by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Discussions about next year’s budget and the completion of construction projects were on the docket for the July meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners meeting.
The board determined that the most pressing project is replacing the water pump at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee before school starts back. Ben Beavers, general manager of the Sewanee Utility District (SUD), confirmed that there is enough money in the operating budget to cover the cost of a replacement.
On the topic of budget, board president Charlie Smith said within the next month, the plan is to begin the process of identifying what projects might be budget-dependent for next year. The board would like to pass the new budget in October.
During the next fiscal year, the board plans to earmark funds for several Capital Improvement Projects, totaling $100,000 to $120,000. Beavers said of the 227 fire hydrants on the Domain, there are 10 that need to be replaced and several more that need repairs. To replace one hydrant will cost SUD about $1,500.
“By the end of June, we’d inspected 96 of the 227 total hydrants. The inspection is completed. I am compiling a list of some of them that are in bad shape. We have more of the old ones than I thought. We are going to have to replace 10 hydrants that are obsolete,” he said. “Most of the hydrants that need replacing are out near Woodlands. Four hydrants still need to be tested. It is just a matter of getting out to them. Most of the ones that leaked are 40 years old and older.”
Beavers said in the next couple of years, the membranes at the water plant will need replacing, but with both performing well and registering 50 to 60 percent health, he said they would be solid for at least the next two years.
“All in all, it was a good, solid month. We’re about $70,000 total under budget,” he said. “We had 6.3 inches of rain in June, and that’s pretty normal. Even if it quit raining tomorrow, we’re not going to run out of water through the end of the year.”
The board has plans to conduct a review of rolling stock and equipment needs and to do a surplus in the next month.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 27.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Doing nothing isn’t the answer. The schools’ fund balance will be decimated,” said Franklin County Commissioner David Eldridge at the July 23 Franklin County Commission budget workshop. The proposed budget calls for a 24 cent property tax increase, but provides no additional funding for the county schools’ operating expenses. To meet operating expenses for the coming year, the school system will need to draw $1.4 million from the fund balance. For the past two years, expenses have exceeded revenue. A fund balance draw at the same level next year will draw the reserve below the state mandated level of 3 percent of operating expenses.
Of the 24 cent tax increase, 11 cents will go to construction of the new middle schools, 5 cents to hiring additional corrections officers at the jail, and the remaining 6 cents to finance raises for county employees, excluding school system employees, and to maintain cash flow reserves, Mayor David Alexander said.
Eldridge proposed reducing the tax increase to 21 cents by cutting solid waste expense, the contribution to the hospital, reducing the capital improvement budget at the industrial park, and reducing the number of new correctional officers. He argued a 7 cent property tax increase would be needed for the next three years and 8 cents for the two subsequent years to address the schools’ budget dilemma.
However, Eldridge opposed raising property taxes. He also said cutting operating expenses in the schools was an “unrealistic objective.”
Alexander countered the county “needs to reduce expenses in the education arena.” Alexander argued that even with a 24 cent increase, an additional 16 cent increase would be needed next year to fund the county’s expenses.
“I cannot support this budget,” Alexander said. “A 40 cent increase in two years is unheard of in a rural county.”
County Finance Director Andrea Smith explained the county received less revenue than expected from growth because the state changed the commercial appraisal ratio. “We’re still realizing new residential growth revenue,” Smith said, “but because of the ratio change we’re coming out flat.”
Providing comparison to neighboring counties, Eldridge said tax revenue from property and sales tax, $34.7 million, was $6 million higher than the average. Eldridge said he removed Coffee County’s high $52 million in tax revenue from the average since it skewed the results. He also removed Grundy County, which has exceptionally low tax revenue.
Eldridge said increasing sales tax revenue from 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent could help fund the schools, but he took issue with increasing sales tax since city governments receive 25 percent of sales tax revenue. The estimated increase in county revenue would be $1.237 million.
Asked about Coffee County’s sales tax rate and if increasing the rate to 2.75 percent would drive customers to Coffee County, Eldridge said Coffee County already had a 2.75 percent rate, the highest rate allowed by law.
Eldridge pointed out per pupil spending in Franklin County was $10,300, $900 above the average of neighboring counties, excluding Coffee County.
“This implies our expenses are too high,” Eldridge said. He also stressed he opposed the reduction in the schools’ capital outlay budget to $100,000. “That’s not enough to maintain the buildings.”
The schools budget includes no raises for non-certified employees and bus drivers. Some certified employees would receive raises based on years of service and degree advancement.
The County Finance Committee rejected the schools’ budget three times. Alexander cited the excessive draw on the fund balance as the reason. The school board revised the budget a fourth time and this revised budget will be presented to the county commission for a vote on July 29 along with the proposed tax increase. If the commission rejects the schools’ budget, the school board will have 10 days to make additional revisions. If the county commission again rejects the school system’s budget, the schools will be funded at the 2018-19 level. If the county commission fails to approve an increase in school funding for three consecutive years, the state will mandate an annual increase of 3 percent.
Eldridge said the level of school funding by the county had remained constant over the past five years, but Basic Education Program (BEP) funding from the state had decreased proportional to the decline in student enrollment. Eldridge also noted the level of BEP funding was based on a county’s ability to pay. “Our ability to pay has probably hurt us,” he insisted.
School board member Sarah Liechty said, “I’m not sure at this point where we go. Our biggest expense is personnel, and always has been. We have cut 22 positions as enrollment decreased, but we cannot cut anymore and still maintain the state mandated student teacher ratio. Any changes we make to reduce the budget further would be drastic.”
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 22 workshop, the Monteagle City Council tasked city attorney Harvey Cameron with taking action to address two critical issues: $26,000 per year water loss at the Marshall Graves property and four structures in a state of disrepair stymieing the city’s cleanup initiative.
The water loss occurs because the water department must leave water running at the Marshall Graves property to avoid rust. The waterline dead-ends at the Graves property served by 80-year-old cast iron pipe. The city has infrastructure in place to tie Graves meter into a new line, but doing so will cut off water to the development houses Graves constructed on his property. As is the case with all developers, Graves is responsible for the infrastructure needed to supply water to homes on property he developed.
The city has agreed to pay for the cost of moving the meter and to supply and install a fire hydrant to serve the property, cost $2,600. In keeping with the councils’ recommendation, Cameron will notify Graves he has 90 days to satisfy all permitting requirements and install the necessary infrastructure including a six-inch line to service the hydrant. The city has agreed to move the meter and install the hydrant within 30 days of Graves completing his portion of the work. If Graves fails to comply within 90 days, the city will move the meter, cutting off water to the houses Graves constructed on the property.
“This [the water loss and negotiation with Graves] has been going on for three years,” said Alderman Ken Gipson. “It’s costing us money hand over fist.”
Advising the council on how to deal with the four owners who have failed to respond to requests to remedy the eyesore posed by structures in a state of disrepair on their property, Cameron said, “You need to do what you did with the Layne Avenue church.” Last year when the owner failed to respond to requests to address the problem posed by the dilapidated church, the city condemned the church, demolished the structure and placed a lien on the property to recover the cost of demolition.
At the council’s request, Cameron will notify the owners the four structures in disrepair have been condemned.
“I think it’s wonderful you’re cleaning up the town,” Cameron said.
Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam announced Police Chief Virgil McNeese had resigned. Gilliam cited “ongoing issues.” Gilliam declined to comment further.
Tapped as the new police chief, Jack Hill said, “I’m proud to take on the assignment. It’s a good move.” In his 10th year with the Monteagle Police Department, Hill served as assistant chief under McNeese.
Hill plans to do a complete equipment inventory and will get back to the council concerning the purchase of body cameras for officers. Hill will also pursue hiring additional police officers. In addition to McNeese, another officer recently resigned to accept a better job opportunity.
“I’d rather be patient than hire just anybody,” Hill said.
Revisiting the discussion about the road owned by Shan’s Chinese Buffet used for access to the ballpark and helipad, Gilliam said, “They’ve just been good to us allowing us to use the road. The city doesn’t have an easement on the property.”
Gilliam pointed out neighboring communities had helipads and that the location of the helipad on the ballpark property would hamper receiving grant money to improve the ballpark to a tournament caliber facility.
“Hosting tournaments would bring a lot of money into the town,” Gipson said.
The council meets in regular session July 29.
Request for Correction to July 25 Article ‘Monteagle Moves on Water Loss, Cleanup Initiative’
I represent Mr. Marshall Graves concerning the subject matter of your July 25 article in the Messenger. In this article you made several misrepresentations, including:
(a) that Mr. Graves is the owner of a property under discussion (indicated by statements to “the Marshall Graves property”);
(b) that Mr. Graves constructed structures on this property (indicated by the statement directed to “the development houses Graves constructed on his property”); and,
(c) that Mr. Graves is a developer (indicated by the statement “As is the case with all developers, Graves…”).
None of these statements are factually accurate. Furthermore, none of these statements were taken as direct quotes from the City Council meeting and so they serve as reckless characterizations and representations against Mr. Graves that could be alleged libel.
Due to the potential for reputational harm to Mr. Graves within the Monteagle community attributable to this article, I ask that you fact check and correct the statements made in this article to Mr. Graves’ ownership, construction, and identity as a developer. Additionally, this article did not clearly separate the “two critical issues” mentioned at the outset: the water line and the dilapidated properties. Consequently, the article can be read to indicate that structures on the property referred to as “the Marshall Graves property” were deserving condemnation. I ask that you additionally clarify that the properties “in a state of disrepair” are in no way connected to Mr. Graves.
I respectfully request that these corrections are immediately published on the site <sewaneemessenger.com> and in the paper’s next print circulation, and I advise that Mr. Graves reserves all legal rights concerning the substance of this letter.
Kevin Christopher, Principal, Rockridge Venture Law
Marshall Graves does not own the property under discussion in the Messenger story concerning the July 22, 2019 Monteagle City Council workshop as reported in the July 26, 2019 issue. The Plateau Holding Series of Stone Door Ventures, LLC, Chattanooga, Tenn., according to the State of TN Comptroller of the Treasury Real Estate Assessment Data, owns the property. It is classed as a subdivision recorded under the name Hickory Creek Properties, <tnmap.tn.gov>. The water meter for the subdivision is in the name of Plateau Holding Series of Stone Door Ventures, LLC, according to the Monteagle City Recorder office. However, all the city’s negotiations for nearly three years have been with Marshall Graves, according to the Monteagle City Recorder office. Marshall Graves is the sole member of the Stone Door Ventures, LLC, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State office. According to Monteagle Utility Manager John Condra, to avoid rust, the water department must leave water running in the city service line that connects to the subdivision meter. The city waterline dead-ends at the property. The city line is 80-year-old cast iron pipe. Condra said, “Graves wants a six-inch service line so he can build more houses.”
Kiki Beavers, Editor/Publisher of the Sewanee Mountain Messenger
The Sewanee Youth Ballpark is in need of repairs. The most pressing issue is that all of the ballpark lights need to be replaced. Each fixture has an antiquated liquid cooling system for the heat they emit. Those fixtures have exploded at other parks.
Dixon Myers, assistant director of the Office of Engagement and president of the Sewanee Parks Committee, reported that in 2018, the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation informed the committee there was a severe safety issue with the lighting system at the Sewanee Youth Ballpark. An incident occurred at another park in the county when their lighting system malfunctioned and created a potentially dangerous situation. Duck River immediately responded by checking all of the other similar lighting systems in their jurisdiction and terminating their usage. The Sewanee Youth Ballpark fell into that category.
At the ballpark, the lighting system is approximately 50-years-old. The Sewanee Parks Committee began communicating with Duck River concerning the new specifications needed to upgrade the system.
Approximately $43,000 is needed to replace the lighting system at the ballpark, according to Myers.
For years, both the Sewanee Little League and the Sewanee Youth Soccer organizations received funds from the Sewanee Community Chest to help with maintenance costs at the ballpark and other associated expenses. Those funds were no longer applied for when Sewanee Youth Soccer merged with the Franklin County Soccer Association in 2013, and the Sewanee Little League merged with Cowan Little League in 2015.
Myers said there is a number of ways people can get involved. One way is to donate.
Donations can be specified to the Sewanee Youth Ballpark. Mail those checks to the Office of Leases and Community Relations, 735 University Ave., Sewanee, TN 37383. Sallie Green has a special account for Ballpark donations that is separate from all other University accounts, Myers said.
Stepping up to issue a fundraising challenge is Sewanee resident Carl Hill. Hill recently went to a baseball game and heard about the problems at the ball field.
Hill played in Sewanee Little League starting in 1975, and then Babe Ruth until 1988. He managed the Babe Ruth from 1988-1995.
“We did not have T-ball back then. My momma taught me how to catch and throw, in the neighborhood. We always had pickup games at the elementary school, and games of catch. At the age of nine, I started playing Sewanee Little League,” he said.
“At that time, there were four teams, the Braves, the Giants, the Mets and the Red Sox. Three of the teams came from Sewanee and the greater Sewanee area. The fourth team always came out of Sherwood.”
“We ran a schedule of playing everyone twice. Then All-Stars were chosen to compete in Cowan, Winchester, Decherd, and all around the county. In the county championship, Sewanee, back in the day, won a number of times. From there, All-Stars were chosen county-wide to advance to Little League regionals, and play neighboring counties.”
“We would have as many as five nights a week playing ball at the ball field, under the lights. This included Little League and Babe Ruth teams.”
“We did not travel until it was time for the All-Stars. All of our games were played here in Sewanee, under the lights.”
Hill said there was a lot of parent involvement in both leagues. “They worked the concession stand, chased down foul balls, made sure parking was adequate, and helped police the ball field as well, from the grounds, to litter pickup to the cleanliness of the restroom.”
“It really was a social time at the ball field. There were always recreational activities going on. If the lights were on at the ball field, the people would go to see what was going on. There may have even been a pickup game.”
“We need to bring back life to the Sewanee Ballpark,” he said, “and get the park back to where it was.”
Hill is issuing a challenge to all those teams, coaches, managers, parents and sponsors to help raise money for the ballpark.
“All of those people inspired me to do what I needed to do, which was to coach and also give back,” he said.
“With my pledge of $500, I would like to challenge all former Sewanee Little League and Babe Ruth teams to help raise this money to stabilize this organization.”
“This is also a challenge fundraiser on behalf of those ball players who are no longer with us. Those people are remembered. We had a wonderful time at that ball field.”
“If you were part of the baseball teams in Sewanee, I challenge you to donate $99 or more. Let’s get those lights back on,” Hill said.
There are opportunities to help at both the baseball and the soccer fields said Myers. Some require a little bit of skill. These include excavating and replacing the drains to the baseball dugouts with a new piping system, and removing the bathrooms and concession area from the soccer pavilion and discarding the materials. Those interested in these and other repairs may contact Dixon Myers directly at (931) 636-3874.
—reported by Kiki Beavers, Editor
The 13th annual fish fry will be at Morton Memorial United Methodist Church (MMUMC) from 4–7 p.m., Saturday, July 27. This is a rain or shine event and take out is available. Come enjoy fried fish, french fries, hushpuppies, cole slaw and dessert.
All the proceeds will go toward the church’s community outreach programs, such as,Tools 4 Schools and Christmas on the Mountain.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children. You are encouraged to but tickets in advance.
Please call Marietta Poteet at (931) 924-7666 for tickets. You can also buy tickets at the Morton Memorial UMC office at (931) 924-2192. Contact Rich Wyckoff for information at <email@example.com>. Tickets will also be sold at the door. As in previous years, we will have take out available the day of the fish fry.
The 150th Anniversary Swiss Heritage Celebration will take place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 27, on the grounds of the Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum in Gruetli-Laager. This year is the 150th year since the Swiss families settled in the Colony of Gruetli. The farm is one of only a few buildings remaining of the original Swiss Colony of Gruetli.
The Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum is located at 328 Swiss Colony Cemetery Rd. Travel on Highway 108, go north on 20th Ave., and follow the signs. Admission is $5.
There will be hay rides and tours of the farm house, barn and other out buildings dating back to 1869. Vendors of food, crafts and area organizations will be on hand with displays of old farming tools and accessories. Historical documents, books and memorabilia will be on sale at the membership stand. Music will be provided by the Mountain Top Polka Band from Asheville, N.C. Wine and cheese tastings will be available all day. A new Swiss Cookbook will be on sale to commemorate the event.
The event is sponsored by the Grundy County Swiss Historical Society. Become a member and support the preservation of a Swiss farm. Send donations to P.O. Box 496, Gruetli-Laager, TN 37339. For more information email <firstname.lastname@example.org> or go to <swisshistoricalsociety.org>. The Grundy County Swiss Historical Society is a 501 (c) 3 organization.
The state of Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday is held every year, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and ending at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday night. During this weekend, certain goods may be purchased tax free. The 2019 tax-free holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m., Friday, July 26 and ends Sunday, July 28 at 11:59 p.m.
Consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.
For more information go to
The Mountain Market for Arts & Crafts is celebrating its 60th “Diamond” Anniversary the last weekend of July. This annual event is the place to find leatherwork, woodwork, metalwork, and ceramics from local and visiting vendors.
Crafts and food vendors will open for business 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on Sunday, July 28. This special anniversary event will have more than 100 booths, artisan demonstrations, prizes for shoppers, giveaways, and children’s activities. New this year are painting, felting, and candlemaking workshops.
Admission to the market, demonstrations, and activities is free. Workshops will have an associated fee to cover supplies and the workshop leader’s time. The Mountain Market will be set up at Hannah Pickett Park, outside City Hall at 16 Dixie Lee Ave., Monteagle. Visitors may park in the grassy strip between City Hall and DuBose Conference Center. This event is organized annually by the South Cumberland Chamber of Commerce (SCCC).
Call SCCC at (931) 924-5353 or email <email@example.com> for more information. Visit Mountain Market for Arts & Crafts on Facebook to learn more.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
In 2017, officials with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation signed a check for $1 million to finance Tennessee’s Read to be Ready summer programs. That money was to fund summer camps across the state for the next three years through grants to individual schools.
With summer 2019 coming to a close, the future of the program is uncertain, in spite of data showing less than half of third and fourth graders in Tennessee reading on grade level. Statistics rally against those students — making them four times less likely to graduate from high school.
For Barbara King, questions around the program’s future bring up concerns for students across the state. King is a first grade teacher and curriculum and instruction coach at Sewanee Elementary and director of SES’s Read to be Ready camp, Camp Curiosity.
Spanning the month of June, Sewanee Elementary hosted Camp Curiosity, a branch of the state’s Read to be Ready program. The program, which was established in 2016, was created with the mission to develop students into thinkers, problem-solvers and lifelong learners.
“This has been so beneficial for our students, and our community. Our kids always love it, and it’s really sad to not know whether we will be able to do this again next year,” King said. “The program gives them experiences during the summer as far as interacting with others, character education, STEAM activities and working on literacy. They are getting so many experiential learning activities. They have so many opportunities to be read aloud to, and every student gets to take home about 20 books as a part of the grant. We’re devastated that funding has run out. This program really has shown great gains for the state.”
Grant funding pays for field trip transportation, and the University of the South provides breakfast and lunch through the Summer Food Service Program of the South Cumberland Community Fund. At breakfast and lunch, volunteers read aloud to the students for 15-30 minutes.
“The grant has been discontinued, which means the department will have to review the data collected from this year’s camps to decide where we go from here,” said Jennifer Johnson, Director of Communications in the Commissioner’s office at the Department of Education.
Johnson said that process will involve looking at how many students participated in the program in 2019, tracking the progress students made and determining whether the return on investment is high enough to continue funding the programs.
King first learned about the Read to be Ready grant opportunity in a newsletter from former Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen. Though she had never written a grant proposal before, King got to work. That summer, rising first through third graders came to the camp and were engaged daily in activities to strengthen the levels at which they were able to read.
Inspired by the previous year’s success, King not only reapplied last year, she hosted a workshop to encourage other local schools to apply as well.
Pat Wiser has volunteered to read aloud to the students for the last two years. Wiser, who previously worked as a high school teacher and librarian, said she knows the importance of providing students a space during the summer to maintain the learning from the school year.
“I’m very, very concerned that this has not been renewed for next year. Kids lose ground over the summer in their reading and other skills. This program is designed to enhance and improve the reading skills of kids who might not be quite up to grade level,” Wiser said.
Wiser also said numbers and test scores aside, the benefits of the program are palpable.
“I have followed some children through from being in this program and volunteering in the library, and I can think of specific children I worked with in first grade who now are fourth graders. They are doing so much better, and the fact that they are now coming to the library speaks for itself. I don’t have that data. I just have seen the confidence,” she said.
Johnson said once the data from the year is reviewed, a decision would be made.
“If the data shows the camps to be overwhelmingly valuable, I think it’s probably safe to say that we will find another revenue source to fund them. Before making a commitment, it is important that we have a very clear understanding of exactly how valuable they are. It may be possible that some portions of the camp were more valuable than others. If that’s the case, we might be able to fund an initiative that looks different from what currently exists, without losing any of the benefits,” Johnson said.
“It sounds like they are aware of the benefits of the program, but it does not sound promising to me about continued funding,” King said.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 15 meeting, the Franklin County Commission appointed Sarah Marhevsky and Caycee Roberts to fill vacant seats on the Franklin County School Board. Marhevsky of Sewanee will finish out the 5th District term of Adam Tucker who recently resigned. Roberts, 7th District, will finish out the term of Gary Hanger. Hanger, Robert’s father, passed away on May 24.
Fifth District Commissioner Helen Stapleton nominated Marhevsky for the position. Marhevsky moved to Sewanee in 2010 with her husband Mathew Rudd, a math professor at the University. Before that, Marhevsky taught English in urban, suburban and rural settings in Chicago, Illinois, Austin, Texas, and Moscow, Idaho. Her two children attend Sewanee Elementary School. As a stay-at-home mom she actively embraced community involvement serving as president of the Sewanee Parents Organization, initiating a free after-school enrichment program, and serving on the Sewanee Community Center board, the Sewanee Parks Committee, and the Sewanee Community Funding Project Committee. Marhevsky recently transferred her teaching credential to Tennessee and works part-time with international students.
The commission unanimously approved Marhevsky’s appointment.
“I’m excited to join the school board,” Marhevsky said. “I appreciate all the work that Adam Tucker put in—there will be two new middle schools. I look forward to helping provide both the best possible education for students in Franklin County and a good working environment for district employees.”
Commissioner Angie Fuller, 7th District, nominated Roberts. The 7th District includes Tullahoma, Center Grove and Estill Springs. Roberts holds a bachelors and masters degree from Middle Tennessee State University. She left teaching to raise her two children and start a business.
“I love teaching,” Roberts said. She frequently attends school board meetings. “You have a difficult job,” she acknowledged. “I will work tirelessly to serve the county.”
A 2 to 12 majority appointed Roberts to the position. Commissioner David Eldridge, 7th District, nominated former school board member Betty Jo Drummond.
In other business, Planning and Zoning Director Janet Petrunich updated the commission on Tinsley Asphalt’s request to locate a rock quarry in the Greenhaw community. Several months ago, the property was rezoned to I1 Industrial to accommodate the request.
“The next step is for Tinsley Asphalt to go before the board of appeals to have the use itself approved,” Petrunich said.
Petrunich stressed extensive documentation needed to accompany the appeal including information on location of equipment, stockpiles, traffic flow, and an operations manual detailing water and air quality protection. The Planning and Zoning Department will entertain the request for approving use of the site for a quarry at the July 18 meeting.
The commission will hold a workshop July 23 to discuss the county budget. At issue is the proposed 24 cent property tax increase. Currently, 25 percent of assessed value is taxed at $2.67 per $100. If the commission approves the tax increase, property taxes on a $100,000 home would increase $60 from $667.50 to $727.50.
The commission will vote on the budget July 29.
On Saturday, July 20, from 8 a.m. until noon, South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) will host its third annual day of service at Grundy County’s six elementary schools, as well as Sewanee and Monteagle elementary schools.
Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee will serve alongside volunteers on Make a Difference Day, at several elementary school sites.
This year Tracy City Elementary will concentrate on outdoor spaces, including planting trees and painting playground benches. Coalmont Elementary will repaint the school parking lot, plant flower beds, and work on a variety of indoor painting projects. Monteagle Elementary will create an outdoor classroom space. Sewanee Elementary will add game boards to the playground area, repair and refill sandboxes, and add mulch to a newly landscaped area.
All hands are welcome—students, parents, teachers, and community members. Rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, and other gardening equipment are needed for many of the schools. To volunteer for Make a Difference Day please go to https://www.southcumberlandcommunityfund.org or contact Lucas Crossland at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for additional information.
Friday Nights in the Park (FNIP), sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance (SBA), concludes on Friday, July 19, with the Jess Goggans Band. The event is free and open to the public. University Avenue will be closed at 6 p.m., with food and drink available for purchase. The band takes the Angel Park stage at 7:30 p.m. The rain location is the American Legion Hall.
Homegrown and raised in the Northeast corner of Alabama, singer/songwriter Jess Goggans puts her entire soul into her music and every ounce of her heart into every single performance. Recognized for her sultry southern grit, soulful melodies and high-energy stage presence, it is said that you can literally feel her voice moving through you. Jess’ music defies genre; it’s been referred to as “get down music,” with influences of funk, rock and blues. She is accompanied by some of the finest musicians in the Southeast.
The SBA is also sponsoring a reverse raffle to benefit Sewanee Angel Park, Community Action Committee and Housing Sewanee, with a chance for participants to win up to $5,000.
Tickets for the reverse raffle are $100 each and are for sale at Beauty by Tabitha, Big A Marketing, The Blue Chair, Fine Arts at the Mountain, the Lemon Fair, University Realty and Woody’s Bicycles. Tickets are also available at the Friday Nights in the Park, and online at
During each Friday Nights in the Park, there will be a drawing for a special prize. The ticket drawn will be placed back in the pool for another chance to win. The $5,000 grand prize drawing will take place during the ninth annual AngelFest on Oct. 4. Participants do not have to be present to win.
For more information go to
The 56th annual Woman’s Association Cottage Tour and Bazaar takes place on Friday, July 19, on the Assembly grounds. Cottages on the tour this year include Twin Oaks (#167), Memphis Home (#72), Hillside Rest (#135), Reunion (#118), Nearview (#50), and Full Circle (#116). The Bazaar runs from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., with the Cottage Tour available from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
This year’s Tour lecture will be “Modern Traditions: Mixing Old & New In Your Home,” with Paige Albright. With her keen eye for antique pieces and a particular specialty in Oriental rugs, Albright works in residential interior design and runs a shop in Mountain Brook Village in Birmingham, Ala. Among her talents is the ability to generally evaluate a rug’s value by sight. Attendees of the Cottage Tour are welcome to attend her 1 p.m. lecture in Warren Chapel. Tour tickets are available in advance at the MSSA Office.
The University of the South will host a community meeting at 3 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, Aug. 13, in the Torian Room of duPont Library in Sewanee, regarding the proposed communication tower behind Hardee-McGee Field. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss potential impacts on historic properties within the University Domain as they relate specifically to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and to invite discussion about ways in which the applicant, Vogue Towers, may reduce and/or mitigate those possible adverse effects. Those in attendance and wishing to comment should be prepared to speak directly to Section 106.
An introduction to Section 106 is here:
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 8 meeting following two hours of deliberation, the Franklin County School Board approved a fourth round of amendments making additional cuts to the 2019-20 budget. An alternate proposal granting a 2 percent raise to support employees, a 1.5 percent raise to contract bus drivers, and years-of-service step increases for all certified employees failed to receive enough votes to pass.
On July 2, the Franklin County Finance Committee rejected the school board’s third budgeting attempt that slashed over $500,000 in addtion to $300,000 in cuts from a previous budget. The additional cuts satisfied the Finance Committee’s concerns about drawing down the reserve fund balance to dangerously low levels, but the Finance Committee objected to removing the raises for classified employees, contract bus drivers, and certified employees who did not receive step increases. The proposed county budget includes 2.8 percent raises for highway department and solid waste department employees and 2 percent raises in all other departments, excluding the school system.
To satisfy the Finance Committee’s objection, Director of Schools Stanley Bean worked with his staff last week to revise the school system budget to include raises for classified employees, contract bus drivers, and step increases for all certified employees. Bean noted Mayor David Alexander agreed to review the property tax levy, taking into account the reduction in the schools’ share of the total over the past seven years.
“That’s a good faith effort on Alexander’s part. We need to make a good faith effort on our part, as well,” said Bean.
To balance the expense of the raises, Bean proposed cutting $200,000 for unplanned positions, $15,000 for bus garage supplies, $100,000 for bus garage construction, and returning $125,000 to the fund balance previously earmarked for the bus garage.
Over the weekend, Deputy Director of Finance Cindy Latham found an error in the reporting of prior encumbrances in the budget reviewed by the Finance Committee on July 2. The error zeroed out the impact of the recent cuts proposed by Bean, meaning his proposed budget would leave only $2.5 million in the fund balance.
Vice Chair Lance Williams spoke against approving the budget. “We took $1.2 million from the fund balance this year, and the proposed budget requires taking $1.696 million from the proposed budget next year. We are spending more than we are receiving. Our goal should be to have a balanced budget.”
By law, the reserve fund balance must contain 3 percent of the budget. Williams stressed if the fund balance continued to drop at that current level, it would fall below the 3 percent minimum requirement in two years.
Williams and board member Chris Guess voted against including the pay raises in the budget. Board members Linda Jones, Christine Hopkins, Sara Liechty, and Chair Cleijo Walker voted for including the raises. A majority of five out of eight members is needed for the board to pass a measure. The board is short two members due to the death of board member Gary Hanger and the resignation of Adam Tucker.
The board approved Bean’s proposed budget without the raises, which will leave the fund balance at just under $3 million.
The board will have an opportunity to discuss the 2019-20 budget with the county commission at a special workshop July 23. The commission will vote on the full county budget July 29.
According to Bean, if the county commission rejects the school system budget, the school board will have 10 days to make additional revisions. If the county commission again rejects the school system’s budget, the schools will be funded at the 2018-19 level. If the county commission fails to approve an increase in school funding for three consecutive years, the state will mandate an annual increase of 3 percent.