Tennesseans who want to vote in the Nov. 3 State and Federal General Election only have one week until the voter registration deadline on Monday, Oct. 5.
“To make your voice heard at the polls on Election Day, you need to register to vote,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “With the convenience of our online voter registration system, it’s never been easier or safer for Tennesseans to register to vote or update their registration.”
Registering to vote, updating your address or checking your registration status is fast, easy and secure with the Secretary of State’s online voter registration system. Any U.S. citizen with a driver’s license or a photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security can register online from any computer or mobile device at https://govotetn.com/
Voters can also download a paper voter registration application at GoVoteTN.com. Completed paper voter registration applications must be submitted or postmarked to your local county election commission office by Oct. 5.
Election Day registration is not available.
Early voting for the Nov. 3 election starts Wednesday, Oct. 14, and runs Monday to Saturday until Thursday, Oct. 29.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. In alphabetical order, here are the first five candidates for the alderperson seats in Monteagle. The next five candidates will be in the Oct. 2, 2020 issue.
Ten candidates are vying for the four open alderperson seats on the Monteagle City Council. The candidates addressed the following questions: How long have you lived in Monteagle? What special qualifications or past experience will you bring to the council? Why do you want to serve on the Monteagle City Council? Read on to learn about the candidates.
Jessica Blalock is a 17-year citizen of Monteagle. Blalock is running for a second-term as alderwoman. Her motto in serving on the council is “Our children, our future.” She is the mother of two young boys who attend Monteagle Elementary School. Her focus in her first term was to bring back and strengthen youth events and structures. “Harton Park was let go and condemned by the state,” she said. “Monteagle baseball field was forgotten.” Harton Park and the ball field were her priorities as alderwoman, and she ushered in renovation of both. Heading up Parks and Recreation, she also oversaw the Easter Egg Hunt, Movies in the Park, Community Yard Sale, holiday parades, and ball season. “With your vote I hope to have two more years to work on grants and donations to renovate Hannah Pickett Park and much more. Our children are our future.”
Jessica Favaloro and her husband often vacationed on the mountain and moved to Monteagle from New Orleans in 2012. During her career as an internal medicine physician, Favaloro held professional leadership roles in the medical and health insurance fields, as well as in church organizations. “The people of Monteagle deserve better than they are getting,” Favaloro said. She expressed dismay about the police and fire chief being dismissed and policemen and firemen resigning, and the recent issue of unexplained zoning changes. “I want to work to make things better,” Favaloro said. She is an ardent supporter of the Mountain Goat Trail and sees it as a vehicle for boosting tourism and revenue. She would also like to work to develop better recycling options in Monteagle. Summing up, Favaloro said, “Everybody wants the same thing—the town’s finances being in order, accountability, and things being taken care of.”
Ken Gipson moved to Monteagle from the Keith’s Cove community in Cowan 11years ago. Gipson’s wife is from Monteagle. “I love this community,” he said. Gipson is no stranger to leadership roles. He served as the assistant Business Agent for the Teamsters Union at Arnold Engineering Development Center for 25 years. Gipson is still employed at AEDC where he has worked for 38 years. He is also a retired National Guardsman, with 25 years of service to his country. Gipson is running for a second term as alderman. “I enjoy doing it. I have only missed one meeting in four years. We have a lot of roads we need to get paved and fixed, ditches that need fixed, and infrastructure we need to keep up. I’d like to see us go forward and prosper. It’s a beautiful place, and I’d like to keep it that way. I’d appreciate everyone’s vote.”
Kelly Layne has lived in Monteagle all his life. His first job was as radio dispatcher for the Monteagle Police Department. Layne worked in various capacities for Monteagle for over 20 years, primarily for the police and fire departments. He served several times as fire chief. “My main priority is supporting the fire and police departments,” Layne said. “A lot of folks don’t know what the fire department has to go through to get the equipment they need.” Layne stressed the importance of local support. “I was young when I started. Chief David Green with the Sewanee Fire Department helped me keep my fire department going.” Layne currently works as the Chief Security Officer for the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. “Our city needs to be for the home people,” Layne said. “It doesn’t need to expand too much into tourism in my opinion. I’m a hometown boy.”
Janet Miller-Schmidt has lived in Monteagle since 2015. She and her husband bought property here in 2006 and built a home in 2008. As a full-time resident, she immediately got involved and began attending council meetings. “That’s just my MO,” Miller-Schmidt said. “I’m not a politician, but I am a natural leader, I suppose.” In Louisiana where Miller-Schmidt lived previously, she served as president of the state PEO chapter, the oldest women’s organization in America providing college scholarships to women, and as commodore of the Gulf Yachting Association. She volunteers regularly at Morton Memorial Church and the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary. “There are things in our town that need some TLC,” Miller-Schmidt said. She’d like to see a long-term strategic plan for police and fire protection and water resources. “I understand the need to work as a team. I want to be part of leading Monteagle into the future.”
The next five candidates, in alphabetical order, will be in the Oct. 2, 2020 issue of the Messenger. They are Jeffery Oneal, Dorraine Parmley, Ron Terrill, Jodean Wade and Nate Wilson.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Housing Sewanee, Inc. (HSI) finished the Sherwood Springs energy efficient home in December, and soon after, the first owner moved in. The first home planned for the Sherwood Springs area, this smart, 750-square foot home had been in the works for the past two years. Now that it is finished, the team is onto the next project.
Among the plans for the home was space specifically set aside for a small garage building on site. Dixon Myers, co-founder of Housing Sewanee, said they call it their demonstration building and plan to use it to demonstrate the systems at work inside the energy efficient home.
“We were planning on putting posters of all the energy efficient systems in the house to demonstrate how they work. This element is for the community to have tours. The idea came from Mike Coffey, who teaches physics at the University,” said Myers. “Then, when COVID hit, we started talking about whether we needed a 3D model. I built a one-inch to one-foot scale model. There’s actual water flowing through it that feeds this house and will feed all the houses in this subdivision. When school started, we realized we needed some kind of teaching guide. That’s when we reached out to Eric Keen, who had been planning his programming for first-year students.”
Keen, who is a visiting assistant professor of environmental studies, said the relationship with Housing Sewanee actually began in the fall of 2019 when Keen was working on developing a course on human relationship with place, natural resources and justice issues through the lens of the modern home. This academic year, students in the Finding Your Place Program (FYP) course began working with HSI during the second week of August.
“One of my priorities was for students to learn about housing issues in the Sewanee area and grapple with the global forces that have brought about local housing disparities. It became clear that HSI’s work was a case-in-point of what this class is all about,” he said.
Keen said the project between the FYP students and the HSI team has three main phases — the first is to develop the teaching guide that provides background information and detailed explanations on the sustainable systems powering the home and what the impact of those innovations might be on housing justice. The second is to develop instructional packets for how to give on-site tours for different audiences, and the third is to design displays that can be used in those tours to give an overview of the HSI mission and its use of sustainable technology in affordable housing.”
Kendall Moore, a freshman student and part of the FYP team, said the team has finished the reference manual for eight different energy systems.
Cuca Ramirez, an international student from Puerto Rico, said the next step is to create the teaching manual, which will teach to the tour guides how to explain the systems in the home and what effects they have on the environment.
“This project has given me an insight into what being a part of a community means. It amazes me how every student is genuinely interested in helping this project launch because we understand the impact it has on people of the community. Apart from learning about the economy, spring catchment, solar energy, reusable building materials, and other components involved in the project, I have understood the influence of working in teams. It is hard agreeing on something when every individual has a different opinion. Planning this project with 15 different perspectives has been a challenge, but that is what makes it so valuable. Hopefully, I will witness the fruitfulness of this project,” Ramirez said.
Since HSI’s creation in 1993, the organization has built 17 houses, all with no-interest loans, and financial counseling for locals who are in the market for an affordable path to home ownership.
Myers said there are plans for a second house, which will be for a graduate of Blue Monarch’s residential recovery program, and HSI has enough money raised to install a roof, but funds are beginning to run low.
“We don’t really know any more than anybody else does. Things are really slow, but they are happening,” he said.
For more information about Housing Sewanee go to www.housingsewaneeinc.com
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Introducing the budget discussion at the Sept. 22 meeting of the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners, President Charlie Smith said, “It’s going to be hard to make a budget based on predicted revenues.” Along with uncertainties about whether or not University students will be on campus, SUD is grappling with infrastructure expense from the Hwy. 41A road project. In addition to reviewing budgeting strategy and options, the board approved a new Fire Line Policy requiring meters and announced the January commissioner election.
SUD manager Ben Beavers said he planned to use this year’s revenue as a basis for next year. SUD expects to finish the year with an estimated $20,000 loss due to a revenue decrease from the absence of students spring semester and curtailed summer programs. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” Beavers said.
Beavers stressed he budgeted conservatively, figuring on revenue being 8-10 percent below the prior year. “The 2021 budget won’t include any revenue financed capital improvements,” Beavers said. “It will be a year of doing only what we have to do.” SUD will not defer maintenance, Beavers said, as that would cost money in the long run. There will likely be no employee raises. The utility is operating with a skeleton crew and has no plans to replace an employee who recently left.
Smith asked about budgeting for screens to block toilettes and masks clogging spray field pumps at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Beavers presented two options, a screen at the Bob Stewman Road headwaters, estimated cost $100,000, or a screen at the WWTP lagoon headwaters, estimated cost $3,000-$4,000. Commissioner Randall Henley suggested, at the minimum, implementing the less expensive option to avoid replacing pumps ruined by the debris, which could cost over $10,000 per pump. Beavers will get firm figures on the screen costs.
Citing another budget expense, Beavers said he expected supply costs to increase 5-9 percent.
Discussing a possible rate increase, Smith pointed out SUD anticipated an estimated $280,000 in expenses from infrastructure relocation costs incurred due to narrowing Hwy. 41A. The University previously indicated a willingness to help mitigate the expense. “I haven’t heard much from the University, although the last meeting was favorable,” Smith said. Beavers said he had not yet presented the University with final figures, as the bidding on the road project had not yet occurred and the exact cost was not known.
The new Fire Line Policy requires meters on all fire lines. Fire line connections will be subject to a monthly demand fee plus any water used on a monthly basis. Beavers said the need for the policy came to his attention when reviewing SUD’s water loss audit. SUD’s unaccounted for water loss exceeds 30 percent. (Unaccounted for water is water produced at the plant, but not registered as sold on customer meters.) Beavers said the policy would help rule out water loss sources. He also noted fire line connections posed a potential demand on resources, which SUD needed to be prepared to meet. Existing fire-line connections are exempt from the meter requirement, but all new connections and replaced or altered connections will require a meter.
SUD is seeking candidates to run for an at-large seat on the board of commissioners coming open in January. Potential candidates should contact Beavers at the SUD office. Smith currently holds the seat and will seek re-election. Commissioners receive a $50 stipend for each meeting they attend.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Sept. 14 Franklin County School Board meeting, the board opted to move forward on two circumstances with far reaching impact: support of a temporary moratorium on testing and surveying Franklin County High School students and faculty on whether or not to change the school’s mascot. The board also elected officers, designate funds to address the leaking roof at the central office, and approved using surplus middle school funds for a track at Franklin County High School and air conditioning at the Huntland School auxiliary gym.
Explaining the Tennessee School Board Association recommendation to resolve to declare a moratorium on standardized testing for the 2020-21 school year, board member Sarah Marhevsky said, “We don’t know what the year will hold. With teachers trying to juggle both virtual students and in-person students, if we could take away the stress of tests, teachers could focus on teaching and trying to make up the gaps from last year.”
The survey to access student and faculty opinions on changing the FCHS mascot will ask two questions: one, grade level; two, ‘Do you support changing the mascot?’ The respondee may answer, yes, no, or don’t care. FCHS guidance counselor Lee Brannon recommended conducting the survey electronically during school hours to verify all responses were from students and faculty.
The board will discuss the mascot question at the annual October workshop and vote on the issue at the Oct. 12 board meeting. The workshop will also address adopting a five-year strategic plan. Board member Chris Guess stressed the need to “focus on synching CTE and academics” to help students develop social skills like awareness of how important it is to arrive at work on time.
CleiJo Walker and Lance Williams were reelected to serve as chair and vice chair for the 2020-21 school year.
In the budget amendment discussion, Director of Schools Stanley Bean spoke to the need for allocating $150,000 in Capital Outlay funds to address the leaking roof at the central office. Broadview and Sewanee Elementary schools also have roof issues, Bean said. Gary Clardy, construction manager for the middle-schools project, is preparing a prioritized five-year plan accessing the roof, lighting, and air conditioning needs of all district schools.
Bean’s call for using surplus middle school construction funds for a track at FCHS and air conditioning for the Huntland auxiliary gym met with six to one approval when brought before the county finance committee.
“The track athletes have been running on asphalt for years. We’ve neglected that for our track athletes,” Bean told the school board. The board gave unanimous approval.
The two new middle schools are nearly completed with only some parking lot work remaining and a few other small details. An open house is scheduled for Oct.25, 1 p.m. at South Middle School and 3 p.m. at North Middle School.
Touching on personnel issues, Assistant Superintendent Linda Foster said there had been a number of resignations and new hires. “Our first month was very busy,” Foster said. She expressed concern about the limited list of job applicants and having very few substitute teachers this year.
Marhevsky presented a letter of appreciation and support for district employees “for all the extra work it’s taking for them to do their job this year.” “Educating students couldn’t happen without them,” Marhevsky insisted. “They’ve all had to do so much more.”
The board will offer comments and edits via email before sending the letter to all employees as an expression of gratitude from the board.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Beginning with the fall semester, the newly formed Public Health Department became part of the University’s Risk Management team. “The goals of the Public Health Department extend beyond COVID, but the immediacy of COVID is where we really jump in,” said Dr. Mary Heath, who, with Public Health Officer Mariel Gingrich, heads up the department. “The focus is on testing and keeping COVID within circumscribed boundaries to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
“The goal is to stop the spread of COVID on campus,” said Gingrich. “The challenges are multitudinous.”
“COVID can be spread asymptomatically, so people are spreading it before they know they have it,” Gingrich said. “The symptoms can be vague and mild like a cold. There’s a nationwide shortage of testing and lab capacity. And there’s the issue of public perception. Some people are ambivalent about the spread of COVID and others want to shut down everything.”
Pointing to the importance of “communicating, making sure the community is consistently engaged, not just for a day or two,” Heath acknowledged the role played by “the fatigue of testing, fatigue of thinking about this.” Heath went on to stress, “The disease is not static. It’s always moving and the interplay with surrounding communities is always happening by way of other school districts, athletic teams, going to the grocery store.”
Breaking that idea down into action, Gingrich said, “Just because you test negative, don’t stop masking and neglect handwashing and practicing social distancing. Don’t throw caution to the wind. Just because testing is frequent, don’t stop masking. Life has to go on, but we can’t forget it has changed.”
“I’m a physician in town with Sewanee Pediatrics, so my audience is broader than faculty, staff, and students,” Heath said. “We hope to have more time to communicate beyond the University bubble. The whole county should be wearing masks.”
Heath met with Franklin County Director of Schools Stanley Bean and school principals and recommended mask wearing for all public-school students and employees, but the policy was not adopted except at Sewanee Elementary. The University has a Domain-wide mask mandate in place.
Top on the immediate agenda for Gingrich and Heath is promoting the importance of getting a flu vaccine.
“People don’t get flu vaccines at the rate they should,” Gingrich said. “The flu sends hundreds of thousands of people to the doctor each year. During an existing pandemic that’s especially stressful. The symptoms are much like COVID. Why should you get vaccinated: one, so you won’t mistake your symptoms for COVID; and, two, so you won’t run to the doctor and get exposed to COVID or take up resources needed by those who do have COVID.”
Gingrich and Heath both grew up with parents who worked in public health. After earning an undergraduate degree in English, Gingrich worked in communications in the public health sector and decided to pursue a career in that field earning a master’s degree. Following college, Heath served in the Peace Corp and discovered how satisfying it was helping people, “helping parents have healthy children.”
Gingrich finds herself drawn to consider “the larger societal implications.” But she insisted, “I encourage everyone to be responsible, but not to be mean. It doesn’t help. Stress brings out the worst in people.”
Gingrich and Heath’s foremost immediate message: “Help us out. Help yourself. Get a flu vaccine.”
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Six seats are open for the Sewanee Community Council on the Nov. 3 election, four district seats and two at-large seats. Election officer Theresa Shackelford mapped out election protocols and possible changes at the Sept. 14 meeting. The council also heard updates on narrowing Highway 41A, reviewed cell tower plans and adopted a resolution honoring recently retired Vice-Chancellor John McCardell.
Council representative Pixie Dozier (District 3) and at-large representatives Cindy Potter and Shackelford will not seek re-election. Potential candidates must have resided in Sewanee at least two years and should submit a petition signed by 10 registered voters in their district to Tabatha Whitsett in the Provost’s Office. For at-large candidates, 10 signatures from any Sewanee registered voter suffice. Candidates should also submit a photo and brief bio. Nominating petitions are available from the Lease Office. The deadline for submitting petitions is Oct. 15. Page 11 of this issue has a nominating petition.
Early voting will be at the Lease Office during regular business hours from Oct. 16–30. Council representative Anna Palmer volunteered to help with Nov. 3 election day voting at Sewanee Elementary School.
Palmer suggested an electronic signature option for petitions, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Council representative Erik Keen proposed a remote voting option. Shackelford and Palmer will explore implementing the suggestions.
Frank Gladu, who heads up the Sewanee Village Project, updated the council on plans to narrow Highway 41A, a Tennessee Department of Transportation project six years in the making. Construction could begin as early as next spring, Gladu said. Benefits include sidewalks, planting strips, and a pedestrian activated crossing signal. Gladu estimates construction to take 9 to 15 months. Through-traffic passage will continue during construction with no traffic diverted onto University Avenue or other Sewanee streets.
Shackelford expressed concern about a rate increase to Sewanee Utility District customers to pay for the infrastructure relocation required by the project, estimated to cost $288,000. “The University is in discussion with SUD to address their expense and reached a verbal agreement to partner with SUD to avoid any rate increases associated with the project,” Gladu said. He praised SUD for working with TDOT to mitigate the expense and significantly reducing the initial estimated cost, $500,000.
Asked to comment on plans to locate a cell tower at the initially-proposed football field site, Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety said, “Because we have no idea how long the pandemic will last, it’s vital we improve our cell phone IT as quickly as possible and that we do so as cost effectively as possible.” In the meantime, Verizon will supply the University with COLT (Cell On Light Truck) service, cost $100,000 each six months. Brigety hopes the COLT will be in place before Christmas. He stressed the football field site, estimated cost $245,000, offered the best propagation, and the tower would not require a light. Remarking on the possibility of relocation of the tower with technological advances allowing for improved propagation, Brigety said, “I can’t imagine 30 years from now there will still be a cell tower at the football field.”
The council adopted a resolution thanking former Vice-Chancellor John McCardell for his service as council chair and Sewanee mayor. [See McCardell Resolution page 2.] The resolution praised McCardell for his commitment to “shared understanding,” encouraging council representatives to consult with their constituents and community members to attend council meetings.
At the June meeting, Shackelford proposed revisioning use of the Funding Project monies, but at the Sept. 14 meeting she withdrew the suggestion, citing the uncertainties of the pandemic.
The council also approved a new Dog Control policy bringing the community’s policy in line with state law.
The Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club is hosting the sixth annual Hunger Walk as a week-long virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the Hunger Walk is to raise community awareness about food insecurity on the South Cumberland Plateau and to raise funds to support organizations combating food insecurity in the community.
Anyone may participate. Pick a route, then walk, run, or cycle. Dollars raised go toward the Community Action Committee and Grundy County Food Bank to help the more than 12,000 people in the tri-county area who do not have access to adequate nutritious food.
Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4, walk, run, or cycle at your chosen location. This year, participants are challenged to log as many miles as they can in a one week period.
Participants can create a fund-raising page to track how much money is raised, and use Endomondo to track the distance, which will be visualized on the website. Go to www.thehungerwalk.com
Questions or concerns about registration? Email Project Manager Nellie Fagan <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
In March, the University closed the Fowler Center leaving Bodyworks Youniversity owner Kim Butters without a work space. She began teaching Pilates classes via Zoom from Angel Park, but discovered that many of her private and duet students missed working out on the Pilates apparatus that they could not do on Zoom. She then moved two Pilates Reformers to the front porch of her Maple Street home, 6 feet apart of course, and began doing “front porch sessions.”
Business quickly began to rebound as clients found the fresh air and nature sounds a great addition to the workout. In anticipation of cooler weather, Bodyworks Youniversity has moved from the “front porch” to the American Legion Hall. There is plenty of room for social distancing and the windows are open to keep the fresh air coming in. For more information visit www.bodyworksyouniversity.com
Students Can Learn Online, Graduate Online in Every Tennessee County
NASHVILLE – Adults across Tennessee who did not graduate high school now have an online pathway that will lead them to a high school equivalency diploma. Every county in the state offers students virtual classes that will prepare them to take the online HiSET examination.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) is coordinating the statewide campaign “Learn Online. Graduate Online.” to make adult education accessible to all interested Tennesseans.
“There are still several adult education programs whose classrooms are closed due to COVID-19,” said Jay Baker, interim Assistant Commissioner of Adult Education. “We want everyone interested in improving their math, literacy, and English language skills to know they never have to leave home and they can still work to change their future. And that includes earning a high school equivalency diploma—all of it can be done completely online.”
Individuals interested in learning more about their local adult education program can call TDLWD at 800-531-1515. Callers will give agents details about their local area and then transfer the caller to the adult education provider in their area.
Once in contact with a local provider, interested individuals will receive the resources needed to begin their online adult education. All course programs are available virtually and will prepare students to take the online HiSET examination to determine if they have earned their high school equivalency diploma.
The online exams are identical to HiSET exams taken in physical testing centers in terms of content, format, on-screen experience, and scoring. Each of the features test takers experience in testing centers, such as the ability to preview, skip questions, review, and change answers, are available with the online exam.
“Earning a high school equivalency diploma can really change a person’s life,” Baker added. “An adult who has a diploma can earn much higher wages and unlock more opportunities for education and career advancement.”
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s HiSET Voucher Program covers all costs associated with the exams. To receive a voucher from a local Adult Education program, a test taker must be a Tennessee resident and demonstrate test preparedness through a qualifying practice test.
Monday, September 14, 2020 | 03:00pm
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) will once again ask unemployment claimants to complete weekly work searches beginning Sunday, Oct. 4.
Claimants who choose to continue receiving unemployment benefits will start work search activities during the week of Sunday, Sept. 27. They will then document those searches during their weekly certification for Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, and each week after that date.
Claimants who have a definitive return to work date due to a temporary layoff do not need to complete this requirement.
Self-employed workers can fulfill the requirement by completing business improvement or enhancement activities.
- Out of Work: Not Job Attached: Claimants who are out of work, and do not have a job to return to, will be required to complete weekly job searches.
- Self-employed: Work search activities for those individuals who are self-employed and on the PUA program may include calling on clients, submitting bids or proposals, applying for contract or gig work, and or attend training. They should continue taking proactive steps to reopen their business. If they do not plan to reopen their business, they must complete a work registration and seek work.
- Out of Work: Job Attached: Claimants who are temporarily laid off or furloughed, but expect to return to their previous employer, are not required to complete weekly job searches.
- Union Workers: Claimants, who are union workers, and attained employment through their union hiring hall, are not required to complete weekly job searches.
- COVID-19: Claimants who are out of work due to one of the COVID-19 reasons listed in the CARES Act may be exempt from performing job searches if they self-certify that they are unable to look for work due to one of the designations and are otherwise able and available.
The Reemploy Tennessee program can assist claimants with fulfilling the job search requirement and put them on the path to new employment or job training.
Jobs4TN.gov combines the Department’s Unemployment Division and its Workforce Services Division into a powerful workforce development tool for Tennesseans searching for a new job. This integration allows claimants access to more than 210,000 current job openings across the state, career services, and job training opportunities – all online.
For one-on-one assistance, career specialists at Tennessee’s more than 80 American Job Centers can work with job seekers to provide customized job searches, job fairs, Reemployment Services, and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) appointments, and help them determine if job training assistance is available.
Career specialists can also work with a claimant to find free or reduced costs for transportation, childcare, uniforms, or other requirements needed to make a successful return to Tennessee’s workforce.
All these services are provided by the state of Tennessee at no cost to the job seeker.
Traditional job search methods also satisfy the requirement to remain eligible to receive benefits.
If a claimant fails to complete their work searches, they will be denied benefits for the week they did not meet eligibility requirements.
You can find more information about the work search requirements by clicking this link.
Grant Funding for FEMA Program will End with Sept. 5 Payments
NASHVILLE – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has informed the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) funding for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program $300 payments will stop after the week ending Sept. 5, 2020.
FEMA funded LWA through a $44 billion grant. Once the agency depleted that funding, the program ended.
Eligible claimants will receive the additional $300 payment for the weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and Sept. 5.
Retroactive LWA payments will be delayed by two weeks or more after the week ending date because of the time involved in the approval process for funding, the eventual allocation of funding from FEMA, and then the time it takes the state to process payments.
Tennessee has applied for funding to cover payments for the weekend ending Aug. 29. Due to the nature of the LWA grant, payments for Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 will have a lag time. FEMA approves funding on a week-to-week basis after the state determines how many claimants are eligible to receive LWA that week.
Depending on when the state receives funding from FEMA, the additional benefit could be combined with a claimant’s weekly benefit payment or it could be deposited separately on a different date.
The LWA program is retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020, and TDLWD automatically adds the $300 to the benefit payments for eligible claimants.
If a claimant was eligible for the first three weeks of August, they received a retroactive lump sum payment. Some claimants may have been eligible for all three weeks, others may not have been eligible.
To receive the additional LWA payment, a claimant must be out of work due to COVID-19, they must earn at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits, and they must complete their required weekly certifications.
Claimants who received a message last weekend asking them to confirm they are out of work due to COVID-19 cannot receive their LWA payments until they respond to the Department’s request and confirm that detail.
Unemployment benefits starting the week ending Sept. 12 will only contain the weekly benefit amount a claimant is eligible to receive through either a state or federal unemployment program.
Sewanee residents are encouraged to consider running for election to the Sewanee Community Council. The seats now held by June Weber (District 1), Louise Irwin (District 2), Pixie Dozier (District 3), Phil White (District 4), Cindy Potter (at-large representative), and Theresa Shackelford (at-large representative) will be open for election.
Candidates running for a district seat must have 10 signatures from residents of their district. For at-large candidates, the 10 signatures can come from any registered voter residing in Sewanee. Blank petitions can be picked up at the Lease Office, or are available from Tabatha Whitsett in the Provost’s Office. A district map can also be viewed at the Lease Office website https://new.sewanee.edu/offices/university-offices...
Candidates must be Sewanee residents for at least two years and registered to vote in Franklin County, Tenn. All candidates must return a nominating petition signed by 10 registered-voter residents by the end of business on Oct. 14.
Early voting will be held from Oct. 16–Oct. 30 at the Lease Office. Regular voting will take place at Sewanee Elementary School coincident with the General Election on Nov. 3.
If anyone is interested in running and has questions, they should reach out to the election officer Theresa Shackelford at <email@example.com>.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Nellie Fagan graduated from the University in May — her time on the Mountain was cut short due to the pandemic, but since graduating and moving back home to Massachusetts, she’s found ways to stay involved in Sewanee life.
Since the start of the year, Fagan, who graduated with a double major in religious studies and women’s and gender studies, has been collaborating with the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club in planning for the sixth annual Hunger Walk.
This year, rather than host a single-day run/walk event, the Hunger Walk will take the form of a weeklong virtual event. Those who choose to participate are encouraged to register either through the official Hunger Walk website www.thehungerwalk.com
David Goodpaster, director of the Community Action Committee, said it is his hope that the residents of the Mountain see the Hunger Walk as a way of helping and connecting with the wider community.
“It’s something that we’re able to do still in isolation,” he said. “Even in the midst of everything that’s going on, the Hunger Walk is still happening and there’s a reason why. It’s a way we can come together and show each other that no one is going this alone. I think it speaks to the resilience of the community.”
Because there is no set route, no set time and no set speed, participants of this year’s Hunger Walk will choose their own adventure. Fagan, who will be participating back home in Massachusetts, said she plans to get her steps in by walking her dog, Huck, and by doing laps with her family in their neighborhood.
“The walk will be different than years past, but the team has been making videos and other interactive components that we hope will allow people to feel energized and make a greater impact. We also hope that this might make participating more accessible. It’s not about getting from point A to point B. It’s how you go about your day. Do as you normally do — walk your dog, walk to class, go for a run, walk around the office,” she said.
Fagan said in the months since the Rotary began planning, the reach of Sewanee’s net has become wider and wider. She and the Hunger Walk team hope this net continues to grow.
“This year, we’ve seen alumni and friends and family of people participating get energized and commit as well. We’re hoping that the walk will continue to gain momentum and that we are able to meet our goal of providing $25,000 to the Community Action Committee and to the Grundy County Food Bank. Food insecurity was important prior to the pandemic, but the compounded impact of COVID is that more people are in less stable places than they might have been previously. In general, this is a critical issue all over the country but particularly in more rural communities like Monteagle and Sewanee.
“So much of what made my experience special was getting to meet people in the surrounding community and getting to participate in the community meal at the CAC and learn more about the place we’re in. The University and the community members that are able to own this issue should, and take advantage of opportunities to make an impact. The work the CAC and Grundy County Food Bank are doing is absolutely vital, and to be able to contribute to this important work that these people are doing every day and work alongside people who are so passionate about helping is humbling. Even in this virtual setting, there is so much energy being built around this. It’s hard to feel connected during this time, but everyone is finding ways to get there, and supporting the Hunger Walk is a great extension of those efforts.”
For more information or with any questions, contact project manager Nellie Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Folks at Home’s mission continues to be helping the community live at home with dignity. The COVID-19 crisis brought new challenges and Folks at Home expanded its offerings to meet those needs.
In March, the Folks at Home Community Cooperative project was formed to help any elder or high-risk member of the community with grocery orders and doorstep deliveries. Folks at Home has also delivered 500 meals to date to area shut-ins, with help from McClurg Dining Hall preparing the meals.
“While our programs are still suspended, we are checking in on ourmembers with a rotating call list,” said Wall Wofford, executive director. “And, in light of the need to minimize person-to-person contact, transportation services have been curtailed.”
Folks at Home is still offering a number of services. “We have durable medical equipment checkouts for our members. Folks at Home also offers basic technology support for computers and smart devices,” said Wofford.
Wofford said helping with grocery deliveries was not in such high demand as they expected it to be, but are still offering ways to shop online to help keep elderly community members at home and safe.
The staff at Folks at Home are still working remotely, but are available by telephone (931) 598-0303 and by email <email@example.com>.
“The current pandemic has challenged us,” said Wofford. “But we are committed to serving the needs of the community.”