​Michael Brady: A Man with a Mission

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. General election voting is Aug. 2.
Michael Brady, who seeks reelection as Grundy County mayor, took office mid crisis: an Affordable Care Act mandate to provide health insurance for county employees, cost $800,000, and state pressure to address jail overcrowding and fire code violations, or pay to house inmates elsewhere, cost $2.4 million. The county had just weathered a steep property tax hike and still verged on insolvency. Sixteen days into Brady’s first term, the fund balance dropped $14,000 into the red.
“It was a scary time,” Brady said.
Brady’s mantra is a question: “How will the decisions we make today affect the citizens of Grundy County tomorrow?”
With the help of legal counsel, Brady opted out of the $800,000 state health care plan and met with a broker, designing a 70-30 co-pay plan with the county’s cost just at $100,000.
“We could have done a cheaper plan, but I wanted to give the employees insurance with benefits,” Brady said. Fines for failure to offer insurance would have cost the county $160,000 the first year and more in subsequent years.
Similar financial scrutiny showed building a new jail was wiser than housing inmates elsewhere. The sheriff introduced management practices that saved money, and Brady found a USDA loan with a locked in interest rate that wouldn’t strain the county, given the additional funds available when the high school and Coalmont school debts are paid off in 2021 and 2022.
The county not only survived but thrived. It finished 2017 at $2.4 million in the black.
Brady insists combating poverty is Grundy County’s most pressing need and to do that, the county needs living wage jobs.
Infrastructure, education, and industrial recruitment top Brady’s list of prerequisites.
The county has 14 new road projects approved, Brady said, and he predicts the industrial park will soon be filled. “We’ve had two expansions, and a third one coming up, creating 30 new jobs.” A recent $230,000 grant award will provide infrastructure expansion for two existing businesses.
“Grundy County doesn’t have the funds to improve the industrial park,” Brady stressed. He tapped into an Economic and Community Development grant cycle that began with a state funded evaluation and growth plan, and this year funded $36,000 for geotech studies at the industrial park. Next year Brady expects to receive $1 million for infrastructure funding at the park.
“Tourism is our niche, as well,” Brady said, pointing out the average Grundy County household spends $600 less per year on taxes due to tourism revenue.
Grundy County recently received a $70,000 grant to help fund electric service to the Bluegrass Underground and another grant to purchase a section of rail bed on the Mountain Goat Trail.
Brady will use monies from a recent Accountability Award to launch certified welding and nursing assistant programs at Grundy County High School.
Since taking office Brady has scored more than $4 million in grants for the county. The number of residents living in poverty has decreased by 4 percent.
A Grundy County High School graduate, Brady trained as a welder, worked for United Technologies while attending night school, earned degrees in pre-law, and Management and Human Relations, took a job with the county tax assessor’s office and decided to run for county commissioner. He served one term, before running for mayor.
Brady and his wife Cindy have seven children. “I’ve lived in Grundy County my entire life,” Brady said. “I love Grundy County. It’s easy to say what I love about it and that’s the people. I want to create the community those people deserve. We’ve climbed a hill. I want to get to the top of the mountain.”

​Monteagle Town Council Update

The Monteagle Town Council met on June 25 for its regular monthly meeting.

Police Chief Virgil McNeese said the schedule had been worked out to help monitor the annual Monteagle Fourth of July parade. Special attention will be given to the areas by the interstate. Line-up begins at 9 a.m., and the parade starts at 10 a.m.
Alderman Kenneth Gipson asked for a clarification on how much money a department could spend without additional council approval. The police department recently spent $9,000 for new tasers. This expense was budgeted.
Mayor David Sampley consulted the Monteagle Town Charter. “Items more than $10,000 must go before the council for approval, even if it is in the budget,” he said. Department heads still have to fill out the appropriate paperwork for any purchase.
Fire Chief Mike Holmes reported they have received trucks from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The trucks have decals, and the department is waiting on radios to be installed.
Holmes reported the fire department had an issue with the dump tank, which is used to refill the tanker with water. The dump tank had rusted in two and is broken. He received quotes to replace the dump tank, with a $3,500 to $5,000 estimate. The council approved the purchase to come out of the 2017-18 budget.
Codes Enforcement Officer Earle Geary reported five building permits have been issued this month, including three new houses in Cooley’s Rift.
Monteagle resident Dorraine Parmley asked Geary about a church on Layne Avenue that is in disrepair. Geary said he’d had difficulty determining who owned the property. A certified letter was sent to an owner 15 years ago but was never picked up or signed for. Geary said the city could tear the building down and put a lien on the property for the demolition cost, but they could encounter difficulty recapturing the expense.
“The legal notification process has happened and the council can take action,” said Geary. The council moved to take bids from contractors to tear down the building after asking the city attorney for advice.
In Parks and Recreation business, the council voted to have the Fourth of July fireworks on July 4, not July 3 as originally stated. Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock also updated the council on upcoming events in July. There will be a car show and movie at the park, July 13. There will be a community-wide yard sale during the 59th annual Monteagle Mountain Market for Arts and Crafts, at the end of July. The cost is $10 to join the yard sale. Participants can go to the May Justus Library to sign up.
The second reading on ordinance 18-05, holidays for employees was tabled as a new ordinance had to be written. The 2018-19 fiscal year budget was passed.
In the citizens comment portion of the meeting, Parmley asked the council for clarification on a new fire department building, after a lengthy discussion that occurred on social media. Holmes had stated at a previous meeting that a new fire hall would be expensive, such as the one built in Winchester for $800,000.
Gipson said nothing was set in stone, and that the planning and discussions were still underway. The actual cost for a new fire hall is unknown at this time.
“It is not cheap to build a fire hall, and we have got to get a plan together and a blueprint first,” he said. Gipson said the council will get a grant written to pay for the new fire hall.
–reported by Kiki Beavers, Messenger Editor

​SUD to Replace Aging Water Lines

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 26 meeting, the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District approved a $666,835 bid from Danson Construction to replace aging, constricted water lines on South and North Carolina Avenues, Clara’s Point Road, and Florida Avenue. The restoration will increase customer water flows and address leaks. SUD considered doing the three segments of the restoration during a 3-year period. Concerns about increasing costs prompted the board to recommend proceeding with all three phases in 2018.
SUD has sufficient cash on hand to complete the project in 2018, although SUD will show a loss for the year. The firm under contract to review SUD’s financial transactions advised SUD manager Ben Beavers the utility should maintain cash reserves equal to a year’s operating expenses.
“We have two years in reserve,” Beavers said. “We could spend $800,000 and maintain the recommended cash on hand.”
Beavers flagged the South and North Carolina segment as a priority, with South Carolina having the worst constriction and highest leak potential. “The lines were installed in the 1920s,” Beavers said.
The South and North Carolina replacement will also be the most disruptive to the University. The Florida segment will have the least impact. The contractor expects to begin in two weeks and to complete the project in 90 days.
All replaced lines will be upgraded from six inches to eight inches. The contractor’s per linear foot charge is slightly higher than anticipated. Beavers attributed the higher cost to the presence of underground rock in the Florida Avenue area.
The board discussed just doing the South and North Carolina portion of the project this year. Beavers estimated the cost for the Florida Avenue segment would come in $3,500-$4,000 higher if SUD rebid the project in two years.
The replacement of aging water lines on Tennessee Avenue will be deferred for three years. The larger 10-inch line has less constriction and gives “very few problems,” Beavers noted.
The lowest of three bidders, Danson Construction based in Sparta, Tenn., came highly recommended by both large contractors and small utilities. Danson completed jobs “on budget and on time” according to the sources Beavers consulted.
Beavers said his only concern about undertaking the entire project in 2018 was a possible $40,000 increase in operating expenses for replacing the pumps at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). In the past several months, the WWTP began experiencing problems from disposable personal care towelettes, clogging the pumps and inhibiting spraying.
“The pumps are only operating at 40 percent capacity,” Beavers cautioned. He will investigate purchasing finer screens to filter out the towelettes.
Reporting on the Midway pressure boosting station, which recently went into service, Beavers said no leaks or complaints were reported. Customers observed occasional pressure fluctuation, which Beavers attributed to the pump cutting on and off.
Board President Charlie Smith thanked Paul Cross and the Cross family for their work and cooperation in facilitating the Midway easement process.
Bringing a customer request to the board, Beavers said the customer wanted SUD to take responsibility for repairs on the customer side of the meter or at the least to inspect repairs that the homeowner’s contractor performs. SUD policy states leaks and repairs on the customer’s side of the meter are the customer’s responsibility. The board saw no reason to add an inspection clause or otherwise alter the policy.
There are no plumbing codes in Franklin County that allow for water line inspection, Beavers pointed out.
Updating the board on the SUD employee retirement plan change, Beavers said the transfer fee from the former provider was less than expected, $2,300 instead of $9,000. At the May meeting, the board agreed to pay the fee on the employees’ behalf. The new plan gives employees more options, has far lower maintenance costs, and assigns fiduciary responsibility to the provider rather than the board.
The board meets next on July 24.

​Schools’ Budget Leaves Emergency Reserves Dangerously Low

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

In a split decision, the Franklin County School Board voted 6 to 2 to approve a revised budget that reduces the school system’s emergency reserve fund balance to a dangerously low $2.3 million. The vote was taken at the June 25 special called meeting, which occurred in response to the County Finance Committee’s refusal to award the school system $829,388 in new revenue. The decision to take the new revenue needed from the fund balance will enable the schools system to pay $161,000 in increased health insurance costs, keep the Pre-K program operating at its current level, award contract bus drivers a 1.5 percent raise, and award teachers and non-certified employees a 2 percent cost of living raise.
County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham repeatedly advised the board not to draw the fund balance below $2.5 million, the amount needed to make payroll. “State basic eduction program funding comes monthly,” Latham said, “but not always in time to make payroll.”
“The fund balance has never been lower than what it takes to make payroll,” cautioned board member Chris Guess, who voted against the budget.
“Reducing the fund balance to $2.3 million is not financially responsible,” said board member Lance Williams. “In five years we’ll be dead broke if we continue to cover the raises every year.” Williams also voted against the budget.
The board considered reducing the request for new revenue to $161,000, the amount of the health insurance cost increase.
“I don’t think we’re going to get any new money,” said Williams. According to Williams, other county departments have been advised not to expect new money and to take the money for 2 percent cost of living raises from their fund balances.
“Other departments have a higher fund balance percentage than us,” noted Director of Schools Stanley Bean.
Board member Adam Tucker suggested reducing the amount designated for capital outlays to offset the fund balance draw.
That would leave “no money for improving the schools,” Bean said.
“And no money for addressing breakdowns,” Guess added.
Bean proposed reducing the raises to 1 percent and giving a bonus at Christmas to bring the raises up to the original amounts proposed, if the money was available. “I’d feel comfortable with that,” he said pointing out the fund balance would only drop to $2.6 million with that plan.
“Going broke is still going broke,” objected Williams.
“Yes, but in eight years instead of five,” said board member Sara Liechty.
Williams recommended waiting until the end of the year and giving raises then if the money was available.
“Not giving raises is a bad message to the teachers,” Bean said. “We need to give them something up front to show the school board is making an effort.”
“We can’t ignore our teachers,” agreed Board Chair CleiJo Walker.
Surrounding counties were giving a 2 percent raise, Liechty observed. “What’s the risk of going with the original 2 percent plan and having faith the county commission will support pay raises in the future?” she asked.
“I think the commission will help us with emergencies, but not pay raises,” Bean said.
“The county has always come through when we needed something,” said board member Christine Hopkins. “I think we need to put the 2 percent raise in and take our chances.”
Hopkins made a motion to draw the entire $829,388 needed in new revenue from the fund balance. Liechty seconded the motion. A roll call vote followed.

​County Finance Committee Rejects School System Budget

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At June 21 meeting, the Franklin County Finance Committee again rejected the proposed school system budget for the 2018–19 school year because of the request for $829,388 in new revenue. The largest portion of the new revenue was earmarked for a 2 percent raise for all certified and non-certified employees.
Finance committee member David Eldridge proposed the teachers’ raises come from the fund balance, the reserve maintained by the school system to meet unexpected expenses. The fund balance is projected to be $2.8 million at the close of the 2018–19 school year.
Citing past years where the draw on the fund balance was $1.7 million to $2 million less than expected, Eldridge said he had “confidence” that would be the situation going forward.
“The budget is loaded with contingency expenses,” Eldridge argued. He pointed to $200,000 for “unplanned openings” and a projected $100,000 increase in social security costs, insisting the budgeting process “assumes the worst case scenario.”
Director of Schools Stanley Bean countered it was “not wise financial planning” to take money for teacher raises from the fund balance. In preparing the budget, County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham advised the school board not to draw the fund balance below $2.5 million, the amount needed to make payroll.
Basic Education Program (BEP) funding from the state would not fund a 2 percent teacher raise, Bean stressed.
“We’re mandated to put money in certain areas to get us up to state minimums,” Bean said. “The BEP money goes there first to plug holes. What’s left is nowhere near enough for a 2 percent teacher raise.”
County Mayor Richard Stewart, the finance committee chair, acknowledged teacher wages fell behind surrounding counties.
County Commissioner Dave Van Buskirk concurred. “We need to fix the low salaries paid to 10 and 20 year teachers.”
“That’s what we’re doing with some of the BEP money,” Bean said, “to plug holes.”
“I want to see the teachers get raises,” said committee member Eddie Clark, who also chairs the county commission. “We’re in a year with no growth. We don’t have the $829,000 readily available. Can you help us out this year?”
Stewart suggested if the school board would “work with” the finance committee on the budget issue, getting approval for the new middle school design plan, cost $1.8 million, “will be easier.”
Stewart asked the opinion of the two commissioners attending who did not serve on the finance committee. Van Buskirk said he strongly favored a raise for teachers and “there should be a way to carve that out. I couldn’t vote for this budget.” Commissioner Angie Fuller concurred. “Teachers deserve a raise more than anybody, but I can go along with a new school better than this.”
“We need to go back to the drawing board,” said Franklin County School Board Chair CleiJo Walker, following the decision. The board already cut $463,000 from the budget when the Finance Committee rejected the original draft.
“There’s danger in taking a recurring expense like teacher raises from the fund balance,” insisted board member Sara Liechty. “This decision seemed to reflect misunderstanding and lack of information.”
Pointing to examples, Liechty said the school system was mandated to fund Response to Intervention (RTI) and Special Education to assist at risk children. The school system receives no state funding for RTI, and Special Education is only partially funded.
Without the $829,388 in new revenue, the total projected revenue for 2018-2019 is $43.6 million, which comes from county taxes and state funds. Projected expenses are $46.7 million, which includes salaries, wages, insurance, utilities, taxes, supplies, and maintenance. This will require a $3.1 million draw on the fund balance, reducing the fund balance to $2 million. The portion for teachers’ and employees’ raises is $600,000. To annually take cost of living raises from the fund balance would deplete it in just a few years.

​Stray Fossa Opens Up Friday Nights in the Park

Friday Nights in the Park (FNIP), sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance, begins today (Friday), June 22, with Stray Fossa. The event is free and open to the public. University Avenue will be closed at 6 p.m., with food and drink available for purchase. Stray Fossa hits the Angel Park stage at 7:30 p.m. The rain location is the American Legion Hall.

Stray Fossa’s music is a blend of singer/songwriter melodies and a gritty indie rock vibe that can be described as shimmery melodic garage pop. The music represents the reunion of a trio of best friends, Nick Evans, Will Evans and Zach Blount, who have, after years of school and travel, found a home away from home in Charlottesville, Va. They have rediscovered their love of writing, recording and performing together.
Stray Fossa originally formed as The Culprits nearly 10 years ago, while the boys were attending St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School. They loved performing in and around Sewanee. Some highlights of theCulprits adventure include the opportunity to perform at Nightfall Concert Series as well as at Track 29 in Chattanooga, traveling to perform at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa., and finishing in second place at the Road to Roo contest many years ago (thanks to the generous support of the Sewanee community, who voted for The Culprits and shared our music with friends and family). Much of what the Culprits was and who Stray Fossa is today is due to the Sewanee community’s showing of love and support.
There was always a plan of reuniting and giving music the attention they had never been able to give before. Now, reformed as Stray Fossa, the band is celebrating by crafting a completely new sound in a new place.
Keep up with Stray Fossa on their website www.strayfossa.com and on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/strayfossa. Be on the lookout for new music, coming soon.
Coming up for FNIP is Volk on June 29; Little Russell Band on July 6; and JackWagon on July 13.

​Benefit Concert for Folks at Home, Saturday

Folks at Home is putting on their first ever benefit concert at 2 p.m, Saturday, June 23. Shenanigans in downtown Sewanee is providing the space. Marilyn Harris, Adele McAllister, Mabus Jackson, Nikki Chavez, Ida York and The Hill Brothers will be providing the music. Including good food and music there will also be door prizes, raffles, a silent art auction and more. The biggest raffle will be four concert tickets, meal vouchers, T-shirts and posters from The Caverns music venue, sold at $25 per ticket for a $400 value.

For more information call Folks at Home (931) 598-0303 or email us at <folksathomevista@gmail.com>. Everyone is invited to attend.

​MSSA to Host Music City Roots

Today (Friday), June 22, the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA) will host Music City Roots, a Franklin, Tenn.-based radio show in a rare out-of-Nashville performance. Nationally recognized for its lively mix of vintage variety radio and cutting-edge Americana music, the show will feature music and interviews with Greg Hall, Scott Mulvahill, the Wild Ponies and the Grascals.

“We are thrilled to bring this show to Monteagle Assembly again this year, and we invite our community to join in the fun,” said Virginia Curry, MSSA platform superintendent. “It is a not-to-be-missed event and a truly unique experience. Seating in the auditorium will be on a first-come, first-served basis, but there is plenty of outdoor seating—bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy the music under the stars.”
Admission is free. The doors of the Assembly’s historic auditorium will open at 6 p.m., and the show will start at 7 p.m. Picnic fare is welcome. Those wishing to attend should stop by the front gate at the Assembly to get a free four-hour grounds pass.
Music City Roots is a weekly live radio show and HD webcast featuring the finest roots and Americana music based in or passing through Nashville. Since going on the air in October 2009, Music City Roots has broadcast the authentic sound of today’s Music City, embracing the traditional and the progressive in equal measure. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. central, four guest artists perform to an audience of 300-800 people in Liberty Hall in the Factory at Franklin, Tenn. They further reach thousands of viewers worldwide via <Livestream.com> and the Roots Radio Network. The show also goes out nationwide as a 14-week series on American Public Television.
For more information, contact the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly office at (931) 924-2286.

​Leaving the Sewanee Community

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Martha and Dennis Meeks said goodbye to Sewanee on June 18, leaving a hole in the community while carrying a trove of memories with them to Asheville.
For more than 50 years, they lived life on the Domain, endearing themselves to this university town. Martha worked three decades as associate director of financial aid and Dennis coached Sewanee football, track and cross country.
In 2013, Dennis created Coffee with the Coach, a regular meet and greet at the Blue Chair Tavern with Sewanee athletic coaches. He also served on both the Community Council and Sewanee Lease Committee, while Martha was a longtime volunteer at Emerald Hodgson Hospital’s Hospitality Shop.
Jimmy Wilson, owner of the Blue Chair, is a longtime friend of the Meeks and played football for Dennis starting in 1969.
“The two words that best describe Dennis are humble and kind,” Wilson said. “Dennis has been a real mentor to me and others in the community. It’s behind the scenes and he’s really unsung in that regard. If anybody was in need, Dennis and Martha have always been there.”
Dennis said they will miss the rich network of friends they’ve made.
“It’s going to be tough for me to leave,” he said a few days before the moving van arrived. “But I know that deep down it’s best considering Martha’s health and my health.”
When he fell on a slippery deck in January and broke his right hip and leg, the accident heralded their decision to relocate to Deerfield, a retirement community in Asheville.
“I’m 80 years old; I didn’t feel it until this happened,” he said about the fall.
The couple praised Folks at Home in Sewanee for its help during Dennis’ recovery, providing rides to the doctor and other assistance for them both.
Martha said she’s more excited about the move to Deerfield than Dennis, looking forward to the amenities of the retirement community and spending time with their daughters and grandchildren, who live in North Carolina.
“He’s going to be missing a lot more than I’m going to be missing,” she said, laughing.
The couple moved to Sewanee after the University of the South hired Dennis as assistant football coach and head track coach, positions he held from 1967 to 1978. He coached the running backs in football, but his primary jobs were recruiting and traveling to scout the next week’s opponent.
“Dennis basically had the primary role of telling us how much bigger the other guys that we were going to face were,” Wilson joked.
Dennis recalled one of his favorite memories on the field, a home game Saturday afternoon early in his tenure when Sewanee was mired in a miserable season.
“At the end of the game, the coaches’ wives would always come to the end of the field where the coaches and players exited, and we won this game and I remember how great that felt to win that day,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I guess that’s why you coach. That thrill of victory will always stand with me, that one victory.”
He added that he’s proud of the trust he developed with head coach Shirley Majors, the winningest coach in Sewanee football history.
Dennis left coaching and worked in real estate before he parlayed his passion for sports into a job as an associate baseball scout. The Montreal Expos hired him before he landed an area scout position with the Texas Rangers, covering players in four states.
“I started off as a glorified bird dog,” he joked.
Dennis initially recommended players for other scouts to see, but moved up the ladder to become the scout who evaluated players.
The highest draft pick that Dennis scouted was David Mead, a right-handed pitcher from Soddy Daisy who Texas selected in the first round of the 1999 supplemental draft—a top 50 pick overall.
While Dennis was looking for future baseball phenoms, Martha was at home, taking care of their two daughters and overseeing the construction of their Wiggins Creek house. At the same time, she was helping students afford to attend Sewanee through her work in financial aid.
“Until I quit doing that, I didn’t realize how much the families and the students loved me, and how much I helped them come to school,” she said.
While getting things ready to move, Martha said she found 40 or 50 thank you notes from students and their families.
The Meeks said they plan to return to Sewanee when they can, including on Aug. 11, when Dennis is inducted into the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame. He played basketball and football at Grundy County, where his speed made him a standout player and helped him continue playing football as a defensive back and kick returner for the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The Sewanee Athletic Department has also bestowed recent honors on Dennis for his support. Both Dennis and Martha are passionate Sewanee sports fans.
Mark Webb, Sewanee athletic director, praised them for their devotion to the Tigers.
“For more than 50 years, Dennis and Martha have contributed to the life of the athletic department in so many ways and have been two of our strongest supporters,” he said on June 18. “Coffee with the Coach, started by Dennis a few years ago, has been incredibly positive for our coaches and gives the athletic department a more robust connection with the community. All of us in the athletic department wish them well in their move, and they will be missed in more ways than I can imagine.”
The Franklin County Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Adult Chapter also recently recognized Dennis and Martha for many years of work with the FCA.
Note: The Blue Chair will host a reception for the Meeks on Sunday, Aug. 12, from 1 to 3 p.m.

​Eddie Clark: The Vision of Experience

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. General election voting is Aug. 2.
“With my knowledge of county government and business, I can help move Franklin County forward,” said Eddie Clark, candidate for Franklin County mayor. With insight honed by nearly 19 years of service on the county commission, 14 of those years as chair, Clark brings the vision of experience to the challenges facing the community.
Clark served an appointed term and two elected terms as county commissioner from 1983-1990, 1988 and 1989 as chair. He didn’t seek election again until 2006 and has served as commissioner for District 4, Seat A and as chair of the commission ever since.
“In spite of all the county’s done in the past 12 years, we’ve gone 10 years without a tax increase,” Clark said. He remains committed to continuing “to manage the county in a conservative way.” He identified four issues that needed to be addressed, but stressed, “The county is moving forward. With proper management, we can live on our growth.”
Clark advocates giving “aggressive attention” to county roads, pointing to 64 miles of gravel roads he wants to see paved.
He also favors active recruitment of industry and to that end supports constructing a spec building in the industrial park. With a ready-to-go building, a site-hungry business “can get in quicker,” he explained.
In the hope of addressing the problem of the aging middle schools without a tax increase, Clark said, “If we wait until the high school debt is paid off in four years, we’ll have the $48 million to build two new middle schools without raising taxes.”
“The middle schools are sound enough to continue for another four years,” Clark insisted. In answer to speculation building now would require a 10 percent property tax increase, Clark said given the current value of the penny, a 10 cent increase wouldn’t be sufficient. “To generate the two million per year needed until the high school debt is paid off would take a 20 cent increase,” Clark stressed.
Asked about the most pressing need facing the county, Clark answered without hesitation, “Solid waste disposal. It’s costing us $46 dollars a ton now, and the cost will increase.”
He cited landfills closing and needing to move waste longer distances as the cause.
“Addressing solid waste disposal can’t be put off,” Clark said. The solution: amp up the county’s recycling program. “What the county is paid for recycled material isn’t much,” he conceded, “but for every ton recycled we save $46.”
In Franklin County, the county mayor can also serve as county commission chair, but Clark said, “If elected mayor, I’d prefer not to continue as chair of the commission. The chair can’t argue for a position,” he explained. While the mayor doesn’t have a vote on the commission, “he can address and clarify issues.” They mayor also has veto power.
Born and raised in Franklin County, Clark worked in manufacturing for several years after graduating from high school then joined his brother as a partner in C & D Appliances. In 1985, he bought out his brother and today is the sole owner.
Clark and his wife Pat have three daughters, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
He points to his aptitude for working with the commissioners and fostering unity on the commission as an asset to his serving in the office of mayor. He also has an insider’s knowledge of state laws—“I know what we can and can’t do.”
But finally, what is the main reason Eddie Clark wants to be Franklin County mayor? “I love Franklin County. I’ve been here my entire life.”

Sewanee Fourth of July Schedule 2018

32nd Annual Fourth of 
July Celebration

Anyone interested in helping to plan for the annual Fourth of July celebration is welcome to attend the next planning session at 5 p.m., Monday, June 18 at the Sewanee Senior Citizen’s Center. The last planning meeting is on June 25. This year’s theme is “From Sea to Shining Sea.”

Food Vendors Wanted
Any interested food vendors for the Fourth of July can contact Kate Reed at <kreed@sewanee.edu> with the email subject “Fourth of July Food Vendor.” Food vendors are wanted for the Street Dance on July 3, on University Avenue the day of July 4, or at Lake Cheston for the Fireworks on July 4. There is an application to complete and a $20 vendor fee to participate.
Street Dance
The celebration will begin on Tuesday, July 3, with the Street Dance at the Sewanee Market at 8 p.m. featuring Bad Nayber. Rain location is Cravens Hall.
Sunrise Yoga
The Sewanee Community Center is hosting a Sunrise Yoga session from 6:15–7:30 a.m. in Manigault Park. The class is free and for any level of yoga ability. Mats, bolsters, blocks and straps will be provided.The rain location is Sewanee Community Center.
Flag Raising
The morning of the Fourth of July begins with music and song at the 46th annual Flag Raising at Juhan Bridge in Abbo’s Alley. Come join us one and all to sing patriotic songs accompanied by the Sewanee Summer Music Festival’s brass quintet and watch our local Scout Troop 14 raise the flag. Our sponsors, The Friends of Abbo’s Alley, will offer coffee and juice.
To complete the celebration, please bring your favorite breakfast finger food to share (or simply make a small donation). Mark your calendar for Wednesday, July 4, at 8 a.m. for the 46th annual Flag Raising and potluck breakfast amidst the Smith, Gardner and Beaumont-Zucker homes at 139 and 143 Florida Ave. For more information or to volunteer to serve coffee or juice, call Margaret Beaumont Zucker at (931) 598-5214.
After the flag raising, the Sewanee Trust for Historic Preservation invites you to “Leave Us a Sewanee Memory - you have 4 Minutes!” Find STHP members in Abbo’s Alley after the flag raising to leave a quick story about people, places, or events in Sewanee. You will have another opportunity to participate at 11 a.m. at the Folks at Home office.
Pub Run
Join the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA) in celebrating their 41st annual Pub Run starting at 8 a.m. Runners will meet at the MSSA Front Gate and run to Shenanigans (6.4 miles) on the Mountain Goat Trail. Walkers may start at Dollar General. The fee for the run is $20.
Pre-register at the MSSA Office or call 924-2286 for more information. All are welcome to participate. There will be awards for winners and beer at the finish line.
Arts and Crafts Fair
We invite you to participate in our Arts and Crafts Fair beginning on Wednesday, July 4, at 9 a.m. in Shoup Park, where you can view the parade without leaving your booth, rain or shine. There is a $20 non-refundable fee and spaces are limited and pre-assigned, so sign up early. Contact Bracie Parker at <melaniebracie@yahoo.com> for more information and for your entry form. Come spend the day with us, sell your wares, and enjoy the parade and other fun activities.
Book Signing - Jon Meacham
The University Book and Supply Store is sponsoring a book signing with University of the South alumnus, Pulitzer Prize winner and No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham to celebrate the release of his newest book, “The Soul of America.” The signing will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the University Book and Supply Store and end at 11 a.m. The bookstore will have copies of the book available for purchase before the event (so pick up your copy in advance to save time), or you can purchase the book that morning.
Fourth of July Cake Contest
Calling all cake bakers! Have a favorite cake recipe or a talent for cake decorating? Put your skills on display by entering your cake in the Sewanee Woman’s Club Annual Cake Contest! Entering is free of charge, and the winner of the Best All-Around Cake gets $100 cash, courtesy of Octoπ, Sewanee’s newest wood fired pizza and wine bar opening this summer.
Adult winners of the Best Tasting, Best Decorated, and Best Representation of the Theme cakes each get a ribbon and $50 cash from Octoπ. Under-13 winners of the Best Tasting, Best Decorated, and Best Representation of the Theme cakes each get a ribbon, a $5 cash prize, and a gift certificate to the Blue Chair for two ice cream cones.
Winners of the Best Tasting, Best Decorated, and Best Representation of the Theme contests will be entered in the Best All-Around Competition. Thanks to Ken Taylor for his ribbon sponsorship.
Show up to register and set up your cake between 9–9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4, in St. Mark’s Hall at Otey Parish.
Winners will be announced at noon. All are invited to view the cake entries, and there will be a cake tasting party on site afterwards. Enter as an individual or as a team. One entry per person or per team.
Questions? Please call Susan Peek at (615) 504-5404.
Mutt Show
Enter your favorite pooch in the 2018 Fourth of July Mutt Show! All dogs are welcome to compete — no talent necessary. Registration for the Mutt Show will take place from 9–9:45 a.m. in Manigault Park. The show begins at 10 a.m. Trophies will be awarded for these canine categories: Best Dressed, Owner/Dog Look-Alike, Best Theme, Best Trick and Judges’ Choice. Entrants may register to compete in two categories. The registration fee is $5 per category, and all proceeds will go to the Fourth of July Fireworks. Audience members may contribute to Animal Harbor and MARC. In case of rain, the Mutt Show will take place in the Equestrian Center.
Vendors along University Avenue will begin selling food and drinks at 10 a.m.
Children’s Games
Children’s games, including sack races, a temporary tattoo station (glitter, animals, fun shapes and more!) and bounce houses will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Quad. Cash and checks (made payable to “Sewanee Fourth of July”) will be accepted at the ticket booth.
Leave Us a Memory
The Sewanee Trust for Historic Preservation (STHP) invites you to “Leave Us a Sewanee Memory - you have 4 Minutes!” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Folks at Home office just below Reed Lane and Sewanee Elementary School. The STHP wants to gather residents, visitors, former residents, relatives of residents, and anyone else who has a story to tell about people, places, or events in Sewanee. The participants in this oral history event will need to provide their name and signature allowing the recording for future use. We hope those who “Leave Us a Sewanee Memory” will have fun telling their stories—and maybe they will want to have a longer interview with STHP members later in the summer—information on the Oral History program for the community and the Sewanee Trust organization will be available.
Breslin Tower Bells
The University of the South Guild of Change-Ringers will perform at Breslin Tower at noon.
Music and BBQ in the Park
The Jess Goggans Band will be playing from noon–2 p.m. in Angel Park, sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance. The Blue Chair will be selling barbecue.
See Sewanee’s Future
From noon–2 p.m., “See Sewanee’s Future” at The Blue House. This will be an open house featuring the downtown development project plans. Take the opportunity to see the future of Sewanee and learn about the Master Plan for the additions to downtown Sewanee. This project has been in the planning stages since 2012 and is now on the brink of action with specific projects to vitalize the Sewanee Downtown area. University Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Frank Gladu, and Director of Implementation from Town Planning and Urban design Collaborative, Becky Timmons, will be on hand to describe the plan, the projects and answer questions. All are welcome including developers and investors who are needed to bring the plan to life. Learn more at <sewanee.edu/village>.
Pie Eating Contest
The 5th annual Pie Eating Contest will be at 12:30 p.m. in Guerry Garth. A clean up area will be provided. Sign up early (the fee is $5) as there are a limited number of spaces. For more information call Gary Sturgis at 598-5324 or 636-5294.
Carillon Concert
Raymond Gotko, Sarah Strickland and Charlene Williamson will perform a Carillon Recital at 1 p.m. Bring a chair to All Saints’ Chapel to enjoy the music.
Parade Entries Wanted
Grand Marshal John Bratton wants you to be in the parade! The parade begins at 2 p.m., Wednesday, July 4, with line-up on Lake O’Donnell Road starting at noon and ending at 1 p.m. This is when and where the judging will be: trophies for best float, best decorated vehicle and best horse; and blue ribbons for best decorated bicycle, best banner and best costume.
All entrants must fill out and submit an entry form by June 30. The form is available on this page. Take it to the From-Sea-to-Shining-Sea jar at the Blue Chair or by email <leighannecouch@gmail.com>. The form is also available online at http://www.sewanee4thofjuly.org
Parade Observers
Please do not park on University Avenue. All vehicles must be moved before 1 p.m. to make room for the parade.
The Sewanee Fourth of July parade will begin at 2 p.m. starting at the Sewanee Market and will travel through town, turning on to Hall Street and ending in the parking lot behind the Hospitality Shop. All sirens will be turned off at Texas Ave.
Air Show and Rides
Weather permitting, the Air Show will take place at 3:30 p.m. at the Sewanee Airport.
Airplane rides will be available for adults and children after the parade until 6 p.m. at the Sewanee Airport. Parents must be present to give written permission for children ages 16 and under to ride. A $15 donation is requested.
Patriotic Celebration
The Sewanee Summer Music Festival students will perform a Patriotic Celebration at 7 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium.
After dark, the Fireworks Show will be at Lake Cheston. There will be a suggested donation of $1 to contribute to next year’s fireworks. Parking at the Lake will be limited to handicapped and special needs only. Chief Marie Eldridge asks that if you need a handicap or special need parking pass for the fireworks show, please go by the Sewanee Police Station. Simply go to the window at the station, give your name, and you will be given a pass. If you have a permanent handicap tag you will not need a temporary one.

‘Fire Sermon’: When Being Bad is Good

A Review of the Novel by Jamie Quatro

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
What troubles Maggie in the novel “Fire Sermon” isn’t her betrayal of her husband, but that she likes being bad and wants God to walk with her into Hell. In the new millennium, to question infidelity in Godly terms might seem quaint or proselytizing in the hands of a less gifted author. Jamie Quatro’s opening scene shows a married woman willingly letting herself be led across the line of infidelity and then jumps back in time to the woman’s wedding day. The reader quickly knows the players and setup: an extravagant, formal wedding; brilliant beautiful woman marries brilliant beautiful man; a few allusions to dark moments that have occurred both earlier and later. The groom’s uninvited father who abandoned the family, the bride’s younger brother who gets stoned and eats the top tier of the cake saved in the freezer for the couple’s first anniversary, suggestions of rough treatment by the groom in premarital sex prepare the reader for a journey into a less than idyllic future—but unhappy marriages are the stuff of many novels.
Thomas, the husband is for the most part a nice guy. Maggie could be just another woman who abandoned her doctorate program in comparative literature to raise children who seeks the fantasy reality of an affair to recapture what the self felt like when its own needs mattered most. But Quatro takes Maggie’s transgression into an uncharted dimension. Maggie doesn’t want the scales to fall from her eyes so she “will see the evil behind the pleasure.” Maggie demands of God, “allow me at least the memory unrepented…Let me keep it, God…to be allowed to remain in a state of lust.”
Maggie never contemplates leaving her husband, although she does entertain telling him about her affair—but never does, because she doesn’t want her marriage to end either. Both her husband and lover hurt her sexually, but with her lover she likes the pain, not so with her husband. She fears if the forbidden aspect of her relationship with her lover James were removed, the pleasure would disappear.
The reader travels with Maggie through 23 years of marriage and beyond. As a young child, her daughter Kate begins a pattern of physical abuse that she finally outgrows, which cure the therapist ironically attributes to Maggie and Thomas’ loving relationship—“When love is present in the home, children almost always emerge beautifully into adulthood.” In truth, for years Maggie has faked orgasm and as often as possible avoided making love to her husband. She’s entertained erotic infatuations with other men, but never followed through, until when her children are teenagers she writes to the poet James Abbott and James replies.
Why James? Coincidence litters the surface. James and Maggie are the same age and their children are the same ages and genders. But far more significant is the singularity—and isolation—of being Christians in a post-Christian America. Husband Thomas, an agnostic, accepts Maggie’s spirituality, spirituality which exists largely in the background for Maggie until James appears on the scene.
Perhaps James is a stand in for God, practice for the radical conclusion drawn by the “Fire Sermon” imbedded in the narrative. The story begins in the 1990s and continues into Maggie and Thomas’ old age, past the date of the novel’s publication and the date of this review. Maggie’s talks with her therapist give way to internal dialogues with the alter ego telling the self the tale will end “how I want it to end.”
For the reader, after being lured by Quatro into “Fire Sermon’s” daring journey through the heart of erotic desire, the most salient question is “What’s next?”

Jamie Quatro will read Wednesday, June 20, at 4:30 p.m. in Gailor Auditorium in conjunction with the Sewanee School of Letters faculty reading series.

School Board Approves Revised Budget; Deeds Townsend School to County

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 11 meeting, the Franklin County School Board approved a revised budget in response to the county Finance Committee’s directive to make cuts. The revised budget reduced the draw on the fund balance reserve by $384,000, but the request for new money from the county only decreased by $64,000.
The revised budget reflects a reduction in certified substitute teacher pay, eliminating one school social worker, not implementing the Raptor visitor background check program at several schools, a reduction in funds allocated for upgrading the sound system at Franklin County High School (FCHS), and a reduction in allocations for the transportation garage, Huntland School roof, and other capital outlays.
The request for new money ($829,388) still included funding a 2 percent raise for certified and noncertified employees, and a 1.5 percent raise for contract bus drivers. The request for projected increases in health insurance costs was decreased slightly, as was funding for Pre-K to account for a loss in state revenues.
Board member Gary Hanger expressed concern about the small decrease in the new money request. “I’m afraid they won’t be impressed,” Hanger said.
“The 2 percent is a cost of living increase, not a raise,” board member Adam Tucker insisted.
Board Chair CleiJo Walker said that if other county employees received a 2 percent raise, “Teachers and school system employees need to be treated the same,” but Walker conceded, “there are a lot more of us.”
Director of Schools Stanley Bean noted that “nearly all the counties state-wide are asking for a 2 percent raise.”
Following the advice of county commissioner Dave Van Buskirk, Walker compiled data showing Franklin County teachers earned less than teachers in neighboring counties. “There is a lot of evidence,” Walker said.
The board will present the budget for the Finance Committee’s approval at 8:30 a.m., Thursday, June 21, at the Franklin County Annex.
In other business, the board approved a quick claim deed transferring ownership of the Townsend School property and buildings to Franklin County. The school system will retain the football field and gym. The school system has been paying for upkeep of the unused property transferred by the deed.
The board decided not to stipulate the board had “first right of refusal” to buy the property back at 50 percent of the lowest bid should the county decide to sell it.
According to Bean, two of the Finance Committee members were not interested in taking the property if the county could potentially lose money on improvements made in the event of a decision to sell.
“The mayor has a vision for use of the property,” said board member Sara Liechty. “I think deeding the property to the county is a win-win proposition.”
Responding to a parent’s concern, the board discussed foreign exchange students being denied National Honor Society and Beta Club honors.
FCHS Principal Roger Alsup said the rules of the two organizations stipulated the student must be enrolled in the high school hosting the programs. Alsup plans to “re-induct” the foreign exchange student in question immediately upon her return. If the school counted exchange students as enrolled, the school system would be falsely claiming state aid on the students, Alsup explained. Following the practice of other school, FCHS intends to deal with exchange students on a case by case basis.

The board meets next on Monday, July 9.

​David Alexander: Seize-the-Day Vision

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. General election voting is Aug. 2.
“Franklin County is on the verge of good things,” said State Representative David Alexander, candidate for Franklin County mayor. His seize-the-day vision zeroes in on the opportunity availed by the soon-to-be constructed Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT). Alexander’s three daughters sought employment elsewhere after college.
“I want the job opportunities in Franklin County to be good enough and the variety wide enough that our children want to stay,” he said.
Alexander sees the TCAT as the county’s prime industrial recruitment tool. “We can design programs specific to industries’ needs,” he stressed, pointing to the shortage of nurses at rural hospitals as one example. “I want to be mayor to help the county use the TCAT to make the county better.”
Alexander’s personal story reflects the same seize-the-day approach to life. A family tragedy prompted him to abandon his pursuit of a master’s degree in English literature and return to the rental equipment business, the profession he’d worked in since the age of 14. Born and raised in Jackson, Miss., by the early 1990s he was managing a large store with multiple locations throughout the state. When a conglomerate bought out the store, he and his wife Cile decided they were ready for a change and the appeal of a different climate.
Alexander looked for a small rental business to buy and found one in Winchester. He and his wife loved the area, but not the company. “They had old, worn-out equipment,” Alexander said. In 1994, the couple moved with their three daughters to Winchester and opened their own rental equipment store. In 18 months the other company was out of business. Today, he and his wife live just off the square, pleased they can walk to downtown’s many new offerings.
Alexander points to solid waste disposal as the growing county’s most pressing need. He cited decreasing landfill locations and more stringent environmental regulations as the cause. “For an area to grow, you need a place to put your trash,” Alexander insisted. He lauded the county’s recent purchase of a machine to chip and recycle waste material as a step in the right direction. “An additional remedy might be a gasification plant,” Alexander said. In use elsewhere in Tennessee, gasification plants combust waste and produce electricity.
Asked if he would support a 10 percent property tax increase to fund building two new middle schools, Alexander said, “There is another route we can take.”
“People griping about spending money on the schools need to visit and see the mold and mildew in the bathrooms,” he suggested, “and the pails and trashcans teachers put out to catch water when it rains.” Referencing the recent proposal to build two new schools and salvage the gyms by covering them with a membrane roof, he asked, “If they can fix the gym roofs, what is to prevent them from fixing the roofs on the other pods? Once the buildings are dry, then we can deal with the mold and mildew problems.”
Alexander said the county’s biggest challenge is “to do the things that need done for education, economic growth, and law enforcement and do them within our financial capabilities.”
He praised the county for recently reinvigorating its Long Range Planning efforts as a way to bring together the diverse elements in the county with a view to the future instead of just tackling immediate needs.
“My perspective is larger from my past eight years as state representative,” Alexander said. “There’s a lot of help available if you know who to ask.”

Sewanee Fourth of July Parade Entry Form

Get your float ready for the From Sea to Shining Sea parade!

The parade begins at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 4, with line-up on Lake O’Donnell Road starting at noon and ending at 1 p.m. This is when and where the judging will be: trophies for best float, best decorated vehicle, and best horse; and blue ribbons for best decorated bicycle, best banner, and best costume.

If you’re interested in showing how your organization keeps alive the American spirit of opportunity and hope for all, please fill out an entry form. All entrants must fill out and submit an entry form before the Fourth of July. There are two ways to submit your entry form: in the From-Sea-to-Shining-Sea jar at the Blue Chair or by email leighannecouch@gmail.com. All forms must be turned in by June 30 in order to be in the parade.

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