Fourth of July Theme Announced

The Fourth of July planning committee is proud to announce that the 2018 theme is “From Sea to Shining Sea.” We hope you will join us on Tuesday, July 3, for the Street Dance and Wednesday, July 4, for an all-day commemoration of who we are and what it took to get here. Be on the lookout for more information to sign up for the arts and crafts fair, mutt show, pie eating contest, cake decorating contest, or parade.

​Ice Cream Social to Celebrate Boo and Trink

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The two women first met while bound for India near the end of WWII and they remained friends for more than 70 years, both activists, humanitarians and adventurers with fierce spirits.
Marion “Trink” Beasley passed away in February, but she and friend Marymor “Boo” Cravens often celebrated their April birthdays together with ice cream. Friends, community members and shoppers are invited to gather at Thurmond Library to honor the Sewanee stalwarts with a free ice cream social on April 28 between 1 and 2:30 p.m., the same day as the community-wide yard sale.
Trink would have been 97 and Boo is marking her 96th birthday.
“Both women were of similar temperament and beliefs, fiery, with strong reactions to the mistreatment of people,” said Trink’s daughter, Gabrielle. “They both had open houses, welcoming everyone, no matter their belief, background or race. They also had wonderful senses of humor with little regard for the proper way of doing things.”
Boo and Trink were activists for women’s rights and other social justice issues. The kindred spirits met in Washington, D.C., during orientation for the American Red Cross, prior to serving near Calcutta, India, at a holding camp for U.S. soldiers returning from fighting in WWII. They were roommates on the boat to India and tentmates while in India.
A stroke in 2008 slowed Trink down a little, but she was still active in the fight for social justice. She had a sticker on the back of her wheelchair that read, “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”
Before retiring to Sewanee in 1990, the Wisconsin native traveled the world on humanitarian and medical missions with her husband, physician William Boddie Rogers Beasley.
Trink’s first job was as an air traffic controller in Cincinnati and she held a variety of interesting positions, but once said the dream job she never got to do was driving an 18-wheeler around the country.
Family friend John Bratton said he loved and admired the Beasley family and has high praise for Trink.
“She was among the most gracious ladies that I have ever known,” Bratton said. “She was beautiful in every sense of the word, and her life was one of service to others. She served this community and others in many ways, especially families coming to live here and also foreign students who were invited to her home for delicious meals.”
Boo spent her life in social work, helping with adoptions and caring for the mentally ill in Tennessee, Virginia and New York City. Boo’s final job in social work was as director of social services at Moccasin Bend Psychiatric in Chattanooga.
The New Orleans native visited Sewanee during her youth, staying at Powhatan, the boarding house which the daughters of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith operated.
Boo’s grandparents also lived in Sewanee and she called the town “heaven” as a child. Sewanee is where she eventually met her husband, Duval “Duvie” Cravens Jr., an Air Force veteran who ran the Sewanee bookstore.
Trudy Cunningham, one of the organizers of the ice cream social, said the idea developed after Trink’s funeral, when several friends suggested a celebration of the “friendship of Boo and Trink, their love of social justice, books and ice cream, and the radical hospitality they were known for, both here in Sewanee and literally around the world.”
Trudy hopes people will stop in and share stories of the duo and “have a nutty buddy with Boo.”
If Boo is unable to attend due to health reasons, the party will go on with the possibility of Facetiming with her at home.
Thurmond Library is funding the ice cream social through money from its last book sale.
Boo’s actual birthday was April 15. Birthday cards and correspondence can be sent to her at 1190 DuBose St., Monteagle, TN 37356.

​Sewanee’s Anti-Diet Dietician

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Mary Pate-Bennett often doesn’t subscribe to convention when it comes to healthy eating. A registered dietician in Sewanee, she challenges the morality assigned to food and society’s message that thin is better.
“I feel as if we all have some type of disordered eating, we all have issues with food,” she said. “There are very few people who are just intuitive eaters and who don’t think about food and just live their lives.”
Becoming a healthy intuitive eater, with reduced food-related guilt are worthy goals, she said.
“For a lot of people it is very emotional talking about food, why they eat the way they do, where they eat and the types of food they eat,” Pate-Bennett said. “There’s a lot of shame involved so it does take some opening up and talking to figure out how to heal them and get on the right path for learning how to eat the foods that are going to make them feel the best.”
She dislikes diets and said weight loss is not her primary motivation, nor her definition of success. People in small bodies can still have diabetes and heart disease, she said, and often genetics dictate someone’s size. Body acceptance is an important tenet to her practice.
“In our society we are presented with the idea that if you are in a large body then you must be unhealthy and you need to lose weight to be healthy. The science doesn’t say that’s true,” she said. “You can be in a large body and have diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, but you can be in a large body and have absolutely no issues.”
Pate-Bennett grew up in Sewanee and attended St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School, like her four siblings. She graduated from the University of the South with an undergraduate degree in psychology.
While working in the kitchen at a French bistro in Nashville (where she met her husband), she changed course and decided to pursue nutrition as a career. Pate-Bennett earned her undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University and her graduate degree from the University of Tennessee.
She moved to San Diego, where her husband’s family lives, and worked there as a dietician in a hospital prior to working at the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. She and her husband, James, moved to Sewanee a few years ago to raise their daughter, who is now two-years-old.
Pate-Bennett is a mixture of counselor and nutritionist, helping people remove the guilt and power that food has over their lives. Eating comes with so many conditions, she said, some established in childhood when kids had to clear their plate or food was used as a reward.
“My goal with clients is to help them realize how many rules they’ve set up for themselves,” she said. “Eating dessert without deserving it makes them feel guilty and they will punish themselves and the next day they’ll eat clean or healthy.”
She said she strives to break the diet-binge cycle and the assigning of labels to food.
“There’s all these ideas around foods that put them in a category they should not be put in,” she said. “Food should not be used for these negative emotional reasons but our society sets it up to do that.”
When it comes to cognitive therapy, Pate-Bennett said that is not her specialty, so sometimes she refers clients to therapists to help tackle underlying challenges.
Therapist Kate Gunderson has worked with some of Pate-Bennett’s clients.
“Mary’s emphasis on ‘intuitive eating’ jibes well with cognitive therapy, offering a means to reframe eating habits,” Gunderson said. “Banished are diet books, starvation, food police, self-recrimination. Instead the cognitive process encourages awareness of ‘internal monologue,’ positive self-talk and engagement in life-affirming activities.”
Gunderson said she has heard positive feedback from those who have sought Pate-Bennett’s expertise.
“Clients who see Mary report feeling heard, supported and aided on their path towards healthy and sustainable dietary changes,” Gunderson said. “Mary is a bright, committed and caring practitioner—a real asset in our small community.”
Pate-Bennett said she is very happy with her career choice and its rewards.
“It’s immensely satisfying to see the changes in people, seeing people who maybe have not been completely relieved of their guilt with food but who just feel significantly better about it,” she said. “Just helping people wade through all the information that’s out there is satisfying.”
Pate-Bennett is also a certified lactation counselor. Visits are by appointment only at her office at the University Wellness Center Annex. For more information, call (931) 636-8669 or visit <>.

​Scholarship Sewanee on April 27

Scholarship Sewanee, the University’s annual celebration of student scholarship, research, and creativity, this year will be held Friday, April 27. Additional events related to student scholarship and creative endeavors will be held during that week.

Scholarship Sewanee 2018 will feature 88 posters and 55 oral presentations representing biology, physics, chemistry, earth and environmental systems, politics, economics, English, history, visual arts, and more. (The complete schedule may be found here at . Scholarship Sewanee began more than 20 years ago as a half-day poster session, at which approximately 40 posters affiliated with the sciences were on display.
The McCrady Lecture, begun in 2013, will bring Karen Till to campus this year. Till is a professor in the Department of Geography at Maynooth University in Kildare, Ireland. She is a cultural geographer, ethnographer, and curator who engages in collaborative research about place, memory, and creative practice. Till is also the director of the Space&Place Research Collaborative. Her presentation, “Difficult Pasts and the Care of Place: Memory-Work as Imagining More Just Futures,” will be held at 1 p.m., Friday, April 27, in Blackman Auditorium. A reception will follow.
Just prior to Scholarship Sewanee, the Sewanee Festival of Speaking and Listening will showcase student speakers from across the University engaging in topics of political, legal, social, scientific, cultural, professional and rhetorical significance, from April 23–26. In addition, the senior art majors’ exhibition, “A Tear in the Veil,” will be on display in the University Art Gallery from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and noon–4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The University jazz ensemble will present its end-of-semester concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in St. Luke’s Chapel.
Immediately following the conclusion of Scholarship Sewanee, the Department of Physics and Astronomy will induct four students into Sigma Pi Sigma, the national Physics Honor Society. Finally, the Gospel Choir will hold its end-of-semester concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in St. Luke’s Chapel.

​Adult Forum Celebrates Merger Anniversary of Two Parishes

Otey Parish welcomes the community this Sunday to celebrate 50 years after St. Mark’s Parish merged with Otey Memorial Parish. At 10 a.m., in St. Mark’s Parish Hall, Otey rector Rob Lamborn will speak about the history of St. Mark’s. Lamborn will be using commentary from Matilda Dunn’s thesis on the merger of the two parishes and the work of the Katie Bradshaw and Sara Milford in creating the video “Can I Get a Witness? Documenting, Preserving, and Sharing the History of the St. Mark’s Community.” Visitors are encouraged to share stories at this time.

There will be an 11 a.m. Worship and Holy Eucharist followed by a noon reception/coffee hour at St. Mark’s Parish Hall.
Come celebrate and share memories of the impact on our community of the St. Mark’s families: Taylor, Staten, Hill, Winton, Kennerly, Childress, Beasley, Shedd, Turner, Patton, Tate, Burnett and many more.

​Trustee Community Relations Committee Meeting

The Trustee Community Relations Committee will be in Sewanee on Thursday, April 26, at which time the Community Council will update the Trustees on topics of interest and concern to our community. If you have topics that you would like the Council to consider, please contact a Council member.

Community members are invited to join the Trustees and Council members for a reception at 5:30 p.m.,Thursday, April 26, in the new upstairs venue at Shenanigans.
Members of the Community Council include: Abbey Shockley, Annie Armour, Charles Whitmer, Cindy Potter, Flournoy Rogers, Jeremy Carlson, John McCardell, June Weber, Kate Reed, Louise Irwin, Michael D. Gardner, Nancy Berner, Pamela Byerly, Phil White, Pixie Dozier, Rich Barrali, Sallie Green, Shirley Taylor, and Theresa Shackelford.

​Potter to Receive the Summa Cum Laude for Community Service Award

During the Wednesday, April 18, Sewanee Civic Association meeting at St. Mark’s Hall, Cindy Potter will receive the Summa Cum Laude for Community Service Award for her continuing dedication to the outdoors, education and community.

Cindy moved to Sewanee in 1980 when her husband, Bran, joined the University’s faculty. Much of her life has focused on serving area children. She taught at the Sewanee Children’s Center and was the PTO sponsored librarian at Sewanee Elementary School. She then taught for 25 years in the Franklin County school system and was a finalist for Tennessee Teacher of the year. She joined the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School community and helped to begin the sixth grade program. She taught humanities and science courses, where she combined her love of nature, poetry, writing and song.
She initiated the “My Spot in the Woods” program, where each student revisited their own adopted place in the forest to make observations and write in their learning logs. That program was featured in an issue of The Tennessee Magazine.
She has served on the Duck River Board, and on the Lease Committee. She is currently a member of the Community Council, and serves as chair of the Community Action Committee.
In 2014, she was co-recipient of the The Harry Yeatman Environmental Education Award. This award honors a person who has made an impact on the South Cumberland Plateau through dedication to this place, and by educating others to appreciate it.
For years she organized the annual sixth grade holiday balsam wreath sale to help raise funds for a variety of outreach projects. Students used the opportunity to support organizations that promote causes that are important to them, such as the protection of animals, scientific research and the preservation of the environment. In some of their presentations, the students told moving stories of people they knew who had benefited from their chosen organization. Charities ran the gamut from large organizations such as Save the Children and the American Cancer Society to more local causes like Sewanee’s Operation Noel or the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.

​Malde Named a Guggenheim Fellow

Professor of Art Pradip Malde has been awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Fellowships this spring to 175 U.S. and Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists who were appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, and were chosen from a group of 3,000 applicants.

Malde teaches classes at the University of the South in photography, documentary photography, and electronic media. He is currently working in rural communities in Haiti, Tanzania, and Tennessee, designing models for community development through photography. His work in Haiti will be shown at the RAY 2018 Photo Triennial this summer in Frankfurt, Germany. That forum calls his photos an “homage to the resilience of Haiti.” Much of Malde’s photography considers the experience of loss and how it serves as a catalyst for regeneration. The Guggenheim Fellowship will support work on a new book of photographs.
Malde’s works are held in collections including the Museum of the Art Institute, Chicago; Princeton University Museum; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Yale University Museum; and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

​15th Annual Trails and Trilliums Festival

The Trails and Trilliums Festival, being a celebration of Nature, is ready for whatever nature throws at us this weekend. This year’s festival takes place April 13–15 in Monteagle, celebrating the peak of spring wildflower season in South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee’s largest state park. Extra tents have been ordered, so just about every activity planned to take place at the South Cumberland State Park Visitor Center on Saturday, April 14, will stay dry if it rains. Programs and workshops will take place as planned. The full schedule of expert-guided hikes will also take place, rain or shine, unless severe weather threatens. Hikers are advised to dress for wet weather, and can check the Friends of South Cumberland website or Friends Facebook Page on Saturday for weather-related hike schedule updates.

This year, the programs and activities associated with Trails and Trilliums moves to the South Cumberland State Park Visitor Center in Monteagle. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 14, rain or shine, the Visitor Center will come alive with a market festival featuring art and craft vendors, a native plant sale and live music, complemented by a day-long line up of historical, gardening and other outdoor themed programs and workshops, as well as dozens of nature-oriented interactive activities for the kids. Bring a picnic lunch, or stop by the Shenanigans food truck, which will be serving lunch and snacks on-site. All activities at the Visitor Center are free and open to the public.
For the adults, the Trails and Trilliums marketplace will feature displays of beautifully hand-made crafts, jewelry, woodworking, sculptures, fine art and decorative items from 18 of the region’s most creative and outstanding artists, including the always popular native plant sale, creating a festival atmosphere for this year’s event. There will also be a full slate of nature themed programs and workshops on a wide range of useful gardening, birding, photography and historical topics. See the full schedule online at
Always a highlight of Trails and Trilliums are the expertly-guided wildflower, wild vista, and waterfall hikes throughout the park, which will be offered throughout the weekend. Van shuttles to most of the hike trailheads will be offered, leaving from the South Cumberland State Park Visitor Center. The complete hike schedule can be found online at <>. The full schedule of hikes will take place, rain or shine, unless severe weather threatens. Hikers are advised to dress for wet weather, and can check the Friends of South Cumberland website or Friends Facebook Page on Saturday for weather-related hike schedule updates. All hikes require purchase of a Hiking Pass, available on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Registration table at the Visitor Center. Hikes are free to current Friends members; non-members can join and hike for $35. Please note: Hike capacity is limited.
At the Visitor Center on Saturday, April 14, rain or shine, Trails and Trilliums Family Fun will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with dozens of hands-on nature and outdoor activities. Ramble, the Tennessee State Parks raccoon mascot, will greet families as they arrive. All Family Fun activities are free of charge and open to the public, but please note that adults are required to accompany their children at all times. Bring a picnic lunch, or plan to purchase lunch or a snack from the Shenanigans food truck.
The Family Fun activities will take a 30-minute break for lunch at 12:30 p.m., but the newly-renovated Visitor Center exhibit area, featuring a pioneer cabin, plant and animal exhibits, a hands-on video microscope, and the State Park’s Gift Shop, will be open all day.
The fabulous Wine and Wildflowers celebration will be at the Monteagle Inn on Saturday, April 14, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A terrific selection of wines and hors d’oeuvres will be highlighted by the presentation of this year’s Trails and Trilliums Tribute Award to longtime Friends supporter and outdoor journalist Bob Butters, whose many articles about the outdoor wonders of the Southern Cumberland Plateau and South Cumberland State Park appear on his blog . Tickets for Wine and Wildflowers, an important fundraiser for the Friends of South Cumberland, can be purchased online at
Proceeds from all ticket sales, as well as art and craft sales, support South Cumberland State Park through the work of the Friends of South Cumberland. Learn more about how the Friends are making a difference in the park at
This year’s Trails and Trilliums festival is made possible with support from Lodge Cast Iron. Saturday evening’s Wine and Wildflowers celebration is presented by Tower Community Bank, and the new Family Fun activities are made possible through the generosity of Doug Ferris and John D. Canale.

​Couple Weaves a Graceful Retirement

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
The two best friends sip turmeric and ginger tea as they offer an extended lesson on weaving and aging with grace.
Will and Glyn Melnyk, married 32 years and both retired Episcopal priests, recently opened a studio in their Monteagle home to display and sell the handwoven creations of their hobby-turned-business, Ephods and Pomegranates.
The new studio also houses their two looms, where they weave together three or four days a week.
“Weaving is contemplative, creative and quiet. It’s also fairly decent aerobic exercise, because you use both hands and both feet,” Glyn said.
Glyn bought her first loom from the niece of folk music legend Pete Seeger in 1999 in Woodstock, N.Y. Glyn was a natural, so Seeger’s niece, who believed in re-incarnation, thought she must have been a weaver at some point in a past life. What Glyn recalls is weaving pine needles together as a kid.
The name of the Melnyk’s business comes from an Ephod, a garment or breastplate that the Old Testament says some priests wore in ancient Jewish culture, and the pomegranate, a prominent symbol of Israel. The Melnyks are co-founders of People of the Mountain, a local Jewish group.
Will and Glyn also both graduated from Sewanee’s School of Theology, Will in 1981 and Glyn in 1992, and together there are eight Episcopal priests in their family.
In addition to sharing their clergy careers, they also share a number of other interests, including being students of string instruments, with Will playing the violin and Glyn playing the cello.
“We’re each other’s best friends, so if one of us does something, the other knows about it,” Glyn said.
They are both writers and poets as well, and Glyn is a food blogger. She said they are thoroughly enjoying their interests during retirement, which started about four years ago after they moved to Monteagle after both serving as rectors in the Philadelphia area.
Their weaving studio is adorned with unique prayer shawls, altar cloths, scarves, table runners and other items that they have created as the business expanded during retirement. But weaving is an art for them and they try to avoid production weaving, preferring unique pieces for people.
This year they will display their work at Wildflowers and Wine at the Monteagle Inn, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Saturday, April 14, as part of Trails and Trilliums.
Will, who is Jewish, has a Judaica line of wovens. He said Judaism is as varied as Christianity, but there are some Orthodox Jewish pieces that have highly detailed requirements, including specific fibers and knots.
The prayer shawls or stoles at Ephods, no matter the tradition and culture, are popular items.
“The idea with that kind of garment is to create a personal prayer space,” Will said. “You may not have your own little chapel to go in but you can sit down in front of the fireplace and put your prayer stole on and it puts you in the mood for meditation and prayer.”
Spirituality and contemplation is something the Melnyk’s incorporate into the weaving and patterns, often using Fibonacci sequences. Will has also woven music into prayer shawls. By assigning colors to notes and using varying widths to indicate lengths of notes, he has incorporated musical scores into the garments, including Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 and a Bach piece as a present for his violin teacher.
Glyn also does overshot weaving, which is essentially weaving two patterns at once. She said the process is very labor intensive and depending on the fiber, can be extremely delicate. Will is learning how to overshot weave and it brings out his philosophical side.
“It’s kind of like life, there are fundamental foundations and then there are all kinds of embellishments,” he said. “Another way of looking at it is there are ways that people are all the same, but then there are fantastic variations.”
In October, the Melnyks will take their spiritual weaving lessons on the road to Mississippi for the Liturgical Arts Conference. Their class is called “Weaving the Soul’s Warp and Weft,” with warp being lengthwise and weft being crosswise.
“The metaphor of weaving is not just one for construction of life, but construction of one’s spiritual path and philosophy of life,” Glyn said.
Ephods and Pomegranates offers local classes in weaving and would like to expand what they do for the community. Glyn said she wants to start teaching weaving to grade school students and the Melnyks also would like to help recent graduates of the School of Theology by selling vestment items at or below cost.
Amidst a lesson on sleigh hooks, sequencing and threading the heddles—and the challenge of big feet to treadling, the Melnyks say weaving can be broken down into simple steps, but requires coordination and plenty of focus.
“The only thing you can’t fix in weaving is if you cut it too short,” Glyn said. “You can’t put the threads back together again, but virtually everything else can be repaired.”
Ephods and Pomegranates can be found on Amazon and Etsy. The studio is open to the public, but the Melnyks ask that customers call ahead at (610) 357-6813. For more information, visit

​School Board Weighs Inadequate Teacher Salaries

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April 9 meeting of the Franklin County School Board, Assistant Superintendant Linda Foster recommended a 2 percent increase for all certified employees, raising questions about whether the amount was adequate and whether the money would be available.
“We haven’t made progress on our need to attract and retain quality teachers,” said fifth district school board representative Adam Tucker. “We’re having the same conversation we had last year, and I’m disappointed. Two percent barely covers the cost of living increase.”
Eighth district school board member Sara Liechty noted teachers’ salaries increased based on years of service, but that increase stopped at the 20-year mark.
“In other area school systems, teachers receive salary increases up to 25 years and in some systems up to 35 years,” Foster acknowledged.
Third district board member Lance Williams said there were “rumors about a 2 percent raise for all county employees,” but expressed concern the county commission might not approve the increase. Likewise, the amount of state Basic Education Program (BEP) funding remains unknown.
Foster anticipates having BEP estimates next week. “We can move backward if we need to,” Foster said, if funding amounts came in below expected levels.
The board approved an across the board 2 percent increase for all certified employees for budgeting purposes.
Turning to the pay scale for classified and support employees, Foster recommended category-based increases for maintenance employees and a 2 percent increase for all others.
Foster proposed a starting wage of $15.50 per hour for employees experienced in carpentry, flooring, painting, and plumbing and $18 per hour for licensed HVAC technicians and electricians. “We need skilled maintenance people most of the time, and we won’t get them for $11 per hour,” Foster said, citing last year’s budget.
Seventh district board member Gary Hanger called attention to the shortage of substitute teachers at the high school level and speculated raising the wage might help.
Non-certified substitutes earn $62.50 per day and certified substitutes earn $67.50 per day.
Williams said increasing certified substitutes pay could result in substitutes making more than assistants who earned $69 per day.
Liechty and Hanger stressed substitutes had far more responsibility than assistants and that certified substitutes did a far better job of managing a class and keeping order than non-certified substitutes.
Hanger said Tullahoma City Schools paid certified substitutes $100 day.
The board approved Foster’s recommended classified and support employees pay scale amended to increase the certified substitutes’ wage to $80 per day to help alleviate the substitute shortage.
In other businesses the board voted to sell a vacant 5.2 acre tract adjacent to the Townsend School property. Nearby property recently sold for $5,000 per acre. The board set the minimum bid on the vacant tract at $15,000.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean asked the board to increase his contract from two years to four years, citing ongoing issues confronting the school system, notably the new middle school initiative. Bean will meet individually with board members to discuss the request.
School system safety specialist Mark Montoye provided the board with an overview of the Interquest Detection Canines program, which uses dogs in unannounced searches to detect illegal and prescription drugs, alcohol, weapons, and ammunition. Searches by law enforcement canines only detected illegal items, Montoye noted.
Montoye stressed the dogs were “not aggressive” and trained to sit to signal a “hit.” The school principal and school resource officers then dealt with the issue.
The program would cost $550 per visit, with both high schools and both middle schools inspected.
Tucker asked to postpone a vote on the program to confirm law enforcement’s approval and to investigate whether it violated 4th amendment rights prohibiting unreasonable search.
Two parents addressed the board. Joanne Hammer asked the board to adopt a foreign exchange student policy. Hammer said her daughter was not eligible for the Beta Club and National Honor Society in her senior year because she was not considered enrolled during her junior year in Japan. Chris Ball asked the board to adopt a student protest policy requiring board and parent approval for a student to protest and forbidding protests by students below the high school level.
The board meets next May 14.

​Middle School Funding Unresolved: County Commission Wants Out-the-Door Price

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
On April 10, the Franklin County School Board and Franklin County Commission met in a joint session to discuss funding options for addressing the problem of the county’s two aging middle schools.
In 2016, the engineering firm Oliver, Little, and Gipson (OLG) presented the board with three possible solutions: renovate (cost $35–$37 million); build two new schools (cost $48–$55 million); build a single consolidated school (cost $32–$37 million).
In May of 2017, the school board passed a resolution requesting the County Commission authorize a $37.5 million bond to fund construction of a single consolidated school. The board rejected renovation due to structural issues with the buildings and disruption of students during the 15–20 month renovation process.
“If money were not an issue the board would want two new schools,” said fifth district school board representative Adam Tucker, “but we decided it was not a realistic ask, so we set that option aside.”
“I’ve talked to parents, and nobody wants one big school,” said commissioner Angie Fuller, seventh district seat B, speaking in favor of renovation.
Commissioners Iris Rudder, first district seat B, and Barbara Finney, sixth district seat A, concurred.
Commissioner Lisa Mason, second district seat A, said the people in her district favored one school and strongly objected to children being in the buildings during renovation due to mold issues.
Commissioner David Eldridge, seventh district seat A, suggested the construction cost figures were “inflated” and that the schools were told to “ask for everything you’d like to have.”
Board member Lance Williams, third district, insisted, “We’re not asking for anything but the basics, library, cafeteria, and auditorium.”
Tucker pointed out the cost figures did not include furnishings, computers, and other amenities and were engineering estimates, not actual design plans. “We haven’t engaged an architect,” he said.
Engineer Tim Little with OLG estimated an architectural design would cost $1.8 million.
“The actual cost could be $45 million,” said commissioner Dave Van Buskirk, third district seat A, citing the new jail where the cost greatly exceeded estimates.
Commissioner Gene Snead, first district seat A, said he wanted a comparison of operating costs for the three options over 50 years. “There’s a lot of efficiency in one building,” Snead said.
“We don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on studies,” Williams said.
“Or engage an architect when we don’t know we have funding for the project,” Tucker added.
County Commission Chair Eddie Clark, fourth district seat A, observed if the cost of the consolidated school held at $37.5 million, the county could fund the project without a tax increase once the new high school was paid off in 2022.
Tucker confirmed that was correct, but if construction began now, an 8 percent tax increase would be needed “to get us through the first few years.”
“As a county commissioner I can’t support funding for ‘ifs.’ It’s the boards call about the school, but our call about funding,” said Rudder. “Dr. Lonas [former director of schools] did a good job of selling the consolidated school idea to the community. That’s what the board and commission need to do, but we need an ‘out the door price.’”
“Do we want to do what’s cheaper or what people want?” asked commissioner Helen Stapleton, fifth district seat B.
Commissioner Johnny Hughes, fifth district seat A, suggested letting the public decide by a referendum and funding the project with a wheel tax.
County Finance Director Andrea Smith said the county couldn’t afford the $1.8 million for the architectural design without issuing a bond.
“There’s a risk the commission won’t approve the design if the cost is too high,” Van Buskirk said.
Eldridge concurred. “We may need to eat the $1.8 million.”
“Will the commission even discuss two new schools?” asked school board member Linda Jones, second district.
“If you want two schools, bring us the facts,” Rudder said.
Summing up the evenings discussion, Board Chair CleiJo Walker, sixth district, said, “We can’t give you exact figures without making an expenditure of money.”

​Grundy County Schools Run Clubs: A Sport Where Everyone Can Participate

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Everyone can walk or run,” said Grundy County Schools Health Coordinator Mary Jo Gallagher explaining the impetus that led to the Grundy County elementary schools hosting run clubs. Four years ago, Pelham Elementary School started a run club in response to a recommendation from the Tennessee Health Commission. A federal 1305 grant provided financial support for the program, which has since expanded to include an annual 5K race. This year’s race on April 21 signifies a milestone for the program: every elementary school in Grundy County will have a run club participating.
The Grundy County Health Council partnered with the Grundy County Schools to launch the program. “The health council had been chosen to be a recipient of 1305 funding, and we used that to get some 5K clubs up and running,” said Tonya Garner who served as the GCHC facilitator at the time. “We’d identified the need for activities other than organized sports for kids to participate in to get them active, and we thought that 5K clubs would be a great place to start.”
The federal 1305 grant program offers all 50 states funding to help prevent and control diabetes, heart disease, obesity and associated risk factors and to promote school health. The run clubs held their first 5K three years ago. The runners travel a 3.1 mile stretch on the Mountain Goat Trail between Sewanee and Pearl’s Foggy Mountain Café.
The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance (MGTA) recently received a $317,000 Project Diabetes grant to help complete a section of trail between Monteagle and Tracy City. The health component of the grant supports the Grundy County Health Council with the money directed into the run clubs program. The funding pays for singlets with the runners’ school name, transportation, and a meal following the race, said MGTA Executive Director Patrick Dean.
The Tennessee Department of Health provides the clubs with a Run Club Tool Kit, Gallagher said. In the six-week program, students learn warm-up stretches, the importance of hydrations, how to dress for the weather, and other tips like using sunscreen. The age limit is left up to the sponsoring school. All participating students must have a physical.
The clubs meet one or two times a week. Faculty sponsors coordinate activities in most of the clubs, but in some parent volunteers play an active role. This year for the first time the schools had the opportunity to offer the program in both the fall and spring semesters. “We only have one big event, though,” Gallagher noted, “and that’s the 5K run on April 21.”
Students work their way up to running a 5K by starting out walking three minutes and running one in the opening training days, said Tracy City Elementary coach Jan Roberts. As race day approaches, the training activity is four minutes of nonstop running.
The April 21 race starts at 9 a.m., with trophies awarded for first, second and third places in four categories: girls, grades one through five; boys, grades one through five; girls, grades six–eight; and boys, grades six–eight.
Winning the race isn’t what the run clubs are about, though. “Playing basketball and baseball is great,” Garner said, “but after you get out of school most kids normally stop playing. You teach a kid to have a love for running and you have set them up for a life of health and fitness. That’s our goal.”

​Sewanee Village: Thoughts on Housing

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April Sewanee Village update meeting Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor Frank Gladu focused the discussion on housing. Of the Sewanee Village Plan’s five priority projects—narrowing the U.S. Highway 41A intersection, a grocery-type market, relocating the University bookstore to downtown, a village green, and housing—“Housing is the most challenging,” Gladu said. “It presents the most variables and had the highest demand.”
“Apartments and multi-family homes are something we’re missing,” Gladu stressed. It makes sense to “build what we have none of.” The plan calls for apartments on the top two stories of the grocery-type market and on the upper stories of other retail buildings proposed for the same tract. Another tract is earmarked for multi-family units such as duplexes and row houses.
“The question is what variety of housing we’ll decide to create. I think the slam-dunk is bedroom and studio apartments,” Gladu said.
Gladu also acknowledged a possible need for more single family homes in the downtown area. There are only two undeveloped lots left in Parson’s Green, according to Gladu, and the downtown plan only identifies three lots for single-family homes.
A tract earmarked for single-family cottage court style housing “has gone through many redesigns” to address drainage issues, Gladu said. “We’re now looking at building at the rear of the lot where the house used to be located.”
Gladu also suggested the possibility of working with the planner to release lots outside the downtown area. Plans call for only single-family homes in the area of the Sewanee Village outside downtown. Groupings of lots with conveniently located utilities would offer less expensive options to both individuals wanting to build and to developers who might want to build four or five homes, Gladu pointed out. He speculated that the rule allowing only University employees to build might be relaxed as is the case in Parson’s Green where permanent residents are allowed to build, but not second-home owners.
Provost Nancy Berner was in the process of reviewing the initial report from the Housing Study Group, Gladu said. He expected Berner to share the findings of the report at the end of April.
According to Gladu, Berner has already acted on one recommendation from the Housing Study Group, allowing University employees currently residing in University rental housing to rent for up to four years instead of just three. Gladu explained the three-year rental policy was instituted to accommodate an influx of new faculty, but that need no longer exists.
“The idea of University rental housing has always been as a transition place until people decide where they want to live more permanently,” Gladu said. The University rents only to employees. The rental policy, like the policy allowing only University employees to build, intends to ensure employees have a place to live.
Gladu compared the University’s experience with rental housing to a roller coaster ride, with demand ranging from extremely high to extremely low “for no rhyme or reason.”
In a discussion about how increasing retail growth depended on not just increasing housing but on attracting visitors, a new resident in the community suggested an RV park as a way to accommodate temporary residents.
Providing an update on other projects, Gladu said a funding gift earmarked for design of the village green will likely result in selection of a landscape architect in the near future. Gladu stressed the Sewanee Market located on the lot proposed for the green couldn’t close until the new grocery was built. Gladu plans to meet with a developer interested in the multi-use grocery-apartment project next week.

​Tea on the Mountain Launches Cookbook

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
Tea on the Mountain feels closed off from the rest of the world, with a mere hint of the outside peeking through its cloaked windows.
The tea room in Tracy City is a good sanctuary to escape politics, traffic and social media, but it is also a good place to eat some of Myrna Nesbit’s “Lemony Chicken,” or at least learn how to make it. Myrna and husband Pat, recently released a cookbook with some of Myrna’s favorite recipes, which is stocked with family traditions, adaptations and Myrna originals.
A petite woman wearing a tin brooch of an angel carrying a teapot and teacup, she is a comforting presence.
“My grandmother’s mother taught her how to make cornbread and she taught my mother and my mother taught me; so that’s in the book. Pat’s aunt made the best Parker House rolls and that’s in there, but mine’s not as good as hers. I just can’t get that down right yet. I think she didn’t tell me everything,” Myrna says laughing.
After more than 10 years since opening the tea room and bolstered by customer encouragement, Myrna says she finally got around to moving recipes from the notebooks behind the counter into a cookbook. She says she’s most proud of her desserts, like bread pudding and crème brûlée.
Pat contributed a recipe or two but says Myrna does 99 percent of the cooking and all he did was mostly proofread the new book.
“I’m really not sure why she put my name on it,” Pat says.
“So he wouldn’t be mad at me,” Myrna jokes. “No, he was a big supporter.”
The Nesbits have been married for 56 years and first met in 1960 when Pat was a student at the University of the South and Myrna was the front desk clerk at the Sewanee Inn. Pat spent most of his adult life working in the insurance business and Myrna’s main occupation was front desk manager at Regency Inn.
When they moved back to Tracy City, Myrna’s hometown, from Little Rock, Ark., a tea room and restaurant was both an inviting prospect and uncharted territory. They loved hosting tea for friends at home and were inspired by their experiences in tea rooms in places like London, Paris, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Sydney and Hawaii.
“We enjoyed serving teas to people,” Myrna says. “It was an easy way to entertain; it was an impressive way to entertain. You could do little bitty things and it looked great or you could do big elaborate things and it still would work great in a tea.”
The tea lovers say the experience of running the restaurant has been the hardest and most rewarding work of their lives.
“I did not expect to meet all the wonderful people that we’ve met. People we would have never come in contact with any other way,” Pat says. “I didn’t expect it to be so much fun either.”
The Nesbits say when they started Tea on the Mountain they decided to continue in five-year increments and are now on their third run.
“I’m serious, as long as we can stand up and work we’re going to do it; it’s too much fun to quit,” Pat says. “It’s kind of like getting hold of a tiger’s tail; you can’t let go.”
The tea room and restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Afternoon tea, high tea, and dinner are also available by reservation.
The “Tea on the Mountain Recipes and More” cookbook is available for $15 at the tea room and via the Tea on the Mountain Facebook page.

Show more posts