Sewanee Elementary Students Raise Money


Each year, Sewanee Elementary students raise money to help make the holiday season a little brighter for families in the community in need. The money collected goes to help FROST (Fund Raising Operational Support Team) and the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department purchase food and toys to deliver to area families to enjoy during the season. This year students presented a check for $1,216 to this worthwhile cause.


​From Cowboy’s to Fire Engines: 33 Years of Operation Noel

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

It was Christmas Eve 1983, and two Sewanee firemen and a music club in Tullahoma decided to play Santa for families struggling to make the holidays bright.
Cowboy’s, a club known for bringing in big name acts such asGeorge Jones and Ray Charles, asked customers to donate toys. They called Sewanee Fire Chief David Green, who is also a musician, and asked if the department would like to distribute the goodies. In the fire engine, Green and fellow fireman Randall Henley drove three bags of toys to three families in Sewanee— and Operation Noel was born.
The Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) and FROST, its Fund Raising Operational Support Team, are still helping Sewanee area people. Last year about 40 families received food and toys for Christmas.
“What started it all was the good feeling of helping people at Christmas,” Green said. “It feels just as good as it ever did.”
People donated used toys in the early years, some needing to be fixed, Green said. Through word of mouth, folks started donating money and new toys. When the ladies of FROST got involved, the program continued to flourish.
Henley said the fire department also placed boxes in Sewanee dorms to collect canned goods.
“It’s great to be able to help,” he said.
Now through the Community Action Committee (CAC), the program orders food from Second Harvest Food Bank. This year about 33 families in Sewanee, Midway, Jump Off and on Sherwood Road will receive boxes of food and toys thanks to donations and the work of firefighters, their wives and friends of the department.
Like fighting fires, helping people in car wrecks and other emergencies, the SVFD family has a passion for Operation Noel, Green said.
“That’s all we do this for, deep down in our hearts, is to help people,” he said.
Families that need food or toys send in an application, which is printed in the Sewanee Mountain Messenger, and the goods are delivered on Dec. 23. Anyone wishing to help in future years can contact any member of the Fire Department.

​Civic Association Meets Partner in Community Engagement

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Director Jim Peterman described the grassroots energy driving the University’s Community Engagement program as students and community members “working together as citizen’s with a common cause.” Addressing members and guests at the Dec. 14 dinner meeting of the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA), Peterman praised the organization’s support of community initiatives drawing a parallel to the Community Engagement program’s outreach mission. In the business portion of the meeting, SCA officers reported on the Community Chest fund drive and plans to refurbish the ballpark.
Dating from the University’s founding in 1858, the vision included improving conditions for the local people, Peterman said. He cited the examples of St. Andrew’s and St. Mary’s schools for local youth. In the 1930s, nearby Highlander Folk School ushered in a shift in the model.
Outreach workers sought to teach people to make the changes they identified as key, as opposed to outside “experts” deciding what communities needed, Peterman explained.
In the late 1980s, Dixon Myers picked up the torch, launching the Community Chapel Outreach Program, which focused on student and community volunteers building homes for the economically disadvantaged and student mission trips to impoverished countries during holiday breaks.
The University began offering a few courses addressing the outreach concept, and in 2006, the Canale Internship program established stipends for students who undertook semester-long outreach projects in the local community. Professor of philosophy at the University, Peterman became director of the Community Engagement program in 2010. In 2011 he brought the Bonner Leader Program to campus.
Bonner student interns make a four-year commitment to engage in eight to ten hours of community service weekly. In 2014, the Community Engagement program became an AmeriCorps VISTA affiliate, bringing full-time community outreach workers into the local network. VISTA workers focus on partnership and capacity building within their assigned organization, drawing on Bonner and Canale interns for assistance.
At present, the Community Engagement program has 19 VISTA workers and 65 student interns working at 33 sites in the South Cumberland Plateau region. The University offers 10-12 related academic courses each semester. Student interns frequently enlist student volunteers to aid with programs. Last year, 1,444 undergraduate students engaged in some sort of community service, more than three-fourths of the student population.
Programs where Community Engagement workers have a collaborative presence include the Beersheba Springs free medical clinic, the Coalmont Elementary after-school program, the Grundy County Sheriff’s prisoner re-entry program, lunches for low-income children during the summer, and numerous others.
Prior to coming to Sewanee, most students regarded community service as a resume building strategy or a church affiliated endeavor, Peterman said. “We want students to grow into a sense of service that’s connected to social justice,” he stressed. “We want them to learn how to become responsible, engaged citizens of the world.”
Reporting on the Community Chest fund drive, Susan Holmes said $59,000 has been raised so far towards the $116,850 goal of funding 26 local programs. Holmes cited the Community Chest for being unique as a funder for providing operating expenses, a category of needs most funders refuse to accommodate. “An organization can’t do the job it sets out to do without basic funding,” Holmes said. “When you contribute to the Community Chest, you’re providing that kind of support.” Donate by mail, Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375, or online https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/119597

Updating the group on the campaign to refurbish the ballpark, President Lynn Stubblefield outlined pressing needs identified in meetings with soccer and Little League parents. Priorities include replacing bleachers, lighting, repairing the restrooms, and maintenance for the playing fields.

“Having a viable ballpark for the children in Sewanee is a quality of life issue,” Stubblefield insisted. A 10-year capital improvement plan being drawn up by Nicholas Barry will be used to define long-term goals and funding requirements.
Nominations for officers are due by the next meeting in March. Top on the list is identifying an individual to serve as Director of Classifieds. For information contact <sewaneecivic@gmail.com>.

​Council Approves Revised Nepotism Amendment

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Dec. 19 special called meeting of the Monteagle Town Council, the council revisited consideration of an amendment to the Personnel Policy addressing nepotism. The council approved a revised version of the amendment proposed at the Dec. 8 meeting. Preliminary to the vote, the council vetted concerns about grandfathering in employees and adherence to the Sunshine Law.

The amended policy reads, “No city employees who are relatives shall be placed within the same direct line of supervision whereby one (1) relative is responsible for supervising the job performance or work activities of another relative; provided, that to the extent possible, this shall not be construed to prohibit two (2) or more such relatives from working for the town of Monteagle as long as they are not employed by the same department.”
“The revised amendment is basically the same as the state statute,” said Alderman Rusty Leonard who drafted the amendment.
The stricter original policy, adopted in 2014, prohibited the town from hiring immediate family members of existing employees.
“In a small town, it’s hard to find two people who are not kin,” said Mayor David Sampley, explaining the need for amending the policy.
Noting state nepotism law may supersede city government statutes, Leonard expressed concerns about grandfathering in employees and asked if the city attorney Harvey Cameron had been consulted.
“If the original ordinance is just paper because the state law governs us, employees we considered grandfathered in after adopting the original ordinance in 2014 more than likely aren’t grandfathered in,” Leonard said.
Sampley directed City Recorder Debbie Taylor to consult attorney Cameron on the question.
A visitor observed the council had obviously put a lot of thought into the amended ordinance and asked when the decision was made to change the language. Two or more council members discussing city business is a violation of the Sunshine Law, the visitor stressed.
“We did not violate the Sunshine Law,” Sampley said.
Alderman Delores Knott pointed to an instance when she, Leonard and former mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman discussed hiring a young man for a city position when they were riding in the 2014 Christmas parade. “Were we breaking the Sunshine Law?” Knott asked.
“If that’s what happened, we did,” Leonard said, “but I don’t remember that. We’re not supposed to discuss what we’ll bring up at meetings. That’s why we had workshops in the past.”
The council approved the amended policy unanimously. The council meets next on Jan. 30.

​Hair Depot Plans to Stay in Area

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Hair Depot salon will remain in the area, said owner Karen Throneberry, even when she ultimately leaves the current location off Highway 41A in Sewanee.

The University of the South purchased the building in November for future renovation and on Dec. 1, Throneberry signed a one-year lease with the University.
“There may come a time when I have to move somewhere, but it’ll be in the area. Since we can’t see into the future, that’s what I’m perceiving I’ll do. Or I’m going to go to work in (Sewanee resident) Louise Irwin’s garage,” she joked.
Under the previous owner, Throneberry had a handshake agreement with no set terms. Since the University purchased the building, she said customers ask her everyday about when she is leaving.
The Hair Depot salon has a fiercely loyal following, with people booking appointments months in advance, many women wanting to be prepared for special events such as weddings, concerts and parties. Throneberry currently has bookings into July 2017 and can’t get anyone in at all until late January.
Frank Gladu, University vice president for administrative services, said the Hair Depot site will eventually be a grocery store as part of the longterm Sewanee Village Implementation Plan, but there is no set timeline on the project.
“We extended an offer to work with her as closely as possible to find a place here in Sewanee. That would be our preference,” he said. “Karen has a vibrant business with lots of activity and we’re focused on trying to create activity in the Village, so if we could figure out a way to have Karen stay here we would try to facilitate that as much as we possibly can.”
The University also owns the adjacent Sewanee Market building, which is slated to eventually become a village greenspace. Gladu said new development depends largely on the progression of narrowing Highway 41A at the intersection with University Avenue. University officials are working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on a plan to narrow the street and slow down traffic to give it more of a Main Street than a highway feel, Gladu said.
“Until I see heavy equipment, I’m not really worried about losing a place to work,” Throneberry said.
After the one-year lease expires, the agreement will continue on a month-to-month basis with a 90-day notice to vacate required by Throneberry or the University.
“We have no intention of displacing her unless we have an opportunity to develop this space,” Gladu said.
The Village plan has generated both controversy and rumors, and Gladu said he understands the trepidation. He noted that he plans to have another public meeting in January to discuss the village plan.
“There’s a lot of charm to the way the Village is right now,” he said. “I recognize that. The University’s interest is to try to create as vibrant a place as possible so that it can continue to attract students, continue to attract new faculty and staff to the area. And a vibrant downtown simply enhances that value proposition of coming to Sewanee.”
He said, in addition, the University wants to make the Village more of a destination spot for people to shop and visit.
Throneberry started cutting hair in 1986 between having four kids. She started at Hair Gallery in Sewanee in 2007, before opening Hair Depot five years ago. Tobbin Beasley is the other stylist at the salon.
For more information on future plans for the Village, visit <Sewanee.edu/village>.

​Burn Ban Lifted

The burn ban issued on Oct. 26 by the Governor’s office has been cancelled. Recent rains have started to replenish the water table and lessen dry forest conditions. While the ban has been lifted, caution should always be exercised.

Please remember that campfires off of leaseholds may only occur in approved fire rings. The locations of those rings can be found at http://www.sewanee.edu/offices/oess/the-domain/rec...

Fires on leaseholds are subject to state burn regulations and may require a permit. State permits can be applied for online at https://agriculture.tn.gov/OnlineBurnPermitPublic/default.aspx>

What We Learned from the Tennessee Fires
While Sewanee was spared the devastation from recent forest fires in the state, many residents have been wondering whether something similar could happen in Sewanee. The answer is yes. First, a very brief forest history, and then some tips for minimizing the risk of wildfire.
The oak hickory forests that dominate our campus and surrounding Domain do burn from time to time. In fact, many scientists and land managers feel that they require periodic fire for their establishment, and without continued periodic fire, they are likely to decline.
According to the United States Forest Service, the forests of the Cumberland Plateau, like the Smoky Mountain forests to our east, are thought to have burned every 2-14 years between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. Some charcoal fragments found in Appalachian soils have been dated to fires 3,000 years ago. These periodic fires favored many of the species that we see today in and around our homes here in Sewanee.
During the early 1900s, fire suppression greatly reduced the number of fires in our forest. Without these fires, leaves combine with fallen limbs and dry grasses and accumulate in the forest. Over time as these fuels accumulate, the forest composition shifts toward species that are less able to tolerate periodic fire. On Sewanee’s Domain, it is likely that you have seen or smelled a prescribed fire in the last several years. Several faculty members research the role of historic fire in the creation of our forests, and periodically conduct a controlled (formally known as a prescribed) fire to reduce our wildfire risk and perpetuate our current forests for future generations.
A prescribed fire is generally not feasible however near homes and businesses, and in many parts of the community of Sewanee. Similar to Gatlinburg, Sewanee’s homes and businesses are built within a matrix of forest that is by nature meant to burn. To minimize our risk of such a devastating natural phenomenon, there are many things that we as a community of homeowners and business owners can do. Here’s how we all can help.
Adhere to the fire ban and alert the police if you hear, smell, or see any questionable activity.
For homeowners: clear needles, leaves, and other debris from the roof, gutters, eaves, porches, and decks. This reduces the chance of embers igniting your home.
To reduce ember penetration, replace or repair loose or missing roof shingles or tiles, and caulk any gaps or openings on roof edges.
Cover exterior attic vents, and enclose under-eave and soffit vents with metal wire mesh no larger than ⅛-inch to prevent embers from entering the home.
Remove items stored under decks or porches; for more protection, owners can replace vegetation in these areas with rock or gravel.
Remove flammable items within 30 feet of all structures, including firewood piles, portable propane tanks, and dry and dead vegetation.
Dry grass and shrubs are fuel for wildfire, so keep your lawn hydrated and maintained. If it is brown, trim it to reduce fire intensity, and don’t let debris and lawn cuttings linger. Dispose of these items quickly to reduce fuel for fire.
Fire can spread to tree tops. If you have tall trees on your property, prune low-hanging branches 6 to 10 feet from the ground; for smaller trees, prune low-hanging branches up to a third of the tree’s height. Remove tall grasses, vines, and shrubs from under trees.
Avoid placing dry wood against your home.
Lastly, if any of us were to be in close proximity to a fire, please communicate to the appropriate authorities, namely the police and to your family, that you are safe and clear from the danger, especially if you are visiting family or on vacation.
Unlike many areas of the state, the Domain contains many fire lanes built for prescribed fire and control of any wildfire outbreak that might occur. Sewanee maintains a crew of certified wildland firefighting students that reduce fuel loading in our forests with regular fire prescriptions and stand ready to serve if a wildfire were to occur. On top of all this, Sewanee is blessed with a well-equipped and trained Volunteer Fire Department.
Other strengths of our community include the University’s emergency measures that would be enacted if necessary, for example, evacuation plans, partnerships with local agencies for support, and a close network of health professionals and services in the area. Our regional medical hospital system (STRHS) has a network of medical professionals who already serve our emergency needs quite well. Finally, we also have redundant water supply systems as part of our utility infrastructure—another reason to be grateful to our Sewanee Utility District.
—reported by Eric Hartman. Special thanks to Ben Beavers, Nate Wilson and Ken Smith for their contribution to this.

​American Spiritual Ensemble to Perform in February

The American Spiritual Ensemble will visit Sewanee for a multi-day residency in February, 2017. The American Spiritual Ensemble (ASE), with a mission of keeping the African American spiritual alive, was founded in 1995 by Everett McCorvey, professor of voice and director of opera at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. McCorvey and César Leal, conductor of the Sewanee Symphony and assistant professor of music, have been colleagues since Leal received a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky. The ensemble’s repertoire includes classic spirituals, jazz, and Broadway numbers highlighting the Black experience.

Terry Papillon, dean of the College at the University of the South, has announced that a collaboration of five University partners and a friend of the College will allow all performances to be free and open to the public. The partners include All Saints’ Chapel, the Office of the Dean of Students, the School of Theology, the Office of the Dean of the College, the Performing Arts Series, and Dr. François S. Clemmons. The University has also received a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission in support of the project.
Papillon notes the importance of this offering to the greater community, “I believe that this residency can be a vital part of the University’s goal to do something that engages us in active participation for diversity and inclusion. Three performances are planned for ‘town and gown’ to hear, consider, and sing about the role of the African American spiritual through slavery, emancipation, and the civil rights movement. This repertoire has relevant themes in the present day.”
The first performance is a community welcome assembly at 11 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 9, in Guerry Auditorium, with students from Sewanee Elementary School presenting a brief play and joining the ASE in a sing-along. The Sewanee Symphony Orchestra will join forces with the ASE at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 10, in a performance in Guerry Auditorium featuring selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The residency concludes at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, in All Saints’ Chapel with the American Spiritual Ensemble in concert. Vocal ensembles from the University, including Sewanee Praise, Sewanee Chorale, the University Choir, and the Schola of the School of Theology, will join in a final selection, “Keep Marchin’ til I Make it Home,” a piece written for the ASE by Raymond Wise. A detailed schedule for the residency will be available in January at <artssewanee.sewanee.edu>.

​Pearl’s Restaurant to Open Again

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Under new ownership, the soft yellow glow in the windows and warm smell of food has returned to Pearl’s Foggy Mountain Café.
Pearl’s previous owners closed the restaurant in mid-2016, but Brian Beathard, the building’s owner, and his business partner Robert Tyler, have re-opened a new restaurant with the same name.
As employees folded napkins the day before the grand opening of Dec. 20 at 5 p.m., Tyler, who recently moved from Nashville to Manchester, talked about the new Pearl’s.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 35 years,” he said. “This menu, it’s not a big menu, but I can confidently say everything on this menu is amazing. There’s not a single thing on this menu I wouldn’t eat and say, ‘that was awesome.’”
Tyler White is the sous chef and Cliff Ward, who was sous chef at the previous Pearl’s and at Easy Bistro and St. John’s in Chattanooga, is the new chef.
“It’s good food made simple with a little southern flair; it’s French and Southern infused,” is how Ward describes Pearl’s food.
Ward’s signature dish is the braised beef brisket and he also recommends the stuffed trout. Most food items are made from scratch, including salad dressings, garlic aioli and fresh homemade breads from baker Anna Flatt.
The primary brand of the restaurant is “farm to table,” working with local farmers and producers, Tyler noted. Pearl’s will also feature local artists on the walls.
“Everybody that I’ve met up here has been super nice and encouraging, which has just melted my heart for the community here,” Tyler said. “I always wanted to do a restaurant that got strongly involved with the community, but this community is embracing this restaurant so much that it makes it easy.”
Gone is the carpeting in favor of hardwood flooring and there is no bar in the new Pearl’s, but the restaurant welcomes BYOB, bring-your-own alcoholic beverage. Tyler said the restaurant plans to add a beer and wine license in 2017.
Pearl’s, which was a longtime fixture between Sewanee and Monteagle off Highway 41A, re-opened in 2012 under the leadership of Dan and Joy Hickey. The Hickeys closed the restaurant earlier this year. Tyler said its serendipitous that he now finds himself at the helm, because he and his wife had a beloved bulldog named Pearl that passed away and they had talked about opening a restaurant with the same name.
Pearl’s hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. They plan to add a Sunday brunch in January. The restaurant’s phone number is (931) 463-2222.

​SUD Approves 2017 Budget, Modest Rate Increase

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Dec. 13 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, the board approved a 2017 budget with projected revenue $12,500 below expenses. “We haven’t shown a loss in four years,” SUD manager Ben Beavers said. “Our cash position is strong. We can pay for capital improvements out of cash reserves if necessary.”
Beavers projected total revenues of $1,397,778, nearly $60,000 less than in 2016. He anticipates fewer residential tap sales in 2017 and noted that water sales have been declining.
On the expense side, the $169,000 capital improvements budget allocates $100,000 for inflow and infiltration repair of the waste water collection system, with major work needed in the Depot Branch area. Other big ticket items include a new service truck ($28,000); leak detection equipment and surveys ($15,000); replacing the 14-year-old four-wheeler at the wastewater treatment facility ($10,000); an equipment trailer ($6,000); refurbishing the office ($8,000); and a new computer ($2,000).
Projected operating expenses totaling $980,282 include $25,000 to replace grinder pumps in the waste water collection system and a modest 3.2 percent raise for employees, slightly above the inflation rate.
The budget reflects a 1 percent customer rate increase. Water only customers can anticipate a .30 to .50 cent increase in their bills each month. Sewer customers’ bills will increase by approximately $1 each month.
Updating the board on the Midway pressure boosting station, Beavers said bids continue to come in for the project. The board will vote on contractor bids at the January meeting. Beavers anticipates SUD beginning its portion of work on the project before the end of the year.
Beavers recommended SUD move from mandatory water use restrictions to voluntary restrictions. “Even though it’s been raining, the supply lakes are still low,” Beavers said. The board concurred with the recommendation with the adjustment in restrictions to be effective immediately. Beavers expects voluntary restrictions will be lifted in January.
The board nominated Charlie Smith as a candidate in the upcoming commissioner election. Other prospective candidates must be SUD customers and submit a petition with the names of 10 SUD customers before Jan. 4. Voting will take place during regular business hours at the SUD office from Jan. 4 until the next commissioner’s meeting on Jan. 24.

​Representative Alexander Asks for School Board’s Advice; Board Needs Substitute Teachers

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Dec. 12 meeting of the Franklin County School Board at Cowan Elementary School, Tennessee State Representative David Alexander appealed to the board for advice and guidance regarding anticipated legislation mandating seatbelts in school buses.
“The recent Chattanooga incident has brought the seatbelt issue to mind again,” Alexander said referring to the Nov. 24 school bus accident killing six children and injuring dozens. Alexander serves on both the transportation and finance committees and will have a voice in deciding whether seatbelt legislation moves to the floor for a vote.
“I’m asking for your advice and experience,” Alexander said. “I need to know what the Franklin County School Board thinks about this issue.”
Board member Christine Hopkins proposed a survey in the local newspaper and stressed, “Safety must come first.”
“In theory the money is there to fund the initiative,” Alexander said.
“We had a bus fire in the Huntland area this year,” board member Lance Williams said. “Seventeen students got off the bus without incident. It was totally engulfed in flames in just four minutes. If there had been 70 or 80 kids wearing seatbelts, would it have been possible to offload the bus in that time frame?” Williams asked.
“Small children don’t have the motor skills to handle seatbelts,” board member Sara Liechty said. “If the decision is in favor of seatbelts, attendants will be needed on the buses.”
The board will continue the discussion at the Jan. 2 working session.
Turning to regular business, Director of Schools Amie Lonas advised the board some schools were having difficulty finding substitute teachers.
“We increased the pay last year,” Lonas said, “and hope to do so again this year.”
Reviewing the school systems proactive approach to the substitute teacher shortage, Assistant Superintendant Linda Foster said the school system began the year requiring a bachelor’s degree and recommendation from a school principal for a substitute teacher to be added to the approved list. In October, the school system relaxed the standard, requiring an associate degree and principal’s recommendation.
“We recently found an online substitute teacher training program offering a free trial,” Foster said. “Five prospective substitute teachers completed the training and those receiving certification were added to the substitute list.”
The school system has decided to broaden the criteria for substitute teachers to include individuals certified through the online training and recommended by a school principal.
“I spoke to a person who did the online class, and she said it was very thorough,” Williams said.
Foster advised prospective substitutes to contact her about taking the online class. “The prospective substitute would be responsible for the $35 course fee,” Foster said. Substitutes with a bachelor’s degree earn $65 per day. Those with lesser qualifications earn $60 per day.
The board approved eight of nine policy changes recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association. The board withheld a vote on the revised social networking policy to allow for further review.
Sewanee area school board representative Adam Tucker said, “The social networking policy is a sticky wicket legally.”
Tucker cited the clause prohibiting employees from making posts that might “disrupt classroom activities,” saying it limited what employees were allowed to do when not at work. Tucker also took issue with a lack of clear definition of “what constitutes disruption of classroom activity.”

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