​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.
Food
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.
Fireworks
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.


​The People, the Place, the Promise: Land and People

by John Beavers, Messenger Intern

Sewanee, a Shawnee word meaning “southern” was used by the Native Americans west of the Smokies to describe the Cumberland Plateau and the Cumberland River Valley (Elizabeth N. Chitty, Sewanee Now and Then column for the Messenger, Aug. 23, 1985). In the “Sewanee Sampler” Arthur Ben and Elizabeth N. Chitty write that there were no known permanent settlements by Native Americans on the Mountain. “There were trails used by Native Americans from Altamont through Monteagle and down Battle Creek to Jasper... Down in the valley at Lost Cove Cave, and across the mountain at Russell Cave, it is known there was continuous occupation by the Native Americans for at least 8,000 years‚ but not on top of the Mountain.”
Patricia Short Makris, a researcher and former resident of Sewanee, mentions in her book “The Other Side of Sewanee,” a few stories of Native Americans on the Mountain up until 1900. Many Cherokee were relocated during the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, however, several early local families have Native American ancestry. These families were also part of the early settlement of the Cumberland Plateau.
The influx of white settlers to the Cumberland Plateau region first began after President George Washington signed legislation to make Tennessee a state in 1796. A parcel of land was granted to each Revolutionary War veteran or their families, including a large plot to the father of W.B. Shephard, a future land donor to the University of the South. In addition, after the founding of Franklin County in 1807, the county began selling land grants to individuals. It is notable that the majority of early settlers in the Sewanee area lived around the Plateau, not on it, as the area was still considered Native American territory until 1825, when the state permitted the sale of ‘mountain’ territory. From 1824 to 1860, parcels of land were purchased by several individuals whose descendants may still live on or near the land of their ancestors. The names recorded include William Anderson, William Barnes (1824), James and Jesse Barnes, John T. Bowers (1826) and Abraham Bowers, John Castleberry, Henry Garner, John Gilliam (1821), Allen Gipson (1814) and D.L Gipson, J.B. Hawkins, Joe and Charley Miller, James O’Dear, Lanson Rowe, George Smith, as well as the Bean, Henley, Hill, Long families, and more.
The Cumberland Plateau features a core set of ecological features that helped foster what would eventually pop up as the settlements grew. These include white oak, American chestnut, pignut, sandy and shagbark hickories for construction and lumber; sandstone cliffs ripe for quarrying; perennial springs such as the present day Tremlett Spring for small crops and settlements; and perhaps most importantly for Sewanee’s development, coal deposits scattered across the Plateau.
According to Makris, a land grant purchased by Wallis Estill, Thomas S. Logan and Madison Porter in 1834, mentions the coal beds in Lost Cove. In addition, she notes roads used to retrieve coal as early as the 1830s, possibly connecting to the 1826 survey road that went up the mountain and through its coves.
As it would be for the University founders, local climate was important for early settlers. The book “History of the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee” by George Rainsford Fairbanks, noted an interesting report of the sanitary condition of Sewanee. “... the climate marked by neither extreme heat nor cold, as shown by the following data: Winter minimum temperature, 5; summer maximum, 87; average summer temperature, 74.” According to <weatherbase.com>, Sewanee has a Köppen Climate Classification subtype of ‘Cfa’ or a humid subtropical climate. ‘Cfa’ climates have mild winters, wet summers, and, as we all know in Sewanee, a disposition for pea soup fog formations.
The next stage in Sewanee’s development came with a wealthy New York investment group led by Samuel F. Tracy. Buying the grant from Wallis Estill, Thomas S. Logan and Madison Porter for their lands in Lost Cove and obtaining a coal mining charter from the state in 1852, he began the Sewanee Mining Company. What came after, however, is for another time.



PHOTO: Tremlett (Polk) Spring during the 1890s. Source: University of the South Archives.

​Rotaract Aims Big with Relay for Life

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

The Rotaract Club of Sewanee decided to make its first-ever community service project a big endeavor, aiming to raise at least $20,000 for the American Cancer Society with a Relay for Life this fall.
About 30 University of the South students serve in Rotaract, which is in its inaugural year and under the umbrella of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club.
Bill Davis, Rotaract advisor and membership chair of the local Rotary, said at least 1,000 people are expected to participate in the event.
“I think it’s probably the first time that anything this major has been done to bring students, faculty, staff and community together for a fundraiser potentially of this magnitude on campus,” he said.
The Relay for Life starts at 11 a.m. on Oct. 6 and ends at 9 p.m., featuring team members walking the track at Hardee-McGee Field surrounded by remembrances for those lost to cancer, as well as celebrating survivors and showing support for everyone impacted by the disease. A luminaria ceremony is slated for after dark.
Will Murphy, a Sewanee senior and Rotaract president, said the day will be significant.
“These special moments during the Relay are the most powerful aspects that everyone can look forward to, reflecting on the lives and battles of loved ones,” Murphy said. “We will also have food, live music and many fun activities to do while not walking around the track. This event will be a great time to come together as a community for a day.”
The event is student-driven with assistance from the Sewanee community and Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club. Organizers said efforts are underway recruiting teams to sign up for the Relay, as well as gathering area business sponsors.
“We are hoping to raise $20,000, but more importantly have at least 100 cancer survivors attend so that we can honor their struggles and let them know that the community will always support them in their endeavors,” Murphy said.
Rotaract Club initially started gearing up in May 2017 after the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary decided to help form a group at the University. Rotaract is for people ages 18-30, Davis said, making it ideal for Sewanee.
In addition to Davis and others, Sam Kern, the first Rotaract president, along with W. Marichal Gentry, dean of students and Rotaract’s faculty advisor, helped establish the program.
As part of its requirements, the club had to choose an international project in addition to the community project, Davis noted, and “Rotaractors” selected Global Health Charities—primarily providing birth kits for mothers and newborns—as their international effort.
“We can be very proud of what they accomplished in such a short period of time,” Davis said.
For more information on Sewanee’s Relay for Life, to donate or sign up a team, visit www.relayforlife.org/sewaneetn.

​School Board Struggles to Slash Budget

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Franklin County School Board met for a special called meeting on June 5 in an effort to reduce the budget by $380,000. The County Finance Committee rejected the budget the board approved on May 24.
“They (the committee) sent it back to us and asked us to make cuts,” said Director of Schools Stanley Bean. The budget requested $893,883 in new revenue to cover a 2 percent raise for all personnel, certified and non-certified; a 1.5 percent raise for contract bus drivers; $100,000 for Pre-K due to a reduction in state funding; and $175,818 for increased health insurance costs.
“It’s our decision what we take back,” said Bean. The Finance Committee gave no advice on what to cut.
Bean, Board Chair CleiJo Walker, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster and County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham met to consider possible reductions. The group proposed cutting the Pre-K request in half and reducing all raises to 1 percent, decreasing the total request from the county by $380,000.
“The two percent raise for teachers is the last thing I’d take out,” said board member Chris Guess.
Guess proposed using money from the reserve fund balance to pay the raises for personnel and bus drivers. “If we run out of money and the county won’t provide assistance, we close the schools.”
Drawing on the fund balance to pay the raises would drop the money held in reserve below $2.5 million. Latham previously recommended holding at least $2.5 million in reserve in order for the school system to be able to make payroll, since receipt of projected revenue often lags behind expenses. By law, the school system is required to hold at least 3 percent of operating expenses in reserve (for 2018–19 approximately $1.36 million).
“If we give the raise, it’s ours forever,” said Bean, offering another caveat to the school system funding the wage increases.
Board member Lance Williams argued for asking the county commission to fund school system personnel raises at the same level as county employees’ raises.
County Commissioner Dave Van Buskirk pointed out “the raise could be zero.” He advised the board to document the need for a 2 percent teacher raise with data showing Franklin County teachers earned less than teachers in surrounding counties. “That will sell it,” Van Buskirk insisted.
“Tullahoma, Manchester and Fayetteville city schools pay much better than we do,” said Foster. “We’ve lost good teachers to these schools.”
Rejecting all wage cuts, the board combed the budget for other reductions.
The board agreed to cut $5,000 for classroom desks and chairs; $15,000 for athletic field maintenance; $10,500 for tables, chairs and supplies in the Director of Schools budget; $2,500 for equipment in the Human Resources budget; $5,000 for maintenance equipment (i.e., mowers, etc.); and $24,000 for fuel, bargaining fuel costs won’t rise.
The board also agreed to cut by half money for proposed construction, including a transportation garage and roof at Huntland School, saving $160,000, and cut money to fund a desperately needed upgrade to the speaker system in the Franklin County High School auditorium, saving $25,000.
Williams suggested the board could direct additional funds to the speaker upgrade if the school system had money left at the end of the year.
With much reluctance, the board reduced certified substitute teachers’ pay from $80 to $75, expressing concerns about attracting quality substitutes, which saved $12,000. The board also reluctantly agreed to save $63,000 by eliminating one social worker position and relying instead on support from the non-profit Centerstone, which provides mental health care.
At the regular board meeting June 11, the school board will vote on a revised budget reflecting the agreed upon changes.

​Friday Nights in the Park and Reverse Raffle

The Sewanee Business Alliance (SBA) is hosting a series of free concerts in downtown Sewanee.

The lineup for Friday Nights in the Park is: Stray Fossa on June 22; Volk on June 29; Little Russell Band on July 6; and JackWagon on July 13. University Avenue will be closed at 6 p.m. each of these nights for the annual outdoor family event, with food and drink from local vendors available for purchase. The entertainers play from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Angel Park Pavilion.
On Wednesday, July 4, the Jess Goggans Band will perform from noon–2 p.m.
The events are free and open to the public.
The SBA is also sponsoring a reverse raffle to benefit Sewanee Angel Park and Housing Sewanee, with a chance for participants to win up to $5,000.
Tickets are $100 each and are for sale at the following local businesses: The Blue Chair, Locals, Lemon Fair, University Realty and Woody’s Bicycles. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.sewaneeangelpark.com.
During each Friday Nights in the Park event, there will be a drawing for a special prize. The ticket drawn will be placed back in the pool for another chance to win. The $5,000 grand prize drawing will take place during the 8th annual AngelFest on Sept. 28. Participants do not have to be present to win.
For more information go to sewaneevillage.com.


​Sewanee Summer Music Festival Begins June 23

The Sewanee Summer Music Festival (SSMF) will run this year from June 23 to July 22. One of the nation’s premier orchestra and chamber music training festivals, the SSMF has brought the sound of music to the Mountain for more than 60 summers.

A few highlights include the Opening Gala Concert in the Faculty Artist Series, June 23 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.; “Symphonic Sundays,” concerts at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. each Sunday from July 1–22; the Faculty Artist Series on Wednesday and Saturday evenings; and the annual Fourth of July Patriotic Celebration (attendance is free for this special concert).
In addition to the Fourth of July concert, Friday evening concerts showcasing student chamber ensembles and Saturday morning concerts in Guerry Garth also are free to the community. All are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a Saturday outdoor concert.

The full concert schedule and ticket information can be found on the SSMF website . Tickets are available now online for individual concerts or the full season; season passes are $125.

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