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Trousdale schools offer video update on education

Trousdale County Schools released a video Monday morning detailing continuing education plans while students remain out of the classroom.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield spoke on five goals for the district: providing weekly communication between teachers and students/families, providing nutritious meals to students, providing the highest level of academic instruction possible, providing equitable services for disadvantaged students and providing college supports for graduating seniors.

WATCH VIDEO HERE: Trousdale Schools update

“The earliest we could return to school is May 3, so more than likely we’ll be out of school at least 27 days, or close to five weeks,” Satterfield said. “Should that closure be extended through the end of the school year, our students would miss 37 days.”

Photo taken from Youtube video
Trousdale Director of Schools Clint Satterfield speaks via video on plans for continuing education while schools are closed because of the coronavirus crisis.

Teachers were to begin contacting parents and students on Monday to provide plans. Teachers will make contact each week to provide feedback and offer assistance as needed.

Teacher phone calls will only be made within school hours (7:45 a.m.-2:45 p.m.) and will utilize the instructors’ personal phones. Teachers will be available by email as well. Emails use the [email protected] format.

“If you see an unfamiliar phone number during the instructional day, we’d ask that you make an attempt to answer that,” Satterfield said.

Satterfield said special education and ESL (English as Second Language) teachers would maintain some office hours to allow parents to meet as needed. Further information will be forthcoming.

Satterfield reiterated that the district’s continuity of learning plans would utilize optional, non-graded student work that can be done online, with paper and pencil, or via a combination of the two. The classwork will also be parent-friendly and can be completed at home.

“We know we have different challenges in our community with broadband and access,” he said. “That’s why we’re delivering it three different ways.”

Those continuity of learning plans will be posted on teacher websites available at tcschools.org and will be updated each week while school remains out.

As part of the technological option, students in grades 6-12 can pick up Chromebooks from the high school or middle school this week. High school students can pick up computers on Wednesday, April 8 from 8-11 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m. Middle school students can pick up on Thursday, April 9 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Parents must complete a signed Chromebook Responsible Use Policy form prior to picking up a computer for their child. The policy requires parents to assume repair and replacement costs if the Chromebook is damaged, lost or stolen. The complete policy is available on the schools’ website at tcschools.org.

VIEW CHROMEBOOK POLICY: Schools’ policy

Printed work packets can be printed off a home computer, mailed to homes or picked up at schools. Details on pickup will be provided later, Satterfield said.

“These are tough times and we will get to a better place,” he said. “Communicate with your teachers; it’s the only way to stomp out disinformation.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Trousdale Medical Center employee dies of coronavirus

Trousdale County has a confirmed fatality from COVID-19 with the passing Wednesday of Robert Calhoun.

Calhoun was employed as a janitor at Trousdale Medical Center. He passed away Wednesday morning at Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin.

TMC issued the following statement:

“Trousdale Medical Center lost a beloved member of our family this week. Robert Calhoun devoted more than 55 years of his life to the patients of Trousdale. He started his career with Trousdale at only 19 years old, serving most recently as our Director of Environmental Services. He was not only Trousdale’s 2018 Mercy Award Winner, he was also honored as Employee of the Year and, in 2013, earned the Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association. His steadfast commitment to our patients, his coworkers, his church and community, and his family will not be forgotten. Our hearts are with his family and friends, and with all of those who knew and loved him, as we did.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Trousdale County had six confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Trousdale Health Department establishes COVID-19 testing site

The Trousdale County Health Department has established a COVID-19 assessment site for county residents meeting pre-screening and pre-registration requirements.

Trousdale County’s COVID-19 assessment site is at the Trousdale County Health Department, 541 East Main Street, Hartsville, 615-374-2112. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Trousdale County residents who have concerns they may have symptoms of COVID-19 can contact their local health department for consultation, and for pre-screening and pre-
registration procedures for potential assessment.

Trousdale County Health Department staff members will conduct pre-screenings and pre-registrations for individuals with symptoms by phone, then direct those identified for assessment to a site where they will undergo nasal swab collection for testing for COVID-19. Test results may be available within 72 hours, depending on the volume of tests that the testing lab receives.

Trousdale County Health Department staff members cannot perform pre-screenings and pre-registrations at assessment sites, and those who are ill should first contact their primary care providers.

Additional information about Tennessee’s assessment sites is available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/remote-assessment-sites.html.

Most people, particularly those with mild or no symptoms, do not need assessment for COVID-19. Those in high-risk categories, including contacts of confirmed cases; people in occupations with exposure to large numbers of contacts; health care workers; nursing home residents; severely immunocompromised patients; critically ill patients; pregnant women and people who have COVID-19 symptoms, are prioritized for testing.

There are many things Trousdale County residents can do to reduce the impact of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub) for at least
    20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing;
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue;
  • Clean and disinfect objects (e.g., cell phone, computer) and high touch surfaces
    regularly; and,
  • Practice social/physical distancing from others, be safer at home.

TDH has additional information available at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated information and guidance
available online at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Trousdale schools provide update on education planning

Trousdale County principals and teachers, under the direction of the Board of Education, have been working this week to come up with Continuity of Learning Plans (CLPs) for students who remain out of the classroom.

Last week, Gov. Bill Lee extended his recommendation for school closures through April 24. Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said in an interview with The Vidette that Trousdale County would abide by the governor’s request.

“Our student and employee safety is paramount,” Satterfield said. “We want to do everything to reduce the means of transmission.”

Reducing the “summer slide” – students forgetting what they have learned during the school year – is a top priority for Trousdale County Schools.

Photo taken from Youtube video
Trousdale Director of Schools Clint Satterfield speaks via video on plans for continuing education while schools are closed because of the coronavirus crisis.

“Learning is already lost in the nine weeks they’re out for summer. You can think about this long-term absence, compounded with the summer slide… This is going to have serious implications for students long after we get back in school.”

Before schools dismissed on March 16, all students were provided with Individual Learning Modules that contain work to cover the period from March 30-April 9.

Satterfield said the school system is working on a way for students to electronically submit work done as part of those individual modules. He suggested one option might be having students or parents use their phones to take a photo of completed work and email it to their child’s teacher.

“We’re working with our teachers, instructional supervisors and principals on planning for continuity of learning,” Satterfield said. “Teachers will decide how to do that so they can provide feedback. We know we’re going to do that some way electronically.”

CLPs will be released no later than Monday, April 6 and teachers will begin contacting students and parents on April 6. Satterfield said teachers would make contact at least once a week to check on student progress and offer feedback on work completed during that time.

Teachers will be accessible by email during the school closure. Every teacher’s email can be found via the schools’ website at tcschools.org.

Plans are in the works to provide student Chromebooks for those in grades 6-12 to allow for work to be completed online. Parents will have to sign a contract agreeing to replace the computer in case of damage. There will also be a paper option for those without Internet access at home.

“We’re going to deliver our CLPs in two platforms,” Satterfield said. “We’ve got a way to deliver learning through technology and we think it’s best to use that.”

Satterfield said the CLPs would be optional and would not be graded.

“We have a lot of parents asking, ‘How are we going to continue the education of our child while we’re out for an extended period of time?’ We’ll do everything in our power to educate our kids.”

 

Other school services

Satterfield said Volunteer State Community College was providing online courses for those high school students who take dual enrollment. TCAT Hartsville Director Mae Perry said she hoped to develop similar options for TCHS students but had not heard from the district yet.

“If they don’t have Internet, they can drive to the parking lot of the high school, we’ll give them the (WiFi) password and they can get on there,” Satterfield said. “We want to be sure they get those college credits.”

Taking care of seniors affected by the closure of schools remains a priority for Trousdale County High School staff as well, Satterfield said.

Getting transcripts available for those headed to college and helping seniors register for college is something high school staff would be working on if school were in session.

“Helping them graduate and get on a career path is our No. 1 priority; that is what we do,” Satterfield said.

Planning is also in the works for a virtual graduation option in case schools do not resume before the end of the school year.

“If at all possible, we want to have some type of graduation ceremony for our students. Hopefully, we’ll be back in school by then. We will have something even in the worst-case scenario.”

Satterfield said the schools’ technology department was looking into livestreaming a graduation ceremony from the school with students present but not visitors.

High school and kindergarten registration are also areas being worked upon.

Satterfield put a video on Youtube last week going over the schools’ plans. He said any parents with questions are welcome to call the Board of Education office at 615-374-2193 or email him at [email protected] Teachers and principals are also available by email.

Extracurricular activities such as spring sports, the Senior Play and prom remain canceled while school is out of session. Decisions on those will be made when and if schools reopen, Satterfield said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Backpack Program, schools working to feed Trousdale children

Trousdale County Schools is participating in a pair of efforts to feed children during an extended, unexpected break from the classroom.

The school system began providing “grab and go” meals on Monday at Trousdale County High School. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., parents or caregivers can pick up a free lunch for any school-age child in Trousdale County and breakfast for the following morning.

Monday began with 160 meals served and Tuesday saw 204, which Coordinated School Health Supervisor Kathy Atwood deemed a great success.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Volunteers at Trousdale County High School deliver free “grab and go” meals on Monday. This effort will continue each weekday while school is out.

“It went pretty good. Of course, the first day is always a challenge,” Atwood said. “If you compare to what we do in the summer, it was a big jump from that.”

The school system is hoping word of mouth will help inform the community of the available meals, which can serve up to 250 students per day.

Atwood said after this week, the school system would look at alternative delivery options if needed. The free meals will be offered as long as school remains closed, even through the May 22 scheduled end of the school year if necessary.

Also, the schools’ Backpack Program is working with the Church of the Firstborn to offer food boxes each Saturday to any family in Trousdale County in need. These food boxes are available from 9-11 a.m. each Saturday while schools are closed, whether or not a family has children in school.

Local organizations such as the Hartsville Rotary Club and area churches are helping support that effort, both financially and through helping pack boxes.

“There may be people who are having trouble and if they are, they’re welcome to come on Saturday mornings,” said Atwood, who helps oversee the Backpack Program.

The Backpack Program is funded through donations rather than by the school system itself and the community is urged to help support the program.

Donations can be mailed to: Hartsville Backpack Program, PO Box 175, Hartsville, TN 37074 or sent to the Board of Education office at 103 Lock Six Road.

Any questions can be directed to Atwood at 615-374-0907.

The Community Help Center’s food pantry remains open as well, but clients are subject to income requirements. The pantry is open from noon-3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 615-374-2904 for more information.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Financial help available for those affected by coronavirus

Unemployment claims across the U.S. reached a record high of 3.3 million people filing last week after COVID-19 shuttered large portions of the economy, prompting state and federal governments to ramp up relief efforts.

Affected residents and businesses now have several ways to apply for aid — here’s a look at some of the options.

Federal government

Congress passed and President Donald Trump last Friday signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Rep. John Rose’s office distributed an overview of the fund distribution, which would see citizens receive one-time tax rebate checks of up to $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple and $500 per child based on their tax returns, with reductions for higher income earners.

Those reductions begin at $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples, and assistance is phased out completely for individuals making more than $99,000 and couples making more than $198,000.

The legislation would also expand unemployment insurance to cover gig workers, self-employed people and nonprofit workers, and establishes a U.S. Small Business Administration-backed loan program that can forgive up to eight weeks payment on expenses like rent and utilities at 100 percent.

Other provisions in the stimulus package will see loans for job creators worth a combined $529 billion, an increased Medicare reimbursement rate and direct funding for cities, hospitals and other local organizations to help fight the pandemic.

Tennessee Department of Human Services

TDHS is providing up to $1,000 a month for two months in emergency assistance to families impacted by COVID-19.

Funding is available for those who were employed as of March 11 and either lost their job or at least 50 percent of their earned income. Applications are available at https://tdhs.service-now.com/relief?id=relief_registration and will be approved or denied within five days.

“We know the next few months are going to be a challenge for families across our state who unexpectedly lost a job through no fault of their own,” TDHS Commissioner Danielle Barnes said in a news release. “This emergency cash assistance will provide families with the temporary resources they need to support themselves during what we hope will be a short time away from their jobs.”

The monthly amount is based on the number of people per household, and approval is subject to income limits and other restrictions. Families must include a child under the age of 18 or a pregnant woman, have a valid Social Security Number and must not have resources exceeding $2,000.

“Even with a household of one or two people, you either have to have a child under 18 or a mother that’s pregnant,” TDHS Press Secretary Sky Arnold said. “That means families considered a household of one would have to be a pregnant woman, and single people or couples without children or a pregnancy won’t qualify.”

Money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is covering any aid delivered to families through TDHS.

Am I eligible for TDHS assistance? How much will I receive?

  • Household of 1:$500 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $2,696
  • Household of 2:$500 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $3,526
  • Household of 3:$750 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $4,356
  • Household of 4:$750 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $5,185
  • Household of 5 or more:$1,000 a month, must not exceed a gross monthly income of $6,015

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program

USDA Rural Development has waived and relaxed portions of its single-family loan application process, which typically assists lower-income families in rural parts of the county.

“Applicable loan payment assistance will vary customer to customer,” the USDA said in a statement to the Lebanon Democrat through its press office. “USDA cannot speculate what the average customer’s payment assistance will be. USDA encourages all our single-family housing customers who have been impacted by COVID-19 to reach out to USDA’s Customer Service Center at 800-414-1226 … or https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loanservicing.”

As of March 19, borrowers with both of USDA’s single-family housing loan programs — Direct Loan and Guaranteed Loan — are also subject to a 60-day moratorium on foreclosure and evictions. There are additional provisions in place to safeguard borrowers depending on which program they fall under.

Direct Loan borrowers experiencing an income reduction more than 10 percent can request a payment assistance package, and those with medical bills not covered by insurance or job loss from COVID-19 can receive a temporary moratorium on house payments. Expenses will still need to be paid later.

Guaranteed Loan borrowers who are in default or expecting to be can have payments reduced or suspended for up to 12 months, provided they have a documented hardship. Once the hardship is resolved, lenders can choose whether to waive repayments based on the borrower’s circumstances.

The agency has also extended tenant certifications for multi-family homes to June 30 with no late fees or overages.

USDA’s press office confirmed that Tennessee’s application deadline for the Rural Business Development Grant program closed Feb. 28, though current borrowers may be able to defer payments up to 120 days by submitting a written notification by July 31.

U.S. Small Business Administration

Gov. Bill Lee announced last week that the SBA granted Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance to Tennessee, allowing small businesses and nonprofits to claim up to $2 million per applicant.

Interest rates for the loans are 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits, and the funding can be used to cover any bills rendered unpayable due to COVID-19. Terms can extend up to 30 years on a case-by-case basis.

Local businesses can apply online at sba.gov/disaster and can speak with a representative by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or emailing [email protected]

“We just want to help as many small businesses in Tennessee and Wilson County as we can that have been affected,” Jay MacKenna, a public affairs specialist for SBA’s regional office, said. “We want to provide them with working capital for the needs that they have and encourage anyone who may have been affected by COVID-19 to apply.”

Those loans could be available to an estimated 151,500 businesses across the state and impact over one million employees, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Mayor declares state of emergency in Trousdale County

Trousdale County Mayor Stephen Chambers declared a state of emergency for the county on Saturday evening after news that a confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported earlier in the afternoon.

In an email sent to county officials announcing the move, Chambers stated “This is primarily to allow easier access to state and federal assistance, and to allow fast tracking the purchase of equipment and supplies needed to combat the spread of COVID-19. This decision was made after consulting with EMA Director Batey and County Health Officer Dr. Badru.”

The declaration does not mandate a “shelter in place” order, as has been the case elsewhere. The declaration also says the state of emergency shall expire after seven days.

READ DECLARATION: HTC Declaration of State of Emergency March 28 2020

RELATED LINK: First coronavirus case confirmed in Trousdale County

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Trousdale County

Trousdale County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, according to reports Saturday from the Tennessee Department of Health.

In its daily 2 p.m. briefing, the state listed 1,373 cases of coronavirus statewide, including for the first time one in Trousdale County.

No information was immediately available on the initial Trousdale case.

Among neighboring counties, Macon had two confirmed cases, Smith one, Wilson 20 and Sumner 82 as of Saturday afternoon’s update.

Seven people have died across Tennessee as a result of COVID-19, including one of 24 patients evacuated Friday night from the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing.

Image courtesy of Tennessee Department of Health

All 24 of those patients were evacuated to Sumner Regional Medical Center, according to hospital personnel.

“Sumner Regional Medical Center is currently treating multiple patients from the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing.

We have mobilized our emergency response team and are implementing plans that will immediately – and significantly – increase our capacity across HighPoint Health System should we experience a steep increase in critically ill patients.

We have been treating patients for COVID-19, and our critical care team is already at work preparing additional isolation units,” the hospital said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Contrary to other reports, no patients from the Gallatin nursing home have been transported to Trousdale Medical Center.

Trousdale EMS Director Matt Batey told The Vidette that using Hartsville, Westmoreland and Carthage’s hospitals to temporarily house nursing home patients who had not tested positive for COVID-19 was discussed but not put into action.

Riverview Regional Medical Center in Carthage released a statement on its Facebook page:

“Last night, our sister facility Sumner Regional Medical Center (SRMC) accepted patients from the Gallatin Center for Rehabilitation and Healing. As a part of HighPoint Health System, Riverview Regional Medical Center will continue to work in close partnership with SRMC as a unified team serving our patients and community members in Smith County as well as northern Middle Tennessee.

As a part of our coordinated, system-wide effort, Riverview Regional may be used as a step-down facility for patients who do not require intensive medical treatment provided by the critical care team at SRMC. We can assure our community every precaution is being taken to protect the health of our patients, providers, staff members and our wider community. Our clinical teams are well-trained and prepared to manage viruses and infectious diseases, including the coronavirus.”

Trousdale County schools work on continuing education during closure

Trousdale County Schools are working on ways to continue student instruction in the event of a longer than expected closure.

Schools closed March 17 on the direction of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and as of press time, were to remain closed through March 31 because of concerns over the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the governor recommended that schools remain closed through April 24.

But at last Thursday’s School Board meeting, Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said preparations were under way just in case.

“We’re planning for long-range continuing education in the assumption that we will not come back to school this year,” he told board members.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Before schools dismissed, students were provided with Individual Learning Modules designed to cover curriculum from March 30 to April 9.

Satterfield reiterated that students are not expected to complete that work immediately and urged them to enjoy their spring break, which would have taken place this week.

“We’re 75 percent through the school year, but we still have those other nine weeks,” he said. “If we don’t do something worthwhile in educating kids, when we come back to school there will be a lot of gaps that will be problematic to students.”

Satterfield said principals and supervisors were working with his office on various options to allow students to turn in those modules, as well as complete future assignments during the unexpected break.

The district is working on allowing students to pick up their Chromebooks from school and work from home. Parents would be required to sign a contract taking responsibility for the computers if they are lost or damaged while being used at home.

“We have a lot of curriculum that’s online now; we have Chromebooks in every classroom grades 6-12,” Satterfield said. “We’re getting ready to send them home.”

For those students who live in areas without broadband Internet, a paper option will be provided. Board members noted that students could conceivably use free Internet options, such as the library’s WiFi, if they do not have Internet at home.

Getting those papers back from students will be a challenge, Satterfield said, and his office is looking at options.

“The thing we will have to work on is how to use our teachers and support staff,” he said.

The school system is also working to complete senior transcripts to assist those headed to college.

If schools do remain canceled, Tennessee legislators have passed a bill to waive the 180-day requirement for a school year, as well as waiving the TNReady testing for 2020.

“That means if we go over our stockpile days, which we most likely are, we don’t have to make those days up,” Satterfield said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Hartsville restaurants, businesses feel effects of “social distancing”

Trousdale County restaurants, businesses and churches are adapting to the “social distancing” that has become a reality to many during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

On Sunday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order requiring all restaurants to close their dining rooms and offer only drive-thru or carryout service.

The Mexican Grilled Cheese and Hartsville Taco Co. are each offering delivery service for the time being, according to their Facebook pages. Carryout orders are also still being offered at both restaurants.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Staff at Hartsville Taco Co. take a break from cooking to-go meals.

Jossy Rodriguez, the manager at Hartsville Taco, said the first day of only to-go orders “was not great, but still okay.”

Dillehay’s Café, on the other hand, said it was “very bad.” Owner Tamara Dillehay said she was considering closing up for the rest of the week but had not made a decision at press time.

The BBQ Shack on White Oak Street said via Facebook it was remaining open, as it is already a carryout operation.

“We will stay open and serving the best BBQ around as long as we are allowed,” owner Dwight Cothron posted.

The Minit Mart, Twice Daily’s and Highway Food Mart are each remaining open as they are convenience stores.

Bubba Keller, owner of Keller’s Restaurant, said his establishment would be closed until April 6. Keller’s Bar is closed as well, he said. Also, both China Buffet and Harper’s Early Bird Café have closed completely until further notice.

McDonald’s is offering drive-thru service while remodeling continues at its Hartsville location. Sonic, as a drive-thru restaurant, is largely unaffected by the governor’s order.

While no cases of coronavirus have been found in Trousdale County at this time, that has not stopped some businesses from temporarily closing.

The Community Pregnancy Center on McMurry Blvd. has closed until March 31, according to director Peg Shonebarger.

“Anyone with questions for the center or wanting to make an appointment may call 615-680-8026. Existing clients may participate in their classes remotely by calling the above number. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to serving our community soon,” Shonebarger said via email.

The Community Help Center’s thrift store is closed, although the food pantry remains open to customers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Southern Shears Salon on River Street had a sign on its door stating the salon would be closed through April 6.

A number of area churches have moved to online services or have canceled services, including First Baptist Church, Hartsville Church of Christ, the Journey Church, Grace Baptist Church, Philippi Church of Christ, Hartsville First United Methodist Church and New Beginnings Pentecostal Church.

“We are working hard to provide quality worship, teaching and preaching videos online,” First Baptist said on its Facebook page. “We as a church family want to show God strong through this redirection of ministry efforts.”

“We are doing this out of respect and love for one another, and in order to protect each other from getting infected with the coronavirus,” Hartsville UMC said on its Facebook page.

Some church events have been postponed, including Hartsville Church of Christ’s Friends & Family Day.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

County, state government offices close amid coronavirus scare

County and state government operations have been affected by the spread of the coronavirus, which as of Tuesday had 667 reported cases in Tennessee.

Trousdale County has not declared a state of emergency as of yet, while some local governments such as Lebanon and Sumner County have.

The County Administration Building has been closed to the public, although the drive-thru window remains open to handle business as needed. Offices can also be reached by phone or email.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

“We are keeping track of the situation and will update you as a situation arises,” County Mayor Stephen Chambers said via Facebook video. “Please keep track of all developments at our website, trousdalecountytn.gov, or by following Hartsville/Trousdale County Government on Facebook.”

Monday’s County Commission meeting and Tuesday’s Water Board meeting were both canceled. No makeup dates had been announced at press time.

Those needing to contact County Clerk Rita Crowder’s office can call 615-374-2906 or email [email protected] Trousdale County residents can renew their license plates online at tncountyclerk.com. Copies of marriage certificates can also be obtained by phone or email. If you want a hunting/fishing license, Wal-Mart and Hartsville Food Mart on River Street also sell them, or they can be purchased online using the TWRA website at tnwildlife.org. The Clerk’s office will be closed on Saturdays for the rest of March.

Trustee Cindy Carman’s office can be reached at 615-374-2916. Residents can mail their property tax payments to 328 Broadway, Suite 3, Hartsville, TN 37074 or pay online at tennesseetrustee.com by selecting Trousdale County in the County/City menu.

Property Assessor Dewayne Byrd’s office can be reached at 615-374-2553. Tax assessment and property information can be found online at assessment.cot.tn.gov/RE_Assessment/.

Register of Deeds Candice Hall’s office can be reached at 615-374-2921. Filings can be mailed to 328 Broadway, Room 12, Hartsville, TN 37074, or you can do a title search online at ustitlesearch.net. During the coronavirus pandemic, the service is being provided free of charge.

Building & Codes official Sam Edwards can be reached at 615-374-1125 or by email at [email protected]

The Water Department can be reached at 615-374-3484 or hartsvillewater.com and payments can be made online or in the drive-thru window or night dropbox. Solid Waste can be reached at 615-374-9574 or [email protected] The mayor’s office can be reached by calling 615-374-2461 or emailing [email protected]

Hartsville City Park remains open although the restrooms are closed. Anyone visiting the park is urged to practice social distancing.

The Trousdale County Health Department is limiting its services to essential public health services such as WIC, high risk primary care services and immunizations for children and high-risk populations. The Health Department can be contacted at 615-374-2112.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is also taking steps to ensure access to critical services and benefits for customers while protecting the health of employees and the public in response to COVID-19. As of Monday, the TDHS has decided to move to appointment only for in-person services.

Hartsville’s DHS office can be reached at 615-374-3513. These changes will remain in effect indefinitely for offices in each Tennessee county until the COVID-19 state of emergency is reduced. No issuance of benefits will be impacted as a result of these office closures.

Certain TDHS services are always available online, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Families First, Child Support, Adult Protective Services and the Child Care Certificate Program. Visit tn.gov/humanservices for more information.

Trousdale Medical Center has also made changes to its visitation policy, with visitation from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and one visitor allowed per patient for inpatient, one visitor at staff discretion for emergency room patients and one visitor only if necessary for outpatient care.

All visitors and patients at the hospital will be screened at the main entrance, the hospital announced.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected] Contributing: Staff reports

Trousdale schools to provide children meals during break

Providing meals to Trousdale County children during the coronavirus crisis is a challenge being accepted by the school system and local groups.

Trousdale County Schools announced that it would provide free breakfast and lunch options to all children, regardless of if they are enrolled in school. Even homeschooled children can get meals.

“Any child in Trousdale County 2 years and up; we won’t have baby food,” said Coordinated School Health supervisor Kathy Atwood. “Anyone enrolled in our schools, regardless of age, can eat.”

Menu courtesy of Trousdale County Schools

Individually packaged meals will be available Monday through Friday beginning March 30, at Trousdale County High School from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. A full menu is available on the schools’ website at tcschools.org.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said at last week’s School Board meeting that the district is prepared to provide the free meals through the scheduled end of the school year in May, in case schools remain closed long term.

Meals will be distributed at the front porch of the high school and children must be present to pick up food. Lunch and breakfast for the following morning will be provided at the same time. Meals may not be eaten on site.

“It’s the same way the summer feeding program works,” Atwood said. “We cannot dispense meals to anyone who’s not on site.”

Most of the lunches will be hot meals, as Atwood said school officials felt it might be the only hot meal some children get.

Atwood said the school system is looking at alternate distribution options but could not elaborate.

Satterfield said USDA regulations prevented the schools from offering meals before March 30. While USDA has provided a waiver, it came through after the district had ordered food and made its plans.

“It’s planning. Prior to the waiver, guidance said we could not feed during a scheduled school break such as Spring Break… We’ve been working on this for six or seven days,” Satterfield said.

Satterfield also noted that budget concerns were part of the equation as there were no funds allotted to food staff and/or drivers during Spring Break.

Anyone with questions on the school meals can call 615-374-0907 or email [email protected]

In addition to the school meals, families can pick up food boxes beginning Saturday, March 28 from 9-11 a.m. at the Church of the Firstborn on McMurry Blvd.

This will be a joint venture between the schools, local churches and civic groups in the community, similar to the summer program.

“That’s open to anybody who needs food, not just the Backpack Program (recipients),” Atwood said. “If we have families who need food, they can come on those Saturday mornings.”

Also, the food pantry at the Community Help Center (120 E. McMurry Blvd.) is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. and noon-2 p.m. The Help Center pantry is available to those who meet USDA requirements. For more information on those requirements, call 615-374-2904.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Deputy Clint Friar returns to Trousdale sheriff’s office

The Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department has welcomed Deputy Clint Friar back 10 months after being seriously injured while on duty.

Friar was struck by a vehicle on May 28, 2019, while stopped to render assistance along Highway 25. The deputy suffered multiple injuries in the accident.

Submitted photo

“Messed up both knees, concussion, 14 stitches in one arm,” Friar told The Vidette. “The knees have been the most problem. I dislocated them, tore up everything in the right knee and tore the ACL and MCL in the left knee.”

Friar worked relentlessly to return to the job he loves, enduring six hours of physical therapy per week during his recovery. But he said he never gave up hope of being able to resume his law enforcement career.

“For the most part, I knew I was coming back, especially with the support of everybody in the community. That’s the biggest thing,” he said.

Friar resumed full-time duty on March 7 and had been on light duty for nearly a month before that.

Friar said he and his family were grateful for the support they have been shown during his recovery. Multiple benefits were held to help pay insurance costs and medical bills, including a softball tournament and silent auction.

“My wife and I have had people calling us, praying for us, donations, that kind of stuff,” he said. “The community’s been great. It made it easier to come back.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Mayor gives State of the County address

“Transitioning” is the current status of Trousdale County, according to County Mayor Stephen Chambers.

The mayor gave the annual State of the County address during the March 10 Chamber of Commerce meeting.

“It’s probably going to be the same for the next few years; the county is in a state of transition,” Chambers said. “Being this close to a major metropolitan area, we are going to be looking at a lot of change and transition.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
County Mayor Stephen Chambers speaks during last week’s Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Growth is continuing across the county, from the western end along Highway 231 to the Hartsville city limits to the eastern end of the county.

“We’re getting a lot of development in the county. Along with that comes a lot of issues you’re going to have to deal with,” he said.

Emergency preparedness was an area Chambers said he wanted to work on in the future, especially on the heels of recent tornadoes that damaged nearby communities.

The mayor said he wanted to grow a base of local volunteers and organizations that could respond in the case of a disaster in Trousdale County.

Chambers also addressed the ongoing Streetscape project on Main Street. In addition to reworking the sidewalks, the project has provided an opportunity to replace sewer lines that date back to the 1960s.

“They’re taking the opportunity while the sidewalks are out to go ahead and replace water and sewer lines and improve service to that area,” he said.

The master plan for Hartsville City Park was also discussed, with Chambers noting that even if everything on the plan were implemented it would be a 15- to 20-year process.

The master plan was put together and released last month, utilizing grant funds received from the state.

“The price tag is over $11 million… We need to keep in mind, this is something that’s not going to be done overnight but in phases,” he said.

Chambers also spoke on potential future projects in Trousdale County that could be necessitated by continued growth.

According to the mayor, the county’s population could grow by another 400 to 500 people by 2023. The 2020 census is expected to put the county’s population over 11,000, based on the most recent estimate.

Improvements at the intersection of Highways 25 and 231 will likely be needed.

“Is the capacity of our roads going to handle the projected increase… If you get that many residents, you can expect that many cars,” Chambers said.

The mayor also touched on the prospect of a new jail, something that county commissioners have looked at in recent meetings. Overcrowding at the current jail could force Trousdale County into a corrective plan of action.

The increased county population will likely also require Trousdale County to come up with a plan to mitigate flooding and require other regulatory actions.

Revitalizing the downtown area and bringing retail to Hartsville is another focus of county government, but the mayor called it “an uphill battle.”

“There are ways we can try to incentivize (owners) to revitalize their buildings,” he said. “Then we can market the downtown area to anyone who’s looking…

“We must develop commercial and industrial… I think we’re on the verge of being able to have some of these things.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Trousdale County schools to be closed through March 31

On Monday, Trousdale County joined a number of school systems statewide, including Sumner, Wilson and Smith counties, in closing for the time being.

An automated text sent to parents read: “Due to the Governor’s statement, Trousdale County Schools will be closed beginning 3/17 through 3/31. Schools will not reopen until more COVID-19 information becomes available.”

“We’re following the guidance of the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Health and guidance by the Centers for Disease Control,” Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee issued a statement urging all school districts to close “as soon as practically possible, with all schools expected to close by Friday, March 20.” Gov. Lee declared a state of emergency in Tennessee last Thursday.

Earlier Monday, Trousdale schools had announced certain preventative measures were announced Monday.

“Things are changing by the moment,” Satterfield said at the time. “What we’ve done is try to layer on some more safety protocols.”

The parent-teacher conferences scheduled for March 19 have been canceled. Parent meetings for eighth- and ninth-grade students were to be provided later this week via Youtube.

All extracurricular activities will be suspended during while schools are closed.

Individual Student Learning Modules will be sent home to be completed by students. These Student Learning Modules will substitute as the student’s grade in the event of an extended school closure.

“We’ve been working on that for about a week,” Satterfield added. “It’s not for kids to do during Spring Break; it’s in case we have a long-term closure that goes beyond Spring Break.”

Also, the school district will provide a free “grab and go” lunch for all students K-12 at Trousdale County High School beginning on March 30 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Also, Trousdale County Schools and the Church of the Firstborn are planning to begin distributing food boxes on Saturday, March 28. The boxes are intended to take the place of the schools’ Backpack Program in the event of a closure lasting beyond the month.

While Trousdale County has thus far seen no cases of COVID-19, the effects of the pandemic have been seen throughout the local level.

Both Foodland and Piggly Wiggly have seen a marked increase in business over the past and have seen shortages in some items, including toilet paper.

“There have been a lot of customers from Lebanon or Gallatin that don’t want to deal with lines there, so they’re coming to Hartsville,” said Foodland manager Gary Russell. “People in Hartsville, too, are buying more, but a lot of these folks we won’t ever see again.”

“We’ve been extremely busy,” added Denzil Cherry, an assistant manager at Piggly Wiggly.

Neither grocer reported problems with restocking, while noting that some trucks had been delayed because of extra orders at other locations along the delivery route.

“A lot of people are buying staple stuff: dry beans, rice,” Russell added.

Hartsville’s Fred A. Vaught Public Library has canceled events for the rest of March, but remains open for basic services.

“We will also have kids craft grab-and-go bags available at the front desk. If you know what you would like to checkout, but do not wish to enter the building, please call ahead and pull up to the back entrance. We will gather your requests and bring the items out to you,” library staff announced via Facebook.

Hartsville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology canceled in-person classes from March 16-20, joining the state’s other 26 TCAT campuses in similar action.

Vanderbilt, UT-Chattanooga, UT-Martin, UT-Knoxville and Tennessee Tech, Cumberland and Volunteer State Community College have all announced the suspension of in-person classes and moved to online instruction.

Hartsville Church of Christ has opted to delay its annual Friends & Family Day, which was scheduled for March 29. A new date will be determined later. Williams Chapel Church’s March 28 gospel singing has also been postponed to a later date.

The Church of the Firstborn has canceled its services for the next two weeks as well.

Questions raised about hiring of Hartsville fire chief

County Mayor Stephen Chambers has announced Ken Buckmaster as his choice to be the permanent fire chief of the Hartsville/Trousdale Volunteer Fire Department.

However, questions have been raised with regards to the interview process after it became known that Buckmaster listed two members of the interview panel as references on his application for the position.

The four-person interview panel consisted of Chambers, Lafayette Fire Chief Troy Brawner, Carthage Fire Chief Joe Hiett and Wilson County Fire Chief Jeremy Hobbs.

UT’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) selected the outside chiefs at the request of the mayor’s office.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

MTAS Fire Management Consultant Steve Cross, who developed the interview process for Trousdale County, said there should have been no conflict of interest.

“Even though they were still listed that way, they still would have had to influence the other two to grade a certain way. To me, it wouldn’t be a concern,” he said.

Cross said the applications and résumés were not part of the interview process and were not factored into the scoring of the three candidates. He is scheduled to make a presentation to the County Commission at its March 16 work session on the interview process and results.

“I’m going to recap the selection process that we did… and then answer any questions they or the public have,” he said.

The three applicants – Buckmaster, Jay Woodard and Jeremy Barnes – were interviewed separately and rated based on their answers to structured questions and on their vision for Trousdale County’s fire department.

Asked if the presence of two interviewers as references for one of the candidates was a conflict of interest, Chambers said, “First of all, it was all done through MTAS as requested by the Emergency Services Committee. It was brought up and both fire chiefs said they didn’t care who was on it; they were going to pick the best candidate.

“I sat in, did some of the greeting along with the fire chiefs and added two questions that all three candidates were asked. They were asked ‘What’s your plan for the fire department going forward?’ and ‘What would you see accomplishing in the first 90 days if you were to get the position?’ ”

Buckmaster added that his references were based on his experience as a member of HTVFD.

“If you apply for a position with a fire department, you put references that are affiliated with fire service. That would be chiefs from the surrounding counties.”

 

Rating the candidates

The Vidette obtained all three applications, which showed that Buckmaster listed both Brawner and Hiett as references. Buckmaster has been with the HTVFD since 2007 and is currently the department’s assistant chief. In his capacity as a HTVFD firefighter, he has worked and trained with both Brawner and Hiett previously.

Woodard, who has 25 years’ experience with the Nashville Fire Department and currently holds the rank of captain there, said he felt the interview process was a fair one.

“It seemed like it was a good interview and process with the chiefs there from surrounding counties,” Woodard said.

Barnes disagreed, saying he felt the interviewers had made up their minds beforehand.

“When we go in for an interview for a fire chief’s job and there’s not one question to figure out how much I know about firefighting, that’s kind of awkward,” he said. “It was a subjective interview with questions like, ‘How does your education help you be a fire chief?’ or “How well can you recruit?’ ”

Buckmaster said he did not know who was conducting the interviews until the day of his interview.

“I didn’t have any idea who the interviewers were going to be. I was under the impression it was going to be MTAS,” Buckmaster said.

Chambers said the presence of the two interviewers as references was mentioned during the interview process. However, both Hiett and Brawner told The Vidette the matter was never brought up. Each said they had no idea he had been listed one of Buckmaster’s references, with Brawner saying he was unaware until being contacted by The Vidette.

“I didn’t know who the applicants were until the day of the interviews,” Hiett said. “It didn’t shock me that he did (list me as a reference) but I didn’t know he did.”

Hiett added that his ties to Buckmaster “played no part in my decision” and that he also knew one of the other applicants.

“I would have handled it the exact same way,” Brawner added. “I didn’t go into it thinking who was going to get it.”

Chambers has said he will nominate Buckmaster at the next County Commission meeting on March 23. The nomination is subject to the Commission’s approval.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Contraband packages brought inside Trousdale Turner prison

An investigation remains ongoing after a number of packages containing contraband were brought into the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Law enforcement responded Tuesday morning to the Hartsville prison after reports of multiple packages being tossed over a fence and into the facility.

Sources told The Vidette that 19 packages were retrieved by inmates, leaving prison officials unable to determine what had been brought inside. The facility has reportedly been placed on lockdown with teams brought in to search the compound.

CoreCivic, which owns the Hartsville prison, issued the following statement:

“On Tuesday, March 10, facility staff determined that unknown persons introduced contraband into the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TTCC). This incident was immediately reported to Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office and our partners at the Tennessee Department of Correction. We are cooperating fully with the investigation.

“CoreCivic has a zero-tolerance policy for the introduction of contraband into our facilities.”

Anyone with any information about the identity of whoever delivered the contraband is urged to contact law enforcement.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Hartsville displays giving heart with tornado relief efforts

Hartsville residents and businesses have teamed up to display their giving spirit in the aftermath of last week’s tornadoes that did severe damage in Middle Tennessee.

Carey Pediatrics, Livingston Family Practice and Hartsville Foodland each have been collecting donations of water, food, clothing and other needed supplies. As of Monday, at least five trailers of supplies had been delivered to both Wilson and Putnam counties.

“When I first started, I just wanted to do something to help. I didn’t think I’d get very much; I was content to get one trailer,” said Mark Presley, assistant manager at Hartsville Foodland.

Submitted photo
Artwork created by TCES fifth-graders is displayed on one of the trailers of relief supplies for tornado victims.

Presley’s wife Misty, a fifth-grade teacher at Trousdale Elementary, has also brought artwork her students had made. They will be taken to tornado victims and first responders at a future date.

“I’m just overwhelmed by the support of the community,” Presley added. ‘We’re definitely a giving town.”

Dr. Jack Carey’s office also has collected and delivered supplies to those in need.

“We decided to start taking up donations for disaster relief,” Carey said. “We got together with Amanda Livingston and teamed up and started promoting each other’s pages…”

Carey said he had collected a trailer full of supplies at his location, to go with two trailers at Livingston Family Practice.

Along with water and food, cleaning supplies have been high on the wish list. Carey said the fire department donated a pallet full of trash bags to the relief efforts.

“We have been able to target those things that are needed,” Carey added.

Bobby Livingston estimated they had collected around 500 cases of water and between 6,000 and 7,000 pounds of food.

“People have dropped stuff off; driving it up is all I do,” he said.

Tri-County Electric has also assisted with relief efforts, sending two crews of 12 men to the Upper Cumberland area to help with restoration of electric service. Three digger trucks and three bucket trucks left out of Lafayette, Westmoreland and Scottsville, Ky.

Two of the workers, Jordan Green and Jordan Halliburton, are Hartsville residents.

Hartsville Foodland, along with Hartsville’s Head Start and Trousdale County Schools, have also kicked off a school supply drive to benefit students in Lebanon and Wilson County.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Op-Ed: Fire chief hiring looks like backroom deal to me

There’s an old saying: “Avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

Or in other words, even if you’re not doing anything shady in reality, don’t make it look as thought you might be.

That’s why I have serious questions about how the interview process for the Trousdale County fire chief’s position has been handled. Let me be clear in that I am not accusing anyone of wrongdoing. But it looks bad at the very least.

If you’ve read this far into the paper, you probably also read the Page 1 story about how County Mayor Stephen Chambers went about selecting Ken Buckmaster to head our Volunteer Fire Department.

Chris Gregory

The most troubling aspect of the process, as far as I am concerned, is that two of the people conducting the interviews and rating the applicants just happened to be listed as references by one candidate. The candidate who, by the way, has been announced as the choice for the job.

Please explain to me how that is NOT a massive conflict of interest. If I’m asking you to recommend me for a job and then you are the one deciding if I get the job or not, that would seem to present a problem. Either I need to remove myself from consideration, or you need to remove yourself from the role in deciding who gets hired.

How did this slip past everyone? Did it slip past everyone, for that matter? The interview panel was determined by a state official, and that person probably bears the least amount of blame. I did find it interesting though, that when I asked that same official how the circumstances didn’t raise a red flag, the answer I received dealt with how it was a scoring process, etc., and really wasn’t a big deal.

OK, so I’m supposed to buy that the scores might not have been weighed in the local guy’s favor? Bear in mind, these weren’t questions with only one right answer. These were subjective questions, like the essay questions we all had to answer in high school. The “right” answer here depends on who’s doing the grading.

Sorry. I don’t buy it. Not for a moment.

The interviewers, as far as I can tell, didn’t catch the potential problem because they didn’t see the applications or résumés as part of the process. Really? You’re going to make a decision on hiring a department head, effectively the CEO of that department, without looking at the qualifications of the people seeking the job?

Yeah, if I were seeking a job at McDonald’s, my experience probably wouldn’t be much of a concern. This is a job that deals with potentially saving people’s lives. I would hope that fact would be taken a little more serious.

How did our county mayor, who was part of the interview process, not catch this? Surely he looked at the applications at some point. If he didn’t, that raises an even bigger red flag in my mind.

As a trained attorney prior to becoming mayor, Mr. Chambers should have known having someone’s personal references making the hiring decision would raise eyebrows at the very least. Again, it’s about the appearance of impropriety.

As for Mr. Buckmaster himself, I question why he didn’t raise the question when he came in to interview? Surely he remembered that he listed both interviewers as references?

It’s time to start the hiring process over again. This time, it needs to appear impartial. Whether this one was, only the people involved can say for certain.

But as another old saying goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and walks like a duck…”

Chris Gregory is editor of The Hartsville Vidette. Reach him at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]

Second town hall forum centers on uses for wheel, sales taxes

Discussions at last week’s town hall forum on the wheel tax and sales tax centered around what uses the funds should be allocated toward.

Trousdale County commissioners held their second such forum on March 5 to allow the public to weigh in on the possibility of creating a new wheel tax after the current one expires in May 2022, as well as a half-cent increase in the local option sales tax.

A sales tax increase would have to be passed by referendum, while a wheel tax could go to referendum or be passed by the County Commission.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

While noting there are no current plans to bring either tax option to a vote, County Mayor Stephen Chambers said, “So far the discussions concerning the wheel tax have been to bring it to the voters.”

Both commissioners and members of the public seemed to agree that if a wheel tax is proposed, it should be allocated to some specific purpose. The current wheel tax of $40 goes toward paying off the costs of constructing Trousdale County High School.

“We should tag it to something specific; that way the people in the community know what it goes to,” said commissioner Amber Russell.

The eventual need for a new jail dominated discussion of potential uses for a wheel tax. State officials told commissioners last month that Trousdale’s jail could go under a corrective plan of action this year because of chronic overcrowding.

Sheriff Ray Russell said a committee was being formed to partner with the state and come up with a firm proposal on building a jail, including costs. Initial estimates have been anywhere from $10 million to $15 million.

Even if the funds from a new wheel tax were put toward a new jail, Commission Chairman Dwight Jewell noted that money would likely not completely cover costs.

“It’s a big capital project if we have to build a jail… We know we’re going to have to do something. It’s going to take more than a $40 wheel tax. That’s why we want your input and ideas.”

The current wheel tax brought in just over $356,000 in 2019, according to figures from the mayor’s office.

Other commissioners noted that housing state prisoners in a new jail could offset some of the costs. Trousdale’s current jail has housed state prisoners for years, bringing in as much as $150,000 annually into the general fund.

Jewell also noted that Wilson County voters had just passed a sales tax increase in the March 3 election. A half-cent increase in Trousdale County’s sales tax would have brought in just over $319,000 last year, according to estimates.

“We felt like (sales tax) was the easiest way to raise revenues in a way that people would not hardly miss the difference,” Jewell said. “That’s why I am still very much in favor of taking this to referendum, pleading our case to the people of the county and letting them decide if they feel this is a fair way to raise revenues.”

The mind of the audience and commissioners seemed to be that a decision on the wheel tax did not need to take place until the current one expires in two years.

“We should not be having a discussion over a new wheel tax until the current one expires,” said Brian Crook, who lives in the 8th District.

Mayor Chambers agreed, saying he favored putting talk of a wheel tax off for now.

“Right now, we don’t even know what a jail would cost,” the mayor said. “There’s also a lot of discussions that will have to be held… I would like to wait until 2022.”

A third town hall forum to discuss the wheel tax and sales tax will be held on Thursday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the courthouse.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]