Spending becomes hot-button issue in Trousdale County mayor’s race

The growth of spending in Trousdale County government has become an issue in the hotly contested mayoral race between Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers.

The county has increased its spending over the last four years, as seen in the proposed budgets from 2014-15 vs. that of 2018-19.

The 2014-15 proposed county budget, which was the last under then-mayor Jakie West, estimated $4,490,575 in spending utilizing the county’s general fund and $816,685 by the Urban Services District.

Actual figures as reported by the annual audit from the state comptroller’s office for 2014-15 were $4,850,428 in general fund and $656,429 in Urban Services.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

By comparison, the budget for 2018-19 passed by the County Commission in June calls for $5,963,453 in spending from the general fund and $1,248,486 by the general fund – increases of roughly $1.5 million and $430,000 respectively.

County tax revenues have also increased over that same four years. The 2014-15 budget projected revenues of $3,794,750 and $705,280 in the two funds. The 2018-19 budget has those numbers at $5,269,628 and $1,008,828 – increases of roughly $1.5 million and $300,000.

Carman noted the increase in spending under his administration but defended it, saying that increased revenue and the needs of the county justified added expenditures.

“There hasn’t been a direct impact on residential and commercial taxpayers,” the mayor said. “The uptick has been through receipts through the prison coming here. We’ve tried to use those.”

Chambers said that while the numbers were strong, he felt taxpayers were concerned about what the future holds for Trousdale County.

“People in the county, especially the seniors, are concerned their property taxes are going to go up,” Chambers told The Vidette. “My concern is right now, all of Middle Tennessee is in a boom. Booms are followed by busts and eventually, that’s going to stop.

“If you get ahead of yourself in your spending… the proposed (2018-19) budget had a deficit of $693,825. People are concerned that they’re seeing a lot of debt increase and they’re afraid their property taxes are going to raise.”

CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, which opened in 2016, receives a property tax bill of over $1.5 million annually. The company has twice taken advantage of the 2 percent discount for paying in October, lessening the amount by just over $30,000, but its impact on the county’s tax rolls remains a substantial one.

Carman noted that when he took office in 2014, there were county employees with five to 10 years of experience making under $10 per hour. The county has since instituted a minimum wage of $10 per hour for its employees and in the current budget provided $2,000 raises for full-time staff and $1,000 raises for part-timers.

Carman also talked on efforts to revitalize Hartsville itself over the last four years.

“If you drove through Hartsville, this town was going away,” he said. “We have been in decline in town for 30, 40 years… When the old tobacco warehouse fell to the ground and sat there for seven years, I could not believe leadership allowed that.”

He cited the community center and new justice center, the fire hall and administration building as improvements to downtown Hartsville.

Trousdale County’s general tax rate has dropped from $3.10 to $2.93 over the last four years and the urban tax rate has fallen from $1.11 to $1.08. However, Carman said cutting $1.5 million of property tax instead of utilizing those funds to help the county would be “a mistake.”

“We lowered taxes some, but we used those monies to correct a tremendous amount of stuff that had been left dormant for years,” Carman said. “I have tried to make good decisions for the community.”

“I think when we’re looking at our spending, we need to fund our core services: police, roads, those kinds of things,” Chambers said. “Any spending above that: is it something we should be doing and can we afford it?

“Even though we are experiencing tremendous growth, we still have huge amount of our revenue relying on residential taxes. We need to try to recruit businesses and support people in the community to start their own businesses.”

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

How much is Trousdale County government’s actual debt?

In addition to county spending, the amount of debt incurred by Trousdale County over the last four years is another hot topic in the mayoral race between Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers.

According to records from the state comptroller’s office, for fiscal year 2014-15 Trousdale County owed a total of $7,158,168. That total included county government and the school system.

For fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, 2017, Trousdale County had $15,200,659 in debt, which included obligations by county government, the school system and the Water Department.

During Monday’s meeting of the Budget & Finance Committee, Carman provided a spreadsheet listing the county’s debts broken down by department, along with interest rates, principal and interest due for 2018-19 and payoff dates.

As of July 1, 2018, the total amount was $15,755,891. Of that amount, $1,182,621 is principal that is scheduled to be paid over the next year, with an additional $404,835 in interest. Those numbers do not include payments by the Water Department to cover its portion of the debt.

Illustration courtesy of Trousdale County government

Of the $15.755 million total, $2.582,000 is debt owed by county government, with the majority of that being $1.75 million for the new justice center. $7,541,698.46 of the total debt is owed by the school system, which includes payments still being made on the high school (covered by the wheel tax), a new HVAC system at the elementary school and energy-efficient upgrades at all three schools.

The company that did the energy-efficient work, as part of the contract, guaranteed that energy savings would cover all costs of the loan, which as of July 1 stood at $1.3 million. Should it not, the company is obligated by the contract to pay the difference rather than the school system.

$5,632,192.58 of the county’s debt is owed by the Water Department, primarily in two USDA Rural Development loans that helped pay for the new sewer plant and other water upgrades. That debt is paid by the utility’s ratepayers and incurs no county tax money.

“The payment on that (water) debt is $17,000 per month,” Carman said. “CoreCivic is paying us $47,000 per month. That leaves $30,000 per month that our water utility is able to keep rates low and look at expanding projects to help our community grow.”

That CoreCivic payment was set for 42 months, after which the prison will be billed strictly on water usage. Beeler said the actual water usage currently was lower than initial estimates.

“The loan has to be set in the name of county government, but the county does not pay any funds for these water loans,” added County Commission Chairman Mark Beeler, who also sits on the Water Board.

Both mayoral candidates spoke about Trousdale County’s debt but offered differing views. Chambers said he was concerned by the rising debt and said he felt taxpayers were also concerned about paying that back in the future.

“My concern is we have taken on more debt and we have to pay that back,” Chambers said. “It more than doubled (in four years) and has to be paid back.

“People are concerned that they’re seeing debt increase and they’re afraid their property tax is going to rise… It’s a valid concern.”

Carman, meanwhile, defended the increase as investment in various infrastructure needs that had long been neglected and also said the county was in solid position to repay the monies owed.

“It allows for us to make improvements and make corrections and it not be laborious to the taxpayer,” Carman said.

According to the monthly trustee’s report provided to commissioners, Trousdale County has approximately $3.5 million in its general fund balance and $953,000 in its Urban Services fund balance. Other reported fund balances were $444,000 (Solid Waste), $565,000 (Ambulance Service), $352,000 (Debt Service) and $852,000 (Education Debt Service).

“Debt is not a bad thing if you can service the payments and handle it within your budget,” Beeler said. “This county’s not greatly in debt.”

“I’m not trying to paste anyone in a bad light,” Chambers said. “But the numbers show our debt has gone up. I’m concerned about that and a lot of other people are too.”

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

Readers offer their thoughts on county spending

Spending and the priorities of county government are an issue in the race for Trousdale County Mayor and the public is having its say in more ways than just the ballot box.

Supporters of both Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers have debated on social media and in more traditional ways, such as signs.

One sign in particular that has drawn attention sits across the road from the entrance to the Convenience Center on Industrial Park Drive.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Owned by the White family, the sign has featured messages such as ‘Carman spends too much money’ and ‘Grant money is tax dollars too.’

The Vidette spoke with Bo White and his son, Mark, and also invited readers to comment on county spending and priorities via Facebook.

“(Carman) talks about grant money; that costs taxpayers too like us,” Bo White said. “I don’t like the way (the county) spends money.”

“The average citizen hears the words ‘grant money’ and they think ‘It’s not costing us.’ If the government has a dollar, it came from a taxpayer,” added Mark White, who formerly served as a county commissioner.

“I’m all about progress and I love to see the county doing better. All I’ve ever said is, ‘Can’t we catch our breath for a couple of years? Build up some reserve? Pay off some debt?’ ”

The Whites mentioned sidewalk projects, the former Bank of Hartsville building and the new justice center as what they felt was unnecessary spending by county government.

“The new city hall went over budget and the justice center – neither of those were grants,” Mark White said.

The two added that they felt a lack of spending priorities dated before the current administration, citing a lack of streetlights on Industrial Park as a previous example that they themselves eventually handled as the county would not.

Other readers commented via Facebook, citing jobs, infrastructure and police as areas that county government should focus on in the coming years. Many of the online comments were favorable about the direction of Trousdale County.

“Many people are upset about the spending but don’t even understand how grants work or why the mayor does what he does… Grants are there and if we don’t take advantage of them, we won’t grow as a community, and if we don’t spend the grant money that we do receive, we aren’t eligible to receive more! If people only understood how things worked, they might be more understanding instead of putting the mayor down for the decisions he makes,” said Julia Griffin.

“Establishments so that the weak, young, elderly have access 12 months out of the year to physical/otherwise activities, to better themselves physically and mentally… I would like to see several, many, intersections and roads corrected to be more safe,” said Tonia Bennett.

“It’s only a matter of time before Hartsville is courting some big business and we will need better infrastructure to do this. The days of small-town Hartsville are numbered,” wrote Cory Freeman.

“I, for one, am grateful for the increased spending, because I can see the difference. I didn’t like looking at old, dilapidated buildings that cluttered the downtown landscape. I, for one, believe it was time for a new fire hall and for a new justice center. When we can get all of these things done without raising county taxes, it seems like a no-brainer to me,” wrote Steve Griffin.

“The Mayor should work with the Chamber (of Commerce) to bring in businesses that will bring in jobs, and not restaurants, I’m talking industrial jobs,” said Linda Knight.

“(The county) turned an eyesore downtown into a new criminal justice center, new sidewalks, new fire hall, new school bus garage, turned an empty building into a new administration building… all without raising taxes. At least you can see where the money went. In the past the county spent the tax dollars and never had anything to show for it, and raised property taxes on top of that,” said Alyce Coker.

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

Early voting sees strong turnout in Trousdale County

Over 500 Trousdale County voters had cast ballots during early voting as of Tuesday, according to Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton.

Paxton called the early numbers “a very good turnout.”

On July 13, the first day of early voting, 214 ballots were cast, just shy of the one-day record of 225.

After Tuesday, the number of early votes cast was at 543.

Early voting continues through July 28. Voters can cast their ballots at the Election Commission office, located at 214 Broadway.

The office will be open to voters from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursdays and from 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

Under Tennessee law, voters must present a photo ID when applying for an early ballot.

The Trousdale County Election Commission is also still seeking poll workers for the Aug. 2 election. Anyone interested in being a poll worker, or who wants more information about early voting, can call 615-374-2712.

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

Randy Boyd makes gubernatorial campaign stop in Hartsville

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd stopped in Hartsville on Tuesday as part of a 95-county bus tour.

Boyd met with voters at the Community Center for about an hour and discussed the campaign and his platform for the state’s top job.

Boyd, a businessman from Knoxville, spoke first on improving education.

“One of the things I want to do as governor is making sure every kid has the opportunity to graduate not just with a high school diploma, but with a certificate in some kind of job and skills.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Randy Boyd, center, met with voters in Hartsville on Tuesday as part of his campaign for governor of Tennessee.

Boyd said he wanted to provide free dual enrollment opportunities at Tennessee’s Colleges of Applied Technology statewide. Trousdale County currently has such a program in place with TCAT Hartsville.

He said he also envisions satellite TCAT campuses in high schools across the state to better enable opportunities for students.

Boyd helped create Gov. Bill Haslam’s ‘Drive to 44’ initiative, designed to have 55 percent of Tennessee adults have a college degree or certificate by 2025. He also helped create the Tennessee Promise, which uses lottery funds to provide two free years of education to graduating high school seniors in Tennessee.

The opioid crisis was another area Boyd touched upon, as he has previously called for working to reduce overprescribing and better education on the dangers of opioids.

“I published a 10-point plan with three big things,” Boyd said. “First we need to declare a state of emergency and put someone in charge. Second, we need to keep people from getting addicted in the first place. Finally, we have to do a better job with recovery… sending people to get the treatment they need.”

Boyd touted his experience as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, saying Tennessee brought in 50,000 jobs and $11 billion in capital investment during his tenure there.

“We’re a state of haves and have-nots,” he said. “You get to rural Tennessee and a lot of counties aren’t doing so well. We need to invest in their education, their industrial parks, broadband… and tourism.”

Boyd also touted his Christian faith and conservative credentials after being the subject of attack ads in recent weeks questioning his support of the president and referring to him as a moderate.

“I’m a Christian. Jenny (wife) and I have been going to the same Presbyterian church and sitting in the same pew for the last 34 years,” he said. “I believe God has given us more than we’ve ever expected, and my life is about trying to give back. That’s why I’m running for governor.”

Asked what separated him from the other Republican candidates (Diane Black, Beth Harwell and Bill Lee), Boyd touted both his experience as an entrepreneur in private business and his executive experience as a part of the Haslam administration.

“I started my own company – the only one that has done that out of the group,” Boyd said. “The governor has 42,000 employees and a $37 billion budget. You want someone who has run something before.

“Of all the candidates, no one has any executive branch experience. It’s one thing to be a legislator, but as governor you’re in charge of getting things done. I know how to create educational opportunities in our state. I’ve proven I can be a job creator in the private sector and in the public sector. Our goal is to make Tennessee the state of opportunity.”

More information about Boyd’s campaign is available online at randyboyd.com.

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

Early voting begins Friday for August election

Early voting begins Friday for Tennessee’s primary election and Trousdale County’s general election, scheduled for Aug. 2.

The early voting period runs through July 28, and voters may cast their ballots at the Election Commission office, located at 214 Broadway. The office will be open to voters from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursdays and from 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

File photo

Under Tennessee law, voters must present a photo ID when applying for an early ballot.

Members of the Election Commission inspected and sealed the county’s voting machines during their meeting Tuesday evening.

The county general election features the county mayor’s race, where incumbent Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers are vying for the position. The Register of Deeds office is also on the ballot, with incumbent Leah Verville seeking a full term against Candice Hall.

All 20 seats on the County Commission are up for election, as are the positions of sheriff, County Clerk, Circuit Court Clerk and three school board seats.

In the Tennessee primary election, Diane Black, Beth Harwell, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee are seeking the Republican nomination for governor, while Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh are seeking the Democratic nod.

The Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Trousdale County, has an open primary on both sides. Republicans Bob Corlew, Judd Matheny, Christopher Monday, John Rose and Lavern Vivio are seeking their party’s nod, while Democrats Dawn Barlow, Christopher Finley, Peter Heffernan and Merrilee Wineinger are seeking their party’s nomination.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn face minor opposition and are expected to win their respective nominations easily.

Terri Lynn Weaver faces Chad Williams in the Republican primary for State House District 40. No Democrat qualified for the ballot.

For more information about early voting, call Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton at 615-374-2712 or go online to GoVoteTN.com.

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

Hartsville puts on one hot July 4 celebration

It was unseasonably hot (even for summer), but Trousdale County still put on a terrific celebration last week for the Fourth of July.

With temperatures nearing the 100-degree mark and bright, sunny conditions, the annual Independence Day Parade kicked off at 4 p.m.

The procession, which included elected officials, a Trail Life USA color guard, clowns, classic cars and more started down McMurry Blvd. and onto Broadway.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
The Trail Life USA color guard marches down Broadway during the July 4 parade.

Linda Gregory’s family took first place for their horse-drawn wagon, while second place went to Terri Lynn Weaver and her husband Mike, who were dressed as Martha and George Washington. Third place went to the daughters of Mike and Leigh Ann Potts, who pulled their dog Grizzie in a patriotically decorated wagon.

“I officially don’t know what’s hotter than the 4th of July now! What a scorcher!” said parade organizer Amber Russell. “The triple digits kept many away from our parade this year, but our parade participants braved the heat to bring this year’s Independence Day to the town. I’m not sure which melted faster – the chocolate or the people!

“The parade lineup went great this year and I’m so thankful for every person that made it happen, from the entries to the Rescue Squad and law enforcement.”

In addition to the parade and Music in the Park, Foodland sponsored a kids’ coloring contest and a ‘Patriotic Pooch’ contest was held in which pet owners could dress up their dogs for the holiday.

Katie Turner’s dog Lilly, a blonde cocker spaniel, won the pooch contest, while Owen Evitts, Dahlayla Harper and Caitlyn Bush were the top three finishers in the coloring contest.

“It was quite a sight to see all those bright, red white and blue hearts lining the windows of the Foodland store! Foodland was great to sponsor that event with cash prizes for the winners and hopefully we can continue that contest in the future,” Russell said. “We had some pretty sassy puppies along our parade route this year! The Patriotic Pooch contest debuted this year and was sponsored by the Trousdale Litter Program, who graciously donated a ‘doggie bag’ of treats for all the participants. A big thank you to them!”

After the parade, the celebration moved to Hartsville City Park, with food options, booths and live music.

Sean Simmons sang the national anthem, and live performances were made by Cassandra Bates, the Bluegrass Militia and SuperSport.

Other events included a watermelon-eating contest, cake walk to benefit the Band Boosters and a dunk tank.

Mayoral candidates Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers braved the water, along with Director of Schools Clint Satterfield. The audience bid for the opportunity to dunk each of the three, with proceeds benefiting the Chamber of Commerce’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Both Carman and Chambers wound up taking a plunge, while Satterfield escaped without being dunked.

The Community Band, consisting of high school band members and band alumni, capped the evening with a concert of patriotic music before the traditional fireworks display to end the event.

“Each year I do this parade, I meet more faces of people who love our town and want to brighten it!” Russell said. “I’m so thankful I’m able to take part. God bless!”

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

‘Books & Bites’ bus makes its debut in Trousdale County

The Trousdale County school system was to unveil its mobile library/cafeteria bus during this week’s July 4 parade before taking the bus on a test run next week.

The ‘Books & Bites’ bus is an old school bus that has been converted into a library and cafeteria that will begin running full-time in the summer of 2019. The bus is a joint venture between Trousdale County Schools and the Hartsville Rotary Club, which helped provide funding for the conversion of the bus.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

‘Books & Bites’ is designed to help support summer nutrition and also to help meet the school district’s goal of having 90 percent of third-graders reading at grade level by 2022. The name was submitted by a middle school student as part of a contest earlier this year.

The bus was to be part of the July 4 parade and was then on display in Hartsville City Park during the ‘Music in the Park’ event.

‘Books & Bites’ will have a limited run next week from July 9-13 with two daily stops: at the corner of Carr Street and Rogers Street from 11-11:25 a.m., and at the park from 11:35 a.m.-noon.

Menu courtesy of Trousdale County Schools

“July will be used as a test pilot and will only provide free meals for youth ages 2-18 this summer. However, plans are in place to provide meals for the entire 2019 summer, in addition to supporting the school’s Kindergarten through third-grade literacy program next year,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.

For questions about ‘Books & Bites,’ please contact the Trousdale County Board of Education at 615-374-2193.

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

Mayoral candidates address crowd at Candidate Forum

A crowd of almost 80 people listened to both candidates for Trousdale County Mayor address their visions for the county’s future during last Thursday’s ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum.

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which was held at the courthouse and open to any candidate for office in Trousdale County. The event was also broadcast live by WTNK.

Both sitting mayor Carroll Carman and challenger Stephen Chambers received three minutes to speak to voters.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Carroll Carman, left, and Stephen Chambers, right, each spoke at last week’s ‘Meet the Candidate’ Forum, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

“I have endeavored to do everything I could in that office to try to challenge the status quo,” Carman said. “We need to see some change, some renovations, to make things better and we’ve tried to do that.”

Carman noted that county employee salaries had risen by an average of 18.5 percent over the last four years, saying, “When I entered office, it was sad to see what a lot of our people were making.”

Economic development was another area Carman trumpeted success in, citing the arrival of both CoreCivic’s prison and ARC Automotive during his term.

“Those are good jobs and that is money flowing into our county,” he said.

Chambers said he would fight for Trousdale County with the same zeal that he uses to serve his clients as an attorney.

“As I’ve gone around the county, I’ve heard that we need more jobs,” Chambers said. “People are concerned about rising taxes and that county government needs to be more mindful of spending.

“When spending taxpayer money, our first priority should be funding core government services such as law enforcement, schools and roads. Beyond that, we need to determine if it’s something we should do and if it’s something we can afford.”

Chambers said he wanted to use new procedures and technologies as mayor to make county government more efficient as well.

With regards to jobs, Chambers noted that 61 percent of Trousdale County residents must go outside the county to work. He said his experience with the Industrial Development Board and the board of Tennessee Central Economic Authority gave him the ability to both help existing businesses and lure new business into Trousdale County.

Both candidates took a set of prepared questions from Chamber Director Natalie Knudsen on what qualified them to serve as mayor, what a mayor could do to bring jobs and their plans for the county.

“We have brought quite a few jobs, although many of those were already on the way when I became mayor,” Carman said. “We need to make our community something that everyone wants to be part of.”

“We need to look at what other counties have done,” Chambers said while citing Wilson County as an example. “We can also see about State Route 141… Once that next piece of 141 is done, it puts us in greater competition to attract bigger businesses.”

Chambers said he wanted to encourage greater citizen input on the future of Trousdale County and see what are the county’s most pressing needs.

“When you listen to your citizens, I think 8,500 people can come up with a lot of ideas versus me as one person,” Chambers said.

Carman said his plan was “to keep the momentum rolling” if re-elected to a second term.

He noted over $20 million in grants and loans that had come in over the last four years at no cost to the taxpayer.

“This $20 million has been a great help and you’ve seen a lot of changes in the last four years. It isn’t just status quo,” Carman said. “We need to keep that momentum rolling.”

The audience also heard from 18 candidates for the County Commission, with at least one candidate from each of the 10 districts participating. Both candidates for Register of Deeds, Leah Verville and Candice Hall, also took part.

Election Day is Aug. 2.

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

Hartsville ready for annual July 4 celebration

Hartsville is getting ready for its annual July 4 festival, with the traditional parade, fireworks show and music in the park.

“We’ll have vendors, the Chamber will have a food booth selling fried bologna sandwiches and hot dogs,” said Chamber of Commerce Director Natalie Knudsen, who is helping to organize the festivities. “We’ll have Italian ice and sno-cones too!”

Chris Gregory / File / Hartsville Vidette

The Fourth of July parade will begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m., starting down McMurry Blvd. and turning onto Broadway.

RELATED LINK: 2018 Parade Lineup

“A big thank you to everyone participating in this year’s Independence Parade,” said Amber Russell, who organizes the July 4 parade. “It’s always great to see a day full of patriotism for our great nation! It’s always an honor to direct the parade and I hope you enjoy it.”

Russell also offered some parade tips:

  • Please make sure all children are loaded on vehicles prior to departure;
  • Please do not allow anyone to leave vehicles/floats once the parade has started;
  • Drivers be mindful and watch for children down parade route;
  • Candy is permitted to be thrown;
  • Lights are permitted;
  • Sirens may be used;
  • Please rise as the color guard displaying our flag passes at beginning of parade.

After the parade, the fun will shift to Hartsville City Park for music, food, games and much more.

The music will be highlighted by appearances by the Bluegrass Militia and SuperSport. Also scheduled to perform is local singer Cassandra Bates.

“The Band Boosters have done music in the park for years as a thank-you to the community,” said Steve Paxton, who directs the Band Boosters. “This is a way we can pay back.”

The Community Band, made up of Trousdale County High School band members and band alumni, will close out the music at 8:30 p.m. with a repertoire of patriotic music.

The Band Boosters will also hold an auction between musical performances. Paxton said the Band Boosters were still seeking donated items and there are also spots still available for booths in the park. For more information, reach him at 615-374-2712.

“We’ll be glad to have anyone who wants to participate,” Paxton said.

There will be a watermelon eating contest at 6:15 p.m., a cake walk at 6:30 p.m. and a dunk tank at 7:15 p.m. in the park. A live auction will be held for the opportunity to dunk mayoral candidates Carroll Carman and Stephen Chambers, as well as Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.

A time for the dunk auction had not been set as of press time, but Knudsen said she expected it to be later in the evening. All proceeds from the auction will go to the Chamber’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner, to be held in November.

“We want people to come and bid,” Knudsen said. “Bid as much as you want to dunk whoever you want!”

Additionally, the swimming pool will remain open to the public until 9 p.m., allowing folks an opportunity to get a respite from the summer heat.

The day will be capped the by annual fireworks display, which will begin around 9 p.m.

“It’s a small-town Fourth of July. That’s what we’re going for.” Knudsen said.

“If you’re in town, we encourage you to come out,” Paxton added. “It’s available to all our community so they can come and interact, rub shoulders and celebrate the Fourth of July.”

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

County Commission approves 2018-19 budget, impact fee increase

Members of the County Commission voted to implement the mayor’s budget proposal during a pair of meetings earlier this week.

On Monday night, commissioners voted 18-1 in favor of the 2018-19 budget, which contains over $700,000 in additional spending and includes raises for county employees and the sheriff’s department. The budget also includes two new school resource officers for the middle and elementary schools.

Gary Claridy was the lone commissioner to vote against the budget. Commissioner Don Coker was not present Monday.

“I just think it’s too much money being spent here at one time,” Claridy said after Monday’s meeting. “We’ve got over $700,000 this year and a half-million (of that) recurring every year. Where do we stop?”

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

The vote at a called meeting Tuesday was 17-1 in favor of the budget, again with Claridy the lone no vote. Coker and Amber Russell were absent Tuesday.

Commissioners unanimously passed the proposed tax levies, which are not changing from last year. The general tax rate is $2.93, while the Urban Services tax rate is $1.08.

A proposed increase in the impact fee for new construction also received unanimous commissioner support and will take effect July 1.

The impact fee will rise to a minimum of $1,500 (currently $1,000) or the greater of 70 cents per square foot for residential and 30 cents for commercial or industrial.

The monies from the impact fees are also redirected under the ordinance from Education Debt Service into the county’s general fund.

In his report to commissioners, County Mayor Carroll Carman said there had been 131 building permits issued in the 2017-18 fiscal year as of Monday evening.

Three zoning changes also passed on second reading:

  • A property on Fort Blount Road from A-1 to R-1;
  • The northern parcel of the old Texas Boot Factory property on Western Avenue (walking track area) from I-1 to R-1; and
  • A property on Highway 231 from A-1 to R-1.

Commissioners also approved an ordinance to change the makeup of the Water Board from five to six members.

Carman told The Vidette he intended to appoint Mark Beeler to the newly created seat. Beeler currently serves on the Water Board by virtue of his office as chairman of the County Commission but will drop from that position as he has opted not to seek re-election.

A resolution to increase commissioner pay received approval by an 18-1 vote, again with Claridy as the lone vote against. Beginning in September, when newly elected commissioners take office, they will earn $100 per meeting, $75 for the work session and $40 for each committee meeting. Members of the Beer Board, Planning Commission, Library Board and Board of Zoning Appeals will receive $30 per meeting.

A resolution authorizing a $250,000 loan for the purchase of a new tanker for the Volunteer Fire Department also received approval Monday.

Commissioners also approved a number of budget amendments, most of which were internal transfers within the 2017-18 budget. Four amendments were draw from various fund balances:

  • $23,500 from the general fund for additional costs in purchasing the Fire Department’s tanker, committee fees and medical examiner fees;
  • $86,150 from the school system’s food service to account for end-of-year cleanups and cost overages;
  • $33,000 for a truck for the Public Works Department; and
  • $7,000 from debt service for banking fees.

Commissioners also approved the appointments of Mary Beth Hoffman, Martha Jo Jewell and Grace Moreland to three-year terms on the Library Board, Thomas Harper for a four-year term on the Planning Commission, and Beeler to a 30-day appointment as interim fire chief.

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

2018 Hartsville Fourth of July Parade Lineup

2018 Hartsville Fourth of July Parade Lineup

1. Sheriff Ray Russell

2. Color Guard

3. Bob Corlew

4-5. Trousdale County Veterans

6. State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver

7-8. Trousdale County High School Marching Yellow Jackets

9. Trousdale County Senior Center

10. Trousdale County Litter Program

11. County Mayor Carroll Carman

12-13. Donald Lock 4-wheelers

14. Candace Hall, candidate for Register of Deeds

15. Harry McCarl

16. Stephen Chambers, candidate for Trousdale County Mayor

17-18. Hartsville Community Pregnancy Center

19-20. Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce

21-32. Hartsville/Trousdale Volunteer Fire Department

33. Leah Verville, Register of Deeds

34-35. Foodland

36. Al Menah Shriners

37-39. Trousdale County Reading Program

40-55. Seed Morton and Classic Cars

56. Ashton Scott, 2018 Fair Princess

57. Coralie Kyle Blair, Little Miss Sweetheart

58. Olivia Tilman, Miss Tiny Spring/Little Miss Tiny Tot

59-61. Lilyana Hays and horses

62. Trousdale County EMA

Hartsville man’s HVAC video goes viral

When Andy Jellison created a roughly 3-minute Facebook video for his heating/air conditioning repair business, he almost certainly had no idea how big it would become.

Since posting a video two months ago on a simple way to cut down on dust in one’s home, that video has reached viral status, with over 1.2 million views and over 22,000 shares as of Tuesday morning.

Screenshot of Facebook video

Even more amazing, this was the first such video Jellison has posted online for his business.

Jellison, the owner/operator of Simple HVAC, said he was “astounded and mesmerized” by the reaction to a simple video with a simple tip for homeowners: using painters’ tape to help make a better seal for air filters.

“It’s getting anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 views a day,” Jellison said. “But what’s more amazing is the fact that it’s the lack of negative comments – less than 100.”

Jellison’s son-in-law, Chris Carman, filmed the video, which shows Jellison talking though how reducing dust in the air is better for homeowners’ health and even makes dusting easier.

RELATED LINK: Andy Jellison’s HVAC video

“It was one take, no edits or nothing,” Jellison said, “and in a little over five weeks it goes viral.”

Jellison said views have come from as far away as Oregon, Florida and Maine. He said he believes consumers are looking for home improvement tips on a level the average homeowner can understand.

While adding that he never expected the results one simple tip has gotten him, he said the exposure it has created for his business has been terrific.

“Everybody says today’s marketing is all about Facebook and social media,” he said. “I looked at the big boys: Lee, Hiller, Derryberry, Roscoe Brown. Their average video gets about 200 to 300 views and these are ones professionally done.

“The industry has failed as a whole about educating consumers, talking to them where they understand what’s going on.”

He added that plans for the next video are already under way.

“My lawyer has said ‘We have to do one of these videos a week!’ ” Jellison joked.

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

Chamber sponsors ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum on June 28

The Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a ‘Meet the Candidate’ forum next week for all local candidates.

The public is invited to attend the forum, which will be held on Thursday, June 28 at 6 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Invitations have been sent to all local candidates, including those running for county commissioner, county mayor, Register of Deeds, school board, sheriff and trustee. Each candidate will get three minutes to address the audience on why he or she is best suited for election to office. Questions will not be taken and the event is not intended to serve as a debate.

Natalie Knudsen

“Anyone who is on the ballot, whether they are unopposed or not, is invited and can RSVP with me,” said Natalie Knudsen, director of the Chamber.

Knudsen said this was a new venture on the part of the Chamber, but said she felt it gave local voters the best opportunity to hear from candidates before the Aug. 2 election.

In 2016, the Chamber sponsored a forum on liquor by the drink prior to that vote, a forum that was well received by the community.

“The Chamber is doing this to help inform citizens of what’s happening. A lot of people don’t even know who their commissioner is,” Knudsen said. “You should know what the people think who are going to control your taxes, your garbage, your sidewalks – the things that affect your everyday life.”

Jerry Richmond will serve as the event’s moderator and will also be broadcasting live via radio on WTNK 93.5-FM and 1090-AM.

“If you don’t want to come out, you can hear it on the radio,” Knudsen said. “The candidates can say anything about the county, their positions or what they feel is important.

“Come meet them and see who they are, instead of believing everything you see on social media!”

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

Justice Center to host open house on Sunday, June 24

Mayor Carroll Carman has announced an Open House at the new Trousdale County Justice Center, located on Main Street in downtown Hartsville, to take place from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, June 24.

This event is being co-hosted by the County Building Committee and the mayor’s office to give county residents a chance to see the new facility before it officially opens for business the first week of July.

The Justice Center has been a long-term goal for the county government due to the aging condition of our present courthouse, which was built in 1905.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

“Our historic old courthouse, while a beautiful old building, does not meet the needs of today’s courtroom proceedings,” said Building Committee chairman John Oliver. “We have tried to make it work over the past half-century, but ultimately we realized that a new facility was the only way to meet current judicial requirements.”

Those “requirements” include holding rooms for prisoners, judge’s offices, Internet compatibility, protected workspaces for county officials, up-to-date security systems, two large courtrooms instead of one, storage space for court records, waiting rooms for witnesses, conference areas for lawyers and clients, a large parking area and more.

During the open house, visitors will be able to walk through the entire facility. Once it begins operation, certain areas will be off-limits to the general public due to security concerns.

“We hope people will be impressed with this new building, especially since we were able to take an older existing building, the old Co-op building, and turn it into this excellent facility,” stated Mayor Carman.

The county purchased the former Co-op building in 2007 with the intention of using that location in the future when funds were available. The large lot also held the parking lot for the jail and access to the foot bridge connecting town to the football field.

This location, adjacent to the jail, is ideal for the county and it keeps activity in the historic old downtown are, which is good for businesses located there.

Oliver added, “I’ve already had people ask me what we were going to do with the old courthouse building and I tell them, ‘Don’t worry! We are not going to tear it down!’ We will likely move some other county offices into the building and possibly move our county museum from the old depot to the courthouse.”

Elementary school plans special registration event July 10

Trousdale County Elementary School will host a special registration event for the 2018-19 school year on Tuesday, July 10.

From 4-7 p.m., kindergarten-age students or students entering grades 1-5 who are new to Trousdale County may register for the upcoming school year, which begins on July 26.

Parents who wish to sign up their children for pre-K may also fill out an application at that time. Pre-K enrollment is limited and subject to certain criteria.

Students are eligible to enter kindergarten if they turn 5 by Aug. 15.

Parents wishing to register their children for school MUST have the following:

  • A physical dated Jan. 1, 2018 or later;
  • An updated copy of the child’s immunization record;
  • An original certified birth certificate (not the hospital-provided copy);
  • Proof of legal custody of the child if the parents are divorced (power of attorney is not accepted; parenting plan or court order are acceptable);
  • Proof of residency in Trousdale County that meets one of two criteria:

1. Property tax statement, driver’s license and utility bill with matching addresses; or

2. Signed lease agreement, driver’s license and utility bill with matching addresses.

“We encourage all parents to register their children for school and have their forms ready by the time school starts,” said Kathy Atwood, director of Coordinated School Health. “There are specific requirements that new students have to meet and they will not be allowed to attend school until their file is complete.”

New students enrolling at the middle or high school levels can contact those schools for information (615-374-2748 JSMS; 615-374-2201 TCHS) or can contact the Board of Education office at 615-374-2193.

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

Questions raised after Hartsville man’s body found in river

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is continuing to look into the death of a Hartsville man whose body was pulled from the Cumberland River last week.

The body of 26-year-old Army veteran Donovan Crittendon was discovered near the Hartsville water plant on Saturday, June 9, six days after he had reportedly gone missing.

Crittendon’s wife, Jessica Williams, told The Vidette she was told by a friend of her husband’s that he went missing around 10 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, and was last seen getting into the personal vehicle of a Drug Task Force agent.

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Jessica Williams, right, the wife of Donovan Crittendon, stands with her sister Emelie Hester during a vigil Tuesday evening outside Crittendon’s Hartsville home. The 26-year-old man’s body was pulled from the Cumberland River on Saturday, June 9 after he went missing the previous Sunday. The TBI is currently investigating Crittendon’s disappearance and death.

That agent was identified as Keith Holder, who is employed by Smith County. Holder formerly worked for the Carthage Police Department and also is a former deputy at the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department, according to Sheriff Ray Russell.

According to Jason Lawson, an assistant district attorney out of the Lebanon office, Holder has been with the Drug Task Force for “a couple of years.”

The Vidette attempted to contact the Smith County Sheriff’s Department to determine Holder’s current duty status, but calls had not been returned at press time. Sources told The Vidette that Holder is currently under suspension while the investigation runs its course.

Trousdale EMS Director Matt Batey told The Vidette his agency was alerted around 7:30 p.m. on June 4 of an accident at Taylor’s Landing and that a vehicle had gone into the water. Trousdale EMS was joined by TWRA and Sumner County EMS and used sonar to locate the truck, described as a 2007 Chevy Avalanche, late that night in about 35 feet of water.

On Monday morning, Holder’s truck was pulled from the Cumberland River by a rescue crew from Rutherford County, with assistance from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, TBI, Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department and Trousdale County EMS.

The truck was to be taken to the TBI’s crime lab for further investigation.


What happened?

Williams, accompanied by friends and family, held a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening outside Crittendon’s home on Village Lane. The vigil was postponed a day after Williams alleged she had received threats which she would not go into detail about.

Williams told The Vidette her husband was visiting the apartment of a friend in Hartsville. Robin Moore, a Carthage attorney retained by Williams, said the information they had was that Holder resided at or near the Lock Six apartment complex and came out as “a nosy neighbor” during an unrelated domestic dispute between two women, but then quickly left the scene with Crittendon.

“They were in constant contact with one another and then she did not hear from him, so she knew something was up,” Moore said. “When her phone calls went unanswered, she started reaching out to his friends.

Crews work Monday morning to recover Keith Holder’s truck from the Cumberland River. Boats were provided by the TWRA and Rutherford County.

“An individual identified Mr. Holder and advised (Williams) that he saw Donovan get in the truck with Keith.”

Sources told The Vidette that the Trousdale County deputies that responded to the domestic dispute call said Holder was not with them and they did not see him on the scene.

“Donovan recently moved here and we were making preparations to bring our family back together,” said Williams, who resides in Fort Bragg, N.C. She has been married to Crittendon for five years and the couple has two daughters.

Williams also said she was told by authorities that Holder gave a statement saying he had been involved in a car accident at the Taylor’s Landing Boat Dock, but that the accident was not reported until 20 hours after it allegedly occurred.

The Vidette was shown a copy of an insurance report in which Holder reportedly stated that the vehicle had been parked near the ramp before rolling backward into the water.

“Nothing sat right with me,” Williams said when asked how she felt after being notified of the circumstances of her husband’s disappearance. “Knowing Donovan and how safe and secure he is, he has a routine, something seemed extremely out of order.”

Williams said she became concerned after not speaking to her husband on Sunday, something she described as unusual for him.


TBI investigating

The TBI issued the following statement to The Vidette on Monday afternoon:

“On June 4, TBI was requested by District Attorney General Tommy Thompson to open a missing person investigation into the circumstances involving the disappearance of Donovan Crittendon, of Hartsville. On Saturday, June 9, a body found in the Cumberland River in Hartsville was positively identified as that of Donovan Crittendon. His body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s office, where an autopsy will be performed. Our investigation remains active and ongoing. Throughout the investigation, we provide our findings to the DA, and at the conclusion of our investigation, those findings will be reviewed by that office. If anyone has information about the circumstances of the disappearance and death of Donovan Crittendon, they are asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND to provide that information.”

Friends and family of Donovan Crittendon hold a prayer circle during a vigil in Crittendon’s memory on Tuesday.

Moore added that she and her client met with the FBI on Tuesday and would not discuss specifics of that meeting, but said she did not anticipate FBI involvement.

A prayer vigil was also scheduled for Wednesday evening at a Hartsville church by friends and family in memory of Crittendon and to urge for justice.

“It doesn’t feel like he’s gone; I guess things haven’t sunken in,” Williams said. “But the outpouring of love from the entire community and everyone showing how much love and respect they had for Donovan, it’s like he’s here with us.

“The main thing I want to know is: why is it that Keith Holder came back and my husband didn’t?”

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

Tennessee Trek: Verville family visits 56 state parks in 2017

One year. 56 stops. Over 10,000 miles.

2017 provided a lifetime’s worth of adventure for Leah Verville and her three sons as they visited each of Tennessee’s 56 state parks.

Verville, a Hartsville native, came up with the idea after a February 2017 visit to see bald eagles at Reelfoot Lake – an item that was on her bucket list.

“It just happened that in February they had a little festival called Eaglefest at Reelfoot,” she said. “Thy had spotting scopes for us to look through and more.”

Photos courtesy of Leah Verville
Leah Verville, shown with her children (from left) Garrett, Wyatt and Everett, visited all 56 of Tennessee’s State Parks in 2017.

On the way back from West Tennessee, Verville said she noticed a number of signs for various state parks and wondered just how many there were.

An online search revealed 56 state parks, and Verville said she “though that would be a perfect opportunity to do a project with my sons; to get outside and see our state.”

Life-changing surgery to resolve ulcerative colitis, which Verville had suffered from for years, and a new job were the catalysts in making the dream a realistic possibility.

“I had surgery and then was appointed to the Register of Deeds office in November (2016),” Verville said. “It opened the door and freed me up to be able to do things I had been wanting to do.

“I really couldn’t afford to do a lot of traveling with the boys, but after that we decided we could go to other places like state parks.”

So the journey began for Verville, accompanied by Garrett, a rising freshman at Trousdale County High School; Wyatt, a junior, and when possible Everett, who just completed his second year at Volunteer State Community College.


Getting started

Verville printed off a map of the state and marked each of the 56 locations they would eventually visit.

“I drew every single state park on there and started thinking, ‘How can I group these together?’ I had 26 weekends to be able to get al of them in one year.”

Verville talked the idea over with her sons, who were supportive of their mother’s vision.

The trip started two weekends later with a short jaunt up Highway 25 to Bledsoe Creek State Park in Sumner County.

This map shows each of the parks the Vervilles visited.

After a 3-mile hike by the lake and over the ridge exploring the park, Verville said the boys found it “pretty boring.”

So she spiced up the trips by acquiring a dog from a local family, a weimaraner/pit bull mix that they named Juno. The trips became an opportunity to take Juno out for excursions and the boys quickly fell in love with the dog.

“She started being our riding companion,” Verville said. “She is gorgeous, going on 65 or 70 pounds. She’s loving; a great dog.”

In March, the Vervilles traveled to Burgess Falls (Putnam/White Counties) and hiked down to the waterfall there, before heading over to Edgar Evins State Park (DeKalb County).

“Adding that little bit of adventure – the waterfall and having the dog with us – got them inclined to go,” Verville laughed. “My oldest son only got to go with us a couple of times. But the other boys went when they could and when they couldn’t I called my mom and dad (Debbie and Joe Jenkins). Sometimes I would take them, sometimes I would go by myself.”


Standout memories

Asked which parks were the most memorable for her, Verville listed Fall Creek Falls, Roane Mountain, Reelfoot Lake, Johnsonville State and Hiwassee/Ocoee.

She enjoyed Fall Creek Falls not just for the waterfall, but also for the natural scenery along the path. At Roane Mountain, she listed a rhododendron festival that takes place each May, with 10,000 acres of flowers blooming.

“Its historic nature makes it a fascinating place,” Verville said of Johnsonville State, located in Humphreys County. “If you’re into Civil War history, it’s fascinating.”

Verville said she particularly enjoyed whitewater rafting on the Ocoee and was looking forward to going back.

From left, Garrett, Wyatt and Leah stand atop the Devil’s Racetrack at Cove Lake State Park.

In a Wilson Post story earlier this year, Wyatt cited Cummins Falls (Jackson County) as one of his favorites.

Leah said the family enjoyed a long hike at that park, one that went through the water and not just around it.

“You actually get into the creek or the river and follow it all the way to the falls,” she said. “It was Memorial Day and it was packed!”

At one point on a trip to Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park near Memphis, about halfway through the year, Wyatt turned to his mother and asked, “How many more trees are you gonna make me look at?”

In one weekend trip to the Chattanooga area, the family visited seven different state parks. While they might not stay at one for long, Verville said each stop became a memorable one.

Garrett particularly enjoyed the Devil’s Racetrack section of the Cumberland Trail at Cove Lake State Park near Lake City (Campbell County). That trip involved a 5.3-mile hike, the longest the family made on their Tennessee trek.

“It’s a mountain that when you climb to the rock dome, you can see forever around you,” Leah said.

Verville said they put over 10,000 miles on her vehicles over the course of the year. Early on, they drove a Toyota Avalon with nearly 150,000 miles on it. In April 2017, she purchased a Honda Acura that had fewer miles and was more comfortable for the family.

The quest ended on Dec. 18 with a visit to David Crockett State Park (Lawrence County). The boys held a sign saying “We Did It” along with the hashtag #56in17 to celebrate.

She noted that the Tennessee State Parks system has a passport that shows points of interest and has places for visitors to keep notes. She also cited some of the good food along the way, including burgers and milkshakes in Martin and “the best Reuben that I ever had in my life” near Pickwick Dam.


What’s next?

With the state parks down, Verville was asked what is next on her list.

“Campaigning” was the first answer, as Verville is seeking a full term as Trousdale County’s Register of Deeds in the August election. She was appointed to the position late in 2016.

After that, she said she wants to visit some of America’s national parks and the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque that takes place in October each year.

Wyatt and Garrett display a sign noting their accomplishment at David Crockett State Park, the final stop.

“Albuquerque is one that could be done,” she said. “I would like to take my boys to Washington, D.C., as they’ve never been.”

Verville said her sons have visited 38 of the 50 states over the years with the help of their father.

“My boys are well traveled,” she said. “That’s another bucket list for me.”

She noted that the Tennessee State Parks system has a passport that shows points of interest and has places for visitors to keep notes.

Verville said the best part of the trip was that her sons were able “to embrace adventure and never assume you know what to expect.”

“I just wanted to get out with my kids,” she said. “That made the entire journey worthwhile.”

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

Jimmy Anthony stepping down as county’s fire chief

After nearly 46 years of service, Jimmy Anthony is hanging up his firefighter’s hat for the final time.

The longtime chief of the Hartsville/Trousdale Volunteer Fire Department has decided to retire and is being celebrated for his lengthy service to the people of Trousdale County.

Anthony, 67, said the decision was one he had been contemplating for some time.

“I’ve been looking at it a while. I’ve been there nearly 46 years and I think that’s enough,” Anthony said.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Jimmy Anthony, center, receives congratulations from Mayor Carroll Carman and State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver. Anthony is retiring after nearly 46 years with the Volunteer Fire Department.

The owner of Anthony Funeral Home started with the VFD in June 1972 and was promoted to chief in 1988. He said things have changed considerably in that time.

“When I came on, there wasn’t any training,” Anthony said. “No OSHA, just two trucks and y’all put out fires. That’s all there was to it.

“In 46 years, it’s changed tremendously. We have to follow guidelines, all kinds of things. A volunteer chief has to have an exceptional amount of time to do what needs to be done these days.”

Deputy chief Mark Beeler will take over as interim chief until a permanent replacement is named. Beeler was voted on by the other members of the department and was confirmed on a 30-day interim basis by the County Commission.

Ken Buckmaster has been promoted to assistant chief and Danny Sullins has been promoted to captain.

Anthony thanked the fellow members of the VFD for making his time as chief an enjoyable one.

“Those other 15 or so firemen are the ones that keep it going. Without them, there is no fire department. They deserve all the credit.”

Anthony received resolutions thanking him for his service from the County Commission and from State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver during last Monday’s Commission meeting.

“Thank you for your exceptional work and paramount dedication throughout the years,” County Mayor Carroll Carman said. “Our best wishes go to you in your retirement.”

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

Mayor casts tiebreaking vote to fund SRO training

A budget amendment to fund equipment and training for two new school resource officers (SROs) required a tiebreaking approval vote from County Mayor Carroll Carman during Monday night’s County Commission meeting.

The request was for a $100,000 draw from the school system’s fund balance to pay for training, two cars and other necessary equipment. The Budget & Finance Committee took no vote on the amendment during its May 21 meeting after a motion to approve died for lack of a second.

The vote of the full Commission resulted in a 9-9 tie. Under the county’s metropolitan charter, the mayor casts the tiebreaking vote in such a situation.

Submitted photo
Carroll Carman

“I do not disrespect those that voted no and I understand we may have the cart before the horse right now,” Carman said before casting his vote. “I believe this is the proper decision.”

Commissioners Mark Beeler, Kendra Belcher, Wayne Brown, Gary Claridy, Richard Harsh, Richard Johnson, Rachel Jones, Gary Walsh and Steve Whittaker voted no. Yes votes were cast by Shane Burton, Jim Falco, Bill Fergusson, Jerry Ford, Linda Sue Johnson, James McDonald, David Nollner, John Oliver and Amber Russell. Commissioners Don Coker and Bubba Gregory were not present at the meeting.

During his mayor’s report, Carman told commissioners that he had reached an agreement with Director of Schools Clint Satterfield to split the cost of three SROs between the county and the schools.

Currently, the schools pay approximately $50,000 for the existing SRO position at the high school. Under the proposed agreement, both the county and schools will pay $75,000 for SROs at all three schools.

While the $100,000 for training comes from the school’s fund balance, Carman told The Vidette that under the agreement to split costs, the county would credit the schools for $50,000 of that amount.

“It’s all together in one expense,” Carman said to commissioners. “This is a non-reoccurring amount. We still have to approve all the dynamics of SROs, but I believe we have a good working arrangement.”

Funding for the actual SRO positions themselves must still come from the County Commission and will be discussed during budget hearings this week.

“We are most appreciative of the commissioners and the mayor for allowing the (School) Board to use its unassigned fund balance to purchase SRO patrol cars, equipment, and training which is at no cost to the County Commission,” Satterfield said in a statement to The Vidette.

“At the same time, we need to quickly garner more support in order to get this done by the first day of school that begins on July 26. Although the mayor did a good job of explaining the cost sharing or 50/50 split, I’m not sure if all the commissioners understood the fine details. I had several commissioners speak to me after the vote that they were in favor of SROs but were confused on the funding mechanism.”

In addition to the SRO amendment, a number of budget amendments were passed. Most were internal transfers to clean up overages in certain areas, but three others required draws from fund balances and received unanimous approval:

$51,262 from the county’s general fund balance for various charges;

$21,000 from the Solid Waste Department’s fund balance; and

$7,809 from the Ambulance Service’s fund balance.

Commissioners also approved four ordinances on first reading. The first would add a sixth position to the Water Board. That position would be filled by the mayor, subject to commissioners’ approval.

The other three were zoning ordinances: 15 acres on Fort Blount Road from A-1 to R-1; 6 acres on Western Avenue from I-1 to R-1; and property on Highway 231 from A-1 to R-1. All four ordinances will come back for public hearings and second votes at the June meeting.

A proposed 3 percent hotel/motel tax also passed on third and final reading. With a hotel feasibility study now complete and at least one chain looking at Hartsville, commissioners previously determined that a tax on rooms was desirable.

Commissioners also approved the reappointment of Sissy Harper to the Water Board for a four-year term and Beeler to a 30-day appointment as interim fire chief.

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