​Food Ministry at MMUMC

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

In 2006, Sandy Cantrell had a stroke. After a few years of being unable to work, she found herself struggling to put food on the table. A friend told her of a local ministry that provided food assistance to those with food insecurity, and that is when she first visited Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC).
Three years later, she is meeting with people once a month, helping distribute meals to those who come for food assistance. Cantrell said the best part about the ministry is that it helps get her out of the house and allows her to meet people.
“My mind doesn’t comprehend too much anymore, and I developed Parkinson’s disease. But the food ministry helps people who can’t afford to go buy groceries. I liked it so much I ended up staying to help. It’s a good program, and I would recommend it,” said Cantrell.
The Rev. Amanda Diamond of MMUMC said that is just the kind of impression she hopes the food ministry will have on those it assists—what she calls the church’s Saturday family.
“One of the things we really believe in is sitting with our Saturday family. We have people in our congregation who just come to sit and listen. We don’t always do a great job, but we try to make everybody that comes in our door feel like they’re a part of us. We know their stories. We know when they’re struggling to put mortgages together or when their lights might get turned off or when they may need an extra set of diapers for the kids,” said Diamond. “We are that place where you can come—we can’t fill your pantry but we can provide you with a few meals of sustainable food.”
Diamond said Cantrell has been involved with the ministry since the beginning.
“The very first time we asked for volunteers to help us, she quickly and readily stepped forward and was willing to assist us in whatever form we needed. After a few months of assisting us with the registration process we asked her to be part of our monthly team meetings, and once again, she stepped forward willing to help. She attends our monthly team meetings and comes early on the second Saturday of every month in order to begin the process of saying hello and handing out the numbers we use in the registration process. Then she moves to the check-in and registration table ensuring that both our recipients and the Food Ministry has all that it needs from each person,” said Diamond.
According to Laura Kilpatrick, Director of Agency and Government Relations for the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, helping communities with food insecurity is just one part of their goal. MMUMC gets supplementary provisions from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank each month.
“Food is the bridge to great things. It’s a part of our culture, and our goal as an organization is to build these relationships with other entities that provide other social services that can address all the needs of the home to help build them out of poverty,” said Kilpatrick. “What are some other things we can help with? How do we connect to these families that have children? What other services can we provide? We’re trying to use food as the vehicle to get people to congregate and bring in other services to work on long-term sustainability with families.”
Cantrell said anyone in need of help shouldn’t feel ashamed to come to Morton.
“You don’t have to give anything. If you need help, you don’t have to be shy about it. Just come in and get what you need,” she said.
The next food ministry at Morton is Saturday, Sept. 9, beginning around 8:30 a.m. Volunteers are also encouraged to come help unload food shipments on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 12:30 p.m.

​Work Based Learning at GCHS: an Opportunity for Adventure

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Beginning this fall, Grundy County High School (GCHS) students have the opportunity to serve as interns and shadow career professionals as part of their high school curriculum in conjunction with a unique Work Based Learning (WBL) program made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE).
“Work Based Learning gives students an opportunity to see firsthand what they might want to do after high school while preparing them for what is expected on the job,” said Natalie Nunley, Transitional Case Manager for the new program.
Seventeen students have enrolled in GCHS’s two WBL classes which meet daily. In the classroom, students take career assessment tests and participate in mock interviews. Career professionals who visit the classes talk about what they do and what is expected of a good employee.
Just two weeks into the school year, the owner of a local bakery and an officer from the Unites States Army have already visited the classes.
Key to the WBL program’s mission is reinforcing academic, technical and social skills through collaborative activities with industry.
“We want all the WBL students to be placed in either a paid or unpaid position,” Nunley said. “We’ve had quite a bit of support from the community, especially for unpaid intern positions.”
“A student interested in cars might have a shadow job with a mechanic,” she explained, “observing what a mechanic does and what the job involves.”
“Interns work about four hours a day,” Nunley said. “Students with good attendance and good grades can leave school early.”
“An employer offering a paid intern position is eligible for tax incentives up to $9,000,” Nunley stressed. She urged employers and community members wanting more information to contact her at nnunley@grundyk12.com.
Two GCHS teachers recently received certification qualifying them to teach the WBL classes. WBL Instructors must hold a Tennessee teaching license and have non-teaching work experience.
“GCHS had a program similar to this years ago,” Nunley said. The TDE introduced updated WBL policies and resources beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Renewed interest in WBL grew out of Governor Haslam’s “Drive to 55” commitment to get 55 percent of Tennesseans equipped with a college degree or certificate by the year 2025.
“For students work based learned serves as a transition to full-time employment or further education,” Nunley said.
What students learn can be as simple as knowing tank tops are generally not appropriate attire for a job interview or as intriguing as finding out what goes on behind those doors marked “Authorized Personnel Only.”

​New Expansion at Morton Memorial Church

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Trees were felled and ground broken on a expansion to Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC) four years in the making.
The expansion is the first since the education building was added to Morton in the 1950s.
The church expansion, which will be called the Ministry Center, will add 3,200 square feet for an approximate cost—including furnishings—of $900,000. The building will be connected to the front portion of the existing sanctuary by a hallway. RVC Construction in Winchester is doing the construction.
“I’m so excited because the first thing I say to people about our building is it makes our full campus accessible to anyone that wants to walk in the door,” said Rev. Amanda Diamond.
“There was a strategic ministry team in place who had done a lot of work before I arrived five years ago, and we sort of reconfigured that team and spent time talking about how you move into growth. One of the things was how we could begin to be in relationship and partnership with the community.”
Diamond said this expansion is another step toward furthering community partnership.
Rich Wyckoff, a member of the church building committee, said space constraints and lack of accessibility are an additional part of what called for the expansion.
“We have just run out of space. 
And currently, if you’re in a wheelchair, we’re not accessible. Back in 1902, when the church was built, you didn’t worry about accessibility. This expansion will provide that into the sanctuary and into the bathrooms,” said Wyckoff. “We do the food ministry, that’s held upstairs in the education building, and roughly a third of our recipients are not physically able to go up the stairs. We’re also going to put in a cooler and freezer in the new building, which will help get a wider variety of foods. Currently, if food needs refrigeration, we can’t store it. This will help to expand the fresh produce and dairy offerings to our recipients. The expansion is going to really help us with our different ministries.”
Wyckoff said a fellowship lunch for congregation members on Sundays has previously been spread over three different rooms in the church.
“This will give us a place to fellowship all together in one place,” he said. “The new facility will accommodate a table to seat 150 people.”
The project is about three weeks in and is slated to be finished in 15–18 months.
“The community is going to have needs—we don’t know what they are yet. You look at Monteagle, and there’s not a big spot for community gatherings. Something is going to develop. There may be a need out there that we have not identified yet that this building will help fill,” said Wyckoff.
The stonework on the original building will be matched on the expansion to preserve the integrity of the look of the church, according to Wyckoff.
“We really see our building as an extension of the community,” said Diamond.

​Community Council Considers Adult Transportation Remedies

Promoting Bike Safety; Honors Schlichting

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
In a discussion about the need for public transportation at the Aug. 28 Sewanee Community Council meeting, Vice-Chancellor John McCardell suggested offering a Park and Ride type service on an “experimental basis.” The council also discussed ways to encourage student bicyclists to use lights. In closing, McCardell circulated a resolution honoring recently retired superintendent of leases Barbara Schlichting.
Council representative Pixie Dozier said constituents had contacted her about not being able to drive, concerns about driving at night, and the inability to find parking spaces when they did drive.
Some residents expressed the need for transportation to doctor and dentist appointments, according to Dozier, but the need for transportation to events and event parking “was the biggest complaint.”
Provost Nancy Berner said Folks at Home offered a list of registered drivers who provided transportation on a fee basis.
“There aren’t many Folks at Home drivers,” Dozier pointed out.
Council representative Rich Barrali suggested using University vans for transporting residents to events.
McCardell said the University “wasn’t adverse” to the idea, but it raised many questions. How many vans would be needed? Where would people be picked up? And where would they park to be picked up? An event Park and Ride service could be tried on “an experimental basis,” McCardell suggested.
Sewanee Police Chief Marie Eldridge said the Park and Ride solution didn’t help residents who couldn’t drive.
Council representative Theresa Shackelford said Folks at Home Executive Director Kathleen O’Donohue applied for a grant to bring the Uber ride service to the community, but the service area wasn’t broad enough to qualify for funding.
McCardell proposed conducting a survey to determine “what the greatest need is” and “to gauge interest.”
Council representative Pam Byerly, Dozier, and Police Chief Eldridge will serve on a committee charged with investigating transportation options and soliciting community input.
Turning to the issue of bike safety, Barrali said student bicyclists who neglected to use their lights at night and during foggy weather were “an accident waiting to happen.”
Council student representative Abbey Shockley said students likely didn’t consider the danger and a reminder would be a good idea.
Council representative Flournoy Rogers suggested signs on bike racks.
Eldridge will communicate the message to students through Residential Life. State law requires bicyclists to use their lights at night. “The law hasn’t been enforced,” Eldridge said. “I prefer communication first, then enforcement and citations.”
Barrali stressed bicycle lights needed to be readily available and inexpensive. He speculated fraternities and sororities might want to “push” the project.
McCardell’s resolution honoring lifelong Sewanee resident Barbara Schlichting, highlighted her generosity and commitment to community service, noting she could “always be counted on to share her time” whether supporting organizations “or working less visibly to aid individuals in need.” Schlichting served as the University’s superintendent of leases for 20 years. See page 2 for the complete resolution.
Dozier announced the Project Funding Review Committee was behind and working diligently to catch up. The Project Funding initiative, a program of the community council, annually awards $10,000 to worthy community projects.


Resolution of Appreciation
from the Sewanee Community Council
Barbara Schlichting, a lifelong resident of Sewanee, has served our community exceptionally well for many years. From camp counselor and youth center leader as a young woman to her twenty years as the University’s superintendent of leases and her service on the Community Council, Barbara has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the welfare and well-being of all those who call Sewanee home.
Whether supporting Angel Park, the Legion Hall, or the Sewanee Business Alliance, or working less visibly to aid individuals in need, Barbara can always be counted on to share her time and talents. Hers is a calm, respected voice of truth and reason.

The Sewanee Community Council expresses its profound gratitude to Barbara Schlichting for her devoted service to the Council, looks forward to her continued support of our community, and wishes her many years of happiness (and camping) in a well-deserved retirement.

​SCC Funding Applications Available

The Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) announces the beginning of the 2017–18 fundraising campaign. Sponsored by the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA), the SCC raises funds for local nonprofit organizations that serve the common good.

Funding applications are now being accepted. The deadline for submission is Friday, Sept. 15. Please contact sewaneecommunitychest@gmail.com to have an application either emailed or mailed to your organization. A downloadable request for funds form is available at sewaneecivic.wordpress.com.
Nonprofit organizations serving the Mountain are encouraged to apply. The SCC does not allocate funds to those organizations discriminating on the basis of race, creed, sex or national origin.

​Monteagle Fire Department Needs Are at a Critical Level

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“We are in an emergency situation. We don’t have a fire truck,” Fire Chief Mike Holmes told the Monteagle Town Council at the Aug. 28 meeting. Holmes said the fire department also desperately needed 10 air packs, a device worn by firefighters to provide breathable air in a dangerous to life or health situation.
The recent repairs to Engine Number One, the fire department’s primary truck, did not solve the problem, Holmes said. Mechanics advised Holmes the 1997 model truck needed a new motor and transmission, estimated cost $50,000-$60,000.
That’s too much to spend on a truck whose ISO rating expires this year, Holmes said.
The fire department’s 1993 truck, used mainly to haul equipment, won’t draw water according to Holmes. Holmes is grateful for the assistance the Monteagle Fire Department has received from Sewanee and Pelham, but stressed, “We need to take care of our own.”
Holmes recommended declaring both the department’s trucks surplus and replacing them with a single truck. Homes found a 2017 demo truck for $379,000 in Murfreesboro and a 2008 truck for $325,000 in the Midwest, but cautioned, “I don’t know when they could deliver it.”
The resale value of the 1997 truck is estimated at $60,000-$80,000, Holmes said. The 1993 truck is worth about $15,000. Acknowledging concerns about the cost of a replacement truck, Holmes noted financing was available at 3 percent interest on a 15-year term.
Vice-Mayor Jessica Blalock said in the past a donation from the Monteagle Assembly helped the town purchase a fire truck.
A visitor said The Bridge had a Community Compassion fund which might be able to provide assistance.
The fire department’s need for 10 new air packs is also of crucial importance according to Holmes. “We’re putting fire fighters’ lives in danger,” he said. The department only has eight functioning air packs; all have exceeded their recommended shelf life.
Holmes estimated the cost for the new air packs at $60,000 and suggested the money from the fire department’s replacement budget could be used for the purchase.
City Recorder Debbie Taylor said she didn’t think there was any money in the replacement budget due to the need for a new building to house the fire department.
Mayor David Sampley agreed the situation was “urgent.” The council will consult with the accountant to discuss the town’s options.
The council approved on second reading the ordinance reducing the term of mayor and alderman to two years and the ordinance requiring fencing to screen from view vehicles and other conveyances in a junked condition. Fencing ordinance violators will be fined $50 per day.
The council also approved the Utility Department’s request for purchase of a Kubota hydrostat tractor from Brothers Implement. The tractor currently used by the Utility Department “has been giving constant problems,” Sampley said.
Brothers agreed to take the current tractor on trade-in reducing the cost to $15,500. The Utility Department’s budget contained sufficient funds to make the purchase, Sampley confirmed.
A visitor asked how urgent the situation was and proposed allocating the money to purchase a new fire truck instead.
“You can’t take money from one department’s budget and give it to another department,” Blalock explained.
Sampley introduced a discussion about motorists speeding on Monteagle’s side streets where the speed limit is 30 mph. Utility Department employees were reluctant to work on Laurel Lake Drive due to the speeding and traffic, Sampley said, and on Fairmont Ave., the “Slow Children at Play” and speed limit signs “had been run down.”
Sampley recommended reducing the speed limit to 20 mph on side streets to ensure “the safety and welfare of the citizens.”
“We need to enforce what we have now,” Alderman Kenneth Bishop said. “Twenty miles per hour is way too slow.”
Blalock suggested lowering the speed limit in specific locations such as around DuBose Conference Center.
Past discussions about lowering the speed limit to 20 mph on Laurel Lake Drive incited strong opposition from residents.
The council voted to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on side streets, excluding Laurel Lake Drive, on a trial basis. Sampley abstained from the vote, explaining he favored lowering the speed limit to 20 mph on all side streets.
The city is in the process of changing the speed limit signs. The speed limit on Main Street (State Hwy. 41) will continue to be 35 mph in the residential and business part of town.
The council meets next on Sept. 25.

​Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Nutrition Assistance Programs

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The number is 25,000.
That is the number of people the Chattanooga Area Food Bank serves each week via food ministries such as Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC). That is also the number of people in the Chattanooga area whose relative food security would be threatened in the event that proposed budget cuts to USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) programs are approved.
“What’s important in terms of these programs is that the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is actually the most successful program of pulling people out of poverty,” said Laura Kilpatrick, Director of Agency and Government Relations at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank. “We have around 330 partners in our service area, and on the Mountain, we have four agency partners. The Grundy County Food Bank served 234 families last month, and Morton typically serves more than 100 families each month.
In Franklin County alone, it was estimated that 13.3 percent of the population were suffering from food insecurity. In Marion and Grundy County, numbers were even higher at 14.6 percent and 17.8 percent.
Amanda Diamond, Reverend of Morton Memorial United Methodist Church, said the food ministry at the church has already seen small effects from the proposed USDA budget cuts.
“Our director was first approached by the Chattanooga Food Bank because they had additional resources to provide to our ministry. Our food is not tied in to USDA, but it has given us a bump,” she said. “For us, our food ministry is about providing healthy, sustainable food for the people. Recipients get about 75 pounds of food at one time, and we tell them to share with their neighbors.”
According to Diamond, where Morton’s food ministry had been getting frozen chicken, canned vegetables and bottled juices, they are now only getting juices from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.
Kilpatrick said in the event that the proposed changes become legislation, food banks like the Chattanooga Area center would not be able to keep up.
“We wouldn’t be able to take on the load. Our agency partners have to raise money for their programs, so for us to be have to try to grow that quickly and ramp up to what the need would be, people would go hungry,” she said. “With our donor streams, we’re still trying to close the gap in our service area over the next 10 years. To do that in the current political environment, we have to ramp up our distribution to over 20 million pounds by 2025. We are at little over 16.2 million pounds this year, and adding significant cuts on top of that would be detrimental.”
John Noffsinger, who attends MMUMC, is working with community members and Rotarians to finalize plans for the third Hunger Walk, an event that raises money for food ministries on the Mountain. Proceeds from the Hunger Walk helped to fund the purchase of 103,740 pounds of food that was distributed by MMUMC during the past year.

The third annual Hunger Walk will be Saturday, Sept. 2, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. For more information about how you can get involved with the walk and the effort to alleviate food insecurity on the Mountain, visit www.thehungerwalk.com.

​SUD Discusses Water Line Repair; Approves Re-budgeting Request

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Reporting on operations at the Aug. 22 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, SUD manager Ben Beavers said the utility recently repaired a “big leak” in a water main located in the creek in the area of North Carolina Avenue. “There’s over 15,000 feet of old cast iron pipe in town,” Beavers said in the subsequent discussion about the need for replacing old water lines in Sewanee.
Water line leaks contribute to unaccounted for water loss, the difference between the amount of water treated at the plant and amount registered as sold on customer meters, meaning SUD isn’t paid for the water. SUD is in the process of installing zone meters to detect leaks in the outlying areas. “Zone meters aren’t useful in town,” Beavers said, “because the water runs in more than one direction.”
Beavers identified Florida Ave., South Carolina Ave., and Tennessee Ave. as the areas most seriously in need of attention. He plans to meet with SUD’s engineer to review possible remedies. Pipe bursting, expanding the old pipe and inserting new pipe, can be done without digging up the line. “Pipe bursting costs about 40 percent more than digging up the line to replace it,” Beavers said, but the cost difference can vary depending on how many customers are connected to the affected section.
Beavers noted SUD’s cash on hand was 20 percent above Aug. of 2016. He anticipates the money being spent on replacing the old cast iron water lines.
SUD’s unaccounted for water loss has decreased significantly in the past few years, dropping from a year-to-date average of 26 percent in July of 2014 to 21 percent in July of 2017. In addition to installing zone meters to address the problem, SUD recently stepped up hydrant maintenance and in 2014 replaced customer meters, many of which were old and giving false-low readings.
An added benefit of the new customer meters is technology enabling SUD to generate a report showing customers’ daily use if customers question their bill, Beavers said. When customers see a report showing what day their water use was high they can usually correlate the high use with some activity like pressure washing the house, Beavers explained.
Turning to another technological consideration, Beavers cited problems related to the desktop server linked to the office computer. He recommended employing a server based in Hillsboro, Tenn. To cover the cost of equipment and setup, Beavers proposed shifting $5,000 budgeted for a new four wheeler into the office computer budget. The Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) four wheeler was repaired, Beavers said, making it unnecessary to purchase a new four wheeler. The repairs only cost $330.
The board approved Beavers’ rebudgeting request.
The board reviewed the new adjustment policy that recently went into effect. Only residential customers enrolled in the leak insurance program qualify for adjustments to their water bill due to high usage resulting from leaks. Residential customers are automatically enrolled in the program unless they request to opt out. Commercial customers do not qualify for leak insurance and water bill adjustments, Beavers pointed out. Like all customers, however, commercial customers qualify for an adjustment to their sewer bill if they can demonstrate leaked water did not enter the sewer system.
Commenting on the high rainfall, nine and a half inches in July, Beavers said inflow and infiltration of rain water into the sewer system had correspondingly increased raising the lagoon levels. To draw down lagoon levels before the fall rainy season, the WWTP is spraying the maximum amount allowed daily on Monday through Friday, Beavers said. If necessary, the WWTP could also spray on weekends.
The board meets next on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

​ALLL to be Under Seminars at the University

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALLL) at Sewanee will be one of many programs offered by Sewanee Seminars, led by theatre arts professor and coordinator of the Sewanee Summer Seminar, Dan Backlund. The lunch and learn seminars will continue offering learning opportunities to all those who are interested.
The Academy for Lifelong Learning was created when Tom Watson, former interim director of St. Mary’s Sewanee, put together a committee to bring more programming to the center.
“The lights were on, and no one was home,” said Anne Davis, who has been involved with the program since its creation. “Elaine Goleski and I decided we would become the coordinators of the programming. Elaine lives in Jacksonville now. Our program has been mostly for retired people, but you don’t have to be retired to come. We typically have about 35-45 people come every month, once a month for the noon-time talk.”
University Vice Chancellor John McCardell said the partnership came about roughly three months ago.
“I was approached over the summer by the Lifelong Learning Board to see whether the University might be willing to host the Academy in the coming year. I suggested they discuss the possibility with Dan Backlund, who has so successfully directed the Sewanee Summer Seminar program for many years. The proposal was to fold the Academy into the summer program and rename the new program the Sewanee Seminar. Dan is planning to expand the offerings beyond the monthly lunches of the former Academy and the one-week summer session to include other kinds of short courses and presentations,” said McCardell.
Davis said plans for the expansion will benefit those who are looking to continue their learning.
“A lot of us are retired and have had full careers, but still just really love to learn. When you’re young, you’re not focused on your studies. You can’t possibly soak it all up. We’re all in a place now where we can just soak it up. With no papers and no tests, it’s just perfect.”
The first Sewanee Seminar session will be Thursday, Sept. 7 at noon in Lower Cravens on the University campus. Pricing will be the same $12 per year for a membership or one may pay $2 per session.
Backlund, who has spent the last 10 years running the Summer Seminar, said there is no prerequisite for attendance other than curiosity.
“These are non-credit classes, and everyone is welcome. We want to reach all interested people in the region. The seminars will range from things taught in normal college classes to perhaps how to plant a butterfly garden and refinish furniture. We rely on the skills of community and faculty. For instance, I know of a dentist who wants to teach beekeeping,” said Backlund.
Stephen Burnett is the only one of the committee members who lives on campus. He said this allows him to get to know those on campus who might have something to speak about for a program.
“I live around and rub elbows with a lot of our speakers, which seems to get them to return my calls,” joked Burnett.
Burnett said the program is shaping up to be a win-win for the entire community.
“Backlund’s summer seminars have been successful and tend to bring a lot of alumni back to campus. It’s really beginning to take shape, and it’s going to be exciting to watch the program get its wings and take off.”
As far as the future of the program goes, partnership with the alumni office at the University and longer, more in-depth learning trips are in the books.
“This new venture builds on the success of the Academy and broadens those offerings to reach— we hope—a wider swath of the local community. In the long run, there will be a great many more opportunities for learning, which will enrich the quality of life for all our friends in Sewanee and beyond,” said McCardell.
For more information about programming and the Academy for Lifelong Learning at Sewanee, email Anne Davis at <adavis951@gmail.com> or Dan Backlund at <dbacklun@sewanee.edu>.

​Townsend School: A Proud and Determined History

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Ninety years ago, what would soon be Franklin County’s first African-American high school, opened its doors to students. For a few years, Townsend School only offered instruction through the eighth grade, but in 1934 the first high school graduating class received their diplomas.
Since 1911, the white children of Franklin County had free public high school education available to them.
The Townsend School design—five classrooms and an auditorium—suggest the African-American community envisioned a 12-grade facility from the beginning.
The Townsend School replaced the four-room Winchester Colored School that occupied the site until a fire destroyed the wood-frame building in 1926. Nearly half of the Winchester Colored School was paid for with donations, $1,700 from the local African-American community and $1,100 from philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, CEO of Sears, Roebuck, and Company. An endowment established by Rosenwald helped build more than 4,000 rural African-American schools across the South, including the African-American elementary school in Cowan.
Committed to rebuilding the Winchester Colored School, the African-American community again joined forces contributing the bricks and much of the labor for the five-classroom building and auditorium.
Originally called Townsend Training School, the school was named after the Reverend “Doc” Anderson Townsend. Born a slave in Franklin County in 1848 and taught to read by his first owner, Solomon Coover, Townsend escaped during the Civil War, joined the Union army, and attended Nashville Normal and Bible Institute when the war ended. In 1869, he returned to Franklin County where he taught in local African-American schools for the next 50 years.
Satellite schools throughout the county sent their children to Townsend to complete their education after the eighth grade, with records naming as many as 14 African-American elementary schools, Sewanee’s Kennerly School among them. Significantly, Kennerly School boasted water-toilets, showers, hot air heat, and a lunchroom, better facilities than some of the white schools. A lawsuit filed in 1962 led to a 1964 ruling desegregating the Franklin County Schools. The plaintiffs were four white families from Sewanee, Bates, Cameron, Camp, and Goodstein, two African-American families from Sewanee, Turner and Staten, and two African-American families from Winchester, Hill and Sisk.
A member of Townsend’s last graduating class, 1966, Mike Blackwell said, “During my freshman year, 1962, they dedicated the new gym.” The new addition to the building also included a library, science lab, and offices, with dressing rooms for sporting events in the basement. This was, in fact, the school’s third gym.
“By my sophomore year, we knew the school would close,” Blackwell said, and he wonders if the addition was “built as a token. ‘We’ll do this for you, and you stay there.’”
Blackwell has fond memories of Townsend. “The classes were small, and you knew everyone. School spirit was strong.”
According to Blackwell, Townsend was enlarged at least two times. When he attended, the home economics room occupied what had been the auditorium in the original building with the cafeteria in the basement. The high school was in the rear part of the building. A new gym had been added to the original structure, as well as industrial arts and science labs.
After Townsend School closed, the building housed the board of education until 1994, a kindergarten program until 2007, and from 2006-2016, the Franklin County Alternative School. The 1962 addition houses the Campora Family Resource Center and the Franklin County Prevention Coalition. Several elementary schools use the gym for sporting events.
The board of education has received two requests to purchase portions of the property and a third request to establish a Head Start program at the old school.
Neighborhood residents favor tearing down the old part of the school and using the bricks to erect a memorial to the school’s proud and determined heritage.
Making repairs to the aging structure “would be like putting lipstick on a pig” Blackwell insists.
After high school, Blackwell graduated from Tennessee State and worked most of his life as a civil engineer, first for TVA then at AEDC. He’s well qualified to offer an opinion on the building’s feeble condition.
A representative from the Rosenwald School Initiative, a collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visited Townsend School but determined too much had changed for the school to qualify for funds for restoration.
Blackwell expressed concern about what might be erected on the site if the school district sells the property.
His brother Floyd Blackwell addressed the board of education at the Aug. 14 meeting on behalf of the Friends of Townsend Coalition. A former Franklin County High School (FCHS) assistant principal and former director of the alternative school, he pointed to the example of the old FCHS, which was torn down. The property will soon be put to good use as the site of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.
The school system should retain ownership of the Townsend School property the Blackwell brothers stressed.
“We want to be involved” in decisions regarding the property’s future Floyd Blackwell told the school board.
The neighboring residents have good reason to be apprehensive. “In the summer of 1966 after the last class graduated from Townsend, they destroyed everything—trophies, graduation pictures, awards—everything was thrown in the garbage,” Mike Blackwell said. “No one’s happy with what’s happened so far.”
In 1890, fore thinking African-American leaders in the Winchester community chartered an institute of higher learning, proposing as a location the four-acre tract where Townsend School now stands. Although Winchester University was never established, the four-acre site represents the hope of the past and the promise of the future.
It is in that spirit Mike Blackwell insists, “We want to see the land reclaimed.”

​University Welcomes Class of 2021 This Week

The University of the South will officially welcome more than 450 members of the Class of 2021 and other new students to the University with orientation beginning Saturday, August 26. Classes in the College begin Wednesday, August 30. Many first-year students arrived on the Mountain earlier for Finding Your Place (which began August 16) and PRE (August 23).

Members of the Class of 2021 hail from 30 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, as well as the Bahamas, China, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Myanmar, Rwanda, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe. In addition to the 14 international students, six students have dual citizenship. And 64 members of the class are first-generation college students.
Eighty percent of the first-year students took at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course while in high school. Among those who did, students averaged four AP courses and 9 IB courses. Individually, members of the class have talents ranging from birding to stand-up comedy and from singing to playing squash. We look forward to the contributions they all will make to the Sewanee community over the course of the next four years!
The four-day student orientation will include residence hall meetings and activities; information sessions, meetings and meals with academic advisors; a community picnic; and a class photo followed by the signing of the Honor Code. The Honor Code signing is both solemn and celebratory, and marks the official matriculation of students into the University of the South.

​Bluegrass Underground Moving to Local Cave

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Bluegrass Underground’s recent decision to move from Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville to a cave near Pelham is welcome news to many local music lovers and businesses.
The music series, featured on PBS nationwide, has hosted musicians performing more than 300-feet underground in the Volcano Room of Cumberland Caverns since 2008. Concerts at the new site, The Caverns, begin in early 2018. The property purchased by Bluegrass Underground is about 20 minutes from Sewanee at the base of Monteagle Mountain off Payne Cove Road.
Grundy County Mayor Michael Bradley said event producers want to keep the area rural and not alter the landscape, while bringing in great music.
“I think this is very, very positive for several different reasons,” Bradley said. “One reason is this is a world-class event that has come to Grundy County…It’s going to give us exposure, not to mention a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs. This is going to be an economic boon for the county.”
Artists like Vince Gill, Widespread Panic, Chris Stapleton, Old Crow Medicine Show and Lucinda Williams are some of the bigger names who have performed at Bluegrass Underground.
According to a news release, organizers expect to host about 50 shows in 2018, adding that having a dedicated space will mean an expanded variety of acts and potential for more nationally-known artists.
“Bluegrass Underground has attracted not only national, but international attention,” said Todd Mayo, series creator and executive producer. “Based on its success in McMinville, the hope is that the popular event will bring in additional tourist dollars to the Grundy County area. The plan is to let Bluegrass Underground visitors know about all of the great attractions in the area.”
Autumn Gilliam, manager of Simply Southern in Pelham, said the restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, may expand its hours once the concerts begin.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” she said. “We hope that it grows us and the businesses that surround us.”
Gilliam responded that it would be thrilling if an artist like Vince Gill happened to stop in for lunch.
According to show organizers, some of the advantages of the move from McMinnville (about an hour northeast of Pelham) is that The Caverns will seat more people and be more handicap accessible. The venue is also closer to both Chattanooga and Nashville and will provide a more flexible TV taping schedule with a permanent wiring, audio and lighting infrastructure.
“This is a dream come true to find a cave system that expands and improves the live and televised musical experiences of underground performances we have been curating since 2008,” Mayo said.
Another plus is expanded food and beverage options, including beer, Mayo added.
Sewanee musician Regina Rourk Childress said she has mixed feelings about the new concert attraction.
“As a musician and music lover, I’m very happy that the Bluegrass Underground will be closer by,” she said. “However, as a nature lover, I worry a bit about the impact of human encroachment on the cave environment. I wonder, Why does it have to be underground when there are so many empty buildings in lots of little towns all over Tennessee?”
The Caverns are connected to many other caves in the area, and organizers said most of those caves will remain open to spelunkers.
“In time we’d like to sustainably develop and share portions of these amazing caves for both educational and recreational purposes, allowing a wider audience to enjoy and learn from the underground beauty of Tennessee,” Mayo said.
This isn’t the first cave in the Pelham area to garner significant attention. Wonder Cave, about 10 minutes from The Caverns, was a tourist attraction which offered tours for many years until it closed in the early 2000s. A 2016 Vanderbilt Magazine article stated that more than two million people visited Wonder Cave, which first started offering flat-bottom boat tours in the late 1800s or early 1900s when it was owned by Sewanee alum and coal-mining entrepreneur Robert M. Payne.

SES Summer Super Readers

Sewanee Elementary School students read 69,348 minutes this summer. The top readers in each grade were named the 2017 Summer Super Readers: Alexus Inoubli (K), Cabell Thompson (first), Maggie Lu Rudd (second), Miren Colber (third), Mollye Casey (fourth), Will Turrell (fifth). Will Turrell, fifth grade, and Miren Colbert, third grade, set new SES reading records. Will read 12,800 minutes and Miren read 11,485 minutes. From left: Maggie Lu Rudd, Will Turrell, Alexus Inoubli, Miren Colbert, Stripes, Mollye Casey and Cabell Thompson.

​County High School Seniors Will Graduate Early

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Aug. 14 meeting of the Franklin County School Board, the board granted the request of Franklin County High School Principal Roger Alsup and Huntland High School Principal Kenneth Bishop to hold senior graduation a week before the official end of classes.
“When graduation is held on the last day of school, seniors and their teachers are still working while other students and their families are celebrating Memorial Day weekend and beginning their summer vacations,” Alsup said.
“Early graduation would give guidance counselors time to record final grades and send transcripts,” Bishop explained, stressing this was especially important “for students who choose to attend summer school. It’s very hard to get everything taken care of for the seniors when graduation is on the final day of classes.”
If the school district switched to early graduation, seniors would take their final exams earlier as well, the principals said.
School board representative Adam Tucker asked if the state minimum requirement for instructional days would be met if the school system opted for early graduation.
“We go extra days anyway,” Bishop pointed out.
Director of School Stanley Bean said he researched the question, and “It’s not a problem.”
Alsup and Bishop cited other Tennessee school districts where seniors graduate a week before the end of school.
“Franklin County used to do this,” Board Chair CleiJo Walker pointed out. The early graduation model also makes it more convenient for rising eighth graders to visit the high school during the last week of school, she said.
The board voted to amend the calendars for the 2017–18 and 2018–19 school years to accommodate the early graduation request.
Reporting on the student enrollment for the 2017–18 school year, Bean said attendance data for the fourth day of school showed 194 fewer students than the same day in 2016, with a total of 4,976 students present this year.
Assistant Superintendant Linda Foster expressed concern there were 48 fewer seniors than students graduating from 11th grade last spring.
“We’re trying to identify the people and the reason they didn’t return for their senior year,” Foster said.
Tucker asked if the difference could reflect a reporting inconsistency.
The report was “based on attendance,” Foster acknowledged. She said a full enrollment report would be available at a later date.
The board resumed discussion of the Interscholastic Athletics policy recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association. The policy states student athletes are not required to attend athletic events “if the event is on an official school holiday, observed day of worship, or religious holiday. The student’s parent or legal guardian shall notify the coach in writing three full school days prior to the event.”
Board member Chris Guess took issue with excusing students for non-religious holidays like Presidents’ Day.
“The law requires we include this in the policy,” Walker said.
“It’s the state’s roundabout way of protecting students’ rights,” observed board member Lance Williams.
In prior discussion, the board questioned whether the language parents “shall notify the coach” implied a consequence in the absence of notification.
“The state code says ‘may notify,’” Walker pointed out. State code also waives the need for notification “in emergency situations.”
While interpreting this to mean the state encouraged leniency, the board sympathized with coaches need to know if student athletes would be present.
To make the policy “a little stronger,” Tucker recommended amending the policy to read parents “should notify the coach.”
The board approved the policy in the amended form.
The board also approved the new Local Agricultural Products Compliance Plan which affirms the district’s commitment to make more “local agricultural products” available and to allow “flexible bidding to assist farmers to bid competitively.”
“Does this mean local people can sell to cafeterias?” asked board member Gary Hanger.
Foster said they already did. The South Cumberland Food Hub based in Sewanee routinely coordinates sales between area farmers and the Franklin County Schools.
Board member Christine Hopkins expressed gratitude to the team of teachers responsible for the recent $267,318 grant award for equipment for the Career and Technical Education program. The teachers who collaborated in writing the grant were Alsup, Suzanne Mitchell, Rita Sliger, Diane Spaulding and Derrick Swager.
Representing the Friends of Townsend Coalition, Floyd Blackwell asked the board to retain ownership of the Townsend School property. Blackwell said neighboring residents supported demolition of the old portion of the school, rather than spending money refurbishing the aging structure, but recommended honoring the heritage of the Townsend School by establishing a park on the grounds with a memorial erected from the bricks.
“The citizens of the community paid for and laid those bricks,” said Blackwell, former assistant principal at FCHS.
The board has received two requests to purchase the property and a third request to establish a Head Start program at the old school.
“We would like to be involved,” Blackwell insisted.
The school board meets next at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 11.

​County Continues Efforts to Reduce Landfill Use

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Now more than a year into a study on reducing landfill use, Franklin County Solid Waste Department is considering turning garbage into energy and encouraging more recycling.
As part of its five-year plan, the department in 2015 enlisted the services of environmental and energy consulting firm Golder Associates to study decreasing the use of a landfill for solid waste.
William Anderson, Solid Waste director, said the most logical option so far is refuse derived fuel, or RDF. The garbage would be converted into a substance that could be burned and used for energy.
“It’s almost like Corn Flake woodchips if you will, and it is a consistent BTU value, so you take that material and put it in a boiler or cement kiln and then they are able to use that almost like a woody material to burn,” he said. “It has plastic in it and paper, some of the things that don’t come out of the waste are all in there, so all together it makes that a really high BTU-valued material.”
There are two alternatives for the refuse derived fuel, Anderson said. One is using the energy to operate the Solid Waste facility and other government buildings in the Joyce Lane area of Winchester, like the sheriff’s department and health department. The other is selling the chips to large cement operations. The equipment needed to convert trash into energy would cost about $8 million, Anderson noted.
The refuse derived fuel option would not eliminate the need to haul garbage from the transfer station in Estill Springs to the landfill in Rhea County. After removing recyclables and processing for RDF, about 25 percent of solid waste would still go to the landfill, Anderson said.
“There are some things that you’re not going to be able to do, glass being one of the big ones,” he said. “We would have to find either a recycling outlet for glass or it would be landfilled.”
Currently the county pays Santek, which manages the Estill Springs transfer station and transports the garbage to the Rhea County landfill, about $50 per ton. The county is responsible for the cost of roughly 800 tons of landfill material per month, which includes the trash from 15 convenience centers, the transfer station at Joyce Layne, and trash from city pick-ups, not including Sewanee and Winchester, Anderson said.
On the Sewanee Domain, private contractor Joe B. Long handles regular curbside pickup, but that trash is transported to the landfill in Marion County at a cost of $33.50 per ton, Long said. Franklin County transports trash from Sewanee’s convenience center to the transfer station in Estill Springs. The Sewanee convenience center yields about 40 tons of garbage per month, Anderson said.
Local officials said the cost to taxpayers for hauling materials to the landfill could be greatly reduced if more people would recycle.
Carol Fulmer is regional administrator of education, recycling and waste reduction for the Interlocal Solid Waste Authority (ISWA), a partnership between Franklin, Lincoln, Moore and Bedford counties and the city of Tullahoma. The ISWA owns the transfer station in Estill Springs.
“If you throw something in the garbage, taxes are spent—you pay for that,” Fulmer said. “If you put something in the recycling bin it can be sold for revenue that will go back in the Solid Waste Department’s budget to pay for the garbage and the expense of running the facility.”
In 2016, the Franklin County Solid Waste Department’s revenue from recyclables was $209,208, Anderson said. The biggest seller was cardboard, which brought in $143,000; ferrous metals garnered $30,000; and junk mail, newspapers and other paper products generated about $25,000. Plastics brought in $6,700 in revenue.
But selling the recycled items is only part of the picture, Anderson said, because not taking the recyclables to the landfill saved about $323,500.
Anderson noted that there are still plenty of recyclable materials being trashed.
“They did a waste study and there was still about 21 percent of recyclable material in Franklin County’s waste we’re responsible for that could be recycled,” he said. “That’s a big number. It was almost a quarter of the material that people throw away in Franklin County that could be pulled out or recycled.”
The Sewanee convenience center generates about 10 to 15 tons of recyclable material per month, Anderson said, and of the 15 convenience centers, Sewanee is around the fifth highest producer of trash and recyclables.
Long’s company also picks up recyclable materials curbside on the first and third Fridays of each month, which are processed by Franklin County. Numbers for curbside recycling in Sewanee were not available.
The Solid Waste Department currently does not recycle glass, which can be cost prohibitive, but the University of the South does. In numbers provided by Rachel Petropoulos, the University’s energy specialist, Sewanee recycled 283 tons of glass between 2012 and 2016. In 2016, the University earned $510 for 63 tons of glass.
“The main expense for the program is the cardboard boxes that we need to purchase for collection,” Petropoulos said. “We purchase used boxes that run $17 apiece and we go through around 100 boxes per year. Additional expense includes some labor costs each month to maintain the area.”
She added that recycling glass does save at the landfill, avoiding $2,110 in fees at the Marion County landfill in 2016. Strategic Materials based in Houston, Texas, with locations in Nashville and Atlanta, pays the University for the glass, Petropoulos said.

For more information about recycling and the landfill go to http://franklincotn.us/departments/solid_waste/ind...

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