STATE NATURAL AREAS GEAR UP FOR 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF PRESERVATION ACT, NATURAL AREAS WEEK


NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Division of Natural Areas, the state’s leader in protection and management of native plants and animals, invites Tennesseans to participate in upcoming events for Natural Areas Week, as well as observe the 50th anniversary of landmark legislation for preservation in the state.

Natural Areas Week, with several outings across Tennessee, will run from Saturday, April 3 through Sunday, April 11. Observance of the state’s Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971 will feature guided hikes at various locations on Saturday, May 1.

“We want to share with Tennesseans an appreciation of the abundant natural resources we enjoy in our state,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), said. “Our system of natural areas serves a special purpose, and we believe everyone should have a chance to be part of this celebration.”

Experienced leaders will head events for Natural Areas Week at designated locations across the state. From scenic hikes to water outings, staff and partners will explore and explain habitat in Tennessee State Natural Areas throughout the week. Detailed information on activities for Natural Areas Week can be found online.

Specifically, May 4 marks the 50th anniversary of passage of the Natural Areas Preservation Act, signed by Gov. Winfield Dunn. Since the legislation was enacted, nearly 130,000 acres of pristine forests, vistas, undisturbed wetlands, grasslands, barrens and glades, with some of Tennessee’s rarest species, have been preserved. More about the 50th anniversary events across the state can be found online.

The state has designated 84 natural areas. Under that process, the program recommends new natural areas for designation, the Tennessee General Assembly amends the act, and the governor signs the legislation, which makes the natural area protected by law. The intent is to provide long-term protection for Tennessee’s rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal life. Designated natural areas are publicly owned or are private lands encumbered by a conservation easement. A map and list of Natural Areas throughout the state are online.

Professionals in the Division of Natural Areas focus their efforts on searches, monitoring, conservation, restoration, and management of Tennessee’s native species and plant communities. Data gathered by division biologists help guide the TDEC Bureau of Parks and Conservation in protecting Tennessee’s special places as state parks or natural areas. Most designated natural areas are managed by TDEC. Some natural areas are managed through cooperative management agreements with local, other state and federal agencies as well as with non-governmental organizations.

Public Notice, Town of Monteagle

NOTICE: The regular meeting of the Monteagle Regional Planning Commission will be held on April 6, 2021 at 6 p.m. in the Conference Room at City Hall.

RBT Enterprises in Violation of TDEC Permit


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

In a correspondence dated March 12, 2021, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) sent RBT Enterprises a Notice of Violation (NOV). The notice states “A complaint investigation was conducted by Division of Water Resources inspector Natalie Lankford at the referenced project site on Feb. 26, 2021. The purpose of the investigation was to assess the site’s compliance with the requirements of the Tennessee General Permit No. TNR10-0000, Construction General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities (CGP).”

According to the NOV, the following conditions were observed during the Division’s investigation:

• There were areas where erosion prevention and sediment control (EPSC) measures were either absent, not being maintained or inadequate.

• The sediment traps have not been installed as required by the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for this site.

• The construction exit being utilized for this site has not been properly installed and is not included on the SWPPP.

• Sediment has entered Waters of the State at multiple locations with absent or inadequate erosion control measures.

• The Notice of Coverage was not posted at the site, nor was the location of the SWPPP.

These conditions are violations of your coverage under the CGP. Failing to comply with the terms and conditions of the CGP is a violation of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act of 1977 (TCA § 69-3-101 et. seq.).

The NOV listed the following “required actions” to be taken:

• Install or maintain any EPSC measures necessary to control the loss of sediment from the site no later than seven days after your receipt of this letter.

• The sediment traps called for in the SWPPP must be installed no later than March 31, 2021.

• The Notice of Coverage must be posted at the site entrance no later than seven days after your receipt of this letter.

• A copy of all inspection reports for January and February, 2021, must be submitted to this office no later than ten days after your receipt of this letter.

• Photographic documentation of corrected EPSC measures must be submitted to this office no later than April 7, 2021.

The NOV stipulated “Failure to comply with these required actions may result in an escalation of enforcement actions including, but not limited to, monetary penalties.”

The NOV can be viewed online at <http://tdec.tn.gov:8080/pls/en...;.

The NOV states the correspondence was sent by certified mail to Mr. Rodney Kilgore RBT Enterprises, 801 Dixie Lee Highway, Monteagle, TN 37356. The subject heading of the letter reads: “Notice of Violation, Petro Monteagle, TNR113542, Monteagle, Marion County, Cave Cove Creek watershed.” As of press time, the NOV has not been delivered. According to United States Post Office (USPS) tracking information, an attempt was made to deliver the certified letter March 17. No authorized recipient was available. USPS left a notice advising Kilgore to pick up the letter or make arrangements for delivery. Tracking information can be viewed at the USPS website. The tracking number appears on the NOV.

TDEC made a further attempt to contact Kilgore on March 22. “We called the developer today [March 22], to notify him of the certified letter. We will also send a copy via email today,” said Kim Schofinski, Deputy Communications Director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

As noted above, receipt of the letter announcing the NOV sets in motion a timeline for performing the “required actions.” According to Schofinski, “The relevant timelines in the NOV will start either when the certified letter is picked up or when we get a ‘read receipt’ from the email.”

The Messenger staff tried to contact Kilgore by phone. As of press time Kilgore had not returned our calls. The Messenger staff also contacted members of the Monteagle Mayor’s office and Monteagle Town Council by email. The Monteagle mayor’s office and all but one alderperson did not reply to a request for comments. Only Alderman Nate Wilson responded. “We are monitoring it,” Wilson said.

Sewanee Council: Proposed District Expansion, Cell Tower


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the March 22 Zoom-format meeting, the Sewanee Community Council reviewed the proposed expansion of district boundaries to include all residents within the 37375 zip code. The council also received an update on the cell tower, learned details of the Arthur Knoll Spring Clean-up, and heard from Nicky Hamilton and David Shipps, who spoke about the newly created Office of Economic Development and Community Relations.

Commenting on the rational for expanding the council boundaries to include the entire 37375 zip code, council member June Weber said people arrived at the polls in November not knowing their district and not knowing where district boundaries were. Sallie Green, superintendent of Leases, said, “The new district map helps us know what district to let people vote in.” (See photo.) Green added expanding the districts also increased the potential pool of council representatives.

“Expanding the districts won’t add a lot of households,” Green acknowledged. Provost Nancy Berner said it would be useful to know the number of households per district to avoid implications of gerrymandering. The council plans to vote on the proposed district expansion map at the May 24 meeting. Green thanked committee members Spike Hosch, Theresa Shackelford, Lynn Stubblefield, and June Weber for their work on revising the map.

Updating the council on the cell tower, Treasurer and Vice President for Finance and Operations Doug Williams said “in reviewing the site, the FCC and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) determined there would be likely adverse effects on the historical character of the Domain by the erection of the cell tower there [at the football field site].” Williams said the determination triggered a process in which the University worked with SHPO to develop a mitigation plan. The revised plan has been sent to the FCC for review and approval. Williams declined commenting on the specifics of the plan prior to approval, but said “it involves investments in the historic aspects of the Domain.” Williams predicted “best case” scenario the cell tower would offer service by mid to late summer and “worst case” scenario by early to mid fall. “An attractive aspect of the location was it provides coverage to a very wide area, not only the populated parts of the Domain and the Village, but also the hiking trails,” Williams noted.

Council member Mary Priestley announced the Arthur Knoll Spring Clean-up Day, on Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Volunteers will gather at the downtown Mountain Goat Trail head. Following the cleanup, the Blue Chair will provide snacks and volunteers will gather in Angel Park for the award of a plaque and certificate. Priestley thanked Green and William Shealy, superintendent of landscape planning and operation, for helping coordinate the event.

Hamilton and Shipps, who joined forces to form the Office of Economic Development and Community Relations, spoke about the department’s goals and priorities. Shipps, vice president for economic development and community relations, highlighted the importance of attracting and retaining 475 new students each August in the “increasingly competitive” higher education business. He stressed the impact of “a flourishing and developing Village and other concerns Domain wide” on “not only making Sewanee a delightful place to live, but also in attracting employees and potential students.” Shipps said his office would be the main contact point for downtown planning, formerly headed up by Frank Gladu, who recently retired.

Hamilton, assistant vice president for government and strategic partnerships, said her current focus was pursuing the University’s goal of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” through partnerships with “regional, national, and local organizations to improve our relationships or create new relationships.” Hamilton gave the example of a “joint social justice and wellness program” with Spelman College geared toward Spelman students experiencing the outdoors and Sewanee students experiencing urban environment.

The council set the following meeting dates for the 2021–22 academic year: Sept. 13, Oct. 25, Jan. 10, March 28, and May 23.

Sewanee Elementary Receives STEM Grant


The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Duck River Electric and Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded Sewanee Elementary School, $5,000.00 for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education project.

The grant award is a part of $800,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to nearly 200 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

The project that SES submitted will go toward funding an outdoor STEM classroom.

“We are very grateful to receive this grant,” said, Principal, Allison Dietz. Sewanee Elementary is very excited to make strides in becoming a STEM-designated school. We look forward to using the funds to make a safe place for students to explore, participate in hands-on activities, experience problem-solving strategies all while integrating STEM subjects.

Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom.

The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development, and community problem solving as well as pandemic related projects. Schools that receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“Despite the new challenges Valley teacher’s faced in 2020, they are still focused on providing the best STEM education possible and have adjusted to new ways of teaching,” said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “I am proud of the partnerships we have built with these amazing educators across the Tennessee Valley over the past few years and am pleased to be able to provide some support through this program. Through the grants awarded this year, over 72,000 students will be directly impacted across the Valley.”

A full list of the grant recipients can be found at www.tvastem.com

Mountain Goat Trail Race Returns on April 24


The 7th Mountain Goat Trail Race will have a unique format this year when it takes place on Saturday, April 24.

A two-mile race for Grundy and Monteagle elementary-school students in Tracy City at 8:30 a.m. will be followed by a 5K for University of the South students in Sewanee, co-sponsored by the Office of Campus Activities, at 10 a.m. A virtual 5K option will be offered for all others who want to participate.

“Studies show that young people have had the hardest time during the pandemic and quarantine. That’s why we’ve targeted these two events toward students, while giving all Trail supporters the virtual option,” said Patrick Dean, executive director of the MGTA.

This year’s race also honors Mountain Outfitters, which has been the event’s chief sponsor since the first running in 2014. “For the first time, we won’t be having the post-race festivities at Mountain Outfitters, so we felt it was important to publicly thank the Burnett family and everyone at Mountain Outfitters for their support. Hopefully next year we’ll be back to our traditional format,” Dean said.

More details and activities will be announced as they are added.

To learn more or to register go to www.mountaingoattrail.org/run/

Public Notice, Monteagle City Council

NOTICE

The regular monthly meeting of the Monteagle City Council will be held on Monday March 29, 2021 at 6:00 pm following the Public Hearing at 5:00 pm in the Conference Room at City Hall.


The Messenger received this notice on March 23, 2021.



All Tennessee Adults Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination by April 5


Tennesseans Aged 55+ and Those in Phase 2 Now Eligible
Monday, March 22, 2021 | 11:56am

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee today announced all Tennessee adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination no later than April 5. Tennesseans aged 55 and older and those in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations effective Mar. 18.

Governor Lee shared the announcement in a video this morning: https://www.facebook.com/GovBillLee/videos/753448335309638. By April 5, all Tennesseans age 16 and over will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Eligibility for those in Phase 3 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan will run concurrently with age-based eligibility. Phase 3 includes residents and staff members of congregate living facilities including college dormitories, group homes and shelters and those in the corrections system. Phase 3 also includes grocery store workers who were not eligible for vaccination based on previous age or risk-based categories. To help ensure vaccines are available to these populations, direct allocations of vaccines will be made to these facilities.

Tennessee continues to see increasing supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, which allows the state to rapidly accelerate eligibility to receive the vaccination. TDH requests every dose of COVID-19 vaccine made available to the state:

• 2.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to Tennessee providers to date
• Expecting approximately 311,000 vaccine doses week of March 22
• Expecting new allocations of Johnson and Johnson vaccine week of March 29, which will increase weekly supplies by 30 percent

“As we’ve promised, we’re able to expand our COVID-19 vaccine eligibility as vaccine supplies have increased and we’ve made substantial progress in protecting those most at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Tennessee will now open COVID-19 vaccination to all eligible adults well ahead of the federal goal of May 1.”

Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility
Effective Mar. 18, Tennesseans aged 55 and older and those in Phase 2 of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan are eligible. Phase 2 includes those who work in settings that have experienced high numbers of COVID-19 infection clusters, and whose work is critical to continuing vital state operations. These groups include:
• Child welfare and adult protective services agency workers with direct public exposure
• Commercial food manufacturing workers
• Commercial agriculture workers involved in production and safety of food supplies and commodities
• Corrections system workers not previously covered under Phase 1a1
• Public transit drivers and maintenance personnel
• People working in other transportation, public infrastructure, telecommunications and utility industries

UpdatedPhaseSlide_Mar222021

Book Your Vaccination Appointment

Find vaccination providers in your area by visiting VaccineFinder.org. Tennessee county health departments across the state currently have appointments available for COVID-19 vaccination. Book an appointment with your county health department at COVID19.tn.gov. Those who need help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment with their local health department may call the TDH vaccine support line at 866-442-5301.

TDH reminds all Tennesseans that in addition to vaccination, wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance and getting tested when exposed or sick are critical to controlling the pandemic.

Tennessee’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan is available online at www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep/novel-coronavirus/COVID-19_Vaccination_Plan.pdf. Find answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination at https://covid19.tn.gov/data/faqs/.



Revenue Department Extends Certain Tax Deadlines to May 17


Friday, March 19, 2021 | 03:38pm

NASHVILLE - The Department of Revenue is extending the filing and payment deadline for Hall income tax returns and, for certain taxpayers, the franchise and excise tax return from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021.

This extension follows an announcement from the Internal Revenue Service extending the deadline for federal individual income tax returns to May 17. Under Tennessee law, the Commissioner of Revenue is authorized to extend the deadline for filing a return whenever the IRS extends a federal filing date for a specified group of taxpayers.

These extensions will automatically apply, and no further action is required from the affected taxpayers. The extension applies for all taxpayers that file the Hall income tax. For franchise and excise tax, the extension only applies to individualswho file a Tennessee franchise and excise tax return using Schedule J2 – Computation of Net Earnings for a Single Member LLC Filing as an Individual.

Interest and late filing penalties will not be applied to returns filed and payments made on or before this extended due date. The October 15, 2021, six-month extension date for the calendar year 2020 return remains unchanged.

Estimated payments due on April 15, 2021 are not included in this extension. These estimated payments are still due on April 15. For more information about these tax deadline extensions, please read important notice #21-02.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2020 fiscal year, it collected $15.1 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $3.2 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the department, visit www.tn.gov/revenue .

Grand Re-opening for Children’s Library


The Franklin County Library Children’s Department, aka Children’s Library, is celebrating a grand re-opening on Monday, March 29, from 3–5 p.m. All are welcome with social distancing in mind. Please also wear a mask.

The Children’s Library was gifted new floor shelving by the Franklin County Library Foundation and the Friends of the Franklin County Library. The items were purchased from Demco, a library supply company.

The shelves replaced three units that had served well and it showed. As they were becoming a safety hazard, new shelving was a priority. The Foundation and Friends granted a request made last year by the library. “We are all so pleased to see the beautiful, well-built pieces in place just waiting to be enjoyed,” Stevens said. The Children’s Library houses nearly 12,000 items available for checkout.

Robin Mays, Youth Services Director said, “The Children’s Library is fresh and new. We hope there are many memories made for our community’s children!”

The Foundation was started by a generous trust given by Adrian and Evelyn Gonsolin with instructions that the principal never be spent.

The Friends hold book sales and have the only used book store in Franklin County, the BOOK NOOK. Monies raised provide programs and equipment for the library that otherwise would not be possible within the normal budget.

If interested in joining the Friends of Franklin County Library, membership is $20 annually. New members receive a sturdy, attractive tote and a $20 gift certificate to the BOOK NOOK.

Book donations are appreciated. To donate, please call the Franklin County Library at 967-3706 before arriving as there are some limitations.

Racial Slur Taunting at Lacrosse Match: University Response


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

On March 13, Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety had the onerous task of apologizing to the coaches and players of the men’s lacrosse team of Emmanuel College. According to the University website, Sewanee student spectators hurled racial slurs, including the N-word, at the visiting players (see more on page 2, this issue). The behavior became so vile game officials ordered Sewanee fans be cleared in the third quarter before the play continued. On March 15, University students walked out of classes protesting their classmates’ racist behavior.

Senior Lala Hilizah spoke at the rally on the Quad where an estimated 400 protesting students assembled. Although a similar incident of racist-language brutalizing at a 2014 soccer match resulted in a public statement of apology, apparently little has changed. Hilizah talked about attending a fraternity party during her early days at Sewanee where she expressed an interest in hearing some rap music. The reply: “We don’t play N-word music.” Hilizah wept in relating the incident. “I was dehumanized.”

Another student who spoke at the rally said, “Something that I didn’t understand when I was applying for school was that TWIs [traditionally white institutions] will let you go there for free but it was definitely at the cost of your dignity.”

“The University has swept these actions under the rug,” said Caroline Graham, C’21. “That ends now.”

Brigety addressed the student assembly. “Having to apologize to young black men for the vile racial epithets hurled at them… the same racial epithets hurled at me and my sons over the course of our lives is the most distasteful thing that has ever happened to me…What we do in this moment, over the course of the next several hours, will define this University for a generation…It must start with the identification of those people who are responsible for hurling those epithets today. It’s inconceivable we cannot identify by sundown who did this.”

An estimated 120 Sewanee students attended the lacrosse match. A few of the Sewanee students were heard using racial slurs.

Brigety called for “a structured path for restorative justice” to deal with the students guilty of racist behavior. But Brigety stressed, “There cannot be any reconciliation without repentance…Those who are responsible must come forward.”

University Chaplain Rev. Peter Gray echoed Brigety’s insistence on identifying the students who hurled the racial slurs. “I want to give a challenge to those of you who stand here looking like me…White folks have a choice…are we going to take the easy road which is to shove the bad stuff back underground so that in a year or two years or six months we can be back here again? The hard choice, the right choice, is for those of us who know what happened, who did it, to say, ‘you know what, I’m not pushing it down anymore.’…There are folks who know exactly what happened and the knowledge you have can help hold folks accountable, which means tomorrow can be better than today.”

In response to a call to action by the Order of the Gown, students wearing black gowns as a badge of academic distinction, proceeded en masse to Convocation Hall where portraits of white males adorn the walls. Mandy Tu, Order of the Gown president, reported approximately 400 students left their gowns in Convocation Hall to protest the disparaging behavior of the students who hurled the racial slurs.

Photos of the student rally on the University Facebook page earned over 1,000 responses and over 200 comments to date, including the following by a parent of a player on the Emmanuel lacrosse team.

“As a parent of one of the players on the Emmanuel lacrosse team... I am BEYOND livid... This was a disgrace to the school and NO student should ever feel unsafe when playing away from home. We should be past this BS hateful behavior...I hope the students of Sewanee point out who it was so they can be punished and removed from the school.... SHAME ON THEIR RACIST parents for raising them that way too! On the other hand, it is nice to see the Sewanee students standing up for what is right.”

On March 17, hundreds of Sewanee student-athletes and supporters joined a March Against Racism organized by the Student Athlete Advisory Council.

SUD: Financial Concerns, Tap Repossession Policy


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the March 16 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners grappled with financial concerns about low revenue and the higher-than-expected cost of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) road project. The board also discussed the wording and stipulations of a proposed tap repossession policy.

The February financial report showed revenue almost $50,000 below budget (20 percent) and 23 percent below February of 2020. “Last year started well. We didn’t take a hit until April,” said SUD manager Ben Beavers. “We haven’t recovered on the revenue side.”

SUD Board President Charlie Smith pointed to the absence of students on campus for most of December 2020 and January 2021. The resulting revenue loss amounted to “almost a full quarter,” Smith said. “What about a mid-year rate increase?” he asked.

“It’s a little early,” Beavers said. “I’d like to get through the first quarter. I don’t know what the University schedule is. Everyone is playing a wait and see game…I’m clenching my fist on money until our revenue improves. I’m still doing maintenance that we have to do, but there’s a lot I’m holding off on.”

Updating the board on the TDOT road project, Beavers said the contract went to Dement Construction in Jackson, Tenn., for the portion of the construction impacting SUD. SUD’s cost for relocating water lines will be $120,500, almost double the projected amount, and $210,000 for sewer line relocation, when the projected cost was $130,000.

TDOT’s decision to narrow the highway evolved in conjunction with the University pursuing its Sewanee Village Plan for the downtown area. Beavers and Smith met last summer with Frank Gladu, then head of the Sewanee Village initiative, and University Vice President for Finance Doug Williams to discuss the cost to SUD. Beaver said the University had pledged “a substantial contribution” to help SUD pay for the project, proposing an 80 percent/20 percent split. Beavers recently communicated to Gladu the need for a firm agreement. Beavers suggested lack of University assistance could drive a rate increase. “We will recover our costs from somewhere,” Beavers said.

Taking up the need for a policy on taps no longer in use or never put into service, the board reviewed several policy options. “Even if the owner of the tap doesn’t use water, it still costs us to take care of the meter,” Beavers said explaining the need for a policy. The board asked Beavers to draft a policy similar to that of Big Creek water utility.

The suggested policy would stipulate a tap inactive for six months could be reinstated for a $200 fee, plus payment of the minimum use fee and late fees for six months. A tap inactive for 12 months would be repossessed. To reinstate service, the property owner would need to reapply and to pay the SUD tap fee. These stipulations would not apply when customers pay the monthly minimum use fee.

Beavers said when a customer did not pay their bill for two months, the tap was turned off. The third month, the tap was locked. SUD, however, makes provisions for payment for customers suffering hardship. Also, in the case of a house burning down, SUD will allow suspension of service.

The tap repossession policy would also apply to dry taps, taps which have never been put into service. In this case the developer who purchased the tap pays a monthly dry tap fee. When the lot is sold, the dry tap fee becomes the responsibility of the customer.

Beavers will present the policy to the board for review at the April meeting.

Socially-Distanced Performance Opens at Tennessee Williams Center


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

The University’s latest socially-distanced theatrical performance is set to debut this weekend. Originally a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is about a teenage boy who, in an effort to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor’s dog, finds himself on a journey of self-discovery.

The story was adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens. There will be eight live performances March 18-20 and March 25-27 at 7:30 p.m., and March 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. A livestream will be offered on the final two nights through a link on Eventbrite.com. That specific link will be announced soon.

Jim Crawford, associate professor of theatre and director of the show, said the process of creating a live theatre experience during the pandemic has been daunting, but this story is one that felt particularly timely.

“I’ve had my eye on this play for a while — it’s funny, it’s moving, and it allows you to view the world from an unexpected point of view. I love the novel, which is told from the perspective of Christopher, who is on the autism spectrum, and I was amazed and delighted when it was adapted so successfully for the stage,” Crawford said. “Christopher has issues with being physically close to anyone, and he has trouble reading facial expressions. The idea of a production of this play in which all of the actors were masked and distanced seemed ripe with metaphorical resonance as we’ve all learned something about living with isolation during this past year.”

The show’s cast is made up of 13 University students, led by Tristan Ketcham, Sarah Mixon, Taela Bland and Ben Davis. Professor of Theatre Arts Dan Backlund is behind the set and lighting design, and costuming is being done by visiting assistant professor of theatre Jacquelyn Loy. Bramwell Atkins, a senior at the University, is composing and performing an original musical score.

In observing guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there will be a limit of 35 audience members at each performance, and masks will be required. Social distancing will also be observed in the theatre.

“My heart goes out to people working at professional theatres this past year, doing their best to create theatre that’s dependent on ticket sales to keep themselves going. We’re in a luckier position than they are as we’re living in a relatively safe bubble, and our primary reason for making performances has always been to provide a great educational opportunity for our theatre and dance students. We love sharing shows with our community, but our shows have always been free, so we don’t have the pressure of selling all those tickets. Because of that and to maintain Sewanee’s bubble, seats in the theatre are only open to students, faculty and staff. Watching a masked play online won’t be as satisfying as seeing it in person, but I’m very glad that the friends and families of the students involved will be able to get a chance to see it.”

Tickets are available for reservation by students, faculty and staff at <https://www.eventbrite.com/e/t...;.

Proposed Monteagle Truck Stop: RBT Answers Questions


by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At a March 15 special called meeting of the Monteagle City Council, investor RBT Enterprises addressed residents’ questions about the Petro truck stop proposed for the I-24 exit 135.

Asked about Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation (TDEC) permitting, RBT partner Brian Graber said the project had TDEC permits on both the property acquired in March 2020 and the property owned by RBT partner Rodney Kilgore. “TDEC standards are more stringent than Phase 1,” Graber insisted.

City engineer Travis Wilson said he had reviewed a summary of the Phase 1 study required, as is typical, by RBT’s lending institution. Wilson said the study showed no wells, but revealed a wetlands. The site plan shows RBT will maintain a buffer zone around the wetlands. “The state approved the construction plans as submitted,” Wilson said. The Phase 1 summary will be available for public viewing at city hall.

Graber said the plans also called for retention pond and residential buffer zones. The nearest residence would be 130 feet away.

Asked about the truck stop’s impact on the community, Graber said, “The trucks are already here.” The extant Pilot truck stop at exit 135 accommodates 88 trucks, and an aerial view of the exit shows 35-40 trucks parked in nearby lots, Graber said. He noted residences were closer to the Pilot than they would be to the proposed Petro.

Traffic study consultant Steve Meyer said interstate cueing was not expected. Meyer anticipated “more volume than there is now” at exit 135, especially in the summer, but said there “is a lot of capacity both at the interchange and at the entrance and exit to the Petro.” Meyer performed his traffic study counts on Feb. 19. A resident commented Friday was not a high traffic-volume day. Asked about the COVID-19 pandemic impact on traffic, Meyer said, the Tennessee Department of Transportation determined traffic volume to be 70 percent of pre-pandemic traffic flow.

Meyer did not analyze Monteagle exit 134 and saw no reason for truck traffic to use that exit and disrupt local traffic in the downtown corridor.

In response to a resident’s concerns about trucks traveling through downtown because the truck stop was full, Kilgore said the site plan provided ample room for trucks to turn around. Graber pointed out allowing for turning room was one of the reasons the project changed it plans from accommodating 140 trucks to accommodating 117.

Dean Reichenbach, with 35 years’ experience building truck stops for Petro, responded to a question about pollution from idling trucks. Reichenbach said today most trucks were equipped with DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) technology to reduce harmful effects of emissions. Reichenbach also addressed concerns about spills. He said monitoring technology would detect any “product release” in three and half to four minutes.

Responding to a question about stormwater and run off, paving contractor Andrew Smith said the site plan called for rainwater collection in storm water drains. He also pointed out the paving product to be used contained no steel so was not as corrosive, was reflective so not as hot in the summer, showed no puddling, and required virtually zero maintenance. Smith also said he did not foresee construction requiring any blasting.

A resident asked about possible damage to his water well. Technical difficulties in the Zoom format presentation followed. Graber advised the resident to contact him for information.

Asked about possible decrease in neighboring property values, Graber recommended residents consult Zillow.

Graber said the truck stop would include five restaurants, two family owned. He anticipated payroll would exceed $90,000 per month and Monteagle would realize $135,000 in tax revenue in the first year. Graber stressed this would be revenue generated by travelers who did not consume area resources.

Kilgore noted a 20-foot fence would contain the project, at a cost of $500,000 to the developers.

Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said the plans differed from what RBT initially submitted, and the council had not yet had an opportunity to review them. She concurred with utility manager John Condra that Monteagle had sufficient water for the project. Since the 2007 drought, Tracy City raised its dam increasing water supply, and interconnectivity now exists between the plateau water utilities. Rodman insisted sewer capacity questions could not be answered until completion of the study currently underway. The council expects to have preliminary results by the March 29 public meeting when the council will vote on the planning commissions’ recommendation to rezone to commercial a portion of the proposed Petro tract, which does not have the correct zoning.

Part of the 20-acre site is owned by Kilgore personally and the remaining 13-14 acres is owned by RBT Enterprises. Graber said he believed, at the time of purchase, all the property RBT acquired was zoned commercial. Inadequate meeting notice resulted in the zoning being invalid for approximately 6 and a half acres of the tract.

Asked if the project would continue if the council did not approve the rezoning, Graber said, “We would have never bought residential property.”

Animal Friendly Grants Help Shelters and Pet Owners


NASHVILLE — Tennessee specialty license plates sales help pet owners have access to low-cost spay and neutering services. Funds from the Animal Friendly - Spay and Neuter Saves Lives license plates go to Animal Friendly Grants, a program administered by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Animal Health Division. The application period for grants is open until May 14, 2021.

“Pet owners who want to prevent their dogs or cats from having more litters can do that more affordably with these grants,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “Spaying and neutering pets will go a long way in reducing overpopulation in shelters, and it can help protect against some health problems for your pet.”

Animal Friendly Grants are available to government shelters or 501c3s in Tennessee that provide low-cost spay and neuter services. Grant awards are based on the number of animals the organization serves and how many counties are reached. Shelters and organizations that serve distressed counties are prioritized.

The reimbursement grants are for spay and neuter procedures only and do not cover other types of services or overhead expenses. The procedure must be performed by a clinic in Tennessee with a veterinarian who is licensed in Tennessee.

Qualified organizations that are interested in the grant should email animal.friendlygrants@tn.gov or call 615-837-5002 to request an application.

Animal Friendly Spay Neuter license plate

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