​SUD to Replace Old Cast Iron Water Lines; Considers Changes to Pension Plan

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 24 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, the board reviewed a 2018 Capital Improvements Budget calling for replacement of old cast iron water lines in central Sewanee. The board also considered changes to the employee pension plan.
In introducing the budget discussion, SUD manager Ben Beavers said, “SUD has been spending a lot on the waste water collection system, and it would be a good time to switch the focus to water distribution.”
In the past 15 years SUD has spent more than $3 million on wastewater collection, initially due to state mandates. “Pretty much all the necessary work is done,” Beavers noted.
Outside Sewanee most of the water lines were installed after 1983 and are PVC, Beavers said, but within central Sewanee there are still many old cast iron water lines. Beavers recommended replacing the cast iron water lines on South Carolina Avenue (cost, $150,000), Florida Avenue (cost, $123,000), and Tennessee Avenue (cost, $310,000), and increasing the line size from six inch to eight inches on South Carolina and Tennessee avenues.
“I looked at where we would get the biggest bang for our buck,” Beavers said, stressing the benefits of improved water quality and flow and decreased water loss.
Of the three service lines, the Tennessee Ave. line has the greatest potential for leaks, both because it is older and serves more customers, so has more connections.
Beavers recommended spreading the upgrade over a three-year period, replacing the South Carolina line in 2018, Florida in 2019, and Tennessee in 2020. Alternatively, he proposed SUD could replace both the South Carolina and Florida lines in one year. Combining the projects could save SUD as much as 15 percent, although it could result in the utility showing a small loss.
SUD President Charlie Smith favored replacing the lines on both South Carolina and Florida in 2018 and “leaving a gap” the following year, 2019.
Noting the need for replacing SUD’s tractor, estimated cost, $35,000-$40,000, Beavers suggested budgeting the tractor for the 2019 gap year.
Beavers will consult with LTS Construction about how much SUD could expect to save by combining the projects. He will also calculate the various capital improvement scenarios both with and without a rate increase. Beavers did not foresee any changes in the operating budget. He anticipates presenting the 2018 budget for the board’s approval at the next meeting on Nov. 28.
Turning to the resolution which would authorize transferring the employee 457 pension plan administered by Met Life to a 457 plan administered by the state, Beavers said a representative from the state talked to SUD employees, and the employees favored the change, which would result in a 42 percent reduction in administrative fees. The state also offers a 401(k) plan, and employees could participate in both the 457 and 401(k) plans, contributing 6 percent of their earnings to each, although SUD would only match a total of 6 percent, the same contribution the utility makes now.
The state plan also featured the benefit of shifting fiduciary responsibility from the board to the state.
“I can recommend we make the change,” Beavers said, “but I would feel much better if a disinterested party would review the 36-page resolution before SUD commits to the plan.”
“I’ll read through it,” Smith said. He also will confer with others who might offer insight on the document.
“The target date for making the state plan available to employees is Jan. 1,” Beavers said, “but there’s no drawback if we start later.”
The board approved the request from a University student in the Water Resources and Policy class to hold a Pharmaceuticals Dropoff event from 1–4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, in the SUD parking lot. The event’s goal is to encourage community members to visit the Constructed Wetlands, a joint research project by the University of the South and the University of Georgia investigating the effectiveness of wetlands in treating wastewater. Visitors will be treated to coffee and snacks, and have an opportunity to tour the wetland. The Sewanee Police Department will conduct the pharmaceuticals’ collection.
“There’s an agency in Franklin County that collects unused pharmaceuticals and distributes them to folks who can’t afford needed medications,” Smith said.
People often returned unused medications to doctors’ offices, Commissioner Ronnie Hoosier noted. “They hand out a lot of free medications.”
“Let’s see if we can’t come up with a better alternative than throwing the pharmaceuticals collected in the incinerator,” Beavers said.
Smith will investigate the options.
Commissioner Randall Henley said he’d received several phone calls asking about projected completion of the Midway Pressure Booster Station, a project SUD undertook four years ago.
Smith explained the language in the Duck River easement implied the property owner’s entire tract was encumbered, not just the section needed for the project. Negotiations are underway to amend the language to suit all parties.
Two SUD commissioner seats will come open for election in January. The board is charged with nominating three candidates for each open seat. Customers interested in serving should contact Beavers at (931) 598-5611. Commissioners receive a small stipend for serving and are required to attend one meeting a month and to complete 12 hours of commissioner training during their first year of service.

​SCA Reviews SCC Funding; Community Parks Rescue Plan

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At its Oct. 18 meeting, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) announced an increase in the Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) goal to $128,535, 10 percent higher than last year.
“We received an increased number of requests,” said SCA Vice President David Michaels. Ruth and David Cobb will serve as the SCC stewards for the 2017–18 fund drive. The $128,535 budget will provide financial assistance to 30 groups and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity.
Dixon Myers, who addressed the SCA in March, returned to propose a solution to the Community Park’s dilemma. The SCA spearheaded the recent renovation of Elliott Park. When the SCA learned the Sewanee Ballpark was in deplorable condition due to lack of maintenance, the organization sought Myers’ advice. Myers had coordinated the 2003 campaign to renovate the ballpark. His involvement with the University Office of Civic Engagement dates back to 1991.
“Sewanee isn’t a municipality, so facilities management is complex,” Myers said. Assisted by representatives from youth baseball and soccer, the University Physical Plant Services, and concerned community members, Myers conducted an overview of the parks serving Sewanee and singled out four as true community parks: the Sewanee Ballpark, the Community Center Park, the Phil White Dog Park and Elliott Park. Myers then put together a budget addressing renovation and maintenance needs for the four parks.
Citing the ballpark’s pressing need for renovation, Myers said, “80 to 90 percent of the budget is allocated to the ballpark.”
Myers recently learned from Duck River Electric all the ballpark lights needed replaced due to damage from a transformer failure.
“All other University facilities have lights,” Myers insisted. Replacing the lights, cost $45,000, makes up more than half of the $93,000 budget for refurbishing the ballpark. Myers estimated maintenance at $13,000 annually.
Sewanee Little League has some money to contribute to the renovation, Myers said.
SCA secretary Megan Roberts pointed to the University’s generous support with the Elliott Park renovation. The SCA raised more than $62,000 for the park equipment and installation, while the University did all of the site preparation.
Sarah Marhevsky suggested the Sewanee Community Council Funding Project as a possible revenue source.
Confident funding could be found, Myers said, “The ballpark renovation can and will be done. Fifteen years ago, we raised $70,000 for refurbishing it.”
Marhevsky raised the question of liability.
“When children sign up to play Little League, they’re insured by the program,” Myers said. “If you’re working as a volunteer, I want that to be the University’s responsibility.”
Myers has drawn up bylaws and assembled a working committee of two representatives from youth baseball, two representatives from youth soccer, two community members, and two representatives from University Physical Plant Services. A meeting with Provost Nancy Berner is set for Nov. 1.
“Our pitch to the University is ‘you help us get it going again, and we’ll keep it up,’” Myers said.
Asked about his stepping forward in a leadership role in forming what he tentatively calls the Sewanee Parks Commission, an independent entity separate from SCA, Myers cited the model of Housing Sewanee, which he helped found. “I care about these things,” he said.

​Slavery, Race and Reconciliation Project Hosts Second Forum

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation hosted its second public forum on Oct. 17, spotlighting how other countries have dealt with histories of atrocities and human rights violations.
The University of the South’s six-year project is aimed at studying the University’s history—especially its founding by slaveholders and historical ties to the Confederacy—and how to address that past moving forward.
“The point of tonight’s forum is to remind us and perhaps be instructed by the many places around the world that also have these kinds of histories, some of them hidden, some of them not so hidden,” said Woody Register, director of the project.
Nicky Hamilton, senior associate director of the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa during the racial oppression of apartheid. Hamilton, one of three panelists on Oct. 17, discussed South Africa’s monumental effort to mend through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The commission allowed victims to publicly discuss their wounds and lost loved ones, and offered immunity to military and police officials who committed human rights violations under apartheid—if they detailed their offenses. Hamilton said the commission offered a measure of healing for victims and the country.
“Forgiveness is central in the process of reconciliation,” she said, “but as we all know, it is not easy.”
Repurposing words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Hamilton said America has not properly dealt with its history of racial oppression.
“To the U.S., I say, you have not acknowledged your horrendous past, you have not looked the beast in the eye,” she said. “Therefore, your past continues to hold you hostage.”
Panelist Liesl Allingham, the University’s chair of German and German studies, focused on that country’s efforts to deal with echoes of the Holocaust. She said remembering and commemorating the past is a complex task, noting that Nazi symbols are illegal in Germany, as is denying the Holocaust. She said the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide was left off maps for many years and is now a parking lot. Allingham said it was not until 2006 that the German government officially recognized the site and put up an informational panel.
“Germany draws a strict line between victims and perpetrators in national socialism and while its laws and physical erasure of the public symbols of national socialism seem, and to some extent are, exemplary, nothing is ever that simple,” she said.
Allingham cited other examples of how Germany has remembered its past, such as an official memorial in Berlin which honors Jewish victims, and unofficial memorials like “stumble stones,” which are raised sidewalk stones placed near the last known residences of victims of national socialism in Germany and across Europe.
The third panelist, professor Jessica Mecellem, an expert in transitional and post conflict justice in the Middle East and North Africa, said dealing with the United States’ history of racial oppression and violence is challenging, because unlike Germany and South Africa, the time period of injustice and transition is not as clear.
“In the context of the United States, we have multiple eras of multiple types of violations,” she said. “We have a period of slavery, we have the end of slavery with the Civil War, and then additional eras of widespread and massive violations against the African American community. Some of those violations were state-sanctioned.”
She pointed out that American exceptionalism, the idea that the U.S. has higher values and morality can be “blinding” when it comes to viewing injustice.
“It can be easy to think about the United States as immune, immune to types of violence and evil that are associated with atrocities committed, for example, in Germany or in South Africa, in Rwanda or Cambodia, in Iraq, many countries around the world,” she said. “We can think about that violence as a type of violence that occurs over there in other locations but not in our exceptional country.”
Hamilton noted that after the transition of power in South Africa, monuments related to apartheid were moved to museums and cultural centers, and some bridges, airports and other sites were renamed.
Embedded racism in the names of landscapes and buildings is true of Sewanee and plenty of other places, noted Register, and revealing the history of those names is vital to justice and reconciliation.
One of the tasks of the University’s project is recommending what should happen with monuments and memorials on campus which honor slaveholders and Confederates. The group’s first forum in September centered on Edmund Kirby-Smith, a Sewanee professor and Civil War general, and his monument on Texas Avenue.
Sewanee Vice-Chancellor John McCardell announced prior to that forum that the sculpture and related plaques of Gen. Kirby-Smith were being moved to the University Cemetery after a request from the general’s great-grandson Tom Kirby-Smith.
The discussions in Sewanee are among many similar dialogues around the country, which increased after the 2015 racially-charged shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this year. Those clashes were spurred in part by the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The next forum is at Gailor Auditorium on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m., which will feature Sewanee alumnus Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley, former rector of St. Paul’s church in Richmond, Va., where both Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis worshipped. Joining Adams will be fellow Sewanee alumnus Winslow Hastie, whose family owns Magnolia Plantation near Charleston, a popular tourist attraction with a history of slavery.








​‘Every Brilliant Thing’ in Sewanee this Weekend

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Ice cream and Christopher Walken’s voice are among the things that make life worth living, according to a one-man play slated for the Tennessee Williams Center on Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.
“Every Brilliant Thing,” written by Duncan Macmillan, explores a son’s attempts to cope with his mother’s depression and suicidal tendencies by telling her about the wonderful features of life.
Amelia Peterson directs her husband, Joshua, in the light-hearted and poignant production. Amelia said the play is very human and has universal elements.
“We were drawn to it because the story felt honest,” she said. “It’s such a unique piece of theater and by the end of it the audience feels like they’ve watched each other and gotten to know each other in a more communal way than you normally do in the theater.”
The play relies on audience participation and people often cringe when they hear that, but Amelia said the comedian who helped write it for the stage, Jonny Donahoe, penned the play so that audience participation “is not horrifying and actually really fun and playful.”
“You can’t laugh until you feel safe,” she said. “He was just so attuned to that, so he ended up writing in the audience involvement in a way that feels really safe and natural.”
Amelia, 32, and Josh, 37, staged “Every Brilliant Thing” in April and May in Knoxville at the River and Rail Theatre Company, which they operate. Amelia said directing her husband was a challenge, but it worked well.
“In my mind this was very separated, ‘I am your director in rehearsal and your wife at home and never the two shall mix,’ and he was a little more relaxed about it… I think the two of us found a healthy balance, giving ourselves breaks when we bumped into husband and wife things in rehearsal but also working hard to make things professional.”
The Petersons met while studying at Southern Methodist University in 2006 where they were students of James Crawford, current Sewanee associate theatre professor. Crawford went to see the play in Knoxville.
“It was captivating from the first minute to the last,” he said. “The audience was engaged throughout, laughing loudly, and completely engrossed emotionally.”
Crawford said the production is thought-provoking.
“So many people have experienced mental illness in their family,” he said. “This play provides an unexpected way of looking at the issue with fresh eyes. I’ve found myself thinking about passages form the play ever since. I carry it with me.”
Amelia said “Every Brilliant Thing” finds a healthy way to talk about suicide, but does not go into graphic detail.
“Every Brilliant Thing,” which is free, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 and
2 p.m. on Oct. 29.

​How History Matters for the Future of Voting Rights

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The University welcomed distinguished reconstruction scholar and author Eric Foner for a lecture Oct. 12, titled “Enfranchising Equality: How History Matters for the Future of Voting Rights.”
Foner, described by Vice-Chancellor John McCardell as one of America’s preeminent scholars of reconstruction—the process of reorganizing the Southern states after the Civil War—is Dewitt Professor of History at Columbia University and has published works such as “Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877,” “Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction,” and “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” the last of which won the Pulitzer, Bancroft and Lincoln prizes for 2011.
The lecture was schedule to “explore the rich and complicated history of the 15th Amendment by bringing together some of the nation’s leading historians, constitutional scholars, lawyers and judges to reflect on the Amendment’s future in light of its past,” according to the University’s website.
“I have devoted much of my career to studying Reconstruction, but I have to admit that most Americans know very little about it—so many people are so knowledgeable about the Civil War and so few know little about Reconstruction. Having published a 600-page book on the subject, that’s a bit disheartening,” he joked.
Foner continued, saying that many of the key issues being dealt with in contemporary society are what is left from the Reconstruction era, a period of time that served as a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement—sometimes referred to by historians as the Second Reconstruction.
“The Civil War and Reconstruction transformed American society as we know it,” Foner said. “Many of their effects are still with us today, as are controversies as to how the period should be remembered. But perhaps the most tangible legacies of the era of Reconstruction are the three amendments that served as a second founding in the aftermath of the Civil War—the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. So profound are those changes that historians refer to them as a second founding, the creation of a new legal structure for the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War. Key issues of our own society today are in some way Reconstruction questions: who is entitled to citizenship? Who should have the right to vote?”
According to some 21st century historians—in the view of William Dunning of Columbia University—Reconstruction was the lowest point in the saga of American democracy.
According to this view, President Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War, wanted to bring the defeated South back into the Union quickly. After Lincoln’s assassination, his efforts were continued by Andrew Johnson, who was soon thwarted by the “villains of the radical Republicans in Congress,” Foner said of the Dunning view. These “villains” were motivated by either vindictive hatred of the South or the desire to fasten the grip of northern capitalism on the South, or the desire to keep the Republican party in power.
Foner said to fully understand how radical the idea of Reconstruction was, a reminder of the status of African Americans during the Civil War era is necessary.
“On the eve of the Civil War, no black person could be a citizen of the United States. Blacks were considered aliens, even if born in the United States. States could make African Americans citizens if they wished, but the federal government didn’t have to recognize state-granted citizenship of blacks,” he said.
Foner added that the two traditions of state-controlled voting and of a “racist recognition of American nationality” would be powerful obstacles for African Americans moving forward.
Foner spoke of the 13th Amendment, of how it was this amendment—not Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—that was responsible for the eradication of slavery.
“The Emancipation Proclamation left in bondage 750,000 slaves in the four border slave states that remained in the Union, and some portions of the Confederacy remained slave states. Emancipation does not mean abolition,” he said. “Inadvertently, the 13th Amendment created a loophole that would later allow for convict labor to be used by farms and businesses even in the present. Sometimes unintended consequences are as important as the original intent.”
Foner also commented that the 14th Amendment was the first time a gender distinction was introduced into the Constitution. It was also responsible for constitutionalizing the principle of birthright citizenship.
Foner spoke of the 14th amendment and its relevance today. In recent decades, the courts have used the 14th amendment to expand the rights of all sorts of groups, most notably the right to marriage for gay men and women.
“The 14th amendment writes the concept of equality into the Constitution for the first time, which is only included in the Constitution saying each state has an equal number of senators,” he said. “The 14th amendment makes the Constitution what it never was before—a vehicle for which individuals and groups who believed they lack equality can take their claims to the federal court. Our definition of liberty expands all the time and today reaches into the most intimate aspects of life.”
By the early 20th century, the 13th Amendment had fallen into disuse, and both the 14th and 15th Amendments were ruled dead letters.
“We Americans sometimes like to think that our history is a straight line of greater and greater, upward and upward, to greater and greater freedom. But as Reconstruction shows, it’s a more complicated and interesting path of ups and downs, of progress and regression, a story about rights that are gained and rights that are taken away to be fought for another day. As Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote when Reconstruction began, ‘Revolutions may go backward.’ Reconstruction was a revolution, and the fact that it happened at all laid the foundation for another generation a century later to try to bring to fruition the goals of the era, of the concept of a country beyond the tyranny of race.”

Community Chest Sets 2017-18 Goal at $128,535

The Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) is pleased to announce the beginning of the 2017–18 Sewanee Community Chest fundraising campaign. Due to growing demand from numerous deserving organizations, this year’s goal is $128,535, a 10 percent increase over the amount raised last year.

Since 1943, the SCA has organized the Sewanee Community Chest, which has raised more than $1 million for local organizations in the last decade. As a nonprofit organization serving three counties on the Cumberland Plateau, this year the Sewanee Community Chest will support 30 organizations that provide for basic needs in the community such as books, food, recreational spaces, elder care, childrens’ educational needs, and more.
Ruth and David Cobb will serve as this year’s Sewanee Community Chest Stewards. Following 30 years of urban life, the Cobbs moved to Sewanee in 2015. An Episcopal priest, David serves as acting director of contextual education at the School of Theology. Ruth holds a master’s in church music and was director of admission at St. Thomas Choir School in Manhattan. She is assistant to the chaplain for the development of student ministries at All Saints’ Chapel and directs the Sewanee Chorale. They look forward to getting to know their relatively new home in more meaningful ways through this endeavor and plan to reach out to all community members in the coming months.
For more information, go to sewaneecivic.wordpress.com. Donations can be made by credit, debit, or PayPal, either one-time or recurring. Checks may be mailed to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375. The Sewanee Community Chest is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible.

Community Chest Organizations

This year’s Sewanee Community Chest, with a goal of $128,535, will provide aid to the following 30 community organizations:

American Legion $435

Arcadia at Sewanee $1,000

Blue Monarch $1,000

Boy Scout Troop 14 $500

Community Action Committee $11,000

Cub Scout Pack 152 $700

Folks at Home $5,500

Fourth of July Celebration $2,000

Franklin County Humane Society $3,000

Friday Nights in the Park $300

Girl Scout Troop 2107 $200

Housing Sewanee $10,000

MARC $8,500

Mt. Goat Trail Alliance $1,800

Phil White Dog Park $600

S. Double A Ranch Inc. $250

SCA for the Parks $3,000

Senior Citizen’s Center $12,000

SES Parent Organization $25,000

Sewanee Angel Park $500

Sewanee Ball Park $7,500

Sewanee Children’s Center $12,000

Sewanee Chorale $750

Sewanee Community Center.$4,500

Sewanee Mountain Messenger $12,000

Sewanee Spoken Word $200

South Cumberland Farmers’ Market $1,000

St. James/Midway Community Park $2,000

St. Mark’s Community Center .$800

TigerSharks Swim Team $500


​The Sewanee Chorale Tradition Continues


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
The Sewanee Chorale’s Christmas present to the community will be unwrapped a little early this year — more of a Thanksgiving gift.
Due to a busy Sewanee schedule, director Ruth Cobb said the chorale will offer a free performance at All Saints’ Chapel on Friday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m., in lieu of a December show.
“It has been a fun and challenging program to learn and I think the entire community will find ‘Music of Joy and Thanksgiving’ an uplifting and entertaining presentation,” Cobb said. “Personally, I hope we find a way to sing a program in December next year. There’s so much music that can only be sung at Christmas!”
Phoebe Bates and Karen Keele founded the Sewanee Chorale in 1967.
“Up until that time, there was no singing group in Sewanee with female members except for the Sewanee Woman’s Club, which put on a Christmas program each year,” Bates said. “Karen and I had sung in groups before coming to Sewanee and wondered if it were possible to find a place for a mixed choir and a director of such a choir.”
Joe Running, University of the South organist and choirmaster, said his wife, Judy, might be interested in directing, Bates recalled. Judy Running led the chorale until she was killed in the mid-1970s. Bates said she was driving on the highway when a truck threw a tire and it hit her.
“It was a terrible tragedy,” Bates said. “She was en route to Nashville to get more music for a spring program, and we were to sing Brahm’s “Requiem” at the spring concert with the University Choir. Instead, Joe directed the combined choirs. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”
Keele said initially the chorale was formed to just gather people who enjoyed good music.
“At first, we had no intention of  performing; it was only for our personal enjoyment,” she said. “But newer comers wanted a goal for their practices, and the performance idea just took over.”
Today the chorale continues a long tradition of drawing a variety of community members together in song.
Jack Furman, 81, a retired urologist who sings bass, first joined the chorale in 2002.
“I was a horn player and I got too old to play the horn, so I wanted something else to do in music,” he said. “I think it’s a challenge. You’ve got to have some challenges when you’re not working all the time anymore.”
Claudia Porter, an alto, sang in the chorale for two years in the early 1980s and her most recent run is eight years. A retired bookkeeper, she said the friendships are her favorite part of the group.
Soprano Lisa Perry, who works in the University’s Office of Residential Life, is in her first chorale season. She said she was looking for both a creative and social outlet.
“I appreciate the generous sense of humor throughout the chorale members and in our director, Ruth Cobb,” she said. “We do a lot of really good work in a very short time on Monday evenings, and the morale of the group keeps things lively and entertaining.”
Cobb, at the helm since January 2016 after director Gary Sturgis stepped down, said the group is made up of dedicated people.
“The chorale was founded to give the community, staff and faculty a place to sing: where neighbors and colleagues who are dedicated to superior musicianship work together and present a wide range of choral repertoire,” Cobb said. “The chorale is the only choral organization in Sewanee for those who are not students.”
Soprano Dorothy Gates, the University’s faculty technology coordinator, has been in the group for five years this time around, but sang for three years in the 1970s. Gates said she enjoys the “interaction of people from so many different walks of life” and the diversity of the music.
The Nov. 3 show will be diverse, featuring numbers from Broadway musicals like “Oliver,” “Godspell,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and the works of English composers Adrian Batten, William Boyce and Benjamin Britten.
Cobb noted that a piece by John Rutter, called “Banquet Fugue,” should be especially fun.
“If I tell you that the first line of text is ‘Guzzle, guzzle, munch, munch, gobble, gobble,’ I think you’ll get the idea,” she said.
She added that there are a few familiar pieces that will allow the audience to sing along.
Several guest musicians will join the chorale, including Joseph Causby, director of music and organist of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Cobb said community members Barbara Carden and Alyssa Sumpter will provide accompaniment and Sewanee students Will Burton-Edwards and Anna Burkin will sing solos.
Sewanee seminarian Caroline Carson, who is also the chorale’s assistant director, will also direct a small ensemble of chorale members, Cobb added.
The Sewanee Community Chest provides financial support for the group, in addition to voluntary member contributions. Donations will be accepted at the concert with a portion going to the Community Chest, Cobb said.
A reception will follow, where audience members can meet the performers and find out more about the Sewanee Chorale.


​Commission Approves Amendments to Ag Zoning Regulations


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Oct. 16 meeting, the Franklin County Commission passed two zoning amendments applying to uses of land zoned agricultural.
The first ammendment added “personal residential storage” to the list of  “Uses permitted” on agricultural land.
“As the regulation read unrevised, you couldn’t have a personal storage facility on agricultural land without a residence,” Chair Eddie Clark said. “It isn’t fair that farms can’t have non-farm storage buildings. It encourages folks to be dishonest about the use of buildings.”
“If you wanted to build a building to store a boat for example, you couldn’t do that,” explained Janet Petrunich, Planning Commission Director. Prior to the amendment, only structures for agricultural purposes were allowed on agricultural property without a residence.
The second amendment removed the language “for dwellings and farm buildings” from the section of the provision regulating setbacks.
“We took out ‘dwellings and farm buildings,’ because as amended the provision will apply to more things than just ‘dwellings and farm building,’” Petrunich said. “The setback requirement has not changed.”
The setback is 40 feet for front and rear yards and 25 feet for side yards unless the structure is served by a “modern” central sewer system (side yard setback, 15 feet) or situated on a river, lake or bluff (side yard, 10 feet; rear yard, 10 feet).
“If a building is used strictly for agricultural purposes, it does not require a building permit, so there are no setback requirements,” Petrunich said. “The building has to be agricultural purposes only,” Petrunich stressed. “If you park your car in there or a boat or something that’s not for agricultural use, the exemption from a building permit does not apply.”
“In fact, the language ‘dwellings and farm buildings’ should have been changed a long time ago,” Petrunich acknowledged, “since the setbacks listed in this section of the zoning rules does not apply to farm buildings.”
Petrunich emphasized that the zero setback provision applied only to agricultural use buildings on “a commercial producing farm” which she defined as commercial production of livestock or crops.
Both amendments passed unopposed.
The commission also reviewed several amendments to the Board of Education General Purpose School Budget including a $200,000 allocation for Huntland School’s gym roof.
“I’m not opposing this,” said Fuller, “but this has been an issue since Dr. Sharber was here. I feel like they should have put it in their budget.”
The amended school budget also passed unopposed.
Sewanee area Commissioner Helen Stapleton questioned why the county didn’t get multiple bids for the service contract to provide fire alarm and sprinkler system maintenance at the jail.
“We have existing contracts and agreements with the company Simplex Grinnel,” Clark said, “and we’ve been very pleased with what they’ve done for us in other county buildings.”
The commission approved the service agreement with Simplex Grinnel as well as renewal of the franchise agreement with Volunteer Wireless to offer cable television system in Franklin County and the Franklin County Farmers Market grant application for funding to purchase “fans for air circulation for a better shopping environment for customers and vendors.”


​School Board Entertains Another Townsend School Request


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At its Oct. 12 meeting, the Franklin County School Board entertained a request from Scarlet Patterson with the South Central Human Resources Agency (SCHRA) to transfer ownership of the Townsend School property to the agency. In other business, the board received an update on possible middle school sites and reviewed support services policies.
One of nine Human Resources Agencies created by the state in 1973, SCHRA serves 13 counties. The Franklin County branch has three locations, each offering different programs, including Head Start, a neighborhood service center and free meals for seniors.
“SCHRA would like to renovate Townsend School for use as a resource center, giving us an opportunity to expand our services,” Patterson said. “Franklin County Head Start and the Neighborhood Service Center would both be located there. We also hope to partner with other organizations needing space.”
SCHRA’s plans call for demolishing the old gym and filling in the basement along with erecting a memorial honoring the history of the school. SCHRA would continue to make the remaining gym available to the Franklin County Schools and other groups needing the facility.
“Ninety-three of SCHRA’s 450 employees are from Franklin County,” Patterson pointed out.
Board member Sara Liechty asked if SCHRA had funding available for the needed renovation.
“The South Central Development District rural transportation program would like to use the site for a hub,” Patterson said. “They would pay us for use of the property. SCHRA also has resources available from our fund balance and loan options.”
In September, the board entertained a similar request from the nonprofit Rain Unlimited (RU) to transfer ownership of the Townsend School property to RU for use as a teen center and hub for nonprofits needing office and meeting space. The neighborhood community favors demolition of the school and honoring the site with a memorial and park.
Reporting on research into locations for the new consolidated middle school, Tim Little with the engineering firm Oliver, Little, and Gipson (OLG) said several of the sites “are under cultivation and still have crops on them so we couldn’t walk the property. All four sites have obstacles,” Little added, mentioning drainage problems.
Board Chair Cleijo Walker said she spoke with representatives of the Stephens family trust regarding the 94-acre site at the corner of Hwy. 41A and Cumberland Street, across from the Franklin Farmers Cooperative. “The family is unwilling to sell a portion of the tract,” Walker said.
Leichty questioned the 50-acre minimum needed for the construction suggesting this might be excessive. “I don’t want to eliminate properties that would meet our needs due to size,” Liechty insisted. “Our original discussion stressed enhanced programming, not providing for football and soccer.”
“Playing fields take up room,” Little conceded. “The site could be smaller.”
In the annual review of Support Services Policies, Liechty called attention to misleading language in the Special Use of School Vehicles policy.
In the clause reading, “School buses may be used only for the transportation of school personnel on authorized school business,” Liechty suggested changing “school personnel” to “persons.” The policy needed to allow for transporting parents and others on school business, Liechty said. “The board has used the buses,” she noted.
Assistant Superintendant Linda Foster will revise the language and present it for review at the board’s work session on Monday, Nov. 6.

​Area Residents Who Rent Homes May Owe Hotel Tax


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Franklin County’s recent hotel-motel tax audit found individual property owners who might fall under the “Hotel, Motel, and Campground Transient Occupancy Tax” statute enacted in 1988.
Citing the opinion of county attorney Ben Lynch, County Trustee Randy Kelly said the statute “applies to any lodging used for sleeping purposes.”
The statute levies a 7 percent tax on property owners who rent lodgings, whether a home, room, or just a bed, for less than 90 days.
Following up on the audit findings, County Finance Director Andrea Smith compiled a list of property owners who might owe the tax by referencing VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners) and other websites advertising private homes for rent.
Charged with collecting the tax, Trustee Kelly sent notices to more than 130 homeowners.
Kelly concedes prior to his sending the notice, “There’s no way folks would have known about the tax.”
“The purpose of the notice was to let folks know the guidelines,” Kelly stressed. “This is not a bill.” He urged those who felt they fell under the guidelines outlined in the notice to contact the trustee’s office.
“There’s no way for us to know if those who received notices are still renting and if they do it for a day or month or year,” Kelly said.
This was the case with Sewanee resident Ed Hawkins. “I don’t rent short term anymore,” Hawkins said, “but when I did, I listed it on the Sewanee Gateway website, and in the Messenger.”
“I was surprised when I received the notice,” said Jerrie Lewallen. She and her husband Tom occasionally rent their home, but are careful to stay under the 14-day minimum set by the IRS, which exempts homeowners from reporting rental income. Tennessee’s personal income tax only applies to investment income.
Lewallen also pointed to the December 2015 opinion of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III who said, “individuals who rent their homes on a short-term basis infrequently or irregularly or only once are not responsible for collecting or remitting the sales tax…[but] The statues authorizing localities to collect a hotel occupancy tax do not contain an exception for ‘occasional and isolated sales or transactions.’”
“My argument is if the 14-day rule applies for income tax, and sales tax has a frequency exemption, a frequency exemption should also apply for the Hotel Tax,” Lewallen said. “We’re going to stop renting.” Lewallen expressed concern reporting short-term rental income could open them up for complying with the American Disabilities Act and other regulations.
Lewallen also questioned the Hotel Tax provision that called for a 1 percent per month penalty for late payment, with the tax due on the 20th of each month.
“My suggestion is to just let people start from when they found out about the tax,” Kelly said. “The commissioners I talked to seemed to feel the same way.” According to Kelly, Finance Director Smith shares this position. Finally, though, the decision falls to the county commission.
Sewanee resident Susan Holmes and her husband Greg Maynard frequently rent their home. “Most of us who rent short-term do it to piece together an income in a company town,” Holmes said. “I knew about the Hotel Tax, but I didn’t think it applied to us.”
“In many places the local government has started enforcing the Hotel Tax because motels and hotels are upset about the competition,” Holmes said, “but competition isn’t an issue here.”
Lewallen agreed. “In our community, there’s no place for people to stay. It doesn’t hurt the motel industry.”
Holmes contended collecting the Hotel Tax from individual property owners “will cut the tax base rather than increase it.”
Like Lewallen, other area residents have decided to stop offering lodgings for rent. “I’m not going to rent my two rooms anymore,” said a resident, who chose to remain anonymous.
Winchester also levies a Hotel Tax. “Winchester collects the tax within the city limits, and the county collects the tax outside the city limits,” Kelly said. “All income generated by the county tax goes to rural fire departments and is split evenly regardless of size.”
A 1988 state law ended the practice of private acts authorizing a lodging tax where another local government already had one, but the General Assembly has authorized numerous exceptions allowing for overlapping taxes. In some areas, city and county hotel taxes combine with sales tax for a total tax rate exceeding 19 percent.
Typically the General Assembly caps the county tax at 5 percent, but the rate varies from 2 percent to 7.5 percent.
According to Carolyn Kilgore with the Grundy County Clerk’s office, Grundy County enacted a 5 percent Hotel Tax in 2016. The law applies to homeowners when their renters are not permanent residents.
Monteagle enacted a Hotel Tax more than 30 years ago. “The tax doesn’t apply to short-term house rental unless the owners rent on a regular basis,” said City Recorder Debbie Taylor.
“I knew when I sent the notices I’d create a monster among folks who didn’t have a clue about the tax,” Kelly said.

​Sewanee Review Publishes 500th Issue

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Sewanee Review has published one issue, four times each year, for 125 years, and with this fall’s issue, the nation’s longest running quarterly literary magazine, rolled out its 500th edition.
To commemorate the milestone, the Review will host a public reception on Oct. 26 at Convocation Hall featuring a reading by fiction writer Ben Fountain, a National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award winner. The event starts at 8 p.m. and will also boast readings by authors Sidik Fofana, Justin Taylor and Elizabeth Weld, in addition to Sewanee faculty and staff.
“The 500th reading is a great chance for people to hear not only an interesting mix of writers, but also, Ben Fountain; he’s a big deal,” said Review editor Adam Ross. “We’re lucky he’s coming.”
Starting in early 2017, The Sewanee Review launched a new design and altered its direction under the leadership of Ross, a novelist and former journalist in Nashville. The revamp garnered fresh attention for a literary magazine that some saw as waning and a June article in The New York Times, “New Life for a 125-Year-Old Literary Journal,” gave the Review a significant boost in subscriptions and public interest.
“The New York Times article had an instrumental impact on us,” Ross said. “In terms of subscriptions it was bar none.”
The publicist for best-selling novelist James Patterson contacted the Review the day the article came out and Patterson made a sizeable donation to the Review, a practice the author is known for to promote reading.
Review managing editor Alec Hill added that because of the publicity from The New York Times article, the magazine had to reprint its spring issue and upped its print run for summer.
Since Ross assumed the helm, the magazine’s individual subscriptions have greatly increased and total subscribers are at about 1,200 people and 300 institutions.
On the day of this interview, the staff at the magazine was anticipating the arrival of the 500th issue, which is currently online. This magazine includes another cover created by acclaimed designers Peter Mendelsund and Oliver Munday and is one of the longer issues in Review history.
“It may be at the Post Office, we’re dying to get our hands on it,” Ross said.
The Review has broadened its variety of writers and content, including more female writers and people of different ethnicities. That expansion is displayed in the 500th issue, which also includes historical photos and copy.
“We tried to toggle a little between not only re-echoing some of the changes that we made, but also nod a little bit to history,” Ross said.
The issue includes photos of past covers and historical artifacts like pay ledgers for famous authors Ezra Pound, Cecil Day-Lewis and Sir Frank Kermode, and a table of contents that lists authors like Merrill Joan Gerber and legendary Southern writer Flannery O’Connor.
The Review has published the works of a slew of literary legends, a few include T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Sylvia Plath and Eudora Welty.
A photo of Allen Tate’s first cover from the 1940s is also included in the new magazine. Tate, along with managing editor Andrew Lytle, are credited with boosting the Review’s prestige in the 1940s with a stable of acclaimed writers.
As part of its current incarnation under Ross, who took over after longtime editor George Core retired, The Sewanee Review has returned to bookstores. Three new editorial assistants at the magazine, all 2017 Sewanee graduates, have been busy contacting bookstores across the country.
The new assistants said working for the Review is a tremendous opportunity to immerse themselves in the literary world and advance their own writing and careers. Spencer Hupp, who writes poetry and hails from Little Rock, Ark., is among the three new employees.
“This publication and its reputation is the reason I came to Sewanee,” Hupp said. “I wanted a place with an established literary culture and the Review is sort of the genesis of that literary culture in Sewanee.”
In addition to poring through submissions and editing, the editorial assistants also perform interviews, write blog posts and act as talent scouts, keeping their eye out for burgeoning authors to add to the magazine.
Editorial assistant Anne Adams, who hails from San Antonio, Texas, and writes fiction, said she enjoys reading work from writers that she admires. She recently interviewed one of her favorite authors, Alice McDermott.
The third new staff member, Walt Evans, who is from Birmingham, Ala., and also writes fiction, was recently able to review Jennifer Egan’s new book, “Manhattan Beach.”
“Getting that advanced copy, which was really cool, kind of made me feel like an insider because I’ve been reading her for a long time,” Evans said. “Her last novel was one of the ones that really inspired me when I was getting my degree.”
The practice of hiring new Sewanee graduates and promoting from within is something Ross said he would like to continue as long as possible. Hill, a 2016 graduate and now managing editor, was promoted after joining the staff last year. He also has a nonfiction piece slated to appear in the magazine in 2018.
William Peterfield Trent, a literary critic who taught at Sewanee and later was an English professor at Columbia University, founded The Sewanee Review in 1892.

​The Places Project

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The way mountain folk are often portrayed in the media can be anything but kind. Margo Shea, a Connecticut-born, Massachusetts-bred Mellon fellow with the Sewanee-Yale Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies, was all too familiar with the stereotypes. And, these are the standards she hoped to reshape with her work.
“The focus of a lot of mountain communities is on what’s wrong with them, and I wanted to change that story. I wanted to showcase the things people in Sewanee are most proud of, and what defines them, made into this beautiful map,” she said. “All of the communities on the Mountain are really characterized by long-standing roots. Sewanee families are legacies. There are people who are the great grandchildren of alumni. I wanted to let people highlight that,” Shea said.
From her work as a Mellon Fellow with the collaborative came “The Places Project: A Crowd-Sourced People’s Map of the South Cumberland Plateau,” which is fueled by the stories of locals about their most-loved “places” around the Mountain.
“I just realized as soon as I arrived that people’s relationships to their places went really deep on the Mountain. I am really interested in getting people to participate in the construction of the identities of their communities, and I hadn’t seen anything like it before,” she said. “I was really intrigued and inspired by people’s connections to their communities. They talked about great grandparents and cemeteries and when they look around their landscape, they see traces of their family. To be able to map, name and place fishing holes and favorite walks really invited folks to rethink their own perspective on what it means to connect to natural beauty.”
Shea’s work was focused around giving locals the chance to tell their own stories—to remove themselves from the narratives written by others and to instead pick up the pen for themselves.
“There is something about being from a small town that makes you very visible and people think they know everything about you. Having the opportunity to narrate your story on your terms to someone who isn’t going to say ‘That’s not how it happened’ is special. A guy told me a story about proposing to his wife at Vespers point and someone said “which wife?” That’s something I didn’t throw in his face because I didn’t know, not being from there. A lot of times people say you can’t do community engagement if you don’t know a community really well,” she said. “I contend that not knowing can also work in your favor as long as you come in knowing you don’t know.”
Anna Summer Noonan, class of 2017, joined the project in its early stages after taking a class with Shea.
“It was after this experience that Dr. Shea reached out to a couple of students and me about the chance to continue working on the project throughout spring semester as an independent study. One aspect of the Places Project that I was really drawn to was the ultimate goal of taking the research back into the community from which it came,” she said. “This is such an important project because it creates a space where all stories of the places around the South Cumberland Plateau can be heard and valued. I am excited to see the permanent exhibit on display and to see the online platform being utilized by community groups and schools.”
Shea said one of her biggest takeaways is noting that special Sewanee magic that seems to be in the air.
“It’s a rare and beautiful thing to be in a place where you feel really confident and sure that if you need help, you will be helped, if you are lonely, you will find someone to be with. It’s not perfect, but I think people step up for each other in a really unique way,” she said.
The Places Project, according to Shea, was designed with its evolution mind—people in the community can add to the map to continue the story.

For more information go to https://www.facebook.com/theplacesproject/.

​‘Home’ Photo Art Work Wanted

All levels of  photographers are invited to submit their work by Oct. 20, reflecting the theme “ home ” to the Historic Downtown Tracy City Window Gallery’s Second Exhibition.

Photographers of  all ages and experience from Grundy, Franklin and Marion counties are eligible to submit. The theme is open to a variety of  interpretations. Photographers’ exploration of the theme may include, but is not limited to, locale, symbols, memory, buildings, objects, nostalgia and people. The photographs entered may answer the question, what is your notion of  “home” and what best represents it. A holiday event will be held in conjunction with this exhibition in December.
Entries will be accepted until Oct. 20, and the selected works will be on view in the windows of downtown Tracy City from Nov. 17–Feb. 28.
The exhibition is made possible by Tennessee Arts Commission and hosted by local businesses in the windows of  Depot Emporium, Annex Cafe, Grundy County Historical Society Museum, Citizens Tri-County Bank and Dutch Maid Bakery.
Send entries in jpeg format to grundyareaartscouncil@gmail.com. Contact Emily Partin at (931) 235-5576 with questions.

​SCCF Hosts Know Your Worth Conference

As a part of its fifth anniversary celebration, South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) will host its first local nonprofit conference, “Know Your Worth: Recognizing the Impact of Rural Nonprofits” on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The conference will take place from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Sewanee Inn followed by the keynote address at 4:30 p.m., which will be in Convocation Hall.

Sewanee alumna and CNN Hero Becca Stevens, C’85, will deliver the keynote address, “The Power of Love in Justice Work: Advancing Community Impact.” Stevens will also deliver a workshop at the conference on developing rituals for community leaders. Stevens is the founder and president of Thistle Farms, a social enterprise organization that heals, empowers, and employs female survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. Thistle Farm products will be available for purchase at the conference.
The all-day conference will include workshops and panels focused on rural nonprofit collaboration and development led by nonprofit leaders from local foundations, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Benwood Foundation, and the Community Foundations of Greater Chattanooga, Huntsville and Memphis.
Following the keynote address, there will be a grants and leadership awards ceremony. In partnership with SCCF, the University of the South’s Philanthropy Internship Program will award grants to several local nonprofit organizations. In addition, several nonprofit leaders who have completed local workshops sponsored by SCCF through the Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) Nashville will receive a certificate in nonprofit leadership. These courses focused on capacity building skills such as board development, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing and volunteer management.

This event is open to any interested individuals or organizations. For more information and to register, go to www.southcumberlandcommunityfund.org.

​Groundbreaking Ceremonies for Tracy City Mountain Goat Trail Project

Official groundbreaking ceremonies will take place on Monday, Oct. 23, for the downtown Tracy City portion of the Mountain Goat Trail.

The ceremonies will begin at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Tracy City, across from the Grundy County Historical Society.
Tracy City Mayor Larry Phipps said, “This will be an exciting day for our town. We’re breaking ground not just on the Mountain Goat Trail, but also on another improvement to Tracy City, which will improve our quality of life.”
The 1.2-mile section of the Mountain Goat Trail will extend from Tracy City Elementary School to the town city hall. It is the first of three sections of the trail which have been funded for construction, and which will connect Tracy City to Monteagle with a combined 6.2 miles of paved trail.
“The MGTA is grateful for the chance to assist Tracy City with their Mountain Goat Trail project. We look forward to working with the town as we connect Tracy City to Monteagle over the next two years,” said Nate Wilson, MGTA board president.
The Mountain Goat Trail project is being funded by a TDOT Transportation Enhancement grant. Governor Haslam visited Grundy County in 2014 to present the town with a check representing the grant amount of $603,569. The town has arranged for a loan to provide the 20 percent cash match for the grant.
The Mountain Goat Trail is a rail to trail community outdoor recreation project to convert an abandoned railroad right-of-way into a multi-use recreational corridor between Grundy and Franklin Counties on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee. When finished, the trail will be 35-40 miles in length, climbing from Cowan onto the Cumberland Plateau and passing through the towns of Sewanee, Monteagle, Tracy City, Coalmont, Gruetli-Laager and Palmer.

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