergusson, Willow Jones, Nick Goodrich, Alivia Livingston, Rafael Rodriguez.

Jim Satterfield Middle School

Character Counts winners at JSMS pose with members of the Hartsville Rotary Club. Grayson Hutchinson received a $100 prize.

Jaylyn Cantrell, Logan Moss, Zach Taylor, Jacob Sullivan, Jesse Whitson, Jaylin Bowman, Raina Guimont, Lamont Mitchell, Naomi Sparks, Elyssa Chapman, Jacob Mink, Cody Carter, Peyton Ray


Chicken Extravaganza returns on Saturday

Chickens will once again be roaming the streets of Dixon Springs on Saturday, May 20, as the town hosts its annual Mrs. Bridgewater’s Chicken Extravaganza.

Nashville may have its yearly Swan Ball, but this small community at the edge of Smith and Trousdale Counties uses the Saturday before Memorial Day to celebrate all things chicken!

A large pavilion has been built behind the town’s century-old country store building and chickens of all breeds and descriptions will be on display. Prizes will be awarded and cash money given to such categories as Best Pen of a Pair: hen and rooster, Best Rooster, and Best Exotic Breed.

It will be chickens galore this Saturday at the annual Mrs. Bridgewater’s show in Dixon Springs.

In addition, there will be live music, assorted vendors and artists selling original arts and crafts, antiques, a plant sale, games for children and a quilt competition. Event organizers will also be hosting a barbecue lunch in the old store building from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

At the welcome tent, visitors will have the chance to purchase chances to win a large painting of a chicken done by local artist Amber Swooner. Each year, the event’s organizers raffle off a work of chicken-themed art.

All of this is in recognition of Nannie Burford Bridgewater. Miss Nannie was a resident of the town at the turn of the previous century. In the early 1900s, she was a nationally famous breeder of Buff Orpington chickens. Just how famous was she? She won ribbons and silver trophies in Nashville, Atlanta, New York and even London! She was selling breeding pairs of her Buff Orpingtons for $25 a pair; this was at a time when many men worked for only a dollar a day!

Anyone with a chicken or rooster can enter the competition under the pavilion. Just be there to sign in between 9-10 a.m. There are prizes in both adult and youth divisions. The younger contestants will also have the opportunity to display their artistic talents, as there are prizes in their division for Biggest Egg, Prettiest Display of 12 Eggs and Best Original Chicken Themed Artwork! Judging is at noon with the prizes announced at 1 p.m.

The community’s 1870s-era Union Church building will be the location of this year’s patchwork quilt competition. You can bring your old or new quilts to the church between 9-10 a.m. to compete for cash prizes for Oldest Quilt, Prettiest Traditional Patchwork Quilt and Prettiest Applique Quilt. In addition, the church will have a display of antique buttons for the public to admire. Other old buildings will also be open for visitors to tour.

All of this is part of the town’s efforts to raise money for historic preservation. In the past monies raised have helped restore the community’s old bank building, the general store, a small cottage, an historic stage coach inn, and helped with the upkeep of the Union Church.

If you have a hankering to see a whole lot of chickens, enjoy some good music, food, and shopping, just mosey down the road a short distance, follow the signs and enjoy the day in historic Dixon Springs. Events start at 10 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.

Look Back: More recollections from the country store

At one time every small community in Trousdale County had its very own country store. A small store coupled with a nearby one-room school helped define a community.

Larger communities might have more than one store, but certainly would have a church or two, a blacksmith shop and sometimes, a small grist mill.

Those days are gone, but we can still see old abandoned store buildings here and there. They have become a part of the rural landscape like falling down barns and neglected cemeteries.

Our photo this week is of Coker’s Store in the Templo Community. The store was open from 1940-59. It was owned and operated by Harve Coker, who is the man on the right in this picture.

But at one time the small general store was the lifeblood of the rural community. People could shop for necessities, pick up their mail, pass the time with their neighbors, and – if nothing else – get out of their homes for a while or take a break from the back-breaking chores on the farm.

It was a treat for a small child to run to the store for their mother, to pick up a pound of sugar or a package of headache powders. If they were lucky, Mom would tell them to treat themselves to a nickel candy bar.

People looked forward to a walk down the road to the store, and the late Raymond Johnson told me he knew of a lady who would carry her shoes when she walked barefooted to Beal’s store in Cato. As soon as the store came in sight, she would slip into the shoes so that she would look nice and proper when she did her shopping. The shoes came off as soon as she was back out of sight of the store!

Fewer people can recall shopping at a true country store, so we are lucky that a few years ago Ralph Coker wrote down his recollections of his grandfather’s store in the Templo community in northeast Trousdale County. Someone had given me a photo of the store and Ralph had contacted me to see if I could make him a copy. Of course I did, and at the time I asked him if he had any information that I could include with the photo for our archives.

He generously agreed and here is his letter, in full:


Thanks so much for sending me a copy of the picture of my grandfather’s store. To give you a history of this store, it was built in 1939 and closed in 1959 due to the early death of my grandfather, Harve Coker, with cancer.

In the 40’s and 50’s Trousdale County was mostly a farming economy… country stores like Coker’s and others furnished food supplies for tenant farmers or sharecroppers, during the growing season and when the tobacco was sold, at the end of the year, they would settle their account.

Most of the time the landlord would agree to make good the account, but in those times people were honest and you hardly ever had a tenant farmer who didn’t pay off his account.

During World War II many items in the store were rationed or were very hard to get and you had to have coupons (or ration stamps) to get them.

I was a small boy but I can remember long lines of people waiting for the delivery truck to arrive to get these rationed items.

In 1950 my grandfather bought a 17 inch black and white television, making him the only one in the community to have one. Every night the store would be full of people watching television, but Saturday nights the crowd was huge to watch wrestling and they loved it. It was like a free trip to the movies because at this time the local theatre in Hartsville was still doing a good business.

The store stayed open seven days a week and the crowds were huge on Sunday morning since this was the time for the farmers to get together and discuss farming, politics, and other topics of interest… also, several of the men would play checkers and I got to be a good checker player by playing with these men.

The country stores of this era were a social center, and you could buy any item except fresh meats at the country store. They all sold gas and oil, feed for cattle, cloth for sewing, etc.


Ralph Coker”

Our appreciation to Mr. Coker, and if any readers can add their own stories and recollections, please contact either The Vidette or myself. Thanks!

Jack McCall: Competency can be a welcome sight

I was in Charleston, S.C., a few summers back. My Southwest Airlines flight had a 3:10 p.m. arrival, and it was on time on a hot, humid day. I picked up my bags and went in search of a ride to my hotel. I take a hotel shuttle whenever I can. Sometimes a hotel shuttle is not available. This was the case in Charleston. A friendly lady at the information desk said I had two options: A regular shuttle or a taxi.

As I walked outside the terminal and headed in the direction of the transportation island, I saw a sign that read: Taxi to downtown – $30 or Wait for 15 minutes and the shuttle is $12. I decided to wait for the shuttle.

Submitted photo

The transportation coordinator directed me to a white van. As I climbed inside the shuttle, I greeted two women passengers sitting in the second row. I took my seat in the back. I immediately noticed the van’s engine was not running; consequently no cool air was blowing.

It was a sweltering 98 degrees outside in the Carolina sun. It had to be well over 100 degrees with a heat index beyond 110 inside the van. It was so hot it was funny. The other two passengers and I began to lightheartedly discuss our predicament. Ten minutes passed with absolutely no air movement. It felt like an oven inside the shuttle. One woman laughed as she finished sweating off the last remnants of her makeup. After what seemed like an hour and 15 minutes, our shuttle driver, an older black man, showed up.

“I guess I could start the engine and get the air conditioner going,” he offered in a rather weak and embarrassed tone of voice. All three passengers looked at each other as we collectively rolled our eyes. For the next five minutes, the air conditioner struggled to abate the heat. It was like throwing an ice cube in the ocean.

Finally, the driver returned and steered our shuttle in the direction of one of the Old South’s great cities. We had three stops to make. Mine would be the last one. In 10 minutes we were negotiating the streets of downtown Charleston.

Our first stop was the Charleston Marriott. The woman who had sweated off all her makeup got out there.

Next, our driver took us meandering through an old residential section of downtown Charleston. The houses were all two-story and stacked together like building blocks. They were all connected by narrow streets and back allies. At our second stop, the other woman looked a bit confused as she disembarked from the shuttle. It seemed she was in disbelief that her daughter lived at the address to which she had been delivered. She hesitated outside the house, called her daughter on her cell phone; and after a brief conversation, began to climb the stairs that led to the second floor.

As the shuttle pulled away, the driver looked back to make sure the woman made it inside. Then, we were on our way.

After winding our way through traffic for the next five minutes, we came upon a discouraging sight. In front of us, down a long street, at least 20 cars were backed up at a traffic light. My driver hesitated for a split second as he sized up the situation. Then, he eased out into the left lane and began to pass the other cars. That is when I realized we were not on a one-way street. He continued down the street at a steady rate of speed.

At that moment a car turned down the street at the stoplight and headed in our direction. The other driver slowed for a moment when he saw us coming. My driver didn’t blink, or brake. He kept right on going. I began to think, “This has all the makings of a game of chicken or a slow-speed head-on collision.”

Only two car lengths separated us when suddenly, my driver made a hard left turn and headed down a narrow alley. At the far end, I could see one of those storage pods sitting halfway out into the alley. A car was parked on the other side. The gap between the two was ever so narrow. My driver was not daunted. As we silently sized up the situation, he decided to go for it. I promise you, there was less than three inches clearance on each side of the shuttle as we sliced through.

Once we cleared the eye of that needle, he accelerated to the end of the alley. Two cars were approaching from the left. My driver decided he could beat them. A hard right turn took us out into the street. I cringed, expecting to hear the sound of horns glaring. No horns. My driver was on a roll!

At the end of that street, he hesitated as he looked to his left. Nothing coming! Again, we surged out into the street. Ahead, I could see the traffic light that had all the cars backed up. It was green! As the shuttle blew under it, I looked to my right. The line of 20 cars had grown to 30 or more. I smiled to myself.

I leaned forward in my seat.

“Nice piece of driving,” I said to my driver.

He could not hide his pleasure.

“I’ve been driving a shuttle or a taxi since 1978,” he offered, with a broad smile. “I know all these streets.”

“What is your name?” I asked.

“William!” he said. His voice had a proud ring to it.

I will not soon forget William. There is nothing quite as comforting, or exciting, as being in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing.

Legislature adjourns, but plenty left to do

Greetings Folks of the Fortieth!

Last Wednesday, around 1:30 p.m., we adjourned after completing the first half of the 110th General Assembly. The House and the Senate will recess until noon, January 9th, in the year of our Lord, 2018.

After completing “The Loop,” my yard and my home will have my attention for the remainder of this week and Sunday. I am looking forward to serving my family as we all gather at the Weaver Farm in Smith County.  Though this mom will be preparing, it will be therapy well welcomed for this homebody as the perfect Mother’s Day gift for me – staying in the Holler!

Terri Lynn Weaver

First, allow me to mention how grateful I am that you entrust me to be your representation on the Hill in Nashville. I make it imperative to know your heartbeat on the issues that affect us in Tennessee and D.C., as well. Though this session was a turbulent one, I believe it made me even stronger to stand on the principles you elected me to uphold. So “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians, Chapter Three.

A true conservative believes and takes action on keeping taxes low and defining what the role of government is. Less is more. Less government, more freedom. Both transportation and education were hot topics that wore me out serving as chair of the Transportation Subcommittee and as a member of the Education Committee.

Though I fought the good fight, we won some and we lost some. HB863, which exempts certain students from paying out-of-state tuition (undocumented students, meaning not citizens) at state institutions of higher education, and its partner bill HB660, that would allow public institutions’ governing bodies to determine who and how many students attend their schools, got my big fat ‘heck no’ vote. Tennessee cannot afford to pay for illegal immigrants to go to college! And the cost of higher education is over the top! Wonder if they thought that could be the reason the classrooms are lacking students? Just saying.  The eyes of the Education Committee must remain the decisive oversight, not an unelected board at some institution. Those bills will raise their ugly head again next year, as well as seat belts on school buses and school vouchers, to which I remain another ‘heck no’ on all!

Though the so-called IMPROVE Act passed, it is unfortunate the tax increase will be felt by those living on fixed incomes, as well as working families. For those who have done pretty well, as usual, they feel it less than anyone.

What I am most proud of are the 37 of us in the House who proved you could redirect funds already in the piggy bank for our roads without a tax increase. We stood our ground and would not vote for the budget in order to prove a point. By standing and not backing down, we won. Our request of how $55 million will come back to the people was granted for infrastructure needs in our districts. This is extra dollars for counties and cities. It is the General Assembly who was given the authority over the checkbook. We are working to get that back!

Oh, by the way, did you just get your “assessment change notice” in the mail, as well? No surprise, another tax increase. Again, as I mentioned in my last Loop about the addiction problem in our state, and not just opiates, but government never seeming to have enough of our pocketbook. Ugh!

Legislation such as HB1149, which prohibits abortion of a viable fetus except in a medical emergency, passed and made Tennessee the 21st state to protect life inside the womb. That was a huge victory and one that made heard the cries of children inside the womb.

HB529, known as The Tennessee Broadband Accountability Act, mentioned by some as “the simplistic approach to a complicated issue,” was created by a report revealing the dire need to provide Internet services to rural Tennesseans.  Fact of the matter is, 34 percent of rural residents are without the basics compared to the 2 percent of urban citizens who are underserved. Open up the competition, and I assure you underserved communities will have affordable Internet service, which is one as vital as water, electricity and roads. HB529 will blaze the trails for work going forward.

I’ve just skimmed the top of the bills passed this session.  I intend to “Loop” you when I have had the opportunity to recap and digest all that was accomplished on the Hill.

In a scene from The Lord of the Rings, Frodo makes a comment saying, “I wish the ring had never come to me.” Gandalf, his friend, replies, “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for you to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time given to you.”

The time given to me to represent you honestly is taxing and tiring; however, that being said, I believe strongly in my heart I am called to this task for such a time as this. Though our course of travel to our destination may differ, one thing we all can agree upon is making District 40 a better place to live, raise our families, do our jobs, and enjoy our great state of Tennessee.

Now that the gavel remains silent until 2018, I intend to see you in the district in order to be ready when session resumes. But for now, enjoy your family this Mother’s Day weekend and be glad!

Much respect and blessings to you, Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth,

Terri Lynn

Analysts say health premiums could go up by $8K

Analysts predict insurance premiums could go up by as much as $8,000 for people 50 and older under the American Health Care Act that will go before the U.S. Senate in the coming days.

In addition to removing protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the bill would allow insurers to charge as much as five times the premiums for older policyholders compared to their younger counterparts. The plan is raising concerns for people like Cecilia Munoz, who served as director of domestic policy in the Obama administration.

“The AARP is calling what the House passed an ‘age tax.’ If Congress is going to be tinkering with health care coverage, they should be focusing on ways to make sure that costs go down, rather than up,” Munoz said. “The results of what the House passed are really very clear: people lose coverage, fewer people will have coverage; the people who have coverage will be paying more for their premiums.”

AARP estimates premiums would increase for all ages starting at about age 46. While people between the ages of 20 and 29 will see some savings, it would amount to about $700 a year. The advocacy group also estimates 40 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have a pre-existing condition that could cause their coverage to be denied.

Dave Chaney, vice president with the Tennessee Medical Association, said he and others are concerned about any possible reduction in state block-grant funding that supports programs such as TennCare.

“And in Tennessee we’ve supported block grants, or a per-capita allotment, to give the flexibility in how we administer our Medicaid program or TennCare,” Chaney said. “But when we’re talking about a reduction in where states would likely receive less money from the federal government, then states are going to be unable to cover more people without changing eligibility requirements or benefits.”

As someone who worked closely in the development of the Affordable Care Act, Munoz said it’s important to remember how long it took to get some form of universal coverage for Americans.

“It took us 100 years to get to the health care reform law that passed in the Obama administration,” she said. “Once you land on sort of the first iteration of health care, it’s not going to be perfect. But we should be talking about making it better, not getting into a situation where millions of people lose their coverage.”

Munoz said “making the plan better” means looking at ways to lower medical costs and prescription drug expenses.

Report says Tennessee economy still strong

Tennessee’s economy continues to grow with a robust start to 2017, according to a report released by the Secretary of State’s office.

There were 10,372 new entity filings in the first quarter of 2017, which represents an 8.7 percent increase over the same time last year. This marks the 22nd consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth. As of April 1, there were 259,282 active entities in Tennessee, representing a 5.2 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2016.

“These strong numbers give us a good idea that Tennessee’s economy will continue to grow. It’s obvious that Tennessee has a climate that continues to attract new businesses,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

The Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report is created to provide a periodic snapshot of the state’s economy based on a variety of information, including new business data from the Division of Business Services.

Domestic firms account for 84.4 percent of all new entity filings, while foreign entities make up the remaining 15.6 percent.

Davidson County again led the way with the most initial filings among the state’s four largest counties with 2,395. Shelby County followed closely with 1,949. Hamilton County had the fewest new entity filings at 787, but the strongest year-over-year growth with a 32.3 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2016. The four counties account for 6,025 new entity filings during the first quarter, which is a 13 percent increase compared to the same time in 2016.

The state’s unemployment rate fell 3 percent in March from 5.3 percent to 5.1 percent. The state unemployment rate remains slightly above the U.S. rate of 4.5 percent.

The national economy showed mixed signals with weaker consumer spending and auto sales, while housing and personal income grew.

Guest View: Comey’s firing won’t slow FBI investigation

Much remains unclear about the sudden firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, but one point is beyond dispute: The original proffered reason for the dismissal – that Comey made improper public comments about the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server – was pretextual.

Comey’s public commentary on the email investigation was a violation of long-standing Justice Department policies, and a firing offense. But his comments were plainly not the reason the president lowered the boom: Candidate Trump loudly praised Comey’s actions at the time. And the president has now shifted ground, admitting that the decision was unrelated to the email controversy.

When the administration, already operating under a cavernous truth deficit, offers a manifestly false account of such a significant action, the foreseeable result is that critics will assume the worst, and that comparisons to Watergate will swirl around the White House.

In fact, the move has been widely criticized as “Nixonian,” invoking the specter that the president acted to impede the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with figures from the Russian government. Maybe something sinister like this is at work. Or maybe the firing was just a fit of pique by this most erratic and adolescent of presidents.

But – and this is the key point that should calm patrons of the darkest fantasies – if the president’s goal in firing Comey was to scuttle the Russia investigation, he has overplayed his hand. An investigation is underway, staffed by handpicked agents of an organization that is acutely aware of – if not obsessed with – its image as the premier federal law enforcement agency in the country.

For these agents, the investigation is a career-making opportunity. And their motivation has now been augmented by outrage at Comey’s firing, which the agency sees as an assault on its independence.

They are, moreover, sophisticated actors who know how to press the levers of Washington – including the press and the staffers of congressional investigative committees – to fight back against any effort to curb their work.

If, for example, the president were to replace Comey with a lackey who attempted to throw sand in the gears of the investigation, the effort would leak to the press in a Washington minute. And the likely outcome would be the swift appointment of an independent counsel, who would be able to insist on ample investigative resources and unfettered discretion.

The president has now waded into truly dangerous waters with his tweet war on Comey and his suggestion that Comey “better hope” that there are no secret tapes of their conversations. No one of any sophistication could possibly credit the president’s version of events.

In light of the comparisons to Watergate, it should not be forgotten that Deep Throat, the source who was instrumental in thwarting the conspiracy and bringing Nixon down, was the deputy director of the FBI. And that scandal took place in a pre-email era when leaking was a much more complicated enterprise. No ingenious use of parking garages is required today to publicize nefarious political interference by the White House.

Nor is it obvious that the president has the political maneuvering room to install a yes-man at the FBI. The choice will be the most scrutinized of his presidency, and the political establishment broadly wants to maintain the FBI’s ethos of independence. It would take the defection of only a few Republican senators to reject a questionable nominee, or, far more ominous to the administration, to establish a bipartisan select congressional committee that can undertake its own investigation.

The administration will therefore be under pressure to select a candidate of known integrity with experience in the ways of the FBI, such as former Deputy Atty. Gen. Mark Filip.

There’s one last line of defense in the form of Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, who will oversee the Russia investigation for the Justice Department.

Rosenstein, who wrote the memo about Comey’s approach to the Clinton business, has already resisted the administration’s efforts to paint him as the moving force behind the director’s dismissal. And like the other players in the drama, Rosenstein has strong cards to play against White House overreaching. The strongest of these is a threat to resign, which would be a disaster for the administration. All indications are that Rosenstein is resolved to be seen as ensuring an independent investigation. Expect him soon to announce that additional resources have been devoted to the Russia case, as Comey reportedly had requested. The White House will have little choice but to feign support.

All this means that the Russia investigation is not going away anytime soon, and that “all the president’s men,” and possibly the president himself, will remain squarely in the crosshairs of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Harry Litman, a former United States attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, teaches at UCLA School of Law and practices law at Constantine Cannon. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.