Civilian Conservation Corps Campsite Is Open

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
In December of 2017, South Cumberland State Park officials and volunteers were in the early stages of recreating a portion of a local Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) campsite.
The volunteer project, which was led by the Friends of South Cumberland State Park, was organized around the aim to honor the legacy of local Company 1475.
Work on the project was completed earlier this year, and last week, the site was unveiled. The CCC Interpretive Area consists of a new one-third mile trail connecting 13 graphic panels, which tell the story of Company 1475.
“We didn’t want to turn the site into an open field. We wanted to restore it to what it looked like about the time when the camp was established. They tucked their buildings into the woods, which you can see on some of the graphic panels. We wanted to give the people going through the site today an idea of what it was like when the CCC boys first set up camp there,” said Rick Dreves, who worked as the communications chair for the volunteer group. Dreves was responsible for constructing the graphic panels for the site.
Created under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, the CCC was primarily made up of young men in their late teens and early 20s who performed work related to natural resources and infrastructure. The Corps was designed to get much needed work done and provide employment during the Great Depression and was vital to starting Tennessee’s state park system.
From 1935 to 1942, Company 1475’s camp was on 211-acres near Tracy City in Grundy Forest. Grundy County native Herman E. Baggenstoss, son of the founders of Dutch Maid Bakery and a Sewanee alumnus, worked with local businessmen to raise money to purchase the property, which was donated by the state for the camp.
The approximately 200 men of Company 1475 tackled a number of area projects, including building Grundy Lakes and constructing part of the Fiery Gizzard Trail. The legacy of Company 1475 also includes fighting a large fire in Tracy City on April 27, 1935. The fire destroyed a swath of downtown, causing about $100,000 in damages.
“Their primary job and reason for moving here was to reclaim the Lone Oak coal mines, which is where the coke ovens are at Grundy Lakes. They built the lakes and planted the trees,” said Rob Moreland, who served as the Team Leader for the Education Committee. “Along with making fire bricks for the forestry service and planting telephone poles, they did some road building and repair around the Tracy City area.”
Dreves said in addition to building infrastructure and recreation areas in the county, Company 1475 also fought fires and provided flood relief.
“Their mission was to restore the Grundy Lakes area, and if the EPA had been around, they would have declared it an environmental disaster. Company 1475 built the dam, the roadway and made it a recreational area,” he said. “It’s such a fascinating story because it’s both a local history story and a story of conservation and care for the land. These young men came in and made some major contributions to the area. I think that’s what makes that story compelling,” Dreves said.
Before reconstruction of the site began, all that was left was a few concrete slabs.
“The initial camps in 1933 in Palmer were tents, and after that, they changed to permanent buildings. They were bolted together and built in sections. When they moved to Sewanee, they took everything except a few concrete pads and all that had to do with water, such as the ice house, the well, the bathhouse, the laundry. In 1935, they had switched to portable buildings,” he said. “From what we can tell, they probably went to Camp Forest in Tullahoma from there.”
Dreves said without the help of the community, the reconstruction would not have been possible. Without the project, pieces of local history would have been lost.
“On Saturday, we had a family come from Central Alabama, two daughters and their husbands. They said, ‘We would not be here were it not for this CCC camp,’” Dreves said. “Their dad worked in that camp while it was in Tracy CIty, and apparently, the story was that the local girls would go over and sit on the hillside and enjoy looking at all the young men. That is how his mother met their father. She was from Tracy City, and he was from Central Alabama. They walked up to the first panel, which has a big group shot, and they said, ‘There’s dad!’”
To get to the CCC site, take the Grundy Trail, and when it splits, take the day loop and bear right. About three-tenths of a mile in is the first CCC camp tour sign. This is where the CCC campground used to be.

“The park is opening another campground within the month just a little bit further down the day loop,” he said. “But you’ve got to wonder how many people camped out there and didn’t know about the history.”

​Scholarship Sewanee to Be Held April 25 and 26

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Scholarship Sewanee, the university’s annual celebration of student scholarship, research, and creativity. The event begins with a talk Thursday afternoon, April 25, and continues through Friday, April 26.
Scholarship Sewanee 2019 will feature 105 posters and 53 oral presentations representing biology, physics, chemistry, earth and environmental systems, psychology, politics, economics, English, history, visual arts, and more. Breakout sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, and the poster session in Spencer Hall will last from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Two noted speakers will give talks, and other campus events during the week are related to student scholarship and creative endeavors. (Scholarship Sewanee has grown dramatically from its early days as “Scientific Sewanee,” a half-day poster session with approximately 40 posters affiliated with the sciences!)
The community is invited to join in this celebration of scholarship. The complete schedule may be found at
Erika Milam, the Scholarship Sewanee 25th anniversary speaker, will discuss “The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America,” an examination of the role of violence and war in the human species at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25, in Gailor Auditorium. Milam, a professor of history at Princeton University, specializes in the history of the modern life sciences, including the ways in which scientists have used animals as models for human behavior. Her new book, Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America, charts the controversy over instinctual aggression in defining human nature in the 1960s and ‘70s and cultures of masculinity in the sciences. Milam will sign copies of her new book at a reception following her lecture.
Ramesh Srinivasan, an associate professor in the UCLA Information Studies and Design Media Arts departments, will present the McCrady Lecture at 1 p.m., Friday, April 26, in Blackman Auditorium. Srinivasan is the founder of the University of California system-wide Digital Cultures Lab, exploring the meaning of technology worldwide. He will speak on “The Internet of Tomorrow: Stories from Beyond the Valley,” a sneak preview of material from Srinivasan’s upcoming third book, which is built upon research conducted with leading figures in politics, economics, and culture from across the world. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

Other events during the week of April 22 related to student scholarship and creative endeavors include the Sewanee Festival of Speaking and Listening, which showcases student speakers engaging in topics of political, legal, social, cultural, and professional significance. More information regarding the Festival may be found here: . In addition, “Reclamation,” the senior art majors’ exhibition, is on display at the University Art Gallery, and the University Jazz Ensemble will give an end-of-semester concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, in St. Luke’s Chapel.

​Leal Leaving Home

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
César Leal was recently named director of orchestra activities at the Gettysburg College Symphony Orchestra in Gettysburg, Pa.
Leal has served as assistant professor of music at the University of the South and as artistic director of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra (SSO) for the past six years.
“After I finished my doctorate in musicology, I was looking for a places where, as a historian and conductor, I could combine my fields. Most universities require you to be in one track. I was never aligned with that particular way of being a musician. Sewanee was somewhere that resonated with that,” Leal said.
Before he came to Sewanee, Leal said his experience with student musicians was limited—he was used to working with professional musicians. Being among the students who showed so much passion and drive for their work inspired him to create something new.
Over the last six years, Leal has developed a complete program around the SSO, allowing the students to gain experience in all aspects of orchestra.
Through the Artistic Leadership Program, Leal has created a space for the students to learn what it takes to work with an orchestra and put on a concert. He has also worked with students in sororities and fraternities who do not play in the orchestra to extend the involvement beyond the orchestra members.
“I invited professionals from different universities and orchestras to teach the students how to run an orchestra, about management and leadership, how to plan a program. The students do everything at this point. They are in charge of the social media presence, of creating contracts. They do announcements, they are managers and librarians,” he said.
Barbara Carden, a cellist in the SSO and one of the orchestra’s founding members, said it’s that student-centered approach Leal employed that she thinks served Sewanee so well.
“At the very beginning the orchestra was very adult-heavy, and professional musicians were essential to making the orchestra work, but the whole focus has changed,” said Carden.
“Over the years the dependence on the professionals to make a concert possible has changed. The adult professionals teach and work with their instrumental section rather than simply showing up to save the concert. César has taken that point of view very seriously by empowering the students to take charge of the orchestra,” Carden said.
Leal said through his work with the SSO, he wanted to provide the student musicians with in-depth looks at the professional experience, about what it’s like to be an artist in the world and about the importance of a diverse ensemble.
“On average, every student that stays with us, they play around 20 concerts, and that’s a lot. These are concerts in which they interact with their peers, collaborate, play different styles, embed themselves into musical life. The Halloween concert is something I’ve been very proud of. It shows the students that what they do has an impact and that they can create something that makes a difference in the community,” he said.
At Gettysburg College, Leal will have the opportunity to direct a program of roughly 400 music majors and continue to combine music history with music performance.
“After the last concert of this season, the students gave me a beautiful speech. I was telling them that I’m going to keep an eye on Sewanee. Sewanee is a place that has many second parts. It’s a place where people return,” he said.
“This is a place I love, and it will always be home.”

​Joseph’s Remodeling Solution’s Celebrates 32 Years; Open House April 24

To commemorate the 32 years of success of the company, Joseph’s Remodeling Solutions will host an Open House from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, at their new office building. The building located at 1244 West Main St., in Monteagle.
Joseph Sumpter started working at a very young age, when he was 14-years-old, doing painting and repairs. “I loved working with my hands,” he said. “Then painting and repairs led to remodeling work.”
“My first job was painting an exterior of a house in Miami, Fla., for an Alan Garr” he said. “In addition to getting paid actual money, I received a canoe, and Mr. Garr’s roommate made brochures for me. I went around in my go-cart to the neighborhoods, distributing the brochures. And, I got more jobs.”
Joseph has always worked for himself and made a living from it. He began as a one-man show, working while in school. In 1992 he moved to the Mountain, as a student at Sewanee. He took some time off to hike the Appalachain Trail. Then he started in earnest taking the bigger jobs. He now has a crew of 14 people.
He said his clients can expect a positive experience during their remodel, from good communication, getting exactly what they want at a good price and in a timely manner.
Joseph’s Remodeling Solutions is a custom, full-service remodeling company, specializing in using only the best materials that have a proven track record. Attention to every detail is personally overseen by Joseph and his skilled craftsmen. From replacing a deck to completely restoring a historic home, Joseph’s Remodeling Solutions is well equipped to meet those needs.
Joseph said his company does a lot of old home restorations. They also do custom drainage and rainwater collection systems. An example of a collection system can be seen at Wade Hall for the Sciences on the campus of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School.
“We are excited to have an office on the Mountain. We needed a place for our growing staff, and a place where our customers could easily come to us,” Joseph said.
Hard work and attention to detail has paid off.
“We attribute our growth to our clients who look to us to provide solutions to their home remodeling needs. We are fortunate to have worked for so many great folks who ask us to help them again and again,” said Joseph.
Joseph and his wife Alyssa are the owners and operators of the buiness. They and their two daughters live in Cowan, and are active community members. Joseph is on the advisory board for St. Mary’s Convent. He also helps with a couple of nonprofits including Housing Sewanee, Inc., and Animal Harbor. In his spare time, he likes to hike and go canoeing.

The best way to reach Joseph’s Remodeling Solutions is to call the office at (931) 598-5565, or go to the website at . The company is licensed, insured, and green certified.

​Oral History: Unsilencing Sewanee’s Black History

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Oral history enables us to work through the silences of the unremarked upon and ignored,” said oral history workshop leader Margo Shea. “The narrator and the performance, the tears, pauses, nodding, are part of the story.”
Professor of history at Salem University and former visiting professor at the University of the South, Shea led the April 8 workshop in conjunction with Sewanee’s Black History Project, an initiative that arose from within the Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation.
“The Sewanee archive is the history of white people,” said project coordinator Woody Register. “We needed to do something to change the archive.” Register stressed that the history of African Americans in Sewanee is about more than slavery and desegregation.
“We call the stories of the powerful people history. They put their stuff in museums.” Shea said. “But we all make history. We just don’t all make history from circumstances of our own choosing.”
Shea cautioned against viewing oral history as unpacking memory’s filing cabinet with a goal of decorating traditional history with juicy anecdotes or, worse, turning it into a judgmental exercise about the narrator’s trustworthiness and accuracy.
“Memory is constantly changing based on where you’re at now and other things that have happened to you. Oral history has a different credibility. It’s not about the facts, but departure from the facts as imagination symbolism, and desire.”
Shea recounted the example of an anthropologist interviewing a Pueblo descendant about his ancestors’ reaction to the arrival of white men. The interviewee told the anthropologist, ‘We were so afraid, we jumped on our horses and fled.’ The anthropologist discounted the information as false since the Pueblo didn’t have horses then.
“Things with emotional resonance enhance our memory,” Shea insisted. “We get the details screwy.”
Shea emphasized again and again, the importance of listening. “The person speaking may be recollecting, revisiting, changing the story to fit in with other stories, taking advantage of the opportunity to speak for themselves for a change. The process matters, the moment of the interview. The silences and pauses matter. Don’t try to fill the silence.”
“The goal of oral history is to restory the past by making room for the ignored and repressed,” she said. Shea gave several reasons for history taking a wrong turn, among them things being ignored because they weren’t what the researcher was looking for and archivists’ judgment about what is valued.
“Show a people as one thing over and over and that’s what they become.” Shea said. She cited black consciousness in the era of Jim Crow. “If you’re seen as a problem, you come to believe you’re a problem.”
“Telling Sewanee’s black history is an important repair measure,” Shea insisted.
Shea advised local interviewers to be alert to certain themes as doors into the past, comments like “That’s just the way it was,” talk about food white people didn’t eat and places white people didn’t go, and stories about leaving.
Archiving the past takes space, a repository, and the leisure to do the work, Shea noted, pointing to the advantage of the Sewanee Black History Project being under the umbrella of the University Project for Race and Reconciliation.
The motto of the Sewanee Black History Project is “Nothing about us without us.” Register plans to involve the local African-American community in not just collecting the stories, but the actual archival process.
Why does restorying Sewanee’s history matter?
“A community that knows its history more truthfully is more inclusive,” Register said, “and more just. The hope is we’ll be a better community.”

​Highlander Fire Destroys Records, but Flames Hope

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
An early morning fire on March 29 destroyed the main office building and decades of historic documents, artifacts and memorabilia at the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tenn. When the sun rose, a white supremacy symbol drawn with black spray paint showed itself in the parking lot. Highlander Center is the reincarnation of the Highlander Folk School, once located in Monteagle.
At 5:32 a.m., the New Market Volunteer Fire Department (NMVFD)received a phone call reporting a brush fire on Highlander Way. When the fire department arrived at 5:53 a.m., the building was already an inferno. For unknown reasons, the building’s burglar and fire alarm system failed to alert E-911.
Speculating on possible causes, NMVFD Captain Sammy Solomon said, “The wires could have been cut, the fire was so hot the alarm failed, the alarm wasn’t hooked up, or someone unhooked it.”
Dandridge Volunteer Fire Department and Rural Metro Fire from Knox County also responded. The fire is under investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the state fire marshal, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bomb and Arson Squad.
The spray painted image, a borderless grid with three vertical and three horizontal lines, was the emblem of an anti-Semitic political party in Romania in the late 1920s. According to the Knox News, white supremacists have adopted the symbol, including the shooter at the recent Christchurch, New Zealand, massacre and a Knoxville area neo-Nazi group with ties to the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Founded in 1932, Highlander Folk School taught local Mountain people literacy and financial skills and how to unionize to lobby for better wages and working conditions. In the 1950s the school’s mission evolved into training up and coming civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in strategies of nonviolent protest. Fearing the growing momentum of the Civil Rights movement, the state revoked Highlander’s charter. The school moved to Knoxville and, following pressure by the KKK, on to New Market.
“My first thought was ‘let everyone be safe,’” said the center’s co director Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, who was out of town when the fire occurred. She expressed relief no one was harmed, including the firefighters.
“Our space was violated by white supremacists with the intention to scare and terrify us.”
“The building was a total loss, but it was not our full archive. Historic preservation efforts have been intense.”
The bulk of the center’s archives are in the hands of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “Some records are digitized and on people’s laptops, as well,” Henderson added. “It’s too early to confirm what we can salvage. We haven’t been cleared to do retrieval or cross the yellow barrier tape.”
The center has received an outpouring of offers to help with rebuilding ranging from fundraising to hammers and nails. The main office was one of 10 buildings.
While donations, as always, are welcome, Henderson insisted, “We don’t want to be opportunistic and fundraise off a tragedy.”
How can people help? “Share your Highlander stories, how your families and communities were impacted, how your life was different because you were connected with Highlander.”
July 31 marks the 60th anniversary of the nighttime raid that drove Highlander Folk School from its Monteagle home. “The lights were out. They were surrounded by law enforcement and white supremacists,” said Henderson recounting a story told to her by Candi Carawan, wife of Highlander School music director Guy Carawan. “A 13-year-old black girl there for a workshop spontaneously broke into song, singing ‘We are not afraid. We are not afraid today…’ The most powerful verse of the “We Shall Overcome” ballad was born in that moment.”
“We’ve received support and love from every corner of the planet in languages I can’t even read—Japan, the Philippines, Palestine, Kenya, South Africa—and from every state in Appalachia and most of the U.S.”
“Our mission is to build community and a world where everyone has what they need and deserve and is treated with dignity and respect. This is work we’re supposed to be doing. I’m more certain than ever.”

​‘Archiving in Black’

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
In her work on the The African-American Eastern Kentucky Migration Project (EKAAMP), Karida Brown was given an old biscuit tin that she said had seen better days.
“When we received this biscuit can, we said, ‘Okay. What’s this?’ But the family shared the story. It was a set of four siblings, and they decided they had plenty of records about their father’s labor because the company-owned coal town had official documentation to represent their father. There were no jobs for women unless you were a teacher when they were growing up,” Brown said in her talk.
Brown, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California Los Angeles and the author of the book “Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia,” spoke last month on the campus of the University of the South. Her talk, “Archiving in Black: The African-American Eastern Kentucky Migration Project,” detailed the importance of preserving the complete history of Appalachia.
“Appalachia is not only white. It’s not just poor white. It’s a diverse space and always has been,” Brown said in her talk.
The EKAAMP archive is a formal collection housed at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Brown describes it as a community-driven project founded on the stories told by those that lived them.
Brown, who is a third-generation descendent of black coal miners, has worked on EKAAMP for the last eight years. Through her research, she’s learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the overlooked parts of history.
“Both of my grandfathers were coal miners in the early 20th century in Lynch, Ky. My granddaddies were coal miners, and my parents were born, grew up, and raised in these coal towns. I’m not from this region, but I share roots,” she said in her talk. “I wanted to research and study the black experience in Appalachia, but when I got to the archives, there wasn’t anything on them for me to start my research. I had to go out into the streets and build one. I had to write the history so I could examine the questions I was interested in.”
Woody Register, director of the project on Slavery, Race and Reconciliation, said the importance of Brown’s work, and what he hopes the project is able to accomplish in Sewanee, is providing a more complete picture of the history of the South.
“What we’re trying to do is expand African-American history beyond just those marquis moments. We want to recover and preserve and make known the history of everyday life here, the ways in which African Americans contributed to Sewanee life as laborers, as families, as leaders in the community. We want to enlarge what we think of as African-American history. They don’t just come into existence when they do something special for the university or win a desegregation suit, although these are important too,” Register said.
Brown detailed her work on the EKAAMP archive, explaining that any African-American person who claimed a shared history in or through Eastern Kentucky was invited to be part of the project.
“Not only are the community members a part of constituting this archive, but they are set up as the leaders. It’s a big table, but there are only so many seats. Our intention was that the community members would have the most seats and the most prominent seats at the table,” she said.
“The black experience in America is always tethered to this simultaneous experience of joy, community, family and expression. It’s also tethered to a story of layered historical catastrophe that was inaugurated by the slave trade and the legacies of the traumas. Those two sets of experiences are already always part and parcel to the black experience.”
Brown said in a community, an archive like EKAAMP can do at least three things—it can create a place for those whose are often ignored; it gives an opportunity for marginalized folks to be present and accounted for in history and it allows for those in the communities to be remembered in their own fashion.
“The foundation of this project are the stories. They confirm the historical record, but they also challenge it. Stories are how we pass on who we are to the next generation. In the black community, the oral tradition is part and parcel to who we are,” she said. “The family who donated the biscuit tin, their mother was a homemaker, and they wanted to honor her labor. That biscuit can had holes in it because every day, she woke up and fed her family through this labor. To have those materials from the folks who experienced it, that is a rare archival material. We’re really proud of this archive.”

​Community Chest Update; SCA Speaker Unpacks Estate Planning

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The Community Chest has reached 89 percent of its goal, announced Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) Vice President Brandon Barry at the April 4 dinner meeting. The campaign continues through April 15. There’s still time to make a donation. Visit or mail contributions to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN.
In addition to honoring awardees at the meeting, the SCA elected officers for the coming year: Brandon Barry, president; Jade Barry, vice president; Jesse Bornemann, secretary; Erin Kunz, treasurer; and Stephen Burnett, member at large.
Special recognition went to treasurer Diane Fielding. Fielding is stepping down after five years of service.
The SCA also approved the 2019-2020 budget which covers event sponsorship, insurance, the annual audit, expenses related to Sewanee Classifieds, the subscription based online community bulletin board sponsored by the SCA, and meeting expenses.
April’s speaker, attorney Ryan Barry, provided members and guests with a primer on estate planning basics.
“The three components of estate planning are incapacity documents, testamentary documents, and documents defining how ownership plays into the testamentary piece,” Barry said.
Incapacity documents delineate financial and health care power of attorney, who will make decisions if a person is incapacitated. Living wills and advance care directives stipulate what kinds of medical treatment a person does or does not want and are often included in the health care POA, Barry explained. He recommended assigning POA authority when creating the document rather than waiting until an emergency occurs—“Declaring someone incapacitated takes one or two doctors and can be time consuming. If you don’t trust someone to take care of you when you’re competent, you shouldn’t trust them when you’re incompetent.”
Testamentary Documents are a person’s last will and testament or an irrevocable trust. These documents designate who carries out a person’s wishes, the executor or trustee; and where the person’s assets are to go.
Documents explicating ownership resolve possible questions that might arise in carrying out a person’s testamentary documents. For example, if a will stipulates assets are to be divided equally among all heirs, but one heir is named jointly on an account of the deceased, that heir would automatically become sole owner of the account, removing those sums from the assets to be divided. Confusion and hard feelings can be avoided by making everything clear beforehand.
Barry cautioned against not having a will. “The state of Tennessee has a will for you if you don’t have your own,” Barry said. By the state’s rules, a spouse receives only a minor child’s share, which could make it difficult for him or her to continue to raise the children on their own. Also, with no will, a person’s estate can be divided among distant relatives the deceased never met.
“In estate planning, each situation is unique,” Barry stressed. “There is no one-size-fits-all.”

​SCA Honors Sherrills, Knight, and Beavers

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April 4 dinner meeting, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) presented the 36th annual Community Service Award, and a Summa Cum Laude Award. The 2019 Community Service Award co-recipients were the Sherrill family and Amanda Knight. Kiki Beavers received the Summa Cum Laude Award.
If you need help, tell a Sherrill, or so goes the local maxim. Family patriarch James Sherrill served in an array of civic roles—cemetery caretaker, police officer, firefighter, and post office agent to name a few. His wife Cleo Sherrill was also an active community volunteer. The Sherrill children and grandchildren have extended the family legacy of community service coordinating the July Fourth celebration, assisting with Operation Noel, serving as firefighters and police officers, and reaching out to anyone in need. The family’s garden continues to feed the Sewanee flock. Police Officer Dylan McClure, grandson of James and Cleo, received the award on the family’s behalf.
Midway resident Amanda Knight’s gift is for making magic happen behind the scenes. Knight orchestrated receiving a grant to improve the Midway playground, organizes trunk or treat, meet Santa, and Easter egg hunts events, and helps coordinate the summer meals program. She’s worked for years on behalf of the Cowan-Sewanee Little League program and keeping the ball park in repair, along with organizing fundraisers and working at the concession stand. She also serves on the Sewanee Elementary School Parent Organization and the Community Council Parks Committee. Knight turned the opportunity to comment into an act of community service, remarking “If anyone would like to donate to the ball field, we’d really appreciate it. We need lights.”
Kiki Beavers received the Summa Cum Laude Award. The award recognizes volunteers whose longtime commitment to the community and behind the scenes work often goes unacknowledged. Beavers’ gift for organizing and promoting saw the SCA through successful Community Chest fundraising campaigns. As SCA president, Beavers was the driving force behind fundraising and coordinating the Elliott Park renovation, seeing the years’ long project through to completion. Outside the SCA, Beavers has volunteered for the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee Parents’ Council auction, worked with the youth soccer organization, and helped with many other youth activities.
In receiving the award, Beavers said, “I accept this award on behalf of anyone who ever stood up and said, ‘I’ll go coach that team, I’ll be on the PTO. I’ll run your fundraiser or spaghetti dinner.’ On behalf of anyone who went out and mowed the soccer and baseball fields every single week, on behalf of anyone who has ever done anything community minded. Everyone has something to give, whether it is time or money. You need to support what matters.”

​Education Savings Account Bill Troubles School Policy Makers

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
On March 27, the Tennessee legislature House Education Committee voted 14-9 to advance the Education Savings Account bill, Governor Bill Lee’s school voucher program that would allocate up to $7,300 annually to qualifying students who enroll in private schools. The speaker of the house attended the meeting and exercised his option to cast a ballot, voting yes.
“This is the first time a voucher bill has made it out of committee,” said Franklin County School Board Member Sara Liechty. “Students can get the money even if they don’t attend a failing school and aren’t from low-income families. A family of five earning $76,492 qualifies.”
According to the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA), a student attending a high-performing school is eligible for the program as long as the student lives in a district with three or more low performing schools. Davidson, Shelby, Hamilton, Madison and Knox counties qualify, all of which have some excellent schools. The TSBA also notes the family income ceiling at 200 percent free-lunch eligibility makes the program available to middle income families, even though it purports to serve the economically disadvantaged.
The bill caps student participation at 5,000 the first year, increasing by 2,500 students per year for the next four years. The governor plans to budget $25 million per year to fund the program.
“All the tax payers in the state will be paying for children to attend private schools,” Liechty said.
Board Chair Cleijo Walker expressed concern about loss of revenue to schools. Schools will lose Basic Education Program (BEP) funding for each student they lose. “The bill proposes to give the schools who lose students compensation for loss of BEP funding, but only for the first three years. Then what?” Likewise unsettling, the compensatory grant can only be used for school improvements, not curriculum or instructional enhancements.
Walker also pointed out that private schools choose who to admit. “They aren’t required to take special education kids,” Walker stressed, arguing that this segment of the student population, which cost more to educate, would remain in the public schools.
Responding to voucher criticism, Lee’s plan eliminated spending the funds on homeschooling, but the TSBA noted that the student receiving ESA money must enroll in a private school, the money doesn’t need to be spent on tuition. Other uses include depositing unspent funds in a savings account for the student’s college education.
The TSBA expressed concern about the ESA money being allocated pre-expense, rather than on a reimbursement basis. “Other states with ESA programs have experienced rampant fraud,” said TSBA attorney Garrett Knisley.
Currently, five states allow some sort of ESA: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. In Tennessee, the existing program is fairly small, allocating a maximum of $6,000, and is available only to parents of students with certain disabilities.
Disputing the lack of academic accountability, Liechty said, “ESA students will only be tested in math and English, not science, social studies, and civics.” Testing in all five areas is required for public school children.
Walker worries the program is poised to expand since several districts are on the cusp of qualifying for inclusion by meeting the three-low-performing schools standard. Anderson, Bedford, and Sumner counties each have one low performing school. Fayette and Maury counties already have two low performing schools.
Walker’s prescription for improving low performing schools—“Children need to know you care about them.”
“Don’t skim off some of the kids and leave the rest in failing school,” Liechtry insisted. “This is a bad direction for the state of Tennessee.”
If the ESA bill becomes law, almost one-third of the state’s 1,822 schools will be eligible for the program.

​Two Different Contractors Will Build Middle Schools

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the March 29 meeting, the Franklin County School Board selected Biscan Construction to build the new North Middle School and Southland Constructors to build South Middle School. Of the five contractors bidding, three bid on both schools, Southland among them. The bids by R. G. Anderson and Barton Malow Construction offered a discounted price if awarded the contract for both schools. The combined bid from the contractors selected, $40,588,200, was nearly a million dollars less than the next lowest bidder, Barton Malow, even after taking the discount into account.
Biscan’s $20,258,500 bid includes HVAC for the Huntland School gym, as requested in the bid package. The County Commission allocated $48 million for construction of the middle schools.
“It’s good not to be up against the wall,” said Construction Manager Gary Clardy who pointed out unforeseen costs could arise. Clardy also noted the bids didn’t include $1.8 million for the design and $4 million earmarked for technology.
“We selected the lowest and best bidders,” said Director of Schools Stanley Bean.
Both companies are experienced and reputable, according to Clardy who has an extensive background in school construction. “We’re confident they’re good contractors and manageable; we can manage them.”
Bean credited his staff for the project being a month ahead of schedule. He thanked Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster, Primary Supervisor Jenny Crabtree, and Secondary Supervisor Diane Spaulding—“They’ve taken care of a lot for me”—freeing him up to collaborate with Clardy and the designers.
In regular business, the board reviewed three policy changes recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA). The board approved amending the Tobacco Free Schools Policy to strengthen the language forbidding electronic cigarettes and amending the Promotion and Retention Policy to strengthen the parent notification protocol in instances of retention.
The revised Promotion and Retention Policy stipulates parents must be notified by February 1. The policy allows exceptions to the notification deadline due to enrollment date, assessment, medical and other pertinent circumstances.
The board took issue with some of the provisions of the new Alternative Credit Options Policy, which would allow students to earn high school credit for online courses offered by other institutions.
The policy stipulates the state will provide a list of approved Course Access Programs. “For any courses we don’t offer, a student can take as many courses as they want from the list. The schools system will be required to pay for the first two courses,” explained Board Chair Cleijo Walker. She expressed concern about the expense.
The policy also stipulates students can substitute online courses for classroom courses if they have a scheduling conflict.
“The scheduling conflict criterion leaves us wide open,” observed Sara Liechty, school board member. “We need stronger parameters.”
The board deferred voting on the policy. Foster will request more information from the TSBA.
Board Member Christine Hopkins announced the budget for the Winchester Tennessee College of Applied Technology had $1.5 million in unallocated funds that could be used for additional certification programs. The top picks of the students and parents surveyed were X-ray technician and auto mechanics.
“The Shelbyville TCAT auto mechanics program has a years waiting list,” Hopkins observed. A decision on how to spend the extra funds is pending.
The board will meet May 6 for a working session to discuss the 2020-2021 budget. The board’s next regular meeting is May 13.

​Chernicky’s Sculpture Selected for the Old Roundhouse Park Competition

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Jamey Chernicky has lived in the area for what seems like forever. He went to the James K. Shook School in Tracy City, and has lived on the Mountain for 50 years.
In March, the Grundy Area Arts Council (GAAC) and Mountain Goat Trail Alliance announced that Chernicky’s submission for the Old Roundhouse Park & Mountain Goat Trail Sculpture Competition had been selected for construction.
The “Forged Track Park Bench” will be fabricated from railroad track from the Tracy City park area and weathered-treated lumber. The contour of the seat and back were traced from a pre-1890 school desk onto plywood to begin the concept drawing.
Chernicky said his inspiration came from his roots—the history of his home and what he was taught by his family.
“I was taught from an early age not to waste and to repurpose materials when possible,” he said. “That, and using materials and techniques that I haven’t seen before are the main inspirations for this sculpture design.”
Chernicky began metal sculpting in 1996 and was invited to sell his creations at Cheekwood in Bloom.
Christi Teasley of the GAAC said it is important to the council for the community to be involved.
“Any time you’re working with public art, you’re going to want to have some stakeholders involved with the decision making so they have some ownership,” she said. “We’re hoping to do sculptures throughout the trail in the future.”
The unveiling of the sculpture is scheduled for June of this year, and Chernicky said he’s well on his way. He had a third of the sculpture completed before the application was even sent.
“The rail iron is split with an acetylene torch, heated red hot and pulled mechanically around the jig which was created specifically for this project. There will be 48 individual bends, all of which have to match,” he said. “A lot of thought and effort goes into everything I do, and I’m honored to have the chance to be a part of such great effort to improve our Mountain and to share our heritage.”

​Village Updates

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Two years ago Frank Gladu who oversees the Sewanee Village project made a promise “not to cut my beard until we build something.” Gladu will soon get to cut his beard. At the April 2 Sewanee Village update meeting, Gladu announced the long-awaited groundbreaking for the new bookstore along with reviewing other high momentum initiatives, narrowing U.S. Hwy. 41A and construction of a mixed-use grocery and apartment building.
“The bookstore underwent a redesign to conform to the budget,” Gladu said. Abandoning the double-gable design, the smaller footprint building is L-shaped with two stories, which saved money by avoiding dealing with the drop off in back, according to Gladu. The site will offer 12 parking spaces.
The bookstore groundbreaking is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., April 13. “Groundbreaking isn’t building, though,” Gladu pointed out. He’ll wait to cut his beard until the foundation is poured.
Turning to other Village initiatives, Gladu said the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has finalized the design for narrowing U.S. Hwy. 41A for the half-mile stretch between Kennerly Road and Kentucky Avenue. A recent development in the highway project resulted in TDOT incorporating the Mountain Goat Trail into the design. The Mountain Goat Trail Alliance lobbied TDOT, citing state legislation that provided for including multi-modal trails in highway projects. The trail will be extended for several blocks through the center of the Village.
Asked about the inspiration for narrowing the highway Gladu explained, “We want to make it less of a highway and more of a city street by calming traffic.”
“Narrowing the highway worked to calm traffic in Monteagle,” observed longtime resident Lynn Stubblefield.
Narrowing the highway will allow for six-foot sidewalks and six-foot planting strips on both sides. There will also be a pedestrian activated crosswalk. The University will bear financial responsibility for the actual plantings, any additional lighting needed, and relocating utilities, if necessary.
The highway will continue to have two left turn lanes, and the right turn lane coming from Monteagle at the downtown intersection will be eliminated, Gladu said. The University hopes TDOT will decide to lower the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph. TDOT will hold a public meeting on the design after it is presented to the county.
“The problem with change is it’s hard for drivers to keep up with,” insisted a concerned resident, who objected to eliminating turn lanes and the lower speed limit.
Updating the group on the mixed-use grocery and apartment building under design by BP Construction, Gladu said the 10,000 square footprint structure proposed in the initial village plan would likely be reduced to 7,000 square feet and have two stories instead of three.
After carefully considering the project, BP decided it would be less expensive to build a smaller building and easier to fill the units, Gladu explained. The developers are working on a design with six studio apartments and six single-bedroom apartments on the second floor, a 5,000 square foot food market on the ground floor, and several other retail units.
Gladu anticipates the food market will be two and half to three times the size of the current market. “The food market will offer produce, meat, dairy, everything a regular grocery store has,” he said.
“University employees are the intended residents for the rental apartments,” Gladu said. Gladu pointed out that the only reason the University was involved in offering campus rental units was to assist incoming employees in transitioning to the area.
“BP is pricing out the project to determine their ability to rent and lease the space. They won’t build until they have at least 70 percent of the space leased,” said Gladu.
Gladu said BP would hold a commercial lease with the University like all other Sewanee businesses. Lease holders must provide the Lease Office with information over prospective subleases, Gladu noted, giving the Lease Office some say about tenants.

Show more posts