​2017 Sewanee Deer Hunt News

The 2017 Sewanee Christmas deer hunting season begins Thursday, Dec. 21, and continues through Jan. 13, 2018.

The in-town segment of the deer hunt allows for a broader hunting program after students leave for winter break. The University deer management program continues to move toward its stated goal of a more socially and ecologically sustainable herd size. The raw number of animals harvested this year is continuing a decline that began two years ago as the overall herd size has declined and stabilized. The overall goal of the hunting program is to balance the sex ratio between female and male animals which will reduce the pressure on the landscape and allow habitats to recover from over browsing. Lowering overall population numbers leads to lower harvest as there are fewer animals on the landscape.
This year we added a new vegetation sampling protocol that allows students to look at the browse intensity on individual plant species across several areas of the Domain. Students found that the plant species that are browsed by deer shift depending on the density of the deer herd, and that the browse intensities often change abruptly in the forest coincident with abrupt changes in deer density.
Philopatry is the tendency of an organism to stay in (or habitually return to) a particular area. For deer, that means that most females tend to remain around their birthplace throughout much of their breeding life. Though males tend to roam more, they always eventually end up moving to where the females are during the breeding season. This philopatry creates these hard edges in the forest between areas of high deer density and areas of low density. The same is true in town. Our community survey indicates that overall, a majority of residents (60.4 percent of respondents) have experienced no deer damage on their leaseholds in the last year, but many of those who have experienced damage, have experienced a lot of damage, and many of those folks are all in the same neighborhoods in Sewanee.
Some respondents to the community survey felt that they were unqualified to answer the question, “Do you feel like the herd numbers are under control?” Thank you to those who did respond. Please know that you are absolutely qualified to let us know how we are meeting the social demands of deer management. We need the social input combined with our vegetation and herd sampling work to make a complete picture to ensure that we are managing in ways that work for all parties: deer, habitats and people.
The hunt is by invitation only and is not open to the general public. To view the map and the full list of rules and requirements visit http://sustain.sewanee.edu/the-domain/ecosystem-ma.... Rules for this year’s hunt are unchanged from last year. Hunting is allowed on most days from sunrise to 10 a.m. and from 2 p.m. until sunset. As in previous years, there is no hunting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A limited firearms hunt will start the day after Christmas. As in previous years, if you are a leaseholder experiencing extreme browse on your leasehold, you may request an archer in your area. Those of you who requested a hunter through the community survey may be contacted in the coming weeks.
To participate in the hunt, all hunters must be a member of the faculty or staff of the University of the South, or a direct relative (parent, child, or sibling) of same; be a full-time student of the College or School of Theology; pass a background check by Sewanee Police Department; possess a valid Tennessee Hunter Safety Certification; possess a valid Tennessee big game archery hunting license or equivalent. All new hunters in 2017 must possess valid Tennessee Bowhunter Education Certification, and all hunters must have attended a mandatory meeting and registered online with the University.

​David Crabtree to Give Winter Convocation Address

The University of the South’s Winter Convocation will be held at 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19, in All Saints’ Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of the Gown. The Rev. Deacon David Crabtree, an award-winning broadcast journalist as well as an ordained deacon, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary degree. An honorary degree will also be conferred upon costume designer Toni-Leslie James, associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.

​Community Chest and Parks Update

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
An update on the Sewanee Community Chest fund drive and Parks Commission proposal topped the agenda at the Dec. 13 dinner meeting of the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA).
SCA President Lynn Stubblefield said the Community Chest solicitation mailing was scheduled to go out that week. The SCA hopes to increase donations to meet the $16,000 increase in funding requests. This year’s $128,535 Community Chest budget calls for financial assistance to 30 groups and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life in Sewanee and the surrounding vicinity.
To support the Community Chest, mail donations to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or donate online at <sewaneecivic.wordpress.com/community-chest/>.
SCA Parks Committee Chair Stephen Burnett said he and Dixon Myers met twice with University Provost Nancy Berner since the October SCA meeting. At that meeting Myers proposed formation of a Parks Commission to oversee upkeep and maintenance of community parks.
The SCA spearheaded the recent renovation of Elliot Park. When the SCA learned the Sewanee Ballpark was in deplorable condition due to lack of maintenance, the organization sought out the advice of Myers. Myers headed up renovation of the ballpark in 2003.
Provost Berner will seek legal advice on the challenges inherent in managing Sewanee community parks, Burnett said.
“We’re trying to arrive at a decision on which entity will be responsible for which parks,” he explained. Burnett speculated the University would assume responsibility for the Woodlands Park and Lake Cheston Park, and the Parks Commission would oversee the ballpark, Community Center park, Dog Park, and Elliot Park. The SCA already serves in an oversight capacity for the Dog Park and Elliot Park.
Other questions needing answers pertain to the administrative and financial structure of a Parks Commission if one forms, Burnett noted. Who would serve as commissioners and for what term? Would the Parks Commission be an independent entity or would oversight fall to another organization, perhaps the SCA, the Sewanee Community Council, or the University? And, finally, where would funding come from to manage the parks assigned to the commission’s purview?
One possibility, Burnett suggested, would be to assess lease holders a small user’s fee to pay for park upkeep.
The Lease Office has a small budget earmarked for parks, Burnett said, “maybe $3,000.” Citing critical needs, he pointed to the ballpark press box which had rotting floors and was infested with snakes. He estimated needed repairs at $5,000.
Dixon and Burnett will meet again with Provost Berner in early January.
Following a free buffet, the Sewanee Chorale entertained SCA members and guests. Under the direction of Ruth Cobb, the Chorale’s rich harmonies instilled new life in familiar holiday carols. The audience thanked the performers with a standing ovation.

Reverse Raffle Winners Give Back

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
There were a lot of winners in this year’s Reverse Raffle, especially after the grand prize recipients returned a big chunk of the jackpot.
In the main drawing on Sept. 29 during Sewanee’s AngelFest event, Todd Palmertree, a local construction company owner, and Mountain Valley Bank in Monteagle split the grand prize of $10,000.
Palmertree gave back $1,000 of his winnings, while the bank gave back the entire $5,000 from the second annual raffle, which benefited the Community Action Committee (CAC) and the Sewanee Angel Park.
Betty Carpenter, CAC director, said the kindness of the people involved is a gift.
“The funds received from the Reverse Raffle will help so many families in the greater Sewanee community,” Carpenter said. “It is because of the generosity of so many that CAC can provide not just food but assistance with their basic needs. It does take all of us and thankfully events such as the Reverse Raffle help us do the work.”
Lee McFarland, senior vice president of Mountain Valley Bank, said the bank was happy to return the winnings.
“Our directors, officers and staff are committed to supporting the community we live and work in,” he said.
The Sewanee Business Alliance (SBA) conducts the raffle and selects a charity to receive at least 25 percent of the proceeds. Last year’s recipient was Housing Sewanee.
In the Reverse Raffle, names are drawn out and eliminated. The way to win is to be the last name remaining, but as it nears the end, participants can decide to play it safe and split the winnings.
This year a total of 219 raffle tickets were sold at $100 each, said John Goodson, SBA president. In total, after expenses the CAC received $7,975 and Sewanee Angel Park received $4,205.
Goodson said the money for Angel Park, which is a 501 (c) 3 organization, will go mainly toward adding lighting in the future.

​SUD Discusses Jan. Board Election

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Dec. 19 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, the board approved a slate of nominees for the January commissioner election. The nominees will seek election to the seat currently held by Commissioner Karen Singer. Singer is term limited and cannot seek reelection.
Preliminary to approval of the slate of candidates, SUD President Charlie Smith updated the board on candidate qualification restrictions. By state law commissioners must step down after serving two consecutive terms. At the November board meeting, the board questioned whether a term-limited commissioner could return after an interlude from service. Smith researched the issue with Don Scholes, legal counsel for the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts.
The Belvidere Utility District had the same question, Scholes said. According to Scholes, a term-limited commissioner can run for office again after sitting out for a period of one term, or four years.
The decision opened the door for approving the nomination of a previous commissioner to seek election.
Smith also looked into changing the state law to remove the term-limit restriction altogether. Tennessee State Representative David Alexander advised Smith “it would take broad community support.”
SUD is one of only eight utility districts who elect commissioners. In the other districts, the commissioners are appointed by the county mayor. Removing the term-limit restriction would allow those who wish to serve to continue on the board indefinitely subject to reelection every four years.
Voting in the commissioner election begins on Jan. 2 and continues through Jan. 23 at the SUD office during regular business hours.
The board also revisited the November discussion about hiring a part-time bookkeeper to satisfy the “segregation of duties” requirement imposed by the Tennessee state comptroller. Typical of small utilities, SUD lacks sufficient office staff to provide the level of oversight required by the state.
Three individuals expressed an interest in the position, Smith said. The board hoped to hire someone before the end of the year to review data from the last quarter, but according to Smith, “it’s not looking likely.”
“We don’t know what the minimum requirement is,” Smith explained. SUD manager Ben Beavers contacted the comptroller for specific information regarding what records and accounts required monthly review. Smith estimated the wage for the position at $150-$200 per month.
Smith welcomed having “a set of eyes outside the SUD office” to review records and accounts. “It would provide protection for both SUD customers and SUD employees.
Beavers announced all the necessary easements for the Midway pressure boosting statements had been granted. The project will provide a much needed increase in water pressure in the Midway community.
“The meter base is in,” Beavers said. “We need to pour the concrete pad and line up inspections.” Beavers anticipates the pressure boosting station will be operational by sometime in February.
The SUD board meets next on Jan. 23. Results of the commissioner election will be announced at that time.

​Bringing Back the CCC Camp

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Depression-era work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is still evident all over the country and a volunteer project aims to honor the legacy of local Company 1475 by reconstructing part of its camp.
Created under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, the CCC, primarily made up of young men in their late teens and early 20s, performed work related to natural resources and infrastructure, a sample of which included building trails, roads, park structures and recreation areas, erecting telephone lines, planting trees, fighting fires and flood relief. The Corps was vital to starting Tennessee’s state park system.
To be a member of the CCC, which usually paid about $30 per month, the men had to be unemployed, unmarried and not in school. The program was designed to get much needed work done and provide employment during the Great Depression.
From 1935 to 1942, Company 1475’s camp was on 211 acres near Tracy City in Grundy Forest. Grundy County native Herman E. Baggenstoss—son of the founders of Dutch Maid Bakery and a Sewanee alumnus—along with other businessmen, raised money to purchase the property, which was donated for the camp.
South Cumberland State Park officials and volunteers are in the early stages of recreating a portion of that historic site.
“Many ideas for what we will offer during programs and which buildings to reconstruct have been tossed around, and a good plan is set down, but nothing is chiseled in stone,” said Park Greer, a park ranger helping to lead the effort at South Cumberland. “As we talk to people, continue our research, and uncover the foundations, the plan might change.”
Greer said stakeholders have been meeting for several months to study the history of the camp in the effort to “paint an accurate painting of what life was like for the CCC boys.”
The approximately 200 men of Company 1475 tackled a number of area projects, including building Grundy Lakes and constructing part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
“The only trail directly constructed by Company 1475 was the most northern section of the Fiery Gizzard Trail, from the parking lot, down by the rock house and big Hemlock, out to the Fruit Bowl,” Greer said. “Anyone that has hiked this portion is very knowledgeable on how difficult it must have been to cut a trail through these areas.”
Company 1475 set up a satellite camp in 1938, south of Sewanee near Franklin State Forest, to build roads and trails in that area. The legacy of Company 1475 also includes fighting a large fire in Tracy City on April 27, 1935. The fire destroyed a swath of downtown, causing about $100,000 in damages.
The weekend of Dec. 9-10, volunteers were working at the Grundy Forest camp’s site—known as Camp S-67 or Camp Alvin C. York—clearing underbrush and mats of ivy and moss which are covering building foundations, Greer said. The project’s first phase, expected to last into February, includes making paths and clearing and cleaning the site, he noted.
“Over the two days, 13 cold-hardy volunteers showed up and put in a little over seven hours of work,” Greer said. “I’m sure the 20 degree temperatures held some at bay, but there are plenty of future opportunities to help.”
The Friends of South Cumberland State Park is an integral part of the restoration effort. Rick Dreves, communications chair for the volunteer group, noted that more than 17 structures have been found during the clearing and cataloguing process, some of which include building foundations, cisterns and tower anchors.
“The first phase of the project, generously funded by the South Cumberland Community Fund, was delayed until recently because the CCC camp is located beneath what was, until now, a back-country campsite for the state park—which was heavily booked by campers all the way through the end of November,” Dreves said.
The current back-country campsite is closed and a replacement site near Hanes Hole Falls is expected to be open next spring, he noted.
The Friends of the Park are researching the history of the CCC camp and they are asking anyone who has artifacts about Company 1475—letters, photos, stories, etc.—to contact them via email at <FriendsOfSouthCumberland@gmail.com>.
The restoration project has three phases, Greer said, but the timeline is undetermined and dependent on volunteer help and donations. All donations should be made to Friends of South Cumberland State Park. For more information visit <friendsofsouthcumberland.org>.
Historical facts used in this article come from Friends of South Cumberland State Park, which includes information compiled from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and other sources.

​School Board Considers Amending Cell Phone Policy

Renames Stadium Drive

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Dec. 11 school board meeting, the Student Advisory Council asked the board to amend the current cell phone policy which forbids all use of cell phones on school premises during the school day. In other business the board voted to change the name of the road adjoining the Franklin County High School stadium from Stadium Drive to Rebel Drive.
More than 20 high school and middle school students representing the Advisory Council attended the meeting. Spokesperson for the group, high school senior Leanne Turpin pointed out the cell phone policies of Tullahoma and Moore, Coffee, and Lincoln counties allowed use of cell phones in certain areas of the school and encouraged teachers to incorporate use of cell phones in the curriculum.
“Technology is here to stay,” Turpin said. “Instead of pushing technology out, we need to embrace it.”
The students asked for a six-week trial allowing use of cell phones in the hallways before school and during class changes; during breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria; and in class at teacher discretion.
Board member Christine Hopkins observed students frequently used their phones for research.
Under the current policy, students phones are confiscated for failure to comply and can be returned if a $25 fine is paid. Students in violation who refuse to relinquish their phones “will be automatically sent to the Alternative School for twenty (20) days.”
“During the second semester of last year, 50 percent of the students in alternative school were there for phone related issues,” Turpin said.
The Advisory Council recommended graduated penalties and fines for first, second and third time offenders, with the most severe punishment being in-school detention or suspension.
Board member Gary Hanger took issue with returning phones to students who paid a $25 or higher fine. “It’s discriminatory for students who can’t afford $25,” Hanger said.
Board Chair Cleijo Walker asked Director of Schools Stanley Bean to poll school principals on the issue. The board will revisit amending the cell phone policy in January.
Franklin County High School Principal Roger Alsup asked the board to authorize changing the name of Stadium Drive to Rebel Drive. Alsup cited the name change as facilitating giving directions and as a way to “instill a sense of school pride.”
“I’d rather see the name changed to something to honor someone,” said Sewanee school board representative Adam Tucker.
“That would open up a can of worms,” Walker said, pointing out there were many people the community might want to see recognized.
The board voted in favor of the name change with Tucker opposed.
Revisiting November’s discussion on the Advanced College Placement policy, the board considered an amended policy based on the Tennessee School Board Association policy which reads, “An academically gifted high school student may complete the twelfth grade in an institution of higher education or participation in the course of an institution of higher education.”
Questioning the language, board member Leichty argued an intellectually “gifted” student might not perform well academically.
Tucker proposed changing the wording to “academically advanced.”
The board approved the suggested revision and adopted the policy as amended.
Taking up a proposed amendment to the Extended School Programs policy which required only one person to be on duty, Walker objected. “What if the person needs to leave the room?”
Extended School Programs supervisor Patty Priest explained state guidelines allowed only one person to oversee a program provided there was another school employee in the building. “Some programs only have three or four students,” Priest said. “It isn’t cost effective to require two people.” The alternative would be to cancel programs with just a few participants.
Leichty expressed concern with requiring only one adult attendant. “I’m not sure this will cover us if we have issues.”
Tucker cited the state adult-child ratio guidelines which require a second adult if more than 12 children are on the site. The board adopted an amended Extended School Programs policy which allowed for only one program leader, but required two adults to be on the site if more than 12 children were present.
The board decided to abandon the practice of holding working sessions the week prior to the board meeting unless urgent matters required lengthy discussion. Bean proposed a workshop in January to address questions about the proposed consolidated middle school and the future of Townsend School.
The board’s next regular meeting is Jan. 8, 2018.

​New Sewanee Historical Marker Installed on Tennessee Avenue

A new historical marker was installed in Sewanee on Dec. 13. The marker, at 40 Tennessee Ave., celebrates the historic home Saints Rest. The home is one of the three oldest remaining houses in Sewanee. It was erected in 1870 by Charlotte Bull Barnwell Elliott, widow of one of the University of the South’s founding bishops, Stephen Elliott. The home was part of the postwar revival of the University. A pre-Civil War cabin on the same site was the writing studio of Tennessee suffragist Sarah Barnwell Elliott.

The home was most recently owned by the Lines family until the University purchased it in September 2016.
Historical markers commemorate a person, place, object, or event with local importance and, whenever possible, significance and importance in the broad pattern of Tennessee or national history. Tennessee’s Monuments and Markers Committee and Historical Commission approved the new marker.

​Housing Questions Dominate Village Update Meeting

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Residents attending the Dec. 4 Sewanee Village update meeting raised a number of questions regarding housing costs for buyers and renters, citing the need for affordability. Hosting the meeting, Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor Frank Gladu stressed, “Developers won’t build new construction if they can’t rent or sell it.”
Referencing an earlier discussion, Sewanee resident Chris Colane said, “$250 per square foot is not affordable for staff and seminarians.”
Gladu agreed. “Two hundred and fifty dollars per square foot is probably not sellable.”
Noting the cost of rental units would be impacted by the same factors, Gladu said, “For developers to invest they must decide what investments will produce a return. They aren’t there yet. They’re still talking about site preparation.”
According to Gladu, a developer interested in the Prince Lane tract “wanted us to open up the land a little to get a better look at it.” Cottage court housing (800-1,200 sq. ft.) and multi-family homes (duplexes and fourplexes) are proposed for the site.
Vegetation thinning confirmed the site was low lying. “There’s no established stream flow,” Gladu said, but there appeared to be “random” stream activity.
Depot Branch and Rose Branch impact downtown, Gladu said. The University is conducting a study to determine how best to manage storm water.
The University has also retained Development Economist Randall Gross to access marketing conditions. “There won’t be more retail expansion until there are more people.” Gladu said citing Gross’s preliminary assessment, which included visitors. “We have to create a visitor place. But can our hiking trail network handle triple the volume?” Gladu speculated, citing an example of the complexity of increased tourism.
Asked if hotel rental was part of the Village Plan, Gladu said it had been discussed. “If we create a visitor destination, we’ll need a hotel. A compliment to the Sewanee Inn in downtown would facilitate tourism.” Several sites were under evaluation for the proposed senior living facility, Arcadia, Gladu noted, and the town planner had suggested the sites passed over for the Arcadia project might accommodate a hotel.
Gladu proposed a possible location pairing of Arcadia and the Senior Citizens’ Center when the present building is demolished.
He also suggested a possible site for the Sewanee Community Center between Angel Park and the American Legion Hall. “The community center board has been very proactive,” he said. “They’ve even discussed moving the building.”
Gladu gave updates on the major projects slated for completion by 2022.
From Kennerly Avenue to Kentucky Avenue where Highway 41A blossoms into multiple lanes will be reduced to two lanes with the goal of calming traffic by narrowing the highway. Gladu hopes to have a design plan from the Tennessee Department of Transportation in January.
Giving a timeline for completion of the new bookstore between the post office and Tower Community Bank, Gladu anticipates an architect being hired before the end of the year, with construction beginning in the summer, and the bookstore open for business by the fall of 2019.
A developer interested in constructing the grocery proposed for the corner of Hwy. 41A and Lake O’Donnell Road has hired an architect to assess the project, according to Gladu. The three-story structure planned for the site would have apartments on the top two levels.
The Village Green proposed for the location of the current market could not proceed until a new market was built, Gladu stressed. Funding of the project was part of the University’s capital campaign, Gladu said. Some donations had already been received.
The next Village Planning Update meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 2, at the Blue Chair Café and Tavern.

​County Commission Approves Development Grants

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Dec. 4 meeting the Franklin County Commission approved two resolutions from the Industrial Development Board to apply for grants funding site development projects in the Industrial Park, costing in excess of $800,000, with a 30 percent matching funds requirement from the county.
If the funds are received, the Tennessee Site Development Grants (SDG) will be used to create a construction-ready gravel pad on Site No. 9 on the Moon property, cost $500,000, and to build an access road on Site No. 16 on the same tract, cost $308,000.
Providing some background on the proposed projects, Industrial Development Board Director Gene Seaton explained last year’s SDG provide for a resistivity study on the property. “We knew there were karst features. We measured down 200 feet. All the property is suitable for industry.”
Seaton acknowledged there were sinkholes on the property, but said, “We can fix the sinkholes. It may not be expensive. We may be able to put rock from our quarry in them.”
Commissioner Dave Van Buskirk asked if the Industrial Board had any prospects interested in locating on the sites.
“We had some last year,” Seaton said. “A pad for a 100,000 square foot building is what clients are looking for.”
“Is our intention to build a building?” Van Buskirk asked.
“We’ve got to have something there for people to see,” Seaton said. “If nobody builds in one or two years, we may consider building a spec building.” Seaton noted Manchester and Lincoln County had followed this strategy to attract industry.
Van Buskirk asked if voting in favor of the resolutions committed the county to proceeding with the projects if the grants didn’t come through.
“No,” Seaton said. “Our goal is to continue development as cheaply as possible.”
Commissioner David Eldridge asked where the county’s match for the grants would come from if the projects moved forward.
“Our existing fund balance,” Seaton said.
The commission approved both resolutions.
The commission also approved a request from Solid Waste to apply for a grant to purchase a wood chipper, total cost $108,000, with a 33 percent local match required.
Following approval of the wood chipper grant, Solid Waste Director William Anderson presented a request to enter into a two-year contract with Heritage Environmental Services (HES).
Solid Waste would process wood waste from the Nissan Plant using the chipper, Anderson explained. HES would transport the wood waste to and from the processing site. “It could bring in $100,000 a year,” Anderson said.
The commission approved the contract with HES.
The commission also approved a request from the Franklin County Board of Education to enter into a lease purchase and maintenance agreement for 11 copiers.
The current copiers were not meeting the needs of the district, explained Director of Schools Stanley Bean.
Eldridge asked Bean about Rock Creek School being closed that day due to a water leak.
“The tile came down in four rooms, but we have good insurance with a $500 deductible. The insurance will take care of all of it. Students will be back in school tomorrow.”
The county commission meets next on Jan. 16.

​Old School Project Closer to Being ‘Source of Light’

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
The renovation of the old Grundy County High School and planned rebirth as a center for community services is progressing after a long and winding road, with the next big step set for January.
The aim of the project’s steering committee is to see the building house an array of community services such as health and social services, workforce development, and classes from Chattanooga State Community College.
Part of the plan is to include “community health ambassadors,” who will greet people when they enter the “South Cumberland Learning and Development Center” and walk them where they need to go, whether that is back to college, a diabetes class, or to resources for caring for an elderly parent, said Emily Partin, the steering committee co-chair.
“Whatever it is that’s causing stress, whether it’s good stress or bad stress, that campus up there is going to be a source of light,” Partin said.
This year, construction workers finished the first phase of renovations on the 78-year-old building, which included a new roof, windows and outside doors.
The old library wing behind the main building has also been demolished and grass planted there.
With the assistance of the Southeast Tennessee Development District, the project has accrued a number of grants, and in January the bid process will begin for the next phase of renovations, which will include abatement of mildew, mold and some small areas of asbestos, Partin said. In addition, the overhaul will boast new HVAC units, lighting, painting, plumbing and electric.
If there is an acceptable bid, Partin said the committee hopes the facility will open by late summer or early fall 2018, prior to the beginning of Chattanooga State’s fall semester. She said the college would like to offer core college courses on the second floor.
With the Development District now focused on securing grants and managing the bid process, construction and engineering, the steering committee is focused on bringing agencies into the building, she said.
A number of agencies are interested, some even to the point of signing memorandums of understanding to lease space, Partin said. A sample of potential agencies stem from behavioral and other health-related fields, substance abuse and early home visiting programs and first aid.
Partin said organizers would like to see the building become a hub for nursing, social work and medical students to do rural rotations.
“Which would give them a better idea of what’s it’s like to work in a rural area and give us some needed health care,” she said.
The Grundy County Health Council will also have a presence there, Partin noted, adding that the state recently honored Tracy City as a “Healthier Tennessee Community.”
Tracy City Mayor Larry Phipps said officials are open to suggestions about what should go into the building.
“I think it will be a positive thing because there will be resources and training that aren’t available to the entire county unless you go off the mountain,” he said. “…It’s going to be a boon to the whole county.”
The Alma Mater Theater, which closed about two years ago, is also scheduled to re-open when the renovated building opens. Partin said the movie theater needed an upgrade to digital and someone donated a digital projector over the summer.
Another part of the campus project is to renovate the school’s gymnasium. Partin said organizers are finalizing funds for the gym before going out for bids on renovations, which will comprise a new HVAC system, lighting and windows.
There is a full basement in the gym that was once the school cafeteria, which will also be renovated, she added.
“Down the road we would like to put a kitchen back in and do some culinary training as part of the workforce development piece,” Partin said.
The old high school re-invention project has crawled along for many years. In 2006, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awarded a $500,000 grant to rehab the school with matching funds required of $100,000, but a series of delays and other obstacles hampered the project.
Some of those delays included changes in local government leadership, working to re-gain the original grant, securing donations and other grants, and construction bids that came in too high. Partin said the upcoming bid process set for January was also delayed after hurricanes in the U.S. drove up the price of construction.
“It’s not for the faint-hearted,” she said. “It’s a lot of hurry up and wait and I’ve learned over the years, patience. I’ve learned that while we’re waiting on this to happen, we can be doing this over here.”
Partin, who grew up in Tracy City and whose family has a rich history there, said she loves the area.
“It’s been my dream for a long time that the people on this mountain would have access to the resources they need,” she said. “If I can get a doctor in the area, whether its primary care or counselor or whomever, if they can say, ‘You go to the old high school.’ There’s not a soul on this mountain who won’t know where that is.”

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