​SUD Discusses Rainfall Impact; Budget Revision Considered


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the March 26 meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners, SUD manager Ben Beavers updated the board on the impact of recent heavy rainfall. Beavers also brought to the board’s attention a suggestion by the state comptroller’s office that the district revise the 2019 budget.
The district received 11.28 inches of rainfall in February, meaning abnormally high inflow and infiltration of rainwater into the sewer system, increased water feeding into the lagoons, and increased spray field application to keep the lagoons from overflowing.
“We’ve had to be proactive about it,” Beavers said. “It’s eating into our overtime budget, but not enough to hire an additional employee.”
SUD again experienced overflow incidents at a pumping station in the Alto area. In spite of the heavy rainfall, “the pumps should have been able to handle it,” Beavers insisted. Both pumps are brand new and were installed at the same time.
“One pump appears to being overpowering the other and causing it to overheat,” Beavers said. He plans to install additional pressure monitoring gauges and meet with the pump vendor to determine the problem.
Turning to the comptroller’s recommendation, Beavers said in reviewing SUD’s budget the comptroller’s computation projected a $20,000 loss in 2019. “The comptroller figures it a little different than we do, including depreciation and other factors. It’s a red flag to them,” Beavers explained. “To be in violation of state law, SUD’s audit would need to show a loss two years in a row, and I can’t see that happening.”
The comptroller gave SUD the option of leaving the budget as is or revising it to show zero loss or a gain. Beavers budgets conservatively. He proposed two solutions for balancing the budget. One, eliminate the projected loss by increasing the income figures since he anticipates water sales will be higher than the projection. Two, reduce the expense allocated for commissioner health insurance, since no commissioners are opting to insure through SUD.
Beavers will draft budget revisions showing both scenarios and present them to the board for a decision at the April meeting.
Updating the board on the waterline replacement project, Beavers said the rainfall led to erosion issues, especially on Florida Avenue, and the contractor would need to do additional seeding and strawing. Some paving and concrete work remains to be done, as well.
A flooding incident occurred due to contractor error. The contractor is insured and has been in communication with the University, according to Beavers.
Reporting on his research into amending the commissioner selection process, Beavers said, “It will require a political process which starts at the county level, and both counties will need to be on board.” SUD serves both Franklin and Marion counties. SUD is pursuing a remedy to its difficulty finding customers to serve as commissioners.
One solution would be to eliminate term limits which prohibit those willing to serve from serving more than two consecutive terms. Another solution would be increasing the length of the term commissioners served so those willing to serve could serve longer. Both changes would require amending the legislative act, which established the utility and set the rules for commissioner term limits and selection.
SUD is considering polling customers to determine their preference. Broad public support will be needed to amend the act.
The SUD board meets next April 23.

​Hartman Updates Community Council on Cell Tower


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the March 25 Sewanee Community Council meeting, Eric Hartman, head of University Risk Management, updated the council on the University’s “aim to be responsive to concerns” about the proposed location for a new cell tower. “We’re in a holding pattern,” Hartman said. “We’ve explored three other locations, which have not been successful.”
Two sites, the Convenience Center and behind Facilities Management, were too close to the airport to allow for the tower height needed, Hartman explained. The third site at the University water tower, further from central campus, would have needed a very tall tower to allow for sufficient propagation (i.e., penetration of stone buildings) and so would require a light to meet federal aviation rules.
“We want to try to avoid it being lit,” Hartman insisted. “Beyond the football field and dairy we begin to lose signal strength.”
Remarking on the finding of the Society for Historical Preservation, Hartman said the organization requested evidence other sites had been investigated and that the tower be as short as possible—“Our tower company has done that...they’ve looked at alternative locations.”
Hartman stressed that Verizon needed to do propagation research for each proposed site. “This is one of the reasons we weren’t successful in getting a Verizon cell tower in 2006,” he said. “They stopped working with us.”
Council Representative Erik Keen pointed out Wi-Fi calling was an option inside buildings and asked if Verizon would still work with the University if the tower only provided outside building service.
“I don’t know,” Hartman said. “We’ll continue to explore other options. We’ve asked Verizon to come back, as well as another Verizon company. We’re still waiting to schedule those dates.”
Council Representative Cindy Potter revisited the issue of the need for sidewalks on Tennessee Avenue.
Austin Oakes, who heads up Facilities Management, emphasized the project would be expensive due to drainage issues, with $70,000-$75,000 as an estimated cost.
“It’s on our radar along with several other sidewalk projects,” Oakes said. Top on the priorities list are sidewalks for sorority houses in the vicinity of the football field and for the Georgia Avenue Townhouses in the vicinity of Stirling’s.
Potter called attention to danger to pedestrians on Tennessee Avenue and suggested a temporary cinder path.
“That’s easy to take a look at,” Oakes said.
Revisiting ongoing grumbling about parking shortage, Council Representative Theresa Shackelford proposed residents have the option of purchasing a parking pass for a cost $50-$100 that allowed parking in reserved areas.
Police Chief Marie Eldridge said the parking policy was reviewed and updated each summer. For the April meeting, the council will review the policy and make recommendations. Eldridge noted that anyone who believed they erroneously received a parking citation could lodge an appeal at the police department website.
Council election officer Charles Whitmer called attention to problems with the Council’s policy for filling vacancies. While the council can appoint someone to fill a vacancy, residents of the district might not agree with the council’s decision. Also problematic, a special election to fill a vacancy is only allowed within 30 days of the most recent election.
Whitmer will draft a revised protocol for filling vacancies and present it at the next meeting.
The council voted to defer until fall awarding the project funding grants. Since no awards were made in the 2018-19 academic year, $20,000 will be available to fund community enhancement projects in the fall. Pixie Dozier and Kate Reed will co-chair the recommendation committee.
The council’s regular meeting dates for next year are Sept. 9, Oct. 28, Jan. 13, March 23, and May 18.
The Council meets next April 22.

​Monteagle Utility Department Honored; Fire Hall Update


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the March 25 Monteagle City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam presented Utility Department Supervisor John Condra with a plaque of appreciation from Laurel Lake Drive residents. The plaque thanked the department for its perseverance and hard work to address flooding that made the road impassable.
Heavy rainfall earlier in the year left the road temporarily out of service, then the situation worsened.
“During the last big rain the road totally washed out,” Gilliam said. “The utility department workers were in 17 degree water temperatures pumping out water.”
On March 13, the road reopened with a five-foot culvert installed to prevent future flooding. The city has requested reimbursement for the repair costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Gilliam also thanked James David Oliver for the easement allowing a temporary road on his property.
“It helped us, too,” Condra said. “We had to have access to work on the road.” Condra extended personal thanks to the utility department crew for their hard work and a job well done.
Updating the community on plans to construct a new fire hall, Gilliam said the design was downsized to keep it within the budget, but the downsized structure wouldn’t accommodate the fire department’s equipment.
The council is looking at other designs and working with an engineer who recently oversaw construction of new fire halls for the Whitwell and Sequatchie fire departments.
Parks and Recreation Chair Jessica Blalock said 50 of the 3,000 eggs at the Monteagle Easter egg hunt would contain a dollar bill courtesy of a donation by the Harton Park Garden Committee. Citizens Tri-County Bank also made donations. The event is scheduled for April 6, at 10 a.m., at Harton Park.
Planning Committee Chair Ron Terrill said the committee is working with Southeast Tennessee Development District regional planner Garrett Haynes to create a road map for the city. An updated, accurate zoning map that will likely be available in both print and digital form. A public hearing will be held to present the zoning map upon completion.
The council approved on second reading rezoning of a 175-acre tract from commercial to agricultural to allow the new owner to run cattle on the farm property as was done in the past.
The council also approved a business permit for the Eagle Inn under new ownership by Dennis Patel.
Building inspector Earl Geary said the former Mexican restaurant would reopen under new ownership as The Porch, a tavern and restaurant featuring country cooking. Geary recommended deferring a decision on the business permit until renovation was completed.
The Monteagle Council meets next April 29.

​Compassionate Home Care Working for You


by Sarah Beavers, Messenger Staff Writer
Compassionate Home Care, founded in October 2017, opened a new location in Sewanee. Michelle Ladd, the president and owner, runs the company independently. She has more than 20 years of experience in the medical field. A native of Tracy City, Michelle stays close to home as a majority of her clients reside in Sewanee and the surrounding area.
Michelle started her medical career at Emerald Hodgson Hospital as a freshly-minted certified nurse at age 19. She has worked at other home care companies. An experience at work coupled with her daughter’s own health problems pushed Michelle to establish her own company.
“My purpose for opening my own company was to establish a business that will be successful and provide the best quality of care to my clients,” said Michelle. “This will also help to provide for the needed assistance to my daughter.”
Michelle strives to make her company stand out from the others by personally assuring all her clients are taken care of to the best of the Compassionate Home Care team abilities.
Michelle and her staff retain flexibility in their scheduling in order to best provide for the needs of the client.
The process for home care services begins with an in-home assessment where the client and family members are present. The initial meeting determines the needs and schedule of the client in order to keep the clients comfortable in their home. “We honor the clients and their suggestions, and assign a permanent schedule with a permanent caregiver. Our motto is ‘we work for you, you don’t work for us,’” said Michelle.
State requirements mandate supervisory meetings of clients every six months, but Michelle revisits clients every three months to adjust the care giving schedule if needed. Compassionate Home Care relies on a highly trained staff. Michelle hires caregivers who are certified nursing assistants, or have relevant prior experience in a hospital and or nursing home. All employees must pass drug tests, submit to an extensive background check, and have excellent references. Michelle and her team continue their education by attending monthly training sessions to sharpen skills.
“This is home, and I’ve been here all my life. My reputation allows me to assist my clients to the best of my ability. It’s whatever the clients need,” Michelle said.
Michelle is in the process of being able to accept TennCare. For right now, clients can get a waiver for non-medical needs and Michelle has a contract to provide care for veterans. The company accepts private pay clients and long-term care policies. Compassionate Home Care is licensed and insured.
Michelle plans to grow Compassionate Home Care by working with another home care company, and potentially opening another office in Signal Mountain next year.
Compassionate Home Care is located at 125 University Ave., Sewanee, and is open Monday–Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Call (931) 327-5276 for services, scheduling and or questions.

​Sewanee Fourth of July Call for Volunteers


Planning begins for the best Fourth of July yet. The theme for 2019 is “Peace, Love, and Fireworks,” so get your tie-dye and peace signs ready for a groovy celebration.
It takes many volunteers to pull off the day of festivities, and we have a few committee openings available. A parade committee member is needed to help the current committee members with planning and day-of hands-on assistance with organizing parade entrants. The second volunteer opportunity is to coordinate and run the children’s games, and this person will need many helpers. Both positions come with support and guidance from current and past committee members. Contact Jade Barry at <jademcbee@gmail.com> for more information or with questions.
We volunteer to put together the Fourth of July event because we care about our community and want to promote unity. We hope you will join us in this mission as we come together as Americans to celebrate our nation’s freedom and independence. Please kindly recognize that these events are voluntary, and if we do not have the volunteers required to run a successful event, unfortunately, we may have to cancel certain aspects of the celebration and worst case scenario, cancel the event altogether.
The planning meetings take place on Mondays at 5:30 p.m., at the Sewanee Senior Citizens Center: April 29, May 13, June 3, 10, 17, and 24, and July 1. We hope you will help us plan the best day of the year in Sewanee.

‘This Ain’t No Cakewalk’ Opens March 29

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer For César Leal and Courtney World, putting together the newest University Art Gallery exhibit was hardly a piece of cake. It took over a year of research, preparation and numerous partnerships with creatives both on and off the Mountain. The exhibit opens Friday, March 29. There will be two brief talks and a performance at 5 p.m., Friday, March 29, in Convocation Hall. “This Ain’t No Cakewalk,” was created by Leal and visual artist Thom Heyer. The exhibit will invite the Sewanee community to explore the complicated, and often neglected, history of the cakewalk and of the appropriation of voguing. Voguing is a highly stylized form of dance created by black and Latino LGBTQ communities in 1960s New York City. Leal, director of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra and assistant professor of music, said the purpose of the exhibit is to showcase a part of history that is often forgotten or ignored. “We tend to take pride in the partial meaning of things. Culturally, we erase and ignore the things that make us uncomfortable. It is understandable. We try to claim the history by ignoring and distancing ourselves from certain parts of it, but true awareness is something that is needed for a complete understanding. A complete understanding is one of the ways to avoid that reality ever happening again,” Leal said. One way the curators are hoping to showcase that history is by bringing into consideration multiple and very different moments in history. “The exhibition is about ideas and questions that are relevant everywhere, not just in the South. It’s partly about the cakewalk, and partly about voguing and all about imitation and appropriation and reappropriation,” said Shelley MacLaren, director at the University Art Gallery and visiting professor of art and art history. “Some pieces of the exhibition I hope visitors will want to celebrate and find inspiring, such as the idea that dance can be a form of resistance or a way to find community. The exhibition is also about racism and appropriation. Considering the history of cakewalk is meant to help us better understand how racial prejudice is enacted and reinforced, as well as how appropriation unfolds and is bound up with race and power.” The event will conclude with a performance in the University Art Gallery, led by Heyer and Assistant Professor of Dance, Courtney World. World has been working with students from the University using traditional cakewalk dancing to choreograph a performance. She said the tradition of the cakewalk dance, which is significant in the African-American dance world, was misinterpreted from the very beginning as the cakewalks were done by slaves in mockery of the slave owners. The slave dancers would incorporate moves reminiscent of the slave owners’ strutting, bowing low, waving canes and tipping hats. Some plantation owners would make an event out of the dances, inviting neighbors over to have a contest of the dancers. “And then, the best dancer was rewarded by the slave owner because they didn’t have any idea,” World said. Certain moves characteristic to the African-American cakewalk dances were recorded. World said it is those records taken from African-American oral tradition that she and the dancers are using to create a performance to accompany the exhibit. “We are trying to inhabit the spirit of the work without appropriating it, which is a challenge in itself because none of us come out of that culture,” said World. “While some of the dancers may share identities similar to that of those who participated, they don’t necessarily draw from those traditions. As we are creating, the dancers and I are coming up with movement choices that we have to really grapple with and ask, ‘Is this okay that we do this, that we make this gesture?’ Movement has meaning, and we want to be really careful.” World said she hopes people enjoy the performance and then continue to discuss the history of the dance, as well as the history of our local community. “This is really a celebration of black dance history and American dance history. Cakewalk and vogue are two forms of dance that are American and have become global. Dance is inherently joyous, and I keep coming back to that. The movement itself isn’t going to be what’s challenging. It’s the subject matter that people will come away talking about and feeling differently about because of their own histories,” World said.

​Bruce Named Teacher of the Year; School Board Approves Easement


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Sewanee Elementary School (SES) librarian Kathryn Bruce was named the Franklin County School District teacher of the year for grades Pre-K through four. Director of Schools Stanley Bean announced the award at the March 11 school board meeting. Also recognized were Huntland School math teacher Tabitha Stinnett as Middle school teacher of the year and Franklin County High School Spanish teacher Kim Land as high school teacher of the year.
“I don’t think an award was ever more deserved,” said SES Principal Kim Tucker. “Kathryn works closely with all our teachers to make sure all the students’ needs are met. I was really excited when she received the school honor and now the district honor.” Pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a librarian, Bruce coordinates the Peace Pole project, the summer reading program, the book fair and numerous other activities designed to make the learning experience both fun and fruitful.
Bean singled out SES for a second honor sharing a thank you letter from SES fifth graders in Aly Barry’s class. The students recently toured the Career and Technical Education facilities at FCHS. The students cited the “STEM lab,” “medical room,” and “agricultural class” as “favorite” parts of the tour.
Turning to regular business, Bean introduced a request from United Communications for a 10 square foot easement at the front northwest corner of the Rock Creek Elementary School property. UC’s proposal called for fencing the site and constructing a concrete pad for two cabinets to house communications infrastructure equipment. The easement would include ingress and egress to the site from the school drive. UC proposed a one-time payment of $10 per square foot, total $1,000.
“What is the fair market value of the property?” asked Adam Tucker, school board member. Tucker pointed out the amount paid for an easement was usually equivalent to the fair market value.
“Getting an appraisal done could cost more than the property is worth,” said Board President Cleijo Walker.
“United Communications said the payment they offered was typical,” Bean said.
The board authorized Bean to approve the contract following consultation with the engineering firm Oliver, Little, and Gipson (OLG) to make sure the contract was satisfactory. OLG has frequently advised the school system in the past.
Reporting on construction of the new middle schools, Bean said six contractors intended to bid on the project. Contractors could bid on constructing just one of the schools or both schools. Bidding opened March 21.
On Walker’s recommendation, the board approved the calendar for the 2020-21 school year. Two calendars were presented to the teachers which differed only in the time proposed for spring break. The teachers overwhelmingly favored spring break during the last week of March and first week of April as opposed to the third week of March.

​The Little Bakery that Could


by Sarah Beavers, Messenger Staff Writer
On March 23, Sweet Southern Spirit Bakery will officially open a new location in Cowan. Paige Jones, owner, started in the baking business 13 years ago, supplying the Lynchburg bakery with Tipsy Cakes. Jones expanded her business with the purchase of the French Confection, a family-owned Nashville-based wholesale bakery. After 17 years in business, The French Confection Bakery amassed many loyal customers that complimented the needs and customer base of Jones’ bakery in Lynchburg. Her small batch homemade baked treats are now distributed throughout the Southeast and loved by her clients and chefs alike.
Paige Jones took over the baking of the famous Tipsy Cakes by chance. She started by opening a small shop in Lynchburg as a side project to break up her time with her other business, AHF Consultants. The small Lynchburg shop grew into a full-time bakery when Jones located the original 100-year-old Irish Tipsy Cake recipe. Jones, with 30 years of experience as a fraud accountant, never imagined her side project would grow as much as it has.
“The lady who had been making them stopped, but we still had people coming in to ask about the Tipsy Cakes,” said Jones. “Those little cakes are responsible for putting us on the map.” In 2014, the bakery won the Nashville Baker’s Cook-Off. The next year, Tennessee Crossroads featured Sweet Southern Spirit Bakery on a show, and from 2016-2018 the bakery won the Bakery/Caterers of the Year awards.
Sweet Southern Spirit Bakery’s Cowan location will do wholesale with the added element of retail. Customers can come in and sample Tipsy Cakes, fudge, candies, toffee, cakes, whoopie pies, doughnuts, pies, and whatever other baked goods you can think of, even chocolate covered bacon.
“There’s something a little different for everybody. It’s not just sweets but savory food as well,” Jones said, pointing to the shelves stocked with homemade pickles, sauces, jams, and coffee. “A facility in Lynchburg roasts the coffee, and the high-quality beans are from Colombia.” The bakery will offer roasts such as Coal Train, Wake Up Cowan, Whistle Stop, and Whiskey Coffee.
“The Whiskey Coffee is a special something we’re coming out with. The coffee beans will be infused with local whiskey to bring out more flavor during the brewing process.” Jones said. “The reason we have a lot of cakes with spirits is because the spirits bring out a lot of flavor in the cakes.” For those of you who are wary of eating your alcohol, Sweet Southern Spirit also offers spirit-free versions of their cakes.
In the future, Jones will be offering dessert parties where party-goers can sample homemade desserts paired with coffee or local craft beers. For now, Jones offers catering for company events, and weddings complete with “good, simple, pretty, and elegant” wedding cakes. Everything in the bakery is baked the old-fashioned way, and Jones attributes this partly to her success.
“I think if you have a really good product it can make you, but if you don’t have the customer service to go with it, you don’t really have anything because I think people want both. They want customer service. We try to go that extra mile and try to offer something that you just can’t get in a box and I think that’s what has made us successful. Opening a bakery is a way for me to help the community. If the people in Sewanee, Cowan, and Winchester support us, we’ll do just fine.”
Mark your calendars for March 23 and be sure to check out all the homemade treats Sweet Southern Spirit Bakery has to offer.
Sweet Southern Spirit Bakery is located at 209 E. Cumberland St., Cowan, and is open for retail Thursday–Friday, 7 a.m.–4 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.–2 p.m., Monday through Wednesday is for call ahead orders only. Call ahead or place your order at (931) 247-8958. Follow Cowan Bakery on Facebook or check out <sweetsouthernspiritbakery.com> for offerings, ordering information, and pricing.

​SCA’s Sustainability Lesson Has Broad Implications


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Sustainability is about our relationship with the natural world and how we interact with the world around us,” said Jess Wilson addressing members and guests at the March 7 Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) dinner meeting. Farmer, political lobbyist, and Renaissance woman who raises sheep and sells wool, Wilson highlighted the importance of making choices based on how systems interact. She pointed to the Sewanee Community Chest and other work of the SCA as illustrating sustainable interaction.
Vice President Brandon Barry urged residents to donate to the Community Chest fundraiser before the March 31 deadline. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or made online by visiting www.sewaneecivic.org .
The fundraiser needs $18,000 more to provide support to the 25 organizations earmarked for gifts. Recipients include boy scouts and girl scouts, Sewanee Elementary School, Folks at Home senior care services, and the Sewanee Community Center.
“Everyone who has ever lived in or around Sewanee or visited the area has benefitted from the Community Chest,” Barry said, emphasizing how the network of systems the Community Chest supports enhances quality of life.
Evaluating “how systems interact and how they change as we interact with them,” forms the basis of Wilson’s decision making process when trying to decide how to live sustainably. She learned the “systems thinking” method during her study of sustainable agriculture at Sterling College in Vermont where she earned her degree. Wilson’s lobbying as a famers’ advocate resulted in legislation exempting farmers who sell online from charging sales tax. She founded the South Cumberland Farmers Market linking local farmers and customers via online shopping and the South Cumberland Food Hub which connects local farmers to wholesale customers.
But on a day in, day out basis, it’s the sustainable lifestyle choice of Wilson and her family that stand out. Explaining that releasing trapped carbon by burning fossil fuels is the root of climate change, Wilson acknowledged that she engages in some activities that contribute to the problem like burning wood for heat and buying products manufactured by burning fossil fuels. Wilson and her family counterbalance these climate-change contributing choices with other choices. Her husband Nate makes biodiesel from used cooking oil to fuel their cars, and they drive old cars Nate keeps running rather than new cars whose manufacture requires high fossil fuel inputs. To grow vegetables, Wilson fertilizes with compost, trapping carbon from decomposing organic matter in the soil. She line dries the family’s clothes. And the Wilson’s solar farm generates electricity they sell to TVA for energy credits on their electric bill.
“I’m privileged, though,” Wilson admits. Line drying clothes is time consuming and setting up a solar farm required a large financial investment. “People living in poverty don’t have the means to those choices. We’ve got to look at the bigger system. Individuals alone can’t solve the climate problem.”
“We need to empower people to choose by rebuilding infrastructure that allows people to make good choices like the Mountain Goat Trail and farmers markets,” Wilson insisted. She advocated supporting small farms, local businesses, and community initiatives that facilitate interconnectedness.
At the April 4 SCA meeting, attorney Ryan Barry will talk about estate planning and how a family can secure its homestead.

​Student SVFD: What’s Needed and Why


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The student arm of the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) needs a home. The student firefighters have lodged together in Wiggins Hall for more than 20 years, and before that in McCrady Hall. The University has plans to move the photography program to Wiggins Hall.
According to Academic Dean Terry Papillon, Wiggins Hall was selected for its proximity to the Nabit Art Building in an effort to bring all studio arts collaborative partners together to promote interactions and engagement among faculty and students.
Importantly, the student firefighters likewise have a need for an environment fostering a close knit relationship.
“PTSD and suicide are far higher among firefighters than the general population,” said SVFD Assistant Chief Doug Cameron. “Living together allows the students to talk daily and decompress.”
Cameron sees the student firefighters as indispensable to Sewanee fire protection. “Of 300 fires each year, 200 are dorm fires. It can really wear you out responding to so many fires. The student involvement offsets the demand.”
“While many of the dorm fires are trivial like cigarettes or pizza boxes in ovens, all the calls needed to be treated as potentially serious incidents,” Cameron insisted.
“The student firefighters are often the first on the scene,” said student Fire Chief Travis Nadalini.
Of the 42 firefighters in the SVFD, 18 are students. Some of the nonstudent volunteers live in remote areas such as Altamont, Cowan, and Sherwood.
“If you look at the number of volunteers who live in town, more than half the nightshift volunteers are students,” Cameron said.
The SVFD formed in 1952 following the Thompson Union fire. Cameron’s father, Ben Cameron, organized the town folk who responded to the alarm. A young chemistry professor, Ben had firefighter training in the Navy. Following the blaze, the vice chancellor asked Ben to establish a fire department. A bicameral entity formed consisting of a student arm and a University shop crew arm. The shop crew only responded to fires when the students weren’t on campus. The remainder of the time, fire protection fell entirely to the students. In the 1980s, the two departments merged.
Cameron points to “synergy” as one of the SVFD’s greatest strengths. “We have experienced people who know the area and how houses are put together balanced by youth and strength.” Cameron’s quick to acknowledge many of the nonstudent firefighters are in their 50s and 60s—“I’m 71,” he said.
Like their nonstudent counterparts, the student firefighters undergo rigorous training. “Teaching them keeps our skills sharp,” Cameron said.
The students have certification in vehicle extraction, rope rescue, safe driving, and basic fire fighting. The majority also have controlled burn training. They drill two to three hours a week in simulated scenarios that include conducting live burns and cutting up cars with the jaws of life. On Sunday, they conduct inspection and maintenance of the department’s engines and other equipment.
Sophomores drive and do the heavy lifting; juniors are required to take an engineering course and are responsible for complex calculations such as the water pressure required in different circumstances; and seniors are the officers, student chief, student assistant chief, and training officer. There are six student firefighters from each grade level.
Freshman interested in becoming student firefighters undergo a rigorous eight-week tryout process composed of classroom work, physical tests, and oral interviews. This year, 30 students applied for the six slots.
“Another residence would be suitable so long as it provides us autonomy, and like Wiggins, has close proximity to the fire station,” Nadalini said. Speculating on options, Nadalini cited the Georgia Avenue townhouses, which are used as theme houses designated for occupancy by student groups with a shared interest.
But Nadalini stressed, “We are more than a theme.”
Cameron pointed to the new Ayres residence hall as another option.
Dean of Students Marichal Gentry, and Vice President of Risk Management and Institutional Effectiveness Eric Hartman have been in conversation with the students. Like Cameron, they see the first floor of Ayres Hall as a possible solution, offering space for the firefighters to be together and a location even closer to the fire station. They cautioned theme housing is in high demand.
Highlighting the need for the student firefighters to live together, Cameron noted the shared lodgings simplified swapping shifts to accommodate academic demands and, equally important, minimized disruption to other students when the firefighters respond to calls.
What if there were no student firefighters in Sewanee?
“It would probably necessitate forming a professional fire department,” Cameron said. “Volunteer fire departments all over the country are having problems getting volunteers.” Projecting the cost, he estimated a professional department would require four firefighters per shift, for four shifts, at an average annual wage of $45,000-$55,000 per person.
Sewanee firefighters receive no wage, with ball caps and T-shirts for perks.
“We are on this department due to a desire to serve,” said Nadalini.

​Kennerly Family Legacy Alive and Well


by Kevin Cummings, Special to the Messenger
Joel Kennerly, now a free man, decided to begin a new life on the Mountain, leaving behind the plantation in Prairie Chapel with Gum Creek sidling softly through the land.
Samuel J. Kennerly owned the plantation. Two of his slaves, William and Clarissa Kennerly, wed while enslaved and had six boys and 10 girls, which included Joel, William Hurnition, Tennessee, Ava Anna, Jim, Dicey Ann, Sidney P., Thomas Jefferson, Ellen, Elizabeth, Benjamin Franklin, Laura, Clarissa, Odessa, Susan, and Willa Kennerly.
Researchers have no evidence that African-Americans called Sewanee home prior to 1866, according to the local historical documentary “Can I Get a Witness?” Kennerly family members were among the earliest African-Americans to live here. Following the abolishment of slavery, Joel was the first of several family members to move to the Mountain from Prairie Chapel in the 1870s and 1880s, per family records.
LaNetra McLemore, along with her cousin, Antoine Smith, both natives of Chicago, are part of the Kennerly lineage and serve as the unofficial historians of the family. Their work has drawn the extended family closer and strengthened their roots.
“A lot of times we were coming down to Tennessee (from Chicago) and we probably had nothing, but we had a desire. We were driven,” McLemore said of their research.
Of course, the Kennerly story reaches back beyond the Prairie Chapel and Gum Creek areas near Decherd, but the plantation is a touchstone for not only the descendants still calling Sewanee home but also those spread across the country. William and Clarissa leased land at Prairie Chapel after slavery, McLemore said, and many of their children stayed on the property.
Today, a descendant of Samuel J. Kennerly owns part of the former plantation site and descendants of the African-American side of the family still live nearby. During the first-ever all-Kennerly family reunion in 2018, more than 300 people came from places across the country to Franklin County.
Greg Vaughn and Jeanne Robertson Vaughn, the present-day plantation site owners, welcomed Kennerly family members.
“The plantation visit was an awesome experience,” McLemore said. “People were telling stories, not just to the elders but to the kids. We read about plantations and slaves in history books but to literally walk one that your ancestors walked on and to be able to embrace the slave owner’s family knowing that we are family…
“Even when Mrs. Vaughn hugged and I hugged, I didn’t want to let her go and I felt like she didn’t want to let me go. I felt connected to her. In that moment it was a very powerful thing,” she said.
Slaves inheriting the last name of the plantation owner was common practice during slavery and McLemore said she hopes to learn more about the white Kennerlys and continue to build a bridge to all family members.
“We just share the same bloodline; I don’t want to say white or black, it’s just our family,” she said.
Kennerly Road, connecting U.S. Hwy. 41A and Georgia Avenue, serves as an everyday reminder of the family’s past in Sewanee. Many Kennerlys worked for the University of the South and an African-American elementary school bore the Kennerly name.
According to “Can I Get a Witness?”, the John M. Kennerly School opened in 1951 in the St. Mark’s Community of Sewanee. The school had better facilities than some white schools, including water-toilets, showers, hot air heat, and a lunchroom, according to a 2017 Sewanee Mountain Messenger article.
John Kennerly Jr., nephew of John M. Kennerly, served as the assistant athletic trainer at the University from 1935 to 1947, working under Willie Six. John became the head athletic trainer in 1948 and served for 21 years. He was also superintendent of the school’s athletic facility, said his granddaughter, Sandra Kennerly.
“He was just trying to make a living and take care of my father and all his children, but I think if he had an opportunity he could have been a doctor,” Sandra said, “because of the work he did with the boys. He worked with the University of the South football boys. He repaired them and fixed them up without any formal training.”
The University inducted John Kennerly Jr. into the Sewanee Athletic Hall of Fame posthumously in 2005.
Sandra, who is the great-great granddaughter of Joel, was introduced to her present-day extended Kennerly family after she met McLemore’s mom, Hazel Cannon-McLemore, in 2016 at a social gathering in Nashville. During introductions, the two women discovered they were kin.
Sandra, who is heavily involved in the promotion of African-American heritage, said learning about her roots has been a wonderful experience. An only child, new-found cousins have endearingly told her, “You’ve got family now.”
McLemore said many Kennerly descendants have bonded because of the family’s research and reunion efforts.
“A lot people lived around each other and they didn’t even know they were family,” McLemore said. “They were going to church together and school together and did not even know they were family. This is so important because now you don’t have to reach out to somebody way across the country because you got a cousin next door, a cousin down the street.”
The research has revealed more than 5,000 descendants of William and Clarissa Kennerly, including many accomplished professionals. The Kennerly journey has yielded even more wonderful stories. Both Sandra and McLemore said from the tragedy of slavery, their ancestors made something beautiful possible.
“We are because they were,” Sandra said.
An old family photo inspired McLemore to start researching the bloodlines of her ancestors about 10 years ago. The picture, taken in the early 1900s, depicts six of the Kennerly sisters, children of William and Clarissa.
“It looks they were coming from a funeral. I’m assuming it was another sister or brother’s funeral, so they just took this picture. When I saw that picture, I just felt like they took that picture just for me until I started talking to other family and they had the same picture,” she said.
Another source of inspiration was McLemore realizing that slaveowners were being honored with plaques for their contributions during the Civil War era, but not the slaves who gave so much.
“I feel like the communities that African-Americans built after slavery, some of them are still going strong to this day so we need to honor and recognize them,” McLemore said.
McLemore noted that Janice Smith-Kittrell, J.C. Cannon, and Rev. George and Ophelia Smith were instrumental in the family’s research efforts.
“The discovery of William and Clarissa Kennerly and their children and all the Kennerly descendants is a true testimony of what family is all abou. And the journey still continues to unravel for the Kennerly family,” Sandra said.
The family is planning another all-Kennerly reunion in 2020.

Village Update Meeting: BP Construction Plans


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“We don’t want to create internal competition. It’s not a big village. It’s not to anyone’s benefit for anything to go dark,” said Jim Cheney, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for BP Construction. Cheney addressed the community at the March Sewanee Village update meeting, discussing BP’s philosophy and plans as the lead developer for the Sewanee Village project.

The University tapped the Chattanooga developer to coordinate development in the Village following two years of discussion about the project’s goals and the cultural and socioeconomic circumstances particular to the community.

“The first building we were asked to examine is the market block,” Cheney said, referencing the mixed-use grocery and apartment building planned for the lot currently occupied by the Hair Depot.

“The initial footprint has shrunk, making it possible for a second or third building on the lot.” At present, Cheney anticipates ground floor retail space in the mixed-use building could be half the 10,000 square feet initially proposed with 12 to 14 apartments on the second floor, 400-700 square feet in size.

In researching what will work in the retail space, Cheney said, “The first conversation will be with the operator of the existing market.”

Cheney predicted apartment rent in the $2-$2.50 per square foot range, but stressed, “If we can’t get that, we’ll need to reconfigure the project.”

As for future development beyond the specialty food market and apartment building, Cheney said BP wouldn’t “move forward until at least 75 percent of the building was leased.”

Citing a Chattanooga area project, Cheney said, “Usually developers do residential first, but we did commercial first. We spent a lot of time doing community relations work asking people what they were looking for, and then recruited for those uses.”

“We do all the marketing and leasing ourselves. My sense is that what the Village needs is more mundane uses, not bars and restaurants. We want to invigorate the Village concept without damaging existing entities, to find businesses that work together.”

“We need a strong retail market to attract other retail markets,” agreed Frank Gladu, who heads up the Village project.

Cheney emphasized the importance of promoting activity on the proposed Village Green. BP requested being involved in developing the green and envisions it as a site for music events and other activities with no charge to presenters and users—“The green is free.”

Gladu noted design plans for narrowing Highway 41A now included a trailhead for the Mountain Goat Trail near the green.

Asked about the future of the Sewanee Community Center, Cheney said, “If it’s established, we don’t want to undercut it, but augment it.”

Gladu concurred. “There’s no reason to disrupt activity and vitality that already exists. We want as much activity on each side of the green as possible. I would love for the community center to say they needed to expand.” Gladu cited an area next to the American Legion Hall as a possible location for a new community center.

Cheney also emphasized the importance of fostering Sewanee as a visitor destination along the Nashville-Chattanooga corridor in order to support complimentary retail businesses.

Gladu acknowledged the need for “transient visitor housing” and said it was “on the radar screen,” suggesting rentable townhouses as a possible solution.

“The Village concept is a broader economic development initiative for the whole Plateau region,” Cheney insisted. “It could have a significant economic impact on the entire community.”

Viola and Piano Concert March 10


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Violist Hillary Herndon and pianist Bernadette Lo have a few things in common. Their instruments play a large role in their lives. And the reason they each started playing is because of their mothers.
When Herndon was little, her mom bought a violin for $100 in a pawn shop in Louisiana. She and her mother began taking lessons together.
“She stopped playing by the time I got into kindergarten,” said Herndon, who is the associate professor of viola at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
“When I was in fifth grade, I went through that stage where I didn’t want to be inside playing violin. I wanted to be outside or playing with my friends. My teacher actually was a violist, and she said, ‘Look Hillary, you’ve put in a lot of time and your parents have put in a lot of money. You’re not quitting. We’re going to switch to viola for three months.’ Rather than buying me a new instrument, they put viola strings on that violin my mom had originally bought.”
Lo, who is the visiting professor of piano at Sewanee, said like Herndon’s mother, her mom had always wanted to learn an instrument as well.
“I’ve been playing since I was 6-years-old, but I didn’t choose it. My mom had always wanted to learn an instrument, but she came from a really poor family and could never afford any luxury. By the time I arrived, the economy in Taiwan just began to take off, and both my parents were actively saving money for my education and my sister’s education. She wanted me to learn an instrument, perhaps to fulfill her own wish to be fluent in music.”
On Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m., Herndon and Lo will take the stage in Guerry Auditorium for a joint recital. The pair will play music from Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge’s competition of 1919. The event is free and open to the public.
“This competition was a seminal moment in the viola and piano repertoire, and was really forward-thinking for that time. There were 70 works from the romantic era, but of things that were published, there were like five or six pieces,” Herndon said. “The competition and the $4,000 prize inspired composers from all over to compose. They had 72 entries, which was more music than had been written for viola up to that point.”
The contest ended in a tie, with Coolidge herself having to step in to choose a winner.
“Ernest Bloch was the one who won, and Rebecca Clarke was second. People were just astounded that the composer was a woman, and they demanded her piece be performed as well. Those two works have become staples of the repertoire. The other 70 entries were returned to the original composers. We somehow lost what those were in between,” Herndon said.
Herndon said her colleague, David Bynog of Rice University, set out to trace down the remaining 70 pieces.
“He’s found a lot of work and found evidence that they were likely entered, things like letters where the composers had written Elizabeth asking about details of the competition. Those add up to about 50 of the works, and he wanted to give a presentation on his findings. David asked me and a couple others to play a few examples, and we prepared a recital around that.”
When Lo and her husband, who is the music director of the opera program at the University of Tennessee, moved to Knoxville in 2007, she and Herndon met and struck up a partnership.
“It has been a wonderful experience working with her. I’ve met so many wonderful musicians. I have learned a lot from her,” Lo said.

“For a pianist, we rarely play with other people. To play with another musician always makes me feel less lonely on stage. It is like having a conversation with someone you genuinely like. You keep passing the energy between each other.”

​‘Taming of the Shrew’ Takes the Stage This Weekend


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
The theatre department at the University will stage William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” this weekend.
“The Taming of the Shrew” is a comedy that depicts the courtship of Katherina, an ill-tempered woman, by fortune-seeking Petruchio.
“The crux of the problem is that Kate has a younger sister Bianca, who is perfect,” said Peter Smith, director of the play and professor of theatre arts. “The father has decreed that the younger daughter, who has all these men wanting to marry her, cannot get married until the older daughter gets married. Then suddenly, along comes Petruchio, who is coming to the town for the sole purpose of getting married to someone who is wealthy. The set up is that he will marry Kate if he gets enough money, and her father is perfectly capable and willing to pay any price.”
Auditions for the show were held right after Christmas break, and Smith said rehearsals began immediately.
Karissa Wheeler, an English and theatre double major, is playing the role of Kate. Wheeler has been acting since she was 8-years-old. She said for her, preparing for the role began with diving into the text.
“With every role that I have, I come to it with an open mindset. I do background research, and I go through the text. I always refer back to the text when I’m having issues because it’s all there,” she said. “I’ve really tried to look at why Kate acts the way she acts, why she makes the decisions she makes, and really look back at why she is the way she is. I think that’s the only way to bring truth to this character is to look at her reasonings and her circumstances.”
Smith said for many of the students, the language in the play proved a challenge.
“Most of them have not really played Shakespeare, and they’re having to deal with that language. Karissa has a challenge and she has a very long speech at the end of the play, which is somewhat controversial,” he said. “Also, it’s a physical comedy. There’s a lot of movement and body play, and there’s some physical interactions between characters.”
Wheeler said her professors in the English department were helpful to her in getting to the center of the play and Kate as a character.
“I think at this point, my hope is I have a good enough understanding of the show and of Kate, to be able to relate that to the audience,” she said.
For Wheeler, the final step to getting into the headspace of the character is working to understand the motivations.
“Since our first run through last week, I’ve been wrestling with what I want to bring to Kate as a character. I was not in the mindset of Kate from beginning to end. It was more like, ‘This is Kate in this scene,’” she said. “When we began doing the complete run through, it was harder to see her go from being the shrew who won’t have anything to do with anyone and doesn’t want to be bothered with love, to seeing her go through this love test situation where Petruchio is breaking her down.”
“Dr. Smith gave me some really good advice about how my job as an actor is to bring as much truth to Kate as I possibly can. In the back of my mind, I have an answer to what I think she is doing in that moment. But, I want the audience to be able to make that decision for themselves.”

“The Taming of the Shrew” will be presented in the Tennessee Williams Center Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be reserved at eventbrite.com

​Head to Sweet Ellie’s for Coffee, Dessert and More


by Sarah Beavers, Messenger Staff Writer
Sweet Ellie’s Ice Cream and Treats is an ice cream shop that feels like home. The decor invokes the feel of old-fashioned ice cream shops. At the helm are the welcoming owners, Avery and Lisa Kelleher. Sweet Ellie’s is the culmination of Lisa’s lifelong dream and out of a love of ice cream. This is the love Lisa shares with her daughter and Sweet Ellie’s namesake, Elizabeth.
The Kellehers put down roots in Sewanee four years ago. They also have two other businesses, Spare Space and All Blown Up. Sweet Ellie’s opened its doors on Dec. 1, in Cowan.
“The most gratifying thing is seeing folks enjoy what we make,” Avery said.
The warm and inviting atmosphere the Kellehers have crafted at Sweet Ellie’s is reinforced by Avery and Lisa’s hands-on approach.
“When you make people feel welcome, they keep coming back,” Avery said. The genuine kindness Lisa and Avery radiate makes it clear customers return for more than just the delicious ice cream.
Customers can enjoy many flavors of Ashby’s Sterling ice cream. Also served is coffee from the Black Rifle Coffee Company. Black Rifle is a veteran-owned business, and a portion of their sales goes to support veterans. Avery said choosing the Black Rifle to supply Sweet Ellie’s with coffee was a way the Kellehers could give back. Avery had a previously undiagnosed kidney disorder. Thanks to a Military Entrance Processing Station physical, the disorder was caught and treated.
The Kellehers already have big plans to expand Sweet Ellie’s. In late March, a barista will be joining the Sweet Ellie’s crew, Avery said. Leading a planned menu expansion, the Kellehers will be integrating a hot food side for the sandwiches and soup offerings. For right now, enjoy the fresh made brownies and waffle cones. Homemade soup is available Monday through Friday.
The Kellehers frequently test new recipes with their customers, and a recent sampling included a jalapeño popper sandwich, crustless apple pie, cinnabons, s’mores, and Sun Drop cake.
“We’re all family. Come on in and join the family!” said Lisa.
Sweet Ellie’s is located at 112 Tennessee Ave. South, Cowan. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Call ahead at (931) 313-5597 or check out their social media for the daily specials.

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