​‘The Crucible’ Features Sewanee Theatre Legends

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Two esteemed former Sewanee theatre professors are part of a world infected with poisonous charges, religious conflict and demonic unions in the play “The Crucible.”
The Arthur Miller drama, which begins a five-show run at the Tennessee Williams Center today (Friday), is set during the Salem Witch Trials, but also reflects and was written during the Red Scare of the 1950s when Sen. Joseph McCarthy led the hunt to expose Communists.
Marcia Mary Cook, who taught theatre at Sewanee from 1995 to 2015, plays Rebecca Nurse, a woman with a big family of 11 children and the additional challenge of being labeled a witch.
“She was known for her compassionate and universal ministry to people,” Cook said. “One of the things that I love about our roles is that both of them are historical people, and they both lost their lives in the Witch Hunt.”
David Landon, who taught theatre at Sewanee for four decades, plays Giles Corey, another historical figure accused of being in league with the Devil. Corey refuses to surrender his principles to support a sham, Landon said.
Cook and Landon, who gathered to talk about their roles over coffee recently, said they both remember the days of the Red Scare. Landon’s mom and dad bought their first small black and white TV just to watch the McCarthy congressional hearings, and Cook and her husband bought a TV for the same reason.
“I still see that guy (McCarthy) badgering people,” Landon said.
Cook, a certified spiritual director and public speaking coach, last shared a stage with Landon in 2015, when they played in Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well.”
Landon now teaches a class on the theatre education of William Shakespeare in New York City and at the Shakespeare Festival in Nashville.
Landon, 80, last took the stage playing King Lear in the 2016 Nashville Shakespeare Festival. This is his third time in “The Crucible” and his second run as Giles Corey—the last time he played Corey was as a 16-year-old high school student in 1955.
Cook got into acting because her father, a silent movie actor and later a theatre director, needed a young girl to play in “The Drunkard” when she was six. Her dad, Ulmont Healy, had a small part in the 1915 Civil War era film “The Birth of a Nation” among other films.
Landon found his way into theatre after an initial interest in literature. Finishing his PhD at Vanderbilt University, he was asked to be in a French play. He eventually was offered a job at Sewanee in which he would teach French part-time and theatre part-time.
“That’s a carrot you couldn’t resist,” Cook observed.
He began acting professionally in plays and landed some TV commercials and work in NYC. Landon said he stayed with one foot in academia for his family, but also because he wanted a deeper training in acting.
“Every time I do this, I remember how much I enjoy it,” he said. “I think what actors do is profound and important, not just entertainment.”
He said acting is a challenge and helps find “the other in ourselves” and see what we share with other people.
“To learn how to say great words as if they were our own,” he added. “To take risks and to learn to find your personal expressivity but in the context of a shared enterprise.”
Cook agreed with the profound nature of acting.
“It’s not just entertainment, to get out of myself and into another role,” she said. “When I get on the stage and have my lines down pat and know who I am saying this—when I feel that person coming from me in those words—I feel so at home.”
“It’s something that never ends,” Landon said.
Director James Crawford said he was thrilled when Cook and Landon agreed to join the cast.
“This is a play about a community, and here are two pillars of our own community playing pillars of the community,” he said.
Crawford added that “The Crucible” with its themes manifesting the discord of the Salem Witch Trials and the Red Scare, is also applicable today.
“The years 1692 and 1953 reflect back and forth off one another in the play, and the beauty of theatre is that the year 2018 is in there bouncing off them as well,” he said. “I think it will be hard for anyone to see this play today and not think about elements of our current political situation. We’re living in an age in which ‘fake news’ has become a powerful political force, whipping people into frenzies of irrationality, just as it did in Salem.”
The shows are Feb. 23 and 24, March 1, 2, 3 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee show on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free and can be reserved at Eventbrite.com.

​Stories the Windows Tell: Slavery Project Continues

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The scenes depicted in the stained-glass windows of the narthex at All Saints’ Chapel may not send an appropriate message, said Shelley MacLaren, director of the University of the South Art Gallery.
MacLaren said the four historical windows in the entryway to All Saints’ focus on the University’s history from 1857 to 1957 and they tell a tale of an “idealized Confederate cause” that involves segregationists and slaveholders.
“These windows are beautiful and very effective,” she said. “Their appeal makes them especially important to grapple with. They’re seductive which makes them harder to think about with some distance.”
MacLaren, who is also curator for Academic Engagement, discussed the windows on Feb. 19, during the fourth forum of the Slavery, Race and Reconciliation Project, held at St. Mark’s Hall at Otey Parish. She said decisions are needed concerning changes and how the windows represent the community.
“The wonderful and tricky thing about artwork is its continuing engagement of the present-day viewer,” she said. “These windows keep performing the same function as they did when they were installed. They tell the same stories, they idealize the same people…”
She said the windows align with an increase of monuments and memorials in the 1950s and 60s reflecting the Antebellum South and “The Lost Cause” as backlash to the Civil Rights Movement.
The four windows, which cost $6,000 each, were dedicated in 1960 and 1961, MacLaren said. Each window reflects six scenes, from the University beginnings onward to the University’s centennial celebration and other historic events. But MacLaren noted these are fictionalized scenes, which do not precisely tell factual history.
“When art is telling us about the people and events of another time, they are unreliable witnesses at best—they can’t possibly tell us everything—and they’re beautiful and dangerous liars at worst,” she said.
The blowing up of the first cornerstone of the University during the Civil War is one scene that some historians say likely never happened, MacLaren noted. That particular window also includes a scene portraying founders and religious leaders planting a cross to symbolize the re-establishment of the University. MacLaren said the image of peace and God is contrasted against Northern aggression.
Another scene depicts the Confederate seal above the U.S. flag, a symbol of support for the Confederate cause above the nation, MacLaren said.
She said she is in favor of removing Confederate seals from the church’s stained-glass windows. MacLaren added that there is room available for more windows to expand the picture of the University’s history, which could include the effort to segregate the school and reflect more people of color.
The Feb. 19 forum also yielded discussion of Brooks Hall at Otey Parish. Tom Macfie, University chaplain and former rector of Otey Parish, said the building is not named for Preston Brooks, a slavery supporter and congressman who severely beat Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1856.
The building, which houses church offices, is named in honor of Polly Brooks Kirby-Smith, the granddaughter of Preston Brooks. Louis Rice, Jr. donated money for renovations of the building, named for Polly, who was his wife’s mom.
Otey Parish leadership chose not to punish the grandchildren for their relation to the notorious congressman, Macfie said.
“We had a donor who wanted to honor this family of that generation, the grandchildren of an evil politician, and it seemed to me that was a very clear decision to make,” he said.
Professor Chris McDonough, Alderson-Tillinghast Chair in the Humanities, also shared his thoughts on monuments and memorials during the forum. He said in this time of “polarized politics and weaponized nostalgia” he is in favor of temporary displays that can be changed and continually examined.
McDonough noted that most monuments have a limited shelf life as interest wanes and times change. The relocation of the Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith memorial from Texas Avenue to the University Cemetery is an example, he said. The memorial was moved following the racial clashes in Charlottesville, Va., last year.
He said he would have liked the Kirby-Smith monument to have remained and an art installation placed in front which questioned the meanings and memories of the Civil War, as well as offering a reflection garden for pondering our own lives and how we will be seen by future generations.
Woody Register, a history professor and director of the Slavery, Race and Reconciliation Project, said the effort is designed to research, discuss and examine the art, monuments and memorials on campus that reflect the Antebellum South and ties to slavery.
The project’s committee is expected to present recommendations to the University concerning the future of campus monument and memorials this year. For more information, email slaveryproject@sewanee.edu.

​Community Chest Update

Since 1908, the goal of the Sewanee Community Chest has been to help citizens by funding the community. 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. This year’s goal is $128,535. To date, 60 percent has been raised. If you haven’t contributed yet this year, please send your donation now.

For more information, go to <waneecivic.wordpress.com or email sewaneecommunitychest@gmail.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.

​Wednesday Wonderings at Sewanee Elementary

The Sewanee Elementary Parent Organization (SPO) is piloting a new program called Wednesday Wonderings. This enrichment program runs on Wednesdays from 2:30–3:30 p.m. through March 7.

“We were discussing enrichment programs during a fall Sewanee Parent Organization meeting,” said Sarah Marhevksy, president of the organization. “During that time, there were sign-ups for the Lego League. Many students wanted to join, but there was a limit to the number who could participate. We wanted more students to get involved, and the planning began.”
During this six-week period, three different classes are being offered to students. Classes offered are based on the volunteer’s interest. There is Chinese language instruction for grades K–second taught by Eva Sun. Art classes are being taught by Pippa Browne and Elizabeth Core for grades two–four. Coding is taught by Matt Sparacio for students in grades four and five.
In coding class, the students begin with a web based tutorial at . After answering any questions the students may have about the video, “the students complete a series of challenges where they either write code or modify code to demonstrate mastery of the concept presented in the video,” said Sparacio. “So far we have covered drawing shapes, adding color, and creating variables to simplify making changes in the code. Soon we will be moving to animation.”
“My ultimate goal is to peak an interest in the minds of the students,” said Sparacio. “In six one-hour sessions I can only show them a tiny amount of the coding world. The beauty of the web based program is that they can continue to learn at home without me. We started with basic Java script but there are several programming languages they can explore.”
Marhevsky said organizers did not want to start too big for the first offering of Wednesday Wonderings nor did the SPO want to take away from the annual Friday School program volunteers.
“We want to be a sustainable program,” said Marhevsky. “We live in a small community filled with talented people who have a lot to offer. Those volunteers can be matched up with students who want to learn and give the students enrichment opportunities throughout the entire school year.”
The program is free for the SES students. After school, a snack is offered and then the children go to their Wednesday Wondering class. Students in the extended after school program also have the opportunity to participate.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive and another Wednesday Wonderings session will be offered in the fall. Marhevsky said the SPO will be setting up a more formal process for interested volunteers to offer classes. Planning is also underway to include some modified class offerings for the students who have to adhere to the timing of the bus riding schedule.
For more information contact sesptoenews@gmail.com.

​PBS Journalist to Speak On ‘Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age’

Journalist Alexander Heffner, host of The Open Mind on PBS, will give a public talk at the University of the South on the topic “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age: The Quest for a Post-Partisan Future.” Students, faculty, staff, and the entire Sewanee community are invited to attend the evening presentation at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Convocation Hall; a reception will follow.

Heffner is a journalist and civic educator who has contributed to the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and TIME magazine, among other publications. As host of The Open Mind, Heffner invites public figures to discuss timely, critical topics in a forum marked by respect and civility. He has covered American politics, civic life, and Millennials since the 2008 presidential campaign. His work has been profiled in the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Christian Science Monitor, and on NBC News, C-SPAN, NPR, CNN, and other media outlets. Heffner has lectured at the Newseum, National Constitution Center, FDR Library and Museum, and universities across the U.S. and around the world.
Heffner’s visit to campus is hosted by the Office of the Dean of the College, and is part of the University’s “Learning to Speak—Speaking to Learn” initiative aimed at improving students’ oral communication skills. The Center for Speaking & Listening is the co-sponsor of some of the day’s events.

​Bach to Jazz Featured at All Saints’ Chapel During Lent

All Saints’ Chapel will feature a number of collaborative musical events during the season of Lent.

Geoffrey Ward, organist and choir master, will present a series of four organ recitals on Feb. 21, 28, and March 7 and 14, at 1:15 p.m. in All Saints’ Chapel. Each recital will last approximately 20 minutes, offering a perfect mid-day break from the routine. Repertoire will include works of Bach, Buxtehude, Böhm, in addition to hymns of the season. On Feb. 21, 100 students from Sewanee Elementary will attend the recital to experience the Chapel organ as part of an outreach initiative.
All Saints’ Chapel will host the Chattanooga chapter of the American Guild of Organists on Sunday, Feb. 25. At 4 p.m. the choir, under the direction of Ward and accompanied by Ken Miller, assistant professor of church music at the School of Theology, will sing Evensong followed by an organ recital performed by Ward and Miller. Service music includes preces and responses by Ayleward, canticles and motets by Charles Wood and organ music of J.S. Bach.
On Sunday, March 11 at 11 a.m., the University Choir will join forces with the Kash Wright Trio and Sewanee Praise to present a Jazz Eucharist. The collaboration will include favorite traditional hymns “Come thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Amazing Grace” and “Rock of Ages,” led by the trio and combined choirs. Prakash Wright is a teaching professor in the department of music at the University of the South.
All Saints’ Chapel is located on University Avenue on the campus of the University of the South.

​Community Service Nominees Wanted

The Sewanee Civic Association invites nominations for the 35th annual Community Service Award. The award recognizes the person or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the community. The kind of contribution varies widely, but the recipient is one who has helped make Sewanee a better place and improved the quality of life for everyone in the area.

Nominations are due by Friday, March 16.
Past recipients are not eligible to receive the award again. Send the name of your nominee, along with a brief paragraph of why you are nominating this person and/or group, to sewaneecommunitychest@gmail.com. Nominations can also be mailed to the Sewanee Civic Association, P.O. Box 222, Sewanee, TN 37375. The award will be presented at the SCA’s April 18 annual membership meeting.
Past recipients include Kathleen O’Donohue; Mickey Suarez; GSA Allies; Pixie Dozier; Barbara Schlichting; Helen Bailey; Sewanee Youth Soccer; Dr. Matt Petrilla; Harry and Jean Yeatman; Marshall Hawkins; Karen Keele; Tom Watson; Susan Binkley and the Blue Monarch; the Sewanee Senior Center Food Pantry (Lena McBee, Sue Hawkins, Charlsie Green); George and Ruth Ramseur; Dr. John Gessel; Dora Turner; the CAC; Geraldine Hewitt Piccard; Myrtis Keppler; Connie Warner; Ina May Myers; Pete Green; Duval and Boo Cravens; Housing Sewanee; Arthur Ben and Betty Nick Chitty; Harry and Millie Dodd; the Sisters of St. Mary’s; Martha Dugan; Emerald-Hodgson Hospital Auxiliary; David Green; Joe David McBee; Robert Lancaster; Maria Webb; Doug Cameron; Phoebe Bates; Marilyn Powell; and Louise Irwin.

​School Board Hears from Winning SOCO Team

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 12 meeting of the Franklin County School Board, the SOCO Lego League team demonstrated their winning project. Composed of students from Cowan Elementary School and South Middle School, the team placed second in a field of 48 at the regional competition. The students designed a prototype for a combination water filter and lead detection alarm for installation on the school water fountains.
The First Lego League program for students in grades four through eight ignites interest in robotics and STEM (science, technology, electronics and math). In keeping with this year’s theme hydrodynamics, the SOCO team designed, built and programmed a robot that competed on a tabletop playing field performing tasks ranging from replacing a pipe to flushing a toilet. For their service project, the team researched and found a solution to the problem of lead in schools’ drinking water supplies.
Learning that all schools built before 1990, meaning both Cowan Elementary and South Middle School, posed a potential hazard from lead pipes, the students tested the water with a home kit, and skeptical about the results, sent it to Tennessee Tech for verification the water was safe. The prototype combination filter-alarm flashes green and shows a Smiley face if the water is safe; if not, the device flashes red, shows a toxic-eyes image, and shuts off the water.
The students’ multi-tiered research ranged from tracing the path of the water from the point of entrance to projecting the cost of their filter-alarm device, $350. They also wrote their Congressman asking them to enact legislation guaranteeing the water in school fountains was lead free.
At the regional competition, the SOCO team demonstrated their prototype device and provided an overview of their research.
“They not only learned robotics,” said Toni Barnes, SOCO coach and fifth grade teacher at Cowan Elementary. “They learned teamwork, perseverance and public speaking.” Clark Memorial and Rock Creek Elementary also participated in the Lego League program. “Next year’s challenge is space,” Barnes said.
Turning to regular business, Board Chair CleiJo Walker said the textbooks under consideration for adoption were available for public viewing in the meeting room at the Board of Education, 215 S. College St., through Feb. 28.
The board approved budget amendments to account for additional Basic Education Program revenue to cover the increase in insurance costs and revenue from contributions to the Campora Center ranging from food and shoes to tutoring services.
Walker asked board members to submit their self-evaluations by the last week of February, so they could be reviewed in early March.
At the March 5 working session, the board is expected to address proceeding with plans to construct a consolidated middle school. In May 2017, the board voted to replace the two aging middle schools with a single consolidated school. In the debate leading up to the vote, the Franklin County Commission indicated they would not approve funding to build two new middle schools, but the commission made no explicit commitment to the means of funding and level of financial support for a consolidated school.
Sewanee school board representative Adam Tucker said he recommended the school board and county commission meet to discuss the options.

​Friends of South Cumberland Contribute to the MGT Extension

The Friends of South Cumberland State Park announced a contribution of $10,000 to facilitate extension of the Mountain Goat Trail (MGT) through southern Grundy County. The check presentation took place during the Activ8Grundy/Healthier Tennessee event at the Grundy County courthouse on Feb. 12.

“We are very grateful to be able to participate in this celebration of Grundy County’s designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community,” Friends President Naullain Kendrick said. “We felt this was also a great time to show our support for the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance. The nearly 100 miles of walking and hiking trails in South Cumberland State Park, coupled with the nearly 11 miles of the Mountain Goat Trail that will be complete or under construction by the end of this year, provide citizens of our area with a wonderful variety of ways to get outside, walk, and get healthier every day.”
Kendrick noted that the Mountain Goat Trail will soon connect some of the most popular areas of South Cumberland State Park, with short spur trails planned as part of the upcoming phases of construction, linking the MGT to the park’s Visitor Center and to Grundy Forest, the northern terminus of the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
MGTA Executive Director Patrick Dean agreed, saying ”There’s a natural partnership between the MGTA and the Friends, connecting our common goal: getting people outside, moving and being healthy. This donation will help us as we connect Tracy City to Monteagle, beginning this year. We’re gratified that the Friends have chosen to support us, and we look forward to also eventually connecting the Savage Gulf and Hawkins Cove areas of the Park via the Mountain Goat Trail.”
Kendrick added, “We are excited to partner with the MGTA in their efforts to complete the trail in Grundy County and across the entire South Cumberland Plateau. The completed trail, with its connections to many areas of South Cumberland State Park, will give us all more opportunities to get out, to get healthy, and to fully enjoy the blessings of natural beauty that surround us in this wonderful community.”
The Friends of South Cumberland, a nonprofit organization, is the official public support group for South Cumberland State Park, which now protects nearly 31,000 acres of environmentally significant land in Grundy, Sequatchie, Marion and Franklin counties for this and future generations to enjoy. Learn more at FriendsOfSouthCumberland.org.
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. For more information, visit MountainGoatTrail.org.

​Arts and Ales Fundraiser

Franklin County Arts Guild is hosting its fourth annual fundraiser Arts and Ales—an over 21 celebration of the visual arts, music and the art of brewing. This ticketed event will be noon–4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17, at Monterey Station in Cowan.

Benefiting the Franklin County Arts Guild, proceeds are used to promote visual and performing arts in Franklin County. The Franklin County Arts Guild also provides a scholarship for a promising high school senior planning to study art or art education at the university level. The Guild provides local artists an opportunity to exhibit and sell their works through its gallery, The Artisan Depot.
Attendees will be able to spend an afternoon tasting a large variety of micro-brews while viewing the work of local artists. In addition, there will be art demonstrations and live music.
Tickets, $25 preorder, are available online at franklincoarts.weebly.com/arts-and-ales.html and at the Artisan Depot in Cowan, or $30 at the door. There will be a special $10 Designated Driver ticket for purchase at the door.

​Sewanee Village: Highlights, Historical Perspective, Future Topics

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 6 Sewanee Village update meeting, Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor Frank Gladu highlighted and gave historical perspective on the five priority projects. He also wanted to identify the “deep dive” topics—aspects of the plan residents wanted more information about.
Of the projects slated for completion by 2022, graduation year for next fall’s incoming freshman class, Gladu pointed to relocation of the bookstore to downtown as having the most “momentum.” The current bookstore needed to “vacate” the space selected for the University Health and Wellness Center “for the Health and Wellness Center to materialize,” Gladu explained. With the bookstore design underway and moving from the conceptual into the schematic phase, Gladu projected having construction documents by this summer and gave a completion date of spring 2019.
Asked if Barnes and Noble would operate the new bookstore, Gladu said, Barnes and Noble would continue in the capacity of a “collegiate” bookstore operating “in the space we give them.”
At the other end of the momentum spectrum, Gladu cited the Village Green proposed for the site now occupied by the Sewanee Market. Before the Sewanee Market can close, the proposed mixed-use building housing a grocery and residences need to be built, Gladu explained. “There’s a developer very interested in the project,” he said. The type of residences on the top two stories would be up to the developer, with both apartments and condominiums a possibility. Similarly, identifying a grocery operator would be up to the developer. The current market owners have “expressed an interest” in operating the grocery, according to Gladu.
Addressing a housing concern, Gladu insisted he favored only primary residents being allowed to own or lease residences in the downtown village, with no second-home residents. Lease policy states only University employees can build, Gladu said. Most of the proposed housing in the Village called for multi-family dwellings, the exception being a few lots in Parson’s Green and on Castleberry Drive, and the Cottage Court housing proposed for Prince Lane.
Gladu described the Cottage Court homes as having a “near-zero” lot line and ranging from 800 to 1,500 square feet in size, with two story homes possible. Identified as a “wet weather conveyance,” the Prince Lane tract posed challenges, Gladu conceded. “Building will likely be on higher ground around the brow of the property.”
Gladu reassured concerned residents the large tulip poplar tree on the tract would not be cut down. He speculated lack of competition for light and “perhaps the wetness” contributed to the impressive circumference of the tree.
Outside the 250-acres designated as multi-use by the Sewanee Village Plan, the University’s long-range plan calls for single-family dwellings only, Gladu noted, with the potential for 80-120 half-acre building sites.
Another front-burner project, redesign of the Hwy. 41A intersection, called for reducing traffic flow to two lanes “with a few strategic turn lanes,” Gladu said. As a state route, the one-and-half mile project falls under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Traffic flow did not warrant a stop light, according to Gladu, but a pedestrian activated crosswalk is likely.
Asked about the earlier plan for a roundabout at the Highway 41A and University Ave. intersection, Gladu said investigation into the idea revealed “roundabouts were good at keeping traffic moving, but were not pedestrian friendly.”
Gladu hosts Sewanee Village updates on the first Tuesday of each month at the Blue Chair at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Topics identified for future discussions include parking, fiber optic internet service in the Village, the Village as a “visitor destination,” children friendly space, retention of trees and wooded areas, a community garden, and results from the marketing, housing, and storm water studies being undertaken by the University.

​Monteagle Council Grapples with Purchasing Protocol

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Jan. 31 meeting of the Monteagle Town Council, two recent infrastructure expenses prompted heated discussion about the proper protocol for the two instances in question: purchase of a used dump truck for use by the Utility Department, cost $17,000; and installing additional lighting at the temporary fire hall, cost $8,000.
Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock questioned the way the dump truck purchase was handled. “In the future I won’t do votes over the phone, and I won’t sign checks for the Town of Monteagle.” Blalock recently attended training with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) agency of the University of Tennessee. According to MTAS, both of these actions were illegal, Blalock insisted.
On the advice of city accountant Mark Allen with Allen, McGee and Associates, City Recorder Debbie Taylor contacted Blalock and the other aldermen asking their preference regarding the Utility Department’s request to purchase a used dump truck, quoting prices on two vehicles. Blalock later signed a check for purchase of a truck.
Explaining his advice to Taylor to contact the aldermen, Allen said in emergency situations “the mayor had authority to act” and the council was permitted to discuss the issue “over the phone.”
Utility Department manager John Condra said not having a dump truck constituted an emergency in the event of a water main break.
Blalock countered, “MTAS said a dump truck is not an emergency.” Blalock suggested the council should have held a special called meeting.
Allen pointed out that public notice should be given for special called meetings, which would result in a time delay. Allen cited the MTAS definition of an emergency as “putting life or property in danger. It’s the mayor’s call based on discussion with department heads. What I suggested Taylor do was to get the alderman informed. A vote wasn’t required.”
In a letter to Mayor Sampley following the meeting, city attorney Harvey Cameron concurred, “The decision is entirely up to you whether an emergency exists. In fact, there was no necessity for Debbie to call any of the aldermen.”
The additional lighting in the temporary fire hall was authorized by Fire Chief Mike Holmes. A contractor doing repairs on the restroom facilities had stressed the need for more lighting.
Alderman Kenneth Gipson questioned Holmes about the $8,000 expense.
“The lights cost a lot more than we thought they would,” conceded Holmes, who failed to get three quotes for the project as required by Monteagle city code when the estimated cost exceeds $1,500.
“Shouldn’t the council have voted on authorizing the lighting expense?” Gipson asked.
“The fire department makes decisions on how to spend its budget just like the police and other departments,” Sampley said.
In other business, Holmes requested declaring engine number three surplus and listing it for sale on govdeals, a government surplus auction website. The 1981 model engine had pump and tank leaks, Holmes said. He estimated the sale value at $8,000-$15,000.
The council approved declaring the engine surplus along with an out-of-service police car and two out-of-service utility department vehicles.
The council also approved Holmes’ request to apply for a firefighters grant for up to $30,000 to purchase a new engine. If the grant is received, the city would be required to contribute 5 percent in matching funds. Holmes described the federal grant program as highly competitive. “Last year we made it to the final round.”
Codes enforcement officer Earle Geary advised the council of the need to upgrade from the 2009 building codes manual to the 2012 manual. Law required the building codes a municipality operated under be within seven years of the most recent publication. “The state operates under 2012 codes,” Geary said. He estimated the cost of new manuals at $600. The council approved authorizing attorney Cameron to draft the necessary ordinance, which must be approved on two consecutive readings.
Sampley provided an overview of bids for asbestos removal in the portion of the Monteagle Annex undergoing demolition.
“The structure has 950 square feet of popcorn ceiling,” Sampley said. “The glue attaching the tile needs to be removed.”
The council approved retaining the low bidder Infinity Group for the job, cost $6,938.
The council meets next on Feb. 26.

​American Shakespeare Center Presents ‘Macbeth’

The Sewanee School of Letters invites the community to a free performance of “Macbeth” at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, in Guerry Auditorium.

From the first words of the play until the title character loses his head, Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy is also his most unrelenting examination of the dark side of humanity. Driven to bloody deeds by their lust for power and supernatural predictions, Macbeth and his Lady fight to hold on to their ill-gotten throne, their sanity, and each other, by any means necessary.
The American Shakespeare Center brings a unique performance style to Sewanee, blending Shakespeare’s stagecraft with modern sensibility. The company uses Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions: universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music. Its productions have been hailed by the Washington Post as “shamelessly entertaining” and by the Boston Globe as “phenomenal…bursting with energy.”
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with period music from the company beginning at that time.
The performance will be in memory of School of Letters faculty member Ann Jennalie Cook, distinguished Shakespeare scholar, who passed away last summer. Through the generosity of one of Cook’s many grateful students at the School of Letters, we are able to honor her with this performance of Macbeth.

​Fat Tuesday at Otey

Get ready to let the good times roll with a New Orleans-themed celebration at St. Mark’s Hall of the Claiborne Parish house. At 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 13, you won’t want to miss the Fat Tuesday festivities and feast hosted by the Otey Parish Crewe. Everyone and every age is welcome, so invite all your friends and neighbors.

Gary Sturgis will return to his throne as Otey’s chef extraordinaire. The menu will delight your taste buds with Cajun jambalaya and red beans and rice. Vegetarian offerings will be provided, plus a special dessert. For the kids, there will be a special pancake station. Orange juice and coffee will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own beverage of choice. Entertainment will include jazz and Mardi Gras favorites. Costumes of all kinds are strongly encouraged, but not required.
Ticket prices are $7 per adult and $2 per child, with no family paying more than $20. For reservations contact Frieda Gipson at <oteyparish@gmail.com> or 598-5926.

​Sewanee Immersed in Jazz This Weekend

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

This weekend, Feb. 9–11, Sewanee is afloat in jazz through a blend of lectures from renowned experts and scholars, jazz performances and discussions, and a culminating special concert on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 2 p.m.
“MJQ Redux: Celebrating Jazz at Sewanee” marks a moment from University of the South history in April 1961 when the Sewanee Jazz Society hosted the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) in a concert at the gymnasium. The performance was significant not only because of the appearance of the jazz legends, but also because the all-black quartet performed amidst the racial turmoil of the segregated South.
Kash Wright, University Jazz Ensemble director and an event organizer, said jazz enthusiasts who want to hear world-class musicians and history buffs who want to hear from music experts are both in for a treat.
“And if you support music and the arts here at Sewanee, then rediscovering Sewanee’s rich heritage and tradition of playing and being patrons of jazz will also appeal to you, and you will get to hear from current Sewanee student musicians,” Wright added.
In addition to MJQ, the Sewanee Jazz Society of the 1960s and 70s brought other legends to campus, among them Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck.
Eric Benjamin, Sewanee’s director of Multi-Cultural Affairs and another event organizer, was part of the Sewanee Jazz Society as a freshman in 1969. Benjamin said he was not a student “when the true trailblazers organized the Modern Jazz Quartet performance,” but discovered students in Sewanee who were culturally and socially advanced.
“I was blessed to be an Atlanta native as a teenager during the time of Dr. King, listening to John Coltrane and Nina Simone, on albums and the radio, while they were alive still,” he said.
“Having grown up with jazz, it was great to find students at Sewanee who ‘knew about the music.’”
Stephen Miller, Sewanee Music Department chair and primary organizer, noted that past Jazz Society members Dave Wilson and Gray Smith were instrumental in developing the event. MJQ Redux is serving as both a reunion of the Sewanee Jazz Society and a celebration of MJQ and jazz.
Even for people who are not fans of jazz, the culminating concert by the Aaron Diehl Quartet at Guerry Auditorium is a tremendous opportunity, Miller said.
“Bottom line: Aaron Diehl’s Quartet comprises some of the best musicians in the world on piano, vibraphone, bass and drums, and to hear these virtuosos live—no electronic wizardry, studio effects, or Auto-Tune—will be inspirational, no matter your musical tastes,” Miller said.
Diehl, the lead musician, is known for his jazz instrumentals, classical performances and “accompanying one of the greatest vocalists on the planet, Cécile McLorin Salvant,” Miller said. Diehl also performed for the New York Philharmonic, last year.
“Along these same lines, the repertory of the Modern Jazz Quartet that the musicians will explore in the concert is quite varied, sometimes sounding more like straight-ahead bop-style jazz and at others more ‘classical,’” Miller said. “The instrumentation itself will be fascinating to all ears. While most are familiar with the sound of the piano, the vibraphone (played Sunday by the very talented Warren Wolf) is just not heard all that much.”
Wright, a member of the Kash Wright Trio, director said MJQ has influenced his own music. He discovered the quartet through Miles Davis’ album “Birth Of The Cool,” on which John Lewis, the pianist for MJQ, performed and also arranged two songs, Wright said.
“The MJQ is definitely the gold standard for blending aspects of jazz and classical music seamlessly and performing tight arrangements of standards and their own original compositions,” Wright said. “If any or all of those things interest you as a musician, I’d encourage you to listen to them. There are always aspects of what they do that will influence your composing and playing.”
A sample of the celebration’s events include: The opening session at Gailor Auditorium today (Friday) at 8 p.m., which features a screening of the documentary “Music Inn” with one of the film’s producer George Schuller, the son of jazz musician Gunther Schuller
On Saturday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m., author Gary Giddins, who was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary series “Jazz,” and Christopher Coady, University of Sydney professor and leading scholar on John Lewis, will host a discussion.
As Sewanee wades into the big jazz weekend, Benjamin noted that the genre is powerful in many ways.
“Jazz is great music and, like classical music, it raises your vibration and your IQ,” he said. “I find that the creative nature of improvisational jazz keeps the mind flexible. This can be relevant today, as society moves through the ‘great disruption’ and we are forced to improvise in our lives.”
There are a few events restricted to registered symposium guests, but all lectures and demonstrations are open to the public, Miller said. Tickets for the Aaron Diehl Quartet performance are available online for $35 through Feb. 10 and $40 at the door the day of the concert. Half-price student tickets are available at the door for $20 and University of the South students, staff and faculty get in free with a University ID.
For more details, tickets and a complete schedule, visit sewanee.edu/mjqinsewanee/.

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