​Sewanee Council Discusses Non-Resident Fees, Housing Questions

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 28 meeting, the Sewanee Community Council discussed the option of higher municipal service fees for non-resident leaseholders and how to limit non-residents acquiring leaseholds. The council also heard updates on sidewalks, crosswalk lighting, and parks, and welcomed a new council representative.

Council representative Charles Whitmer revisited the September discussion about how to apportion the $600,000 cost of infrastructure for Domain-wide fiber optic Internet service. Whitmer proposed a 1 percent increase in the municipal service fee paid by all leaseholders would generate $72,000 annually, enough to pay for the infrastructure if spread over a 10-year period. The municipal service fee is based on the appraised value of the home on the leasehold. For a home valued at $200,000, the 1 percent increase would equal $200.

“There’s also an argument for non-resident second-home owners paying more,” Whitmer said. “Those who live here contribute in many ways.”

Council representative Eric Keen questioned whether assigning non-residents a higher percentage of the fiber optic infrastructure cost would mean increasing the percentage non-residents paid for other municipal services.

Superintendent of Leases Sallie Green said non-residents held 25 percent of the leaseholds. The total appraised value of Sewanee homes is $72 million. Green will research what percent of the $72 million represents non-resident homes, and subsequently, how much revenue would be generated by increasing the percentage assessed to non-residents.

Keen asked if there were arguments against treating non-residents differently. Council representative June Weber pointed out non-residents often served as trustees. Sewanee resident Dixon Myers noted many were alumni who made financial contributions.

In the subsequent discussion about the increase in non-resident home ownership, Whitmer pointed to the coincident increase in the cost of Sewanee homes. He cited a recent circumstance where the price increased $10,000 per month in the year the house was on the market.

“Non-residents are in a different pay scale from most of us,” observed council representative Phil White.

Nancy Berner said homes built on the 13 leaseholds recently released could only be sold to permanent residents, as was likewise the case in the Parson’s Green development. The leaseholds were first offered to University employees. Plans call for offering the unclaimed leaseholds to permanent residents.

Whitmer suggested releasing leaseholds for non-resident alumni to build on might take the pressure off the housing market.

Myers proposed limiting the percentage of non-resident homeowners in a geographic area, a neighborhood for example.

Berner suggested residents within a neighborhood could sign an agreement not to sell to non-residents.

Whitmer asked if homeowners could put a restriction on whom their home could be sold to, similar to a conservation easement.

Sewanee resident Sid Brown said, “As a person who values the full time residents around me and how they make my life better, I’d like help from you [the University].”

White proposed a “tax” on non-resident housing transactions.

Vice-Chancellor John McCardell stressed apportioning the cost of the fiber optic infrastructure and limiting sale of homes to non-residents were “complex issues.” He urged council representatives to seek input from their neighbors and constituents.

The council welcomed newly elected council representative Mary Priestley.

Whitmer will resign at the end of the semester to join his family in Germany. The council is authorized to appoint someone to serve out the remainder of his term.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning & Operations Austin Oakes updated the council on plans for a sidewalk on Tennessee Avenue in front of the School of Theology. A donor committed funds to enable the project to move forward.

Oakes also said five crosswalk sites in need of lighting had been identified as priorities.

Updating the council on the Parks Committee’s work, Myers said the soccer pavilion at the Youth Ballpark was recently renovated and the cost of addressing the lighting needs had dropped from $40,000 to $7,650. Henley Electric, the low bidder, would do the work.

Priestley raised a question about tree cutting in conjunction with the fiber optic infrastructure project.

Green explained a 20-foot right-of-way was critical to accommodate the high voltage wires. Trees outside the “safety zone” would be trimmed to conform to height restrictions. Trees would be planted outside the right-of-way to replace cut trees.

​WUTS: The Voice of Sewanee

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Long before YouTube and the flooding of the podcast market with daily news round-ups, or the hyper-niche shows about cryptids and antiques, radio was king. Families spent evenings sat around the radio listening to music and evening broadcasts. Though that was far before sophomore Colin Smith’s time, he still sees the appeal today.

Smith works as an assistant manager at WUTS, the student-run radio station on the campus of the University of the South. He is among a group of students who are working to bring radio back into the daily lives of students and Sewaneesians alike.

“I want to make the station something that people love to talk about and come to have a good time,” he said. “That’s what it used to be, and that’s what we want it to go back to.”

Smith, who has been on staff at the station since his freshman year, said being at WUTS — and supporting the different shows — has been one of the highlights of his Sewanee experience. From helping with the production of the weekly conspiracy theory show to hosting his own Fleetwood Mac-themed show, Smith said WUTS has given him a creative outlet.

“The station is my life. I love being in here. The equipment, it’s not new or sleek—a lot of it has remained the same since the 60s or the 70s—and that is just part of the draw,” he said. “Working here has introduced me to so much new music, and I’ve learned a lot about radio in general. When I was growing up, our station was just classic rock. That is it. Here, you can do pretty much whatever you want. There’s so much room to be creative.”

KT Pritchard, a sophomore and assistant manager, said the same. Pritchard said the radio station provides an opportunity to learn something new everyday. One thing she has learned since starting at the station is that the station’s ghost is most likely a former NBC executive.

“We are 99 percent sure it’s Niles Trammell, an alumnus who was the president for NBC. He serves as a guardian for the place mostly, but sometimes he will flick lights on when you talk about him, and sometimes he will shut doors to remind you that he’s there,” she said. “Niles inspires us to do our best at the station so that we don’t upset him. Aside from the ghost, I love the freedom that the DJs have here. Even though we have FCC guidelines to follow, you can pretty much say and play what you want, which allows for creativity and diversity in the shows here.”

For students like Pritchard who value the ability to create and explore the different elements of production, Hilary Ward, WUTS faculty advisor and managing director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, said she hopes to expand the station’s programming into a year-round endeavor.

“As it stands now, we are only operable during the academic year, and we would love to be able to better support the community through advertisements and public announcements for all of the great activities we have going on,” Ward said. “The station is fully staffed by students and that is something we are really proud of. I hope we are able to continue with this momentum in semesters and years to come.”

Find WUTS on the radio dial at 91.3FM.

​Monteagle Addresses Playground Disrepair, Dog Problem

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 28 Monteagle City Council meeting, Monteagle Mayor David Sampley read a letter from the city’s insurance provider stating the playground equipment at Hannah Picket Park did not meet “the necessary standard of care,” opening the town to liability and a possible lawsuit. The Council also heard from a woman threatened by unrestrained dogs.

“The insurance company wants us to remove the playground equipment because it’s unsafe,” Sampley said.

“I’ve received multiple phone calls about kids getting hurt,” said Alderwoman Jessica Blalock, who oversees Parks and Recreation. “The equipment has been repaired multiple times.”

“We plan to apply for a grant to replace the playground equipment,” said Alderman Ken Gipson.

Residents attending the meeting pointed to possible financial assistance from Marion County and grant opportunities from CSX Railroad and the state Local Parks and Recreation Fund.

The daughter of a Monteagle resident addressed the council about needing to defend herself with a baseball bat to protect herself from vicious dogs when visiting her mother in Campbell subdivision. Police Chief Jack Hill said the owner of the dogs has been cited and a court date set for January. Sampley recommended in the meantime police patrol the neighborhood on a regular basis.

The council also heard from Jennifer Lane with Hospice of Chattanooga. The council honored Lane’s request to declare November 2019 National Hospice Month and to support related activities.

The council approved on second reading an ordinance relieving the city of the burden of funding depreciation.

The council also approved Fire Chief Mike Holmes’ request to hire a grant writer, cost $600, to write a grant for turnout gear on the department’s behalf. Holmes praised the grant writer whose successful grant proposal recently earned the department a $99,222 Assistance for Firefighters grant to purchase air packs.

Sampley announced an Open House at City Hall Wednesday, Nov. 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature holiday vendors and free refreshments.

Monteagle will hold its Christmas parade Saturday, Nov. 30, at 4:30 p.m. Participants should line up at The V, the former VFW site, at 3:45 p.m. Trophies will be awarded for the best all-around float and the best representation of the “Grinch” theme.

​Celebration of 50 Years of Women

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

If we consult tradition, the milestone 50th anniversary is all about gold, but for Jacqueline T. Schaefer, paper reigns supreme and always has. It is what brought her to the Mountain back in 1967, when she became one of the first female professors at the University, and it is what has kept her here since she retired in 2003.

These days, Schaefer, professor emeritus of French and comparative literature, spends most of her time pouring over books and journals, researching for her next project. Every now and then, she breaks to remember how Sewanee has changed over the years. With the celebration of the 50th anniversary of women at Sewanee taking place this weekend, now is one of those times.

Schaefer’s time in Sewanee began a full two years before the first class of women students was admitted, and she said when women were welcomed to campus, the tone changed dramatically.

“It changed the atmosphere for the good of course,” she said. “It became much more serious. The boys made it really a big thing that they didn’t really care all that much, but when the women came in and showed they were eager to learn and perform, the boys woke up because they didn’t like the idea of being outperformed by the women.”

Professor emeritus Gerald Smith, whose first week on the job coincided with the first week the women students were in classes, said the same.

“In general, the mood was pretty upbeat, but it was also kind of a spectacle. As the young women were moving in, there was a group of guys from KA and they were lining both sides of the sidewalk as the women were taking their luggage in. They were hooting and whistling, and making remarks that would get them banished from campus today,” he said. “In class, it was completely different. From day one, it was clear that these women were a force to be reckoned with — they knew they were under the gun, and they were ready.”

One of those students was Judy Ward Lineback. Her older brother had gone to Sewanee, and through visiting him on campus, she fell in love with the Mountain. Fifty years later, that love remains alive.

“I just knew that was where I wanted to go and didn’t care about any other schools. I didn’t even apply anywhere else,” she said.

Woody Register, professor of history and director of the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, said that though the celebration of Sewanee’s women is deserved and overdue, so is the acknowledgement that not all was peachy.

“We’re covering 50 years here, and I know that the most thoughtful of people don’t just sing hymns to Sewanee, even as they cherish and value the education they had here and in many cases the social experience of education here,” he said. “There is no one Sewanee woman who stands for all, just as there is no one Sewanee man who stands for all, although we might imagine that there is. It is important to remember that with the admission of women, for a long time, there lingered still the idea that women, their concerns, and their interests were here by invitation only. Women at Sewanee were seen as guests at the table, and that was a hard attitude to displace.”

Pan Adams-McCaslin was among the first class of women at Sewanee. Through her Sewanee experience, she became the first in her family to graduate from college.

“Sewanee made something more possible for me and opened doors that I would never know,” she said. “What I found and continue to find is that the foundation I got at Sewanee, the skills I learned in thinking and processing, the ongoing community of friends that are still sustained through the years — those things serve me to this day.”

Adams-McCaslin added that though her time on the Mountain was transformative, there are moments that stand out as in need of closure, for both her and her classmates.

“I appreciate the fact that they are honoring the class because it certainly changed the dynamics of the school for the better,” she said. “But it wasn’t all wonderful, and to say that it was for the sake of the celebration is not telling the full history. There were women in our classes that continue to make a difference, and we share in that pride, but for many of the women, there is healing that needs to happen. I hope there will be room for that among the celebrating.”

To Hayley Shelton, who graduated in 2004, it is partly because of those difficult moments the first class of women had to endure that she is so grateful to those who came before her.

“These women were the ones that took up that mantle and paved the way for us to be able to do fun things, but also to actually have a place in the sciences and on campus to create our own programs and bring in female faculty. These are women who, for whatever reason, have not received equal recognition even though they did everything the guys did, but backwards and in heels,” Shelton said. “We truly owe everything to that first class of women, the class after them and the class after them, where we grew in ranks. They made it clear women were not going to be ignored, and women were going to flourish. It is because of them so many women have been able to.”

​Homecoming and “50 Years of Women” Events Include Amanda Shires Concert

The first women admitted to the University of the South as full-time first-year undergraduate students matriculated 50 years ago, in September 1969. It was the beginning of sweeping changes in the College and the community. The anniversary will be celebrated with returning alumnae as “50 Years of Women at Sewanee” events overlap with Homecoming 2019 (Oct. 31-Nov. 3).

Tickets for the Amanda Shires concert (8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, Guerry Auditorium) will be available as follows: University faculty, staff and students can receive a ticket by showing their University ID at the McGriff Alumni House between 1 and 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, and all day Friday, Nov. 1. Community members can purchase tickets for $20 each, at the same times and location. If any tickets remain, they will be available at the door; faculty, staff, and students must show ID, and community members may purchase tickets.

The community is welcome to attend the presentations, panel discussions, and other events listed:

Thursday, Oct. 31

5 p.m. “Women in Music” talk by Kerry Ginger, professor of voice. Come hear about the role of female characters in opera’s standard repertory and contemplate why their stories often culminate in death. Featuring the music of Zauberflöte, Bohème, Carmen, Salome, and Tosca. Ralston Listening Room, duPont library.

Friday, Nov. 1

8 a.m. Dedication of a plaque honoring 50 Years of Coeducation at Sewanee. Walsh-Ellett patio in the Quad.

9–10:30 a.m. Coffee and Career Conversations with alumnae and current students. Students can network and learn from graduates about career paths and helpful tips for life after Sewanee. Sponsored by the Career Center. Convocation Hall.

10:45 a.m. The Office of Civic Engagement hosts a celebration of alumnae and students dedicated to service. Come take a gallery walk of posters where students will describe their projects of community engagement and hear from alumnae (onsite and via video) and current students about their work to make the world a better place. Hear how a Sewanee education has prepared alumnae to have a heart of service. Convocation Hall.

11:45 a.m. Screening of “Mine 21,” an award-winning short documentary about a deadly coal-mine explosion that took place in Whitwell, Tenn., in 1981. The film follows Kelsey Arbuckle, C’19, and Alexa Fults, C’21, both from Grundy County, as they find out more about this event that took the lives of 13 miners. The documentary is directed by Sewanee alumnus Stephen Garrett and produced by Professor Chris McDonough.

2:15–3:30 p.m. Sewanee Women Then and Now. Bairnwick Women’s Center hosts a panel of current students and alumnae who will offer their thoughts and experiences on what it has been like to be a woman at Sewanee, then and now. Mary Sue Cushman Room, the Women’s Center.

3:30 p.m. The Road to the Rhodes and Beyond with alumnae Rhodes Scholars: Ramona Doyle, C’81, Jennifer Michael, C’89, Anne Jones, C’98, and Katharine Wilkinson, C’05. Moderated by Ellen Goldey, C’85, vice president for academic affairs at Centre College. Torian Room, duPont Library.

4:30 p.m. All Saints’ Day service. Rt. Rev. Kathryn “Kai” McCrossen Ryan, C’86, recently ordained as 11th bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Texas, will preach. All Saints’ Chapel.

8 p.m. 50 Years of Women Concert featuring Grammy-winning artist Amanda Shires, L’17. Guerry Auditorium. Singer-songwriter and fiddle player Amanda Shires has released six acclaimed solo albums, her most recent “To The Sunset” in 2018. This fall, the Highwomen—a new collaborative formed by Shires, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby—officially launched with a new album.

Saturday, Nov. 2

9:30 a.m. Celebrating 50 Years of Women: The Evolution of Support and Wellness, panel discussion. Gailor Auditorium.

10 a.m.–noon. Ninth Annual Campus Gallery Walk with performances at each location.

Diedrick Brackens’ Allegiance, University Art Gallery.

Skirts and Gowns, the history and legacy of women at Sewanee, Museum Gallery, Archives and Special Collections.

Alumnae Arts Showcase, Spencer Commons.

Mary Stuart Hall’s video and sound installation Sympathetic Dissonance, Carlos Gallery of the Nabit Art Building.

11 a.m. Women of the Decades panel moderated by Professor Virginia Craighill, C’82. Reflections from alumnae throughout the years. Panelists include Genye Hawkins, C’74, Mary Hance, C’75, Jess Baumhauer Hill, C’81, Kate Belknap-Burchak, C’83, Charlotte Thomas Riddle, C’91, Rosilyn Rayborn, C’04, La’Toya Slay, C’11, and Brittany Macon, C’14. Hear the history of women at Sewanee from those who lived it. Gailor Auditorium.

Go to https://new.sewanee.edu/alumni/50-years-of-women/5...


Fluoride Vote Postponed; Water Bill May Change


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 22 meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners, the board decided to postpone the vote on fluoridation of the water supply to the Nov. 19 meeting. The board also discussed simplifying the appearance of water bills, which would alter the categories of reported charges but would not affect the total amount owed.

In August, the board gave notice it would vote in October to discontinue adding fluoride to treated drinking water. Board president Charlie Smith recommended postponing the scheduled vote since board member Art Hanson was absent. Four visitors attended the meeting to voice their opinions on fluoridation.

Retired dentist Dr. Robert Childress provided the board with 30 pages of documentation supporting continuing fluoridation, along with letters of support from retired pediatric physician Dr. William Altemeier and retired dentist Dr. Bruce Baird.

When water supply fluoridation began 50 years ago, studies showed it reduced tooth decay by 40 percent, Childers said. Current data shows water supply fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 25 percent.

“There are other ways people can get fluoride,” said Sewanee resident Jane Flynn. “The dentist can apply it.” Currently 50 percent of U.S. communities do not add fluoride to the drinking water, Flynn stressed. “There are thousands of studies showing problems with fluoride.”

Dr. Robert Ashby, Dental Director for the Southeast Region of the Tennessee Department of Health, said, “We very much support fluoridation.”

“We should rely on the available data to inform our decisions,” said Sewanee resident and professor of psychology Jordan Troisi.

Smith noted, “less than one percent of the drinking water SUD treats is used for human consumption. Only a very small population receives any benefits from the added fluoride.”

Commissioner Ronnie Hoosier pointed to statistics documenting the large amount of bottled water Americans drink.

SUD manager Ben Beavers estimated the cost of adding fluoride at 50 cents per customer per year.

“It’s not just the cost of adding fluoride,” said Commissioner Paul Evans. “Fluoride eats our equipment up.”

Beavers explained the vent tube was the source for the external corrosion of the fluoride feed equipment. He compared the corrosive effect to 16.5 percent bleach solution and estimated the cost of replacing the equipment at $6,000-$7,000.

Turning to the 2020 draft budget, Beavers said the big-ticket capital improvement items were leak detection ($35,000), replacing the aging tractor at the Wastewater Treatment Plant ($25,000), and equipping pump motors with Variable Frequency Drives to reduce power consumption ($30,000).

“There are no significant changes in income or operating expenses in the 2020 draft budget,” Beavers said. He noted, however, he has not yet received figures on health care costs.

The board is considering a 0.5 to 1 percent rate increase, according to Smith.

The proposed bill simplification would remove the charge categorized as “water and sewer repair and replacement” and include that amount in the charge for gallons used. The charge for “water and sewer repair and replacement” is based on gallons used. Only the appearance of the bill would change, not the amount owed.

The board meets next on Tuesday, Nov. 19, a week earlier than usual.

​Two Big Events for the Sewanee Review


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Sewanee is no stranger to writers—bestselling novelists, margin-scrawlers and everyone in between. Sewanee has long been a retreat for writers looking to unearth their stories, and the University of the South has a history of molding experts of language. The Sewanee Review, however, has an even longer history.

Founded in 1892 by teacher and critic William Peterfield Trent, the Sewanee Review is the country’s oldest continuously published literary quarterly.

Next week, the Sewanee Review is hitting the road to host an event in Nashville aimed at making Music City a bit more bookish.

In partnership with the Porch TN, a writing center in Nashville, the Review will host In Conversation with Lisa Taddeo and Stephanie Danler at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 28, at Bastion Nashville. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.

Taddeo is author of the No. 1 New York Times and No. 1 UK bestselling book “Three Women.” Danler is the author of the bestselling novel “Sweetbitter,” which is now a show on STARZ.

The next day, at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Convocation Hall, Taddeo and Danler will join the Sewanee Review staff to celebrate the publication of the Fall Issue.

Editor Adam Ross wrote that the Fall Issue of the Review features fiction that refuses to look away from difficult truths, as well as a tribute to founding director of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Wyatt Prunty. As a tribute to Prunty, who will be stepping down from his position, Ross wrote that more than 20 conference faculty and participants contributed pieces to honor his tenure.

Hellen Wainaina, assistant editor at the Review, said next week’s event will serve as an opportunity to see into the mind and process of an author.

“I’m imaging and hoping they’ll talk about what it’s like to be a woman in writing today, but also how their projects come to fruition,” she said.

Taddeo’s “Three Women” has been called a “portrait of longing that exposes the fragility, complexity and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power.” Taddeo’s book has been in progress for the last eight years.

“To hear about the genesis of that project, what it’s like to work on it for so long and what she’s discovered about contemporary women and desire will be incredible,” Wainaina said. “And Stephanie, she’s in this interesting middle ground where she’s an incredible author and a vibrant nonfiction writer, who is also working on the TV show. There’s so much she’s tethering in terms of what we might think of high literature, but it will be interesting to learn of the challenges of navigating those two worlds.”

Wainaina said her hope for the event is to modernize the conversation about literature in a way that reinvigorates it.

“To have these two writers who are very high up in American letters, who push us as readers to broaden our scope of who we are writing or reading or teaching about, is great. There are students who are familiar with some of these writers, and it is such a wonderful opportunity to encourage curiosity among the students. It’s also an affirmation to young writers that it’s actually possible to do this kind of work,” Wainaina said. “It’s so powerful when you can meet someone you’ve read and someone you admire that you feel is speaking to who and where you are in life.”

The Sewanee Review Fall Open House will be at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Convocation Hall. A live stream is available at https://vimeo.com/event/16329


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​Rotaract Club Relay for Life

The Rotaract Club of Sewanee is sponsoring an American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. To date, the relay has raised more than $34,000.

This event will take place from 4–8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26. Due to weather concerns, the event has been moved inside to the Fowler Center.

There will be food and drinks available for purchase, a raffle, and luminarias. Other events include a dunk tank, cornhole tournament, and a survivor lap. Set up for this event will begin at 2 p.m.

For more information on how to donate or get involved, go to www.relayforlife.org/sewaneetn


​Animal Harbor Is Sweet 16

Animal Harbor is hosting a “Keep the Harbor Light Burning” fundraiser to celebrate 16 years of the organization. The event will be at 5 p.m., Nov. 9, at St. Mark’s Hall, Otey Parish Church, 216 University Ave., Sewanee.

The birthday party bash will start with cocktails. Enjoy fabulous food catered by Old Mill Manor Restaurant, followed by a dance. Get your tickets before Nov. 1. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased online at , by calling the Animal Harbor at 962-4472 or Susan Rupert at 967-8903.

​Sewanee Autumn Open House

Merchants in downtown Sewanee are hosting an Autumn Open House. The event will be 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Oct. 26. Businesses participating are Taylor’s Mercantile, 1866 Revival, The Lemon Fair, Fine Arts at the Mountain, Locals, Blue Chair, Shenanigans, Frame Gallery, and Big A Marketing in Sewanee, and Mooney’s Market & Emporium in Monteagle. In addition, participating and selling their crafts and homemade goods in the American Legion Hall are Full Circle Candles and Caasi Specialty Cookies. Shoppers will receive a punch card at any of these locations. Visit all of these businesses, and get your card punched to be entered to win a $250 giveaway. Additional door prizes and refreshments will be available at each location.

This event is sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance, who encourages everyone to support area businesses by dining and shopping locally.

​SSO Halloween Concerts

The Sewanee Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will perform two free concerts on Thursday, Oct. 31, under the direction of their new leader, Visiting Assistant Professor Mathew L. Ward. The orchestra will perform at 11 a.m. to an audience of school-aged children in a kid-friendly presentation of some spooky classics.

The SSO will perform again on Oct. 31, at 7:30 p.m., on the Guerry Auditorium Stage. Repertoire will include “Night on Bald Mountain,” “Dance Macabre,” and “Swan Lake Suite.”

​Preparing for the Relay for Life


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The University Rotaract Club’s second annual Relay for Life is scheduled for the end of the month, and club president Caroline Sweetin and her team have been working for months to prepare. And prepare they have.

The Rotaract Club, which is an affiliate of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club, has raised $18,835 as of this printing. With the relay coming up on Saturday, Oct. 26 and a club goal of $50,000, Sweetin said they hope to continue to use the event as a means of raising awareness for the cause as well as funds to support cancer research through the American Cancer Society.

“Right now, we have 35 teams signed up and 144 total participants. Our goal is to have a total of 50 teams,” she said.

“Cancer has directly or indirectly played a role in everyone’s life, and it’s often an incredibly isolating experience. Through Relay for Life, we hope to celebrate and honor those affected while helping to provide the physical resources necessary to help keep life as normal as possible throughout treatment.”

For Sweetin, the cause is personal. Her grandfather passed away after a battle with lung cancer, and her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor.

“Seeing how hard it was for my parents to care for their parents during that time and realizing the impact it had on my family made me recognize the need for better resources and strong relationships throughout the process. As someone who is at high-risk to develop cancer, I’m grateful for the continued research and less invasive surgeries that have been developed as a result of contributions to research by the American Cancer Society,” she said.

The Relay for Life is scheduled from 4–8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, on Hardee-McGee Field at Harris Stadium, Sewanee.

“This year we have really tried to emphasize the communal aspect of Relay as all of the money that we raise stays in Franklin, Marion, and Grundy counties. Students at The University are only here for 4 years, but we want this event to reach far beyond campus organizations and into the lives of the people who live on and around the mountain long-term,” Sweetin said.

For more information about the event and how to donate, visit the Rotaract Club’s Facebook page, or go to www.relayforlife.org/sewaneetn


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​Monteagle Owns RR Bridge; Approves MGT Grant


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Applause and cheers greeted the Monteagle Council’s vote calling for the mayor to sign a letter in support of the town’s application for a grant to extend the Mountain Goat Trail across I-24 via the old railroad bridge. Forty plus residents attended the Oct. 14 special called meeting.

Before the vote, Mountain Goat Trail Alliance Board President Nate Wilson addressed questions raised at the Sept. 30 meeting about who would maintain the bridge since ownership was unclear. Since that meeting, Wilson learned Monteagle acquired the bridge in a 1992 purchase along with the old railroad bed in the downtown area and a gas, water, and sewer easement from Sewanee to Tracy City.

At a subsequent meeting with city attorney Harvey Cameron, Cameron and Wilson agreed it would be in the town’s best interest for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) to assume ownership of the bridge. An already approved TDOT grant project will extend the trail from Clifftops subdivision to the interstate. It was in TDOT’s interest to support a project providing safe passage across I-24, Wilson stressed.

For TDOT to assume ownership of the old railroad bridge, Monteagle would need to remove the lead paint and repaint it, Wilson said. He proposed paying for the expense by reducing the amount of the off-bridge trail provided for by the grant. Initially the budget called for the multi-modal path to continue beyond I-24, perhaps as far as Tower Bank.

The letter of support states Monteagle agrees to pay the five percent ($50,000) match required by the $1 million grant proposal and that other grant sources will provide the $50,000. A second letter accompanying the grant application states the MGTA will provide Monteagle with the $50,000 match.

At the September meeting, council representatives also expressed concerns about lacking operating capital to cash flow the fully funded 95 percent portion of the grant, even though the city would be reimbursed for expenses every 30 days. Addressing the concern, city recorder Debbie Taylor said, “If Monteagle receives the grant, we hope we can fit this in next year’s budget. We’ll make a new budget in July.”

​‘Mine 21’ Documentary Receives National Award


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Sewanee-produced documentary “Mine 21” was named a winner of the 2019 Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media.

“I was surprised and not surprised,” said producer Chris McDonough. “It’s a surprise to win any award. However, “Mine 21” receiving the award makes sense. The story deals with profound questions of trauma for individuals and the community.”

In the short documentary, the 1981 Whitwell mining explosion where 13 coal miners lost their lives is unveiled through the eyes of recent Sewanee graduate Kelsey Arbuckle, C’19, and Alexa Shea Fults, C’21, whose pasts are intimately linked to the mines. Videographer and Sewanee alum Stephen Garrett directed the film.

It was not until she was a college sophomore that Arbuckle learned her grandfather died in the Mine 21 explosion. She sought out classics professor McDonough, who had blogged about the disaster. Their discussion jumpstarted McDonough’s interest in making a documentary about “Mine 21.” Arbuckle brought in her classmate Fults, who also had family ties to the local mining industry.

The film was released last October. In March, McDonough, Arbuckle and Fults accepted an invitation to tell the “Mine 21” story to mental health professionals at Yale University and Western New England University. Among the psychiatrists, therapists and counselors attending was the director of the Austen Riggs Center, a therapeutic community, open psychiatric hospital, and institute for education and research.

The Austen Riggs award selection committee included both field psychiatrists and media experts, McDonough said. “Their interest is in media that portrays mental health not in an academic way, but a journalistic or more artistic fashion.” Past award recipients include the Boston Globe Spotlight Team (2017) and NPR’s Hidden Brain (2018).

“I want to deflect attention to Stephen Garrett who worked extremely hard, to Kelsey and Alexa, and to the events themselves,” McDonough said. “Everyone should know this story.”

Pursuant to expanding the 15-minute film to fit the standard broadcast length format, the Mine 21 team has interviewed labor historians, community trauma researchers, and mine safety experts. “A 25-minute version is done except for final edits,” McDonough said. “We need to power through the unfun stuff such as color correction and sound design.”

He is undecided about whether to go to PBS with the final version or to release the film at festivals. Watching a film in a group experience is different, McDonough said.

“The new cut asks harder questions about government regulations, how we heal from community trauma, and how we hold the government responsible if they don’t do their job. An individual asking those questions feels overwhelmed by them, but in a group people wonder, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ This is a story that should make people feel energized, not stuck. There are things to do in commemoration of those lives. We remember in order to become better.”

In the film, Arbuckle interviews her grandmother Barbara Myers whose husband was killed in the explosion. The segment illustrates McDonough’s point.

“When the tragedy happened, Barbara Myers went to the highest level of government to get things addressed. Her actions were heroic and deeply American. She wasn’t looking for new laws, just to get the old ones enforced.”

McDonough, Garrett, along with Arbuckle and Fults and their families will attend the Nov. 1 awards ceremony in Stockbridge, Mass. Fults, now a junior, is majoring in politics. Arbuckle is pursuing a master’s degree in public policy at American University in Washington, D.C.

​Council Candidates Priestley and Schutz: Vote now!

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

The Sewanee Community Council is holding a special election to fill a District 4 vacant seat. Candidates Mary Priestley and Paul Schutz are running for a term ending December 2022. Voting continues through Friday, Oct. 25, during business hours at the Office of Leases and Community Relations (the Blue House). Only District 4 residents can vote. To determine your district, check with the Lease Office or visit http://www.sewanee.edu/offices/leases/community-co....

Read on to meet the candidates.

Mary Priestley graduated from the University of the South, married and raised three children in Sewanee. She’s taught at the high school, junior high, and elementary school levels. At the college, Priestley taught in the Sewanee Summer Scholars Program and directed the Bridge Program in Math and Science, transition programs for minority students. She’s served as board president of the Children’s Center, Sewanee Elementary School Parent Teachers Organization, volunteer curator of the Sewanee Herbarium, and for 20 plus years volunteered on behalf of South Cumberland State Park. Earning an M.F.A. in creative writing from the Sewanee School of Letters, Priestley went on to author books for both children and adults, often drawing on Sewanee’s mountain setting. Her all-women band performs frequently at local venues with Priestley on the accordion.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my whole adult life in Sewanee, and I want to do what I can for its quality of life,” Priestley said. “I recognize both Sewanee’s uniqueness and its place in the larger mountain community. More and more, I have come to embrace the fact that the idea of ‘us and them’ is the wrong way to consider our fellow human beings. We’re all in this together, even when we disagree.”

Paul Schutz works as the director of marketing and communications at the Beecken Center of the School of Theology. Before that he owned and managed a design, marketing, and photography studio in both Portland, Oregon, and New York City. Schutz has also worked as a producer and digital technician on commercial photography shoots in Portland and New York. A graduate of New York University, Schutz is currently doing coursework at the School of Theology.

“I hope my insight, knowledge, and communication skills will be an asset to the community,” Schutz said. “I look forward to listening closely to and working with the residents of District 4.”

“I’ve lived in Sewanee since 2014 and come to love this place dearly. My wife received a Master of Divinity degree at the School of Theology, and when she finished her coursework in 2017, we realized there was nowhere else we could imagine living. This community has given my family a great deal, and it is time for me to give back.”

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