Hartsville Water Department changing leak adjustment policy

Customers of the Hartsville/Trousdale Water Department will soon see some changes to the leak adjustment policy – and some changes to their monthly bills as a result.

Beginning Dec. 1, the department will begin utilizing ServLine Leak Protection, an insurance-type policy that will compensate the Water Department for losses due to leaks. According to General Manager Tommy McFarland, Hartsville Water lost close to $60,000 last year in uncompensated water usage.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

All HTWD customers are being automatically enrolled into the ServLine program, which will cost $3.20 per month. Customers can receive an adjustment once per year under the policy, which will cover a water bill up to $2,500.

“This comes out Dec. 1, so it’ll be on January’s bill,” McFarland said. “We wrote off $60,000 in debt last year. That’ll pay for a loan to fix a water tank if needed with no rate increase.”

Kirk Smith, an official with the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, spoke last week to members of the Hartsville Rotary Club to explain the program. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Video of Smith’s talk is available on The Vidette’s Facebook page.)

“If a customer chooses to opt out of the program, they can do so; there’s no penalty, no fee,” Smith said. “If they want back in at a later date, all they have to do is call the Water Department. They can be re-enrolled after a 30-day wait period.”

One change that will benefit customers is that under ServLine, customers requiring a leak adjustment will only pay their average monthly bill, rather than the 25 percent of a higher bill under the current policy.

Customers can choose to opt out of the ServLine program by calling the Water Department. However, the utility emphasizes that customers who opt out will not be covered by any leak adjustment policy and will be responsible for the entire amount of their bill if a leak causes water usage to surge.

Smith said having an automatic enrollment rather than allowing customers to opt in allowed the $3.20 rate, which otherwise would be higher.

Adjustments will not be made to water bills for: commercial or industrial buildings, abandoned properties, leaks to irrigation systems, swimming pools or agriculture barns.

ServLine will also offer an additional plan that covers repairs to the water line – from the meter to the foundation of a residential building – at a cost of $5 per month. Customers will not be automatically signed up for service line policies and must choose to take that protection by calling the Water Department.

Most homeowner insurance plans do not cover the water line in a yard unless it has been specifically added to the policy, Smith noted. He also noted that many consumers are unaware that water lines on their side of the meter are their own responsibility and not that of the water utility.

The service line policy covers up to $10,000 in repairs and has no deductible and no annual limit. To be able to choose the service line policy, customers must have the leak adjustment policy in place.

“You’re not automatically enrolled in (water line),” McFarland said. “You have to ask for it.”

ServLine currently is used by 72 water utilities in Tennessee, according to Smith, and is used in 35 states across the nation.

The Water Department has sent mailers included with water bills to customers and will do so again before the new policy takes effect in December.

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

Hartsville couple opens Hispanic market on Foxall Street

Hartsville has its first Hispanic market in La Tienda Hispana La Costenita, which officially opened for business on Oct. 8.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Erick and Amber Reyes have opened a Hispanic market in Hartsville, La Tienda Hispana La Costenita.

Erick and Amber Reyes are operating the market, which carries all sorts of Hispanic food, drinks and market items. It is located at 200 Foxall Street, right behind the courthouse.

“We’re going to have Hispanic merchandise, different stuff,” Amber Reyes said.

The couple is in the process of preparing to serve hot food and has already received a passing grade from the health inspector.

“We’re going to have tacos, burritos, tortas; specialty soups on the weekends like chicken, beef and shrimp soups,” she added. “Every weekend we’re going to have something special.”

The Reyes say they want to be part of revitalizing the downtown Hartsville area.

“We want to bring some life back to the square,” Amber said.

La Tienda Hispana La Costenita will be open seven days a week, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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

Public meeting offers guidelines on Trousdale County THDA grant

Around 30 people were in attendance at a public meeting last week to learn more about a $500,000 HOME grant given to Trousdale County by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA).

The grant is to assist low-income homeowners with needed repairs to homes, such as flooring, roofing, windows or AC/heating.

Submitted photo

Grant administrator Faye Leonard spoke on behalf of THDA and explained how the grant works, the application process and the timeline.

“Trousdale County has been fortunate to receive this grant of a half-million dollars,” Leonard said. “There were not a lot of counties in the state that received this money.”

Applicants must own their home (having a mortgage is fine) and have lived there for at least a year. Applicants must also commit to staying in the home for five years after repair work is completed. If a home is completely rebuilt, applicants must commit to staying for 15 years. If owners sell early, they will have to repay a prorated portion of the grant funds utilized for their property.

THDA guidelines for the program define low-income as the following: one resident with income of $41,950 or less; two residents $47,950; three residents $53,950; four residents $59,900. The income limit continues to rise as the number of people in the residence increases.

Applicants cannot live in a flood plain, must have homeowners’ insurance and cannot be behind on their property tax payments. Rental properties and trailers are not eligible for the grant.

Leonard said on average, a remodel under this program costs $35,000 to $40,000.

“We have to everything that’s necessary to bring the house up to codes,” Leonard said. “If a house is in bad enough condition that it’s not economically feasible to do those repairs, we are allowed to tear the house down and build back on the same site.”

An environmental review will be done on residences and a certified housing inspector will determine what work is needed. Leonard said construction could begin in the early spring of 2019.

Applications will be rated on a point system. Elderly or disabled homeowners receive extra points.

“It’s not first come, first served,” Leonard said. “It’s strictly based on the points.”

Applications are available through the county mayor’s office and must be turned in by the end of business on Thursday, Oct. 18. For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 615-374-2461.

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

Buehler serving as SRO at middle school

Trousdale County now has school resource officers (SROs) at all three of the district’s schools, and Joseph Buehler is serving in that capacity at Jim Satterfield Middle School.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Joseph Buehler is the SRO at Jim Satterfield Middle School.

Buehler has been with the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department since February 2017 and previously worked in White County and Wilson County prior to coming to Hartsville, he told The Vidette.

“I’ve been in law enforcement since 2006; started as a corrections deputy in Wilson County,” Buehler said. “In 2011, I put myself through the police academy at Walters State, went to White County and worked there.”

Buehler is a 1998 graduate of Lebanon High School and said he always wanted to come back nearer to his hometown.

“I always wanted to work closer to home and had put in here three times but no one was leaving,” Buehler said. “(Sheriff) Ray (Russell) called me up and asked if I was still interested. I said ‘Definitely!’ ”

Buehler said law enforcement is what he always wanted to do and he enjoys the opportunity being an SRO gives him to be a positive role model to children and steer them away from crime at an earlier age.

He said being a patrol deputy is important but that “you do your job and you see the same people getting in trouble over and over.”

“I’ve got two (kids) of my own; an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old,” he said. “Getting to know kids, be a mentor to them, we make an effect and keep them from going down the wrong path.”

Buehler added that he loves being in Hartsville, saying, “The people are a lot nicer. I love this town and it’s awesome.”

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

Early voting begins Oct. 17 in Trousdale County

Early voting begins next week for Tennessee’s and the U.S. general election, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The early voting period runs from Oct. 17-Nov. 1, 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.

The ballot will feature races for governor (Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee), U.S. House (Democrat Dawn Barlow and Republican John Rose) and U.S. Senate (Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn). State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) is unopposed for re-election.

Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid photo identification. A driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security as well as photo IDs issued by Tennessee state government or the federal government are acceptable even if they are expired. College student IDs are not acceptable.

More information about what types of ID are acceptable can be found by calling Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton at 615-374-2712.

The easiest way for voters to find their early voting and Election Day polling locations, view and mark sample ballots, see their elected officials, districts and county election commission information as well as access online election results is through the GoVoteTN app. Voters can download the free app in the App Store or Google Play to view voter specific information.

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

Trousdale band hosts 17 bands for annual competition

Friday nights on the Creekbank are reserved for football, but on the last Saturday of September the field belongs to the band.

Saturday marked the 14th annual Marching Yellow Jacket Invitational as 17 bands from across Middle Tennessee marched onto John Kerr Field to compete with the hope of being the best.

Shows this year ranged from movie themes to pop rock, tributes to Creedence Clearwater Revival and Elvis and music from Phantom of the Opera.

Amanda Gregory / For The Vidette
Gallatin’s band won Saturday’s Marching Yellow Jacket Invitational.

Gallatin’s Green Wave was the highlight of the day, winning Most Entertaining, Best Percussion and being named the overall best performer. Gallatin’s win ended a long run by Forrest, which had won 12 of the previous 13 Hartsville competitions.

“We had a wonderful day! Gallatin edged Westmoreland for the Sweepstakes Trophy by one-tenth of a point. This was the closest Yellow Jacket Invitational in our 14 years,” said TCHS Band Director Rob Joines.

Gallatin also won the Super Parents award, as parents assisted after hearing that Watertown’s band needed help with its equipment.

Jackson County took Best Up and Coming Band honors for its tribute to Elvis. Forrest took Top Field Commander with a perfect score, while also winning Top Guard and Best Solo.

Westmoreland was named runner-up and the day ended with an exhibition performance by the Marching Yellow Jackets.

Joines thanked the following bands for competing: Macon County, Portland, Cumberland County, Upperman, Middle Tennessee Christian, Gordonsville, Watertown, Livingston Academy, Hickman County, DeKalb County, Jo Byrns, East Robertson, Mt. Pleasant, Watertown, Forrest, Westmoreland and Gallatin.

The Trousdale County High School Band also thanks the parents, students and all the local businesses that sponsored trophies.

“The field was in great shape, especially considering that it had rained almost the entire week and we couldn’t get the lines repainted. Much thanks goes to Coach Waggoner and his staff for supporting the band and allowing us to host this event! This was a great community event,” Joines said.

Trousdale’s 92.9% graduation rate dips slightly from past years

Trousdale County High School posted a 92.9 percent graduation rate for the 2017-18 school year, according to figures released Monday by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Trousdale was one of 106 school districts – roughly 81 percent of the state – to have a graduation rate of 90 percent or better. That was up from 98 districts last year.

Trousdale County’s graduation numbers have slipped a bit, however, as the school district had a 97.9 percent graduation rate in 2016-17 and a 95.3 percent rate in 2015-16.

African-American or Hispanic students in Trousdale County graduated at a 90.5 percent rate, while economically disadvantaged students graduated at an 85.7 percent rate, according to the TDOE figures.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield cited students who drop out after turning 18 as the biggest issue behind Trousdale County’s declining rate. Once a student turns 18, they are no longer compelled by law to attend school.

“In the most recent 2017-18 school year, all but one student that counted against our graduation rate was 18 years of age. This is problematic since these students are no longer bound by compulsory attendance laws,” Satterfield said.

“We are experiencing new challenges at the high school trying to meet both chronic absenteeism and graduation rate indicators. Too often, when 18-year-old seniors are confronted about regular school attendance, they quit coming to school altogether. Neither absences from school nor dropping out are in the long-term best interest of the student or the economy. We need to do a better job articulating that seniors need to finish their schooling while they have the opportunity. Failure to do so costs everyone more down the road.”

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that the 2017-18 high school graduation rate in Tennessee held steady at 89.1 percent, which is the highest on record. More than 56 percent of districts with high schools saw their graduation rates improve when compared to last year.

“Our schools and districts should be proud that once again we have hit our state’s highest graduation rate on record while still holding our students to high expectations,” McQueen said. “By continuing to raise the expectations, we are signaling that Tennessee students are leaving high school with the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and the workforce. This graduation rate is a testament to the work being done by teachers and students in schools across the state.”

The state transitioned to a more rigorous calculation for graduation rates in 2011, and even under the new criteria, rates have continued to rise.

Additionally, the state raised the bar for graduation expectations when the State Board of Education included participation in the ACT or SAT as a graduation requirement for Tennessee students. This year’s results are the first to reflect this change in accountability.

A complete listing of graduation rates is available online at tn.gov/education.

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

Bredesen, Blackburn clash at Cumberland debate

Congressman Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen faced off in a debate on Sept. 25 night at the Cumberland University’s Baird Chapel where they debated the issues that will face Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

The debate began with the first question to Blackburn who was asked what she thought was the single-most important issue facing Tennesseans and what she would do to address that issue.

Blackburn jumped right into tax cuts, jobs and the economy as her focus for the most important issues facing Tennesseans, citing economic growth in Scott County. She closed her opening statement with, “A healthy economy [is] good for all Tennesseans.”

Photos courtesy of Lebanon Democrat

Bredesen said the dysfunction in Washington D.C. is the most pressing issue, and noted many things that could help Tennesseans, specifically in terms of economics, are stalled in Washington due to partisan politics and a lack of leadership.

“This idea that somehow your party affiliation, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, ought to determine everything about how you think about things and how you approach things is one of the things that’s crazily wrong with it,” Bredesen said.

“You’ve heard a lot recently in this campaign about me, about these crazy ideas of how if somehow I’m elected and go to Washington that suddenly I’m going to turn my back on a whole lifetime of thinking for myself and being independent and suddenly become some kind of a political lackey. That’s not going to happen for a bunch of reasons.

“One of which is that I think a lot of the problem in Washington is with the leadership that we have there now. Whether it be Ryan or Pelosi or McConnell or Schumer, they’re not doing the job. We need to get new leadership, and I can tell you right now that if I’m elected, and when I’m elected and go to Washington, I am not going to be voting for Chuck Schumer.”

Blackburn latched onto Bredesen’s claim as an independent thinker and hammered home her claims that Bredesen would only support a Democratic agenda throughout the debate. She said the Democratic New York senator’s name 12 times throughout the debate, said Bredesen and his campaign was “bought and paid for” by Schumer six times throughout the debate.

“Phil had a choice. He could have run as a Republican or an independent, probably didn’t want to do that. He’s running as a Democrat so he will be with Chuck Schumer if he were to go to Washington,” Blackburn said. “He will vote with Chuck Schumer because his vote is already bought and paid for. His campaign is bought and paid for by Chuck Schumer.”

Bredesen made no mention of the ongoing support of Blackburn by President Donald Trump, who has campaigned at fundraisers for her in Tennessee several times, with the next rally scheduled for Oct. 1 in Johnson City.

Tax cuts, the national debt, immigration, refugees, President Donald Trump, health care, rural hospital closings, the opioid epidemic, trade, Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, gun control, the press, infrastructure and the United States’ standing in the world were all topics tackled by the candidates.

Blackburn fell solidly on party lines, at times defying the influence of Trump, while Bredesen supported progressive stances, albeit moderate in today’s political climate, but continued to call for a change of leadership in both the Democratic and Republican party in Washington.

“I am running to take your Tennessee values to Washington D.C.,” Blackburn said in her closing statement. “Phil said that he is running to end the dry spell for Democrats in Tennessee. He said that he thinks that D.C. listens too much to voters. I think that D.C. needs to listen more to voters. That’s what draining the swamp is about.”

“If what you want is someone who brings some experience from the business world, brings some experience from being mayor and governor, and in particular brings an attitude of wanting to start making things happen, of getting things done, of pushing the partisanship down and trying to actually solve some problems, that’s what I want to do. That’s what my whole life has been about,” Bredesen said in his closing statement. “If that’s what people want, I would like to represent them in Washington, and I’m applying for the job.”

Marching Yellow Jackets to host annual band competition

Trousdale County High School’s band will host its annual Marching Yellow Jacket Invitational this weekend, which has become one of the area’s largest marching band competitions this weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, 18 bands from Middle Tennessee are scheduled to compete on the Creekbank in the 13th annual event. Bands will compete beginning at 10 a.m.

In previous years, the Trousdale competition was the largest in the state with as many as 30 bands, but band director Rob Joines said having five Saturdays in September provides other schools more leeway to schedule events. Joines said the Yellow Jacket Invitational would be as exciting as it always has been.

Amanda Gregory / For The Vidette

“It’s a pretty large competition,” Joines said. “The first band is at 10 a.m. and is Franklin County. They’ve got close to 100 in their band.

“Almost everyone from this part of the Highland Rim is coming: Jackson County, Upperman, Macon County, DeKalb County… We’re pretty blessed to have these bands coming. We started with nine and have grown to as many as 30!”

The Marching Yellow Jackets have received trophies at each competition they have attended this season, taking third place overall at Hendersonville, second at Clarksville Northeast, first at Station Camp and first in small division (third overall) at Westmoreland.

The band’s percussion, guard and horn lines have also placed in the various competitions.

“The kids have worked extremely hard beginning in April, and all summer,” Joines said. “Our goal is to make the finals at the Tennessee Division I State Marching Championship.”

Joines added that one of the judges will be a man named John Trousdale, a graduate of Castle Heights Military Academy who lives in North Carolina.

“He saw the Trousdale County name on Facebook and started following me,” Joines said. “He came to judge us last year and is coming back this year!”

One thing that makes the Yellow Jacket Invitational different is that each class is limited to no more than three bands, based on relative attendance of their combined winds and percussion. The largest three bands are placed in Class A, with the next three largest in size placed in Class B, and so forth.

“This means that smaller bands don’t have to compete against bands with 20 more students in them,” Joines said. “We want the competition to be as fair to each band as possible.”

In addition to competing within classes, each band competes for the overall sweepstakes winner. Forrest High has won the Yellow Jacket Invitational 12 out of the past 13 years. There will also be a winner of the best Guard, Percussion, and Field Commander as well.

“God has really blessed us,” Joines said. “We have the best field in the state, the best support from the football coaches who paint the field for us, the best facilities, the best support from the community, the best announcer in the Voice of the Yellow Jackets, Jerry Richmond, the best school administration, and the best parents who run it. The competition is so large that the TCHS cheerleaders began helping us last year, too.”

Joines added that the local economy is affected by the invitational. “With so many bands, over 1,000 students, plus hundreds more parents, flow into Trousdale County. They stop at restaurants, stores and gas stations. We feel like we are also representing the hard work and success that is inherent in our Trousdale County schools, whether it is excellent academics, competitive athletics, or successful arts programs.”

Admission to Saturday’s event is $7 for adults. Children under 5 will be admitted free. Concessions will be sold as well. The Marching Yellow Jackets are scheduled to perform in exhibition at 3:45 p.m. and the awards ceremony will begin at 4 p.m.

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

Scott Farm designated as Trousdale’s newest Century Farm

Nestled in the Fifth District of Trousdale County, north of the intersection of Highways 25 and 231, is the county’s newest designated Century Farm, belonging to the Scott family.

The founders of this farm were Farnk P. and Malvina Scott, back in 1888. The farm then passed down through time to Robert Haynes Scott and his wife, Bettie, then on to Zack Scott and his wife, Jennie. Next the farm went to Clarence Haynes Scott and his wife, Mary Jane.

Clarence Scott was a longtime sheep raiser in Trousdale County and kept a flock as long as his health allowed him to do so and be able to keep predators away.

Submitted photo
Pictured from left: Meggan Scott, Jack Scott Jr., Jack Scott III (known as ‘Peanut’), Weston Scott, Isabell Scott and Ashton Scott. The Scott family farm was recently designated as a Century Farm.

The farm holds a house built in 1896 that still stands there today. Clarence Scott lived in a mobile home placed right beside the old house until Feb. 6, 2008, as he lost his life amid a trail of tornadoes that crossed Middle Tennessee late that afternoon.

Time and storms have ravaged the old house and it is in need of repair, but it still stands today!

Ownership of the farm was transferred to Jack Scott, Sr., and then to Jack Scott, Jr., Joshua Scott and Jenny Scott Oldham. The farm is now owned solely by Jack Scott, Jr.

In January, Jack along with his mother, Vicki, began hunting old records, pictures and documents in order to make an application to the Tennessee Century Farms Program, which recognizes working farms that have remained in the same family for 100 years or more.

On July 26 the family was recognized at the Trousdale County Fair’s banquet, with Jack’s daughter, Ashton Scott, accepting an award on behalf of her family.

The Scott Farm has been a working farm now for 130 years and now the next generation of Scott children can continue to work this land and keep the family legacy alive for many more years.

UT Extension congratulates Jack Scott, Jr. on this prestigious award and hopes one or more of his children will eventually raise their own family on the Scott Farm in Trousdale County!

Jerry Ford chosen as new County Commission chairman

Members of the County Commission elected Jerry Ford as their new chairman during Monday night’s meeting.

Ford, who represents District 3, is a longtime member of the Commission and replaces Mark Beeler, who opted not to seek re-election this year.

“I don’t intend to do things much differently,” Ford told commissioners while praising the job Beeler had done leading the previous Commission.

Courtesy of Trousdale County Government

Commissioners also returned Bill Fergusson to the role of chairman pro tempore.

The county’s various committees were also reformed and urged to meet soon to choose chairmen and other officers. Those committees are: Audit, Budget & Finance, Charter Review, Communications, Codes & Zoning, Economic Development, Education Oversight, Emergency Services & Planning, Employee/Personnel, Executive, Insurance, Law Enforcement, Parks & Recreation, Prison Oversight, Professional Services Selection, Purchasing Oversight and Solid Waste.

Justin Freeman, a senior at TCHS, was chosen as the student representative to the County Commission for the 2018-19 school year.

Commissioners also approved on second reading policies for the Animal Control Board and the county’s shelter. Those were approved by a 19-1 vote, with Ken Buckmaster voting no.

Among those policies are: dogs must be brought to the shelter, unclaimed dogs will be available for adoption after five days, boarding costs of $20 per day (not to exceed a total of $200), $50 for rabies vaccinations of an owner cannot show proof of vaccination and up to $30 for other medical attention.

In his first report as county mayor, Stephen Chambers updated commissioners on the Streetscape project for Main Street, needed repairs to an old landfill and work that has been requested for the Little League fields.

Chambers said the Streetscape project is moving forward but will have to change slightly from initial plans. Moving electric lines underground along Main Street, which was part of the original design, could cost as much as $1 million, according to the mayor and is not likely, as Tri-County Electric would have to absorb that cost.

“That’s just not a cost they can absorb,” Chambers said. “They’re looking at alternatives and working with the engineers.”

Chambers said he was also looking into proposals to preserve downtown parking, something he mentioned previously to The Vidette.

Chambers said the county was working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to determine what fixes need to be made to an old landfill off Gammons Lane. State inspectors previously found contaminated water and other leakage at the site, which has been close for over 30 years.

No estimates are available yet as to what cleanup would cost, but Chambers said there were state grants that could potentially help.

Some of the light poles at the Little League fields need replacing, but Little League regulations call for metal poles with certain lighting that could cost as much as $23,000 per pole, Chambers said. The Parks & Recreation Committee will likely examine future needs.

Three notaries were approved: Christina Borders, Lisa Rodriguez and Rita Crowder. The County Commission will hold its next meeting on Monday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.

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

Dead body discovered at King’s Court Apartments

An employee at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center was found dead Friday afternoon at the King’s Court Apartments.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Jeremy Hutchinson, 42, of Hartsville, was discovered in his upstairs apartment shortly after 2 p.m. by officers from the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department.

Neighbors told The Vidette they had last seen Hutchinson late Sunday evening and early Monday morning. They phoned authorities Friday after noticing a foul odor coming from his apartment.

Hutchinson was reportedly employed as a vocational teacher at TTCC. Sources told The Vidette he had been placed on administrative leave with pay late last week.

The body was collected by the medical examiner’s office, which will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Sheriff Ray Russell said there was no indication of foul play but that his office would continue to investigate.

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

Jim Satterfield Middle named as 2018 Reward School

Jim Satterfield Middle School was one of 318 schools statewide to be designated as a ‘Reward School’ on Friday by the Tennessee Department of Education.

Reward schools are those that are improving overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for student groups, and they are identified annually. In 2018, 318 schools in 85 school districts – about 20 percent of schools in the state – earned Reward status.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield and JSMS Principal J. Brim McCall made the announcement to students and teachers during an assembly.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

“The new state accountability model makes us look at education in a whole new way,” Satterfield said. “In the past, it was top 10 percent in growth and top 10 percent in achievement. It’s criteria-based.”

“It’s not just about As, Bs, Cs, but it’s about your effort every day,” McCall added. “If you give effort every day and you’re focused, good things will happen.”

Science scores at JSMS rated fourth in the state on last year’s TNReady tests, with 86.8 percent of students rated as proficient – well above the state average of 60.2 percent. English/Language Arts rated No. 23 and Math rated No. 24 in the state at the middle school level.

JSMS also rated a Level 5 (highest possible) in growth (increase in scores from previous year) on TNReady. Literacy growth went from a Level 1 in 2017 to a Level 3 this year.

Additionally, chronic absenteeism (missing 10 percent or more of the school year) fell from 8.6 to 6.6 percent.

“With the new accountability standards, I was pleasantly surprised,” McCall said. “We do a great job with (achievement and growth). We did everything really well this year.”

The new accountability framework is based on principles that all schools can be successful and all Tennessee students must be served well. It includes a variety of measures, including chronic absenteeism and discipline, ACT performance and TNReady scores. All schools are rated both on how they serve the full student population and how they are specifically serving student groups that have historically been underserved: students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and black, Hispanic, and Native American students.

“More students are becoming proficient each and every year,” Satterfield added. “The real benefit is the work Mr. McCall does every day with teachers, students and parents. It’s a team effort. It’s about achieving and getting better every day.”

Satterfield also noted that TCHS missed out on Reward status this year by one-hundredth (.01) of a point in the state’s scoring system.

This is the first time JSMS has been named as a Reward School. Trousdale County High School received the honor in 2012 and 2014, while Trousdale Elementary was honored in 2013.

Satterfield also noted that TCHS missed out on Reward status this year by one-hundredth (.01) of a point in the state’s scoring system.

“I am awful proud of the students, the teachers, Mr. McCall and all the staff,” Satterfield said.

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

Public meeting for THDA grant to be held on Oct. 4

A public meeting has been scheduled for Trousdale County residents to learn more about a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA).

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Community Center at 301 E. Main Street. Eligibility requirements, program policies and procedures will be discussed and applications will be available immediately after the meeting, according to the county mayor’s office.

The THDA grant was announced earlier this year and can be used by low-income homeowners to assist with needed repairs, such as roofing, siding and flooring.

THDA guidelines state that homeowners must have lived in the residence they wish to repair utilizing program funds for at least one year, and must commit to remaining in the home for five years once repairs are complete.

While the mayor’s office has been taking names of those interested in potentially applying, there is no waiting list for the grant and the mayor’s office does not currently have applications. All interested parties must go through the application process after the Oct. 4 meeting and meet the income requirements.

For more information on the public meeting, call the mayor’s office at 615-374-2461.

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

Tri-County sends crews to assist hurricane victims

Submitted photo

Last Thursday morning, eight Tri-County Electric linemen, two bucket trucks and two digger trucks headed to Statesville, N.C., to be ready to assist EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation, the largest electric cooperative in North Carolina with nearly 130,000 metering points, in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

The linemen providing assistance are: Alan Carman, Anthony Carter, Donnie Cates, Jalyn Lankford, John Meador, Cody Roark, Kolby Sullivan and Jeremy West.

Tri-County Electric also released its Seelbach contract crews to assist in debris removal in Virginia.

Executive V.P. & General Manager Paul Thompson stated: “Tri-County Electric is proud to have employees willing to help neighboring cooperatives restore power to their member-owners – it is the cooperative way of doing business!”

Marching Yellow Jackets score big at weekend events

Submitted photo

The Trousdale County High School Marching Yellow Jackets scored several historical firsts on Saturday, Sept. 15, as they entered into the marching competition season.

Trousdale County received Second Place Band, Guard and Percussion in Class D, and received First Place Horn Line and Third Place in the overall Small Division at Hendersonville High School. The Second Place Band, First Place Horn Line, and Third Place overall in Small Division has never been done before by the Marching Yellow Jackets.

In addition, the Band traveled to Clarksville Northeast later in the day and earned Second Place Band, and First Place Guard and Percussion.

“The kids have worked on the show very hard since April, and they spent hundreds of hours over the summer getting ready for the competitions this year,” said Director Rob Joines. “I am really proud of our program right now”

Trousdale County travels to the Highland Rim Invitational in Westmoreland on Saturday at 10:05 a.m., followed by the Station Camp Marching Invitational at 1:45 p.m. The Marching Yellow Jackets will host their annual invitational on Sept. 29, with 20 high school bands expected to compete.

Trousdale 4-H student wins Tennessee archery award

Submitted photo
Pictured from left: Dustin Burton, Chris Sutton and other Tennessee ASA Shooter of the Year winners.

Just last month, Trousdale County 4-H’er Dustin Burton was recognized as the Tennessee Archery Shooters Association (ASA) Federation Shooter of the year in the Junior High Male Division.

That is a major accomplishment as it is a culmination of a year of hard work and archery competition across the Southeast. To win the Shooter of the Year award, the archer must compete in enough qualifying tournaments and place high enough to earn points toward shooter of the year. Dustin competed in tournaments in all across Tennessee and was the top point earner in his division.

Dustin began competing in archery tournaments as part of the Trousdale County 4-H Archery Program in fourth grade. He was very successful at the 4-H contests and has continued to hone his craft. Just last year with help of 4-H volunteer Chris Sutton, who was also Shooter of the Year in his division, Dustin began shooting at ASA competitions. Dustin set his sights at the beginning of the year to win the Shooter of the Year title and that is just what he did.

Meet Monica Carson, Trousdale Elementary’s SRO

Each of Trousdale County’s three schools now has its own School Resource Officer (SRO) after budget negotiations between the school system, sheriff’s department and county government.

Serving in that capacity at Trousdale County Elementary School is Monica Carson.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Carson is an Army veteran who served overseas in Germany and Afghanistan before entering law enforcement.

“I joined the military straight out of high school and served three years, including a year’s deployment in Afghanistan,” she said. “Then I got into law enforcement. We moved around quite a bit and settled here in Hartsville.”

Carson previously served as a police officer in Trezevant in West Tennessee before following her husband to Middle Tennessee. He is a contractor for the U.S. Air Force and works in Nashville.

“We chose to come to a small town,” Carson said. “We don’t like the big city.”

Carson says she was attracted to the SRO position because of the opportunity to be around and to “be a positive influence” on the children of Trousdale County.

“Some kids come in and think, ‘There’s a cop! Who was bad? Or what went wrong?’ ” she said. “That’s not the case at all.”

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

Hartsville trio arrested, charged in Sumner County robbery

Courtesy of Hendersonville Police Department

Three people from Hartsville have been arrested and charged in connection with an alleged armed robbery in Hendersonville.

Aaron Sykes, 22, Patrick Persley, 22, and Kaylee Myers, 23, all of Hartsville, were arrested on Tuesday in a joint effort between Hendersonville police and the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department.

Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell said the three were located Tuesday at a house on Rogers Street and were taken into custody, then handed over to Hendersonville police.

The alleged robbery took place Monday around 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Hickory Pointe townhomes on Center Point Road in Hendersonville.

All three were booked into the Sumner County Jail and are charged with aggravated robbery. Sykes and Persley had bonds of $75,000 set, while Myers’ bond was set at $50,000. No court date had been set at press time.

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

Autopsy cites overdose in CoreCivic inmate’s death

An inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center who was part of a class-action lawsuit over treatment of diabetic prisoners died in March of a drug overdose, according to an autopsy report released by the state last week.

John Randall Young, 56, was among six inmates who filed a lawsuit accusing CoreCivic, which operates the Hartsville prison, of putting the health of diabetics at risk by providing unhealthy food, unpredictable meal times and inconsistent access to insulin shots.

Young died on March 15 after being found unresponsive in his cell by guards, according to the report. He was transported to Trousdale Medical Center and was declared dead shortly thereafter.

The state medical examiner’s office reported the cause of death as acute combined drug toxicity, citing methamphetamine, olanzapine (used to treat schizophrenia/bipolar) and mirtazapine (antidepressant) in his blood.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

The report also notes a past history of heart problems, stroke and lung cancer for Young.

The class-action lawsuit filed by prisoners claims that Trousdale Turner is regularly understaffed, putting diabetic inmates at risk. Inmates claim that understaffing causes the prison to often go into lockdown and they are forced to wait hours for insulin shots and that those shots sometimes never arrive.

The lawsuit was filed by six prisoners, of which three have been removed from the case. In addition to Young’s death, a federal judge dismissed the claims of inmate Richard Little in May because he is no longer incarcerated. Another plaintiff, Tazarius Leach, left the class-action case to pursue his own individual case. The remaining plaintiffs are Jasper Vick, Edward Judd and Douglas Dodson.

CoreCivic declined to discuss the specifics of the lawsuit but has previously said it is committed to “high-quality healthcare” for inmates and “appropriate levels of staffing” in the prisons it operates.

In other court filings, CoreCivic has claimed inmates are to blame for their poor health, citing a documented record of refusing insulin, using drugs and buying sugary snacks at the prison store in “willful non-compliance” with a diabetic diet.

CoreCivic has a five-year, $276 million contract to run Trousdale Turner, a 2,552-bed medium security prison in Hartsville. Allegations of understaffing and poor medical treatment have been a consistent issue since the facility opened in 2016 and were among the subjects of hearings by the state legislature last year.

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