​Benjamins to Lead the Fourth of July Parade

The Fourth of July committee is proud to announce the grand marshals for the 31st annual celebration are Eric and Michelle Benjamin, Sewanee residents for more than 36 years.

Eric and Michelle (Mitchell) have lived most of their married life in Sewanee. Eric grew up the oldest of three children and Michelle grew up the second oldest of 10 children in North Carolina. After graduating from Marist School in Atlanta, Eric started his freshman year at the University of the South in 1969.
After graduating from law school, Eric and Michelle married in 1980. In 1981, they moved to Sewanee. Eric, an alumni of the University, accepted the offer to begin a Minority Student Affairs Program, with leadership provided by members of the faculty. There were two African American students on campus that year. Eric worked diligently to increase the number of African American and other multi-cultural students on the campus and his success is demonstrated by those students having a high retention rate at the college. In 1981, Michelle began employment as a staff attorney with Legal Services and in 1989 opened her private law office in Winchester, where she continues to practice. Michelle was founding member of the Franklin County Community Association and has served on the Board of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers, Tennessee Judicial Selection Committee and the Board of Professional Responsibility.
The Benjamins have three children, Vincent, Keenan, and Michael, who attended Sewanee Elementary School and St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School. Along the way, they played soccer, t-ball, baseball, tennis and basketball. Team participation was a great way for the family to get to know and make life-long friends with members of the Sewanee community.
Vincent, his wife Heather, and their two daughters live in New Jersey. Keenan is living in Delhi, India and Michael lives in North Carolina.
The Benjamins appreciate the honor of serving as grand marshals of the Fourth of July parade.

​SUD Gets Update on Constructed Wetlands

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 20 meeting, student researchers updated the Sewanee Utility District Board on the Constructed Wetlands project located at the SUD Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), a pilot study undertaken jointly by the University of Georgia (UGA) and the University of the South, examining wetlands’ effectiveness in removing contaminants and noxious nutrients from wastewater.
Water is pumped from the WWTP lagoons into a supply tank that feeds three sequential basins planted with native Tennessee species known to be effective in absorbing nutrients. This summer marks the first year of the wetlands operation.
Environment and Sustainability major Megan Hopson, a May graduate of the University of the South, said her thesis project looked at the wetlands effectiveness in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and E. coli bacteria. Tests showed dramatic decreases in nitrogen and bacteria levels and modest but significant decreases in levels of phosphorus. Phosphorus is retained in sediment, Hopson explained, making it necessary to monitor data over several years to accurately interpret results.
Data showing a leveling off, or plateau effect, in nutrient removal over time suggested a need to replace the plants in a basin, Hopson said.
In addition to efficacy in absorbing nutrients, “plants were selected for their tolerance to water depth in the basin where they were planted, beauty, and the ability to attract pollinators,” said biology professor Deborah McGrath, who along with forestry professor Scott Torreano, heads up the Sewanee research team.
Charged with developing and implementing a public outreach campaign, UGA graduate student Philipp Nussbaum said the historic drought of 2007 spawned the project as researchers began to look at wastewater treatment with a view to possible water reuse.
The advantages of wetlands wastewater treatment are superior effectiveness in removing nutrients and low operating costs, Nussbaum said.
“A constructed wetlands system could replace the SUD spray-fields wastewater treatment method,” Nussbaum speculated.
One of the questions researchers hope to answer is whether further treatment by spray-field application is necessary to achieve water of potentially potable quality.
The water from the SUD wetlands is returned to the lagoons.
Making a comparison to the water-reuse concept, board member Karen Singer noted that water slated for treatment as drinking water is frequently drawn from rivers in which upstream communities discharge treated wastewater.
SUD manager Ben Beavers was quick to point out, “We’re not doing this tomorrow.” SUD currently has no plans to pursue implementing water reuse practices.
Nussbaum said a 2015 survey of the Sewanee community showed that most people were unaware of what happened to their water after it went down the drain. He directed those wanting more information about the wetlands to the project website at <sewaneewetlands.org>.
The board requested annual updates on the project and expressed an interest in serving on an advisory committee charged with heightening public awareness about the community’s water supply.
In other business, Beavers updated the board on easement contract negotiations for the Cooley’s Rift development. Beavers said the SUD attorney was drafting a contract calling for a common rather than an exclusive easement requiring at least three feet of separation between SUD lines and lines from other utility providers. Beavers will present the finalized contract to the board for approval. He anticipates construction will begin in Aug.
The Midway pressure boosting station was in the final stages, Beavers said. “Everything is ready to go except for connecting the electrical and smoke testing.” Signing of the final easement necessary for completion of the project is expected in the near future. The SUD board meets next on July 25.

​County Commission Approves Budget Resolutions

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Resolutions to all budgets, fund balances and lease purchases were approved by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners during the June 19 meeting.
Andrea Smith, Director of Finance, said amendments to the Report of Revenues and Expenditures for March and April were commonplace for this time of year.
“This is just the year-end clean up amendment,” said Smith. “We had some revisions come up since the finance committee meeting.”
According to Smith, those revisions entail project preservation being operated out of the county general fund; an increase in revenue from the Health Department and a reduction in the funds for local health services to pay for the increase from the Health Department.
“The only fund where we had to use fund balance is the general debt service fund number, fund 151, for debt issuance on the jail construction expansion. There’s some upfront cost on that, which we don’t generally have budgeted,” said Smith. “We had a lot of maintenance issues this year which had been abnormal over the past few years—[things like] equipment, all funds and maintenance of buildings, as well as the normal ups and downs for jail inmate expenses.”
A motion to approve the recommendation from the Franklin County Regional Planning Commission for the rezoning of a 2.52-acre property on Highway 64 and Walnut Hill Road was carried by the commission.
Amendments to the Board of Education’s general purpose school budget were approved. Smith said she expects the final budget will be submitted for review by the finance committee early next month.
Also approved was a resolution to adopt a new public records policy.
“We currently have a public records policy for anyone to do a request for the county. The state passed the legislation earlier in the year, and they put more stipulations in the minimum requirements. We worked with Ben Lynch [city attorney] and looked at our current policy to draft a new policy. It has to be approved by June 30.”
This policy states that the policy is being adopted to “ provide economical and efficient access to public records as provided under the Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA).”
Iris Rudder, seat B for the 1st District, motioned to approve a litigation fee request by Haven of Hope, a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
The next county commission meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, July 17, in the Franklin County Courthouse.

​Friday Nights in the Park Concert Today

Friday Nights in the Park, sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance, begins today (Friday), June 23, with the Little Russell Band from Nashville. The rain location is the American Legion Hall.

The Little Russell Band was founded in January 2016 featuring Russ Harkins, guitarist and vocalist, Mark Carbono, bassist and Vocals and newest member, Rickey Morris on drums and vocals.
These guys have been friends since the early 80s and have played in numerous bands together over the years.
All members have played and performed professionally with many well known artists from many genres of music such as Chubby Checker, Aretha Franklin, Little Anthony & the Imperials, T. Graham Brown, The Jordanaires, Mel McDaniel, Freddy Weller, Johnny Lee, Juice Newton and many more.
The Little Russell Band has captured a huge sound in a small package. With only three musicians onstage, they cover a lot of ground and give the listener plenty of music to enjoy. They can perform more than 200 songs ranging from Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett, to Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Van Morrison, Garth Brooks, Hank Jr., and The Band.
University Avenue will be closed at 6 p.m. for the annual outdoor family event, with food and drink from local vendors available for purchase. The entertainers play from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Angel Park Pavilion. This event is free and open to the public. A reverse raffle prize give away is drawn at 8:30 p.m. Ticket holders must be present to win.
The rest of the lineup for Friday Nights in the park is The Yellow Dandies on June 30, Top Tier Band on July 7, and C-Mac and the Madras Men on July 14.

​MSSA to Host Music City Roots

Today (Friday), June 23, the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA) will host Music City Roots, a Franklin, Tenn.-based radio show in a rare out-of-Nashville performance. Nationally recognized for its lively mix of vintage variety radio and cutting-edge Americana music, the show will feature music and interviews with Sam Lewis, Sarah Potenza, Farmer & Adele, and the Dave Eggar Band.

“We are thrilled to bring this show to Monteagle Assembly again this year, and we invite our community to join in the fun,” said Virginia Curry, MSSA program spokesperson. “It is a not-to-be-missed event and a truly unique experience. Seating in the auditorium will be on a first-come, first-served basis, but there is plenty of outdoor seating—bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy the music under the stars.”
Admission is free. The doors of the Assembly’s historic auditorium will open at 6 p.m., and the show will start at 7 p.m. Picnic fare is welcome. Those wishing to attend should stop by the front gate at the Assembly to get a free four-hour grounds pass.
Music City Roots is a weekly live radio show and HD webcast featuring the finest roots and Americana music based in or passing through Nashville. Since going on the air in October 2009, Music City Roots has broadcast the authentic sound of today’s Music City, embracing the traditional and the progressive in equal measure. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. central, four guest artists perform to an audience of 300-800 people in Liberty Hall in the Factory at Franklin. They reach thousands of viewers worldwide via <Livestream.com> and the Roots Radio Network. The show also goes out nationwide as a 14-week series on American Public Television.
For more information go to <MSSA1882.org> or call the the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly office at (931) 924-2286.

​Behind the Scenes at the SSMF

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

For festival-goers, the Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) doesn’t begin until June each year. But for those who work to put on the festival, planning and organization begins months in advance.
Evelyn Loehrlein, who came to Sewanee as a student in the late ’80s, serves as the director of the festival, overseeing everything that goes into making the month-long event a success. She spends months working with others behind the scenes of the festival, recruiting students, managing all artistic aspects, deciding on the conductors for each year and the pieces they conduct and hiring and supervising all faculty and music teachers.
“I’ve already started preparing now for next year’s festival,” said Loehrlein. “I’m in the process of setting our dates now. I have to work with summer conferences to make sure all the spaces will be available. There’s about 250 of us so where everybody lives is a big piece of the puzzle. I actually started talking last year to summer conferences about 2018. I sent a message to the dean proposing dates and I’ve already started working with admissions to design a postcard for next year.”
Loehrlein said things are slow for a couple months after the festival, but soon things pick up as the recruitment and hiring processes begin again. Recruitment is one of the biggest and most important processes that occurs behind the scenes.
“When you recruit for a musical festival like ours, you basically have to get the exact right instruments for an orchestra. It’s not like band where anyone who showed up got to play. Recruitment is a big jigsaw puzzle. You have to get exactly the right number for two orchestras. That is very complicated and a lot of work,” said Loehrlein. “My goal is to have a few more violins and violas than we have, but I’m happy to say we’re really close to our target numbers. In 2014, we had 162 students. We have 200 students this year, so we have grown a lot since then.”
César Leal, assistant professor of musicology at the University and artistic director of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra, began working with the festival last year.
Leal also serves as a member of the Artistic Advisory Committee for the festival, helping to decide what direction the program will go in each year.
“We start to talk about programs, which is a very delicate process, and that takes about a month. When the conductors suggest what pieces they want to conduct with the orchestras, we get together and analyze the pieces. We see the program from an artistic, narrative standard, and we must decide whether adding that piece to the program is cohesive and makes sense,” said Leal.
Leal said because each of the students have different needs and come to the festival at varying levels, the preparation begins early enough to consider all the students.
“The needs are different so we strive to give them the opportunity to play pieces they will find later in their careers. We coordinate with our music librarian who gets all the music prepared to challenge the students to the max of their abilities while understanding their preparation, artistic level, and music maturity,” said Leal.
Both Loehrlein and Leal say the aim of the festival is to provide the students with a professional-level experience.
“The format of the festival very much mimics the professional experience, with four or five rehearsals before the students must perform the piece in concert, change conductors and repeat the process. The festival aims to get the students the opportunity to experience the real life of a professional orchestral musician,” said Leal. “When I lived in Paris, I would often get a last-minute phone call—‘Somebody gave us your name. Can you be here at 7:30?’”
“They learn repertoire here that will allow them to say yes when those calls come,” said Loehrlein. “We’re really focused on training them in things that they need to know when they go to college or when they become a professional.”
In addition to gaining professional-level training and performance experience, students of the SSMF learn discipline and how to overcome limitations both in their musical ventures and in life in general.
“Students know from an early age what it’s like to be a professional musician. Performance can be very unfair—you’re measured only by the results, not the process. A five-minute audition in which you put years and years and years of work can be decisive, so we help them understand how that process affects their professional life. A lot of the students come from different states and countries, bringing with them different experiences, different teachers and styles. They get the experience of comradery and of learning from their peers, and they get good exposure to the future leaders of musical ensembles,” said Leal.
For Loehrlein, the 11 months of work that goes into executing the festival is absolutely worth it.
“I love getting to know the kids and their families. I feel like I’m part of their family when they get here. They’re so happy to see me because they understand all the work I’ve done to get them to come. That part is a lot of fun. It’s just off the charts rewarding when it’s going on. I just have goosebumps for four weeks,” said Loehrlein. “Sewanee is a magical place. When you add the special things about the music festival to what’s already special about this place, it just becomes magical.”
That Sewanee magic is not lost on Leal either.
“Getting to work with young musicians is one of the most rewarding experiences. When you see these kids playing a piece of music at the level we have here, their eyes just sparkle. They are blossoming in a month,” said Leal. “Small things like a passage they have not been able to play for the last year, they play and practice and all of a sudden, they experience what music can do for them and have a feeling of accomplishment and being able to express themselves and getting to put themselves in the music. Getting to witness that is a privilege.”

​School Board Appoints Bean Director of Schools

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 12 meeting in a six to two split vote, the Franklin County School Board appointed Stanley Bean to serve a two-year term as director of schools.
Board member Linda Jones nominated Bean to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of current director Amie Lonas. “Bean has served the Franklin County Schools as a teacher, coach, administrator, and supervisor,” Jones said. “Dr. Lonas has shown her confidence in Bean by appointing him Director of Student Services and county-wide Athletic Director. He would be able to work with Dr. Lonas in her remaining days and be ready to step into the position in the fall.” Bean has also served 10 years as a Franklin County Commissioner, Jones noted.
While commending Bean’s credentials, Sewanee area school board representative Adam Tucker said, “I won’t support appointing anyone longer than on a month to month contract unless they are selected in a competitive application process.”
Board member Sara Liechty agreed. “We need to do a search. We owe that to the system and to the children.”
“I’ve had several people express interest in the position,” said Board Chair CleiJo Walker.
“I’ve also been contacted by several qualified and experienced people,” Liechty said. “There are many that deserve an opportunity to submit an application and resume.”
“Things come to a halt if we stop and do a job search,” Jones countered. “I’ve also been contacted by someone interested in the position, but they weren’t happy in their present job and that concerns me. With Bean, we don’t have the doubt and uncertainty of a stranger. Bean was a finalist in the job search when we hired Dr. Lonas.”
“The board has the right to appoint someone temporary to the position,” board member Christine Hopkins pointed out.
Tucker said that an interim couldn’t be a candidate unless given a special waiver by the board. (See Board Policy 5.801 below.)
“My motion would eliminate an interim,” Jones said.
The board’s legal counsel Chuck Cagel had offered to perform the search giving a timeline of several months with Sept. 1 as the deadline for appointing a director. Walker estimated the cost to the school system as less than $2,000.
“We just did this two years ago,” said board member Chris Guess who seconded Jones’ nomination. “You take a guy who’s dedicated his life to the Franklin County school system—we’d be hard put to find someone better.”
“Bean chaired the capital building program and is well positioned to address questions about construction of the new middle school,” Jones added.
Board members Guess, Gary Hanger, Hopkins, Jones, Lance Williams and Walker voted in favor of Bean’s appointment, although Walker expressed reservations about not doing a search. Liechty and Tucker opposed Bean’s appointment.
The board is expected to vote on the contract making Bean’s appointment official at the special called meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 22.
The meeting’s purpose is to finalize the budget. The board hopes to have state funding and property tax funding data by then. The County Commission Finance Committee will review the budget on Thursday, July 6.
In other business, Lonas alerted the board to a discrepancy in TNReady testing data, which impacted some high school students’ end of course (EOC) scores. The Tennessee Department of Education requires the school system to include TNReady test score data as 10 percent of the final grade, Lonas said. In Algebra 1, Geometry 1, and English 1, 2, and 3, a different TNReady test with different scoring was used this spring. Fall semester’s EOC scores, which incorporated data from that semester’s TNReady testing, could not be fairly compared to EOC scores incorporating data from this spring’s TNReady test.
Lonas said the schools hadn’t yet received an answer from the state about how to address the discrepancy, so scores for the affected subject areas were removed from the grade card. A revised grade card will be mailed later in the summer.
Lonas’ last day is Friday, June 30. In a parting tribute Hopkins said, “This whole community has fallen in love with you. Thank you for bringing your knowledge, wisdom, and leadership to this community. We hate to see you go.” The board and visitors rose in a standing ovation.

Director of Schools Recruitment and Selection Policy 5.801
When a vacancy occurs, the appointment of a director of schools is a function of the Board. The Board is responsible for finding the person it believes can most effectively translate into action the policies of the Board and the goals of the community and the professional staff.
The Board may employ a consultant to advise and assist the Board in the search and selection process. However, final selection shall rest with the Board after a thorough consideration of qualified applicants.
An interim director of schools appointed during the time of a search shall not become a candidate unless the Board expressly permits such inclusion in the selection procedures. A board member may not apply for or in any other way be considered for the position of director of schools.
Prior to conducting a search to fill the position, the Board shall initially develop the following:
• a job description
• a timeline
• a process for accepting and reviewing applications
• selection procedures which shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
The Board may wish to involve the community, and employees, in the process of selecting a director of schools. Resumes of persons interviewed by the Board shall be available in the central office for public inspection.
The interview process for each nalist may include meetings with various staff as well as community groups and an interview with the entire board.
Candidates shall be interviewed by the Board in an open session. Only board members will be allowed to ask questions during the interview.
The Board will attempt to select a director by majority vote, with an unanimous vote being preferred.

For more information go to http://www.fcstn.net/

​Nancy Berner Named University Provost

University of the South Vice-Chancellor John McCardell has announced the appointment of Nancy Berner as provost of the University, effective July 1. The Board of Regents approved her appointment during its meeting June 13. Berner will succeed John Swallow, who has been named president of Carthage College.

Nancy Berner was named associate provost in 2012 and since that time has been the provost’s primary associate in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the University and in executing strategic and operational initiatives. In recognition of her increasing duties, she was named vice provost for planning and administration in 2014 and vice president for planning and administration in 2016. Prior to joining the provost’s office, she taught biology at Sewanee for 20 years.
“Nancy’s knowledge of the University is deep, and her service has been exemplary,” said McCardell. “It was apparent, after observing Nancy’s commitment and dedication to the University, her collaborative leadership style and the positive results achieved by her in so many varied undertakings, that the best successor to John Swallow was already on campus.”
Berner’s responsibilities and accomplishments during the past five years have been broad and numerous. She took responsibility for the University’s 10-year report to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (its regional accrediting association), a process that resulted in accreditation being reaffirmed last year. She has served as the University’s Title IX coordinator, charged with monitoring compliance with those laws and regulations. And along with Dean of Students W. Marichal Gentry, Berner co-chairs a Task Force on Campus Sexual Climate to ensure that the University’s commitments to address campus sexual misconduct are being maintained and to offer recommendations for improvement.
Berner is the William Henderson Professor of Biology. In addition to her record of teaching excellence, she served as interim associate dean of the College, was elected to two three-year faculty terms on the Board of Trustees, and served on numerous administrative committees including the Campus Master Planning Committee, Advisory Council, Coordinating Committee and Strategic Planning Committee.

​Sewanee Summer Music Festival Opens 61st Season

A faculty chamber music concert will open the 61st annual Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) on Saturday, June 17, at 7 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium. A brass quintet opens the concert, performing Canadian composer and arranger Morley Calvert’s “Suite from the Monteregion Hills,” based on French Canadian folk songs. String faculty will perform the second movement Scherzo of Dvořák’s “Quintet No. 2,” and Dohnányi’s “Serenade for String Trio.” Jacques Ibert’s “Trois pièces brèves” will be performed by woodwind faculty. John Kilkenny, percussionist, and Elizabeth Blakeslee, harpist, are each playing solo performances. Pianists Dror Biran and Amy Cheng complete the program with the four-hands, one piano “Hungarian Dances” of Brahms.

Season tickets are available online for $90. Payment is made by credit card and the tickets may be picked up in the lobby of Guerry Auditorium prior to any concert. Tickets to individual concerts are also available and advance purchase is highly recommended. Patrons may purchase single tickets for $15 (no extra fees) online and collect their ticket prior to the concert. Tickets will be available for purchase in the lobby prior to each concert for $20 (cash, check, or credit card accepted). SSMF is unable to accept phone orders for tickets. For more information go to ssmf.sewanee.edu.
The Sewanee Summer Music Festival, a program of the University of the South, offers music students in high school through graduate school a month of rigorous music study, rehearsal, and performance opportunities in two orchestras and chamber ensembles.

​Reverse Raffle and Friday Nights in the Park

The Sewanee Business Alliance (SBA) is sponsoring a reverse raffle to benefit Angel Park and the Community Action Committee, with a chance for participants to win up to $10,000.

Tickets are $100 each and are for sale at the following local businesses: The Blue Chair, Locals, Lemon Fair, University Realty and Woody’s Bicycles. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.sewaneevillage.com/park/
During each Friday Nights in the Park event, there will be a drawing for a special prize. The ticket drawn will be placed back in the pool for another chance to win. On the last night, July 14, the $10,000 grand prize drawing will be held. Participants do not have to be present to win.
The lineup for Friday Nights in the Park is: Little Russell Band on June 23; The Yellow Dandies on June 30; Top Tier Band on July 7; and C-Mac and the Madras Men on July 14.
University Avenue will be closed at 6 p.m. each of these nights for the annual outdoor family event, with food and drink from local vendors available for purchase. The entertainers play from 7:30–9:30 p.m. in the Angel Park Pavilion. The events are free and open to the public.

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