​University to Establish On-Campus COVID-19 Testing Lab

The University of the South is establishing its own testing lab on campus to provide greater capacity and faster processing for COVID-19 tests administered to students, faculty, and staff.

The idea to establish a lab on campus resulted from exploring ways to help make Sewanee’s existing COVID-19 testing program more efficient. Using our own lab will allow the University to scale according to our unique needs, as well as expand testing into different categories. The new Sewanee lab will be located in Spencer Hall.

Alyssa Summers will be the technical director of the Sewanee Molecular Diagnostics Lab and oversee the day to day operations, while both she and Clint Smith will work as molecular lab specialists to process samples. The goal is to be operational at some point in December, and to manage the University’s COVID-19 testing next semester. Both Summers and Smith will continue to have faculty duties in the Department of Biology; Summers also will continue as the director of the Office of Medical and Health Programs.

The University’s investment in the lab signifies its belief in testing as one vital strategy to continue having students reside safely on campus, as well as its commitment to the safety of the Sewanee community. It also demonstrates confidence in providing an on-campus learning experience during the 2021 spring semester.

National Public Radio reported recently that only 6 percent of colleges with in-person instruction this fall are routinely testing all of their students, and more than two-thirds “have no clear testing plan or are testing only students who are at risk.” The University understands that testing alone is not a full response to the pandemic, but it is a critical component of our strategy, along with #ProtectTheBubble, emphasizing the 3 W’s, holding some classes outdoors, changes in dining operations, and the other steps we have taken this fall.

When operational, the lab initially will focus on processing student and employee COVID-19 tests. In 2021, the lab will be able to serve University Health Services by testing for other illnesses in addition to COVID-19 (e.g., strep, HIV, and the flu). Having a clinical lab on campus brings with it not only the ability to be responsive and agile in our testing strategy but also offers new opportunities. There is the potential for new research endeavors with the medical community and clinical outreach with community partners, as well as new opportunities for students through internships and potential post-graduate programming.

The University extends congratulations to the team that has worked so hard to take the Sewanee Molecular Diagnostics Lab from an idea to reality. The new lab is perfectly aligned with Sewanee’s strategy for the future, which includes the wellness of the student body as one of its pillars.

​SUD 2021 Budget Big-Ticket Items


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 20 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners weighed pursuing capital improvements in 2021 which would forestall increased expenses in the future. The board also discussed the status of the plan to narrow Highway 41A and the upcoming commissioner election.

Commenting on revenue projections in the 2021 budget, SUD Manager Ben Beavers said he reviewed averages for the past five years and past eight years and based 2021 estimated revenue at just below the midpoint. Although 2020 revenue year-to-date was 5 percent below budget, it was still within the eight-year average, Beavers said. Tap fees sales had boosted 2020 revenue, and water and sewer sales were up compared to August of last year. Beavers speculated the August 2020 increase might be due to more handwashing.

Beavers recommended spending $35,000 for leak detection in 2021 in the hope of reducing unaccounted for water loss. Unaccounted for water loss is the difference between water produced at the plant and water passing through customer meters, meaning SUD is not paid for the water. Unaccounted for water loss has averaged 30 percent for 2020. Beavers said the pattern suggests the cause is leaks, not faulty metering.

Taking up another future-expense issue, the board advised Beavers to include an additional big-ticket item on the 2021 budget: a filtration screen for the wastewater collection headworks at Bob Stewman Road, estimated cost $125,000. The headworks screen is needed to block toilettes and masks from clogging the collection system grinder pumps and spray field pumps at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Replacing the Bob Stewman grinder pump alone would cost $12,000, Beavers said. “For the long-term health of the pumps, the headworks screen will be money well spent. The screen will add 40 percent to the life of the pumps.”

The 2021 budget also includes $194,508 for the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) project to narrow Highway 41A. Beavers recently consulted with TDOT and learned no one had bid on the project. Beavers was advised the earliest the project would be rebid was in December. TDOT is considering combining the Sewanee project with other projects to make it more attractive to bidders. Beavers said SUD is required to hold a sum equal to the estimated cost of the project in reserve in Local Government Investment Pool accounts. “It’s still our money, but we can’t get to it,” Beavers said.

Looking to administrative concerns, the board discussed the January commissioner election. SUD is seeking candidates for the open seat currently held by President Charlie Smith. Smith will seek re-election. By law, SUD must present a slate of three nominees. Commissioner candidates must be SUD customers. Commissioners earn a $50 stipend for each meeting they attend. Potential candidates should contact Beavers at the SUD office, (931) 598-5611.

​Community Council Election: Meet the Candidates


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office.

On Nov. 3, Sewanee residents will elect six members to the Sewanee Community Council, one member in each of the four districts and two-at large members. Council members are elected for a four-year term. The candidates were asked to address the following questions: How long have you lived in Sewanee?; Why are you running for the council?; and What special qualifications or skills will you bring to the position?

Geoffrey M. Smith, Candidate for District 1

Geoffrey Smith is dean of students at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School, where he serves as co-chair of the humanities department and coaches boys’ varsity soccer. He teaches a place-based course in American Studies as well as electives on Southern Appalachian history, the Holocaust, and research methods. Smith has been recognized for teaching excellence by Humanities Tennessee and the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. Among other projects, Smith has examined the themes of religion, labor, childhood, and the transition to adulthood in the work of James Agee. Smith taught previously at All Saints’ Academy in Winter Haven, Fla. He is a graduate of the University of the South and lives on the SAS campus in the historic Father Flye House.

June Weber, Candidate for District 1

I moved to Sewanee permanently in 2006 after visiting frequently in the past. A native of Louisiana, I attended Louisiana State University. My first career was as an elementary school teacher, but I soon discovered real estate. I have been a licensed real estate agent and broker over 49 years. I have held many local and regional positions in the real estate industry and sat on many statewide committees. I am the mother of a Sewanee graduate and a Rhodes graduate. Locally, I have been involved in many organizations. I am a past president of the Sewanee Woman’s Club and active in the Morton Memorial United Methodist Food Ministry and other church projects. I support the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance and many other activities here on the Plateau. I look forward to continuing service on the Sewanee Community Council and working with our new Mayor, Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety.

Bruce Manuel, Candidate for District 2

I moved to Sewanee in 2016 after I retired from working as a civil servant in the Department of Defense. Prior to that career, I served in the Navy for 20 years. A friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in running for a seat on the council and, after some thought, I decided to do so. Like other residents who are also alumni, I believe it provides me a unique perspective when it comes to fostering a healthy relationship between the community and the University. My many years in the military and working for the federal government helped me develop useful interpersonal and leadership skills. This experience can be a valuable asset to any group.

Louis Rice, Candidate for District 3

My wife Sandy and I retired to Sewanee in June 2015, following my 30-plus year career in university development. I worked five years at Sewanee, 12 at the University of Illinois, and 15 at Georgia Tech. I was born in Sewanee, as were my mother and grandmother.I graduated from the University in 1973. In 1983, I left practicing law in Atlanta to work for the University in the Office of Development to start Sewanee’s Planned Giving Program. I bring to the Community Council the perspective of a native son, an alumnus, an employee of the University, and now a resident retiree. I currently serve on the Board of the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance and have been Superintendent of Abbo’s Alley since 2016. Serving on the Community Council is yet another way I can give back to Sewanee. I would be proud to represent District 3 in that capacity.

Lynn Stubblefield, Candidate for District 3

We moved to Sewanee in October of 1982. We chose Sewanee because we wanted a family and wanted to raise them in the most perfect community we could find. Thirty-eight years later, I’m still here. I am running for the District 3 seat on the Sewanee Council because I care about the present as well as the future of Sewanee. It is important that your voice be heard. I care about all of Sewanee, not just the campus. I feel you need a representative who is familiar with the many aspects of our community. I am a member of the Sewanee Business Alliance, Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary, the Retail Academy, and Otey Parish. I have served on the board of the Civic Association, and as a realtor for 35 years. I am a constant volunteer. I am asking for your vote.

Phil White, Candidate for District 4

I came to Sewanee as a student in 1959 and never left. I have always maintained close relationships with both University employees and local residents.I have been an active member of the Council for three terms and played an active role in lowering the transfer fee, solving the airport light issue, and building and managing a dog park. I wish to continue to work hard for the good of the community.

Bill Harper, At-Large Candidate

I graduated from the University as an economics major in 1978, my wife (Knowles) in 1979 and my boys in 2007 and 2010. I spent my career with various Wall Street firms as a financial advisor in the DC area. While there, I was involved in a number of church and nonprofit leadership roles. In 2006 we bought a second home in Sewanee, becoming residents in 2009 as I learned to work remotely. I retired 2 years ago. In addition to University volunteer activities, including currently serving as a trustee, I co-chaired the Community Chest drive with Knowles and established the Civic Association’s Opportunity Fund, for which I serve as chairman of the investment committee. I have also served on the South Cumberland Community Fund board. If elected, I believe I will be an effective advocate for this warm, inclusive community of which I am proud to be a member.

Ed Hawkins, At-Large Candidate

My family and I moved to Sewanee Christmas Day, 2007. I immediately became interested in our local businesses. Formerly, I was a Senior VP in the Commercial and Consumer sectors for Wachovia, now Wells Fargo Bank, and have held positions ranging from Head of Marketing to Chief Financial Officer. I’m currently a real estate professional and partner at The Blue Chair and University Realty. A founding member of the Sewanee Business Alliance, I worked to create a team of business owners that work together for the good of our community. I also assisted in forming a village partnership between the SBA and University and helped advance the Angel Park vision, Friday Nights in the Park, AngelFest, the Light Up the Village festival and the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. I’m eager to help the town and University succeed together and to serve in a new capacity as a Community Council member.

Augustine “Spike” Hosch, At-Large Candidate

Spike is a 2012 graduate of the college, returned to the Mountain in 2015, and has lived in Sewanee since. In serving Sewanee and its neighboring communities as an AmeriCorps VISTA, as the president of the Grundy County Rotary, as the treasurer of the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace, and on the board of the South Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, Spike recognizes the importance of including perspectives from stakeholders across the Mountain in the Community Council. Spike cares deeply about his adopted home and thinks he can continue the accessible and responsible representation demonstrated by past at-large council members. Whetherelected or not, Spike frequently can be found at the Phil White Dog Park with his fluffy dog, Mavis.

John C. Solomon, At-Large Candidate

John Solomon, born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, came to the United States in 1966 to attend college at Sewanee where he received a B.A. in Economics.In 2008, following a 34-year banking career in St. Louis, John was offered the opportunity to return to Sewanee to restart the Pastoral Spanish program at the School of Theology.After retiring in 2017, he focused on family, local volunteer roles, outdoor activities, and travel. During his recent tenure as President of the Rotary Club of Monteagle-Sewanee, John became increasingly aware of the needs, and opportunities to address these needs, in the local area.He sees communication, public awareness, and bringing people and resources together as the best way to address these.

It is John’s love for this community that drives him to run for an at-large position on the Community Council, where he hopes to continue offering his time and talent.

Bess Turner, At-Large Candidate

Bess Turner moved to Sewanee in June of 2012 and began working for the University that same summer in the Office of Admissions, while also maintaining a small real estate practice with Gooch Beasley. In 2015, she transitioned to University Relations to work on the capital campaign and now serves as the Director of Development, Alumni, and Church Relations for the School of Theology. Bess and her husband, Chris Crigger, are parents to four teenagers, three of whom attend St. Andrew’s–Sewanee. Bess has been an active supporter of the sustainable development of the Sewanee Village, serving on the Village Advisory Board and the Sewanee Business Alliance. She believes that a vibrant local economy, along with accessible housing options for all Sewanee residents, will help the University attract and retain faculty, staff, and students, and will cultivate a community with a strong sense of belonging.

Early voting for the Sewanee Community Council candidates continues at the Lease Office (The Blue House), 400 University Ave., Sewanee, through Oct. 30, during regular business hours. Election Day voting, Nov. 3, will be at the Sewanee Elementary School.

​Monteagle Receives MTAS Opinion


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“The zoning was done in error and needs corrected,” said Monteagle attorney Jerry Bible at the Oct. 19 Monteagle Council workshop, paraphrasing the opinion of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) on zoning maps approved by ordinance in 2018 and 2019. “If the city is still in favor of making those [zoning map] changes, you should go through the process with proper notification.”

The MTAS opinion stated: “The town did not comply with the statutory and ordinance procedural requirements.” Monteagle ordinances require notice of a hearing on zoning map changes must be published in a local newspaper 15 days prior to the meeting. Fifteen-day notification was not given for the 2018 and 2019 zoning map hearings.

Attorney Sarah Bible said the Monteagle zoning map would revert back to the 2015 version.

“We’ve checked back and we don’t think the 2015 map is correct either,” said Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam.

Following the workshop, Gilliam explained a 15-day public hearing notice did not appear to have been given for the 2015 zoning map changes made by the prior administration.

The 2018 ordinance also included zoning regulations. Discussing the course of action the Planning Commission would follow, Chair David Oliver said, “We weren’t planning on adopting that [the 2018] map. We were just going to review [the regulations] and make any minor changes to the language of the ordinance.”

Sarah Bible pointed out the 2018 ordinance added the requirement of by mail notification to adjacent landowners for zoning map changes. “Calling for land owner notification is not in the Tennessee Code,” Bible said. “I don’t know where that came from.”

Oliver said the notification-to-landowners stipulation was added because of possible air quality concerns when zoning for a cement plant was under consideration.

Sarah Bible said some municipalities were requiring by mail notification to adjacent land owners. She stressed that to adopt the 2018 ordinance regulations, no by-mail notification was required. Because the 2018 ordinance had not been adopted, the stipulation of by-mail notification was not currently in effect, and even if it had been, the by-mail notification clause applies only to zoning map boundaries changes.

In other business, the council discussed getting sealed bids for the purchase of a new backhoe for the water plant to replace the out-of-service 25-year-old backhoe. Regarding concerns about a large trash pile at the former Blalock Building Supplies location and unkept property on North Bluff Circle, Gilliam recommended the city attorneys send letters to the property owners giving them 30 days to address the problems.

Gilliam also recommended temporarily tabling the plan to purchase a generator for the police department. Research revealed a three-phase generator was needed rather than a single-phase generator, which would nearly double the anticipated $6,000 cost. “We need to check around for a better price,” Gilliam said.

Informed by the Water Department about a developer’s request for service, Gilliam said the engineering would need to be done by the state since the property was outside the town’s Urban Growth Area.He predicted the cost to the developer would be “very expensive,” since the developer would need to tap into a 6-inch line on the other side of U.S. Highway 41.

No votes were taken at the workshop. The Monteagle City Council will hold its regular meeting on Oct. 26.

New COVID-19 Website Launched by Tennessee Department of Health

Design Simplifies, Streamlines Frequently Requested Data

Tuesday, October 20, 2020 | 01:00pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health and Tennessee’s Unified Command Group today announced the launch of a new website to provide COVID-19 data, additional health information and relevant updates to Tennesseans. The site is now available at COVID19.tn.gov.

“This new site will help Tennesseans quickly and easily find important information as they navigate decisions for themselves and their families,” said Governor Bill Lee. “We are committed to acting in the most transparent manner possible and are continuously working to ensure we provide timely and relevant data.”

The new COVID19.tn.gov website is designed to streamline and simplify some of the most frequently requested COVID-19 data for both desktop and mobile users. The site offers dashboards and daily reports with state and county-level information including case counts, hospitalizations and tests conducted.

“We’re pleased to offer this new tool to help Tennesseans make decisions about activities for their families, businesses and communities as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “We continue to promote data transparency and provide up-to-date information to Tennesseans to protect their health and prosperity.”

The site offers a screening tool for individuals to assess their risk of COVID-19 and practical tips on how to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee communities. A comprehensive map of testing sites across the state is also included. Information is tailored for groups such as individuals, families, educators and business owners.

The new COVID-19 website supplements information that will remain available on the TDH agency page. TDH will continue to provide updated COVID-19 case counts at 2 p.m. Central time daily.

Tennessee’s Unified Command to Conduct Weekend COVID-19 Testing Events in Rural Counties

NASHVILLE – Governor Bill Lee’s Unified Command Group will open drive through COVID-19 testing sites in three counties Saturday, Oct. 24 to address rising case rates in Tennessee’s rural areas.

“We’ve seen an upward trend in COVID cases in rural Tennessee that are cause for concern,” said Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP, Tennessee Department of Health. “Bringing back weekend drive through testing helps with access to testing which will help combat COVID-19’s continued health threat. In addition to testing, Tennesseans need to take simple, yet impactful, precautions - wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing – to protect themselves.”

Saturday’s COVID-19 testing is free to those who want to receive a test. The testing locations are as follows:

Grundy County
Grundy County High School
24970 TN-108
Coalmont, TN 37313

Fentress County
Fentress County Senior Citizens Center
308 South Main St.
Jamestown, TN 38556

Dyer County
Dyersburg High School
125 US-51 Bypass
Dyersburg, TN 38024

Testing sites will be open from 9 a.m. to noon local time, and will remain open until all vehicles in line have received tests. The testing events Saturday in Grundy, Fentress, and Dyer counties will begin an ongoing effort, through the fall, to bring weekend, drive through COVID-19 testing opportunities to rural Tennesseans. These efforts will include notification of results and
contact with the health department to provide education on isolation and quarantine recommendations that are important parts of slowing the spread of the virus.

Tennessee National Guard medics and TDH personnel will be at each rural testing site to collect nasal swabs from those who voluntarily agree to a COVID-19 test.

Participants should receive their test results within 72 hours, depending on test processing volume at laboratories. Information will be provided to participants at the testing locations on what they can expect after being tested. This information is also available at: www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novelcoronavirus/TestedGuidance.pdf.

Governor Lee formed the UCG on March 23, 2020, bringing together the Tennessee Department of Health, Tennessee Department of Military, and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to streamline coordination across key Tennessee departments to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Gov. Lee Calls For Temporary Suspension of Accountability Measures for 2020-2021 School Year

Temporary Suspension of Accountability Measures

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn on Friday called for removing negative consequences for schools and educators associated with student assessments for the 2020-2021 school year. Student assessments will be conducted as planned.

“Given the unprecedented disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic and extended time away from the classroom has had on Tennessee’s students, my Administration will work with the General Assembly to bring forward a solution for this school year that alleviates any burdens associated with educator evaluations and school accountability metrics,” said Gov. Lee. “Accountability remains incredibly important for the education of Tennessee’s students, and we will keep this year’s assessments in place to ensure an accurate picture of where our students are and what supports are needed to regain learning loss and get them back on the path to success.”

"Due to COVID-19, Tennessee districts and schools experienced extended periods away from the classroom and missed critical instruction time during the spring. The department supports Governor Lee's call for holding teachers and schools harmless from negative consequences associated with accountability measures this school year," said Commissioner Schwinn. "Administering assessments to gauge student learning and ensuring strong accountability best enables us to meet the needs of all students, however we know the significant challenges our teachers and school and district leaders are facing and it remains critical to reward their good work. We look forward to working together with our elected officials on a solution for this school year that preserves our strong foundations while ensuring that every teacher feels supported in focusing on educating their students.”

​Meet the Candidate Tony Gilliam: Rising to the Challenges


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. Tony Gilliam was interviewed on Oct. 1. The first Monteagle mayoral candidate interview is in the Oct. 9, 2020 issue.

Tony Gillian joined the Monteagle City Council in November 2018. In January 2019, his fellow council members elected him vice mayor. How Gilliam grappled with the city’s challenges underscores his mayoral candidacy. By February 2019 Gilliam had jump started the stalled firehall project and oversaw the design and construction process through to completion within budget, making the long awaited and desperately needed firehall a reality. During the same month, Gilliam guided the city through road repair and purchase of an access road to allow passage for the 70 Laurel Lake area homeowners trapped when heavy rainfall washed out a culvert. In the aftermath of the disaster, Gilliam arranged for Monteagle to sign on to Marion County’s Hazzard Mitigation Plan so the city could more easily avail itself of FEMA assistance in the future.

“So much had been let go in Monteagle,” Gilliam said. In his two years as vice-mayor, Gilliam took the lead in ushering in long overdue roof replacement at the post office, water plant, and library; insulation and heat for the town shop, which had only a wood stove; the purchase of utility trucks, computers for the water plant, and cardiac defibrillators for the police and fire departments; a technology grant for new computers for the library; signing off on a grant to enable a Mountain Goat Trail project to move forward; a cardboard compactor at the convenience center earning the city recycling revenue; and lighting upgrades at I-24 exits 134 and 135, saving the city $350,000-$400,000 by coming up with a plan for refurbishing the lights rather than doing a full replacement.

Careful monitoring of the city’s finances is a top priority for Gilliam. “For the first time in Monteagle’s history, the auditor had zero findings to report this past year,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam’s long career as an HVAC technician honed his skills for managing money and navigating loan processes. He ultimately took a job with the University of the South and recently retired after 26-years as an HVAC technician there.

Gilliam also serves on the Monteagle Planning Commission. He stressed “the problems” the commission was having with managing the Petro Travel Center project stemmed from there being no protocols for requiring performance bonds and escrow accounts. “We’re learning from our and past boards mistakes,” Gilliam acknowledged.

Regarding the dispute over whether a 7-acre parcel of the proposed travel center has the adequate zoning, Gilliam said, “We [the council and planning commission] are waiting for an [written] opinion from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and city attorneys. If the parcel reverts back to residential, that [the rezoning of 7-acres] won’t stop the Petro [21-acre project].” The rest of the travel center tract has adequate zoning, Gilliam explained. But, he also noted, 5 acres of the 7-acre parcel were wetlands and could not be developed regardless of the zoning.

“Monteagle’s single biggest challenge is bringing revenue in and promoting tourism to do that,” Gilliam said. “The area has a lot to offer.” Pointing to enticements like the Savage Gulf, Stone Door, ziplining, and Mountain Goat Trail, Gilliam highlighted the importance of “cleaning up the town” and making Monteagle an attractive welcoming place to visitors.

Gilliam praised Monteagle’s police and fire departments and excellent elementary school. “I want all three to remain on top.” He proposed a citizen group to create a Monteagle 10-year plan.

Gilliam and his wife of 40 years have one son. Summing up why he wants to be mayor, Gilliam said, “I was born and raised here. I love the people. I want Monteagle to be a place where everyone would want to live. A place where people feel safe and wanted.”

​School Board Vote: FCHS Rebel Mascot Prevails


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 12 meeting, the Franklin County School Board voted 5 to 3 to reject a motion by board member Linda Jones “to change the [Franklin County High School] mascot, do away with the Confederate flag, do away with ‘Dixie,’ and do away with our Southern gentleman.” Prior to the vote, seven speakers voiced opinions on the appeal to change the Rebel mascot, a debate that began over four months ago.

A poll at Franklin County High School (FCHS) showed 19.2 percent of students and 28.9 percent of faculty and staff in favor of changing the mascot. Almost equal numbers of both groups had no opinion, 16.8 percent of students and 17.8 percent of faculty and staff.

Speaking on behalf of changing the mascot, Chris Colane said, “The public does not vote on special education classes or whether classes for the minority of students with special needs is desirable…These issues are mandated by legislation just as federal prohibition of discrimination is federally mandated…the Rebel mascot is indeed discriminatory.”

Tanya Hill cited her family genealogy, “I’m English, Irish, Native American, and who knows what other nationalities…There’s never been hatred [within the family] over my ancestors killing one another… Why? Because you can’t change it…The hatred before the board should not convince you to change our fight song.”

“Black lives matter is not a civil rights organization, but a political one,” insisted Candice Jenkins referencing Dr. Carol Swain. Pointing to “the actions of black lives matter and terrorists that include rioting, arson and looting…[who] call it a protest,” Jenkins said, “one could argue our school board is in fact negotiating with terrorists.”

Michael Bradford spoke about his family’s roots as area farmers and their relationship with a neighboring black farm family who would come for Sunday dinner. “Sadly, the two families did not sit together…Later in life, Pa said that was one of his biggest regrets.” But Bradford went on to argue for keeping the mascot—“It is not fair for once culture to infringe upon the rights of others, offended or not.”

Terrence Martin, a former FCHS basketball star, acknowledged he was not offended by the Rebel symbolism as a student. But Martin said later he came to “reflect on where I came from and how I was impacting myself [as a young black man]. That tune of ‘Dixie’ is in my head today. I can say it by heart. I didn’t know what that tune meant until after leaving this area.”

Shanae Williams, founder of the current movement to change the Rebel mascot, challenged the board to uphold the code of conduct of board members. “It clearly states you will think and act for the children and that means all children…In 1950, all parties were not included in the decision to become Rebels...I’m challenging you to make the right changes, to be on the right side of history.”

Former Rebel Pride band member, 1988 FCHS graduate, and 28-year school system employee, Sheri Smith confessed, “Growing up, I didn’t think anything about the name Rebel or the Confederate flag or playing ‘Dixie.’ I’d never had experiences that made those things negative to me…I assumed everyone felt the way I did.” Smith closed citing poet Maya Angelou, “When you know better, do better.”

In her motion to “do away with” the Rebel mascot, Dixie, and the Confederate flag, Jones called the three symbols “a package deal.” “We cannot accept a compromise…We’ve tried to do away with some of it, and it always comes back...It’s our duty to meet the needs of every student.”

Board member Sarah Marhevsky seconded Jones motion.

None of the board members gave a reason for voting as they did: Jones, yes; Chris Guess, no; CleiJo Walker, no; Lance Williams, no; Christine Hopkins, no; Casey Roberts, no; Marhevsky, yes; Sarah Liechty, yes.

Following the vote, Director of Schools Stanley Bean said, “I’ve tried to remain neutral.” Bean stressed he supported both sides and understood the arguments of both sides. But Bean insisted he resented use of the word “they.” “Who is ‘they’? ‘They’ is not Franklin County. ‘We’ are Franklin County…We need education on culture for both sides.”

​Community Chest Sets Goal


The Sewanee Community Chest has announced its goal for 2020-21. Sponsored by the Sewanee Civic Association, the Community Chest raises money yearly for local charitable organizations serving the area. This year’s goal of $98,390 will help 19 organizations that have requested basic needs funding for quality of life, community aid, children’s programs, and those who are beyond Sewanee but still serve our entire community. A number of organizations did not submit their annual request this year due to their inability to operate at this time. A total of $104,085 in funds were requested this year.

Now more than ever, these organizations will rely heavily on the annual funding from the Community Chest.

The Sewanee Community Chest is made possible by contributions. All donations are tax deductible. Donations can be made by credit, debit, or PayPal Giving at Sewanee Community Chest, either one-time or recurring. Checks may be mailed to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375. For more information, go to sewaneecivic.org or email sewaneecommunitychest@gmail.com.

Organizations and funds requested are:

Animal Harbor, $3,000

Blue Monarch, $3,000

Boy Scout Troop 14, $500

Community Action Committee, $3,000

Dubose Conference Center, $450

Folks at Home, $5,000

Fourth of July Celebration, $4,000

Housing Sewanee, $10,000

Little Bellas, $250

MARC, $7,000

MGTA, $1,500

Reach Out and Read, $2,090

Sewanee Senior Center, $8,000

SES Parent Organization, $23,000

Sewanee Children’s Center, $12,000

Sewanee Community Center, $3,600

Sewanee Mountain Messenger, $10,000

South Cumberland Farmers’ Market, $1,000

St. Mark’s Community Center, $1,000

New Regents Elected at Sewanee

Elections of new regents by the University of the South’s Board of Trustees took place on Oct. 8, 2020. Those nominated by the regents and confirmed by the trustees to serve on the Board of Regents are O.B. Grayson Hall Jr., Mary Claire Shipp Murphy, and Charles Lambert (Bert) White III.

Grayson Hall, C’79, is the retired chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Regions Financial Corporation. He serves on the corporate boards of Vulcan Materials, Alabama Power, and Great Southern Wood. He serves on the civic, community, and educational boards of the Newcomen Society of Alabama, the National Christian Foundation of Alabama, the University of Alabama President’s Council and the Business School Board of Visitors. He previously served on the boards of the Birmingham Business Alliance and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. In 2016 he was the Babson Center Bryan Viewpoints speaker and participated as a panelist at Smith Career Day in 2012.

Mary Claire Murphy, C’82, is the executive director of Washington operations in the D.C. office of Textron, Inc. She is the former special assistant and director of protocol to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and assistant chief of protocol, U.S. Department of State. She previously served as an executive at the United States Telecom Association and the Cellular Telecom Industry Association. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Military Child Education Coalition, the National Aeronautic Association, the Atlantic Council, and the Textron Charitable Trust. Mary Claire is the mother of Mary Carlton “M.C.” Murphy, C’17, and Sarah Virginia “Ginnie” Murphy, C’21.

Bert White, C’91, is regional director, Florida Region, at Raymond James & Associates. He is a former managing director at Morgan Stanley. He currently serves on the boards of the Bethesda Hospital Foundation and the Florida Securities Dealers Association. He is a former Associated Alumni trustee and is a current at-large member of the Regent Investment Management Committee.

The Board of Regents also recognized regents whose terms were ending. Montague L. Boyd IV (Atlanta, Ga.) and Katherine J. Nielsen (Birmingham, Ala.) have completed their six-year terms as regents and were recognized for their service.

​The 213-A Scholars Program


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

Last month, a little bit of Little Rock, Ark., and a lot of Civil Rights history found their way to Sewanee.

In September of 1957, Minnie Jean Brown-Trickey walked with her classmates to the entrance of Little Rock Central High School (LRCHS). Together, they were the Little Rock Nine, a group of nine black students who enrolled at the formerly all-white high school. Their enrollment was met with racist abuse from both classmates and their families.

Sixty-three years to the month after Brown-Trickey enrolled at LRCHS, she spoke to the University’s 213-A scholars about her early education, her experience living in the Jim Crowe south and about her work following her education.

“The 213-A Scholars program was launched last year to cultivate leaders who are able to drive positive change in their lives and world. The program rightly honors the legacy of Houston Roberson, Sewanee’s first African-American professor. He was an exemplary historian and a mentor to students and colleagues alike. In his honor, 213-A Scholars provides students from diverse backgrounds with a platform for rigorous educational advancement, professional development and deep exploration of their personal commitment to civic action and social justice,” said Karen Proctor, special assistant to the University provost and cofounder of The 213-A Leaders Program.

As a part of the 213-A program, students are given the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage — one that is grounded in the history of social justice and civil rights history and aimed at providing context and guidance for present-day issues.

“We recognize that history matters. It provides context for our present challenges, and quite frankly, it humbles us when we consider the sacrifices and courageous acts that paved the way. This fall, our pilgrimage is virtual. It features reflective conversations with social justice leaders, past and present, and our aim is still the same — to glean from their experiences and reflections. We’re putting ourselves in sacred spaces with living legends to whom we are indebted,” Proctor said.

Laura Botros, a freshman at the University and a 213-A Scholar, said she left the discussion feeling empowered.

“There was something about hearing from her that we are capable of changing things that felt different. When she said it, it came from someone who took that and put it into action. She was brave and stood up to all of the forces at play. It was empowering to hear it from someone with the kind of experience she has,” Botros said.

Hellen Wainaina, class of 2018 and assistant editor of the Sewanee Review, is over the Sewanee Literary Society, which is a component of the 213-A scholars program focused on literacy, said the conversation was aimed at illuminating for the students the parts of themselves that can be tapped into for leadership.

“This conversation was a great opportunity for the students to gain insight on leadership and get really engaged in ways that they haven’t quite figured out yet. Not everybody can be Martin Luther King Jr. or Angela Davis. We all have our channels and we can be advocates and work toward bettering our society in whatever channel we’re in,” she said.

Debris Burn Permits Required Beginning Oct. 15

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Forestry is observing National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 4 - 10 by reminding citizens to follow simple safety practices to prevent wildfires and obtain a debris burn permit for leaf and brush piles. The official start of wildfire season in Tennessee is Oct. 15.

“With the recent and forecasted rain, we expect favorable conditions for safe debris burning in the short term,” State Forester David Arnold said. “However, we shouldn’t let our guard down. We encourage Tennesseans to remain vigilant, practice safe debris burning, and get a permit to prevent wildfires.”

Debris Burn Permits for leaf and brush piles are available online at no charge. For larger, broadcast burning, such as forestry, agricultural, and land clearing, call your local Division of Forestry burn permit phone number Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The online system for permits and phone numbers can be found at www.BurnSafeTN.org.

Permits are issued only when conditions are conducive to safe burning. If you live inside city limits, there may be additional restrictions. Check with your municipality before you burn.

A list of materials that may not be burned can be found in the open burning guidelines from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation at www.tn.gov/environment/program-areas/apc-air-pollution-control-home/apc/open-burning.html.

Burning without a permit, a Class C misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine. Wildfires caused by arson are a class C felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone with information about suspected arson activity should call the state Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, and you may remain anonymous. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction. To report illegal burning, call 1-888-891-TDEC.

Visit www.BurnSafeTN.org for additional tips to burn safely and to protect your community.

The Division of Forestry protects Tennessee’s forests by fighting wildfires, coordinating all hazard emergency response, providing prescribed fire guidance and contract services, as well as wildland fire training, in addition to promoting the wise use of forest resources by assisting landowners, providing quality seedlings, monitoring insects and diseases, improving urban forests, managing state forests, protecting water quality, and collecting forest inventory data. The Division also works to promote primary and secondary forest industries to stimulate the state’s economy. Visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/forests for more information.

​Early Voting Begins Oct. 14

Tuesday, Nov. 3, is the Federal and State General Election. Early voting takes place Oct. 14–29. If you are unable to appear at your polling place on Election Day or during the Early Voting period, you may request an absentee ballot. You may request ballots to be mailed until Oct. 27.

In Franklin County, early voting takes place at the Franklin County Election Commission, 839 Dinah Shore Blvd., Winchester. Early voting will take place Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m to noon.

In Grundy County, there are two polling locations. Scruggs Municipal Building, City Hall, Room 3, 1433 Main St., Altamont. Early voting takes place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. National Guard Armory, 107 Armory Rd., Monteagle. Voting takes place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.

In Marion County, early voting takes place at the Marion County Election Commission, 109 Academy Ave., Jasper. Early voting hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m (Central); Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Central); and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Central).

Contact information for election offices, sample ballots and more can be found at https://sos.tn.gov/elections.

For more information, go to Franklin County http://franklincotn.us/election_commission.html, phone (931) 967-1893. In Grundy County email Grundy.Commission@tn.gov, phone (931) 692-3551. In Marion County www.marionvotes.com, phone (423) 942-2108.

Tennesseans voting should remember to bring valid state or federal photo identification with them to the polls. For information about what types of ID are acceptable, visit <GoVoteTN.com> or call (877) 850-4959.

​SETDD Advises Monteagle Planning: Zoning and Parks


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Oct. 6 Monteagle Planning Commission meeting, Garret Haynes with the Southeast Tennessee Development District (SETDD) advised the commission on a 2018 zoning ordinance and grant opportunities for the park behind city hall.

Concerning the 2018 ordinance, Haynes said SETDD recommended approving the rules and regulations portion of the ordinance. The validity of the ordinance is in question because a public meeting was not held. The 2018 ordinance also included a map, but Haynes did not make a recommendation regarding the zoning map or changes the map denoted. His recommendation applied only to the rules and regulations which were in keeping with state standards.

Haynes also brought to the commission’s attention two grant opportunities for refurbishing the Hannah Pickett Park playground behind Monteagle City Hall. A letter of intent is required by Oct. 8 for the TDEC Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant. The letter of intent deadline for the Healthy Communities grant is Oct. 31. Submission for the Parks and Recreation grant requires a site plan, but the state extended the deadline for submitting the plan until late summer 2021, Haynes said.

No action was taken on Haynes’ zoning or grant opportunities recommendations at the meeting.

In other business the planning commission reviewed the final plat for the Retreat at Sunset Bluff, a tiny homes community. Haynes recommended the plat include the original name of the project, The Camp at Monteagle, for reference purposes. The commission approved the final plat pending receipt of the required bond.

The commission also took up a request from Sam Meeks, owner of the candle store next to the Mountain Goat Market. Meeks is moving her retail business to online and has leased the property to Mandi Oakes and Joseph Oliver, owners of 1866 Revival, a Sewanee antique and vintage store. Oakes and Oliver intend to open a second location in Monteagle. Earl Geary, who approves business permits, advised Meeks she would need to erect a firewall between the two business for both business entities to operate from the same location. Meeks told the commission she plans to end her retail business at the location by the end of the year and asked the commission to waive the firewall requirement. “I think we can work this out with Geary,” said commission chair David Oliver.

The commission took a question from a resident who asked if a site plan before the commission was automatically approved if not acted on by the commission within a certain time limit. The resident raised the question, because it was his understanding the Petro Stopping Center site plan was still under consideration.

“We denied the Petro site plan at the Sept. 1 meeting, or at least that was our intent,” Oliver said. “We’ll double check on that.”

The commission meets next on Nov. 4, at 5 p.m., rescheduling from Nov. 3, which is Election Day. Oliver said the commission would take up a subdivision amendment and was also expected to have an answer on the Petro zoning question pertaining to the 2018 zoning map changes.

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