​Payment assistance available for qualifying DREMC members

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) continues to support their members by providing payment assistance through Project HELP.

The goal of this program is to enable DREMC members to stay current on their electric bills during times of financial stress, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and associated rise in unemployment.

This emergency residential energy assistance program is facilitated by generous monthly and one-time donations from members and DREMC employees and is overseen by local nonprofit organizations in each of the seven counties served by the cooperative. Since its inception in 2015, Project HELP has yielded more than $214,000 in donations. A contribution of an additional $30,000 was recently made by DREMC and was matched by the Tennessee Valley Authority through their COVID-19 Community Care Fund.

“Helping our members during difficult times makes a difference to the families who are struggling,” said DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence. “With support from Project HELP, many are receiving assistance with electric bill payments as economic challenges continue.”

Locally DREMC partners with Franklin County Good Samaritan Association to offer Project HELP assistance year-round.

“Project HELP gives Duck River Electric employees a resource to offer members in a time of need,” said Office Supervisor Amy Holcomb. “Members can apply for immediate relief of their financial need through Project HELP rather than extending due dates and prolonging the worry associated with making a payment. Project HELP is a great support for those in need of assistance.”

To determine program eligibility and apply for assistance through Project HELP, visit the Franklin County Good Samaritan Association at 1725 Decherd Boulevard in Decherd. Normal hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. To speak with someone at the organization, call 931-967-9336.

Community donations are vital to the success of Project HELP. To make a monthly donation, check the appropriate box on your DREMC billing statement, contact your local office or visit www.dremc.com. One-time donations are also accepted at any DREMC office. All donations go directly to help those who qualify for Project HELP assistance.

“If you are unable to pay the electric bill, remember that Project HELP may provide part or all of the solution,” said Spence.

https://www.dremc.com/community/project-help/


​TENNESSEE STATE PARKS HOST VIRTUAL BICYCLE RIDE ACROSS TENNESSEE

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks has announced that the Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT) will be a virtual event this year for the health and safety of riders and park personnel.

“This is a great event for cyclists across our state, and the virtual format will allow everyone to participate while still practicing social distancing,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “It’s a way to maintain personal goals but still follow safety guidelines in light of COVID-19.”

Under the virtual format of the month-long event, Sept. 1-30, riders can log their miles on lovetoride.net as part of the Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee Cycling Club. The goal is for participants to ride 688 miles, the distance from Bristol to Memphis, in the month of September. Since this year is the 31st annual Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee, the club has a goal of 31,000 miles collectively.

In the past, riders would take out-and-back rides together. The virtual ride encourages riders to keep riding with shared goals in an online community and with shared routes across the state. The ride is non-competitive.

The cost to participate is $150. Riders can register at https://tnstateparks.com/blog/the-bicycle-ride-across-tennessee-is-brining-riders-together-virtually and connect with the BRAT on its Facebook page.

All participants will receive:

  • Access to trusted routes from past BRAT rides at multiple Tennessee State Parks through Ride with GPS
  • 2020 BRAT jersey and T-shirt
  • Eligibility to win prizes throughout September
  • Access to invitation-only small group rides located across the state of Tennessee with the BRAT director
  • The opportunity to build your own cycling vacation around the provided routes with lodging at Tennessee State Parks
  • The opportunity to enjoy park activities and guided programs just like you would at the normal Bike Ride Across Tennessee

Participants do not have to live in Tennessee to participate and are welcome to log their miles any way they choose, including road cycling, indoor cycling, gravel or mountain biking.

Proceeds go to the development and protection of the Cumberland Trail, a 300-mile-long footpath down the eastern edge of the Cumberland Mountains, and the Tennessee Park Rangers Association, which provides scholarships and training for park rangers throughout the state to continue education in order to provide the highest level of protection for Tennessee State Parks.

​Early Voting Ends Saturday

Time is running out for Tennesseans planning to vote early in the State and Federal Primary and County General election. Early voting ends Saturday, Aug. 1.

The State and Federal Primary and County General election is Thursday, Aug. 6.
“County election officials have worked diligently to make early voting safe and easy,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “There’s no need to wait. I encourage voters to take advantage of the final Saturday of early voting.”
Tennesseans are encouraged to do their part during early voting and on Election Day to stay safe. This includes wearing a face covering and maintaining a six-foot distance from poll officials and other voters. Voters should expect to see signs with further safety instructions at their polling locations. All poll officials will be wearing face coverings and are trained in social distancing protocols.
Voters can find their early voting and Election Day polling locations, view and mark sample ballots, see their elected officials, districts and county election commission information as well as access online election results through the GoVoteTN app or online at GoVoteTN.com. Download the GoVoteTN app for free in the App Store or Google Play.
Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid photo identification to the polls. A driver's license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, by Tennessee state government or by the federal government are acceptable even if they are expired. College student IDs are not acceptable.
https://govotetn.com

Gov. Lee Unveils Safe Reopening Plan for Tennessee Schools


Tuesday, July 28, 2020 | 03:54pm

Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced today the State of Tennessee’s recommendations to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Providing parents a choice in their children’s education is incredibly important,” said Gov. Lee. “In-person learning is the medically sound, preferred option. Our state is doing everything we can to work with local school districts and ensure that in-person learning is made available in a way that protects the health and safety of our students and educators, and this plan helps us accomplish that goal.”

“Leading health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Academies of Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering, have all stressed the importance of in-person learning for students,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Health Dr. Lisa Piercey. “The Department of Health has worked with Department of Education to establish a protocol to keep school buildings open safely and cause minimal disruption when positive cases occur.”

“Tennessee is prioritizing health and safety of our school communities,” said Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. “Ensuring schools, teachers, families, and students have the critical resources and supports they need to start the new school year strong is paramount, and I am thankful to Governor Lee for continuing to support education in Tennessee as schools reopen across the state.”

The recommendations from the Department of Health and the Department of Education are below:

Health

When to Test & Quarantine

10-Day Sick Window

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves at home for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or 10 days from the date their test was done if they never developed symptoms. Fever must be gone and they must be feeling better for at least 24 hours.

14-Day Quarantine

Anyone who has been within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for 10 minutes or more must quarantine themselves at home for 14 days from the last time they were with that person. These time periods do not change with a doctor’s note or with a negative test.

Contact Tracing

Keeping schools open for in-person instruction depends upon our ability to quickly isolate people who are sick and quarantine their close contacts.

If a child is ill, parents should not send them to school where they could infect others. If a child is diagnosed with COVID-19, parents are asked to assist the Department of Health by contacting the child’s close contacts so those individuals can quarantine at home.

If a parent is notified that their child has been in close contact of someone with COVID-19, please follow the guidelines and quarantine them at home for 14 days.

Texting Platform

Schools may be able to assist with notifying families of the need to quarantine through text messaging services. If parents receive a message from their child’s school informing you that your child needs to stay at home for 14 days, please follow those instructions.

Immunizations

School entry immunizations have not changed. Even if students are learning online, they still need the required immunizations to register for school. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on immunization rates: 43 percent fewer immunizations were reported during April 2020 compared to April 2019.

It is critical that children receive regular check-ups and have their immunizations up to date. Immunizations mitigate outbreaks of preventable diseases, such as the measles and whooping cough.

COVID-19 Impact on Vaccinations 0-19 years old

Supporting Child Wellbeing

In response to the pandemic’s long-term effects on Tennessee’s school districts and students, Gov. Lee charged Commissioner Schwinn with convening the 38-member COVID-19 Child Wellbeing Task Force. The findings of the taskforce’s Initial COVID-19 Impact Summary include:

  • Reports of suspected child abuse dropped by 27% during peak stay-at-home orders in Tennessee;
  • 75 percent of students nationally receive mental health care in a school setting;
  • In 2019, approx. 45,000 school-aged children were served for mental health through the community-based system;
  • Approximately half of districts were able to address or check on wellness and safety of students during spring closures;
  • Nearly 14 million students across the country go hungry when school is not in session, so resumption of in-person learning is critical to ensure access to nutrition.

Academics

Empowering Parents

Whether it be in-person or virtual, we want parents to have a choice in their child’s education. For those who choose the virtual option, the State will provide free resources to supplement their district’s school-based services. The resources include:

  • Early Literacy Resource: A free resource for students pre-K through 2nd grade to build foundational skills and support early literacy;
  • PBS Learning Series: Complete lessons for 1st- 9th grade students in both math and ELA taught by Tennessee teachers;
  • STE(A)M Resource Hub: Three challenges per week to spark creative thinking, design, and career exploration from the home;
  • Start of the Year Checkpoint: A free and optional assessment to measure student performance at the beginning of the year and help inform educators about student readiness for the year ahead;

Advocating for Students

Technology and Continuity of Operations

Devices and connectivity will be critical resources to ensure quality remote learning this school year. The $50 million grant initiative to support district technology purchases is now available and is intended to increase student access to one-to-one instructional devices such as laptops or tablets.

The Department of Education is supporting districts, schools and teachers through additional WiFi and technology supports, including 250,000 devices.

Meal Supports & Food Accessibility

The school meal finder will continue to be provided to ensure parents know where to go for school meal programs should a school building be closed.

Financial assistance is available for families who qualify for free or reduced school lunches, through the Department of Human Services’ Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program.

Supporting Teachers

Safety Equipment for Teachers

The State is providing no-cost PPE, including face masks for any school stakeholder who wants or needs one, thermometers for every school, and face shields for every staff member. This includes 298,000 cloth reusable masks for teachers, and 27 million disposable masks for students distributed by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Every classroom teacher will have a full-year classroom disinfecting kit to use so no teacher pays for these materials out of their own pockets. The kits include hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, gloves and masks.

School nurses will be provided with surgical masks, gloves, protective gowns, and face shields.

Professional Development Resources

The Department of Education will offer free professional development classes on remote teaching that will cover relationship-building, using instructional materials, and system set-up. These resources have extended through August 31st.`

Principals and assistant principals will have access to remote education professional development through UT-Knoxville, and teachers have access through Trevecca Nazarene University.

The Department also announced the Special Education Additional Endorsement Grant, which will enable every public school district to provide at least one teacher with a special education endorsement (SPED) for free. Eight SPED Additional Endorsement Grants, totaling $1 million, have been awarded to Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) to deliver courses in a virtual environment.

Assisting Districts

Decision-Making Protocol

The Department of Education will provide district leaders with a decision-tree that includes recommendations on how to keep school buildings open safely when a case or cases are confirmed among students or staff, developed in collaboration with the Department of Health and School & District Action Teams.

Recruiting Additional Personnel

A job board for educators and substitute teachers has been created so districts can use remote resources to ensure they are staffed for the start of the year and can fill vacancies more quickly. More than 1,000 educators have already utilized the job board, showing the strong teaching workforce present in Tennessee.

Funding

Ensuring districts have the resources they need to implement remote learning with fidelity is paramount. The $11 million grant program to bolster programmatic supports and implementation will be released to districts soon.

The Department of Education is establishing a criteria list for potential district partners to ensure supports are well-versed in the academic programming needs to successfully implement district Continuous Learning Plans (CLPs).

As districts finalize their CLPs and build team capacity to effectively implement them, this grant program will provide funding for supports such as:

  • Training educators on effective instructional practices in virtual classroom environments;
  • Integrating the use of high-quality instructional materials in virtual instruction;
  • Supporting operational aspects of virtual instruction, including IT support for students, families, and staff.

Tennessee will continue to ensure parents, teachers, and school leaders are equipped with the appropriate information to provide a high-quality education for all students.

Contact Sports

Gov. Lee will issue Executive Order No. 55 to allow for contact sports to resume, provided they follow the requirements of TSSAA. Non-TSSAA schools must follow equivalent guidelines, and non-school-sponsored athletics should follow the Tennessee Pledge guidelines. An update to the Pledge guidelines will be forthcoming.


https://www.tn.gov/governor/news/2020/7/28/gov--le...

​TDA ISSUES GUIDANCE FOR UNSOLICITED SEEDS RECIPIENTS

NASHVILLE — Citizens have contacted the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) indicating they’ve received seeds in the mail that they did not order. The seeds appear to have been shipped from China, and in some cases, the envelopes are labeled jewelry or beads.

“While we have no reason at this time to suspect that these seeds were sent with ill intention, we want to take every precaution to be sure an invasive or otherwise threatening plant species doesn’t take hold here,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said.
Imported plant materials go through rigorous testing and inspection to ensure they are not carrying any plant disease or pests and do not pose any threat to health and environment. So far, no evidence has been found to indicate these unsolicited seeds have gone through appropriate inspection, or if they are even the type of seed they are labeled to be.
If citizens receive seeds they did not order, they should not handle or plant the seeds. Instead, seal the bag of seeds into two plastic bags and send all packaging to TDA. If the seeds have already been planted, TDA recommends digging up the seeds or sprouted plants. They should be double-bagged and placed in the trash. It is not advisable to compost the seeds or sprouted plants.
Our partners at USDA believe the seeds may be a “brushing scam” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales.
Persons can send unsolicited seed packages to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, attention Plant Certification. The original envelope as well as any paperwork or enclosures and the bag of seeds should be included along with the recipient’s name, contact information and full address.
Mail to P.O. Box 40627, Nashville, TN 37204
or send via UPS or FedEx to 436 Hogan Road, Nashville, TN 37220
If a person prefers not to send in their seeds, notify TDA that the unsolicited seeds were received. Call Plant Certification at 615-837-5137 or email Plant Certification Administrator Anni Self at anni.self@tn.gov. Provide your name, contact information, and where you live, as well as what you received and any photos. Seeds should be double-bagged and sealed, and placed in the trash for disposal.
TDA continues to monitor this situation and are working closely with our federal partners and partners in other states. We will provide the latest information on our social media channels. Follow @TNAgriculture on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

COVID-19 Assessment Sites Open

The Tennessee Department of Health has COVID-19 assessment sites available across the southeast region. A full list of sites can be accessed www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html

Currently, there is free drive-thru testing available, Monday through Friday, at the health departments in Bradley, Franklin, Grundy, McMinn, Rhea, and Sequatchie. Residents in Bledsoe, Marion, Meigs, and Polk counties may also call their local health department during regular business hours for assistance in getting tested.

Franklin County Health Department, drive-thru testing 8:30–10:30 a.m., Monday–Friday, 266 Joyce Lane, Winchester, TN 37398, (931) 967-3826.

Grundy County Health Department, drive-thru testing 8:30–10:30 a.m., Monday–Friday, 1372 Main Street, Altamont, TN 37301, (931) 692-3641.

Marion County Health Department, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday, 24 East 7th Street, Jasper, TN 37347, (423) 942-2238. Call ahead.

Application Period Extended Until August 14 for Pandemic Food Assistance


Tennessee Department of Human Services is extending the deadline to help more families receive Pandemic EBT benefits
Friday, July 24, 2020 | 02:10pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee parents have additional time to apply for an important program designed to help them feed their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will now be accepted online for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program here until Friday, August 14 at 4:30 P.M. Central Time.

This extension provides the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) with more opportunity to continue outreach efforts with community organizations. This month TDHS partnered with one organization to launch a statewide campaign to inform parents about P-EBT through radio ads.

P-EBT provides parents with $5.70 in benefits per child for each day that child qualifies. These benefits can be used to purchase food at any establishment that accepts EBT or online with Amazon and Walmart.

To be eligible, children must receive free or reduced meals at school or attend a Community Eligibility Provision school. The program is designed to replace meals lost during the months of March, April, and May due to COVID-19 school closures.

“Hundreds of thousands of children currently have access to additional nutritional support through our P-EBT program and we want to make sure more families are aware of this opportunity,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “These families depend on the meals their children get at school and immediately faced an unexpected financial burden when those schools closed. By providing these families with the support they need now we are taking important steps to build a thriving Tennessee when the pandemic passes.”

TDHS initially launched P-EBT on June 12 by providing the benefits to qualifying families that take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. These families already have an existing EBT card and P-EBT benefits were automatically applied to those cards.

Families who do not currently receive SNAP or TANF need to apply for the program and will receive a P-EBT card in the mail after approval. Approval times can be delayed by inaccurate or incomplete information on the application so families are encouraged to double check all names and addresses to make sure they match what their children’s schools will have on file.

Individuals who need assistance completing their P-EBT application or have general questions about the program are encouraged to call the TDHS Family Assistance Service Center at 1-866-311- 4287.

https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/news/2020/7/24/ap...

TSSAA adopts COVID-19 regulations and fall sports contingency plans


July 22, 2020

Tennessee now has a roadmap for both high school football and girls’ soccer in the fall.

Convening its Board of Control Wednesday in Murfreesboro, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) approved measures to outline the potential for a nearly complete football and girls’ soccer season.

The league also adopted unanimously its COVID-19 guidelines and procedures required of all member institutions who wish to compete in all athletics in the 2020-21 calendar school year.

A full copy of the regulations and fall sports rules modifications can be found on the TSSAA website.

“The regulations and guidelines the Board passed today go into effect immediately for all sports,” said Bernard Childress, Executive Director of the TSSAA. “We’re hopeful that the prohibition on contact sports will be lifted before August 29, but if it’s not, the Board of Control has put some policies in place to help keep our kids and communities safe and lay out a roadmap to the start of our football and girls’ soccer seasons.”

What the association does not yet have is an exact start date for competitions. The reasoning there is fairly straightforward: Tennessee high schools and their athletics programs, as well as myriad other entities, cannot begin practices and/or games in contact sports under Gov. Bill Lee’s current State of Emergency Order. Executive Order No. 50 promotes “social distancing and avoidance of large gatherings” and limits activities in contact sports.

“We are working hand-in-hand with the Governor’s Office,” Childress said. “Everything presented today has been vetted by the Governor’s Office, agreed upon by their legal counsel and by our legal counsel.

“The governor’s (executive order) is still in place. We cannot do anything right now other than weightlifting, conditioning, heat acclimation periods with no contact. This is not TSSAA vs. the Governor’s Office. Everything has been a joint effort and we are not in conflict. Our goal is to have an ordinary season as much as possible.”

For football’s “Option 2 Hybrid” plan, the state preserves the potential for an 10-game regular season and full playoff format, but also lays the groundwork for what could become an eight-game season with a reduced playoff field for Division I.

The plan perhaps is most succinctly summarized as thus: Once the state of Tennessee reaches the date of August 4 and the governor’s executive order declaring a State of Emergency still stands, region games originally scheduled for Week 1 of the prep football season will be moved to later, common dates that TSSAA already has modeled. As each week passes where no contact is allowed, the next week’s region games are rescheduled.

For Greg McCullough, Memphis Central principal and TSSAA Board of Control vice president, keeping schools’ schedules nearly intact was a strong positive. The original Plan 2, as conceived, would have gutted all schedules statewide and left coaches scrambling to fill multiple open dates.

“Just my personal opinion, but having lived that scheduling nightmare already, this makes sense to me, but it needs to be explained well to coaches. This allows a better option for all schools and gives a chance for schools to play as many games as they can possibly get.”

Now, with a vote on the Option 2 Hybrid, there is a potential start date in place and a plan for the season to begin as early as Aug. 21 or as late as Sept. 18.

The TSSAA already had modeled how it would handle the potentially affected region games slated for the original opening week of the season with the following example:

William Blount and Maryville High School are scheduled to play each other at the onset of the season; both teams have non-region games in Week 7. The Govs are set to play Elizabethton while Maryville is scheduled to face Knoxville powerhouse Fulton. Maryville and William Blount, under the Option 2 Hybrid, would then face each other Week 7. Elizabethton and Fulton could work to play each other, find another game or have an open date. Only region games are mandatory.

"As of this past Monday, football teams were permitted to begin their heat acclimatization, which can be done without contact," said Richard McWhirter, TSSAA Assistant Executive Director. "Understanding though, that heat acclimatization is 'per athlete,' I recommend that schools get students' acclimatization done as soon as possible. Athletes that have completed acclimatized by the time the contact order is lifted are then ready to begin full contact practice."

The board also tackled how to handle a COVID-19 breakout as it pertains to competition in both the regular and postseason. A regular-season game becomes a win for seeding purposes if the opposing team can’t play due to COVID-19, but the team struck with illness would receive neither a win nor a loss. If both teams confront outbreaks of the virus, it is considered a “no-contest.”

Additionally, for all sports and not merely the upcoming fall divisions of cross country, golf, volleyball, football and girls’ soccer, the TSSAA and its board voted unanimously to allow students whose school systems are beginning with remote instruction to still be allowed as full participants in all sports.

On the girls’ soccer front, in an effort to maximize the number of games and opportunities for competition, the TSSAA adopted a measure to begin the season September 7 --- if Gov. Lee’s order is lifted after its current August 29 expiration date --- with a regular season spanning eight weeks from beginning to end and championships set for Nov. 11-14. If the order is lifted prior to Aug. 10, the season and championships will proceed as usual with no changes.

Additionally, the organization voted to allow girls’ soccer teams that either do not qualify for postseason or which are eliminated prior to the championships to schedule additional games, up to the maximum number, in order to achieve a full season of competition. This builds in some flexibility in the event multiple matches are cancelled or postponed in the season due to the virus.

“This gives schools the chance for the maximum number of playing regular-season contests,” said TSSAA Assistant Director Mark Reeves. “We will continue allowing schools to play regular-season games even after eliminated or failing to qualify for the postseason. They are not to exceed that number (10) but at least they have the opportunity to get to it.”

See the complete sports regulations, rules modifications and contingency plans on the Tennessee Returns To Play page at TSSAA.org.

State of Tennessee Launches “Face It” Ad Campaign to Promote Masks to Fight COVID-19


Thursday, July 23, 2020 | 12:49pm

Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced today the State will launch a public service announcement campaign that urges all Tennesseans to fight against the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask. The ad campaign, titled “Face It. Masks Fight COVID-19”, will run on broadcast and cable television, digital, social media, print, and billboards statewide. You can view the video here.

“Wearing a face covering when in public is a simple but effective way for us to each do our part and help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Lee. “I wear a mask every day at the office, when Maria and I are out in public and especially when I visit my 87 year old mother. It’s a personal choice for Tennesseans, but it’s one that could very well save lives and allow our economy to get fully back on track.”

The campaign will officially launch Friday, July 24.

https://youtu.be/C9NdF1V0cls

Sales Tax Holidays

The first tax-free holiday weekend in Tennessee focuses on clothing and other back-to-school items. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 31, and ends Sunday, Aug. 2, at 11:59 p.m. During this time, consumers may purchase clothing, school supplies, and computers and other qualifying electronic devices without paying sales tax. Exempt items sold online are also eligible. Consumers must purchase items for personal use, not business or trade.

The second sales tax holiday weekend focuses on restaurant sales. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 7 and ends Sunday, Aug. 9, at 11:59 p.m. During this time the retail sale of food and drink by restaurants and limited service restaurants is exempt from sales tax.

For more information about the sales tax holiday weekend, visit www.tntaxholiday.com


Moving Service Lines Will Cost SUD $288,000


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Moving service lines to accommodate the narrowing of Hwy. 41A will cost the Sewanee Utility District approximately $288,000, manager Ben Beavers informed the board of commissioners at the July 21 meeting. How to pay for this unbudgeted expense in the midst of suffering heavy revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic focused much of the board’s discussion. The board also addressed financial planning and approved a revised Sewer Adjustment Policy that will benefit pool owners.

Narrowing Hwy. 41A is a priority initiative of the University’s Sewanee Village Project. A Sewanee resident who attended the meeting said, “I think it’s terrible…measuring up to somebody else’s vision, that’s what I object to. And the money.”

“It wipes out our cash on hand,” said Commissioner Paul Evans.

Beavers said the cost could be reduced slightly from the $288,000 figure by eliminating two service lines that loop back to other lines. However, the modification would negatively impact fire flows, and SUD’s cost would still be $220,000.

To pay for moving the lines SUD will need to “reduce expenses or raise rates,” said Board Chair Charlie Smith.

In the past month SUD has experienced significant unexpected expense on two fronts: $7,000 for an air compressor at the water plant and repairing water lines busted in the Ben Lomand fiber-optic installation process.

“The contractors were not liable except in one instance,” Beavers said.

Meanwhile, due to the pandemic, SUD’s revenue is almost $60,000 below the year-to-date budgeted projection. Beavers said June water sales were 25 percent below 2019, and sewer sales were down 33 percent. The May decrease in revenue was even greater. “It’s a slightly better picture than it was in May, but there’s no way we can recover,” Beavers insisted.

“Even if we borrow money [to pay for the road project], we’ll still have to raise rates,” said Commissioner Doug Cameron.

“It’s not fair the customers have to pay for what nobody else wants,” said Commissioner Randal Henley.

The board agreed with Beavers’ recommendation to appeal to the University for financial relief. Beavers will speak with Frank Gladu, who heads up the Sewanee Village Project. If that fails to yield results, a commissioner delegation will seek a meeting with the vice chancellor.

Following up on investigation into Long Term Financial Planning by Evans and Smith, Smith proposed SUD accept the offer of the nonprofit Communities Unlimited to perform a three-part study for SUD. The board approved moving forward with the project. The study will include an asset management plan (i.e., determination of the longevity of tangible assets and replacement cost); a rate study; and a vulnerability assessment.

There will be no cost to SUD. Beavers already tracks tangible assets’ longevity, but concurred the supplemental information provided by the study would be useful. He pointed out a rate study normally costs $10,000-$12,000.

The revised Sewer Adjustment Policy provides for a sewer adjustment for customers with pools. Normally, customers pay sewer charges based on their water usage. If the pool water does not drain into the sewer, the water used to fill the pool will be deducted from the customer’s sewer bill. One pool adjustment per year will be allowed, pools must be filled all at one time, and customers must notify SUD when they plan to fill their pool. SUD will base the adjustment on the pool’s estimated size.

Flying with Cavagnaro


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Catherine Cavagnaro readied Niky for the flight. Niky is her 4-seat Beechcraft Bonanza, one of two airplanes she uses to teach flying lessons and practice her aerobatics for stunt flying. She inspected the body of the craft before moving into the cockpit to check the controls, the flight software and the communications system.

Next, she prepped her passenger, Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety, to see Sewanee from the sky.

Cavagnaro has been flying since 1999, but she said she got a bit of a late start. She moved to the Mountain from California in 1993 to take a position as professor of mathematics at the University. She didn’t learn to fly until she was 34. But that didn’t stop her from going full throttle.

Since she learned to fly in 1999, her flight path has been direct. In 2001, after encouragement from a friend, she became certified to instruct aspiring pilots.

“Once I became a private pilot, I started taking lessons from Bill Kershner, and after a few years, he asked me to teach with him. I started teaching with him and that’s the point where I specialized in aerobatics. He passed away in 2007 and over those years, I kept doing more and more teaching and flying. I never meant to do it, but people kept calling me. I’ve run the school at the airport by myself since,” she said. “I’ve had people come here from all over the country and the world. Student pilots all the way to airline and military pilots. They come here to learn and it’s just been great.”

Cavagnaro said she’d seen Brigety exploring the Domain, riding horses and jogging around campus. She said when she suggested the two of them go flying, he immediately agreed.

“He really seems like he’s enjoying the gifts that this Domain has to offer, and one of the most unique of those gifts is our airport. I asked him if he would like to take a flight, and he jumped at it. I showed him his kid’s schools and his new house. He absolutely loved it,” she said. “Where else but Sewanee can you do this?”

Brigety echoed her sentiments and said seeing Sewanee from the top down is something everyone should have the chance to do.

“It was a great experience to fly with Dr. C, as her students call her. She took me up in one of her airplanes and asked me if I wanted to do any aerobatics. I said no thank you,” he said. “To see the true glory of the Domain was fantastic. There are lots of schools that have libraries and football teams and orchestras, but very few have their own airport. That is something we absolutely have to use to our advantage. Mark my words -- we are going to develop it.”

Over the years, Cavagnaro has become an expert in aviation, getting involved in research with the University of Tennessee Space Institute and writing a monthly column for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association magazine, which has the highest circulation of any aviation magazine in the world, about the science of flight, proficiency, efficiency and safety.

“I’m also a designated examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration, which allows me to occupy a unique role in encouraging safety. I want to know our pilots are going to be safe to themselves and their passengers,” she said. “I feel like I’m forever a student of aviation. Everything I do in math and aviation makes me love the other field more. Being able to fly, it’s like a roller coaster where you determine the course. Every week, I learn something about the science of flight that I didn’t know before. It’s a never ending opportunity to learn and study and become better.”

Mountain Market Adjustments for COVID-19

The annual Mountain Market for Arts & Craft will take place during the last weekend of the month on July 25 and July 26, Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. This event, located outdoors in Hannah Pickett Park (16 Dixie Lee Ave. Monteagle) is one of the longest running markets in the Southeast. This event brings together craftsfolk and artisans to the Mountain each year to showcase one-of-a-kind, handmade items and art pieces. The market also hosts a handful of plant and food vendors.

A number of changes and precautions will be in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to http://southcumberlandchamber.com/mtn-market/

Below is a list of Market adjustments that are in place due to COVID-19, developed by consolidating information from the Tennessee Health Department, the TN Governor’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Group, other crafts festivals, and industry partners:

The Mountain Market will be encouraging a directional flow of traffic using additional signage, arrows, and maps.

There will be only one pedestrian entrance into and out of the Park - this will be located near City Hall on the DuBose Street side. This will have directional flow, hand sanitizer, and a reminder sign listing the symptoms of COVID-19. Chamber volunteers will be monitoring the flow of traffic and limiting the total number of people in the park at a given time.

Signage will also include information to encourage customers to be aware of CDC guidelines.

Masks are strongly recommended in compliance with current CDC and TN Government regulations. By adhering to this request, you are helping to make the market safer for the vendors, you and your family, and your fellow customers.

Because of COVID-19, there will not be prize giveaways this year. This is to help limit the transfer of items between persons, reducing potential exposure.

To account for social distancing guidelines, the total number of vendors has been capped, and there will be ample space on walkways. Vendors will be encouraging social distancing within their vendor booths.

All restrooms will be cleaned every hour; trash will be emptied regularly.

There will be hand sanitizer stations available throughout the Park. Also, we have secured a donation of individual hand sanitizers to pass out to family groups as they enter the Park.

We understand the ongoing pandemic is a new and unusual situation. We are doing all we can to work with vendors to provide flexibility as they monitor how COVID-19 affects their individual situation. Vendors are asked not to attend if they or someone they have been in contact with have exhibited COVID-19 symptoms within the past two weeks.

We will be following any new CDC, state or local government guidelines that are added between now and the Mountain Market.

The Mountain Market wants to thank you. Vendors and chamber volunteers alike are approaching this year with cautious optimism. The Mountain Market values and appreciates all of its customers, and cares for the health of everyone involved. If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been around someone who has, we ask that you forgo this year’s Market.

Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee Urges Community Members to Wear Masks


Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee is urging community members to wear face masks or cloth face coverings in public areas where social distancing is not easily achieved in an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This aligns with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being an effective way to prevent the spread of the illness. The hospital has already instituted a universal masking protocol within its facilities and requires anyone entering to wear a face mask at all times.

“Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee strongly encourages our community members to wear masks because each of us plays an important role in helping to keep our community safe and protect one another from the spread of infectious diseases,” says Cliff Wilson, chief executive officer at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee. “One of the easiest and most effective ways we can look out for each other and aid in the fight against COVID-19 is to wear a face mask in public spaces right now.”

Recent studies have shown that universal masking can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, especially in individuals who may be asymptomatic and unaware that they are ill. Face masks and cloth face coverings should be worn over the nose and mouth, and be held securely in place with loops or ties.

“Until there is a vaccine, wearing a mask in public, practicing social distancing and proper hand hygiene are our best lines of defense in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Cliff says. “That’s why we’ve established a universal masking protocol in our facilities to help protect our patients, providers and employees, and we’re encouraging our fellow citizens to do the same in other public places. By looking out for each other, we’ll get through this together and continue making our community healthier.”

For more information from the CDC on face coverings and how to make your own, visit CDC.com. To learn more about how Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Winchester/Sewanee is working to ensure the safety of patients during this time, visit www.SouthernTnWinchester.com


​Sewanee Masking Directive Reminder

Earlier this month University Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety, acting in his capacity as Sewanee mayor, instituted a mandatory mask directive for all persons on the Domain, including residents, visitors, students, faculty, and staff. The directive went into effect July 3, 2020, in response to the serious threat to public health posed by the increasing incidence of the novel coronavirus in Tennessee.

Signage reminding customers of the directive is posted at downtown businesses and additional, larger signs will soon appear to make visitors aware.

Security officers are in the downtown Sewanee area to help remind visitors and Domain residents to wear masks when they are within six feet of other people. The officers will not use force to bring about compliance, but will issue a friendly reminder and offer a mask to someone who is not wearing one.

“Our strategy for keeping our community safe as we prepare to welcome back students from around the country is to keep transmission of the virus to a minimum and to be able to track the virus so that we can stop its transmission,” said Brigety. “A universal testing regime and masking requirement are essential to this effort. If it fails, we may be forced to go into lockdown and/or evacuate students from the Mountain.”

“I am asking everyone in our community to encourage others to comply. Please remind others to wear a mask when they are within six feet of one another and to have a mask handy at all times when they are in public.”

The University posts frequent updates to its COVID-19 website to keep the campus and Sewanee community informed.

The masking directive states: All residents of, and visitors to, Sewanee are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth when in public or inside buildings other than private residences, with five exceptions: when they are alone; when they are asleep; when they are eating or drinking; when they are maintaining a physical distance of six feet or more from any other person; and if they have a documented medical condition that precludes their wearing a face covering. If in doubt, individuals should wear a mask. Everyone is asked to have a mask on their person at all times so that they may don it when circumstances require.

For more information about the University of the South, visit www.sewanee.edu


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