By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

2017 is finally behind us, and what a year it was in Trousdale County! Downtown Hartsville is growing and revitalization efforts continue, and the county’s population also continues to grow, with many new faces showing up in our community. There was plenty of news to be found in Hartsville, and here is a look back at the past year.


· The Gallatin Gun Club signed a contract to purchase land and move its facility to the northern part of Trousdale County, off Highway 231. Area residents launched an online petition to stop the move, citing noise and traffic concerns. The deal eventually fell through after a land survey showed the proposed site did not fit the club’s stated needs.

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· Leah Verville was sworn in as the county’s Register of Deeds, replacing Mary Holder, who retired after almost 40 years in office. Verville was appointed by the County Commission to hold the seat through the August 2018 election.

· The National Football Foundation’s Middle Tennessee Chapter announced that it would honor football coaches Jim and Clint Satterfield with its Roy Kramer Contribution to Football Award. The award was jointly presented to Clint and Jim’s widow, Eleanor, at a March banquet.

· Trousdale County’s Jake Gregory was named to the TNHighSchoolFootball.com All-State team as an offensive lineman following his 2016 sophomore season.

· Winter made a brief visit on Friday, Jan. 6 with a snowstorm that dropped about an inch of snow and forced schools to close at 9 a.m.

· Trey Park’s playground reopened after a nearly two-month closure to allow for the replacement of equipment and work to resolve drainage issues in the park.

· State Senator Ferrell Haile was appointed as Deputy Speaker of the Tennessee Senate.

· Gov. Bill Haslam announced his proposed IMPROVE Act to raise gas taxes and use the money to fund a backlog of transportation needs across the state, including two projects in Trousdale County. Haslam would later visit Lebanon and Carthage as part of a statewide tour to promote the plan.

· The County Commission approved a $250,000 Capital Projects Fund for use as needed in the county.



· Tri-County Electric joined efforts to promote legislation that would allow electric cooperatives in Tennessee to provide broadband service. The legislation eventually passed and Tri-County announced plans to wire most of Trousdale County within an estimated three-year timespan.

· The Trousdale County Health Department announced it would provide free flu vaccinations to any county resident.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its first annual Father-Daughter Dance at the Community Center. Tickets sold out quickly with a near-overflow crowd on hand for the event. The date for this year’s event has not been set as of yet.

· County Mayor Carroll Carman gave his “State of the County” address to the Chamber of Commerce, in which he highlighted a new county administration building and community center, as well as a new sewer plant and water line upgrades.

· Trousdale County High School held its basketball Homecoming, with Austin Ford being crowned king and Jamey McKoin queen.

· The Trousdale County Fair was named second runner-up in the A Division at the Tennessee Association of Fairs Convention, winning an award for the second time in three years.

· Keller’s Restaurant and Keller’s Bar & Grill each began liquor sales on Feb. 3, after voters passed a liquor-by-the-drink referendum by 51 votes in November 2016. The two sites are the only ones in Trousdale County so far to serve liquor.

· Wilson Bank & Trust celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Hartsville branch.

· A Hartsville woman, Alisha Mondoni, was among two killed in a shooting in Macon County. Two men were later arrested and are facing charges of first-degree murder.

· Hartsville’s TCAT campus launched a new Certified Nurse Technician class at its Lebanon campus.

· Haley’s Hearts Foundation held its seventh annual Chili Supper and Winter Carnival as one of its two annual fundraisers. At the time, the event brought in nearly $16,000 to help those with congenital heart defects.



· Trousdale County’s basketball teams saw their seasons end in the quarterfinals of the Region 4-A tournament. The girls finished with a 9-18 record, while the boys finished 11-19. It was the first time since 2013 that both TCHS teams advanced to regional play.

· State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, whose district includes Trousdale County, said she would not support the IMPROVE Act.

· Trousdale County Elementary School held its first National Reading Day event, inviting community leaders (including myself) to come and read to students.

· Trousdale County High School went on lockdown on March 2 after a reported online threat that was later shown to be false. The online activity was determined to have taken place from a school computer.

· Rob Atwood won the 140-pound weight class AAU state wrestling title in the juniors (ages 10-11) division.

· Fifth-grader Willow Jones was the state winner in the Tennessee Tar Wars poster contest. Students in the competition designed anti-tobacco posters. Jones’ winning entry was to be used as a T-shirt and billboard design.

· Taylor Simmons was crowned as 2017 Miss Trousdale, with Hannah Hailey claiming honors as 2017 Jr. Miss Trousdale.

· TCAT and TCHS announced plans to create a Mechatronics program to allow students to delve into design, manufacture and maintaining electronic products. TCAT received a state grant of almost $950,000 to fund the project.

· Hartsville residents reported a number of fake IRS calls demanding payments of bogus tax bills. Officials reminded the public that the IRS will never make such calls.

· The County Commission approved funding for the building of a skate park to give local youth a safe place to ride and get them off city streets. The park opened later in the summer.



· Trousdale County had the fourth-highest rate of population growth in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population grew by 5.2 percent from April 1, 2010 through July 1, 2016, the dates covered by the survey.

· Bailey Hines was crowned as Miss Trousdale Elementary, while Whitney Dansby was crowned as the 2017 Fairest of the Fair for Trousdale County.

· Blair Leibach, then warden at Hartsville’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, addressed the issues the facility endured since its 2016 opening at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Leibach, who was replaced during the summer by Russell Washburn, said things were “settling down” at TTCC.

· The Hartsville Little League held its annual Rally Day, opening its 2017 season.

· TCHS and the Chamber of Commerce held the third annual Career Day, with juniors and seniors meeting with representatives from over 20 businesses and employers.

· The Trousdale County Planning Commission proposed changes to the county’s regulations on gun ranges in light of the controversy over January’s Gallatin Gun Club proposal. The changes were eventually approved by the County Commission.

· Commissioners also approved a $1.869 million bid for the renovation of the remaining portion of the old Co-op building into a criminal justice center. Construction on the project began shortly thereafter and the center is expected to open sometime this month.

· The IMPROVE Act passed the state legislature, and officials expected a boost of over $443,000 annually to Trousdale County once fully implemented.



· Trousdale County Schools received a Read to be Ready grant to expand its summer reading program over the next three years. The grant allowed for 25 students to participate, with the schools identifying the students.

· TCHS senior Wiley Barton signed a baseball scholarship with Cumberland University.

· The annual Mud Volleyball Tournament raised funds for scholarships for TCHS seniors, while Seed Morton’s annual Car, Truck & Bike Show raised over $1,500 for Relay For Life.

· The TCHS football team held its Lift-a-thon, with junior Xavian Seay winning for highest combined total with 1,130 pounds.

· Logan Hewitt tossed a no-hitter and struck out 17 batters for the Yellow Jackets baseball team in a district tournament play-in game against Red Boiling Springs. The baseball team finished with a 9-16 record, while the softball team finished 0-13. The JSMS baseball and softball teams finished with respective records of 6-4-1 and 12-3.

· A Saturday afternoon fire on May 13 destroyed the old tobacco warehouse on White Oak Street and caused power outages throughout Hartsville as the heat melted power lines and ruined a transformer. The abandoned building had been quarantined after inhabitants were reportedly caught making methamphetamine on site.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its most successful golf tournament to date, netting around $8,500 after expenses. Nineteen teams participated in the event as Long Hollow Golf Course.

· A public meeting allowed Hartsville residents to look at proposed plans for the Main Street Streetscape project, which will rework the area from the Post Office to River Street. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2018.

· TCHS bid farewell to 94 graduating seniors from the Class of 2017, who totaled over $2 million in scholarships, grants and awards.



· Tri-County Electric officially announced its plans to wire Trousdale County for broadband after passage of state legislation allowing such a move. Work began late in 2017 and is expected to be completed over a three-year span.

· Trousdale County held its Relay For Life event to raise funds to fight cancer as part of the American Cancer Society’s campaign.

· NCTC held a groundbreaking on its own broadband project in Trousdale County, which will serve roughly 8.4 miles in the northern end of the county. The project was to be completed by year’s end and was funded through a federal grant.

· School Board member David Crabtree was charged with criminal trespass and vandalism after reportedly breaking into the home of his father. Crabtree, who had failed to attend a board meeting in over a year at that time, had moved out of county.

· A rockslide on Highway 25 near Carthage closed that section of road so repairs could be made. Delays in the project kept that portion of highway closed until late December.

· The Budget & Finance Committee rejected County Mayor Carroll Carman’s original budget proposal, which included a 5 percent raise for county employees. A revised budget later received commissioners’ approval that provided for bonuses rather than raises and kept a discount for early payment of property taxes.

· A sewer line break near Highway 141 caused sewage to be dumped into the Cumberland River and forced the Water Board to approve an emergency repair. The line in question was said to have been in place since the 1970s and had badly decayed.

· Hartsville’s Community Pregnancy Center opened its doors on June 19 after a grand opening ceremony. The center provides classes and support for expectant mothers in the area.

· Local magician Alan Fisher was invited to participate in a magic convention on Louisville, where he earned an invitation to the World Grand Championships, which will take place in South Korea in the summer of 2018.

· The Christmas For Kids cake walk raised over $2,100 for the organization, which provides clothes and gifts for underprivileged children in Trousdale County.

· Ryan Sleeper was named the boys basketball coach at TCHS following the resignation of Chip Sparkman, who left to take a job at La Vergne. TCHS also hired Scott Booth to serve as defensive coordinator of the football team.

· WSMV-Channel 4 ran a series of heavily critical stories on CoreCivic’s Hartsville prison, interviewing former staff and citing lack of transparency, reports on mishandling of medical issues with inmates, staffing problem and gang activity.

· Jerry Helm retired as general manager of the Water Department after 11 years of service in that role.



· Trousdale County held its annual Fourth of July event in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Hartsville’s recognition as a town by the state legislature. Over 50 vendors were in the park after the parade and the community turnout was much stronger than in recent years.

· State Rep. Judd Matheny visited Hartsville as part of his campaign for U.S. Congress in 2018. Matheny is seeking the seat currently held by Diane Black, who has announced a run for governor this year. Black officially announced her candidacy in August.

· “Yellow Jacket Rocks” became a local fad, with painted rocks turning up across the county. The idea mimics the “615 Rocks” promotion and was the brainchild of 10-year-old Emily Brown.

· A Dixon Springs man was charged with aggravated assault in connection with a shooting in Lebanon.

· Wilson Bank & Trust was named one of the top workplaces in Middle Tennessee for the third year in a row in a survey sponsored by The Tennessean.

· Jennifer Holder was named Chief Nursing Officer at Trousdale Medical Center, while local nursing student Megan Jones received the Credo Award, presented for outstanding performance while serving an internship at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

· Eighth-grader Mason Maddox competed for the second straight year at the Quarterback Academy’s Dual Skills QB Competition, which invites players from across the country.

· TCHS and JSMS announced they would join the elementary school in providing free breakfast and lunch to all students beginning with the 2017-18 school year. A federal program allows low-income districts that meet certain criteria to provide free meals to all students.

· Razors Barbershop closed its doors on July 29 as owner Justin Hallum opted to move to Lebanon in order to be closer to family.

· The school system announced that it would end the “Power Wednesday” concept in favor of “Power Friday,” also moving from late start to early dismissal on those days in order to optimize time for teacher development.



· The annual Trousdale County Fair brought a good crowd from Aug. 3-5 and featured returning events such ‘Family Feud’ and a LEGO contest, as well as new events that included a concert by the Rode West band and a cash giveaway.

· The annual Kids Count study rated Trousdale 48th among Tennessee’s 95 counties in terms of child wellbeing. Education, however, rated second statewide in the report.

· The Charter Review Committee took up proposed charter amendments to allow for the removal of elected officials who fail to attend meetings on a regular basis. The amendments are expected to be up for approval by the County Commission beginning in January, and if passed would go before the voters in August.

· A Hartsville man was acquitted of a homicide charge in Macon County after being found not guilty by reason of insanity. James David Rentfro was ordered held at a mental health facility pending evaluation and further hearings.

· Hundreds of people descended on Hartsville for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 as Trousdale County was nearly dead center along the visible path through North America. County schools took students to the football field and provided eclipse glasses for viewing of the event. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in the Hartsville area was said to be 500 years ago. The Hartsville Rotary Club also sold eclipse glasses to members of the public.

· John Rose of Smith County announced that he would also seek election to the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee’s Sixth District.

· The Trousdale County Yellow Jacket football team kicked off the 2017 season with a 13-0 shutout of Smith County in the Tobacco Bowl Jamboree. The Yellow Jackets opened the regular season with a 10-7 victory over Class 6A opponent Lebanon.

· The County Commission voted to declare a vacancy on the School Board, removing David Crabtree, who had failed to attend any meeting since early 2016.

· Trousdale County’s Risey Scruggs, 95, was invited to perform with the Grand Ole Opry. Scruggs is a noted fiddler and has been playing since his boyhood days.



· Two county commissioners, Andy Jellison and Michael Satterfield, resigned their seats citing other obligations. Both had attended few Commission meetings over the previous 18 months.

· Trousdale County High School had the highest percentage of students in the state scoring as on track or mastered in Integrated Math II on the TNReady tests, the state announced. TCHS also rated second statewide in Integrated Math I, 13th in Biology and 16th in Chemistry.

· Destinee Burnley was named Homecoming Queen for JSMS at its ceremony. Attendants were Sarah Dickerson and Madison Farley.

· Tri-County Electric sent eight lineman and four crews to Georgia to assist with efforts to restore power following Hurricane Irma.

· · The County Commission gave initial approval to plans to raise garbage pickup fees by $3 monthly beginning in January. The move was designed to help address a nearly $100,000 deficit in Solid Waste.

· SaGrace Farms opened its flower shop on Main Street near the corner of Damascus.

· Trousdale County Schools announced plans to offer a $100 cash drawing each month for students who miss one day or less of school in that month. One student from each school receives the award.

· The County Commission appointed Johnny Kerr to fill the vacancy on the School Board. Kerr resigned his seat on the County Commission to accept the appointment and will serve through the August 2018 election.



· The school system saw lower than expected growth in its TNReady scores, according to state reports. The elementary school saw the worst results of the three schools.

· The Volunteer Fire Department bid farewell to assistant chief Larry Guffey, who passed away on Oct. 3. Guffey had been a member of the VFD since 1986 and previously had served with Hartsville’s Civil Defense.

· A ribbon cutting marked the opening of a new industrial access road in the PowerCom industrial park and the opening of ARC Automotive’s Hartsville facility. The two projects represented an investment of over $7 million in Trousdale County, while ARC is expected to bring between 60 and 70 jobs to Hartsville once the plant is in full operation.

· The Hartsville Rotary Club held its second annual Bass Tournament and its first Mother-Son Dance as fundraising events.

· Commissioners approved a request from Sheriff Ray Russell to increase dispatchers’ salaries by an estimated 60 cents per hour.

· Tri-County launched a pilot program for its broadband efforts, holding a public meeting with residents of 20 homes along Highway 10. The pilot program allows Tri-County to test its ability to provide service and gauge the willingness of customers to take service.

· TCHS students scored an average of 21.3 on the ACT, marking the highest-ever score at the school and topping 20 for the third year in a row.

· Baylee Huffines was named Homecoming Queen at TCHS. Attendants were Ashton Scott, Tori Simmons, Whitney Dansby and Q’Londa Maynard.

· The County Commission filled three vacancies among its ranks, appointing Gary Walsh, Amber Russell and Rachel Jones to serve through the August 2018 election.

· The annual Haley’s Hearts Forever 5K raised approximately $21,500 for the foundation to help families and children.



· Trousdale County students outscored the state average in every category of the TNReady tests, ranking third statewide in grades 6-8 Math and seventh statewide in grades 6-8 Science.

· County Democrats welcomed two candidates for governor (Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh) to a dinner at Hartsville’s Community Center. Each candidate addressed his vision of the next governor’s role and priorities for Tennessee.

· Dr. Alexander Badru opened his new medical clinic on Broadway at the former site of Dr. Reed’s office.

· The Community Pregnancy Center held a Chili Cook-off and Fall Festival in Hartsville City Park as a fundraiser.

· One of three escapees from the Macon County Jail turned himself in to Trousdale County sheriff’s deputies after one day on the run. Dylan Cecil Ferguson, who is facing criminal homicide charges, was returned to Macon County. The other two escapees were later recaptured as well.

· NCTC received a $2.8 million grant to provide broadband service to underserved areas of Trousdale and Smith counties.

· The Yellow Jackets’ football season ended in the second round of the playoffs with a home loss to Marion County. TCHS finished 8-4 under first-year coach Brad Waggoner and won the region championship for the first time since 2014.

· The Chamber of Commerce held its Open House Shopping Days and Community Thanksgiving Meal, which served over 600 people.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County EMA

· An EF-0 tornado hit parts of Trousdale County on Saturday, Nov. 18 and did damage to homes, barns and a Hartsville electric substation. The warning siren in downtown Hartsville failed to go off during the tornado warning, raising questions of EMA staff. An interruption in the signal was cited as the most likely cause of the malfunction.

· A home invasion in Trousdale County resulted in three people being tied up, with one forced to leave with the invaders. That victim was dropped off in Wilson County and was unharmed. At last report, no arrests had been made.

· A state audit of Hartsville’s CoreCivic prison found ‘noncompliance with contract requirements’ and other problems at the facility. State legislators cited the audit during December hearings on the Department of Corrections. CoreCivic noted it was working to address the problems.

· County commissioners approved a $90,000 request to cover cost overruns on the criminal justice center, which is expected to open in January.



· Twelve Trousdale County players were named to the All-Region football team, highlighted by juniors Keyvont Baines and Jake Gregory, who were respectively named Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. Both were also later named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A All-State team.

· Hartsville held its annual Three Days of Christmas, featuring the FCE Candlelight Tour of Homes, Chili Supper and Community Concert, Christmas Parade and Dickens on the Square. The Red Hat Ladies won top honors for their entry in the parade.

· Harassment charges against a county commissioner were put on hold after both parties were ordered to have no contact with each other for six months. Charges against Kendra Belcher are expected to be dropped at a June hearing as long as the no-contact order is followed. The dispute reportedly arose between Belcher and members of her former church.

· The School Board set the 2018-19 school calendar, with the first day of school scheduled for July 26, 2018.

· The elementary school held its second Reading Day, inviting community members to read to students.

· A Hartsville girl was shot during an armed robbery at Fann’s Market in Castalian Springs, but was recovering at last report. One suspect had been arrested, with law enforcement seeking two others.

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