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Looking Back: Pandemics affected early Native Americans too

With all the disruption that the coronavirus has managed to create, it is a fitting subject this month to discuss pandemics.

While we would have rather discussed something like fishing, which we will do next month, this is a topic that has quite a lengthy history!

The Bible has tales of vicious illnesses that, according to who is telling the story, have been sent down from the heavens to punish mankind or to save God’s chosen people.

Because people in the past did not understand viral infections, these deadly diseases were called plagues. Ancient history is full of them.

A plague could devastate a city or a conquering army.

Submitted photo
Native Americans occupied Middle Tennessee for over 10,000 years, as this grave attests. It was found on the site of the Hartsville Nuclear Plant.

But we will stick to the history of Trousdale County and in that respect, we can travel back around 500 years.

When Columbus discovered America, he found a land that had been isolated from the rest of the world for a very long time. As a result, the people were different, the wild animals were different, the plants and vegetation were different.

And the diseases were different.

The Native Americans had never suffered mumps, measles or the even deadlier smallpox.

The men of the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria were quick to share these with the native populations of the Caribbean and the New World.

We don’t have numbers because the first Americans had no written language and left no books or newspapers. But they did leave their abandoned villages.

It is suspected that as much as three-quarters of the native population of the Americas would die from these new diseases.

We do know this – in the late 1700s when the first white settlers arrived here in what is now Trousdale County, there were no Native Americans living here.

But there were plenty of vacant villages – villages that had not been lived in for over a hundred years.

Those early peoples, the Mound Builders, had suddenly vanished.

Their empty huts and towns showed no signs of warfare or fire or natural disaster. They stood as if the people had just gotten up one day and left.

Historians generally agree that the people who once lived in the simple mud and stick villages likely suffered a pandemic – one much more deadly than the pandemic we are now experiencing.

They had no clue as to what caused these illnesses, nor were they able to cure them. People either lived or died, and many more died than lived.

It is suspected that the people who survived the onslaught of disease were too few to maintain their way of life and left, or they may have associated the sickness with the villages themselves and fled them seeking safer places to dwell.

We do know that new tribes emerged in the years after this great dying off.

One of those tribes was the Cherokee, who kept Middle Tennessee as a hunting ground but not as a place to dwell.

A legend of the Cherokee that tells of their creation as a people is that they emerged from a hole in the earth.

Fifty years ago when I first moved to Trousdale County, a local fellow showed me a cave down by the Cumberland River. It was big enough to have bats and had a crude ladder made out of sticks to climb further back into its depths.

The fellow told me that his ancestors had once lived in this cave to escape an outbreak of yellow fever that had hit Hartsville, because the town was full of dying people and they were trying to get away from them.

I recall that story every time I read the Cherokee story of creation. Maybe they too fled to caves and emerged only when the disease seemed to be gone.

In any case, anywhere from 400 to 500 years ago, Trousdale County had its first pandemic. There would be more to come!

Trousdale sales tax collections rise slightly during April

Trousdale County’s sales tax collections saw a slight increase in April despite the state-ordered shutdown of many businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The monthly collection report by the state’s Department of Finance showed Trousdale County collecting $319,031.36 in state sales tax and $123,307.83 in local option sales tax during April. Both were up respectively from $317,868.10 and $106,792.90 in April 2019.

Trousdale County also took in $25,577 in income tax, $26,195.82 in motor vehicle tax, $27,025.77 in realty transfer & mortgage tax and $17,545.22 in business tax during April.

Sumner and Wilson counties each saw drops in their overall sales tax collections as compared to the previous April. Sumner County’s state sales tax collections were down nearly $550,000, but local option collections were up by almost $400,000. In Wilson County, state sales tax was down over $1 million in April, while local sales tax was up almost $160,000.

Statewide, sales tax collections fell from $814.7 million in April 2019 to $765.7 million in April 2020, a 6.01 percent drop. Apparel and accessory stores statewide saw a 45.16 percent drop in sales tax collections, auto dealers and service stations saw a 15.63 percent drop and eating & drinking places saw a 29.49 percent drop during April.

Building materials saw a 12.85 percent increase in sales tax collections during April, while food stores saw a 24.53 percent spike in collections.

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

Trousdale unemployment hits 12.2% in April

Statistics released last week by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show a staggering increase in unemployment for each of Tennessee’s 95 counties in April as many businesses closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The unprecedented and historic spike in unemployment impacted some counties more drastically than others, but no area of Tennessee escaped the pandemic’s effect on the state’s workforce.

Trousdale County reported a jobless rate of 12.2 percent, a 9.3 percent increase from the 2.9 percent March rate.

Among neighboring counties, Macon was at 13.9 percent, Wilson was at 14 percent, Smith 14.3 percent and Sumner at 14.8 percent.

Fayette County had Tennessee’s lowest unemployment rate in April. At 9.4 percent, the county’s rate increased by 6.1 percentage points when compared to its revised March rate of 3.3 percent.

Weakley County had the second-lowest unemployment rate for the month at 9.6 percent, followed by Hardeman County at 9.7 percent.

Fayette, Weakley, and Hardeman were the only counties in the state with unemployment rates below 10 percent in April.

Sevier County recorded Tennessee’s highest unemployment rate for the month. The county’s new jobless figure of 29.5 percent represents a staggering spike of 26 percentage points when compared to its revised March rate of 3.5 percent.

Neighboring Cocke County had the second-highest jobless rate in April at 25.6 percent, a 20.9 percentage point increase from the previous month. Grundy County ranked third with a rate of 25.3 percent, which is a 21.1 percentage point spike when compared to March.

When comparing Tennessee’s three largest cities, Nashville had the highest unemployment rate in April. The city’s rate of 15.9 percent is a 13.5 percentage point increase over its revised March rate of 2.4 percent. Memphis recorded a rate of 14.3 percent, a spike of 10.1 percentage points from the previous month, and Knoxville’s April rate of 14.7 percent is an 11.8 percentage point jump.

Statewide, unemployment reached a historic high in April. The seasonally adjusted rate of 14.7 percent surpassed the previous all-time high figure of 12.9 percent in January 1983.

Unlike the statewide unemployment rate, county unemployment statistics are not seasonally adjusted.

Jack McCall: The tale of my lost dog

We have two farm dogs in our operation. Both are Australian Shepherds. The male is named “Quick” (we call him “Quick Dog”).

Quick Dog is predominately white in color with pale blue eyes. He has a Type A personality. He also, like a cat, has nine lives. Quick Dog has fallen out of, or off, the bed of a pickup truck on many occasions. One day he fell out of a truck traveling at 65 miles per hour. Through the rearview mirror, the driver observed him doing summersaults down the center line of the highway. He was knocked out cold. He regained consciousness at the local veterinarian’s office. Except for a skinned-up nose, he appeared not to be seriously injured. After three or four days of pain medication he was back to normal.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

On a few occasions he has fallen out of the truck unbeknownst to the driver. I have helped search for Quick Dog in the general vicinity of where he might be on a number occasions. He always showed up sooner or later.

Our other dog is a female named “Patsy.” She is salt-and-pepper in color with searching, sky-blue eyes. Patsy is a Type B personality, and she is frightfully shy.

The very first time Patsy rode in the back of a pickup she fell off the flatbed and suffered a broken leg. Patsy does not like to ride in the back of a truck.

Up until a few weeks ago, Quick Dog and Patsy resided in a nice enclosure constructed with 16-foot cattle panels. Each enjoyed a nice doghouse. Inside their pen stood a mammoth hackberry tree which provided splendid spring and summer shade.

I had noticed during this past winter the aging hackberry was showing signs of vulnerability. Fully thirty inches in diameter, it appeared to have become hollow about 10 feet above the ground. I remember thinking it might fall any day. Well, it did.

Three weeks ago as a storm front passed through, a powerful straight wind brought the big tree down in the middle of the night. I can hardly imagine the sound it made as it crashed to the ground destroying half the dog pen and flattening a nearby metal storage building.

The next morning we found Quick Dog anxiously waiting for someone to return. Patsy was nowhere to be found. I suspected, in her frightened state, she might have run for miles. We called all the neighbors and posted her photo on Facebook. Days passed, no Patsy. On the fourth day word came that someone had spotted her across the river on Highway 241S. Our son, Joseph, kept insisting, “She’ll show back up.” I was beginning to wonder.

On the eighth day after her disappearance, while being driven to gymnastics class in Lebanon, two of our granddaughters spotted Patsy on Highway 241 near Centerville. Fortunately my wife, Kathy, and friend, Sissy Harper, were en route to Lebanon as well – a half-mile behind. Kathy thought she was seeing a deer crossing the road.

“That looks like your dog!” Sissy exclaimed, as she directed her car to the roadside.

That’s when I received a call.

“Does your dog have a tail?” were the first words I heard over the phone. (Not the kind of call you receive every day.) I had to think for a moment.

“Yes!” I said.

“We found your dog! Get here as quickly as you can,” she said, as she gave me an approximate location.

I jumped in my car and sped to the scene. When I arrived, Kathy was out of the car trying to coax Patsy to come closer, as Patsy was easing away.

That little dog was a sight for sore eyes.

“Heh, Pats!” I called. She turned and came back to me. I gently picked her up and loaded her into my car. She appeared no worse for wear, although she did smell like a dog that had been on the run for eight days.

More on this dog tale next week.

Trousdale Elementary recognizes perfect attendance

Trousdale County Elementary School recognizes the following students who had perfect attendance for the third nine weeks of the 2019-20 school year.

Kindergarten: Samuel Dunn Jr., Henry Holder, Kollin Payne, Anniston Martin, Alenei Allen, Landon Buckmaster, Blair de Pool, Lainey Weske, Koben Gregory, Trinity Linville, Braylon Morgan, Amelia Olds, Katelyn Slagle, Avery Sullivan, Turner Dillehay

First Grade: Kendra Adcock, Jaycie Affourtit, Beau Carey, KateLynn Harper, Rylon Rivera, Kylee Whittaker, Melany Barragan-Cesarez, Kylie Brennan, Atziry Garcia-Jimenez, Lena McCall, Mia Mitchell, Ximena Salas, Faith Shepard, Emma Trosclair, Madisyn Affourtit, Sophia Calhoun, Thomas Campbell, Hayes Gulley, Jeremiah Navarro, Noah Satterfield, Everly Weske, Emma-Lynn Barrett, Jacob Chapman, Kadence Muirhead, Sophia Ricketts, Aurorah Williams, Layla Ankenbauer, Jackson German, Tidus Eatherly, Alex Hawks Reynolds, Khrmun Locke, Emmy Sanchez, Noah Scruggs, Jax Sexton

Second Grade: McKenzie Drown, Karson Fisher, Halie Gammon, Raquel Sanchez, Emily Valladares, Braylea Morgan, Trentin Dennis, Cam Bullock, Brady Delaney, Aiden Dorris, Daksh Patel, Layne Pilewicz, Morgan West, Noah Draper, Tayden Harper, Dakota Long, Corbin McDaniel, Liliana Salas, Lucero Salas, Kealy Sanders, Nicolas Tillman

Third Grade: Allie Anderson, Kayson Brennan, Kinsley Calhoun, Rowan Frizzell, Jackson Gray, Grenci Patel, Brentson White, Kinzley Bergdorf, Matthew Chambers, Kaiden Nelson, Aiden Ring, Aliyah Sanders, Jacksyn Shatswell, Ke’Mora Sides, Khloe Cunningham, Jane McCall, Leresa Scott, Alyssa Sullivan, Brylee Stovall, Diezel Bilbrey, Jackson Booker, Mallory Dies, Krysten Fuchs, Khloe Jewell, William Shepard, Marin Arkle, Jackson Carey, Levi Gilbreth, Mollie Holder, Hadley White

Fourth Grade: Cooper Batey, Isabella Brewster, Julie Juarez, Melissa Mendoza, Bryson Morgan, Addysyn Spangler, Sophia Waterhouse, Madilyn Wills, Audrey Barton, Madyson Carmen, Heath Gulley, Samara Herrington, Kembrey Lee, Max Morton, Donovan Pickett, Madeline Wilson, Ava Cothron, Eli Fisher, Grayson Perkins, Johnny Russell, Jose Sanchez, Mackenzi Shahan, Belicia Timberlake, Isabella Timberlake, Alan Arruebarrena, James Chambers, Nathan Knight, Charlie Sanders, James Shepard, Maxwell Linne, Madilyn Pilewicz, Caitlin Dixon, Audrey Fowler, Melvin Marshall, Colton Moore, Evan Motley-Horton, Allin Raines, Grace Shepard, Jude Williams

Fifth Grade: Alex Badru, Drew Carman, Christian Coble, Valla Holler, Marley Watkins, Madison West, Ivory Durham, Wyatt Maasen, Avalina Prevett, Isaiah Rotella, Brissa Chambers, Sam Daniel Dickerson, Jayden Giese, Katelyn Hutchison, Alexis Blair, Allison Blair, William Eicher, Triton Montoya

IMPACThought: Responding to the invitation of Jesus

It was in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus made a personal appeal to the Jewish people after being rejected as Israel’s king. His appeal to the people was to, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heaven laden, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The Good Shepherd would soon lay down His life for the nation of Israel’s sins at Calvary. His love for His own people was clearly demonstrated through His benevolent works and miracles. Greater love has never been demonstrated. The great “I Am” was in their midst as the incarnate Son of God. He had come to seek and to save, to the Jew first and also the Gentile.

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

The invitation for the people to come unto Him was sincere. Jesus was the One who was able to transform a demon-possessed man into a gentle convert seeking to serve Christ. Jesus was the One who wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus and moments later raised him from the tomb, demonstrating His authority over death, hell and the grave. He was the One who asked a woman taken in adultery where her accusers were, and then released her with the affirmation that her faith had saved her. He was the One who walked on water, comforted fearful disciples and calmed the stormy seas. He was the One who taught the Sermon on the Mount that revealed the behavior of those who entered His Kingdom.

Jesus was the one who taught haughty fisherman to return to the sea and let down their nets after a futile night of fishing. It was there that the fisherman caught a supernatural amount of fish. Jesus was the One who taught a Gentile Roman centurion that his faith had healed his dying daughter. He was the One who cooked breakfast on the seashore for disciples who had fled the night of Jesus’ betrayal. To the disciple who denied Him three times, Jesus challenged his faith and recommissioned him to the ministry. Jesus was the One who rose from the grave in a demonstration of His Lordship and glory. Yes, it was Jesus who cared for His people and called them to come unto Him.

The spiritual journey in life is strenuous. Even the hardiest disciple becomes weary and heavy-laden. Jesus assures the people that He will provide them rest. While a good night’s sleep or an afternoon nap may be beneficial, the rest the Lord provides is the tranquility of the soul; a peace that passes human understanding, and comfort from the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. The gospel of grace freed the sinner from the heavy demands of the Law. The believer was set free from the legalistic demands of the Pharisees. Jesus, their Savior, set them free and provided them with eternal rest.

Jesus’ yoke was not a burden; it was a blessing. Through a relationship born by grace through faith, the Good Shepherd would lead His sheep into the paths of righteousness for His namesake. On the paths, the Good Shepherd provides green pastures in which to lie and still waters from which to drink. Goodness and mercy were provided for those who would come unto Him to the point that their cup would overflow (Psalms 23)!

The most significant component of this personal invitation was Jesus persuading the heavy-laden to come and learn of the meek and lowly Savior of the world. Jesus yearns for the weary, beaten and down trodden to learn of His love, compassion and great salvation. An unspeakable gift is offered to all who would believe on Him and receive that precious gift (John 1:12). This offer of salvation was rich and free in contrast to the legalistic standards proposed by the religious Pharisees of that day.

The world needs to learn of the meek and lowly Lamb of God, the One who came to lift the burdens of their sin and offer rest for all eternity. The world needs to learn of the Good Shepherd, who leads, comforts and provides. The world needs to learn of the Author and Finisher of their faith, who ministers grace to the sheep. The world needs the Prince of Peace who provides His followers peace amidst the anguish of the soul.

Have you responded to Jesus’ invitation? He is calling you today! Have a great week and remember, Jesus loves YOU!

Contact Jon at [email protected]

Chamber continuing Yard of Month, Photo Contests

As we move into June, don’t forget to nominate your favorite yard for the Yard of the Month contest. You can call 615-374-9243 and leave the address of the yard you are nominating – don’t be afraid to nominate your own lawn too! This monthly contest will continue all year. Thanks to our sponsors: Citizens Bank, G&L Garden Center and Wilson Bank and Trust. Our goal is to recognize the pride and hard work local citizens put into maintaining their yards and homes.

Natalie Knudsen

The deadline for submitting photos for the City Guide Photo Contest has been extended and entries are now due July 1. The Photo Contest winners will be on the front and back covers of the new City Guide. We have some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire state, so let’s show it off.

The Chamber of Commerce continues developing the City Guide – Business Directory for Hartsville and Trousdale County. The publication will be 32 pages printed in full color on heavy paper (think Wilson Living magazine). We all know the finances of businesses are uncertain right now but like the old commercial used to say, “Bad times are the best times to advertise.” Beginning in early May, businesses will be contacted by the Chamber on advertising options. Remember, one payment covers two years of advertising!

If you are a Chamber member, you will be listed in the Business Directory. If not, you still have time to join the Chamber and be included in the directory. Please email the Chamber at [email protected] for an application.

As we return to the “new normal,” your Chamber’s YouTube account is available for Chamber members to post updates about their businesses and new business practices. Please contact the Chamber at [email protected] for more information. This opportunity is offered as part of your benefits for being a Chamber member.

Your Chamber of Commerce continues to serve the community through its Facebook page. Don’t forget to check out Hartsville-Trousdale Chamber of Commerce on Facebook for important state and federal coronavirus updates including links to: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers; Governor Lee’s daily press conference; the Tennessee Department of Health’s updated statistics on the coronavirus by county and more, information on reopening across the state and much more.

The Chamber is working to return to its monthly Community Chamber of Commerce meetings. Please listen to WTNK and check out the Chamber’s Facebook page for announcements concerning our next meeting on June 9.

SNAP benefits can be used online at Amazon, Walmart

Tennesseans who utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to feed their families now have a new resource to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Tennessee for a pilot program that allows SNAP benefits to be used to buy food online with Amazon and Walmart.

SNAP recipients were able to use their benefits to buy food on Amazon beginning June 1, 2020. Walmart began accepting SNAP benefits statewide on June 2. The USDA has additionally announced plans to expand online purchasing to more retailers in the future.

Families can access this new resource by entering their Electronic Benefit Card (EBT) information on Amazon’s SNAP-dedicated website or by following the guidelines Walmart has established for SNAP online purchasing. More than 900,000 individuals in Tennessee receive SNAP benefits.

“This change provides families who depend on SNAP for daily nutrition the ability to buy food without ever stepping foot in a supermarket.” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “Online purchasing supports our mission to build a thriving Tennessee by helping flatten the curve during COVID-19 and making life easier for families once the emergency has passed.”

Tennessee is now one of 36 states where online purchasing is allowed in addition to the District of Columbia. SNAP benefits cannot be used for delivery fees and SNAP recipients who receive cash benefits on their EBT cards will not be able to apply those non-SNAP benefits to online purchases.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutritional assistance benefits to children and families, the elderly, the disabled, unemployed and working families. SNAP helps supplement monthly food budgets of families with low-income to buy the food they need to maintain good health and allow them to direct more of their available income toward essential living expenses. TDHS staff determines the eligibility of applicants based on guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The primary goals of the program are to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and to improve nutrition and health in eligible households. TDHS has a dual focus on alleviating hunger and establishing or re-establishing self-sufficiency.

Tennessee announces $200M in aid for small business

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced Tuesday a new relief program for Tennessee businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Department of Revenue directly to small businesses that qualify.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created immense economic pain across our state and especially among small businesses that faced temporary closure,” said Gov. Lee. “As we responsibly steward our federal stimulus money we have worked to quickly prioritize our small businesses and I thank the work of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for their partnership in this.”

The Tennessee Business Relief Program amounts awarded will be based on the annual gross sales of the business. More details will be posted on the Department of Revenue’s website in the coming days.

Roughly 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify, with more than 73 percent of those businesses earning annual gross sales of $500,000 or less.

The following types of small businesses are eligible under the program:

Barber shops; beauty shops; nail salons; tattoo parlors, spas, and other personal care services; gyms and fitness centers; restaurants; bars; hotels and other travel accommodations; theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and similar facilities; museums, zoos, and other similar attractions; amusement parks; bowling centers and arcades; marinas; amusement, sports and recreational industries; promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events; agents and managers of artists, athletes, and entertainers; and independent artists, writers, and performers.

In addition, the following small businesses are eligible if their sales were reduced by at least 25 percent, as shown on their April sales tax returns (filed in May):

Furniture stores; home furnishing stores; clothing stores; shoe stores; jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores; sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores; book stores; department stores; office supply, stationery and gift stores; and used merchandise stores.

Looking Back: Nathan J. Harsh took charge and got bridge built

This week we finish up our series on local bridges by looking at a big bridge at the other end of the county – the Nathan J. Harsh Memorial Bridge.

The bridge crosses the Cumberland River and connects Trousdale County and Wilson County at a bluff known as Hunter’s Point.

It too has an interesting history.

Like Hartsville’s Coleman Winston Bridge it began as a ferry, allowing people to cross the river at a spot that was way too deep to wade across.

The Hunter’s Point ferry served its purpose for over a century, like our own Lowe’s ferry just out of town.

Submitted photo
This is a drawing of the Nathan J. Harsh Bridge as it looked when it was built in the early 1930s. A modern concrete bridge replaced this steel and wood structure in the 1990s.

With the coming of automobiles and increased traffic, it was just a matter of time before a big modern bridge would be built. But new bridges were expensive and every town and its brother were wanting one.

It took just the right people and the right circumstances for it to all come together.

We start with the late Nathan J. Harsh.

A successful farmer who lived just up the road from the Hunter’s Point ferry, Harsh saw the need for a bridge.

According to his grandson, current County Commissioner Richard Harsh, his grandfather had purchased a car and learned to drive but was always a little nervous when he had to drive onto the ferry.

The road to the ferry had a steep descent on both sides.

Nathan Harsh had grown up riding horses and driving a team and wagon. So driving a car was like teaching an old dog a new trick.

Even so he persisted, but one day he almost drove off the end of the ferry.

Richard says that put him into action.

Nathan J. Harsh got his neighbors to sign a petition to the state to build a bridge at Hunter’s Point and he took it to Austin Peay.

Peay had been in the state legislature and in 1923 was elected governor. As governor, Austin Peay strengthened education and created our state Department of Highways and Public Works. He saw the benefits of improved roads to the economy of the state and was a willing person to receive the petition. Today, we have a state university named for him.

Around the same time, Richard P. Huffman won a race for the Tennessee Legislature.

Huffman was from the Rocky Creek community in Trousdale County, the very area that lay beside the Cumberland River that needed a new bridge. Huffman, called “Uncle Dick” by his neighbors in the bend of the river, also saw the need for a bridge.

As soon as Uncle Dick Huffman got elected, he pressed for the new bridge.

Now with the blessings of the governor, the petition of the people of the communities on both sides of the river, and an ‘inside’ man in the newly elected Huffman, the bridge got built.

The late Buddy Carey grew up in the Rock Creek community and wrote a small book on his childhood. In it he recalls both Mr. Harsh and Mr. Huffman.

He wrote, “I remember both of these gentlemen quite well. Mr. Harsh resembled Teddy Roosevelt and wore a Panama Hat. Uncle Dick was a bachelor who drove a Model ‘T’ Roaster and sometimes rode a grey horse named ‘Bob.’ He lived just over the hill from us.”

We have a clipping from a Nashville newspaper dated May 31, 1931. The article states, “ J.D. McMurry of Hartsville, representative of the 14th floterial district, has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives asking that the toll bridge across Hunter’s Point be named the Nathan J. Harsh bridge. Mr. Harsh is one of the most prominent landowners of this community. He was one of the leaders to secure the location of the bridge at Hunter’s Point.”

Notice that the bridge was a toll bridge! That’s one way to pay for a bridge!

The Wilson County court was pressing to have the bridge named for Grafton Green, a prominent citizen of that county and the chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

However, McMurry persevered and the bridge took the name of the fine old gentleman who learned to drive late in life and thanks to almost driving off into the river, pushed for a bridge – one Nathan J. Harsh.

Jack McCall: Social distancing comes to Waffle House

My wife, Kathy, and I visited Gatlinburg again a couple of weekends ago. We had anticipated our favorite motor lodge would be re-opened, but we arrived a week too early. In checking with the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce we found a list of properties which were back in business. We were able to secure suitable lodging at a reasonable price, with limited services, of course.

Kathy likes to sleep in on the first morning of a weekend getaway, so I was out early looking for breakfast on the next day. I was disappointed to find my favorite breakfast place, The Smoky Mountain Pancake House, still closed. My second choice, The Pancake Pantry, was closed as well. As a matter of fact, there was not a single sit-down breakfast restaurant open in all of Gatlinburg. Not to be outdone, I headed back to Pigeon Forge. Pickings were slim there, too. Then I happened upon a Waffle House. It was open and ready for business.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

Now, the Waffle House is a different kind of place – no fancy-spancy, no pretense, just a good honest breakfast at a reasonable price. But at the same time, the Waffle House is a “happening.”

I have decided one of the many qualifications for being a cook at the Waffle House is an excellent memory. When a waitress takes an order at the Waffle House she yells it out to the cook. It goes something like this, “Crispy bacon, 2 over medium, dry, wheat toast and a hash brown!” Then comes another order, “I need a waffle, sausage with 2 scrambled on the side!” And the orders keep on coming. You can imagine how all that sounds when everyone is wearing a mask. The cook never looked up.

The late, great author, newspaper columnist and Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard loved to eat at the Waffle House. He especially enjoyed the T-bone steak and egg breakfast that could be had there. Lewis “allowed” the best meat on a T-bone was that which laid “right up against the bone” and could not be removed with knife and fork. The only way, in his mind, to remove those last few sumptuous morsels was to pick up the T-bone and chew the meat right off the bone. He further asserted the only place you could do such without receiving funny looks from other diners was the Waffle House.

The Waffle House in Pigeon Forge was practicing social distancing as every other table was vacant. The signs on the tables not to be used were done in vivid yellow and black – the same colors displayed on the tape law enforcement uses to “rope off” crime scenes. There was no mistaking which tables were off limits.

I was sitting at a corner table, which gave me a full view of the restaurant. All available tables were occupied when a middle-aged couple entered the building. After looking around for few seconds, the couple started to seat themselves at one of the restricted tables. What happened next happened in a few split seconds. Suddenly three masked waitresses bolted out from behind the counter, shoulder to shoulder, their arms extended, their hands, palms up rotating from side to side as they cried out, in three-part harmony, “Don’t sit there, don’t sit there!!”

You would have thought that table was infested with COVID-19, 20, 21 and 22! One thing about those Waffle House folks, they enforce the rules. I enjoyed breakfast there on the next morning as well.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was still closed while we were there. That’s right, closed – closed to all traffic. I was left to wonder. How can you contract COVID-19 or for that matter, spread it, by driving through the mountains? Our government officials do some really weird and unreasonable things when policy takes precedence over sound judgment.

When I returned home I checked on the size of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 520,000 acres – 800 square miles. You would think thousands of visitors could maintain a social distance of six feet on that many acres – probably 100 yards!

Maybe I am one sandwich short of a picnic, but my mind kept taking me back to a few saying from the gold rush years of the 1800s and the days of the Old West. Maybe they closed the park because, in their minds, “There’s viruses in them thar hills!”

I still can’t get over people wearing masks while driving alone in their cars. And lately, I’m having trouble recognizing some of my friends. Just the other day I caught myself using a closing line from an episode of the Lone Ranger when I asked my wife, “Who was that masked man?!”

Sometimes, I have to laugh to keep from crying.

Keep your chin up!

Tennessee legislature to resume session next week

As Tennessee lawmakers trickle back to the state Capitol Tuesday to resume their session, the primary order of business is grappling with a projected coronavirus-created state revenue shortfall that will dictate spending cuts in both the current budget and the new one taking effect July 1.

But that’s not all the 99 House members and 33 senators in the GOP-dominated General Assembly are wrestling with. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Republican Senate speaker from Oak Ridge, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, are divided over the extent of personal health-safety protocols as well as allowing the public into the General Assembly’s home in the Cordell Hull Building and the state Capitol.

Sexton is letting the public and lobbyists come under set protocols. McNally is not, saying the public can keep up with what’s going on via the legislature’s video streaming site.

The result? The erection of barriers between House and Senate committee rooms in Cordell Hull and between House and Senate chambers in the Capitol. Visitors, who will be required to undergo temperature checks and wear state-issued masks, will be allowed on the House side but not on the Senate side.

“I think it’s going to be very awkward,” said Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, on how he sees the session proceeding. He noted that more than half the Senate members, including himself, are over 65 years old. “And some of them have some medical conditions,” added Gardenhire, who said he plans to sleep in his office instead of a hotel while in Nashville.

In a statement last week, Sexton said the House is “taking necessary precautions and safety measures to ensure the safety of our members and staff as best as we can. Our intent is for public interactions and participation in the building.”

Another area of major disagreement is what measures lawmakers should take up in the next two to three weeks after abruptly adjourning March 19 following passage of a no-increase, $39.9 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2020-21. That plan slashed Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s originally proposed spending plan by nearly $900 million in one-time and recurring expenditures.

Revenues were already falling as Tennesseans began curbing their activities even before Lee and local governments began implementing restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the virus near the end of March and on April 2. While Lee has lifted most restrictions, Tennessee like other states has lost revenues and is projected to lose far more.

McNally wants to focus on the budget, with the state facing a potential revenue shortfall of $300 million to $500 million in its current budget ending June 30. There’s also a roughly projected $900 million to $1.2 billion collapse of revenue in the new budget going into effect July 1.

McNally wants senators to focus on Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s expected recommendations.

“The Senate is committed to focusing only on items that are time sensitive, budget related or deal with the ongoing global pandemic,” McNally spokesman Adam Kleinheider said. “We are witnessing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the coronavirus. Our longstanding fiscal responsibility has left us in better shape than most states to weather this crisis.”

But the floodgates are open on legislation in the House, with some 100 or so bills and other measures awaiting action.

“The House will resume committee meetings [this] week to begin finishing up all legislative calendars,” Sexton said. “Our committees will operate in the same manner as is customary – with a focus on passing good public policy.”

The list of pending measures before the House includes a controversial bill that would effectively ban most abortions – the purpose is to allow Tennessee to join other GOP-led states challenging the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

There’s a National Rifle Association-backed permitless conceal-carry handgun bill that would allow Tennesseans to go armed without background checks and fees also on the table.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and allied groups, meanwhile, are seeking restrictions on Tennessee lawsuits arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, downplayed prospects of a train wreck between the two chambers.

“This is not dissimilar from any other year where we’re at the end of the legislature,” Lamberth said, adding that the two chambers typically “go back and forth” over their differences and “it does not mean those bills may not be negotiated out.”

Asked by reporters about GOP leaders’ differences last week, Lee sought to downplay them.

“What I most agree with is the legislature really has the responsibility to set the agenda and they will do so. I’m talking with leadership in the legislature and with members,” Lee said. “As the time approaches I think those bodies will come together. We all know that the greatest importance in this agenda going forward is going to be the budget and how we address that budget, the economic downturn that’s been created.”

Hartsville Rehab honors March Employee of Month

Submitted photo

Dietary Department Cook Michelle Graves was Hartsville Health and Rehab’s March 2020 Employee of the Month.

Ms. Graves is a 27-year employee at the center, and she was honored with several co-workers present on May 14.

“Michelle is the morning cook in our department,” explained Dietary Manager Michelle Hendry. “She is knowledgeable, does her job well, and we are proud to have Michelle as part of the dietary team.”

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.

UT Extension: Store food safely to make it last

The last thing we do once we get our groceries is to make sure everything is stored and used properly. During this time of uncertainty, we do not know what the store will have in stock and how often we will even get to go. So, here are a few storage tips you can use to make sure you get the most out of your grocery store haul.

When you are refrigerating food, you want to make sure that you refrigerate your perishable items right away. In storing things in the refrigerator, you want to make sure that it is set at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You do not want it to go above that because it will cross into the danger zone.

Make sure the door on the refrigerator is closed tightly. This will help keep the things cold and the temperature the same. If the refrigerator becomes crowded, make sure that you turn the thermostat down just a tad. That way, you will be able to make sure all your items stay cold.

Moving up the refrigerator of course, you go to the freezer. All of your freezer items that you purchased at the store was handled and stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure your freezer is set on the same degree level. If you buy a big package of meat or want to freeze something, make sure you use moisture-proof packaging, such as zip-top bags and wrap. Remove all air from the bag before you seal! Store soup and stew into freezer bags, which can be placed flat. Use a permanent marker to label the bag or container you are using, volume and weight of the item, and the date when placed into the freezer. If freezer burn does occur, it doesn’t mean that it is unsafe. It is a food quality issue, not a safety issue.

Moving on to the pantry, make sure you keep all dried foods in sealed bags or containers. This helps food stays fresh and protects from pests. Keeps storage area dry and cool as well. Also, here is a list of don’ts that you want to make sure you follow when storing foods.

  • Don’t store food or drinks near cleaning products or other chemicals. Store them in a separate place.
  • Don’t use old food containers to store household chemicals. These have trapped germs and do not close well, so they tend to spoil faster.
  • Don’t store food in containers that have been used for other purposes.
  • Don’t store food on floor because it can attract mice, ants and other pests. Always keep them above counter level.
  • Don’t store food in opened tin cans.
  • Don’t reuse a can to store food.

These things can help make sure you get a long use of your grocery store haul and helps make food last longer on the shelves. If you have any more questions, please contact FCS Shelby Boyer at [email protected]

Guest View: Trousdale Medical Center is safe, ready to serve

As healthcare providers, patient wellbeing is our chief concern every day of the year. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, part of how we kept our community safe was limiting elective and non-urgent procedures at Trousdale Medical Center (TMC).

Currently, the threat of COVID-19 in our community seems to be under control, allowing our community to start to re-opening and Trousdale Medical Center to begin gradually resuming these procedures.

Jennifer Holder

For some, this change is a welcome return to maintaining personal health and addressing medical issues. For others, this news may cause anxiety about safety. I’d like to address these concerns with the hope of relieving fears that might make people overly cautious about seeking care and treatment.

Expanding care – cautiously

Maintaining patient health is vital – but healthcare should never come at the cost of safety. At Trousdale Medical Center, you don’t have to decide between health and safety. Rest assured that we would not have resumed elective and non-urgent procedures if we didn’t have the resources and processes in place to do so safely. You can rely on your medical team to keep you protected while addressing your medical needs.

Throughout the pandemic, our team has been focused on conserving key resources – including personal protective equipment (PPE), beds for patients and other critical supplies. Due to our teams’ stewardship, we have adequate supplies to begin resuming certain elective procedures.

Maintaining a safe environment for all

Keeping our facilities sanitary and disinfected has always been a top priority. Now more than ever, cleanliness is imperative as we fight against infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

In addition to heightened infection prevention protocols, our environmental services team continues to implement effective cleaning and disinfecting practices throughout our hospital. When you enter our facilities, be assured that great intention has gone into maintaining cleanliness.

Enhancing safety with new protocols

As we broaden our services, things look a little different than before COVID-19. For instance, patients won’t see much of our faces due to the masks and PPE our medical staffers are wearing. While this is not ideal because connecting with our patients encourages us all, such protection is essential to keeping our patients and staff alike safe. Underneath the masks, know that there are healthcare workers who care very much about your health and wellbeing.

Along with having proper PPE, staff members are being screened daily for the virus. Patients are being screened as they enter our facilities as well, and those who haven’t brought their own masks are being issued cloth ones to wear.

We also are taking steps to limit the number of people in our facility. Out of an abundance of caution, we are maintaining a limited-visitor policy. Additionally, we are limiting patient volume for elective and non-urgent procedures, assessing the situation on a week-by-week basis.

Monitoring the situation

Ultimately, I want to reassure you that Trousdale Medical Center is constantly assessing where we are on COVID-19 and making decisions based on the most current data available. While we are confident that we have the resources and capabilities to expand services safely at this time, if at any point we determine that is no longer the case, we will immediately reverse course.

This pandemic is uncharted territory for all of us. As your local ally in healthcare, we are always seeking ways to best serve our community. In doing so, we are balancing two essential priorities: meeting the medical needs of our neighbors and mitigating the threat this virus poses.

For more information about our services and our COVID-19 policies and procedures, visit MyTrousdaleMedical.com.

Jennifer Holder, RN, is Chief Nursing Officer at Trousdale Medical Center.

IMPACThought: It’s time for the church to assemble

The COVID-19 quarantine has made many Americans realize how much they miss their church. While live streaming is available on Facebook, YouTube and ministry websites, nothing compares to assembling together to worship in your own building. Consider those church members who do not have iPhones, Internet access or computers. The gathering of the entire church family in the house of God cannot be substituted in any other platform.

Corporate praise, worship, communion, baptisms, and the preaching of the Word of God provides the spiritual food necessary for God’s people to be blessed and reenergized by the Holy Spirit of God. What about the fellowship dinners, youth groups, ministry outreach, funerals and weddings?

Submitted photo
Jon Shonebarger

The isolation we have experienced has hindered our spiritual growth, our ministry progress and the impact of the local church around the world. The family of God needs each other, as does our world. Church ministry is simply irreplaceable.

There was a return to houses of worship following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People felt a need to come together and seek God during this time of fear and uncertainty. For those of us in the gospel ministry, there were fresh opportunities to answer questions about faith and the future. Counseling and consoling filled the schedules of many pastors. While the loss of life and the destruction of property grieved us, there was a spiritual renewal that had not been seen in a long time. There was good that came forth from the bad – very similar to today.

There is a critical need for a visitation of God upon our nation today. For students of church history, we can look back at the Great Awakenings that impacted this country. The First Great Awakening occurred around 1730, before this land declared her independence from Great Britain. That mighty move of the Spirit of God forged faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in its citizens. It also laid a foundation for America to be established as a Christian nation, documented by our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence.

The Second Great Awakening occurred at the end of the 18th century. Great revivals were seen and churches were formed from the evangelistic fervor. The zeal to expand westward by circuit riding preachers can be attributed to this period. Both of these “great awakenings” brought genuine repentance of sin from multitudes of people and their humble pursuit of Almighty God in faith. Both awakenings impacted our land.

It is now another crucial time in American history. There is division in our political parties. We are still battling a health pandemic. Thousands of small businesses will not recover from the quarantine. Multitudes of people have lost their jobs. We have witnessed numerous natural disasters. Students haven’t been able to go to school. We remain in a COVID-19 protocol with social distancing. Our culture has been shipwrecked! While hopes of reopening our society is addressed, there are new warnings of another wave of the virus.

Church is essential! Our assembling together is essential. Our unity is essential. Our outreach is essential. NOW is the time for the saints of God to pray for another great awakening. This is the season for spiritual revival and a mighty move of God upon our nation. We need God! May our churches be houses of prayer in this critical time.

Have a blessed week and remember, Jesus loves YOU!

Contact Jon at [email protected]

Eligible Tennesseans can vote by mail

Eligible Tennesseans can request a ballot to vote absentee by-mail for the Aug. 6 State and Federal Primary and County General election without ever leaving their home.

“Election offices are already accepting absentee by-mail ballot requests for the August election. One of the most popular reasons to vote absentee is being 60 years or older.” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I encourage those voting absentee by-mail this year to make their request now.”

Tennessee state law provides numerous ways to vote absentee by-mail. In addition to a voter being 60 or older, other popular reasons allowed under state law to vote absentee by-mail are as follows:

  • The voter will be outside the county where they vote during the early voting period and all day on Election Day.
  • The voter or the voter’s spouse is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration
  • The voter will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror.
  • The voter is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person.
  • The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill or disabled
  • The voter will be working as a poll official.
  • The voter is a member of the military and out of the county where they vote.

For a more exhaustive list of statutory reasons to vote absentee by-mail go to GoVoteTN.com. Voters who meet a reason under Tennessee law to vote absentee by-mail can submit a written request to their local election commission by mail, fax or email.

A written request must include the voter’s name, address, Social Security Number, date of birth, address to mail the ballot to, signature and which qualifying reasons you meet to vote absentee-by-mail.

For the August election, to receive a primary ballot, you must request either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. If a party is not specified, you will only receive the general election ballot.

To submit a request by email, attach a document with all the necessary information and your scanned signature.

Requests must be received by your local election commission no later than seven days before the election. For the Aug. 6 State and Federal Primary and County General Election, complete absentee by-mail requests must be received by July 30.

“I encourage eligible Tennessee voters to take a moment to double-check that they’ve provided all of the required information and to make their request to vote absentee by-mail as soon as possible. By making sure your request is complete and sending it in early, you will not have to worry about missing the upcoming election,” said Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.

Community Help Center reopens with limited hours

The Community Help Center has reopened its thrift store with limited hours after an extended closure because of COVID-19.

The store, located at 120 E. McMurry Blvd., is open Mondays from noon-3 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Manager Tawana Flatt said the store had been closed for eight weeks and was able to reopen once three part-time employees were cleared to return to work. Those employees are paid through a federal program, the National Council on Aging.

The Help Center is not currently accepting donations of clothing or housewares because there is no way to guarantee donated items would not carry COVID-19. Financial donations are accepted, Flatt added.

The Help Center’s food pantry is open during store hours by appointment only. To make an appointment, call the Center at 615-374-2904.

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

Looking Back: How the Coleman Winston Bridge came to be

The photo for last week’s article was unfortunately left out of the Vidette. However, the old Coleman Winston Bridge is again the subject of our article and can be seen in this week’s photo.

The Coleman Winston Bridge has an interesting history.

Winston, whom we have written about before, was a prosperous local businessman and an executive with the Wrought Iron Range Company, makers of the popular Home Comfort stove. The huge, heavy cast-iron cooking stoves were a big improvement over preparing meals in an open fireplace and soon every home in America was using them.

Not only was he financially successful, but Winston was very much involved with the town of Hartsville and the people in it – his neighbors and friends.

Submitted photo
The wooden understructure of the old Coleman Winston Bridge can be seen in this photo taken from the site of our county’s water plant. The bridge was less than 50 years old when it was torn down.

He and his wife, Gertrude, had four daughters and as parents they were always involved with the public school system.

Coleman Winston was one of the leaders of the group of parents pushing for the construction of a new high school in 1918 and he was also instrumental in the organizing of our first Parent Teachers Association.

His daughter, Virginia, told me that she and her sisters would ride a buggy into town to attend school. Once there they would tie the horse and buggy up for the day, to await their return trip home. But her father was aware that most students walked and made a point of telling the school principal that if any student got sick at school and needed to go home, that the family buggy was to be used for that purpose!

Now back to the bridge.

Before it was built, less than 100 years ago, there was a ferry that crossed the river.

A ferry was not without its problems.

The late Jack Key told me an incident from his childhood. He and his family were going to Lebanon and drove up to the ferry in time to see the river full of cattle.

It seems that a farmer was taking a small herd of cows to market and had them loaded onto the ferry. But once it was in midstream, a dog that belonged to someone else on the ferry began barking and spooked the cows off one end and into the river.

Cows can swim, although they are not keen on the idea.

After the accident involving the public schoolteacher that we wrote about last week, there was a call from the people of Trousdale County for a modern bridge.

Coleman Winston was one of the leaders of this group as well. When the bridge was built, it was named in his honor.

As you can see from this week’s photo, the bridge had a large wooden superstructure.

This was the technology of the day and time – the 1930s.

But with time those large wood beams began to age and even rot. The Tennessee Department of Transportation did a routine check in 1977 and realized that the structure was in danger of collapse. They immediately closed it down!

Replacing the wood supports was not an option, so a new concrete bridge with large earthen approaches would be built.

In the meantime, residents of the communities on the other side of the river had to find a way to get across! For a while some people would park on one side of the bridge, walk across and get into a car they kept on the Hartsville side. This was only temporary as the old bridge was quickly torn down.

The state estimated that over 900 vehicles had been crossing the bridge every day!

The large metal arches were lowered down and taken off, which was an engineering feat in itself!

Countless truckloads of rock were brought to the site, tons of concrete poured into forms and finally a ribbon cutting for the new bridge was held in February 1981.

Today, the Coleman Winston Bridge carries many more cars and trucks than people could have imagined in 1930. It remains a vital link between our county and our neighbors.

County Commission to cast first vote on 2020-21 budget

The Hartsville/Trousdale County Commission will take a first vote on the proposed 2020-21 budget at its upcoming meeting.

Commissioners will meet on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the old courthouse. Space is expected to be limited because of social distancing requirements.

Both the budget and tax levies for the General Services and Urban Services Districts will be up for first votes. The budget contains no increase in property taxes this year with rates staying at $2.4388 and $0.8753 respectively.

Courtesy of Trousdale County government

If approved, both the budget and tax levies would come up for second and third votes at the Commission’s June meeting.

Commissioners also have a resolution approving a capital outlay note of $1,049,170 for replacement of the roof at Jim Satterfield Middle School. It is expected to be a 10-year note, with the school system making the first year’s payment.

Multiple zoning issues are also on the agenda, including a change to current zoning requirements would require a solid fence no less than seven feet tall and landscaping to serve as a buffer between new and existing developments in residential and agricultural-zoned properties.

Three rezonings are up for votes. One on first reading would change a home on Broadway from commercial to residential. Two on second reading change property on Hawkins Branch Road from agricultural to residential and on Hilltop Drive from commercial to residential. Both those will require public hearings prior to the vote.

The appointment of Ken Buckmaster as chief of the Volunteer Fire Department is also expected to receive a vote Tuesday. At its April meeting, commissioners voted 13-6 to delay the matter until the public could offer comments during an open meeting. April’s meeting was held electronically.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said during Monday’s work session he hoped to have two nominees for the Board of Zoning Appeals after the resignations of Tammy Dixon and Peggy Taylor from that board.

Four budget amendments – all interfund transfers of money already allocated – are up for votes:

  • $53,982 in cleanup entries in the general fund;
  • $40,000 for a workhouse truck for the sheriff’s department;
  • $8,674 in cleanup entries in Solid Waste;
  • $30,850 in cleanup entries for the Highway Department.

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