Gov. Lee Signs Executive Orders To Lift Nursing Home Restrictions, Extend Limited State of Emergency
Friday, February 26, 2021 | 01:14pm
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released the following statement to accompany his signing of Executive Orders 77, 78, and 79:
“Our state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve thanks to efficient vaccine distribution and efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Gov. Lee. “I have authorized continuation of a limited state of emergency through April 28th in order to keep critical healthcare deregulation in place and ensure continued federal funding compliance, and to lift state visitation restrictions on nursing home and long-term care facilities. To be very clear, my orders do not include any restriction on business. We will continue to focus on delivering vaccines to every corner of the state, ensuring kids get back in the classroom and building on our strong economic recovery.”
Gov. Lee also signed Executive Order Nos. 78 and 79, which extend through April 28th, provisions that allow for remote government meetings and shareholder meetings and permit remote notarization and witnessing of documents, all while implementing transparency safeguards.
‘ParkSmarts’ Trail Mile Markers at South Cumberland State Park
To help visitors have a better sense of what awaits them during a visit to the South Cumberland State Park (SCSP), the Friends of South Cumberland, SCSP’s support group, has been working with park managers on a multi-faceted campaign to improve visitor preparedness and locational awareness.
The initiative consists of a new information program, known as “ParkSmarts,” which aims to better inform park visitors about the layout of the park, information about its various trails, and things to see and do from each of the park’s 12 trailheads.
According to SCSP Manager George Shinn, rangers at the park perform 1.6 visitor rescues per week. The 31,000-acre wilderness park, near Monteagle, has over 85 miles of backcountry trails, and park visitors, often unfamiliar with the ruggedness or length of the trail network, become disoriented, lost after dark, or injured (sometimes seriously).
“We have over 650,000 visitors per year,” Shinn said, “and our park is becoming increasingly popular, especially as many individuals and families have discovered us as a great getaway during COVID-19. However, some of our guests are not aware of the vastness and challenges of the park, which results in their needing a ranger-assisted rescue, often times at night or during bad weather.”
“This park is vast; our trailheads are scattered across an area larger than Metro Nashville,” said ParkSmarts team lead and Friends volunteer Rick Dreves. “There are amazing things to be seen and experienced at every one of them, but as a wilderness park, the trails can sometimes be challenging, and visitors need to do their homework and plan their visits before they arrive. We hope the ParkSmarts information will be useful to visitors, and help them have a safe and enjoyable visit.”
Dreves said that much of SCSP consists of deeply forested river canyons surrounded by beautiful sandstone cliffs, with many waterfalls, great hiking, rock climbing and backcountry camping opportunities. “Many of these canyons are over 800 feet deep, and to access all the amazing things they offer, visitors need to be prepared to descend into or climb out of them on our trail network. A rugged 800-foot elevation change can be challenging to the first-time visitor. That’s why we’ve put a great deal of information about each trail, including mileage and difficulty information, on our website at <www.FriendsOfSouthCumberland.org/park-smarts>.”
Another aspect of the ParkSmarts campaign is the installation of new trail mile markers, a series of medallions posted along SCSP trails at half-mile intervals, to help visitors gauge their progress, and be able to accurately report their location if they become lost, injured or need ranger assistance for any reason.
The park’s Friends group has spent this winter carefully measuring and posting the nearly 85 miles of trail in the park, and hopes to complete the trail marking system by early spring. The Tennessee Trails Association provided a grant to help fund production of the nearly 400 mile markers needed to cover the park.
“Having a way for our visitors to accurately let us know where they are is invaluable in a search-and-rescue operation,” said SCSP Assistant Manager Bill Knapp. “Particularly after dark, if they can tell us which mile marker they are near, that can save us valuable time in locating them and helping get them out of harm’s way. It’s especially critical if someone is injured or suffering from hypothermia, which is not uncommon here for much of the year.”
Bruce Blohm, who heads up the Friends’ Trails Team, says the trail marking system began making a difference even before his team of volunteers has finished posting all of the mile markers.
“The first couple of weeks after we began posting the markers, our rangers were already getting calls for help, where the visitors were able to tell them exactly where they were, thanks to the mile marker system,” Blohm said, adding that each mile marker is attached to a tree or post along the trail, and high-intensity reflectors are mounted above and below each mile medallion.
“The reflectors can be seen from a great distance at night, even by the light from a smartphone, so they are easy for visitors to locate in an emergency situation.”
One limitation of the new system is that not all of the SCSP has a strong cell signal, according to Shinn. “Coverage is gradually improving, but visitors should also know how to safely follow a trail to higher ground, in order to get a cell signal, if the area in which they find themselves doesn’t have good cell signal coverage.”
Shinn said that having a good trail map, either on paper or on the visitor’s phone, is still a most essential part of preparing for a visit to the park. “Not only having the map, but taking time to study it, understanding the distances involved, and the elevation change of the trail, could be critical if an emergency situation were to develop. Knowing today’s sunset time, and monitoring how long it would take you to hike back to the trailhead, are simple but critical actions.”
Shinn, Knapp, Dreves and Blohm offer the following suggestions for a safe trip to the park: dress appropriately for the weather, with layers in the winter, including eye and face protection, and rain gear as appropriate; wear sturdy hiking boots; have plenty of water, high-energy snacks, a first-aid kit, and know how to use it; have several sources of light, such as headlamps; and charge your phone before you head out, but don’t try to use it as a flashlight. On a cellphone battery, that will only last a few minutes, and your phone is more important as your lifeline to call for help, should you need it.
“We’re not trying to scare anyone. We just want our visitors to think about how they should be prepared to experience our vast and beautiful wilderness safely,” Shinn said. “South Cumberland is a one-of-a-kind place that everyone should experience, but plan ahead, and do it safely. Our rangers would much rather be answering your questions about the amazing flora, fauna and geology of our park, than having to rescue you in an emergency situation.”
To learn more, visit <www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org>.
SUD: Finances, Waterline Extension Request, Abandoned Meters
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Feb. 23 board of commissioners meeting, Sewanee Utility District manager Ben Beavers talked about the pandemic-related causes for the district having a negative net change of position for 2020. The board also discussed a request to extend water service to Deep Woods and the need for an abandoned meters policy.
Examining the projected $181,000 change in net position, Beavers compared water and sewer consumption by customer class for 2019 and 2020. For 2020, zero reads were up 30 percent, i.e., the percentage of meters showing no activity in a billing cycle. “People weren’t coming up to their houses. Nobody was here,” Beavers explained. Commercial revenue decreased by 16 percent; tax exempt-revenue (e.g., churches) decreased by 25 percent; residential revenue decreased by 2 percent; St. Andrew’s-Sewanee revenue decreased by 19.5 percent; and University revenue decreased by 28 percent. Across all customer classes, sewer revenue decreased by 17 percent and water sales revenue decreased by 14 percent. SUD also showed a $32,000 decrease in Resource Development tap fees and a $17,000 decrease in interest earnings.
Looking to the future, board President Charlie Smith said a Deep Woods resident asked him about SUD extending water service to the area. Beavers said providing service to Franklin County Deep Woods residents would require 3.5 miles of pipe, and cost $350,000. “It doesn’t make economic sense for us,” Beavers said. Citing the past example of extending water service to Jump Off, Beavers said the line extension “still hasn’t paid for itself.” Beavers said SUD paid off the $68,000 remaining in the Jump Off loan in 2008 to enable the utility to borrow money for the new water plant. Beyond the infrastructure cost of extending water to Deep Woods, Beavers also expressed concern about the added cost to SUD for frequent flushing to avoid water quality issues given the length of the line and low-flow given the small number of customers.
Beavers said if Deep Woods residents chose to self-finance the project, dividing that cost among the 23 parcels would come to $15,000 per customer for infrastructure, plus a $4,100 tap fee. Beavers recommended the board allow Monteagle to serve the Franklin County Deep Woods residents, even though legally the potential customers were in SUD’s district.
Beavers noted at the time of the Jump Off project, developers bought a large number of taps. More than 20 years later, Beavers receives calls from potential customers claiming there is a tap on the property, although the tap has never been used. He anticipates similar problems in Cooley’s Rift where the developers, by contract, pay a dry tap fee on unused taps until 51 percent of the taps in the development are using water. Beavers recommended the board adopt a meter abandonment policy for meters on which a minimum monthly bill or dry tap fee is not being paid. In addition to never used taps, the policy would apply when a house was torn down and water service was discontinued. “There needs to be a reasonable amount of time between when [a homeowner] tears a house down and [future customers] expect water service is still available,” Beavers said. Beavers will research water utility standards on abandoned meter policy.
The board elected officers for 2021: Charlie Smith, president; Doug Cameron, vice president; Paul Evans, secretary.
Monteagle Council Postpones Vote on Truck Stop Rezoning
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
After hearing nearly three hours of comments from concerned residents at the Feb. 22 meeting, the Monteagle City Council voted to postpone the first reading to rezone to C-3 a portion of a 20-acre tract for a proposed travel center catering to truck traffic. Concerned residents highlighted as yet incomplete studies and lack of information from the developers, RBT Enterprises.
The discussion opened with Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman entering into the record petitions opposing the truck stop submitted by Monteagle resident Mary Beth Best. Disagreement followed about the number of petition signers. Best said 218 property owners signed the petitions. Alderman Nate Wilson speculated electronic transmission of the document resulted in the discrepancy.
During the comment period, the council addressed some of the residents’ concerns.
Attorney Sam Elliott said he had sent RBT investor Rodney Kilgore a citation notifying him of $4,900 owed in fines for fencing ordinance violations at his Rocky Top Truck Stop business. Addressing a question about Kilgore owing as much as $30,000 in fines, Elliot said the judgment only reflected a 98-day violation period. Best said the business currently lacked a fence and was at present in violation. Kilgore’s business is expected to be part of the travel center if the project moves forward. [See Messenger, July 10, 2020]
Several residents cited the 2007 drought and expressed water shortage concerns. Alderman Wilson said interconnectivity now existed among all plateau water utilities, and Tracy City raised its dam increasing available water. Utilities Manager John Condra concurred with Rodman who said the truck stop should not cause a rate increase.
Rodman said traffic and sewer capacity studies were underway. City engineer Travis Wilson said he could present preliminary findings on the sewer capacity study at the rezoning public hearing and second reading of the rezoning ordinance scheduled for March 29.
Explaining the rezoning process, Alderman Wilson said, tonight’s rezoning vote “triggers a public meeting where we will discuss the pros and cons, and following that meeting there is a second vote…once the rezoning has happened, it [the RBT project] doesn’t come back to the full council again.” Wilson stressed before he would vote for approval at the second reading, he would need to see the final site plan and results from the traffic and sewer impact studies. “This is not me saying I’m ready to move forward and approve the truck stop, but asking for us to begin a process…In the next 30 days I hope we can bring some of this information to the top.”
Alderman Wilson said he met with RBT investor Brian Graber to discuss the need “to protect the neighbors.” Graber agreed to dark sky lighting to reduce light pollution and trucks on the residential property boundary backing into parking slots to reduce noise pollution from engines.
Resident Lucy Keeble expressed concern about “poisoning of the water supply” from hazardous chemical spills leaching into groundwater through sinkholes. “Maybe the [RBT] engineer has done all this testing, but we’re not privy to that,” Keeble said.
“We did Phase 1 testing prior to acquisition,” Graber said. “At this point, I don’t know that we’ll disclose that.” Graber insisted nothing in Phase 1 testing pointed to a need for Phase 2 testing. Alderman Wilson explained if Phase 1 testing indicated potentially hazardous environmental impact, Phase 2 testing was recommended.
Resident Debra Reed expressed concerns about what the town would be left with if the truck stop failed. Reed asked if the council had researched the financial health of the RBT investors. “Is this group strong enough to hold on if something goes wrong?” Reed asked.
Best asked if the council intended to vote on the rezoning without having a confirmed site plan, study results, and other critical data.
According to Alderman Wilson, Graber said revising the site plan would cost $10,000. Resident Joanne Atwood, whose property adjoins the proposed truck-stop site, said her property value had already decreased $30,000. Atwood and others asked the council to postpone the vote until all the data was received and reviewed.
When Rodman asked for a motion to pass on first reading the ordinance to rezone the RBT tract from R-3 to C-3, Alderwoman Jessica Favaloro made a motion to postpone the first reading to Monday, March 29. After voting to postpone, the council scheduled a special called meeting on Monday, March 15, from 5–7 p.m. Residents will have the opportunity to question the RBT engineer and pose other documentation questions.
The council also voted to approve rezoning the Phipps tract from R-1 to C-2; to allow the council to select a vendor for website design and maintenance, cost not to exceed $2,800; and to change the tenure of alderpersons to four years with staggered terms. Rodman said the tenure change would not affect current council members.
Virtual Book Launch of ‘A Window to Heaven’
The School of Letters and School of Theology are hosting a virtual book launch of “A Window to Heaven: The Daring First Ascent of Denali,” written by Patrick Dean, T’06. The event is scheduled for noon CST, Thursday, March 4.
“A Window to Heaven” is the captivating and heroic story of Hudson Stuck—an Episcopal priest and 1892 graduate of the School of Theology—and his team’s history-making summit of Denali.
Dean brings to life this heart-pounding and spellbinding feat of this first ascent and paints a rich portrait of the frontier at the turn of the 20th century. The story of Stuck and his team will lead us through the Texas frontier and Tennessee mountains to an encounter with Jack London at the peak of the Yukon Goldrush. We experience Stuck’s awe at the rich Inuit and Athabascan indigenous traditions—and his efforts to help preserve these ways of life.
During the webinar, Dean, who is affiliated with both programs, will read excerpts from the book and answer questions. It will be an interesting and lively discussion.
To watch the stunning video trailer produced by Stephen Garrett, C’01, go to <
>. For more information about the book, please visit the publisher’s site <https://www.simonandschuster.c...;.
To register go to <https://urforms.wufoo.com/form...;. To join this Zoom webinar go to <https://sewanee-edu.zoom.us/j/...;.
Public Notice, Town of Monteagle
NOTICE: The meeting of the Monteagle Planning Commission on March 2, 2021 has been canceled due to no business.
The Messenger received this notice on Feb. 25, 2021.
Five Tennessee Routes Earn Federal Scenic Designation
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 | 10:08am
Nashville, TN - Five Tennessee routes have been designated as either a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road by the U.S. Department of Transportation. These Tennessee routes are added to the collection of 144 American roads that have earned a designation based upon their archeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic intrinsic qualities. In earning the new scenic designations, these routes will have greater access to federal grant funding through the National Scenic Byway Program and national marketing from the America’s Byways program.
“This national recognition is reflective of the distinctiveness and authenticity of so many parts of our state,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Clay Bright. “It is an honor well deserved by so many local leaders and the public who care for their communities.”
To be designated as a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess at least one of the six intrinsic qualities and be regionally significant. The Cumberland National Scenic Byway, Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway and Norris Freeway were all designated as National Scenic Byways.
Similarly, a road must possess multiple, nationally significant, intrinsic qualities to receive an All-American Road designation. All-American Roads have one-of-a-kind features that do not exist elsewhere and provide for an exceptional traveling experience. Newfound Gap Road and the Great River Road were designated as All-American Roads.
The five Tennessee routes designated as new National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads include:
· Great River Road: This West Tennessee route is rich in history and culture and follows the Mississippi River from Tiptonville to Memphis. The byway is part of the 10-state Great River Road that travels from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
· Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway: Known as Tennessee’s “Great Valley”, this scenic route features the serene Sequatchie River and is framed on either side by the Cumberland Plateau and Walden’s Ridge.
· Cumberland National Scenic Byway: This route demonstrates the history and significance of the Upper Cumberland and connects landmarks in eight counties between the Cumberland Gap and Cumberland River.
· Norris Freeway: This Knoxville area route frames the Town of Norris, TN and Norris Dam State Park. The area is famed for its hiking, trout fishing and boating.
· Newfound Gap Road: This East Tennessee picturesque and historic route connects Gatlinburg, TN with Cherokee, NC. At 5,046’, the route is the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Members of each route seeking designation applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation in June 2020. Previous rounds of scenic designations occurred in 1996 and 2009. In total, Tennessee’s collection of nationally designated scenic routes stands at 10, the fourth most in the country. These routes include:
· Ocoee Scenic Byway (1988) - National Forest Scenic Byway
· Cherohala Skyway (1996) – National Scenic Byway
· Natchez Trace (1996) – All-American Road
· East Tennessee Crossing (2009) – National Scenic Byway
· Great River Road (2009; 2021) – National Scenic Byway in 2009; All-American Road in 2021
· Woodlands Trace (2009) – National Scenic Byway
· Newfound Gap (2021) – All-American Road
· Norris Freeway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
· Cumberland National Scenic Byway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
· Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway (2021) – National Scenic Byway
The National Scenic Byways Program, established by Congress in 1991 and administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), was created to preserve and protect the nation's scenic byways and, at the same time, promote tourism and economic development. More information about the National Scenic Byway Program can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/.
Public Notice, Town of Monteagle
The Town of Monteagle will have a special called meeting on Monday March 15, 2021 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm to discuss the Petro TA. This will be an open meeting at city hall in the conference room.
The Messenger received this notice on Feb. 23, 2021.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline Number to be 988
Monday, February 22, 2021 | 12:29pm
Nashville, Tennessee – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in consultation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the North American Numbering Council has recommended the use 988 as the 3-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The FCC adopted rules in 2020 designating 988 for US citizens in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors in their respective communities. With a target completion date of mid-2022, the effort will result in telephone service providers directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide and Prevention Lifeline.
“This is a worthwhile effort by the FCC,” said Tennessee Public Utility Commission Chairman Kenneth C. Hill. “Suicide has ranked among the top-ten of the leading causes of death in the United States, and any steps that can be taken to connect Tennessee residents in crisis to intervention service organizations will be tremendously helpful.”
Americans who need help today can find it by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- 8255 (1-800-273-TALK) or through online chats. Veterans and Service members may reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing 1 after dialing, as well as by chatting online at www.veteranscrisisline.net or texting 838255.
“In the same way that 911 is an easy-to-remember number for emergency service, 988 will be the counter-part for suicide prevention and mental health crisis services to make it easier for those who may need this support,” said Hill.
In Tennessee Area Code news: permissive 10-digit dialing begins on April 24, 2021, and mandatory 10-digit dialing commences on October 24, 2021 for 731 and 865 area codes. Calls made within these two regions will require the use of each area’s area code to complete calls within their respective regions.
For more information, visit https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.
State, SCSP seek public input on 10-year parks and rec plan
Deadline for comments is Feb. 25
Managers of the South Cumberland State Park, together with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), are seeking public input on a state plan that will outline recreation, parks and conservation priorities for the next 10 years.
“Planning is an integral part of what we do, and we want to hear from Tennesseans about their thoughts for parks and conservation long term,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “While we are working hard on the plan, we need the input of Tennesseans across the state. The people’s feedback and participation are important for us to succeed.”
The plan, formally known as TN 2030: Tennessee State Recreation Plan, will be a roadmap for the future of public recreation in the state. It will address activity in urban and rural neighborhoods, as well as each region in the state.
The plan is in the formative stage, and TDEC officials ask Tennesseans for their opinions on draft themes and priorities already being discussed. The project will include short-term action items, which would be completed within five years, and long-term initiatives for the 10-year period.
TDEC is accepting public comment on its initial priorities. Specific questions from an online form ask Tennesseans to name important priorities to focus on and if there are important recreation and conservation priorities not covered in the draft goals listed. The deadline for submissions is 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 19. Input can be provided by going to this link:
Draft initiatives cover advocacy and education; collaboration and partnerships for economic success; conservation and outdoor recreation; and inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and affordability. The draft initiatives can be found here:
Each state must prepare a strategy known as the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) every five years to remain eligible for dollars from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through the U.S. Department of the Interior. The project also includes needs, interests, and priorities for indoor recreation since the state-run Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) gives grants to cities and counties for indoor and outdoor recreation projects. The 10-year outline will follow and build upon the TN 2020 plan as well as the TN 2020 Update.
More information on the recreation plan can be found here:
Lantern Festival Concert with Wu Fei, Feb. 26
The entire Sewanee community is invited to join Nashville-based artist Wu Fei for an evening of music and conversation in conjunction with Lunar New Year celebrations. Wu Fei is a genre-bending composer, guzheng virtuoso, and vocalist originally from Beijing. She is a renowned master of the guzheng, the 21-string Chinese zither, and has performed at venues as diverse as Beijing’s Forbidden City, Shanghai’s Expo 2010, New York’s MoMA, Vossa Jazz in Norway, and the Europalia Festival in Belgium.
She often collaborates with musicians across genres, and last year released an album with the Grammy Award-winning banjoist Abigail Washburn that is a testament to the connective power of music across seemingly disparate cultures.
The concert and conversation will be held via Zoom at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26; the Zoom ID is 817 160 1654. A live Q and A will follow the concert.
All students, parents, employees, alumni, and community members are invited to attend the event, which is sponsored by the Performing Arts Series, Department of Asian Studies, Campus Activities Office, and the Asian House. We look forward to connecting with members of the Sewanee community around the globe through Wu Fei’s illuminating music.
Moving Mountains: TEDx University of the South Virtual Series
You're invited to TEDxUniversityoftheSouth's upcoming virtual series.
This semester, we will be holding 7 nights of TEDxUniversityoftheSouth talks followed by live Q&A with our speakers.
This will give our community an opportunity to ask questions and dive deeper into these important and interesting topics.
The series starts on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and continues every Tuesday through March 30, and concludes on Wednesday, April 7.
Speakers and performers include Patrick, Dean, Sherry Hamby, Jason Carl Rosenberg, Deborah McCrath, Bea Troxel, Karen Yu and Mandy Moe Pwint Tu.
Moving Mountains Session #1
The series starts on Tuesday, Feb. 23. with Patrick Dean
For a list of speakers, go to https://www.tedxuniversityofth...
TENNESSEE TOURISM INVITES VISITORS TO “COME TO THE TABLE” WITH CULINARY-THEMED 2021 VACATION GUIDE
Enter to Win Six-night Foodie Getaway and Request
Free Guide Now at TNvacation.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Feb. 17, 2021 – The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development unveiled its official 2021 Tennessee Vacation Guide today with a mouthwatering cover showcasing the state’s diverse cuisine. Tennessee’s world-class hospitality and culinary creations have long been a draw for visitors and residents alike, and this year’s guide highlights top chefs and their signature dishes inspired by regional traditions. The guide comes at a time when many restaurants experienced significant revenue loss since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and, in some cases, were forced to close their doors.
Penned by Tennessee-based food critic Chris Chamberlain, the cover story emphasizes such notable and road-trip-worthy chefs and eateries as Dancing Bear Lodge & Appalachian Bistro in Townsend, Chef Tam’s Underground Café in Memphis and City Farm Co. in Nashville, among others. To spark travel planning, the guide highlights Tennessee stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, breathtaking scenic beauty, Tennessee Music Pathways, kid-friendly destinations and more. The guide offers over 140 pages of travel inspiration and is available free as a printed guide or instant download at TNvacation.com, or at any of Tennessee’s 16 Welcome Centers.
“We’re optimistic about our future and eager to see restaurants bustling with full tables once again, so it’s fitting that this year’s guide spotlights our wonderful restaurants and chefs,” said Commissioner Mark Ezell, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Our restaurants have worked hard to keep their doors open, implement safety measures and provide much-needed jobs. It’s up to all of us to lift this industry and help them restore their businesses, whether it’s dining in, ordering takeout or purchasing gift cards.”
Readers can enter to win a six-night culinary vacation through Tennessee including nights in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville when they sign up for the guide at TNvacation.com. Open only to U.S. residents, the “Come to the Table” Sweepstakes launched today and runs through Aug. 31, 2021. Prizing includes hotel, complimentary attraction passes and restaurant gift cards valued at over $2,000.
Tennessee is home to more than 11,000 restaurants according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the state’s eating and drinking establishments have seen a 47% decline in sales, representing a decline of $1.92 billion in gross taxable sales and a $135 million loss in state revenue since March 2020. Employment continues to trend upward, however the industry remains down 8%, or 22,500 less jobs since March 2020.
Franklin, Tenn.-based Journal Communications, Inc. produces the guide, which is distributed to nearly 500,000 visitors annually.
ABOUT TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT
Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “TNVacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, and “Tennessee” on Snapchat.
Arrive Outdoors to Deliver Affordable Gear Rentals
In response to a surge of visitors to Tennessee State Parks last year, the parks today announced a new partnership with Arrive Outdoors to make gear more affordable for park visitors. The plan is to offer gear that visitors can rent as opposed to buying expensive gear outright.
Arrive Outdoors provides equipment for hiking, backpacking, camping, winter recreation and other outdoor activities. The company offers high-quality, sturdy equipment for rent — either individual items or complete sets.
When a park visitor rents gear from Arrive Outdoors by linking from Tennessee State Parks’ gear rental web page <https://tnstateparks.com/vendo...;, a portion of the revenue goes to support Tennessee State Parks.
Arrive Outdoors supports individual, group and large group rentals. The gear is shipped directly to the renter’s destination for free when the order is more than $49. Other items for rent include cots, hammocks, packs, camp stoves, apparel, footwear, trekking poles, binoculars, and bear safety gear.
Arrive Outdoors ships gear via FedEx to any viable address and FedEx locations, participating Walgreens, hotels and vacation rentals. The company does not ship directly to state parks. To return equipment, people simply use the packaging the gear arrives in, adhere the free return label and tape provided, and drop off at any FedEx or Walgreens location.
For more information about Arrive Outdoors go to <https://arriveoutdoors.com/>;.
St. Mark’s: Sewanee’s Forgotten African-American Community
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At an evening webinar conversation, Jim Crow-era Sewanee residents Sandra Turner Davis and James (Jimmy) Staten talked about Sewanee’s African-American culture and life experiences lost from the historical record. Woody Register, Director of the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, joined Davis and Staten.
Providing context, Register said, the University “archive is structured to be a Jim Crow archive, to tell the story of white Sewanee.” The evening’s discussion was part of the effort “to recover the history of the people left out.”
Davis and Staten, both born and raised in Sewanee, offered a glimpse of a rich culture known as the St. Mark’s community. Staten talked about how St. Mark’s Church, the Kennerly School, and Belmont Club formed the heart of the neighborhood. The Belmont Club, a community center with a ballfield on the grounds, occupied the location of the current St. Mark’s community center. On weekends “the whole area would be full of people,” Staten said. African-Americans came to play ball, for parties, to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries—they came not just from Sewanee but from throughout Franklin County and even neighboring counties. Why?
In the late 1950s, the University constructed a swimming pool for African-American residents in the St. Mark’s neighborhood. Register explained the University intended the newly constructed Lake O’Donnell to be for whites only. The pool built for the Sewanee African-American population “became a magnet for blacks…Sewanee became a black social center.”
But the pool was not the only draw. “Sewanee was a safe haven,” Staten acknowledged. He recalls being welcome at fraternity houses and attending performances by musical greats such as Louis Armstrong and Lou Rawls. Staten and Davis both praised Sewanee’s superior medical care. Both were born in Emerald Hodgson Hospital. Typically blacks off the mountain were born at home.
“Blacks were treated differently in Sewanee,” Staten said. “But,” he stressed, “it still had its Jim Crow rules.”
Staten could order at the ice cream parlor, but he couldn’t sit down. At the movie theater, he sat in the balcony. And there was some overt racism from whites residing on “the other side of the tracks” behind the Sewanee Market. At Tubby’s in Monteagle where people socialized, the white community wanted to join the black community at their section in the back, but the owner would not allow it, Staten said.
As for school, Davis and Staten both attended the segregate Kennerly School, one room for all eight grades and one teacher. Davis recalls Miss Sophia Miller as strict. The eighth-grade students helped teach “the before students,” Staten said. Eventually a second room and second teacher were added.
“My mother and Sarah Staten were very active in getting the blacks into the white school,” Davis said. “I don’t know where we would be without them.”
Staten describes integration as “difficult.”
“We were forced into integration…into their school and their culture, and we had to take their name.” For Staten, in high school then, that meant changing from being the Townsend Tigers to being the Franklin County Rebels. Asked if he ever thought about attending the University, Staten said, “The University was closed to blacks of my generation…there were only one or two.”
Register pointed out the situation was reversed now, with far more University students of color and few black residents. Staten cited the lack of jobs and educational opportunities as the reason African-Americans left.
Davis said she doubted Otey Memorial Parish changing its name would draw the black community back to the church—“I’ll stay with my own church and pastor. I’ve been there so long, I won’t change.”
“It will always be Otey to those who grew up with Otey,” Staten said. Many African-Americans raised in Sewanee now lived in the valley and were elderly, Staten observed. “It’s a long drive.”
Register hopes African-American students coming to a town with so few people of color will “see themselves as part of…a continuous history” through the Roberson Project’s work. Student coordinated efforts to locate African-American historical markers in Sewanee will rely on input from local African-Americans to determine whom and what should be memorialized.