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Trousdale County PTA plans trio of local events

Trousdale County’s PTA has three events scheduled in February to raise awareness and funds for the organization.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County PTA

‘Muffins with Mom’ will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m. till noon at Trousdale County High School. Included will be a light brunch and a Valentine’s Day-themed painting project.

Tickets are $15 each, will children ages 4 and under free. RSVPs are needed by Jan. 24 and can be made by emailing [email protected]

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, a ‘Be Internet Awesome’ safety seminar will be held at Pig Pen BBQ beginning at 6:30 p.m.

A short presentation will be made on safe ways to navigate the Internet and social media.

Dinner and door prizes will be available and attendance is free.

The PTA is also offering Valentine’s Love Bugs for $5 each. Customers can order brownie bites, chocolate chip cookies or fairy bites that will be delivered with a small keepsake.

Delivery is free if in Trousdale County or $5 if out of county. Orders must be in by Feb. 6 and can also be made by emailing [email protected]

Trousdale County’s PTA is open to parents of students at any of the three schools. For more information on the PTA, visit the group’s Facebook page or contact president Jessica Byrd.

Looking Back: Trousdale man’s trek to the skies

We continue our story of young William James Gregory and his path from Trousdale County to becoming a colonel in the United States Air Force!

James had managed, with the help of TCHS Principal Irby Pullias, to secure a place at Middle Tennessee State University. In 1938, it was called Middle Tennessee State Teacher’s College.

Mr. Pullias had contacted a good friend who was a dean at the school and got James into a new program that would allow him to work on campus for his tuition.

Submitted photo
William James Gregory is shown here in his uniform as a cadet in the Army Air Corps.

The program was one of many created by the government to help pull the nation out of the Great Depression, one of the worst economic crises in our nation’s history. Under the direction of the National Youth Administration, the program helped young men and women attend college.

In the book written about Gregory, he is quoted as saying, “We didn’t get much money for it – twenty-seven cents an hour – but enough to pay tuition, room rent, and board, and have a little left over for incidental expenses, and that was all that mattered.”

As it turned out, fellow Hartsville natives Charles Brown, Haynie Bastian and Frank Sheppard were also in the program!

Young James was no slacker. He took to college like a duck to water, making good grades and joining campus groups and activities. He and a friend hitchhiked to the World’s Fair in New York City!

At the end of his sophomore year, James saw a notice for students with a couple of years of college experience to apply for a summer program through the U.S. Navy. It would let a fellow serve on a ship and get some Navy training, but just for the summer. It was hoped that this would interest young men into joining.

James signed up and was accepted and sent to New York City and from there to a place you may have heard of – Guantanamo, Cuba! Then off to the Panama Canal, followed by a return to the East Coast. Back in port there, he and the others finished the summer scraping barnacles off the bottom of the boat!

While all of this was happening, the nation was beginning to prepare for war. Everyone had a sense that it was just a matter of time before the USA would be pulled into the European conflict.

Now that he was back for his junior year, another program caught his eye! The Civil Aviation Authority had created the Civilian Pilot Training Program.

The sky beckoned and William James Gregory accepted the invitation!

If we went to war, the nation was going to need pilots for what was actually a new innovation – airplanes! Between June 1939 and June 1942, 42,000 men were trained through this program and James was one of them.

James was a little wary at first, but his taste for seeing the world was already under his belt. He found that he liked riding the skies and looking down on the world below, and he was surprised to find that he had a natural talent for it. He could feel like he and the plane were one.

Then another chance came to James.

In February 1941 the Army Aviation Cadet Program sent a team of examiners to the school to sign up young men for a student pilot training program. This would be more advanced than the two-seater planes that James was now flying. Also, it meant a commitment to the Army Air Corps over attending the teacher’s college.

James had taken all the school had to offer in the way of flying classes. And he wanted to learn more and to fly bigger planes.

He took the exams and physical offered by the Cadet Program and then waited to hear if he had been accepted. It would mean leaving the teacher education program at Middle Tennessee. When the letter did arrive telling him of his acceptance in the program, he decided to go with it.

In August 1941, he and two good friends and fellow flying students, William Neely and Breezy Foster, found themselves at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., enlisting in the Army Air Corps. Little knowing that in three months we would be plunged into war!

Jack McCall: Chores and sparking a good friendship

I have these friends, the Knudsens – Paul and Natalie. A few years back they moved to the sunny South, settling in Northern Middle Tennessee. Prior to relocating, they spent about five years looking for property to purchase in God’s country.

The Knudsens grew up and spent most of their working lives in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Paul cut his teeth in the hog business and later worked as a hog buyer for one or more of the major meat packers. Eventually he became a sales rep for a feed company called Big Gain. Through the years he became well connected with players in the pork industry.

Today he writes contracts with meat packers for a dozen or more hog operations. Most of his clients manage 25,000 sows or more. All told, Paul contracts in the neighborhood of 1.5 million hogs annually – no small feat.

Natalie is a gifted writer and gourmet cook, and serves as executive director for the Hartsville-Trousdale Chamber of Commerce.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

The Knudsens are good Methodists and are quick to do their part in the local community.

When I first met Paul and Natalie, we were quick to become fast friends. I was partnered with my brother John in the hog business in the early years raising registered Yorkshires, and I went on to manage a feeder pig market and grade feeder pigs and cattle after my college days. So the Knudsens and I have much in common.

Paul’s work requires him to return to the North three or four times a year, and he and Natalie have grown children living in Nashville, Cincinnati and Minneapolis. So, from time to time they need to get away. Eventually, they got around to securing my services for “doing chores” for them while they were away. Down here we call it “doing the feeding”, they call it “doing chores.” I am compensated for my services with country-fresh brown eggs, scrumptious carrot cakes, banana pudding cheesecake, deluxe chocolate Rice Krispy treats, and other culinary delights. But the best compensation is their continuing friendship.

The Knudsens have mini horses (not a misprint). Actually they have many mini horses – five in all. Plus they have two Haflingers, Bucky and Molly. Then there are two draft horses named Dick and Dan. Dick and Dan are magnificent fellows, matched up almost perfectly – black as midnight with white stars in their foreheads. When they set their hooves down they leave a footprint the size of a dinner plate.

The Knudsen spread also boasts a sow or two, growing market hogs, two or three dozen laying hens, a cat in rehab and two wildly independent cats. They once had two free-roaming white ducks, but they eventually met their maker at the hands of some unknown predator.

The horses get their hay and oats twice a day, plus the pigs and chickens have to be fed. There is water to be run and eggs to be gathered. It makes for a busy hour each morning and evening.

Back in the spring, I arrived at the Knudsen farm on a rainy morning to do the chores. My pace that day was quickened due to the sloppy weather conditions. While feeding Dick and Dan I noticed the water level in the Rubbermaid trough was low. I grabbed the transfer pipe that Paul had fashioned from pieces of conduit and secured it in place.

As I leaned forward to open up the frost-proof faucet, suddenly (and suddenly doesn’t come close to describing the suddenness with how fast it happened) something hit me right in the center of my forehead. A big man wielding a Louisville Slugger or an oak wagon standard couldn’t have hit me any harder. It was the hardest I have ever been hit in my entire 68-plus years. The blow was of such force that it knocked me out. But as I fell backwards, I came back to before my backside hit the soggy ground.

For a few minutes I sat, dazed and addled, trying to figure out what had happened. I finally came to the conclusion one of two things had happened. When I leaned forward to turn on the water, the wet bill of my cap made contact with the electric wire that ran along the top of the fence, or I got close enough to the fence for the charge to jump to my cap due to the wet conditions. At any rate, all those volts had entered my body right through the frontal lobes of my brain.

I finally made it to my feet to experience a mild headache that lingered for the rest of the day. Except for the headache and a crick in my neck which lasted for a day or two, I suffered no lasting ill effects.

I’m still doing chores for the Knudsens. But since that day, whenever they are leaving town and giving me final feeding directions, their parting words are “We turned the electric fence OFF for you.”

Ha ha.

Hartsville man faces assault charge in Macon County

A Hartsville man was charged with aggravated assault after he allegedly pulled a knife on his son.

Johnny Ray Summers, 50, was arrested following the incident, which took place last Friday.

According to the arrest report, Macon County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Bryan Emberton responded to a possible fight in progress at a Pleasant Valley Road address in Hartsville.

Photo courtesy of Macon County Times

Emberton spoke with Summers’ ex-wife when he arrived, who stated that Summers pulled a knife on her son during a verbal altercation.

Embertson spoke with the son, who said that Summers was arguing with the son’s mother and grandmother and cursing at them. When the son came out of the house and told him to stop, Summers pulled a knife out and threatened the son.

The son grabbed a pipe off of the ground and swung it to defend himself, striking Summers’ camper but not hitting Summers.

After Emberton spoke with everyone, Summers was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

His bond was set at $5,000, and his court date is slated for March 18.

IMPACThought: Living a life of praise

The most important relationship in my life is the one with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am humbled that I am a child of God and chosen to do His work in His Kingdom. There is so much to be thankful for and the carefully consider the benefits of my salvation. Personally, I watch for the evidences of His presence in my life. Answers to simple prayer. Comfort amidst turmoil. Guidance for my future plans. Provision for my daily needs. God is so good. I enjoy praising the Lord.

King David was known for praising the Lord. An excellent example is found in Psalms 71:8, “Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honor all the day.”

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

The intention of praising and honoring God all day is an ambitious one for any believer. The frustrations, disappointments and failures of our daily routine interfere with a heart of praise. We are tempted to complain, vent and murmur when faced with circumstances in our lives. The sins of our lips. Clearly, the things we say proceed from the thoughts and intents of our heart. Is it possible to praise and honor the Lord all day? Yes! With the control of the Holy Spirit of God, we can. This work of grace is accomplished when we yield ourselves to His holiness. Then our life will be filled with praise. Behold the “wise Christian!”

In James’ epistle, he declared, “…the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17).

The lifestyle of the wise Christian is easily discernable. His behavior is controlled and his tongue is suppressed. He is a “disciple” of Jesus in the truest sense of the word. He is a model of the authentic Christ; a learner of His godly actions and good works. One with a tongue that builds up; edifies those with whom they interact. The wise man is under the influence of the Holy Spirit of God and his walk is one of communion and fellowship with the Almighty.

On the other hand, a foolish man is easily recognized. James stated, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (James 3:14-15).

Sadly, the world, the flesh and the devil control the behaviors of so many. These three enemies will defeat the individual and prevent a life of abundant joy and praise. Anger, bitterness and strife must be eliminated in the life of a Christian through confession of sin, reconciliation and commitment. Ultimately, surrendering to the Lordship of Christ is the prevailing instrument in victorious Christian living and worship.

Yes King David, let our mouths be filled with praise and your honor all day!

There is so much to praise and honor God for. But it begins with a pure heart. It requires rekindling our communion with our precious Lord Jesus Christ. It requires admitting our failures and confessing our sins. It requires seeking forgiveness and reconciliation in estranged relationships. It requires surrendering wholeheartedly to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God.

In doing these practical steps, we will focus on the love of God in our lives and His goodness. We will rejoice in praising and honoring the Lord all day long. Have a great week and remember, God loves you!

Contact Jon Shonebarger at [email protected]

State audit critical of Tennessee’s prison system

By Wyatt Massey

Chattanooga Times Free Press

In the past two years, the Tennessee Department of Correction repeatedly failed to provide medical care for inmates, properly investigate sexual abuse and maintain necessary staffing levels, according to an audit released Friday by the Tennessee comptroller’s office.

The scheduled audit, spanning October 2017 to July 2019, included 18 citations for three state-run prisons and three facilities privately operated by CoreCivic. The Department of Correction oversees nearly 22,000 people in its 14 prisons, four of which are controlled by CoreCivic – including Hartsville’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

The report details how prisons in Tennessee failed to properly manage inmates in prison, care for staff and track formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as how leadership failed to manage prisons, leading to serious security risks for staff and inmates.

The department has addressed or is working on issues raised in the report and the state maintains safe prisons, Department of Correction Commissioner Tony Parker said in a statement.

“The majority of the findings can be attributed to technology challenges, delayed reporting, and the staff shortages that our state, like many others, currently experience,” Parker said.

Some of the failures in meeting medical needs included not including transferring inmate medical records and medications when they were moved. Officers did not perform mental health checks. Medical contractors with the department are understaffed and also allowed to self-report areas of good performance to offset other failures to contract requirements, the report said.

In the two years of the audit, 171 inmates died, including 12 suicides. Both the state-run and private prisons in Tennessee failed to create or follow guidelines for collecting and reporting data on inmate deaths, assaults and injuries, the report found.

Prisons visited by the auditors often worked with fewer correctional officers than required, which endangers inmates and other staff. Low staffing numbers is an issue that has appeared on multiple audits of the correction system.

A CoreCivic spokesperson said “allegations of sexual misconduct are promptly, thoroughly and objectively investigated” and reviewed within 72 hours.

However, the audit found that state- and private-run prisons did not properly record allegations from inmates and staff, hurting the ability to investigate alleged abuse.

The department improved how it monitored people on probation and parole compared to problems in the three previous reports on the department. However, the report still found department officers were not properly monitoring the approximately 40,000 people on parole or probation.

Half of the six facilities visited destroyed prison-related information without following state guidelines, and one facility destroyed security footage within 14 days instead of following its own 90-day guideline, the report said.

The results of the audit “require many improvements,” Comptroller Justin Wilson said in a news release.

The report was to be presented Monday at the Joint Government Operations Subcommittee on Judiciary and Government in Nashville.

Committee looks at future courthouse usage

Future plans for usage of Trousdale County’s historic courthouse were discussed during last Thursday’s meeting of the County Buildings Committee.

County Historian John Oliver requested use of one office for the Historical Society, which wants to put a museum in the courthouse.

“We have a museum at the old depot… with this building now vacant, we’ve shown interest in using one of the rooms here.” Oliver said.

File photo

Commissioners approved the request, and Oliver said he hoped to have some items on display by July 4 – when Trousdale will celebrate its 150th anniversary as a county.

Commissioners also discussed eventually moving the Election Commission from its current office on Broadway into the courthouse. Since 2020 is an election year, it was noted that any such move would not come until after the November election.

Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton said any courthouse office would need a secure space, as he believed the state would eventually require all election commissions to store voting machines in secure spaces. Paxton noted that some of the courthouse offices have vaults, which would satisfy such a requirement.

Paxton also noted the need for computer access in the courthouse, and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The back ramp on the courthouse is not ADA-compliant and would need upgrading, for example.

Mayor Stephen Chambers updated committee members on a lease with Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency to use space in the courthouse on a part-time basis. The County Commission approved a yearlong lease in November.

“They told me it’d be sometime after the first of the year,” Chambers said. “They’ll be in the former Clerk & Master office.”

Once moved in, Mid-Cumberland will be there two days per week. Hours have yet to be determined.

Committee members also voted to put out for bid an assessment on the courthouse, old Health Department building on Damascus and the Ambulance Service to see what repairs are needed and potential costs. One company had already submitted an estimate of $18,400, according to Chambers.

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

Drug arrest made at Trousdale Turner

An alleged attempt to introduce drugs into the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center last month led to the arrest of a Jackson woman.

Jacquise Shantell McIntee, 37, was charged on Sunday, Dec. 29 with introduction of contraband into a penal facility, possession of Schedule VI with intent, possession of methamphetamine with intent and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office

According to an arrest affidavit, a correctional officer spotted McIntee approach an inmate she was visiting with food items. The inmate reportedly removed a package from a food bag and stuffed it into his pocket. When taken to be searched, the inmate allegedly tossed the item into a trash can.

The item was found to contain 57 grams of meth and two ounces of marijuana.

CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist issued a statement on the company’s behalf:

“On Sunday, December 29, visitor Jacquise McIntee was arrested by the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department after attempting to introduce drugs into Trousdale Turner Correctional Center during a visit with an incarcerated individual. Facility staff turned the contraband over to the sheriff’s department and immediately reported the incident to our partners at the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC).

“CoreCivic has a zero-tolerance policy for the introduction of contraband into our facilities. We applaud our staff for their vigilance and their efforts to thwart recent attempts.”

McIntee was booked into the Trousdale County Jail and held on $55,000 bond, where she remained as of press time. She is scheduled to appear in general sessions court on Jan. 10.

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

Looking Back: One young man went to great lengths to get education

In 1938, William James Gregory graduated from Trousdale County High School.

He had the whole world in front of him and little did he know where he would end up – as a colonel in the United States Air Force!

As we saw last week, young James didn’t have an easy childhood, at least not economically. He had loving parents and sisters and he never lacked for their care or encouragement. The family didn’t neglect his religious upbringing, making church attendance part of his weekly routine.

But the difficulties of the time led to his father being a tenant farmer – a fellow who worked the land of another man for a percentage of the profits. His parents, Sam and Ola, moved from one farm to another while always trying to get a better chance to succeed.

Submitted photo
This is William James Gregory’s photo from the 1938 high school yearbook. Besides being voted “Most Handsome,” he was also fourth in his class academically.

Living in the Willard community, the Gregorys worked the O.G. Davis farm for a few years and then the Pat Burnley farm. It was a four-mile walk to the high school and William had to make sure he didn’t miss the bus. But if he did, he would run those four miles to Hartsville in order to not miss his classes!

The principal at the time was Mr. Robert Stone.

He must have been impressed by James’ efforts because one day he saw him in the hallway of the high school and walked over to him. Mr. Stone looked at the lad and said, “James, I am expecting great things from you!”

William James Gregory never forgot those words of encouragement.

By the time he finished high school, where he excelled academically and was voted “Most Handsome,” there was another principal, Mr. Irby Pullias. He, too, would give James words of encouragement!

Anxious to pursue a career more profitable than tenant farming, James looked for a summer job, hoping to save money to help pay for a year of college.

Luck was with him when his neighbor Dortch Oldham, who had graduated the previous year, told him about a job he had selling Bibles for Southwestern Publishing Company out of Nashville. We might point out here that Dortch did well himself with Southwestern and eventually owned the company, and even ran for governor of Tennessee!

The summer job earned young William James Gregory some cash and he set his eyes on attending Berea College in Kentucky, aware that the college offered all students the chance to work on campus and earn their tuition.

James got a ride to Berea and walked into the admissions office, only to find out that Trousdale County was outside of the prescribed area for such scholarships. The school catered mostly to Kentucky and some economically distressed parts of Tennessee.

Disheartened by the news James hitchhiked towards home, ending up in Cookeville at dark. There, with little money in his pocket, he spent the night in an empty railroad car.

The next day he hit the road again and by late afternoon was back in Hartsville, prepared to walk the four miles to his parents’ home to tell them his disappointment.

But he recalled how much he had liked Mr. Pullias, his high school principal. Perhaps Mr. Pullias could give him some suggestions.

Walking to the Pullias home, William James Gregory knocked lightly on the door. It was late afternoon. Mr. Pullias welcomed him inside, where the dejected James spilled out his misadventure.

Pullias told James to sit a moment and he walked over to his phone and called the Dean of Admissions of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. He knew the man well.

A few moments later, he returned to James.

Although MTSU had already started its fall classes, if James could show up on Monday, he could fill out papers for admission and apply for a special program similar to that of Berea College. He could work and study at the school and get his education!

No doubt, Mr. Pullias had given the university dean some great recommendations for young Gregory.

Now as it began to get dark, William James Gregory walked the four miles to his parents’ home with a smile on his face and confidence about what the future held.

NOTE: The Historical Society meets on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. at the county archives building.

Jack McCall: Maintaining the picture of perfect health

You’ve heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words?”

I was in Hattiesburg, Miss., a few years back, speaking at a Hattiesburg Chamber of Commerce event. It was a stellar evening, first class in every way. After my after-dinner speech, I found the audience members to be warm and engaging. As the crowd began to disperse, I was approached by a gentleman who wore a big, friendly smile. I was immediately captivated by his appearance.

He was a big, barrel-chested guy whose grey, thinning hair gave his age away. (Or so I thought.) His trim waistline was the first clue to his being in great physical shape. Then I noticed the muscles in his upper arms straining at the material in his tailored, navy blazer. As we talked, I was fascinated by his youthful-looking skin. The skin on his face and hands was pink and supple like the skin of a child.

I had to ask, “What is the secret to your being in such great shape?”

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

As he chuckled, he replied with his own question. “Son, how old do you think I am?”

Now that was a loaded question. “How should I answer?” I thought. I guessed him to be in his late 60s – early 70s at the most, so I hedged my guess.

“66!” I said.

He could not hide his pleasure, or his beaming smile. He lowered his voice as he admitted, “Son, I’m 82 years old.”

“Naw!” I protested. “You can’t be 82!”

“You can’t be!” I said.

“Every day of it!” he countered.

“Ok, I’ve got to know. What’s your secret?” I asked.

“Well, for about the last 25 years,” he began, “I rise at 5 o’clock in the morning, and the first thing I do is walk 2.4 miles. (He told how fast he covered the distance, but I don’t remember the exact time. I do remember I was impressed with his walking speed.) “Then”, he continued, “I work out on 10 different weight machines, shower, eat breakfast and I’m at my office by 7:15. I’ve done it six days a week for over 25 years.”

I must say I was impressed. And I came away from my encounter with this remarkable gentleman asking myself a question. Would it be worth that investment of time and energy to look and feel like you were 60 when, in fact, you were 80? I could see him blowing right on by 90 and not missing a step.

My encounter with this remarkable Southern gentleman was, in a word, unforgettable.

Fast forward to two summers ago. My wife, Kathy, and I were on our first Alaskan cruise. Kathy, who was a teenybopper during the British Music Invasion of the 1960s, is a devoted Beatles fan. To her delight, one of the nightly shows on the ship featured a “Beatles” band. These guys were pretty good. I declare, one of them was the spitting image of John Lennon, and of course, the bass player was left-handed.

We saw the first show and the second show and the final show.

After the first show, which was performed in a small bar setting, we realized seating would be limited as more cruisers heard about the band. So we showed up early for the second show. When we arrived 30 minutes before show time, we were the second couple in line.

Being the Southern man I am, I struck up a conversation with the couple at the front of the line. The man, who was about 5-foot-9 in height, was of medium build and neatly dressed. His hair was conservatively cut and completely grey. I guessed him to have a 28-inch waist. He was not overly muscular but very fit. I suspected he was a few years younger than me (I was 65 at the time.)

As we enjoyed casual conversation I eventually got around to the question I had been wanting to ask.

“What is your secret for staying in such great physical shape?

He almost blushed.

“Ahh, I don’t know,” he said.

“No, I really want to know,” I persisted.

“Oh, I do 100 push-ups a day”, he admitted.

I could only shake my head. One hundred push-ups a day.

He finally got around to telling me his age. He was 72.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” So is an example.

I suppose two examples are worth 2,000 words.

Take better care of yourself in 2020.

Chamber News: Building a better Hartsville in 2020

As we start 2020, I hope everyone remembered that the Chamber of Commerce meetings have been moved to the second Tuesday of each month. This move gives everyone a little breathing room to plan and attend this informative community meeting.

Please join us on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at noon for the Chamber of Commerce meeting in the Community Center at 301 E. Main St. Warden Russell Washburn of Trousdale Turner Correctional Center will be our featured speaker. Learn what is happening at Trousdale Turner and bring your questions for Warden Washburn. Lunch will be catered by Piggly Wiggly and will feature meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, dessert and drinks. The cost is $10 but you can attend the meeting without purchasing lunch. Bring your community announcements to share!

Natalie Knudsen

We all start out the New Year with big plans and plenty of optimism but somewhere around the end of January it begins to fade. Everyday tasks and unexpected challenges sap our motivation. This is true for entire communities not just individuals. Hartsville’s enthusiasm for prosperity – and the change associated with it – needs a boost!

Yes, Hartsville’s Fred’s and HomePro have closed but letting the “woe is me” attitude take over won’t help us find new businesses. But creativity and “thinking outside the box” just might. Our individual and collective mind-set can make the difference.

The Chamber continues to work on projects that strive to improve our image and appearance. These projects will only succeed with community input, so make plans to attend our January meetings.

Our City Guide project is focused on creating a publication that promotes the unique and positive parts of our community including history, schools, sports, recreation opportunities – and most importantly, our businesses. Please join us on Monday, Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse – and bring your ideas! We will be focusing on a photo contest for the front and back covers of the publication.

Immediately following the City Guide meeting, the Community Improvement project will meet at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend! Our core group is dedicated to finding ways to improve the appearance of our community. We are being creative in our approach to properties, both commercial and private, that are less than attractive. Please join us.

If you want to improve your life and earning power, the TN Reconnect program offers a tuition-free guarantee to adults whether you are 19 or 69. If you want to switch careers or get your first degree, this program is designed for you – and you can take classes in Hartsville or at any TCAT campus or at Volunteer State. The admissions counselors at TCAT are ready and willing to help you. Please take the first step and stop by today.

IMPACThought: Seeking successful moral leadership

The mighty man of God was dead! In the prime of his life with his physical strength and vision intact, God took his life. He had obediently performed miraculous signs and wonders as God’s chosen leader in the nation of Egypt. He boldly stood up to the cruel Egyptian Pharaoh. He courageously led the children of Israel across the Red Sea. He faithfully shared the Law of God with the people and instituted the methods of worship and service in the Tabernacle. He had successfully led the children of Israel to the threshold of the Promised Land. He had been a leader of enormous impact and faith. The Lord even declared that he was the “meekest” man that ever lived. A man of controlled strength and wisdom. His name was Moses.

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

Tragically, Moses’ disobedience to God’s command while providing water to the children of Israel resulted in God forbidding him from entering the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). However, God would enable Moses to see the land promised to the Patriarchs from the top of a mountain. Now, his leadership journey had ended. A new leader was chosen to take the children of Israel across the Jordan River and settle the land. The heir apparent was Joshua, a man who had been a faithful companion of Moses and a servant of God. Joshua was chosen to take up Moses’ leadership mantle.

God described Joshua as a man “full of the spirit of wisdom.” Moses laid his hands upon him in open display of God’s calling, favor and anointing. (Deuteronomy 34:9). Joshua’s moment had come. His mentor Moses had passed; the journey to the Promised Land must be completed through his leadership. He had been trained, counseled and battle tested. Now, it was time to respond to God’s call.

The Lord in His faithfulness promised Joshua that He would never leave or forsake him. Just as the Lord had provided for and led His mighty servant Moses, Joshua could also take comfort in God’s omnipresence. Yes, it was an enormous calling upon Joshua, yet he knew that whom God called for service, God would provide for their every need. God’s Name is Jehoveh-Jireh, the Lord who provides. Joshua had witnessed that faithfulness with Moses. God assured Joshua that He would not fail him. What more could a servant require from His God?

Now, what would God require from Joshua to accomplish the tremendous commission? God instructed Joshua that he would need to be strong and very courageous. To obey the Word of God. To not deviate from the straight path God had laid before him. If Joshua would obediently comply with this guidance from the Lord, he was guaranteed a prosperous and successful fulfillment of his calling (Joshua 1:8-9).

What kind of strength was God asking him to demonstrate? Spiritual strength to overcome temptation; spiritual strength to walk by faith and not by sight; spiritual strength to call down God’s help from heaven. It would require emotional strength. Moses responded in anger emotionally to the harassment of the children of Israel and committed sin against God. Leadership requires emotional strength. Finally, physical strength would be required as Joshua would have to battle the enemy possessing the Promised Land.

Moral leadership takes courage. Joshua would be tested in every capacity as he assumed the leadership reigns from God. Today, God is still assuring His children of His presence, power and provision. He is still requiring our obedience, faith, strength and courage. There are still mountains to climb, oceans to cross and conquests to complete. The Lord is still requiring moral leadership to accomplish His purposes, in His time and for His glory.

Let us each respond to God’s plan for our lives as patterned in the life of Joshua. Opportunities for a prosperous and successful journey are available to each of us as we employ these vital principles from the Word of God. Have a great week and remember, God loves YOU!

Contact Jon Shonebarger at [email protected]

Looking Back: Air Force aviator had Trousdale County ties

It is not often that someone writes a book about a Trousdale County native!

We have seen a few. For instance, there have two books written about Major William Lauderdale, the namesake for Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Trousdale County native A.M. Burton, the founder of Life and Casualty Insurance Company, has a book as does Dortch Oldham, who graduated from Trousdale County High School and went on to succeed in business in Nashville, and even ran for governor.

Now we can add another one!

A few years ago, the Historical Society got an email from Robert L. Richardson of Washington state. Mr. Richardson was writing a book about an accomplished military man he had met and become friends with.

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This is the cover of a recent book written about former Trousdale County resident Col. William J. Gregory, USAF, an accomplished airman!

Richardson wanted to know if the Society could provide him with the gentleman’s high school graduation photo.

We were happy to oblige.

But why, we wanted to know, was the man in question worthy of a book.

Well, it seems that the fellow – Col. William Gregory – has had a significant military career and it all started right here in Trousdale County!

Since that first inquiry, we have kept up a steady correspondence with the author and he has sent us a copy of the finished book. Which, by the way, is now in its second printing!

So, let’s learn a little more about Col. Gregory!

His story is also the story of the Gregory surname – there are a lot of Gregorys in Trousdale County! The author quotes the late historian Calvin Gregory, “…by 1952, the descendants of brothers John and Thomas Gregory numbered over 10,000…”

One of those descendants was Sam Jones Gregory, who married Creola Nixon in 1913. They would be the parents of three children, William Gregory and his sisters, Mary Agnes and Robbie Neil.

The couple lived in a two-room cabin in the Pleasant Shade community of Smith County and farmed.

William, who would later be called “Greg”, recalled, “Our first cabin was so small that my mother always washed clothes outside, and she would build a big fire under a large black kettle for boiling water. She would use the same hot water to help remove the feathers from a chicken, and we would have fried chicken that night. About once a year she would use the same pot to make soap!”

When he was 3 years old, Greg got deathly sick and his uncle, Herlan Nixon, rode on horseback 30 miles to Carthage in a winter storm to get the medicine he needed to recover.

Greg’s father was a hard worker, but the harsh economic times of the era led to his losing the family farm. To survive, Sam and Creola had to become sharecroppers.

That meant that you lived and worked on another man’s farm and you would then ‘share’ in the harvest and profits. In 1928, the Gregory family moved to Trousdale County in the Payne’s Store community and became tenants on the Payne family farm.

Greg and his sisters would attend the old Walnut Grove School – a two-teacher school!

This was the same year that Highway 231 was being built and Greg got to witness the road construction!

Later the family moved to the Willard community to work the farm of “the widow Carr”. They attended the Friendship Baptist Church. That led to Sam being hired as sextant of the church, or the person who kept up the property. He would also be able to move the family into the church parsonage and farm a small patch of land around the church.

Greg said, “We would take care of the church’s property, and for $35 for the year, we mowed the adjacent cemetery. It was a difficult job with a push mower because it was quite a big cemetery.”

It was while helping his father at the church and with his farming that Greg began to think that he didn’t want to be a farmer and that the world might have more to offer!

As we will see in next week’s article, the world was waiting for Greg!

Jack McCall: Making 2020 the best year it can possibly be

The year of our Lord 2020 is upon us. (For the purposes of this column, let’s call it “twenty, twenty.”)

It has been said that hindsight is 20/20. I’m not so sure. It has also been said that the greatest lesson of history is that man doesn’t learn from history. Hence, “history is doomed to repeat itself.” We’ve seen it, and we will probably see it again.

Normal vision is considered to be 20/20. Of course you can’t see what lies ahead even if you have 20/20 vision. So let’s consider what 2020 will bring.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

Business motivational speaker Jim Rohn was once asked how things would be for the next 10 years. He offered his best estimate by answering, “Things will be for the next 10 years about like they have always been.” That was not the answer his questioner was expecting.

In light of his answer, let’s consider the year ahead. I suspect the year 2020 will be filled with highs and lows, good and bad, triumph and tragedy, the indescribable and the unimaginable. I suspect some things will turn out the way we expected, but I’ll bet we are in for a few surprises. You never can tell. Someone else has said, “Life is iffy” (full of uncertainty). They got that right.

If you are like me your life has not played out like you thought it would. Life has thrown me a few curves along the way. I’ve been forced to make a few mid-course corrections. I’ve had the breath knocked out of me a few times.

As my late mother was prone to say, “This life is no place for the faint of heart.”

I am inclined to go with the old adage, “Life is what you make it.” It’s not so much the cards you are dealt, but how you play your hand.

So, how will you play your hand in 2020?

Here are a few suggestions that might improve the odds of your having a fulfilling and productive 2020.

Let me suggest you take better care of yourself from a physical standpoint. The fact that our healthcare system has become so industrialized makes it more important than ever that you take more responsibility for your health.

I have a cousin who went to the doctor with back problems not too long ago. The doctor advised the issue could be resolved with surgery. However, he suggested that my cousin lose 8-10 pounds and start walking a mile each day and the problem might go away. It did.

Here’s another suggestion for making 2020 a better year. Make a conscious decision to spend more time with the people who are most important to you, especially your grandchildren (if you are fortunate enough to have any). Let the words of an old song be a subtle warning. “Turn around and you’re two. Turn around and you’re four. Turn around, you’re a young man (woman) going out of the door.” Some windows of opportunity close more quickly than others.

Look for opportunities to lighten the load for someone else. My mother often quoted an old black preacher who used to declare, “All God’s chil’en got troubles!” A wise grandmother once advised her granddaughter, “Everyone you meet is a little bit lonely.” And so it is. Everyone could use a kind word or a little nudge in the right direction. You won’t have to look hard to find the opportunity.

Put your best foot forward. Every single person is good at something. I’ve often heard it said, “Dance with the one who brought you.” Focus on your strength and not your weakness. Offer your best to make a difference in the world.

Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all!” Nurture your adventurous spirit. Take a few chances. Do some things you have only dreamed of. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

There comes a time in life when you could if you would but you didn’t. Then there comes a time when you would if you could but you can’t. Don’t let life pass you by.

And finally, if you want to make the most of 2020, ask for God’s help. I am not a theologian, but I have been around long enough to come to the conclusion it makes a real difference.

December news from the Senior Center

December was surely a month of celebrations for us at the Senior Center.

The Traveling Harts singers shared our Christmas music with a number of assisted living and nursing home facilities. We also shared that music with those at the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly lunch meeting and with those at the Senior Center Birthday/Christmas lunch.

Besides our monthly birthday lunch celebration we had a Christmas party with good eats from Ginny and Chante and good music from Danny McCorkel. We danced and sang along with him for a fun afternoon. Then on the day before Christmas Eve we joyfully had our Not-So-Mystery lunch at Red Lobster.

The New Year will find us attending the Jimmy Floyd Center on Monday mornings for pickleball or walking on their indoor track. We hope to restart our book club on the third Tuesday of the month.

On Jan. 16 we will be visiting the Smith County Heritage Museum and on Jan. 30 we will be going to the Lebanon Bowling Alley to get us moving, and laughing!

We’d love to have you join us in 2020! Stop by for a calendar of our January events.

IMPACThought: Seizing opportunity of a New Year

A New Year has arrived! It is always exciting to begin a brand new year and focus on all the possibilities that lie ahead. Not only are we in a new year, we are also in a new decade. The twenties will present milestones for each of us that we cannot begin to imagine. What will we experience over the next ten years? While it is impossible to know, we do know the One who holds our future and we are held firmly in His grip. Our journey with God is full of wonder and possibilities.

“As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).

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Jon Shonebarger

The New Year is here. As Christians we should be filled with enthusiasm and expectation as we reflect upon this revelation of God. God has so many things prepared for us that we cannot discover with our human senses. God alone has a sovereign plan prepared for His children. The precious assurance of His love comforts us and enables us to not fear the unknown future. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, leading and providing for His sheep on the paths of righteousness.

From prison, the beloved Apostle Paul told the church of Phillipi, “…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13b-14).

The ability for each of us to forget the things behind us is a key to future success. The past, with its failures, regrets and heartaches, often paralyzes us from moving forward into new opportunities. As a millstone around our neck, the burdens and weight of the past are the ghosts that haunt us, the poor decisions that plague us and the failures that bury us.

We cannot change the past. But we must learn the lessons that each experience taught us. It is now a matter of the new decisions we make as we move forward by faith. We journey forward without looking in the rearview mirror of yesterday’s record. Yesterday is gone forever. A new day has dawned. Seize it!

We must reach forward to the new opportunities for growth and accomplishment. The Lord has created us with specific plans for our lives. Our steps are ordered by the Lord (Psalms 37:23-24). While we may fall along the way, the Good Shepherd is there to pick us up and dust us off. We adjust our direction and learn God’s lessons on our journey, ultimately achieving the high calling God has for our individual lives.

How does a Christian follow an invisible God? By reading and studying the Bible; by obeying those things we are commanded to do and rejecting those things we are forbidden to do. The Christian is led by the Holy Spirit as they yield to the perfect will of God revealed in Holy Scripture. This is a daily surrender from the loving heart of God’s child.

Let us reach forth for all the blessed things that God has before us. The Christian life is designed to be abundant as we experience the fullness of the Living God in our presence. There should not be anything mundane in the Christian journey. The challenge is for us to open up our hearts to God and receive the all the benefits of our great salvation. The tender mercies of God are new to us each day, availing us to the fullness of our lives in Christ.

Happy New Year! The new path lies before us. Let us each commit to one thing: to looking ahead in eager anticipation of all the experiences God has for us and press forward in faithful determination to receive the prize before us. May God richly bless you.

Contact Jon at [email protected]

Hartsville Rehab honors November employee of month

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Hartsville Health and Rehab announced Lucy Seelow, LPN – Assistant Director of Nursing, as its November 2019 Employee of the Month.

Ms. Seelow has the distinct honor of being employed the longest of any staff member at the facility.

Lucy moved from upstate New York to Hartsville in 1982, purchasing a house directly across the street from the nursing center.

“What makes it worth it all to be here 37 years?” asked Director of Nursing Christine Murray, Lucy’s supervisor. “The residents. They just come up with something special and make it feel all worthwhile.”

“God shows me that I am supposed to be here,” Seelow added.

Hartsville Health and Rehab is a 95-bed skilled nursing facility providing Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy services in addition to offering specialized nursing, respite care, and hospice services since 1988.

Javin Cripps to seek election as circuit court judge

Assistant District Attorney Javin Cripps has announced his candidacy for 15th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge.

Cripps is a lifelong Smith County resident with experience handling both civil and criminal cases during his 14-year career. He is proud to bring a strong work ethic and a commitment to fairness to his campaign.

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Cripps grew up on a family cattle farm between Smith and Wilson counties, where he worked every day when he wasn’t in school. On summer breaks he joined his father, a general contractor, at work. Cripps worked 30 to 40 hours per week as a construction laborer while working on his undergraduate degree at Middle Tennessee State University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2001 with a double minor in Psychology and Political Science. Before starting law school in 2002, Cripps earned his Contractor and Plumbing licenses.

Cripps is a graduate of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in Memphis. He interned for two years at the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office before joining the Holliman Law firm in Carthage. In private practice, Cripps accepted contract work for the Public Defender and handled a wide variety of civil cases such as child custody, divorce, workers’ compensation and Social Security.

In late 2006, Cripps was offered positions at both the Public Defender’s office and the District Attorney’s Office at the same time. After much deliberation, thought, and prayer, he chose to become an Assistant District Attorney. Since that time he has worked in every county in the 15th Judicial District, practicing in Macon County for the last five years.

“I am proud to be a part of this community, and that is why I chose to serve here,” said Cripps. “I have built relationships with the people and with the legal and law enforcement communities in every county in this district. Over the years, I have prosecuted every type of case from speeding to first degree murder.”

Cripps has been married for two years. His wife, Melanie, is a Chiropractor in Carthage. He shares custody of his two daughters, both honor students and athletes at Union Heights. Together they have the gift of a unique blended family.

“Their mother and I co-parent very efficiently and effectively,” Cripps explained. “Part of the job of a circuit court judge is to help families navigate the process of becoming co-parents, and I have now experienced that process as an attorney and as a father. I can bring a level of understanding and insight that families who go through this difficult transition often need.”

Cripps wants voters to know that he is determined, dedicated, and ready to serve. He appreciates your support in the Republican primary, which will be held in March 2020.

Drug Court holds graduation ceremony

The 15th Judicial District Drug Court Program recently held a Drug Court graduation on Friday, Dec. 13, with the Honorable John Wootten, Jr. presiding. This was the second graduation for the program this year, with five participants successfully completing the program’s rigid requirements.

In addition to recognizing the accomplishments of the graduates, Judge Wootten introduced the Honorable Brody Kane, Criminal Court Judge for the 15th Judicial District. Judge Kane will become the presiding Drug Court Judge with the retirement of Judge Wootten. The Drug Court program started in 2002 and is designed to combine treatment and intensive supervision for non-violent felony offenders who have had contact with the courts as a result of drug or alcohol abuse.

These recent graduates are all employed full time, have suitable long-term housing, and have been compliant with supervision and screening requirements. Perhaps most importantly, these participants have maintained a clean and sober lifestyle for at least the last 18 to 24 months. The goal of the program is to break the cycle of reincarceration. Judge Wootten contributes the program’s success to the hard work of each individual participant, as well as the Drug Court team.

Drug Court members include: Judge John Wootten, Jr; Assistant District Attorney General Jimmy Lea; District Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner; Senior Director of Volunteer Mental Health Nathan Miller; Kristine Seay with Cumberland Mental Health; State Probation Officer with the Board of Probation and Parole Bethany Hill; DVOP Mr. Peter Pritchard with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; former Drug Court Graduate Logan Rosson; Drug Court Coordinator Jeff E. Dickson; Sr. Case Manager Paula Langford; Case Manager Shelly Allison; Case Manager Alisha Harrell; and Misdemeanor Probation officer Tyler Stanfield.

The 15th Judicial District Drug Court program serves Wilson, Trousdale, Macon, Jackson, and Smith counties and has seen much success during the past nearly 17 years.

Trousdale Turner takes steps to keep contraband out

CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center was taking extra steps to keep contraband out of its Hartsville facility by constructing a new interior fence.

Social media reports last week stated that inmates reportedly cut a section of wire at the facility to retrieve packages of contraband tossed over the fence.

When contacted by The Vidette for comment, spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist issued the following statement:

“TTCC is constructing an interior control fence in a specific location (known for contraband being tossed into the facility) to help prevent the inmate population from accessing the area. Last week, an inmate was found in this area attempting to unravel the fence (with his hands.) He was unsuccessful and the contraband was confiscated by TTCC staff.”

Gilchrist further stated that the control fence was completed over the weekend.

Visitors to the prison are routinely searched and the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office also patrols around the prison

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