​Help Provide Holiday Joy for Others

Operation Noel Accepting Applications until Dec. 12

In just a few weeks, it will be Christmas. While many are already planning ahead about gifts to buy and food to eat, there are those not so fortunate. In our area, there are children who may not get presents and families that may not have an abundant holiday meal.
Each year the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD), in conjunction with FROST (the department’s Fund Raising Operational Support Team), organizes the purchasing and distribution of food and toys for these families. All items will be delivered the morning of Dec. 23 by the SVFD and FROST.
But this important program cannot happen without help from the community. Please consider making a donation of money, nonperishable food items or new toys to Operation Noel this year and give back to your community this Christmas season.
Families eligible for Operation Noel must live in the following communities: Sewanee, Midway, Jump Off and Sherwood Road to the top of Sherwood Mountain (but not into Sherwood).
Every family needs to fill out a new application, even if they have received from Operation Noel before. An application ensures that organizers have all the pertinent information so they can provide for everyone in need. The application is on page 3 of this week’s issue of the Messenger. The deadline for returning applications is Monday, Dec. 12.
If you would like to make a donation of money, nonperishable food items or new toys, please take items to Fire Chief David Green’s office at the fire hall behind duPont Library, or Print Services next door to University Book and Supply Store. For more information call 598-3400 and leave a message.

​School Board Grapples with Middle School Options

by Leslie Lytle Messenger Staff Writer

“I don’t have enough information to make a decision,” said Board President Cleijo Walker at the Nov. 14 meeting of the Franklin County School Board. She encouraged the board to join her in making a list of questions to address before determining which option would best serve the county: renovating the two aging middle schools; a new consolidated middle school; or two new middle schools on the existing sites.
The board raised several cost related questions. Board member Sara Liechty said the board needed information on the cost of site acquisition and infrastructure for a new consolidated middle school and information on the cost of portables to temporarily house students if the schools were renovated. Liechty also suggested the board consider geothermal heating and cooling with the potential for long-term energy cost savings.
Tim Little representing the engineering firm Oliver, Little, and Gipson (OLG) said geothermal was an option in the new school scenarios, but would add $6.50 per square foot to construction costs. He estimated the payback at 11–13 years.
Board member Linda Jones questioned the need for auxiliary gyms if new schools were built on the existing sites, favoring the plan which incorporated the existing gyms into the structures. Stanley Bean, North Middle School principal who chairs the Capital Building Program Committee, spoke in favor of new gyms. “The existing gyms have had much wear and tear as much as they’re used.”
Jones also asked if the relatively new eighth-grade pods, built in 1997–98, could be incorporated in the new school designs. “We didn’t consider repurposing the pods,” said Little, “but it’s a possibility.”
Adam Tucker, Sewanee school board representative, joined other board members in expressing excitement about the possibility of new schools on the existing sites, but Tucker pointed to the $15 million higher cost, cautioning, “I wouldn’t want to see the new facilities cut off funding for other programs and needs like teacher salary increases.”
Board member Christine Hopkins asked if research suggested students in smaller facilities “learned better.” Jones echoed this concern. Jones interviewed teachers at both schools who feared they would lose the opportunity to develop relationships with students in a large consolidated school. Jones said teachers also cited the way students in lower grades learned from interacting with students in the upper grades in a small school.
Director of Schools Amie Lonas said, “You can find research to support both the small school and large school concepts. It all depends on what kind of leadership is in place. It’s not the building, but the learning community within the school.”
Noting the slightly smaller student population at South Middle School, board member Chris Guess recommended rezoning to balance the number of students at each school both in terms of numbers as well as demographics, insisting, “We need to look at what is equitable, not just in terms of traditional educational parameters, but athletics, music and the arts.”
The board will continue the discussion at the Dec. 5 working session.
In other business, Lonas said five mentors were still needed for Advise Tennessee, a mentoring program designed to increase college attendance and graduation rates. To volunteer, contact Secondary Education Supervisor Diane Spaulding at (931) 967-0626. Nov. 20 is the deadline.
Revisiting a request at the Oct. board meeting to recognize Jeff Taylor, former Franklin County High School (FCHS) basketball star and coach at Franklin County and Tullahoma high school, FCHS Principal Roger Alsup proposed retiring Taylor’s jersey and placing it in a framed glass display case in the gym lobby. Lonas said board approval wasn’t needed for recognition of this type. A ceremony is planned for the Dec. 2 Franklin County versus Tullahoma basketball game when both schools are present to honor Taylor.

​SUD Announces Water Restrictions

by Leslie LytlemMessenger Staff Writer

At the Nov. 21 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, SUD manager Ben Beavers announced SUD had joined the neighboring water utilities and implemented mandatory water use restrictions. As of Nov. 1, SUD had 160 days of water left. Lake O’Donnell was two feet below the full mark and Lake Jackson was down 22 feet.
The restrictions prohibit washing sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios, or other hard surfaces except for sanitary or safety purposes; filling or re-filling of swimming pools; non-commercial and commercial washing of motor vehicles, trailers and boats; use of water for dust control or construction compaction; and use of water for firefighting training. Watering of fairways and athletic fields is restricted to the hours of 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m. Watering of lawns, flower gardens, trees, shrubs, etc., is restricted to assigned days of the week from 5 a.m. to 10a.m.; addresses ending in an even number may water on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday, and addresses ending in an odd number may water on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.
Following the drought of 2007 area water utilities adopted a linked drought management plan. “We’re in a lot better shape than we were in 2007,” Beavers said. “Big Creek is the worst off.” The Big Creek utility is considering pumping water from a nearby state owned lake. At the 60 day supply level, SUD’s drought management plan calls for penalties for violating use restrictions. “No significant rain is forecasted until January,” Beavers cautioned, encouraging customers to adopt conservative water use practices so SUD’s water supply will last longer.
Discussing the 2017 budget, Beavers said water sales trended below budget throughout 2016, and he’ll base the 2017 budget on 2016 sales, at present 3.5 percent below 2015. Beavers attributes the difference to decreased irrigation water sales since the University has relied on its irrigation pond for most irrigation needs. To offset decreased sales, Beavers intends to decrease capital improvement plan (CIP) and operation budget expenses. The draft of the 2017 CIP budget is 13 percent below the 2016 budget, with the biggest ticket item being $150,000 for repairs to the Depot Branch sewer line. The board discussed a small one percent increase in customers’ water use rate. Beavers pointed out a one percent increase “won’t make up for the decrease in water sales.”
Beavers will present the final budget for approval at the next meeting on Dec. 13.
The SUD Board is seeking three nominees for the office of commissioner. Prospective candidates should call the SUD office at (931) 598-5611 before the Dec. 13 meeting. Voting begins on Jan. 5 and ends at the close of the business day Jan. 24. Commissioners earn a $50 stipend for each meeting they participate in.
Beavers said all permits for the Midway pressure boosting station had been approved, and the engineer assigned to the project was seeking bids. The project will provide a much needed increase in water pressure in the Midway community. “My goal is to have the pressure boosting station substantially completed by the end of the year,” Beavers stressed.
The board passed a resolution honoring William “Jerry” Johnson who retired on Nov. 1 after 35 years of service. Johnson started on the field crew, earned his water plant operator’s license, and rose to the position of assistant manager. Johnson declined the offer of a celebration in honor of his retirement, asking only for “a key to Lake O’Donnell and Lake Jackson so I can fish.”

​Greening of the Chapel a Foliage Festival

by Kevin Cummings Messenger Staff Writer
Sewanee yard clippings, skilled decorating wizardry, and willing hands and hearts are parts of the formula that make the annual Greening of All Saints’ Chapel possible.
The greening is a tradition that always precedes the Festival of Lessons and Carols, which will mark its 57th year on Dec. 3 and 4.
“Of course people come to Lessons and Carols for the music, but they come to see it and smell it and feel it too,” said Ken Taylor, the greening’s chief organizer. “It’s a big thing and a lot of folks have said that it’s what starts their Christmas holidays, coming to Lessons and Carols.”
All three performances of the event itself are sold out, but organizers will conduct tours of the chapel and its decorations on the Saturday and Sunday afternoon prior to Lessons and Carols. The times will be announced, Taylor said.
Volunteers deck out the church on the Friday before the University Choir’s performance—this year the greening is Dec. 2. People will start looking for items in the fall, Taylor noted, like dried hydrangea blooms, seed pods and nandina berries to contribute to the chapel accoutrements. Folks will add magnolia, pine clippings, laurel, holly, hemlock and other evergreen trimmings.
These decorations are dappled about and entwined into wreaths and garlands to adorn windows, altars, lecterns, rails and other parts of the church, including two wreaths each for the 14 sets of doors, Taylor said.
“We try to come up with something different every year. The whole year I’m thinking about ways we can change it up a little,” he said.
Taylor’s Mercantile adds poinsettias and the University of the South’s Forestry Department hauls in an additional two trailer loads of greenery.
The University’s Greek organizations decorate the pillars in the church and other volunteers do the rest. The festivities also include an Advent wreath for the large steel ring that sits overhead.
Another part of the greening is teams of people creating gold-colored roses from ginkgo leaves found on campus. Marcia Mary Cook, a retired theatre professor and former dorm matron, has been heavily involved in the flower guild at All Saints’ since the mid-1990s.
Cook said she’s worried about the Ginkgo leaves, which hadn’t fallen last week and were just barely turning gold because of the drought. But there’s still time before the greening.
“If we get some rain and wind, everything will come down,” Cook said.
The flower guild, which is part of St. Augustine’s Guild at All Saints’, plays a big role in the greening. A number of the small group of mostly women are former dorm matrons, Taylor said.
The greening starts at 9 a.m. and last year, because about 80 volunteers participated, the decorating was complete by 2 p.m.—about two hours faster than normal, Taylor said.
“I love doing it and I love that the community is involved,” he said. “Members of flower guilds as far as Mobile, Ala., have come to help and learn how to do it at their church.”
Volunteers for the Greening of the Chapel are asked to arrive at 9 a.m. on Dec. 2. A light lunch will be served.

Late Breaking News: Beat the Peak

Beat the Peak™ activation set Monday morning

(November 18, 2016) Get ready to Beat the Peak™ early next week! Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) warns members that Monday morning’s predicted low temperatures could cause a demand peak for the month of November.
The fall season’s first frigid period will descend on southern Middle Tennessee this weekend. Morning lows will be in the 20s Sunday through Tuesday. Highs are not expected to rise out of the 50s.
DREMC plans to activate Beat the Peak™ from 6 through 8 a.m. Monday when a low of between 22-24 degrees is predicted. During this two-hour window, electricity demand is expected to be high due to home-heating load.
The cost of the wholesale power that DREMC buys from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spikes during a peak, going from around 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to more than $10 per kWh.
Beat the Peak™ participants help offset peak demand by lowering their thermostats and taking other steps to reduce electricity use. Emails and text messages are sent to co-op members enrolled in the program, asking them to conserve power during the peak hours.
DREMC also runs “peak alerts” on local radio stations. A peak alert doesn’t mean there is a power supply emergency. It is a reminder that high demand increases the cost of wholesale power and affects what DREMC must pay TVA.
“Demand charges cost us tens of millions of dollars every year. This is why reducing demand is so important, especially during extreme temperature periods,” says Michael Watson, DREMC’s president and CEO.
DREMC encourages members to set heating system thermostats down at least three degrees; turn off lights in unoccupied rooms; avoid using ovens and dish washers; delay doing laundry (especially running the clothes dryer); and reduce hot water use.
When the peak period has passed, normal use of electricity can resume.
“We’re not asking anyone to be uncomfortable, only to scale back on electricity use during the two-hour peak window,” Watson adds.
If you are a DREMC member who’d like to sign up to receive Beat the Peak™ warnings, go to www.dremc.com to register.

Late Breaking News: SUD Mandatory Drought Restrictions

Drought update for customers of the Sewanee Utility District

Due to the ongoing drought and a continued dry forecast, two of our neighboring systems have implemented mandatory water restrictions on their customers. In accordance with our regional drought management agreement, SUD will implement mandatory drought restrictions for our customers as well.
We are asking all of our customers to cut back on the amount of water they use in order that our supplies will last longer. Hopefully, these restrictions along with some rain will keep us from taking more drastic measures in the future.
a) watering of lawns, flower gardens, trees, shrubs, etc., are restricted to assigned days of the week and only from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM: addresses ending in an even number may water on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday, and addresses ending in an odd number may water on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday;
b) watering of fairways on any golf course and all ball/athletic fields restricted to sprinkling/irrigation to the hours of 12:01 AM to 5:00 AM; and
c) normal scheduled fire hydrant testing is restricted to 50% of the schedule.
a) washing sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts, patios, or any other hard surfaces by commercial, industrial or residential customers except for sanitary or safety
b) filling or re-filling of swimming pools;
c) non-commercial and commercial washing of motor vehicles, trailers or boats;
d) use of water for dust control or construction compaction; and
e) fire fighting training.
Thank you for your understanding and please contact us if you have any questions. 598-5611 http://www.sewaneeutility.org

​SES “Turkey Protection” Project

The Sewanee Elementary School first-grade students have once again created disguises for their turkey friends to help them survive the upcoming holiday and avoid being the main course for dinner.

Turkeys are “hiding” throughout this issue of the Messenger and might just try to sneak in next week.

​Local Farm Supplies Turkey for Thanksgiving Feast

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The turkey served Nov. 17 at the Sewanee Dining Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t quite as fresh as what folks used to get when grandpa lobbed the head off the turkey Thanksgiving morning in the back yard, but it was darn close. Arriving at the Sewanee Dining loading dock early on the morning of Nov. 15, Fountain Springs Farm delivered 30 fresh—not frozen—pasture raised turkeys slaughtered and processed on the Morrison, Tenn., family farm just the day before.
“We put a deposit on the chicks in March so we’d be sure to have enough locally raised turkey for the meal,” Sewanee Dining Director Rick Wright said. Wright anticipated needing 600-1,000 pounds of turkey for the annual event, held the week before Thanksgiving.
“The turkeys weighed 13-20 pounds each. The toms typically weigh more than the hens,” explained Fountain Springs farmer Eric Earle.
Raised in a poly-netting fenced pasture with an outbuilding for shade, the turkeys take 18-20 weeks to grow to maturity. “We supplement the turkeys’ diet with non-GMO grain,” Earle said. Fountain Springs blends their own feed to guarantee it’s antibiotic and hormone free.
Offering locally raised turkey is a first for Sewanee Dining, but a year ago in keeping with the commitment to devote 30 percent of the budget to locally raised products, Sewanee Dining began serving locally raised fried chicken every Sunday.
Fountain Springs also supplies Sewanee Dining with chicken. Eric and his wife Suzanne began farming full-time in 2007. One of the first on-farm poultry processing facilities in the state, Fountain Springs began offering chicken on the wholesale market just six years ago when state regulations relaxed to allow on-farm processing.
Earle contributes much of their success to Laura Damron, coordinator for the Rooted Here Food Hub, the wholesale arm of the South Cumberland Farmers’ Market (SCFM). Fountain Springs also sells directly to consumers through the SCFM website . Consumers who want a fresh turkey for next Thanksgiving need to preorder in June.
“I turned down 10-15 customers who wanted turkeys this year,” Earle said.
The University Thanksgiving meal also featured locally grown sweet potatoes, yams and greens.
Student clubs, department associates, families and other groups often reserve tables for the annual event, with more than 20 table reservations made for this year’s feast. Open to University affiliates and community members alike, the Sewanee Dining Thanksgiving dinner is an opportunity for the wider community to give thanks together over a shared meal celebrating the bountiful harvest from food raised by neighboring farms.
And if that isn’t enough to be thankful for, there’s yet another blessing. “Any unused ingredients were donated to Otey Parish,” Wright said, “to feed the community in a free meal the following day.”

​Tree Lighting Kicks Off Holidays on Dec. 2

The University will join with the community for two holiday tree lightings on Friday, Dec. 2. Students and community members will gather at 4 p.m. in the University Quad for music and snacks. The campus tree lighting will be at 4:30 p.m.

Music will begin in Angel Park in downtown Sewanee at 5 p.m.
A Sewanee fire engine will carry Santa Claus and friends to downtown around 5:15 p.m.
The tree lighting at Angel Park will be at 5:30 p.m. Cookies and hot beverages will be available afterward, and Santa and the Grinch will be posing for photos.
Joe David McBee, road commissioner for the first district of Franklin County, reports that the county has given permission for University Ave. to be closed, 4–7 p.m., Friday, from Regions Bank to State Highway 41A for the event.
The Sewanee Chorale will lead Christmas caroling. Please bring unwrapped toys for Operation Noel. Gifts of money and nonperishable food will be collected for the Community Action Committee.
In case of inclement weather, the post-tree-lighting activities will move inside to the Blue Chair Bakery and Tavern.
Decorating of the Christmas tree at Angel Park will be at 9 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30. All are welcome to come help with this festive activity.
This event is co-sponsored by the University and the Sewanee Business Alliance.

​Forest Fire Update, Multi-County Burn Ban

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

As of Nov. 16, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry reported 16 active fires burning in the Franklin-Grundy-Marion region of the Cumberland District of Tennessee: two in Franklin County, 11 in Grundy County, and three in Marion County.
Last weekend forestry service firefighters battled an 80-acre blaze of unknown origins in the gorge between Clifftops and Laurel Lake and a smaller fire attributed to arson in the Haven of Rest-Lankford Town Road vicinity of Tracy City. Two new fires broke out Sunday, a field fire in the Broadview-Belvidere area of Franklin County and a fire in the gulch on the Grundy County-Sequatchie County line. Tuesday, new fires broke out in the Gizzard Creek, Clouse Hill, and Gruetli-Laager areas of Grundy County and the Cades Cove and Prentice Cooper State Forest areas of Marion County.
Statewide, 67 active forest fires are burning, impacting 15,914 acres, with more than 20 new fires since last Friday. On Nov. 10 the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency declared a Level 3 State of Emergency. On Nov. 15, Governor Bill Haslam banned all fires including campfires and trash burning in 51 counties, Franklin, Grundy and Marion among the counties named.
“All fires in the Franklin-Grundy-Marion region are currently contained,” said Steve Rymer, Service Technician heading up Grundy County Forest Service. But Rymer cautions, “Fires from two weeks ago are still smoking. With dry leaves dropping from the trees, there’s the possibility of reburn. We’re monitoring all sites.”
Franklin-Grundy-Marion firefighters have responded to more than 40 blazes in the past month, impacting more than 3,000 acres, with 893 acres still actively burning in Marion County, 231 acres in Grundy County and 16 acres in Franklin County.
“I’ve only had one day off since Oct. 7,” said Travis Lawyer, a dozer operator with the Franklin County Forestry Service. “People phone in and don’t understand why we won’t issue them a burn permit to burn leaves. It’s so dry the root systems are burning off and trees are falling.”
Each county forestry station is staffed with an initial attack crew of five to six firefighters, who assist in the neighboring counties as needed. Franklin and Grundy counties recently received backup support from north and west Tennessee forestry service firefighters.
In the past month, more than 6,000 acres have burned in Bledsoe, Hamilton, Monroe and Sequatchie counties south and east of Sewanee, contributing to the smoke lingering in the air from local fires. Active fires in Bledsoe and Hamilton counties impacting more than 3,200 acres remain uncontained.
On Nov. 11, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued a Code Orange air quality alert for the Chattanooga metropolitan area. A Code Orange Alert means “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children. As of Nov. 16, the Air Quality Index map showed Sewanee and the surrounding plateau region in the Orange Alert or Red Alert category, a Red Alert meaning “everyone may begin experiencing ill health effects.”
The Tenn. Forestry Service has established Incident Management Posts in Kimball, Cookeville and Knoxville to coordinate firefighting efforts. On Nov. 10, three 20-person federal hand crews from Florida reported for service at the Kimball post.
A late October fire in the Raven’s Point area of South Cumberland State park destroyed a bridge and stair case on the new reroute part of the trail. The fire is still smoldering, and the trail is closed along the reroute area until further notice, said Park Ranger George Shinn.
“There is no end in sight,” said Rymer stressing the severity of the situation. Long range forecasts show no significant precipitation in Tennessee through the remainder of 2016.
As of Nov. 1, the Sewanee Utility District reported only 23 inches of rainfall for the year, less than the great drought of 2007, when the area received 25 inches for the same time period.
Rymer estimated 70 percent of the fires were arson, 30 percent were debris fires, and a few were caused by equipment sparks.
“Most of the fire investigators in the state are working the area,” Rymer said. “They are taking the issue more seriously than in the past.” Officials recently brought charges against an arsonist responsible for Sequatchie County fires.
Violation of a burn ban is considered reckless burning and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.

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