Budget & Finance Committee rejects schools’ budget proposal

Trousdale County’s 2019-20 budget remains a work in progress after the Budget & Finance Committee rejected the school system’s spending plan during hearings last week.

Commissioners met Monday and Friday and had given their approval to other departments’ budget requests. Tax levies had been set at $2.4388 in the county and $0.8753 in the Urban Services District. Both those amounts matched what was set by the state earlier this year and would require no tax increase.

But on Friday, the school budget was the topic of a long and sometimes testy discussion. The School Board had requested $367,078 in new funding in its request to commissioners, which would require raising property taxes by roughly 15 cents.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield told commissioners he was trying to replace a loss in state funding through the Basic Education Program (BEP).

“The Board is asking that everyone be reasonable and just make up the difference we’re losing this year,” Satterfield told commissioners.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers, using a handout from Satterfield, countered that the difference in state funding from 2017-18 to 2019-20 was only $19,000 and that county funding had made up much of the losses in state money.

“The fiscal capacity moves it from the state share to the county’s share,” Chambers said. “That’s how it’s designed to operate. The county share went up $567,000 from two budget years ago.”

Chambers also noted that total county funding for the school system in 2018-19 was just over $2.6 million, rather than the $2.236 million listed in Satterfield’s presentation.

“If you include all local revenue, the local government just by growing is putting in more revenue,” the mayor said. “Looking at our revenue situation, I think we’re looking at an improving situation next year.”

The school system’s fund balance was also a point of discussion between the two sides. As of July 1, that number was $3.922 million but would drop to $2.738 million by June 2020 even with added county funding, according to Satterfield. No extra funding would reduce that number to $2.37 million in 2020.

“Last year we did nothing but take it out of fund balance. This year, you’re saying ‘Take it out of fund balance again…’ I don’t know if that’s responsible,” Satterfield said.

“You’re going to force the school system to run a minimum program, and a minimum program is not what our community desires.”

While noting the increase in county funding, Satterfield also said teacher raises had added $135,488 and insurance costs an additional $300,080 to the schools’ costs over the last two years.

Commissioners ultimately rejected the schools’ request by a 4-1 vote as Jerry Ford, Rachel Jones, Richard Harsh and Bill Fergusson voted to send the school budget back to the board. Bubba Gregory voted to send the request on to the full County Commission but emphasized he did not favor a tax increase.

“Growth next year is stronger right now than it was at this time last year… Next year you’ll get more tax money because you’ll have more base,” said Ford, who chairs the committee. “More homes, more industry.”

“I think we’ll be in a better position next year to address some of these positions,” added commissioner Richard Harsh, who noted large one-time expenditures in the county budget such as landfill cleanup, the Streetscape project and a tanker truck for the Fire Department.

The rejection means the School Board has 10 business days to meet and come up with a new spending plan. A called meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, July 25 at 6 p.m.

“I don’t think Friday night’s meeting was too productive; I didn’t see where anything was accomplished,” Satterfield told The Vidette when asked for comment.

Satterfield declined to comment on what changes might be made to the school budget. A revamped budget will again have to come before the Budget & Finance Committee before going to the full County Commission.

It was unknown at press time when that meeting would take place.

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

Hartsville TCAT readies for campus expansion

Construction is expected to begin soon at Hartsville’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) to expand vocational offerings for local students.

“Excited would be an understatement,” said Hartsville TCAT President Mae Wright. “The magnitude of this renovation has not happened here. This is going to be major – a complete additional wing.”

Concept plan for expansion at Hartsville TCAT, which will add a wing on the eastern end of the building.

Once completed, additions will include a new training area for the nursing/medical technician programs, a new computer lab and testing area for that program, and expanded class space for the automotive, mechatronics and machine tool programs.

“In this renovation, we’ll have a larger space to hold seminars,” Wright added. “That’s big for us.”

Wright said the wet weather has delayed the start of construction but that work should begin soon. She said construction should be completed by the end of 2020.

The funding for the expansion came through the state’s capital outlay process, with virtually all of Tennessee’s TCAT facilities slated to receive upgrades.

“It’s part of the master plan,” Wright said. “It’s going to be disruptive for a little while, but in the long haul our students will appreciate it.”

Wright said the extra class space would allow for additional students to take advantage of the various training programs offered by Hartsville TCAT.

“Our nursing area is so crowded right now, and our labs are compacted right now,” she said. “This is going to open up a lot more space.”

Wright said Hartsville’s TCAT campus is also preparing proposals for funding under Gov. Bill Lee’s GIVE Act (Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education), which was announced earlier this year, to expand operations both at the main campus and at satellite facilities.

The application process for the first round of GIVE grants is now underway and we will be applying for grants for other projects to serve our students and the residents of our area. The first round of grants will be announced this fall. We are deeply appreciative of Gov. Lee’s commitment to Career and Technical Education and to the rural economy, and we look forward to the great things that the GIVE Act will accomplish,” Wright said.

TCAT is also preparing to launch evening classes in the welding and machine tool programs in September. Both those will be held at the Lebanon campus from 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

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

Softball tournament benefits injured Trousdale deputy

A benefit softball tournament was held last Saturday for Clint Friar, the Trousdale County deputy who was injured in a traffic accident in late May.

Samantha Friar, the deputy’s wife, told The Vidette that co-workers and family friends helped organize the benefit, which was held at Hobbs Park in Lebanon.

Submitted photo

Fourteen teams took part in the tournament, with the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department taking first place. Of the 14 teams, only one was made up of law enforcement, according to Mrs. Friar.

“They were incredible,” she said of all those who participated in the softball tournament. “They played from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a heat index of over 100 and never complained once.”

The amount raised was not immediately available.

Samantha Friar said she and her husband are grateful for the outpouring of support from the Trousdale County community following the accident, which occurred on May 28 while Deputy Friar was stopped to render assistance to a driver.

Mrs. Friar said her husband is undergoing physical therapy for several hours each week and that doctors expect a full recovery in time.

“He’s working toward being able to do the job he loves,” she said of her husband. “The doctors say he’s on a good path.”

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

Budget & Finance Committee recommends no property tax increase at Monday meeting

Trousdale County’s 2019-20 budget should contain no countywide property tax increase when it comes up for a vote before the County Commission next Monday.

That announcement came during Monday’s meeting of the Budget & Finance Committee.

“What we are presenting so far is no raises (for county employees) and no raise on the tax rate,” chairman Jerry Ford told commissioners during the meeting.

The state set the county’s general property tax rate at $2.4388 and the Urban Services rate at $0.8753 after a Certified Value Update was conducted earlier this year.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

Commissioners voted to recommend all but the Urban Services and school budgets forward to the full Commission. The Urban Services Council was to meet Tuesday evening but was not expected to recommend an increase in that tax rate.

The school system’s budget will be voted on by the School Board at its July 18 meeting and is expected to be the subject of budget hearings on Friday, July 19 at 6 p.m.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield told The Vidette he estimated the school budget would have a deficit of around $500,000, which would have to be absorbed by the schools’ fund balance.

Satterfield declined to comment further, citing both a need for direction from the School Board and that final numbers from the 2018-19 budget were not yet available.

Ford added that Satterfield, Mayor Stephen Chambers and himself had held extensive talks and had tentatively identified additional revenue within the school budget that could be utilized.

One example he gave was of local option sales tax. According to Ford, last year’s school budget estimated $575,000 in revenue from that tax but the actual figure came in at over $700,000.

“The growth of the county this year made up a lot of what was lost,” Ford told commissioners. “(The schools have) wound up with several more dollars than anticipated.”

The County Commission will hold a vote on first reading of the budget on Monday, July 22 at 7 p.m. If it passes, a called meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 23 for second and third readings of the budget.

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

Haven House eyes Hartsville for new drug/alcohol treatment center

A church based out of Florida has acquired property in Hartsville with plans to turn the old house into a drug/alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Haven House Mission Church purchased the 18-acre property at 814 E. McMurry Blvd. for an estimated $530,000, according to Zillow.com. Haven House operates a treatment center in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., and also operates three thrift stores in Florida and one in Lebanon at the former location of Save-a-Lot.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
This home on McMurry Blvd. will eventually become Haven House’s drug/alcohol treatment center.

Haven House Director Charles Plauche spoke with The Vidette about plans to operate the facility in Hartsville.

“It’s a discipleship recovery program,” said Plauche, a pastor who started Haven House nearly 20 years ago. “This residence will be the second (facility) we operate.

“It’s long-term; we’re not related with any court system… It’s strictly a standalone program. We’re limited in who we can take because of our skill set. We don’t take any violent offenders or sex offenders,” he said.

Asked why Haven House looked at Hartsville, Plauche said the opening of the Lebanon thrift store helped the church see the need in Middle Tennessee.

“We were looking for a place conducive to a peaceful setting and serve as a good residence to what we’re doing,” Plauche said.

Haven House is a discipleship-based program and does not utilize doctors, nor does it take referrals from the criminal justice system, according to Plauche. Those in treatment in Hartsville will work at the Lebanon thrift store as part of the recovery process, which Plauche said also is intended to help men learn leadership skills.

“If you just put someone through a program but don’t train them how to work, how to be valuable in the community… then they’ll go right back when they were,” Plauche said.

Haven House’s program lasts for 12 months and is designed to minister to men who are motivated to seek help for alcohol or drug abuse. Background checks are run on those seeking help to ensure the safety of other residents.

Photo courtesy of Lebanon Democrat
Haven House also operates this thrift store in Lebanon.

“We want people who are motivated, who know they need to change… It’s all about finding a spiritual life… We believe without faith in Christ, we can’t make it,” Plauche said.

It will likely be several months before Haven House opens in Hartsville, as the residence needs repair work done. Once it opens, it will be designed to house up to eight patients at a time.

Haven House’s treatment has a long-term success rate of around 70 percent for those who complete the program, according to Plauche, who also noted that the program also has a low turnover rate.

Concerns have been raised locally about having a treatment center in Hartsville. Plauche has met with County Mayor Stephen Chambers and County Attorney Branden Bellar to assuage community questions.

Haven House is a religious-based non-profit that has been approved by the IRS.

Chambers noted that as a religious non-profit, Haven House is likely exempt from zoning regulations under both the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and under a state religious freedom statute.

“My understanding is it’s all religious-based; they do Bible studies and church services, through teachings of the Bible,” Chambers told The Vidette.

“On the federal side under the RLUIPA, you can’t have any land use requirements that would create a substantial burden on the practice of their religion,” Chambers said.

“You’re in a grey area there, but there’s also a state statute that uses much of the same language.”

Chambers noted a recent case in Davidson County in which a federal court said a church could proceed with a lawsuit against Metro Nashville government under RLUIPA.

Plauche encouraged anyone with questions about the church and its program to visit their websites at havenhousemissionchurch.org (church) and havenhouse.net (recovery program). Haven House can also be reached at 1-888-622-3702.

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

Sweet Kuntry Bakery expands its lunch options

Sweet Kuntry Bakery has become a hit with its customers since opening nearly two months ago.

Owners Jennifer Petty and Kendra Stafford are looking to capitalize on that support by expanding the available lunch options.

Starting last week, different items are being offered each day. Tuesday features stuffed baked potatoes, Wednesday has wings, Italian food on Thursday, fish and burgers on Friday and “Cox” burgers (similar to Krystal’s) on Saturday.

Submitted photo
Sweet Kuntry Bakery is serving Italian food on Thursdays as part of its expanded lunch menu.

“We just wanted something catchy,” Stafford said. “That’s how we got Tater Tuesday, Wing It Wednesday, Tour of Italy Thursday…”

“From our Facebook posts, we asked people to tell us what foods they wanted… and we thought about some of our favorite things that we can’t get here,” added Petty.

The baked potatoes have become so popular with customers that Sweet Kuntry is offering those every day.

“They’re asking for those every day, so we’re obliging!” Petty said.

Thursday’s Italian options will feature lasagna, spaghetti or Chicken Parmesan on a rotating basis.

The “Cox” burgers have also become a hit, as the pair got the recipe from the Cox family that formerly operated a Dairy Queen in Hartsville decades ago.

“Jimmy Cox actually came in one day, tried one and gave us a thumbs up,” Stafford said. “He gave us the history of it and how it started.”

In addition to the custom lunches, the bakery offers salads, wraps and paninis on a daily basis. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. each day.

“It’s different every day here,” Petty said.

Sweet Kuntry will also be expanding breakfast options once school begins in August, with biscuits and gravy and breakfast bowls offered.

The bakery also plans to stay open late on Fridays after home Trousdale County football games to serve customers.

Sweet Kuntry Bakery is located at the corner of Broadway and Main Street and can be reached at 615-450-8091 or via their Facebook page.

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

Streetscape construction could begin in November

Construction on the Streetscape project in downtown Hartsville could begin as soon as November after bids on the project were opened at a Tuesday meeting.

Trousdale County received an $840,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2016 for improvements along Main Street from the intersection of Broadway to the River Street intersection. County commissioners also approved $140,000 in matching funds for the project, which originally was set to begin in 2018. An additional $25,278 in county funds was approved earlier this year as cost estimates had risen since the initial grant.

The winning bid was submitted by Sessions Paving Co., of Nashville and was for $672,488.50. The bid must still be sent to TDOT officials for concurrence and examination to make sure it fits project requirements.

Officials with Ragan-Smith, the engineering firm overseeing the project told The Vidette that once construction begins, the contract will call for the project to be completed within 150 days.

Preliminary engineering work has been done and calls for parallel parking along Main Street. Improved sidewalks, revamped parking, crosswalks and greenery are also intended to be part of the project.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers previously told The Vidette he wants to see the angled parking remain in place and it is not known yet which will be part of the project.

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

Op-Ed: From laws to actions, stupidity abounds in society

In the spirit of my former co-worker Joe Biddle, random ruminations while wondering whatever happened to spring…

Boy, I have encountered what I would consider some really dumb things over the past week. Here goes.

I’ll start with the new “hands-free” phone law in Tennessee. I just can’t support this concept, even though it’s designed (supposedly) to make our roads safer.

I talk on the phone when driving a lot. Sometimes it’s work related, and sometimes it’s personal. But I believe most people are perfectly capable of paying attention to the road while holding a phone to their ear. I know I am! I don’t need to look at my phone to carry on a conversation. If you do, then perhaps you don’t need to be driving in the first place.

Chris Gregory

Why do the actions of an irresponsible few have to make things worse for the rest of us? Under this law, if I am merely holding my phone in my lap I’m committing a violation even when I’m not using it.

Now I’m all for having it illegal to be texting, emailing or such while driving. If it takes your eyes off the road, it’s a problem, and those types of actions are the true distractions. I don’t text and I don’t send emails while driving, unless I’m stopped at a traffic light and not moving. I don’t consider myself to be driving in such circumstances.

Have I broken this law since it took effect July 1? I’ll plead the Fifth on that one.

· Speaking of stupidity, I think there’s plenty to go around with this whole mess over Nike, Colin Kaepernick and the Betsy Ross shoe.

It’s stupid for Nike to pull a product because one high-profile guy has a problem with it. Or perhaps it’s genius on Nike’s part. I won’t be surprised if Nike “caves” to pressure from Joe Public and releases the shoe and makes a killing off sales from people who want to show their patriotism, I guess. Nothing says America like a red, white and blue shoe?

Kaepernick’s an idiot for having a problem with the Betsy Ross flag. He says it’s a reminder of slavery. Whatever.

Do we need to cut down every tree in America planted before 1865? Do we need to burn down a bunch of old homes dating to the slavery era? I guess we should rename Washington, D.C. and the state of Washington just to be sure we get every reminder of slavery. After all, George owned slaves.

Yes, slavery sucked. However I don’t know anyone who ever owned a slave and I doubt I have ever known anyone who knew anyone who owned a slave, so it’s hard to feel much sympathy with Kaepernick on this. Of course, if he wants to protest it’s his God-given right as an American. I can support his right to protest (and I’ve done so before in the Vidette) without supporting what he’s protesting.

And I think it’s a bit stupid for people to get all bent out of shape over Nike’s decision. Aren’t there more important considerations in life than a shoe?

· Stupidity helped lead to the tragic death of a Nashville police officer last week too.·

A 17-year-old girl fleeing a traffic stop caused a crash that took the life of Officer John Anderson. Running away when you see the blue lights behind you is plenty stupid. She should have stopped – no question about that in my mind.

But according to news reports, the initial traffic stop was over driving with high beams on. Yes, that’s inconsiderate to other drivers; but if I’m that officer today I’m feeling pretty stupid in that my trying to make a traffic stop over a minor violation led to the death of a colleague. Granted, he did cut the pursuit short and was not chasing her after she took off. But was the initial attempt at a traffic stop worth a man’s life?

I’ve said to my son probably a thousand times, “Think before you act.” It’d be nice if everyone took that advice. It would make life a lot simpler.

· Before I forget, kudos to Team USA for winning the Women’s World Cup on Sunday. Soccer bores me (except every four years during the Cup) but I can still be proud of my country’s team being the best in the world. Right?

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

Mexican Grilled Cheese now open for business

After sitting vacant for a number of years, the property at the corner of Broadway and Highway 25 has found new life as the home of the Mexican Grilled Cheese – Hartsville’s newest restaurant.

Alberto and Araceli Rodriguez, who formerly operated La Quesadilla, have turned the historic house – featured in the Historical Society column in last week’s Vidette – into a restaurant with a name guaranteed to draw attention.

The Mexican Grilled Cheese opened for business Sunday amid much fanfare on social media from customers who missed La Quesadilla’s fare. The former site, across from the high school, has been closed since a fire broke out at the site in February.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Owner Alberto Rodriguez and head cook Fili Rojas pose beside the sign for the Mexican Grilled Cheese.

“The plan was to have the building repaired and still be there,” Alberto Rodriguez said. “We couldn’t get it worked out… The reason we chose this site is we thought it would be quick to get going.

“We’ve only been working here a couple of months. It’s already got the hood and the walk-in cooler and freezer. The building was empty when we got here so it was a big start. All we had to do was clean up and start brining in my equipment.”

Rodriguez said the name for the new restaurant was that “if you really think about it, what would a Mexican grilled cheese be? A quesadilla!”

Rodriguez and his employees have been working since early May to get the house ready. Most of the staff at the former La Quesadilla has followed Rodriguez over to the Mexican Grilled Cheese, including longtime head cook Fili Rojas.

The menu, Rodriguez said, remains pretty much the same as when it was La Quesadilla. It features what he called “common Mexican meals.” They have added some new items, which Rodriguez said customers should come by and try!

“The food is going to be the same; it’s just new name, new building,” Alberto said.

Rodriguez praised the staff for sticking with him and thanked the customers who have been asking for months when he would reopen.

“It’s not going to be a new environment; you’ll feel like you’re right at home,” he said. “We have a very loyal customer base and when they come into my restaurant, they’ll know every face as a familiar face. We try to run it like a family and serve our friends in Hartsville the food they’ve enjoyed for a long time.”

The Mexican Grilled Cheese will also offer outdoor eating options as well as a carryout service at the side entrance facing Highway 25.

As parking has been a concern at the site in the past, Rodriguez has obtained permission to use part of the property next door and created a gravel parking lot there that ties into the main parking area at the back of the building.

The Mexican Grilled Cheese is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant can be reached at 615-680-3166.

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

School registration event scheduled for July 9 at TCES

Trousdale County Elementary School will hold Kindergarten and New Student Registration for the 2019-20 school year on Tuesday, July 9 from 4-7 p.m. at the school, which is located at 115 Lock Six Road, Hartsville.

Pre-K and Head Start applications will also be taken at this time. If applying for either of these programs, you must bring proof of your income in addition to the items listed below. Acceptance to both Pre-K and Head Start is contingent upon meeting income guidelines.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Government

Students are eligible for kindergarten if they turn 5 years of age by Aug. 15, 2019. Students accepted for Pre-K and Head Start programs must be 4 years old by Aug. 15, 2019.

The following items are required during registration and must be provided before attending school.

A physical dated 1/1/19 or later completed by your doctor/medical provider (the Trousdale County School Entry Medical Examination form is provided online at tcschools.org). All Kindergarten students and other students attending school for the first time must have a physical. All other new students need a physical as a part of the cumulative record transferred from the previous school or must provide a new physical;

An updated copy of the child’s immunization record on the Official Tennessee Certificate of Immunization. If you are coming from out of state or your child’s immunization record is not on the Official form, your immunizations must be transferred to the Tennessee form. This can be completed at the Trousdale County Health Department office or by your medical provider);

An original certified birth certificate (not a “Mother’s Copy” or hospital certificate). If your child was born in Tennessee, you can get this from the local Health Department for a small fee;

Proof of Legal Custody if divorced or involved in a child custody issue, including 1) Birth Certificate and/one of the following: A) Parenting Plan or B) Court order; and

Proof of Residency (Custodial guardian must live in Trousdale County and meet one of the following two):

If you own the property in Trousdale County: Property Tax Statement & ALL of the following A) Tennessee Driver’s license (with matching address); B) Two Utility bills (electric & water);

If you rent the property in Trousdale County: Lease Agreement & ALL of the following A) Signed lease agreement; B) Tennessee Driver’s license (with matching address); c.) Two Utility bills (electric & water).

The information about registration, along with the Trousdale County School Entry Medical Examination form, are available online at tcschools.org. For more information, contact the Trousdale County Board of Education at 615-374-2193, Trousdale County Elementary at 615-374-3752, or the School Health Office at 615-374-0907.

Please remember that all of the schools have limited hours of operation during the summer, but voice messaging is available. More regular hours of operation will resume the second week of July.

4-H students hone kitchen skills at culinary camp

Do you know the parts of a recipe or how to read one? Do you know the difference between a dry and a liquid measuring cup? Can you tell us the different parts of a knife?

I know one thing for sure – the group of 4-H’ers that attended our ‘Adventures in the Kitchen Culinary Camp’ can! Over the course of the three days, these 4-H’ers were able to learn that and much more. Each day, they applied those skills to create their own healthy but tasty lunch! They had a blast! At the end of each day, they received a copy of all the recipes that they made and some materials to help them accomplish one of the goals.

Submitted photo
Trousdale County 4-Hers participated recently in a Kitchen Culinary Camp courtesy of the UT Extension Office. Pictured from left are, front row: Bethany Zarichansky, Izabella Hobby, Erin Reynolds, Bryson Dupont, Noah Jellison, Charlie Beth Wright, Emma Pilewicz, Christian Coble. Back row: Extension Agent Shelby Christian, Merceah Lee, Brooklyn Webb, Volunteer Willow, Jayda Harris, Anna Towns, Madison West.

On Day 1 the 4-Hers learned all about reading recipes and measuring. They were able to test their knowledge on each topic by solving a recipe scramble. After that they were able to apply what they learned about measuring into creating Kool-Aid playdough. It was messy, but fun! Then they applied what they learned to create a wonderful breakfast lunch of vegetable scrambled eggs, parfaits, homemade biscuits, bacon and sausage. For dessert they made peanut butter protein balls. After lunch, the students were able to get plenty of exercise by playing games outside such as popcorn and relay races.

Day 2 was all about cutting! Students were able to learn about different kitchen utensils, including one of the most vital in the knife. Every 4-H’er learned about the different parts of the knives, different kinds of knives, and lastly, different cuts with the knife that are specifically mentioned in recipes. They were able to practice their knife skills and the different cuts by practicing with the playdough they made, and the butter knives. After that, we had a wonderful fiesta Mexican meal! They made tacos, fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, fresh salsa and chips, guacamole, and black bean & corn salad. Each of the stations required cutting in some shape or form and they did such a great job! For physical activity, they were able to have some fun with special guest UT Extension Agent Michaela Pedigo from Macon County. They ran through stations and did all kinds of relay races. It was a wonderful second day.

Day 3 was the final day and the 4-H’ers were able to do a lot of team building to win activities. They were able to see what it’s like to work together and communicate, just like how they must in the kitchen. They loved getting to compete against each other. On the last day, they were able to make burgers, cowboy beans, pasta salad and fruit salad. It was a healthy and very good lunch. Lastly, the 4-H’ers were able to learn more about exercise and how important it is for your body with another special guest in Kate Tippitt, Sumner County UT Extension Agent. They went through circuit training and fun dancing to cap off an amazing week.

This was a very successful camp and I cannot thank the parents enough for allowing their children to come and learn new skills all three days! I would also like to thank UT Extension Agents Tippitt and Pedigo for coming to do physical activity with Trousdale County 4-H’ers. Lastly, I would like to thank all my volunteers that helped, including teen leader Willow Jones, and adults Michelle Christian, Kathy Atwood and Talitha Austin, and FCE club members Barbara Towns and Rannye Roberson. This camp would not have been as successful without their help!

The University of Tennessee Extension offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

Celebrate July 4 – Hartsville style!

The first week of July is full of great activities in Hartsville! We hope you’ll make plans to spend the Fourth of July in your hometown.

Thursday, July 4 kicks off with a parade at 4 p.m., followed immediately by the Music in the Park celebration. This event is FREE and open to the public. There will be plenty of great food, vendors, activities and fun for everyone. We’re working hard to bring great food options this year including catfish, barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, Italian Ice and much, much more!

Bring your lawn chairs and your umbrella (a good idea – rain or shine!), get comfy and spend an afternoon enjoying great local music from Dustin Spears, local band SuperSport, and of course, the Community Band with their patriotic tribute and kickoff to the fireworks.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
The traditional Music in the Park will be part of Hartsville’s July 4 celebration.

Many of your popular events and vendors from last year will be back. Free watermelon and the watermelon eating contest, head-in-the-hole boards painted by John and Lynn Oliver celebrating our local history, the Band Boosters cake walk and raffle featuring some amazing items, and, of course, the fireworks display.

The Chamber is once again sponsoring Dunking for Drumsticks. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., you will have a chance to dunk Superintendent of Schools Clint Satterfield, and new this year, Warden Russell Washburn from the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center. All proceeds from the dunk tank will be go toward the Community Thanksgiving Celebration and Meal, the free Thanksgiving meal that is open to anyone who lives and works in Trousdale County.

Music in the Park is sponsored by the TCHS Band Boosters and the Hartsville-Trousdale Chamber of Commerce. If you’d like to be in the parade, please contact Amber Russell at 615-808-1054. For vendor information, contact Natalie Knudsen at 615-374-9243 or hartsvilletrousdalecoc@gmail.com.

Also on Tuesday, July 2, we will hold our monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Join us as we hear from Senator Ferrell Haile on developments and pending legislation at the State Capitol and how it affects Trousdale County. Sen. Haile has been representing Trousdale County since 2010 and is first vice-chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, and is also a member of the Senate Education Committee; Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee; and Senate Rules Committee. Bring your questions and concerns for Sen. Haile.

The meeting will be held at noon on Tuesday, July 2, at the Community Center, 301 E. Main St. The meeting is FREE and open to anyone who wishes to attend. Lunch is available for $10 but you can attend without purchasing lunch. Catered by Piggly Wiggly, the menu includes fried chicken, potatoes, Caesar salad, roll, dessert and beverage.

Please bring your community announcements to share, join in networking with businesses and individuals and learn about what’s ahead for our county and state.

Hartsville man indicted on first-degree murder charge

Photo courtesy of TBI

Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained an indictment for a Trousdale County man in connection to the death of his girlfriend at their Sulphur College Road residence last year.

At the request of 15th District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, TBI Special Agents began investigating the December 2018 death of Dwanna Mayfield on May 28, after an autopsy revealed the cause of the woman’s death was homicide by strangulation. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information leading to Mayfield’s boyfriend, Jimmy Lee Scruggs, age 59, as the person responsible for the crime.

On Monday, the Trousdale County Grand Jury returned an indictment, charging Scruggs with one count of First Degree Murder. Agents arrested Scruggs on Thursday and booked him into the Trousdale County Jail, where, at the time of this release, he was being held without bond.

BBQ Shack now open in downtown Hartsville

Tucked away at the corner of White Oak Street and Broadway is Hartsville’s newest place to grab a bite to eat – the BBQ Shack.

Owner Dwight Cothron has moved his restaurant from its former location in Dixon Springs into downtown Hartsville and he is excited to be here.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Dwight Cothron and staff pose outside the new location of the BBQ Shack at the corner of Broadway and White Oak Street. The restaurant opened for business last week.

“We’ve moved everything to Hartsville,” Cothron said. “I wanted to find more people and I think the volume will help more than anything.”

Cothron opened the BBQ Shack in October 2016 but said he had long wanted to be in Hartsville, where he calls home.

“I’ve cooked for my family and everyone said, ‘You should try to sell this,’ so I gave it a shot,” he said. “I was driving a truck and it got me home.”

Cothron built the ‘shack’ himself, built the smoker he uses and also built the fence around the new site.

The BBQ Shack opened on June 12 and the initial turnout was overwhelming. Cothron told The Vidette he did what would have been a week’s worth of business at the old site on his first day in Hartsville.

The menu features pulled pork, pork shoulder and side dishes, with ribs perhaps in the future plans according to Cothron. The site also has tables and umbrellas set up to allow customers to east in the shade on site.

Cothron also thanked his staff for all their assistance in getting the new location ready, and also thanked property owner Keith Roddy for allowing him to use the corner lot.

The BBQ Shack is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and can be reached at 615-552-8063.

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

County Commission pushes budget decision back to August

Trousdale County government looks likely to begin the 2019-20 fiscal year without a budget in place after the Budget & Finance Committee opted Monday evening to delay a decision on a spending plan.

Instead, the County Commission will vote at its June 24 meeting on a continuing resolution to authorize spending at current budget levels while budget discussions move forward.

State law allows counties to wait until Aug. 31 before a budget is required to be in place. According to the mayor’s office, Trousdale County last had to pass a continuing resolution in 2010.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers’ proposed budget already has a $1.2 million deficit in the general fund for the fiscal year. Of that total, just over $900,000 is in one-time expenses such as the Streetscape project, landfill repair on Gammons Lane and a tanker truck for the fire department.

Commissioners made the decision to hold off on a budget vote after a presentation from Director of Schools Clint Satterfield on the school budget, which seeks just over $850,000 in additional funding from the county.

With a penny of the property tax rate projected to bring in $24,989, meeting that request would require a 34-cent increase in county contributions.

“I don’t know what to say; this is a big lick thrown at Budget & Finance all at once,” said committee chairman Jerry Ford. “That might give us a little more time to think about (this) and decide what we want to do.”

“We need time to look at these numbers,” added commissioner Gary Walsh.

Commissioner Bill Fergusson brought up the idea of helping out the schools over a period of time. He mentioned the Commission previously having to raise property taxes by 42 cents to fill a budget deficit and phasing that in over two years.

“That’s something we might think about; I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do. Maybe we have to gradually ease into the water in this situation,” he said.

As he has done previously, Satterfield cited a $429,000 loss in state funding under the Basic Education Program (BEP) in the upcoming year. That loss was just over $300,000 in 2018-19 and could grow to $600,000 in 2020-21.

He presented commissioners with two scenarios: one with full funding and one with no new funding. Under the second scenario, the school system’s fund balance would be depleted to $1.967 million by June 2020, with only an estimated $429,981 of that total available for unrestricted use.

“You’re pretty near broke in a year if you don’t do something about it now,” Satterfield said.

The schools’ proposed budget includes just over $500,000 in capital outlay projects such as roof work at the elementary school and door replacement at the middle school. Upcoming capital needs include a roof at the middle school, a new bus route and redoing the parking lot at the high school, according to Satterfield.

“We’re trying to save that fund balance for those capital outlay expenditures we’ve got coming,” he said. “What’s it going to look like when I have to come back here to fix a parking lot or buy a bus, because we don’t have the money to do it?

“It teeters on irresponsibility in that we know what the future is going to look like and if we refuse to do anything about it.”

Past ideas for school funding have included a half-cent local sales tax increase, which would require a public vote in 2020, or extending the wheel tax, which could not occur until 2022.

Commissioner Rachel Jones said while she favored fully funding schools, she was concerned about putting the burden on what she called the “38 percent” of county residents who pay property taxes.

“I think everyone wants to give the schools the money they need… I just think we need to come up with an option that’s more equitable for everyone,” she said.

“It’s not just the BEP, it’s not just what we’ve spent money on, it’s not just the fact that we lowered taxes,” commissioner Dwight Jewell said of the factors behind the budget deficit. “It’s all of those things.”

The County Commission will meet on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. in the county courthouse.

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

Court hearings held in Trousdale County homicide cases

Hearings were held Monday in Criminal Court for a pair of defendants in two high-profile Trousdale County court cases involving deaths.

Keith Alan Holder, of Carthage, was indicted in February on six counts including vehicular homicide in the June 2018 death of Donovan Crittendon.

Holder’s attorney, Zach Taylor, waived appearance and pleaded innocent on his client’s behalf before Judge Brody Kane. A hearing in the case is scheduled for July 2.

Holder, a former Drug Task Force agent, was charged after Crittendon went missing and was later pulled from the Cumberland River in June 2018. Investigators from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reportedly determined that the two were together when Holder’s personal vehicle went into the river.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Benjamen Carter appeared in Trousdale County’s criminal court on Monday after being indicted in April on first-degree murder charges.

An autopsy later determined that Crittendon had a blood alcohol level of 0.126 but listed the cause of death as “undetermined.”

Holder remains free on $75,000 bond.

Also, an initial appearance was made by Benjamen Timothy Carter, who is facing premeditated first-degree and attempted first-degree murder charges in the death of Bailey Donoho.

Donoho’s body was found in a homeowner’s yard on Browning Branch Road on March 31 and a grand jury issued indictments later that week against Carter.

Carter’s attorney requested that the case be moved to General Sessions Court for a preliminary hearing, but Assistant District Attorney Ian Bratton cited precedent that an indictment supersedes the need for such a hearing.

Kane ruled in favor of the state but said he would hear a motion to reconsider if the defense requested. Carter is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 28.

Carter remains in the Wilson County Jail and is being held without bond.

Also Monday, two women entered guilty pleas to attempting to introduce contraband into the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

Cynthia Faye Curtis, of Winchester, pleaded guilty to mailing cell phones and tobacco in November 2017 to her son, who was an inmate at the Hartsville prison.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Kane sentenced Curtis to two years probation. Curtis will be eligible for judicial diversion, which means the charge can be dropped from her record if she completes probation without any further charges.

Jessica Nicole Scruggs, of Hartsville, pleaded guilty to smuggling marijuana into the prison and delivering it to her boyfriend, who was then incarcerated at TTCC.

Under the plea deal, Kane sentenced Scruggs to eight years and a $2,000 fine but suspended the sentence, meaning she will be on probation for that time period.

Teacher case: Carla Haynes, a former teacher at Trousdale County Elementary School who was arrested and charged with child abuse in April, made an initial appearance in General Sessions Court before Judge Kenny Linville on June 14.

Haynes is next scheduled to be in court on Sept. 27.

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

TBI investigating inmate death at Trousdale Turner prison

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was investigating after the Saturday death of an inmate at Hartsville’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

The TBI identified the inmate Sunday morning as Ernest Edward Hill, 42. The cause of death was not immediately available.

CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist issued the following statement:

“Trousdale Turner Correctional Center remains on partial lockdown status following an inmate-on-inmate altercation that resulted in one inmate losing his life.

On Saturday, June 15 at approximately 3 pm CDT, while conducting formal count, an inmate was found unconscious on the floor of his cell. A medical emergency was called and unit staff initiated life-saving measures until medical staff arrived. EMS was called to the facility and the inmate was transported to an outside hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 4 pm CDT.

Our partners at the Tennessee Department of Corrections were immediately notified and facility staff are cooperating fully with the investigation. The unit remains on lockdown status while the TDOC Office of Investigations and Compliance investigates the incident.”

The TBI issued the following statement:

“At the request of 15th Judicial District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, the TBI is investigating the death of an inmate inside the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility in Hartsville. According to preliminary information, the incident happened this afternoon inside a prison cell involving two inmates. No correctional officers were injured or involved.”

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

Commissioners look to address schools’ budget deficit

Trousdale County’s Budget & Finance Committee opened the first of three budget hearings Monday evening with a look at addressing a deficit in the school system’s 2019-20 budget.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers presented the certified tax rate as determined by the state, which is $2.43. Trousdale County underwent a Current Value Update earlier this year in which all property was reassessed. At the new rate, one penny will bring in $24,989, as opposed to $19,336 in the current year.

The county has lost some state funding through the BEP (Basic Education Program) because of increased fiscal capacity (ability to pay) by Trousdale County. The schools lost $300,000 this year and are anticipated to lose $429,000 in funding for the upcoming year. In 2020, that loss could reach $600,000.

Courtesy of Trousdale County mayor’s office

On the bright side, Director of Schools Clint Satterfield reported that the current fiscal year is estimated to end with a surplus of around $350,000 as opposed to a projected $780,000 loss.

In its preliminary budget, the schools requested $900,000 in new money from the county to help offset the loss of state funding. Satterfield called it a “status quo budget” with no raises for non-certified employees and no new programs.

“The thing we all have to think about is what our moral purpose is in changing lives in our county,” Satterfield told commissioners. “There’s a direct correlation between education and earnings and we are trying to make good taxpayers instead of people who become dependent on the tax system.”

The proposed school budget also includes $451,980 in capital expenses, which would be funded by the school’s fund balance. That includes recoating the elementary school roof, replacing doors at the middle school and replacing sidewalk at the elementary school.

Satterfield also cited future projects that will be needed, including a roof at the middle school, redoing the high school parking lot and adding a new bus route to accommodate growth in the western part of Trousdale County.

Accommodating the schools’ request would require a 32-cent hike in property taxes, according to the mayor’s budget documents.

The school system is projected to have a fund balance of roughly $3.5 million as of June 30, of which $1.736 million is restricted for certain uses. Not getting any new money from the county would drop the overall fund balance to $1.4 million by June 2020, according to estimates.

Commissioners have previously looked at funding solutions, such as returning impact fees for new construction to schools and increasing the local option sales tax. The latter of those could not occur until 2020 as it would have to be approved by voters.

“We didn’t do anything last year. We have to do something this year to stop the bleeding or we’re going to be down to zero (fund balance) in two years,” Satterfield said. “There’s not one particular solution.”

Committee members asked Satterfield to return Thursday evening with a revamped budget that takes into account the increased revenues from this year.

Exact figures were not available at press time as Satterfield told The Vidette he was still working on recalculating the budget.

“We’re trying to be as frugal and responsible on our end as we can. I ask that you recognize that,” Satterfield said to commissioners.


Raises for Highway Department

Commissioners next looked at Debt Service, Education Debt Service and the Highway Department during Monday’s hearing.

“We’re pretty much following the principal and interest schedule,” Chambers told commissioners of the debt payments.

The mayor’s budget anticipates paying just over $1.1 million of debt. The largest amounts owed are for the justice center ($1.606 million owed as of July 1) and energy efficiency work on the county schools ($2.317 million).

Overall, the county’s debt is estimated at $7.748 million as of July 1.

“The county is not that much in debt,” said committee chairman Jerry Ford. “We’ll pay off the high school in 2022, so that will help.”

Asked about the potential for paying off smaller debts early, the mayor said waiting until next year might be better.

“We’ve got Streetscape, the HOME grant, the landfill coming out this year,” Chambers said. “I think we can certainly look at paying some of those off at that time.”

Highway Superintendent Bill Scruggs presented the budget for his department, which includes a 3 percent raise for employees and money toward equipment purchases.

While county government has no planned employee raises, the Highway Department raises would be funded by the state.

“Over half my staff only gets to work nine months out of the year and makes $12 per hour,” Scruggs said. “That’s who I’m trying to help out a little bit.”

Scruggs said he would take some of the increased gas tax revenue through the 2017 IMPROVE Act to put toward replacing equipment, some of which he said was nearly 40 years old.

Commissioners seemed to favor the Highway Department giving raises, especially as it will not cost local taxpayers a cent.

“If you’ve got the money in your budget and it’s not going to cost the county any more money… he should be able to give his people raises,” said commissioner Dwight Jewell.

The Budget & Finance Committee was to look at the budgets for the Sheriff’s Department and other elected officials during Tuesday’s hearings. In addition to reexamining schools on Thursday, committee members will look at remaining departments at that time.

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

Prohibition Party candidate addresses Historical Society

C.L. Gammon, the presidential nominee for the Prohibition Party, was the guest speaker at Saturday’s June meeting of the Trousdale County Historical Society.

The Prohibition Party is the third-oldest political party in the United States behind the Democratic and Republican parties, dating back to 1869. The party’s symbol is a camel and was created by political cartoonist Thomas Nash, who noted that camels do not need to drink much.

Gammon is a native of Lafayette and a published author. He formerly served in the U.S. Army and was part of Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Gammon spoke on the party’s history, current platform and how he got involved with the Prohibition Party. The party claims the first woman mayor of a U.S. city (Argonia, Kan., 1887), the first female candidate for Vice President (1924) and a U.S. Congressman during World War I.

The party’s best performance in a presidential election was in 1904, when the party received over 250,000 votes. In 2016, the Prohibition nominee received just 5,617 votes nationally.

Aside from Tennessee, Gammon said the Prohibition Party is working to get on the ballot in 14 other states for the 2020 election.

“The party is small but growing,” Gammon said. “We expect this campaign to do better than any campaign in the last 50 years.”

Aside from prohibition of alcohol and tobacco, the party’s stated platform includes a mixture of ideas from the left and right, including fair trade, a balanced budget amendment, opposition to capital punishment, free college education and a sensible immigration policy while working to curb illegal immigration. The party has, in the past, also supported women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement.

“Nowadays the Prohibition Party isn’t trying to change the Constitution,” Gammon told the gathered audience. “We’re trying to educate… we want to teach (alcohol) out of existence.”

Gammon claimed that much of the crime in America is related to alcohol abuse, as well as increased costs of goods in America.

He also expounded on the party’s immigration platform, saying, “We need to come up with a policy that works. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat kind of thing. It’s easier to preach sometimes than it is to teach.”

Gammon said he learned about the Prohibition Party after reading about the party’s history and talking with Earl Dodge, who ran for President six times.

Gammon received the Prohibition Party’s nomination via a conference call in April. His running mate is Nevada’s Phil Collins, a former candidate for mayor of Las Vegas. Gammon originally was nominated for Vice President but was moved to the top spot on the ticket after the former nominee stepped aside.

Gammon is funding his campaign through the sale of buttons and bumper stickers. For more information on his campaign, email gammonforpresident@hotmail.com or visit his Facebook page, Gammon for President.

“Every time I’m offered an opportunity to speak, I do,” he said. “I do a podcast as well, I’m on Facebook.”

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

Hartsville Printing closes up shop after nearly 40 years

Hartsville Printing Company has shuttered its doors, leaving a hole in the local business community and the hearts of its loyal customers.

Roger and Linda Gregory, who ran Hartsville Printing for nearly 40 years, have decided the time has come to retire and move into the next stage of their lives.

“We closed a week ago Thursday,” Roger said, “when they came and took our Xerox copier. They let us out of our contract and that wound us up.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Roger and Linda Gregory ran Hartsville Printing for nearly 40 years.

Roger said after 40½ years, “we’re ready to retire. No real plans, just taking it easy once we get everything out of the shop.”

The Gregorys have been looking for customers to take some of the old equipment and had hoped to be able to turn the business over to a new owner. However so far both efforts have come up short.

“We wanted someone to take it over and accommodate our customers like we’ve done, but nobody was interested,” Linda said.

“A lot of it is scrap iron these days; they’ve outlived their usefulness,” Roger added.

He also noted that parts are no longer made for some of their old equipment.

Linda said that they were referring customers to Quality Printing in Gallatin, which is owned by Keith and Lisha Spivey.

Submitted photo
Roger and Linda Gregory are shown here shortly after opening Hartsville Printing in 1978.

“I believe they’ll give the same good service that we have for all these years,” Linda said of the Spiveys.

Roger’s roots in printing run deep, dating back to his time working at The Hartsville Vidette from 1968 to 1975 at its old location on Marlene Street. He began sweeping the floors and delivering papers and eventually learned to operate the press.

“One day someone said, ‘Come over here and watch this machine and if something happens do this and this,’ ” Roger said. “That’s the day I became a printer.”

After leaving The Vidette, Roger worked in Nashville for 18 months before going to Quality Printing in Gallatin for nearly a year and a half. Linda was working in The Vidette’s print shop at that same time and when the paper’s owners opted to close that portion of the business, Roger decided to take over.

The Gregorys opened Hartsville Printing at its location on River Street, just behind the historic courthouse, in October 1978. The company’s first job was a run of 1,000 envelopes for Tri-County Gas & Oil at a cost of just over $45.

Roger said they had rented the building for $125 monthly to start out, but decided to purchase the site after finding the monthly payments would be $135. According to Roger, the building itself is on the list of historic buildings as it dates back to the 1940s.

He also noted changes in the business over the years, saying they used to print a lot of medical records and government files – much of which are now computerized.

“All those little pieces of paper we used to produce; they’re gone,” Roger said.

The Gregorys said they would miss providing good service to their customers but plan to remain involved in the community.

“It was hard work but we always enjoyed it,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed helping people and satisfying our customers with a good product at a reasonable price.”

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