​Monteagle Approves Fire Department Grants; Weighs Two High Cost Projects

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Aug. 28 meeting, the Monteagle City Council authorized the fire department to apply for two matching grants that will require contributions on the part of the city if funded. The Council also discussed two high-priority high cost projects: replacing the leaking community center roof and a matching grant with a September application deadline, which would extend the Mountain Goat Trail across the interstate.
The council approved the fire department’s request to apply for a FEMA Assistance Grant for a new engine and to employ a grant writer, cost $500, to draft and administer the grant. If the grant is received, the city will be required to pay for 20 percent of the new engine. The cost will depend on the engine’s specifications.
The council also authorized the fire department to apply for a $3,000 Tennessee Municipal League grant for safety equipment. The city’s portion of the 50:50 match will be $1,500 if the grant is received.
The department is waiting for a response to a Tennessee Division of Forestry grant application for funds to purchase digital portable radios, said fire department representative Jeremy Blalock. Having digital radios as well as analog radios will expand the department’s communication range, Blalock explained.
Mayor David Sampley said the two bids the city received for replacing the Community Center roof were far higher than anticipated: Westerfield Roofing, $27,135; Lowe’s, $27,983.
The Community Center houses the May Justus Memorial Library. The building’s roof is a combination of shingles and rubber roofing material on the flat section.
“The rubber roofing wasn’t done properly the first time,” Sampley said.
“The library doesn’t have a budget except for wages,” noted Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock.
The council tabled the roof project for further discussion.
Mountain Goat Trail Alliance President Nate Wilson thanked the council for voting at the July meeting to help pay for handicap access. Wilson asked the council to consider authorizing the MGTA to apply for a million-dollar Multimodal Grant on the city’s behalf to construct the section of the trail crossing the interstate.
If funded, the 95:5 matching grant would obligate the city to a $50,000 contribution to the project.
“How long would we have to pay?” asked Alderman Kenneth Gipson.
Wilson said the city would need a line of credit to pay 5 percent of each bill as it came in over the two-year construction period. He stressed the Southeast Development District Multimodal Grant was the only grant of this type available to rural communities.
“We’re committed to making it work for you all,” Wilson insisted, “and we want to discuss how.”
The council will hold a special called meeting for that purpose at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4.
In the interim, council members will meet with visiting TDOT engineers who will offer advice on the challenging interstate-crossing section of the trail. Using the old railroad bridge is being considered, Wilson said.
Reporting on Parks and Recreation, Jessica Blalock said high winds damaged the outdoor video screen used for free children’s movies. Blalock will get bids on replacing the screen. Blalock will also get bids on replacing a broken angel statue.

​Community Council Approves Parks Committee Members

Six Council Seats up for Election

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Aug. 27 meeting, the Sewanee Community Council approved the appointment of representatives to serve on the Parks Committee, taking the final step needed to officially create a formal entity charged with overseeing Sewanee community parks. In April, the council authorized the committee’s formation.
“This is a historic undertaking,” said Dixon Myers. Myers played an active role in the committee’s formation. “It’s been a year and half in the making.” In the past, the entity responsible for oversight and maintenance of Sewanee’s community parks was never clearly defined.
Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) board member Stephen Burnett cited the SCA’s investigation into renovating the ballpark as the “catalyst.”
The SCA spearheaded the recent renovation of Elliott Park and has been providing oversight for the Dog Park. In the fall of 2016 then SCA President Lynn Stubblefield brought the deplorable condition of the ballpark to the SCA’s attention. The SCA also reviewed the needs of other community parks and sought the advice of Myers, who played a key role in the 2003 rehabilitation of the ballpark.
Along with Burnett and Myers, Sarah Marhevsky and Brent Tate will serve as community representatives on the Parks Committee. Amanda Knight and Diane Fielding will serve as representatives from youth baseball and soccer. Superintendent of Leases Sally Green and William Shealy from Facilities Management will serve as ex-officio members.
At the Sept. 6 SCA meeting, the membership will vote on transfering park assets and Memorandum of Understanding responsibilities from the SCA to the newly formed Parks Committee.
Council election officer Charles Whitmer provided an overview of the upcoming council election. The seats now held by Annie Armour (at-large representative), Richard Barrali (District 4), Pam Byerly (District 2), Kate Reed (at-large representative), Flournoy Rogers (District 1), and Whitmer (District 3) will be open for election. Armour will not seek reelection.
Prospective candidates need to submit a petition signed by 10 registered voters from their district. For at-large candidates, the 10 signatures can come from any registered voter residing in Sewanee. Petitions are available from Whitmer . A district map can be viewed at the Lease Office website .
Early voting will be held from Oct. 17–Nov. 1 at the Lease Office. Regular voting will take place at Sewanee Elementary School coincident with the General Election on Nov. 6.
Vice-Chancellor John McCardell welcomed two new council representatives from the University student population, Gray Hodsdon from the School of Theology and College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Adam Foster.

​SUD Approves EMA Antenna on Water Tank

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Scott Smith from the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) addressed the SUD board at the Aug. 28 meeting, requesting permission to mount a radio antenna on the SUD farm tank.
The EMA received funding to improve connectivity in the county, Smith said. The proposed six-site simulcast system will allow county-wide communication for law enforcement and other responders. A communication from any given site will be heard at all the other sites and all sites will be able to respond. With the present system, sometimes only one-way communication is possible, according to Smith.
“The proposed site on the water tank will cover Roark’s Cove and Cowan,” Smith said. An antenna tower being erected on the Old CCC Road in the Jump Off community will cover the rest of the mountaintop.
Smith stressed facilitating county-wide communication was “critical to law enforcement.” Coincident with the area’s population growth “call rates are way up.”
The six-site plan will also make the county ready to adopt digital technology. “Digital weakens the signal so it takes more sites,” Smith said.
Speaking to possible concerns, SUD manager Ben Beavers said OSHA regulations prohibited obstructions on the ladder, but OSHA compliant mounting brackets were available. Beavers also stressed the contract with the EMA would need to stipulate the EMA was responsible for making any adaptations necessary for SUD to maintain the tank and for restoring the site to its original condition if the equipment was no longer used.
In addition to the antenna, the proposal calls for an 8 feet by 12 feet metal equipment building within the water tank’s fenced perimeter.
The board voted to approve the concept, with final approval contingent on review of the contract and related documents.
“It’s a good public service thing,” Beavers said in support of the decision. “It won’t help SUD in particular, but the entire county will benefit.”
Updating the board on the waterline replacement project, Beavers said the contractor was running a little behind, but expected to complete the project on schedule. The section most likely to impact students was already completed. Shrubs and gravel disturbed by the construction will be replaced. “The most frequent comment I’m hearing from customers is about how clean the construction site is,” Beavers said.
In response to the board’s charge to perform a cross-connection survey of all commercial customers to determine if the customer needed to install a backflow prevention device, Beavers identified 59 accounts. He expects to complete the inspections before the end of the year. “Six of the 59 already have backflow prevention devices,” Beavers noted. Among those slated for inspection were several institutional customers, Beavers said.
Looking to possible outcomes, Beavers suggested that if more than 60 percent of the commercial accounts inspected needed backflow prevention devices, the board should consider a policy change “requiring the devices for all commercial customers. If it’s only 10-15 percent, the policy is likely adequate.” The current policy requires backflow prevention devices in any situation where there is a possibility of drinking water contamination by fluid from outside sources.
Beavers provided the board with a draft of the revised South Cumberland Regional Drought Plan. Beavers revised the document on behalf of the four area water utilities. Different from the original drought plan, created following the drought of 2007, the revised plan allows the individual utilities to set their own trigger points for water-use restriction and rate changes to accommodate drought management. Like the original plan, the revised plan stipulates if one utility declares a need for voluntary or mandatory restricted water usage, the other utilities will follow the same practice.
The SUD board meets next on Sept. 25.

​Local Team Develops Plan to Capitalize on the Area’s Natural and Cultural Assets

A team from Tracy City participated in a three-day workshop designed specifically for towns and communities bordering national or state parks, forests, and other treasured public lands in the Appalachian Region. Working with national and regional experts on sustainable tourism, economic development, the arts, natural and cultural resources, transportation, and branding, the four-person team crafted a new vision that focuses on the unique Appalachian assets that make the South Cumberland Plateau an appealing place to live, work and recreate.

The Tracy City team included Nadene Moore, with the Tracy City Council and Grundy Historical Society; Christi Teasley, with the Grundy Area Arts Council; Patrick Dean, with Mountain Goat Trail Alliance; and Emily Partin, with Grundy County Schools. The team has worked together on multiple projects for the Tracy City area, all in an effort to revitalize the historic downtown section of town.
Tracy City team member Emily Partin explained the origins of the project. “In a recent community needs assessment, Tracy City residents expressed a desire for more safe gathering places for families. To meet this need, the Town purchased a tract of land in the historic district where the old Railroad Roundhouse once stood. We believe the development of this area as the Tracy City Old Roundhouse Park, a simple green space in town with a pavilion and seating, will provide opportunities for both old and young to gather together. I think that’s what our community wants.”
The partnership of the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Conservation Fund, and HTC Partners convened the program. This pilot offering of the Advanced Project Implementation Workshop for Appalachian Gateway Communities was designed for communities that already had a record of success in transforming their area and were ready to take their efforts to a new level. The program featured customized coaching sessions and instructional sessions on topics including building and sustaining capacity, engaging youth, financing and measuring success. Seven Appalachian communities with participants that included public land managers, elected officials, business and tourism representatives, civic leaders, and community arts representatives were accepted to attend the pilot workshop.
Interestingly, as the Mountain Goat Trail snakes its way across the Plateau, it runs straight through the proposed park. “The park will be the very center of the 35-plus miles of trail between Cowan and Palmer,” Partin said, “making this a great trailhead.” Tracy City expects to see an economic uptick as a result of both the Mountain Goat Trail and The Old Roundhouse Park.
“The Tracy City/Mountain Goat Trail/Grundy Area Arts Council partnership was an ideal candidate for the Appalachian Gateway Communities Initiative because of the terrific natural and cultural resources and the emphasis of the arts in its community’s plans,” said Director of The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network, Katie Allen. “It’s our goal to help communities capitalize on the success of their efforts to date and to continue to foster valuable partnerships, reinforce development plans that balance environmental and economic goals, and enable places like Tracy City to become even more vibrant and thriving communities.”
The Appalachian Gateway Communities Regional Workshop is part of an initiative developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2007, the Gateway Initiative has helped gateway communities across Appalachia expand tourism and other economic development opportunities through community assessments, tourism planning workshops and grants for project implementation. The Conservation Fund and HTC Partners have partnered to strengthen the leadership capacity of towns, cities and communities that neighbor publicly protected natural and recreational lands in distressed, transitional or at-risk counties.
The workshop was held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W. Va.

Local Food Banks Distribute Tons of Food


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
Note: This is the second in a series of articles related to the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club’s Hunger Walk on Sept. 1, which will raise funds for local food banks. For more information on the Hunger Walk, visit <monteaglerotary.org/hunger.html>.
Truck drivers delivered more than 145,000 pounds of food in the past year from Chattanooga and Nashville to feed people in Grundy, Marion and Franklin counties.
At Morton Memorial UMC Food Ministry in Monteagle, drivers from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank transported almost 55,000 pounds of food to the ministry from July 2017 through June 2018. That food is in addition to 42,787 pounds of fresh produce the food bank delivered in the same time period through the Produce Empowerment Program (PEP).
For $50 per month, Morton Memorial receives at least 3,500 pounds of garden foods through PEP, a program designed to provide fresh produce and reduce waste.
For the rest of the food, the ministry paid about 30 cents per pound to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank, according to an annual report.
Between 100 and 120 people pick up food at the church on the second Tuesday of every month, said Amy Wilson, director of Morton Memorial’s food ministry.
“That doesn’t represent how many people that food touches,” she said. “It may be that 100 people come and get food but then that really represents maybe 300 people that get fed.”
Statistics from the Feeding America organization show that 16.5 percent of Grundy County’s population, or 2,220 people, were food insecure in 2016. Food insecurity means having a lack of access at various times to “enough food for an active, healthy life,” according to the USDA.
In Marion County, 3,990 people, or 14.1 percent, were food insecure, and 5,150 people, or 12.5 percent of Franklin County’s population did not have adequate access to enough food in 2016.
A truck from Chattanooga arrives at Morton Memorial on the Thursday before distribution day, and volunteers—about five of which are also food recipients—spend time unpacking the food. Monteagle Silo Company lends the food ministry a forklift for the effort, Wilson said. On distribution day, about 10 food recipients also help give out food.
At Community Action Committee (CAC) at Otey Parish in Sewanee, program director Betty Carpenter said CAC receives about two tons of food per month, 48,000 pounds per year, from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
For every $1 CAC spends with Second Harvest, they receive $4 worth of food, she noted.
A volunteer drives a flatbed truck to pick up the goods each month.
“For a small operation, we depend on volunteers to keep things running smoothly, from collecting the tons of food in Nashville to unloading the truck and stocking the shelves,” Carpenter said. “We distribute groceries daily and those who need our help can come once a week to get a bag of groceries and loaf of Bread Peddler bread.”
Of course, local food banks also garner some food locally. For example, Carpenter said at services on the first Sunday of each month, Otey Parish and St. James Episcopal Church collect items from parishioners.
Donations are vital to the local food programs and to that end, the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club is hosting the fourth annual Hunger Walk on Sept. 1 to raise funds for Morton Memorial and CAC.
John Noffsinger, chair of the Hunger Walk committee, said the 2017 Hunger Walk garnered $7,000 for each food bank, as well as $2,500 for Blue Monarch, a program that helps mothers overcome drug addiction, domestic abuse and financial challenges.
“The purpose of the walk is to educate and raise awareness about food insecurity on the Plateau and then to raise funds to support the work of the food pantries on the Mountain in combating the food insecurity faced by many of our families,” he said.
The proceeds have increased each year and the goal this year is to raise more than $19,000, Noffsinger said, noting that eight more business partners are needed to reach that goal. As of Aug. 20, there were 55 total partners, which already exceeds last year’s number of 50.
“The walk would not be possible without all the community support, all the businesses who step up as partners, and The University (of the South) who has stepped up with refreshments and food for the walkers,” he said. “The support we receive from VISTA and from the Delta Tau Delta fraternity makes it so much easier to make the walk possible. Plus, having the use of the Mountain Goat Trail is helpful.”
Lodge Manufacturing is the title sponsor for the second year in row, Noffsinger noted.

Registration on the day of the event begins at 8 a.m. at Angel Park in Sewanee and the five-mile walk starts at 9 a.m. Registration cost is $25 for non-students and $15 for students, with each walker receiving a T-shirt. To register in advance or for more information, visit <monteaglerotary.org/hunger.html>.

Commission Rejects Postponing Middle School Funding Vote

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Aug. 20 special called meeting, Franklin County Commission Chair Eddie Clark proposed postponing a vote on a resolution authorizing the mayor to sign a $1.8 million bond to fund the design work for two new middle schools. The commission overrode Clark’s proposal and voted to authorize the $1.8 million bond.
“Last month, the commission approved a resolution to go forward with building two new middle schools,” Clark said. “Passing the bond resolution to fund the design work would bind the mayor-elect and five new commissioners to the decision without getting to vote on it.”
Clark stressed the $1.8 million bond resolution only funded the engineering and design work, not the estimated $46 million needed for construction. He expressed concern about the cost to the county if the new administration decided not to go forward with the project beyond the design phase.
Commissioner Dave Van Buskirk objected to Clark’s proposal to postpone the vote to September when the newly elected commissioners and mayor took office.
Asked to weigh in on the discussion, mayor-elect David Alexander said, “I’ve participated in hundreds, maybe thousands of votes as state representative. There were maybe a few I wanted to change, but I always stood by my vote. If you still think building two new middle schools is a good idea, abide by your vote.”
During the campaign, Alexander favored renovating the aging middle schools rather than building new schools.
The commission voted 11 to 3 to proceed with a vote on the $1.8 million bond resolution and 12 to 2 in favor of authorizing the mayor to sign the $1.8 million bond.
Commissioners David Eldridge and Lisa Mason opposed proceeding with the vote and also voted against funding the design work for the two new schools. Commissioners Doug Goodman and Gene Snead were absent. Both Goodman and Snead previously voted against building two new schools.
“I’m in favor of building the new schools,” Clark said. Clark voted against proceeding with the vote, but in favor of authorizing the funding.
On behalf of the Recreation Center Committee, school district STEM coordinator Maranda Wilkinson updated the commission on the initiative to build a recreation center at the city park adjacent to the Swimplex. The proposed 50,000 square foot facility would house a multi-purpose gym, wellness center, game room, jogging track, locker rooms, climbing wall, childcare area, and a lobby with vending services.
Wilkinson cited corporate sponsors, grants and donations as potential funders for the $12.5 million project.
Recreation Center Committee Chair Van Buskirk acknowledged county financial support would probably be needed, but “we believe we can raise a sizable sum of money to get started.”
The project has been in the discussion phase for more than 30 years.
“This is a project that has to get done,” said Commissioner Johnny Hughes. “We have to find a way.”
Van Buskirk asked the commission for a vote of confidence in support of the committee continuing with its work.
Clark stressed the vote “would not be binding and would not obligate the county to funding the project.”
The vote of confidence received unanimous support.
Calling attention to the new video screen in use for the first time that evening, Van Buskirk thanked the Tech Committee chaired by commissioner Helen Stapleton. The screen will be used to display the agenda and related meeting documents.


​Franklin County Schools Finish Year Under Budget


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“The school system ended the 2017–18 school year with $100,000 more in the fund balance than anticipated,” Franklin County Deputy Finance Director Cindy Latham told the school board at the Aug. 13 meeting. The figure took into account outstanding encumbrances.
“That’s a good thing,” observed school board representative Christine Hopkins applauding the news.
The unused portion of the fund balance will roll into the 2018–19 budget. In June, the board voted to award all employees a 2 percent cost of living raise, which will draw the fund balance to an all time low, putting the school system in danger of not being able to make payroll, depending on when state funds are received.
Turning to the new school year, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster said three positions remained unfilled: a librarian at North Lake Elementary; a music teacher to serve the Cowan and Sewanee elementary schools; and an interim English Language Learners teacher to fill in for a teacher on leave.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean announced Binkley Garcia Architecture accepted the offer to serve as designer for the two new middle schools. The board approved the contract finalizing the appointment.
The board also approved a revision to the medical leave policy allowing employees to use all of their available sick leave during maternity leave instead of only 30 days of the sick leave accumulated. The Tennessee School Board Association recommended the change.
Looking to the coming year, the board approved the agenda which delineates items to be addressed by the board on a month by month basis.
“The agenda is the same as last year,” said Board Chair CleiJo Walker, “with the exception of moving the director of schools evaluation to July.” The board recently evaluated Bean. The agenda change will keep the evaluation on a 12-month rotation.
Maranda Wilkinson, coordinator of the STREAM summer camp program, presented a video highlighting camp activities created by students in the videography class. The STREAM acronym represents science, technology, research, engineering, art and math. More than 200 students participated in the summer day camp. Activity clusters were arranged by grade level: Arts (K-second); Science (third–fifth), Technology (sixth–eighth); and Engineering (ninth-12th). Students made maracas, cracked geodes, learned to fly drones, designed waterwheels and much more. Field trips included the Tennessee Aquarium, Rock City and Ruby Falls, the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, and the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.
Equipment purchased for the program will be available for teachers to check out for classroom use, Wilkinson said. Funders included the Franklin County Kiwanis Club, Nissan and the PEN Foundation.
Huntland resident Greg Alverson addressed the board complaining about the school system’s failure to mow and maintain the lot purchased for a soccer practice field. Alverson resides on adjoining property. When he inquired about why the lot hadn’t been maintained, he said he was told it was “too wet to mow.” Alverson cited board policy stating the school system was responsible for maintaining property owned by the district.

​Binkley Garcia Selected to Design Middle Schools


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Aug. 8 special called meeting, the Franklin County School Board voted to offer the contract for design of the two new middle schools to Binkley Garcia Architecture (BGA) based in Nashville. The decision followed extensive interviews with the top candidates, which included the Knoxville-based firms McCarty Holsaple McCarty (MHM) and Red Chair Architects.
“All three are excellent,” said school board representative Adam Tucker. “For me, the driving considerations are the scale of the firm relative to our needs, the individualized focus we’re going to get from them, and on a personal and professional level what will work best for us.”
While all three firms have extensive experience designing and renovating PreK through 12 schools, BGA’s primary focus is educational structures, with more than 60 schools to their credit. Several BGA schools have received awards, among them Tusculum Elementary in Metro Nashville. Like the Franklin County middle schools project, the design included retaining the existing gym with classes continuing in the old school during construction. Other projects followed a similar model, part demolition and part new construction.
In terms of firm size, BGA occupied the middle ground compared to MHM, the largest firm in Knoxville, and the three person team at Red Chair Architects.
“Who you see here tonight will be involved all the way through the process,” said BGA principal Roy Garcia. Garcia will be in charge of the production and design process; Drew Ewing will serve as project manager, team leader, and coordinate with the engineers; and principal Joseph Binkley will be the primary contact.
“We have a good working relationship with contractors throughout middle Tennessee,” Binkley stressed, “and throughout the design process consult with them about current costs and cost changes.”
Describing what to expect during the design process, Binkley said, “You determine who the representatives from the user groups are. It’s important for us to get together with them from the beginning, to get around the table with the appropriate people.”
“We design around your needs,” Garcia said. “How the end users experience the building is what matters.”
Binkley described the firm’s office environment as an open space with architects, project managers and support staff working together in a single large room “with everyone involved in what’s going on.”
“We have a quality control check list we use in all stages and keep a running tab of issues on sticky notes on the wall,” Garcia said.
“We all see it on the wall until it’s resolved,” Binkley added. “We’ll come to you for plan review comments and keep them on file until the project is completed. We’ll help you administer the bid process and represent you throughout construction.”
BGA projected finalizing design documents in 8-12 weeks. The proposed timeline calls for the two new schools to be completed in 2020.

​Grandparents Raising Kids Rely on Food Banks


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
Note: This is the first in a series of articles related to the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club’s Hunger Walk on Sept. 1, which will raise funds for local food banks. The names of the grandparents have been changed to help protect the families’ privacy.
The 79-year-old woman canned soup–tomatoes, peppers, corn and onions–while her six-year-old was at school.
Anna and her husband, Charles, have raised their great-granddaughter since she was in diapers; the little girl’s parents were drug users, both in and out of jail.
“It was like God put her in my arms because I was standing there holding her when the police arrested them and took them away,” Anna said during a phone interview, canning while she talked. “Sometimes we’re not looking for something like this, but you know, she’s been a blessing to us. She’ll pray with us when we’re sick; she’ll lay her little hands on us and pray.”
Local food banks help grandparents like Anna and Charles feed themselves and the children they’re caring for.
Betty Carpenter, director of Community Action Committee (CAC) at Otey Parish in Sewanee, said about eight grandparents caring for grandkids pick up food from CAC.
“The grandparents are elderly and/or have significant health issues, which makes it difficult for them to work,” she said. “The situation comes from the parents being incarcerated or deceased. In most cases, this living situation was not planned but the grandparents provide the most stable environment.”
Amy Wilson, director of Morton Memorial UMC Food Ministry in Monteagle, estimated a significant number of grandparents who get food there are also raising kids who are not their own.
“The most common reason is because of drugs or the parent is in jail,” Wilson said.
Carpenter also cited drug problems as the primary reason that grandparents are now parents again.
“Once a grandparent working minimum wage was informed by DHS (Department of Human Services) that she had custody of five grandchildren and fortunately we can provide groceries for her,” Carpenter said. “Most of our grandparent stories follow those lines…parents in jail, grandparents have custody.”
Mary, who is in her late 50s, has raised her two teenage grandsons for much of their lives. The boys’ father is serving a long sentence in jail and their mother, a drug user, is dead. Mary has a job, but doesn’t make enough to provide sufficient food, she said, adding that she earns too much to qualify for food stamps. She comes to CAC for help.
“I couldn’t make ends meet. I couldn’t put food on the table if it wasn’t for this place,” Mary said.
Raising a child at their age is a challenge for Anna and Charles, but they say they’re doing the best they can with God’s help; faith is an integral part of their lives.
“I try to do everything I can to keep my baby happy,” Anna said. “I’m not ashamed to get out and play with her. If she wants me to get in the sand box or she wants me to help her build a playhouse, I’m going to do it.”
The great-grandparents are protective of the little girl and have lessened the trauma of losing both her natural parents and the damage they did before they left her. The little girl is healthy, Anna added, and doing well in school.
“I’m praying the Lord will let us stay with her for a good long while; I want to see that she gets big enough to know right from wrong and knows how to take care of herself,” Anna said.
For more information on the Hunger Walk, visit <monteaglerotary.org/hunger.html>.

​Housing Sewanee Advances in Sherwood Springs


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
The first of nine planned energy-efficient homes in Housing Sewanee’s Sherwood Springs subdivision should be complete by the end of this year, officials said.
Housing Sewanee, operating through donations and volunteers, builds homes for people who cannot afford a house, while offering low- or no-interest mortgages. The new homeowner is required to contribute time during construction, similar to Habitat for Humanity.
“This is beyond a lot of their dreams,” said Mickey Suarez, Housing Sewanee design and construction manager. “They’re deserving people, the only difference is they didn’t quite get in the right profession or have the opportunity to develop those skills. They’re solid, hard-working people who deserve a lot more, a lot of times, than the shakes that they get.”
The family moving into the house, a single mother and her young son and college-age daughter, lived in a pickup truck camper for several years, Suarez noted, as he provided a tour of the upstairs bedroom.
The two-bedroom home under construction in Sherwood Springs boasts a number of energy-saving amenities, including a geothermal heating and cooling system and special Icynene foam insulation.
Icynene protects the house against air leaks and drafts, but with good insulation comes concern for the quality of air inside, Suarez said. To remedy that, Panasonic donated an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), which brings in fresh air and expels stale air, while exchanging heat in the air cycle to save energy.
Utilizing natural resources is part of the plan for making the homes energy efficient and better for the environment.
“We built this house with as small a carbon footprint as we possibly could,” Suarez said.
Builders are also using some reclaimed wood to help construct the home, and a healthy spring behind the house will supply water.
“The plumbing is set up so you can take advantage of spring water, but if we go dry, you can go to SUD (Sewanee Utility District) water,” Suarez said. “The summer was so dry, the spring dropped down to about a gallon and a half a minute, which is still a lot of water. Right now, the spring is probably producing 12 to 15 gallons a minute, so it’s really pouring out of there.”
A garage at the first Sherwood Springs home will serve as a training center, with information for people to learn more about conservation and energy efficiency, such as building a rainwater collection system or using solar power.
Suarez noted that volunteers are needed during the current phase of the home’s construction, especially those with carpentry skills. There is cabinet work ahead, in addition to landscaping and installing donated oak tongue-and-groove flooring.
Volunteers in the Service to America program recently spent time painting, and this summer volunteers from the Church of the Advent in Spartanburg, S.C., stopped by again to help with construction—the 21st straight year they have sent a group, Suarez said.
In addition to plans in Sherwood Springs, another single mother and her two children are moving into a Housing Sewanee home in the Midway community. Suarez said the organization built the house in the 1990s and recently reacquired it.
Leigh Ann Summers, who originally qualified for a future home in Sherwood Springs, will move into the three-bedroom house with her nine-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.
Summers, 33, currently lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Monteagle. The caregiver for Tree of Life said her family has outgrown the apartment and she sleeps in the living room on a sleeper sofa.
“I’m very happy to have my own room now,” she said. “Everyone has their own bedroom and own closet; I mean, that’s major.”
She said the extra space will be nice, but the yard is the biggest perk.
“We’ve lived here (at the apartment) six years and my kids have been shafted when it came to going outside to play in the yard and they’re finally getting a yard,” she said.
“This is really impacting our lives tremendously,” she said. “We’re super thankful to everybody who has helped this become a thing for us.”
To volunteer, contact Mickey Suarez at <suareztn@aol.com> or (931) 636-0843. For more information, visit <housingsewaneeinc.com>.

​MES Will Not Close


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Monteagle Elementary School (MES) will not be closing anytime in the foreseeable future. Dispelling rumors, MES principal Janet Layne cited recent capital upgrades to the school including a new roof and $40,000 spent on refurbishing the gym.
“The gym walls were painted, the floor refinished, the facility was air conditioned, and we got new mats, a new scoreboard, and electronically operated retractable bleachers. Marion County spent a tremendous amount of money to upgrade the building just in the past year.”
“The county also placed a full-time School Resource Officer in the school beginning this year,” Layne said. “You hear these rumors about the school closing every year. The director of schools has reassured me that’s just people talking.”
Layne acknowledged that due to size and facility restrictions, “we’re limited to the number of kids we can serve.” MES is atypical in serving students from three counties, Franklin, Grundy and Marion. Portions of Monteagle lie in each of these counties.
Following eighth grade, MES students have a choice about where to attend high school, Layne said, dispelling other rumors that students graduating from MES would not be allowed to attend South Pittsburg High School in Marion County in the future.
“Most of our students go to Grundy County High School, because there is bus service available. There has never been bus service to South Pittsburg High School,” Layne confirmed. “But, we have 14 students attending South Pittsburg, and we’re working on an arrangement to provide bus service, at least in the morning.”
At present, students who attend South Pittsburg High School need to arrange for their own transportation. Usually parents drive them. A proposal under consideration would designate MES as a pickup point for students. After dropping off elementary school students at MES, the same bus would transport students to South Pittsburg.

​Pro-Football’s Hayworth to Coach at GCHS

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Just over two weeks before the start of school, Grundy County Schools Athletic Director Leon Woodlee contacted former Tennessee Vols and Detroit Lions linebacker Tracy Hayworth and offered him the job of head football coach at Grundy County High School.
“I was surprised, shocked and happy,” Hayworth said. “It was a whirlwind of emotions.”
Hayworth coached previously at the University of the South, Southwest Baptist University (Missouri) and as a volunteer at his alma mater, Franklin County High School.
“I’d sort of been looking for a coaching position,” Hayworth said, “but it was late in the season and the opportunity surprised me.”
Woodlee was appointed athletic director on July 12. He and GCHS football coach Scott Smith had a disagreement Woodlee’s first week on the job. He fired Smith and hired Hayworth two days later.
“The director of schools told me she wanted our football program cleaned up,” Woodlee said. Aggravated rape charges against several players and a mid-season change of coaches had given the football program a “black eye.” Smith was hired in February after the 2017 season’s close.
A former school board member and girls basketball coach at Swiss Memorial and GCHS, Woodlee had his eye on Hayworth even before being appointed to the position of athletic director.
“‘Hire this guy and you won’t have to worry about Grundy County football,’ people in Sewanee and Winchester told me.”
“I’m the best person for the job,” Hayworth said. “It answers all the ‘whys’ in my life, my trials and tribulations and my training and experience.”
“My job is to get the guys back to championship quality and bring the community together, to get the team and community reconnected.”
Hayworth favors a “back to basics” approach to coaching. “It’s about building character and a sense of pride, being a mentor to the boys. I want them to be young men who excel in the classroom and are leaders in society, to teach them to be professionals in life.”
Hayworth is the first African American coach at GCHS.
“I’m not afraid of the issues outside of football,” Hayworth said. “I’ve lived it and seen the ups and downs. I’ve dealt with every type of person. I’m well trained in dealing with issues of negativity.”
Hayworth also played three years of arena football with the Nashville Katz. Sewanee won the conference during his coaching tenure there, and Southwest Baptists was in the first or second position in the conference the years he coached.
Hayworth cites UT winning the SEC championship when he played for the Vols as one of his proudest moments. “It’s hard to pick just one, though,” he said. “I enjoyed all my playing days. I played as hard as I could and with love.”
“Some of the best moments were off the field, visiting children’s hospitals and helping to feed the hungry.”
Woodlee interviewed four candidates for the coaching position. Hayworth was the first.
“Tracy and I met for five hours,” Woodlee said. “Good things are going to happen. To the negative people who bring up the issue of race, I tell them there’s the door.”

​Community Engages in Ring Rescue

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Love is kind and love is cruel, and sometimes symbols of love fall off steep cliffs.
Andrew Amonette, 45, had a plan. He was going to propose to his girlfriend, Carolyn Hicks, 39, on the edge of a bluff that was special to them both, a place he had helped name “Andrew’s Hope.”
Operating on the ruse they were only visiting friends Daniel and Becky Lehmann and taking in the views on July 28 at the Lehmann’s Wildstream Retreat center and ministry in Monteagle, he led his girlfriend to the place where several years before he made a rock formation that read “hope.”
Andrew and Carolyn, both from Nashville, met at Christ Presbyterian Church in the Music City in summer 2016 when Carolyn taught second grade Sunday school class and Andrew’s son was a student. Andrew is an attorney with two kids and Carolyn, a research nurse at Vanderbilt, has four children.
The proposal spot at Wildstream became a symbol to them both when they first visited Monteagle together last year and went to see the bluff view that Andrew says inspires hope.
After reading a letter about what the spot at the cliff meant to him and his hopes for the future of their relationship, they took photos of one another and then Andrew got down on bended knee.
“I felt she was going to be totally surprised,” he said. “My plan was on track right until the ring box slipped out of my hands as I brought it up to open it. Watching it roll off the cliff was a surreal moment—I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
They heard two crashes after the ring tumbled over the precipice, a more than 100-foot drop to the bottom.
“I certainly was in shock and disbelief,” he said. “I was so excited to give Carolyn the ring, a really unique 1920s-era antique engagement ring. And, in the moment of giving it to her, it slips out of my hands and falls off a cliff.”
Andrew took a path to the bottom, while Carolyn directed him from above on where the ring may have fallen. He quickly found the box, but the ring was gone.
While he was still searching, Carolyn trekked down and “sweetly accepted” his proposal sans ring.
“She was so encouraging even with the knowledge that the chance of finding the ring was remote given the terrain,” he said.
The Lehmanns joined the search effort and Becky put a call out on Sewanee Classifieds, a community email service, asking for metal detectors.
At least four people responded with offers to loan their metal detectors, Carolyn said.
“They all had encouraging words for our search and told us they would be praying and hoping for a miraculous recovery,” she said.
They searched the rest of that Saturday until after dark, but called off the search around 9 p.m.
The next morning searchers cleared an area around the tree where the ring box was discovered, scanning the area with metal detectors, Carolyn said. Her dad also came and joined the search on Sunday morning.
“We were starting to lose hope when two men so kindly offered to rappel off the cliff to see if the ring happened to be lying on one of the small ledges below the edge,” Carolyn said.” We thought it was unlikely, but certainly a possibility.”
Enter veteran cavers Joey Favaloro of Monteagle and friend Butch Guevara of Covington, La. The pair rappelled off the bluff about 10-feet apart, but about 30 feet down, Favaloro’s rope got tangled in some shrubs, he said.
While Guevara went down to untangle the rope, Favaloro kept scanning for the ring.
“I noticed something sparkling in the sunlight on a small ridge about 20 feet below me,” Favaloro said.
With the rope untangled, Favaloro descended and found the ring about an inch from the edge of the approximately one-foot wide ledge.
“In my humble opinion being able to find that ring on the side of the cliff with all the shrubs and bushes was nothing short of a miracle,” Favaloro said. “Prayers were answered that afternoon. Both Butch and I were glad we could help and are always looking for a good cliff to rappel.”
They returned the ring to Carolyn at the bottom, but Andrew was at the top and she sent him a cell phone picture of the ring on her hand.
“I wanted Andrew to see the ring on my finger, so I started running up the steep trail to the top of the mountain,” she said.
Andrew started making his way down to meet her, but they took different paths and missed one another.
“Eventually, we were reunited and shared some very special moments with each other and the wonderful folks who were there to help us and then witness the amazing recovery that was absolutely miraculous and an answer to prayer,” Carolyn said.
The response from friends and the community was uplifting, Andrew said.
“I guess you can say we had a 24-hour detour—now a story to pass down to our family for years to come—of people on the Mountain helping in a time of need to bring about a miraculous recovery,” he said. “We are so thankful for the prayers, words of encouragement and efforts of all who helped—truly remarkable.”
The wedding date is likely to be a few years out, but they are considering Wildstream Retreat center as a venue.

​Monteagle to Help Fund MGT Handicap Access


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 30 meeting, the Monteagle City Council voted to allocate up to $7,000 toward constructing a handicap accessible ramp on the Mountain Goat Trail (MGT). The council also debated whether or not to grant a business permit to an establishment seeking a license to sell liquor-by-the-drink.
Presently the Sewanee to Monteagle section of the MGT ends in the field adjacent to Dollar General, said Mountain Goat Trail Alliance (MGTA) President Nate Wilson.
“The reason you don’t see handicapped using the trail is because they can’t get to it,” insisted Monteagle resident Jonathan Grimes. A paraplegic, Grimes’ body hits the ground when he exits the trail on his hand bike.
Wilson said the MGTA had raised $19,000 toward completion of the $30,000 project, which will extend the trail to a handicap accessible ramp at Mountain Outfitters. Mountain Outfitters welcomed the trail traffic, Wilson explained, while Dollar General did not.
Dollar General has pledged financial support of an as yet undetermined amount. Wilson asked Monteagle to fund the shortfall, not in excess of $7,000; to move a water meter hampering the construction; and to pay for the seed mulch needed for landscaping (cost $750).
Mayor David Sampley confirmed the city’s budget could accommodate the request. Alderman Susie Zeman abstained from the vote.
The council deferred a decision on Wilson’s proposal Monteagle partner with the MGTA in applying for a Recreational Trails and Parks Grant to fund completion of the trail from Mountain Outfitters to the liquor store. The town would need to contribute $40,000-$50,000, Wilson said. The funds wouldn’t be needed until 2020–21.
In the discussion about Jesse’s Grill’s request for a business permit, Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock pointed out the business hoped to receive a license to sell liquor by the drink. Monteagle zoning forbids sale of liquor by the drink within 300 feet of a playground, church or school. Jesse’s Grill, which opened last week, is across the street from the ball field. The business is operating under a temporary permit, which does not include beer and liquor sales.
The state advised Blalock not to grant the establishment a business permit if the city didn’t want to allow liquor sales since receiving a business permit opened the door for state approval of a liquor license.
The council postponed a decision contingent upon review by city attorney Harvey Cameron.
The council also discussed the delay in repairing a 30,000 gallon per month water leak. Utility Systems supervisor John Condra said a potential developer owning adjacent property had not responded to a letter detailing the infrastructure costs he would be responsible for to receive water service. The type of repair will depend on whether the developer proceeds with the project.
Monteagle will reopen bidding for a contractor to demolish the Lane Avenue church. The single bid submitted was not in the proper format.
The council approved on second reading the following paid holidays: New Years Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas eve, and Christmas. The council approved on first reading awarding double time pay to city employees required to work on holidays.
The council approved the following purchases: a 2018 Ford Explorer, $29,394 (police department); 3-4 self-contained breathing apparatuses, budgeted amount $2,500 (fire department); a Harton Park playground border to comply with state certification, $2,100.
The council also approved sponsoring a girls’ softball team and the first reading of a new zoning ordinance bringing the city in compliance with state requirements.
A resident read a letter thanking sewer treatment plant employees for rescuing her two dogs, one from a pond and the other from a pipe at the plant. Condra said the area will be fenced.
The next regular meeting of the council is Aug. 27.

​Henley Retires from DREMC with 45 Years of Service

DREMC has reached the end of an era with the retirement of longtime head cashier Terri Henley. Although Henley will not officially retire until the end of 2018, she left the Sewanee office last month with 45 years of dedicated service and is enjoying her vacation until that time.

Henley grew up in Sewanee and graduated from Franklin County High School. “I graduated in May and started at the DREMC Decherd office in June of that year,” said Henley. “I was working with the National Store in Cowan as a sales clerk for $1 an hour and helping with the books when the wife of former DREMC employee Bill Miller told me about the job opening.”
Henley shared that one of the biggest changes over the years since she began with DREMC in 1973 has been the way bills are processed and mailed to members. She remembers the day when all posting was done on ledgers with balances brought forward and penalties updated manually.
“I am fortunate to have worked with parents and children of those parents throughout the years—Joe Bill Powers and son Don Powers; Floyd Kelley and son David Kelley; and Joyce Posey and daughter Emily Posey,” shared Henley. “It has also been rewarding to be waiting on members who used to accompany their parents to pay their bills when they were just small children.”
“I will miss seeing the members and talking to them. Even with the advances such as bank draft and online payments, some members still want to call, and most of the time I can recognize their voices before they tell me who they are!” said Henley.
Living on the mountain has its weather woes during the winter months. Henley recalls a beautiful ride into work one ice-storm morning on her son’s four-wheeler all decked out in her helmet and warmest winter clothes. “No one at the office knew who I was until I took off my helmet,” laughed Henley.
“Terri spent her last day in the office doing what she does best—taking care of the members,” said Decherd Sewanee District Manager Patrick Hannah. “We appreciate Terri’s years of service and her dedication to DREMC, and we wish her the best moving forward.” Retirement plans for Henley are simple—just take one day at a time.
Emily Posey has been named the new Sewanee MSR, having transferred from the Decherd office. “Emily has spent some time in recent months working in Sewanee and is excited about the opportunity to make it her new home,” commented Hannah.

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