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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.

Fund created at Wilson Bank for injured Trousdale deputy

A fund has been created at Hartsville’s Wilson Bank & Trust location to benefit a Trousdale County deputy who suffered serious injuries last week.

Deputy Clint Friar was struck by a pickup truck on the evening of May 28 while stopping to render assistance after a passing motorist hit a dog on East McMurry Boulevard.

Deputy Clint Friar • Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department

According to Sheriff Ray Russell at the time, Friar was thrown about 20 feet and suffered a concussion, a broken leg, road rash and ligament and cartilage damage.

Russell told The Vidette Friar had undergone surgery to repair the broken leg and a second surgery to have his left knee reconstructed. At press time, Friar remained at Skyline Medical Center.

“He probably won’t be able to walk for about three months,” Russell said. “I don’t know when he’ll be able to come back to work.”

“They can go in and say they want to donate to Deputy Friar,” Russell said. “There’s a lot of medical bills; his wife’s missing work to care for him. It’s going to be hard on them.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol was investigating the incident but no charges have been filed against the driver of the pickup truck.

Russell said the incident should remind drivers to drive slowly and take greater caution when they see the blue lights of law enforcement on the side of any road.

“People need to slow down more than what they’re doing,” Russell said. “It was a dark area and the driver couldn’t see, but he could have been driving slowly than he was.”

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

‘Books & Bites’ set to begin mission of reading and feeding

Trousdale County Schools, the Hartsville Rotary Club and the Summer Backpack Program are teaming up to fill students’ minds and stomachs during the summer.

‘Books & Bites,’ a mobile library/cafeteria utilizing a converted school bus, will begin operating in Hartsville next week. The name ‘Books & Bites’ came as the result of a 2018 competition in which students suggested names for the bus.

From June 3-28, the Books & Bites bus will be set up Monday through Friday at two locations: First Baptist Church on McMurry Blvd. and in Hartsville City Park. The bus will be at the church from 11-11:40 a.m. each day and in the park from noon-12:40 p.m.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

“It aligns directly with our Read to Be Ready summer program,” said Director of Schools Clint Satterfield.

Any student age 18 or under, or over 18 if they were enrolled in school this past school year, can enjoy a free lunch regardless of income.

“We’d like to reach at least 50 at each site,” said Kathy Atwood, Coordinated School Health supervisor for the school system. “It will be hot or cold lunch depending on the day. We’ll have menus posted as well.”

Atwood said fresh produce and vegetables would be included with the lunches, but added that “a lot of their favorites” would be on the Books & Bites menu.

Funding is part of the regular school lunch budget under a program called “Seamless Summer.”

“It’s a continuation of the free breakfast/lunch program we have,” Satterfield added. “The idea is to feed children during the summer months, to continue to provide nutritious meals.”

In addition to the bus, an open breakfast and lunch are being provided each weekday at Jim Satterfield Middle School in the cafeteria. Breakfast runs from 8-9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m.-noon. Participants should enter JSMS from the Andrews Avenue entrance.

The meals at JSMS are also available to children not yet of school age, with Atwood saying, “If they’re eating table food, they can eat. They don’t have to be enrolled in school.”

Besides food, Books & Bites also has books that can be checked out by students entering grades 1-5. The books were obtained from Barnes & Noble and school staff utilized a list of suggested texts.

“We’re trying to put them on appropriate levels so kids can check out something on their reading level,” said Linda Carey, supervisor of federal programs for the school system.

Children will be encouraged to check out books on Monday as a librarian will be on the bus on those days. Exchanges will be available any day though.

“Kim Reynolds (librarian) knows these kids. She can say, ‘Here’s books that might interest you,’ ” Carey added.

From idea to reality

The idea for ‘Books & Bites’ came as a result of observing what other communities were doing with similar programs during the summer.

“Our school board went to a convention a couple of years ago and Greeneville City Schools did a presentation on their program,” Satterfield said.

The School Board took a retired school bus and began looking for ways to make the conversion. The Hartsville Rotary Club assisted, providing over $6,000 in funding for the program.

“We saw Books & Bites as a continuation of our mission to help make our community a better place,” said Chris Gregory, president-elect of the Hartsville Club. “It fits perfectly with our four-way test – the ethics code we strive to operate by – as it is beneficial to all concerned; the children of Hartsville and Trousdale County.”

Rotary members built the shelving that was used in the library portion of the bus as well.

School officials also looked at a similar program in the Lebanon Special School District and in Rutherford County.

“I thought, ‘What a great idea!’ ” Atwood added. “We wanted to see how we could take the food to where people might be.”

A test program was held last July in the park and served an estimated 25 to 30 students each day for a week. While the bus will only be running in June this year, the hope is to be able to expand operations in the future.

Satterfield said the decision to operate in June was made because it fit with the schools’ Read to Be Ready summer reading camp and also because families were more likely to be traveling in July, potentially lessening demand.

For more information on Books & Bites, contact Trousdale County Schools at 615-374-2193.

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

Do Re Mi Gospel Music Academy gets help with museum goal

Hartsville’s Do Re Mi Gospel Music Academy is looking toward the next step in its mission of preserving the history of shape note gospel music by creating a museum at its facility.

Shape-note music is designed to make congregational and community signing easier, and dates back over two centuries in the United States. Today, Southern Baptist and Church of Christ congregations still commonly use shape-note songbooks in their worship services.

Do Re Mi, located on Cedar Bluff Road, has been in Hartsville since 2010 and is preparing to welcome a group of campers for its annual two-week camp, beginning June 2.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Students at Trousdale County High School pose with some of the cabinets they built for Do Re Mi.

“Our charter is organized to education, promotion and preservation of shape-note music, so from the very beginning that was the vision we had,” said Key Dillard, the director of Do Re Mi. “We just haven’t had the opportunity till recently.”

Dillard’s efforts were aided when Trousdale County High School received a $3,500 grant from Middle Tennessee State University. Students in Dan Dickerson’s class built shelving that will be used in displaying artifacts when the museum comes into being.

Dr. Heather Dillard, an education professor at MTSU and Key’s daughter-in-law, was instrumental in helping TCHS obtain the grant.

“It’s a grant for a public service-oriented project,” Heather Dillard said. “The project they did was to make these cabinets for the museum at Do Re Mi.”

“It got us to moving,” Key Dillard said of the grant. “It called for cooperative community resources and the kids at TCHS built our cabinets and we’ll be utilizing them. We’re so very thankful for those kids at the high school.”

Dillard said Do Re Mi secured the building three years ago and has been working since then to locate items related to shape-note music that can be displayed.

“It’s going to be an ongoing process; the key to any museum is the artifacts that will be displayed,” he said.

Items already obtained by Do Re Mi include a 1939 scrapbook from the Macon County Ladies Quartet, of which Dillard’s mother was a member, and a teaching slate used by music instructors back in the day.

“We need people to dig deep in their attics and see what they can find,” Dillard said.

Anyone with items that might be of interest to the museum can email Dillard at keydillard@gmail.com or can call 615-969-2708.

Do Re Mi’s gospel music camp will run from June 2-15 and will have nightly singings at 8 p.m. that are open to the public.

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

Trousdale sheriff’s deputy hit by truck Tuesday night

A Trousdale County sheriff’s deputy was hit by a pickup truck Tuesday night after he stopped to help after a car hit a dog on East McMurry Boulevard in Hartsville.

According to Sheriff Ray Russell, Deputy Clint Friar was thrown about 20 feet and suffered a concussion, a broken leg, road rash, lacerations and ligament and cartilage damage after the truck hit him at about 8:44 p.m.

Deputy Clint Friar • Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department

Friar responded to a disabled car that hit a dog near Locke Six Road when he was injured. Friar activated his emergency lights and pulled behind the stopped car along the road. He was on the opposite side of the road and tried to help the injured dog.

Russell said it appeared the driver of the truck was watching the side of the road that the patrol car was on and did not see the deputy.

Friar was taken by ambulance to Skyline Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, and Russell characterized Friar as in good spirits after he had surgery Tuesday night.

No one else was injured in the crash. The Tennessee Highway Patrol continued to investigate the incident. No charges were filed against the pickup truck’s driver.

Education Committee looks for ways to fix school budget deficit

Members of the Education Oversight Committee gave preliminary support to the school system’s proposed budget at their May 14 meeting, but also warned that funding will be a concern.

The budget, which was approved by the School Board at its April meeting and was presented by Director of Schools Clint Satterfield, calls for just over $900,000 in new money from the county. The school system will lose roughly $429,000 in funding under the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP) because of increased fiscal capacity (ability to pay) on Trousdale County’s part.

Long-term solutions need to be found, committee members said, rather than relying on property tax. Filling the projected deficit would require 46.5 cents of property tax based on current values.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield

“I’d like for the Budget & Finance (Committee) to find ways to address this revenue source without it all coming from property tax,” said commissioner Bill Fergusson. “We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve had in the school system.”

Ideas tossed about included extending the Urban Services District, adding a half-cent to the local option sales tax, redirecting impact fees paid to the county or extending the wheel tax.

A local option sales tax increase would require a public referendum, which likely would not take place until August 2020. The wheel tax is currently set to expire in 2022 after the loan for the high school building is paid off.

County commissioners discussed extending the wheel tax last year but ultimately decided to take no action.

“The good thing about the wheel tax is it affects everyone in the county,” said committee chairman Jerry Ford. “The problem with raising property tax is just 38 percent of the people pay it.”

Satterfield agreed, saying, “What’s important is that we find long-term solutions tot this… we can’t wait to say ‘Will conditions ever change?’ ”

The budget does call for a percent raise for teachers, which will come from BEP funding. The state is giving 3 percent among the 84.5 teachers funded through BEP. However, Trousdale County Schools divides that money equally among all teachers (87.5 currently), so actual raises will be slightly under 3 percent.

The budget also calls for $462,890 in capital outlay projects, which would come from the schools’ fund balance.

“We’ve always been able to use our fund balance to upgrade our facilities and do one-time expenses and we’ve never had to come to the County Commission to ask for money for capital outlays since I’ve been superintendent,” Satterfield said.

The school budget calls for the system to finish the 2010 fiscal year with roughly $2.3 million remaining in fund balance. Without additional funds, that balance would drop to roughly $1.4 million.

“There’s no way the school system can continue to operate with a deficit of this magnitude without some help from the county,” said committee member Johnny Kerr, who sits on the School Board. “No one’s thinking about kicking this can down the road another year; we need some help.”

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

Mayor presents estimated costs of merging fire, EMS

County Mayor Stephen Chambers presented estimated costs of a merger between the Volunteer Fire, Rescue Squad and EMS departments during a pair of meetings last week.

The County Commission had requested budget estimates from the mayor at its April meeting and delayed a second vote on the merger to allow for Chambers’ office to compile those numbers.

At the Emergency Services Committee meeting on May 14, the mayor presented costs of merging the VFD and Rescue Squad that were estimated at $49,000. Most of that funding would go toward purchasing required turnout gear for members of the Rescue Squad who opted to join the fire department. The remainder involved the additional cost of utilities for having personnel at the fire hall on a 24/7 basis.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

“When I met with (Fire) Chief (Mark) Beeler, (EMS) Director (Matt) Batey, Mr. (Ken) Buckmaster, and Mark Carman, they said there were 13 Rescue Squad… that would need fire turnout gear and seven firefighters that need to replace theirs,” Chambers told commissioners.

“We’re transferring out four or five sets a year,” added commissioner Ken Buckmaster, who serves as a volunteer firefighter. “We got a little bit behind several years ago and that hurt us some.”

Chambers also included two sets of self-contained breathing apparatus and two spare bottles for those units in his budget estimate. Otherwise, he added the current costs of the fire and Rescue Squad to come up with projected costs.

He added that most of that $49,000 would not be a recurring expense as a combined department would not need to buy as much replacement gear in future years.

“You’ll see a jump in your first year… you won’t have that in your second year,” Chambers said.

There is also an anticipated cost of $9,000 in salary increases for nine EMS workers who are trained in fire response and would be added to the fire department’s rolls.

The mayor also presented two options for expanding the fire hall to accommodate extra personnel but added that neither option was planned for the upcoming year’s budget.

Chambers estimated $612,000 for adding sleeping quarters, a kitchen, office space and showers as well as three new vehicle bays, or $758,690 to double the size of the facility.

“We’re not in any fiscal shape to expand that building now,” Chambers said. “We’re not going to do it this year.”

At Thursday’s County Commission work session, Chambers said the county could use the Ambulance Service’s fund balance to pay for costs of merging the various departments. The mayor said he had spoken with the state comptroller’s office, which indicated that moving those funds – along with current funds for fire and Rescue – into a new dedicated fund for a combined department would be permissible.

“You can do it; you just have to do it that particular way,” the mayor said.

As of the end of April, the Ambulance Service’s fund balance was just over $627,000. Chambers told The Vidette that number is expected to drop to just over $491,000 by the end of June.

The Commission is scheduled to vote on the merger at its May 28 meeting. Commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

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

Op-Ed: Listen to facts, not fears, about fire-EMS merger

Ever since this week’s meetings regarding the proposed fire-EMS merger, I’ve seen what I believe to be a lot of misinformation out there about the costs involved.

So I’m going to use this space to try to get some of the facts out there instead.

At April’s County Commission meeting, the group opted to wait to see some budget figures from County Mayor Stephen Chambers on the proposed merger. Those numbers are now out there, as well as the funding mechanisms, and to me it just makes even more sense to make this merger a reality.

At the Emergency Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, the mayor presented two options for a merger of the Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Rescue Squad was mentioned as part of this previously but hasn’t been bandied about the way EMS has – but I think adding them is a good idea.

Chris Gregory

Those options on the sheet the mayor handed out ran from $470,170 to $515,510. But there’s more inside those numbers than just raw dollars.

Most of those figures are made up of money already in the budget – namely the fire budget plus the Rescue Squad’s budget. Money that would already have been budgeted anyway. So there’s NO new money there. Those numbers also include $285,000 for a new tanker truck for the fire department. That money was originally allocated two years ago; it just hasn’t been spent yet. That’s a one-time expense (after all, we’re not going to be buying new trucks every year!).

The mayor’s proposal does envision adding 13 current members of the Rescue Squad to the fire department’s ranks. They will need equipment and that is an additional expense – $45,300 based on Mr. Chambers’ projections. Of course, just like previous mayors, the expenses tend to be overestimated when making a budget. So it might not be quite that much.

That equipment is necessary too, as firefighters in attendance pointed out. Some of the current equipment is in rough shape and needs replacing as well. There are seven sets of turnout gear already in the fire budget for next year. Fire rotates out their gear on a regular basis, just like the sheriff rotates patrol cars out every year as they age. It only makes sense.

There is also an estimated $3,700 in utility expenses from having a crew at the fire hall 24/7. That was not in the original plan and perhaps could be tweaked or even eliminated by housing a crew and fire truck at the Rescue Squad building. Those are details best left to the directors of those departments and even if there does turn out to be a 24/7 fire hall staffing, $3,700 isn’t a great deal of money.

There is also a $9,000 cost in adding to salaries of nine EMS workers who would be part of a merged department. That cost was previously disclosed by EMS Director Matt Batey.

On the mayor’s sheet were figures related to a potential expansion of the fire hall to add sleeping quarters, more vehicle bays, etc. Those were estimated at anywhere from $600,000 to $760,000 – but there are no plans to expand the fire hall this year, next year, or in the near future. Since that meeting, I’ve had commissioners mention that a fire hall expansion might be a question best left to public referendum. That’s a terrific idea and I would support that 100 percent.

So we’re talking about $58,000 total in new expenses – not the $500,000 or $1,000,000 figures I’ve seen thrown out there on social media. Thrown out there, I will add, by people who were not even at either meeting where this was explained.

Where will that $58,000 come from? That’s the good news.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Chambers said he was awaiting a phone meeting with the comptroller’s office to see if the Ambulance Service’s fund balance could be used to pay those costs. As it turns out, yes, they can. It will take some minor tweaking from county commissioners (namely, moving money from one fund into another –something they do all the time anyway) but that’s a minor issue.

By the way, at Thursday’s Budget & Finance meeting the Ambulance Service fund balance was estimated at roughly $627,280 as of the end of April. According to the mayor’s office, the projected balance as of June 30 – the end of the fiscal year – will be $491,854. So funding the cost of equipment needs for new fire-trained personnel should be no big deal.

I mean, if I’ve got $491,000 in the bank I would think nothing of writing a $58,000 check for something I needed.

Combining departments will also make it easier for the department to get grants to pay for equipment and training – something sorely lacking in recent years. That’s not intended as a dig at anyone; but a full-time staff would surely have more time to devote to such matters.

We can get more trained personnel for the fire department, upgrade our equipment and training and get 24/7 staffing at the fire hall. And we can do it without costing a penny more in current taxes. Can anyone give me a reason NOT to take advantage of this opportunity?

Here’s hoping our commissioners and the public will listen to the facts, not the fearmongering. I strongly encourage the County Commission to vote YES on merging the departments during their May 28 meeting.

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

Trousdale students, teachers take up wheelchair challenge

Students and teachers at Trousdale County High School took up a challenge this week to give up the use of their legs for a day.

Participants in the Team ALeX “Spend a Day In My Wheels” Challenge spent their time confined to a wheelchair while completing their normal routines during the course of the school day.

The challenge is named for Alex Johnson, a seventh-grader in Wilson County and the nephew of TCHS Assistant Principal Ben Johnson. Alex has been in a wheelchair since first grade because of a rare skeletomuscular disorder.

“My nephew started this challenge about two years ago,” Ben Johnson said. “He came to me wondering if we would do this challenge at the high school to get a view through his eyes as well as all those in our society who are confined to wheelchairs or mobility devices.”

“It’s to raise awareness of people in wheelchairs so they hopefully can lead better lives; also to partner to help people who can’t afford wheelchairs get them,” Alex Johnson added.

Ben Johnson and TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson looked for students and teachers willing to participate. Eight students and 10 teachers took up the challenge.

Students spent Monday in wheelchairs while teachers participated on Tuesday. Permobil Foundation of Lebanon provided the wheelchairs.

“We had such an interest in participating,” Johnson said. “A lot of the participating students are athletes or those who do other extracurricular activities. It’s very difficult to go back to very simplistic movement.”

The participants said being in a wheelchair opened their eyes to the everyday struggles someone in that situation faces – even something as simple as going through a door.

“I’ve always been curious as to how difficult it is, to roll and turn around, especially doors,” said TCHS senior Noah Cartwright. “You have to go backwards; use one hand to open the door and the other to turn the chair.

“It opens your eyes – just how you want the challenge to be. This world isn’t necessarily made for those in wheelchairs.”

Students said the physical strength required to wheel a chair around the school was more than they might have anticipated as well. The mental aspect was equally challenging, including being looked at by other students.

“I find myself thinking about I’m going to get from place to place physically, and it’s hard to concentrate on the job tasks I have today,” Johnson said.

Ramps were another challenge, Cartwright added, saying, “You’ve got to really lean into it.”

“I was in a wheelchair my sixth-grade year after I tore my ACL,” said sophomore Addison Gooch. “I thought it would be cool to do it by myself this time. But it’s really hard.”

“Once Coach Johnson brought it to my attention, I figured it’d be nice to see if I could accept the challenge,” said junior Tarvaris Claiborne. “I didn’t know it’d be so hard to get through a door! Just maneuvering around, your arms really get tired.”

Participants were challenged to do specific tasks while in their chairs, such as using the restroom facilities, visiting the vending machines, finding wheelchair access to the auditorium stage and going through the cafeteria lunchline.

Friendship Christian has also participated in the challenge previously and Alex is hoping to get more schools and even businesses involved.

“We have met with Cracker Barrel corporate in Lebanon and I gave a speech about what the challenge is. Some people there are going to do it on June 3,” Alex said.

“We’re also hoping to get more schools doing this.”

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

Thomas “Wish” Beasley receives Good Scout Award

The Walton Trail District of the Boy Scouts of America presented its Trousdale County Good Scout Award to Thomas “Wish” Beasley at a banquet last Wednesday evening.

Beasley, who grew up in the area, is the co-founder of private prison company CoreCivic and has long been involved in a number of charitable causes.

“The Good Scout Award recognizes individuals who exemplify the spirit of the Scouting oath by helping others and doing their best at all times,” said Russell Washburn, who served as master of ceremonies. “This prestigious award honors those personal and public contributions to their community and the world in which we live in.”

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Thomas Beasley, left, receives the Good Scout Award from presenter Russell Washburn.

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts.

“Thomas Beasley is a an who has not only shown the Trousdale community unending compassion through his years of leadership, but also has continued to exemplify the Scouting oath and laws throughout his life,” added Washburn.

Beasley is a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam, earning a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for valor. He is also a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School and a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party. He is currently Chairman Emeritus of CoreCivic after serving as president and chief executive officer of the company from 1983 to 1987 as and chairman of the Board of Directors from 1987 to 1994.

“I’m very grateful for this,” Beasley said. “(Scouting) is a really good cause and I encourage the idea of Scouting. I wish you all the best in the county.”

Hartsville’s Marvin Denham was also honored for his work as Dean Leader for local Cub Scout Pack 122, which presented the colors and offered the invocation before dinner.

The event also served as a local fundraiser for Boy Scouts and raised roughly $6,600, according to officials. Beasley said he would be nearly doubling that amount with a contribution as well.

The Walton Trail District covers Trousdale, Macon and Smith counties and a portion of Wilson County. In 2018, the district had 568 youth served, 12 Cub Scout packs and 10 Boy Scout Troops that recorded nearly 3,000 hours of community service.

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

Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery satisfying Hartsville’s sweet tooth

Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery held its much anticipated opening last week, giving Hartsville customers a new place to enjoy breakfast or to just satisfy their sweet tooth.

The bakery, located at the corner of Broadway and Main Street in the old bank building, is the brainchild of childhood friends Jennifer Petty and Kendra Stafford.

“I had a bakery in Lebanon before,” Petty said, “and then went back into the corporate world as a nurse. But we moved back to Hartsville this year and I wanted somewhere in town… a little cool spot to hang out in Trousdale County.

“We started bouncing ideas off other and it’s just taken off from there!”

Photos by Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Pictured from left are Kathy Stafford, Kendra Stafford, Jennifer Petty and Priscilla Elmore. Kendra and Jennifer have opened Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery in downtown Hartsville.

Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery sells donuts, cupcakes, hand-dipped ice cream, apple fritters, muffins, donut holes, cake pops, chocolate covered strawberries and much more. The bakery held an open house last Wednesday prior to its official opening and served around 350 customers in a span of a few hours. Last Friday was the first day of business, which already looks to be booming.

“Our goal was to offer to Trousdale County something we don’t have and not to compete with the other businesses that serve food,” Stafford said. “We want to be unique and throw in other things along the way.”

Petty said that Sweet Kuntry expects to bring on chicken & waffles and other specialty desserts in the coming weeks that she called “surprises.”

“We didn’t want to roll everything out at the open house,” she said.

Currently, the bakery is open from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. The bakery will be closed Sundays and Mondays.

Petty said those hours would be in place through May and would adjust depending on demand from customers.

“We want to figure out when the busiest times of the day are,” Stafford said, while Petty added, ‘We want to give the kids time to get out of school and get over there.”

The bakery already has a Facebook page, a SnapChat page and an Instagram page, courtesy of Petty’s and Stafford’s daughters. They also thanked their mothers, Kathy Stafford and Priscilla Elmore, for help in getting the bakery ready to open.

“It’s been fun to see them so involved in watching a business grow from the ground up,” Petty said. “Both our families have been so supportive, as well as friends in the community.”

“People in the community are as excited as we are and it shows,” Stafford added.

Some of the sweet treats available at Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery are shown here.

In June, the bakery plans to expand into a lunch menu as well with sandwiches, croissants and wraps and more “surprises” as the summer goes on.

“We’re excited about doing some outside seating as the weather heats up,” Petty said. “It’ll be a great little place – an outdoor hangout spot!”

Both ladies agreed the building was the perfect spot for their business, citing its history in downtown Hartsville. A gallery of historic photos is planned for one of the walls and WiFi is also available, giving Sweet Kuntry Bakery a taste of the old and the new.

Soups are planned when the fall begins and cooler temperatures set in. For home football games, the bakery plans to be open afterwards for fans to enjoy good food and a place to recap the action.

“I think it’s going to be great for the youth – give them something to do and a positive atmosphere. We want to show that with hard work, you can graduate from Trousdale County and come back and open your own business!”

Sweet Kuntry Bakery & Eatery can be reached through its social media pages or by calling 615-934-8535.

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

Macon County jury convicts man in murder of Hartsville woman

A Macon County jury convicted a man of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder last Friday.

Keithandre Murray, 24, was found guilty of the shooting deaths of Hartsville native Alisha Mondoni, 32, and James Turner, 44, at a residence on New Harmony Road in Macon County on Feb. 11, 2017.

A trial date has not been set for the other co-defendant, Rodney Garrett.

Submitted photo
Keithandre Murray

The two victims were discovered in a car over two years ago, at the New Harmony Road residence by a neighbor who called 911. Officers from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and the TBI was also called in to assist with the investigation.

The investigation eventually led to the arrests of Murray and Garrett. The two suspects were each indicted by the Macon County Grand Jury on charges of first-degree murder-premeditated, criminal attempt to commit aggravated robbery and felony murder.

The Macon County Chronicle reported that according to Assistant District Attorney General Javin Cripps, the state dismissed the aggravated robbery and felony murder charges before the trial started and went forward with the premeditated murder charges.

The guilty verdict came after a weeklong trial that began on April 29.

Testimony during the trial reportedly showed that Murray had previously lived with Turner, but that Murray didn’t know Mondoni.

The Chronicle reported that the jury deliberated for three hours before returning the guilty verdict to presiding Judge Brody Kane. Murray is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20.

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

Trousdale County undergoing property revaluing process

Dewayne Byrd, Trousdale County Property Assessor, has announced that Trousdale County is undergoing a Current Value Update (CVU) for tax year 2019.

The CVU program is designed to make appraisals for property tax purposes more equitable by adjusting appraised values based on recent sales in the county. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 67-5-1601 (a)(2), appraisals are updated in the third year of a six-year reappraisal cycle if the overall level of appraisal drops below 90 percent of market value.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
All property in Trousdale County is undergoing a Current Value Update as mandated by state law.

Appraisers from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Division of Property Assessments have used current market information to establish market trends for the various classes of property in Trousdale County. The updates are derived from an analysis of recently sold properties and reflect market trends for the different property classifications – residential, farm and commercial/industrial.

“The advantages of the CVU program are numerous,” Byrd said in a press release. “Property owners will be better informed as to the value of their property and the true value at which they are being assessed for property tax purposes. Property owners will also see a more gradual change in their property values over the six-year reappraisal cycle.”

According to state officials, the update program is not a method for raising local revenue. It is designed to produce appraised values more in line with fair Markey value, and by itself will not increase the county’s revenue. In fact, Tenn. Code Ann. 67-5-1701 requires that a certified tax rate be established following a CVU of properties in a county. The Tennessee State Board of Equalization established a certified tax rate, which is a rate that will produce the same amount of revenue as billed for the same taxable properties the year before. A jurisdiction’s local legislative body may exceed the certified tax rate only after a public hearing.

Property owners who experience changes in their property values because of the updates will receive an assessment change notice in the mail. Those notices are scheduled to be mailed out on May 3, Byrd said. Those who feel that their property’s appraised value is not in line with market value will be given the opportunity to appeal their value to the county’s Board of Equalization, which in Trousdale will meet on June 3, 4 and 6. Appeal hearings will also be conducted with assistance from state officials at Byrd’s office in the County Administration Building from May 6-10.

For more information, call 615-374-2553.

School Board passes preliminary 2019-20 budget

The Hartsville/Trousdale County School Board passed last Wednesday night a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year that would require significant assistance from county government to balance.

The school system is anticipating a loss of $429,198 in state funding via the Basic Education Program (BEP) because of increased fiscal capacity (ability to pay) on the part of the county. The addition of CoreCivic’s Hartsville prison has added over $1.5 million annually to the property tax rolls since the facility opened in 2016, which increased the county’s fiscal capacity.

An additional loss of BEP funds is expected for the 2020-21 budget, but estimates on that will not be available until next year.

While acknowledging the BEP loss was less than original projections of over $600,000, Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said the loss still left a big hole in the schools’ budget.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield

“The county has always provided more than the minimum,” Satterfield said. “What has happened over time is the local required match has increased as the BEP has increased.”

The proposed budget has no new positions or programs, includes $462,890 in capital outlays and estimates a 3 percent state raise for teachers. The actual state raise has not been determined yet.

The capital outlay projects include recoating and recertifying the roof on the elementary school, replacing classroom doors at the middle and replacing the sidewalk at the elementary school.

The budget calls for the school system to dip into its fund balance for $477,890 to even out but also anticipates an increase in county funding of just over $900,000 – or 46.5 cents on the property tax.

The schools’ current budget estimates a total fund balance of just under $2.8 million as of June 30. However as of March 31, roughly $1.76 million of that is restricted to certain uses.

If no additional county funds are provided, Satterfield estimated the schools’ fund balance would dip to roughly $1.4 million by the end of June 2020.

“We didn’t have to raise taxes last year because we were able to go into our fund balance. But we can’t continue to do that,” Satterfield said. “You can only kick that can so far down the road before the can wears out.”

The school system also has an estimated $341,150 in debt payments annually, plus $75,000 for school resource officers. The cost of SROs is split 50/50 with the county under a deal worked out in last year’s budget negotiations.

Satterfield has already met with County Mayor Stephen Chambers and County Commission chairman Jerry Ford to discuss the budget. Satterfield said discussions would continue leading up to the budget process. County budget hearings typically take place in late May or early June.

“We are submitting a status quo budget,” added School Board member Johnny Kerr. “It’s based on the assumption that the county court is going to help us with our deficit issues, which we’ve tried to be very transparent (about)… They’ve been great to work with.”

The School Board also approved May 3 as Teacher Appreciation Day and set May 16 as the day for the Employee Appreciation Breakfast.

Satterfield also told board members that the ‘Read to be Ready’ summer program would run from June 3-28 and is expected to serve anywhere from 40 to 45 children. ‘Read to be Ready’ is a state-funded initiative to improve literacy in students entering grades 1-3.

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