Public Notice, Vogue Towers LCC

Vogue Towers LLC is proposing to construct a 189-foot overall height monopole telecommunications tower located off Texas Avenue, Sewanee, Franklin County, Tennessee (N35° 12’ 34.0”; W85° 55’ 23.4”). The tower is anticipated to not be lit. Any interested party may also request further environmental review of the proposed action under the FCC’s National Environmental Policy Act rules, 47 CFR §1.1307, by notifying the FCC of the specific reasons that the action may have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. This request must only raise environmental concerns and can be filed online using the FCC pleadings system at or mailed to FCC Requests for Environmental Review, Attn: Ramon Williams, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554 within 30 days of the date that notice of this proposed action is published on the FCC’s website. Refer to File No. A1185698 when submitting the request and to view the specific information about the proposed action. U2817 CVG

Public Notices, Town of Monteagle


The Monteagle Regional Planning Commission will have a special called meeting on May 10, 2021 at 6:00 pm in the conference room at City Hall. This meeting will address the RBT property at Tax Map 022K group C parcel 002.07. This will Change from R-3 To C-3.


The regular meeting of the Monteagle City Council will be May 24, 2021 at 6:00 pm in the conference room at City Hall. There will be First Reading of an Ordinance to rezone the RBT property at Tax Map 022K group C parcel 002.07. This will change from R-3 to C-3.


The Monteagle City Council will have a Public Hearing on June 14, 2021 at 5:00 to 6:30pm to address the RBT property at Tax Map 022K group C parcel 002.07. This will change from R-3 to C-3.


The Monteagle City Council will have a Special Called Meeting on June 14, 2021 at 6:30 pm to have the Second Reading of the Ordinance to rezone the RBT property at Tax Map 022K group C parcel 002.07. This will change from R-3 to C-3.

Sewanee Elementary Kindergarten Needs Your Help!

It is crucial for Franklin County Schools to have kindergarten registration information when planning for next year’s student and teacher placement. If you know of any child that will be attending kindergarten at Sewanee Elementary in the fall and has not registered for school, please ask the family to contact our office as soon as possible at (931) 598-5951. Pictured are the kindergarten students at Forest School.

Sewanee-Franklin County Airport Public Town Hall

Members of the community are invited to a public town hall to discuss the obstruction removal and avigation easement project for the runway approach at the Sewanee-Franklin County airport at 7 p.m., Monday, May 3, at the Sewanee Elementary School. County officials and university administrators will be there to answer any questions. Midway residents, stakeholders, and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend to ask questions and raise any concerns about this issue.

To ensure safety on the runway approach, trees must be cut on the University Domain and on the land of two individuals whose properties adjoin the airport. The airport seeks an avigation easement to cut trees to meet federal and state safety requirements, and will compensate the landowners for that easement. There are no plans to lengthen the runway or to allow larger planes or jets at the airport. The only change is that flying lessons, which have always been offered to university students, will be expanded to offer additional classes. Only two property owners will be affected by the obstruction removal.

Please wear your mask. You may also join us through Zoom at this link: <;.

Monteagle: New Police Chief, New 911 Agreement

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“I thought about it for several months,” said Monteagle Police Chief Jack Hill at the April 26 Monteagle Council meeting, announcing his decision to accept a position as a security officer at Arnold Engineering Development Complex. The council approved Hill’s recommendation to promote assistant chief Jared Nunley to the chief position. Nunley served in the military 12 years, area law enforcement 9 years, completed chief school, and has specialized training for DUI, SWAT, de-escalation, and MTAS. The police department also had another recent resignation. Nunley identified and the council approved two candidates for the positions, both certified officers: Cornelius Jackson, former Monteagle Elementary School SRO, and recent police academy graduate Jeremiah Dallas.

Turning to another change in city government, the council approved entering into an agreement with Grundy Emergency Management Agency to provide 911 service, cost $25,000 annually. According to city accountant Don Mills, the city wrote off $74,000 last year in unreimbursed expenses for supplying 911 services. The agreement will save the city $125,000–$130,000 annually in payroll expenses, Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said.

Addressing the return to normal operations as the pandemic recedes, the council approved a resolution serving as notification Monteagle would begin collection Occupancy Tax again. “The council suspended collection of Occupancy Tax during COVID to give everybody a break…The resolution is giving notice that we’ll start collecting again,” Mills said. Occupancy Tax applies to hotels, motels, B&Bs, and similar establishments Rodman explained. Past due Occupancy Tax paid by June 30 will not be subject to interest and penalties.

The council voted on first reading to rescind the ordinance banning use of jake breaks in the city limits. Rodman said the Tennessee Department of Transportation recommended rescinding the ruling. “Jake brakes are a supplementary braking system,” Alderman Nate Wilson observed. “Usually, things like that are set by federal law,” city attorney Sam Elliot said. “If it’s allowed under federal law, we can’t say it’s not.” Elliott will research the issue before the second reading vote.

The council approved on second reading the rezoning of a 4.6 acre parcel from R-3 to C-3. The rezoning will accommodate the zoning status needed for a proposed 20-acre travel center incorporating the parcel.

The town accepted a gift of 50 Crepe Myrtle trees for the median strip on Main Street. In approving the donation, the council thanked the anonymous donor. Rodman noted there would be a financial saving to the city, since the median potted flowers would not need to be replace annually.

In conjunction with being approved for a business permit, Sarah Ambrose described her plan to open a wine and cheese bar, Rennet and Rind, at the Country Mart. The establishment will feature salads and sandwiches sourcing local food that reflects the local culture and local farmers. Ambrose hopes eventually to be able to sell beer. City ordinances currently prohibit beer sales at the business due to the close proximity to a church. Liquor sales, regulated by the state, are not subject to a distance regulation.

The council also heard from Steve Mason, pastor at New Beginnings Church and co-founder of the Mosaic Center, a substance abuse recovery center for men in Pelham, Tenn. For more information visit <http://wearemosaicrecoverycent...;.

Monteagle Chemical Spill TEMA Response: Tragedy Averted

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Early on the morning of April 23, Monteagle Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman received a phone call about a vapor cloud leaking from a tanker truck parked at Shan’s Chinese Buffet.

“It could have been catastrophic for the city of Monteagle” said Steve Lamb, Marion County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director. A “coordinated response,” with the Monteagle Fire Department in the lead, averted tragedy.

According to Lamb, a truck driver leaving the parking lot noticed vapor spewing from a nearby truck and woke the driver sleeping in the cab. The driver evacuated and contacted the Monteagle Fire Department who in turn contacted Grundy County EMA. The chemical being transported had eaten a hole in the tank. Identifying the chemical took precedence. The evacuating driver left his shipping papers in the truck. Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) signage posted on the tank named the chemical, but the assembled first responders did not want to risk venturing into the vapor cloud. Weekend closings stymied initial efforts to contact Albermarle, owner of the tank and contents. The receiving clerk finally reached identified the chemical as chlorobutane, a highly flammable, corrosive chemical listed in the Emergency Response Guidebook.

Grundy County EMA Director Dennis Jones contacted Lamb and a call for assistance went out. “Everybody came together on a moment’s notice,” said Monteagle Fire Chief Geron Brewer. Fifteen agencies responded, including the Coffee County Haz-Mat Team and Grundy County EMS to provide medical assistance. Lamb highlighted three concerns: fire (chlorobutane has an ignition of just 68 degrees Fahrenheit), protecting the water supply, and protecting residents from exposure to the vapors. According to the Library of Medicine website, chlorobutane is a skin and eye irritant and, in the event of fire, emits toxic fumes.

Rodman arrived at the site at 5 a.m. and consulted with the responders about notification of the public. “We didn’t want anyone outside,” Rodman said, explaining why the emergency siren alert system was not used. Shortly after 6 a.m., area EMAs sent phone, text and email notifications telling people to “shelter in place.” Rodman directed Police Chief Jack Hill to notify the nursing home and Marion County Schools. Monteagle Elementary canceled school.

Lamb attributed the hole in the tanker and the vapor to a chemical reaction between the product and the tank. A steel or lined tank should have been used to ship the product, not an aluminum tank, Lamb said. The vapor dissipated fairly quickly once it escaped from the ruptured tank. At 8:46 a.m., GCTV6 announced the shelter in place was lifted. However, Dixie Lee Highway was still blocked off between DuBose Conference Center and I-24 Exit 135. Much product had leaked onto the ground. Lamb worried the truck might collapse, releasing the remaining contents, a scenario he had observed in an “incompatible loads” training video.

The first responders had erected berms blocking leaked material from a nearby creek and the school. By 10 a.m., a cleanup company sent by Albermarle had arrived. The crew dug another barrier behind the truck, then began cleaning up the ground. The product remaining in the tank was removed from the site in totes, the tank cleaned, and the tank hole sealed, before the tank was removed.

TDEC monitored the cleanup. A chemical testing company verified the water supply was uncontaminated. TDOT cleared a produce truck parked nearby for resuming travel. And by 9 p.m. that evening, with the cleanup process largely completed, Lamb, the other responders, and Rodman finally returned home.

“The TEMA Director Charlie Hall told me [the response and cleanup] was done quicker and better than he’d ever seen orchestrated in a non-drill situation,” Rodman said. “We worked with incredible people. Thank you. We were blessed.”

Telephone emergency alerts automatically go out to landline users. Cellphone users can sign up for emergency alerts at <>; (Franklin County), <>; (Marion County), and <; (Grundy County).

Lamb reported one snag in the response. Marion County failed to send out emergency alerts.

“There was a glitch in the process,” Rodman said.

Sewanee Fourth of July Celebration is Back

Thirty-five years ago, a little town on a big mountain had the best Independence Day celebration ever. Families and friends lined the street to celebrate America! America!, its spacious skies, its amber waves of grain, and of course its foggy mountain majesties. There was music, dancing, cake-decorating contests, cat and dog displays of prowess, delicious food and drink, and of course, a parade.

We weren’t able to celebrate together in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, some events may look a little different as we modify as needed for safety, but the fun and fanfare can’t be contained. We invite everyone far and wide on Saturday, July 3, and Sunday, July 4, for a commemoration of who we are and what it took to get here, and this party is a “Maskerade” Ball.

Start brainstorming your ideas for a “Maskerade” Ball like no other with creative parade floats, imaginative cakes, and artistic costumes. Look out for more information announcing event registration, the grand marshal, and other details.

SmokeHouse Restaurant Burns to the Ground

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Around 3:30 p.m. on April 27, Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Doug Cameron received notice from the Monteagle Volunteer Fire Department about a fire at Jim Oliver’s SmokeHouse in Monteagle. Cameron arrived at the scene nearly coincidentally with the first MVFD engine. “In the back kitchen corner by the grease pit the fire was rolling,” Cameron said, “a lot of flames and heavy black smoke.”

Pelham Valley Volunteer Fire Department joined Sewanee and Monteagle. Pelham assumed “incident command,” according to Cameron. Eventually 14 departments turned out to fight the blaze. A tower of flame shot up from melted natural gas lines feeding kitchen appliances. Middle Tennessee Natural Gas shut off the flow, but the fire quickly burned out of control. “David Green [MVFD consultant] told me we were going defensive to try to save the SmokeHouse motel,” Cameron said.

WRCBtv reported the SmokeHouse manager speculated electrical issues caused the fire, and employees tried unsuccessfully to put it out with fire extinguishers.

“There were multiple roofs on that building, and the flames spread to the roofs,” Cameron said. “The fire got in the attic of the motel.”

Lack of water stymied firefighting efforts, with the nearest hydrant across the street and the next nearest hydrant at the Shell Station nearly half a mile away. Tanker trucks delivered water to the firefighters from the Shell Station and another remote location.

“I was begging for water,” Cameron said. “All we had was a two-and-a-half-inch line trying to fight the fire in two different places.”

Grundy County EMS treated firefighters for dehydration and exhaustion. “They gave them IVs and sent them back in,” Cameron said. Cameron praised Monteagle Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman. Rodman was on the scene, as she had been at the April 23 chemical spill in Monteagle, supplying firefighters with food and beverages.

Jim Oliver’s SmokeHouse opened its doors in the 1960s. The restaurant and gift shop entertained visitors with old photos, farm tools, and like memorabilia collected by the family. Jim Oliver’s children, Betsy and James David, currently operate the business.

“Please pray for our SmokeHouse family. We are totally devastated and heartbroken,” the owners wrote in a Facebook post late Tuesday night. “Thanks for everyone who tried to help us today. Please pray for the Oliver family. And, our many employees.”

The restaurant and gift shop are “totally on the ground,” Cameron said. Excavators cut trenches to contain the fire, and firefighters extinguished the fire in the motel attic. But Cameron cautioned, “that kind of fire can burn for days. The roofing tin holds the heat in.”

“My biggest job is to bring everybody home,” Cameron stressed.

There were no injuries and no deaths, Rodman said. “Buildings can be replaced, people can’t,” she observed. “Pray for the Olivers. I hope they can rebuild.”

Rodman counted more than 23 agencies helping with the response effort with volunteers coming from as far away as Alabama. “In a bad situation, it was everybody pulling together again. Thank you everyone who came and helped the town.”

Fire at Jim Oliver's SmokeHouse

At approximately 3:30 p.m., April 27, the Monteagle Fire and Rescue made a mutual aid call to area fire departments for a structure fire at Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse in Monteagle. The cause of the blaze is unknown at this time.

A Facebook post from the Monteagle Fire and Rescue said traffic is currently being rerouted from both directions to avoid the SmokeHouse area.

The main part of the building has been reported as destroyed.

It has been reported that crews from multiple fire departments, including Monteagle, Winchester, Crow Creek Valley, Cowan, South Pittsburg, Decherd Fire and Rescue, Sewanee, Jump Off, and Tracy City have been fighting the blaze. Grundy County Emergency Management Agency, Monteagle Police Department, Sewanee Police Department and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative are also on site.

No injuries are reported at this time. More details will be available soon.

Shown is the building with the restaurant and trading post at Jim Oliver’s SmokeHouse sent in by a firefighter on the scene.

Gov. Lee Pushes Reopening, Focus on Economic Recovery

Ends Public Health Orders and Local Mask Authority
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | 09:25am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the end of statewide public health orders and signed Executive Order 80 to address economic and regulatory functions. EO 80 also ends the local authority to issue mask requirements in the 89 counties directed by the state health department.

“COVID-19 is now a managed public health issue in Tennessee and no longer a statewide public health emergency,” said Gov. Lee. “As Tennesseans continue to get vaccinated, it’s time to lift remaining local restrictions, focus on economic recovery and get back to business in Tennessee.”

EO 80 contains the following provisions and is effective through May 31, 2021:

Removing Local Mask Authority

While Tennessee has never had a statewide mask mandate, EO 80 removes the local authority for county mayors in 89 of the state’s 95 counties to require face coverings throughout their jurisdictions.

Gov. Lee has requested counties with independent health departments – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – that have remaining business restrictions or mask requirements to lift all measures no later than May 30.

Extending Deregulatory Provisions

EO 80 extends helpful deregulatory provisions to enable individuals, businesses and other organizations time to adapt their operations in anticipation of ending said provisions.

Maintaining Federal Funding

EO 80 maintains Tennessee’s access to federal funding, including SNAP benefits and cost reimbursements for the Tennessee National Guard’s testing and vaccination efforts.

In addition to EO 80, the following provisions are effective immediately:

Offering Walk-Up Vaccine Option

While the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be available to Tennesseans aged 16 and older by appointment, local health departments will now offer a walk-up option.

Retiring Optional Business Guidance

The Tennessee Pledge business guidelines issued at the start of COVID-19 have been officially retired.

Retired Admiral James Stavridis to Give 2021 University Commencement Address

The University of the South plans an in-person College commencement service on Saturday, May 22, for its Class of 2021. The ceremony for approximately 375 graduates will be held outdoors and only a limited number of guests will attend. The ceremony will be livestreamed.

Retired Admiral James Stavridis will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and will give a commencement address.

Adm. Stavridis is currently an operating executive of global investment firm The Carlyle Group, and chair of the Board of Counselors of McLarty Associates, an international consulting firm. Previously he served for five years as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Tufts University. Adm. Stavridis is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has published 10 books and hundreds of articles, and since leaving active duty has been a frequent guest on major broadcast and cable television networks to comment on national security and foreign policy matters. Adm. Stavridis is a monthly columnist for TIME Magazine and chief international security analyst for NBC News. As a public speaker, he has given addresses to groups such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the Munich Security Conference, and at universities including Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, and the U.S. Naval Academy. His two most recent books are “Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character” in 2019 and the 2021 New York Times bestselling novel “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.”

A retired four-star U.S. naval officer, Adm. Stavridis led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter piracy, and cybersecurity. He also served as commander of U.S. Southern Command from 2006 to 2009, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America. He earned more than 50 medals in his 37-year military career, including 28 from foreign nations.

The University of the South is delighted to welcome Adm. Stavridis to campus and to honor him for his service to the nation.

SUD: Unaccounted Water Loss, Long Range Planning

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“Unaccounted for water loss is extremely high,” Sewanee Utility District manager Ben Beavers told the board of commissioners at the April 20 meeting. “We’re working hard trying to find out where that water’s going.” Unaccounted for water loss is the difference between the amount of water treated at the plant and amount registered as sold on customer meters, meaning water SUD is not paid for. Discussing the two primary causes of unaccounted for loss, faulty meters and leaks, Beavers said the loss decreased when everyone was gone due to the pandemic. “That makes me think it’s the metering. If it was leakage, it would be more or less the same.”

Beavers explained aging customer meters slowed down, failing to record the full amount of water passing through them. Reports showed unaccounted for water loss at 34 percent for February and 36 percent year to date, compared to the low 20 percent late last spring and during the summer when there was very little for many in-town meters to record. SUD has zone master meters tracking the water going to the remote locations of Jump Off, Midway, Deep Woods and Sewanee Summit. “The master meters are quiet,” Beavers said, showing no significant variance between water delivered to the four regions and water registering on customer meters as sold. The conclusion followed the water loss was occurring in town. Beavers said tracking in-town changes in water flow was especially difficult to monitor because the service lines looped around rather than running in a straight line.

Speaking to solutions for finding the water loss source, Beavers said isolating segments of in-town flow with zone meters would be expensive, requiring eight to 10 large zone meters, cost $8,000-$10,000 each. He plans to begin with testing for slow down of large meters serving places like the Sewanee Inn and McClurg Dining Hall, and spot-checking residential meters.

“SUD also has an ultrasonic device capable of identifying changes in flow as an indicator of leaks,” Beavers said, “but using the device requires digging up the line.” Beavers suggested locating permanent manholes at strategic points throughout campus where the device could be strapped to the line for periodic spot checking. He expressed concern, however, the University would not welcome a four-foot manhole in locations like the Quad.

Looking to the future, the board met with Don Mills from the MG Group to discuss designing a metrics platform to aid SUD in long range planning. Mills proposed using historic data going back 10 years to project future revenue and capital needs. He posed the question, “At what point will we have to expand operations?...Engineering costs are not going to go down. Repair costs are not going to go down.”

Board President Charlie Smith recommended projecting at least 10 years out, noting Beavers already budgeted five years into the future.

Commissioner Doug Cameron stressed the importance of planning for drought and argued for a permanent supply line to Lake Dimmick as an alternate water source. Cameron also cited the need for identifying the lifetime of big-ticket items like the water plant and wastewater treatment plant.

“On down the road there will be some major water line replacement,” said Commissioner Randall Henley.

Smith pointed out the trend to move from urban to rural areas could increase water demand.

Regarding people moving to the area, Beavers observed fiber optic internet service in the Jump Off community “is already making a big difference…A lot of people are realizing they can work remotely.”

The board will identify critical metrics by the May 18 meeting. Mills will present the 2020 audit at this meeting.

Unrivaled: Filming the Story Nears Completion

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

After several years of filming, researching, and interviewing, the makers of the documentary on Sewanee’s historic 1899 football team have raised upwards of $200,000 to fund the creation of the film.

Norman Jetmundsen, class of 1976, first learned about the story when he was a student in the ’70s, and since then, he has been enamored with the history.

The story goes that in the year 1899, the Sewanee Tigers football team boarded a train for a six day, 2,500-mile trip, during which they were scheduled to play five games against some of today’s college football favorites. At the end of the trip, broken and exhausted, the team returned to the Mountain having outscored opponents Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Tulane and Ole Miss, 322–10.

Back in 2018, Jetmundsen began working on the film, along with fellow alumni David Crews and Kate Gillespie. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down production significantly, to date, they have raised about $230,000 toward their goal of $250,000.

“Just like the team of 1899, this documentary has involved perseverance and patience in reaching the goal line,” Jetmundsen said. “We have engaged the services of a professional video editor, Matthew Graves, who has worked diligently on doing many draft edits of the film and helping to fine tune it. We have also recorded narration by an Episcopal priest from Alabama, the Reverend Gates Shaw, who has a wonderful Southern accent and eloquent preacher’s delivery that is perfect for the film.”

Last December, the producers and editor gathered in Sewanee to film some football reenactments in vintage uniforms and gear. The reenactors included David’s son, Battle Crews, and Aubrey Black, son of Robert and Kelley Black. Cal Burrows, the team’s invaluable African-American trainer and the unsung hero of the story, was portrayed by W. Marichal Gentry.

“The reenactments were even better than anticipated and will add to the richness of the documentary,” Crews said.

The team hopes to have the film completed by the end of the year, and Jetmundsen said the team has created a surprise addition to the film that will be revealed before the release.

To support the creation of the film or to tell your piece of the story, visit <>.

Stricklen Selected As a 2021 Truman Scholar

Klarke Stricklen, C’22, an American Studies major and African American Studies minor from Chattanooga, has been named a Truman Scholar. Stricklen is in excellent company; only 62 new Truman Scholars were selected from a record 845 candidates nominated by more than 300 colleges and universities.

Chosen after a grueling application and interview process, Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. They will receive funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government.

“I am very pleased to be accepted into the class of 2021 Truman Scholars,” said Stricklen. “The road to this great accolade was not easy and the work ahead will be even more challenging, but if there is one thing that I have learned from this journey, it is that even in times of great distress, we must persevere.”

On the Sewanee campus, Stricklen has been a student research assistant for the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation, and a member of the Roberson Project working group, the campus chapter of NAACP, and Bairnwick Women’s Center. “Through every hardship that I have faced, the courage of my ancestors has given me the strength to carry on. As a descendant of enslaved persons and a student at the University of the South, an institution investigating and reckoning with its history with slavery, I share this honor and moment with all of the Black students, faculty, staff, and community members who paved the way for me to be in this space,” she said. “I am thankful to the University of the South and my village of supporters who have guided me throughout this journey and I look forward to my next chapter.”

The Truman Scholarship continues the legacy of the 33rd U.S. president by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. This year’s class of Truman Scholars were recommended by 17 independent selection panels based on their academic success and leadership accomplishments, as well as their likelihood of becoming public service leaders. They have been recognized by the Truman Scholarship Foundation as future “change agents” who have the passion, intellect, and leadership potential that in time should enable them to improve the ways that public entities, whether government agencies, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, or advocacy organizations, serve the public good.


NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSA) ask Tennesseans to take part in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Take Back Day for prescription drugs on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The initiative addresses public safety and public health issues. It is an opportunity to rid homes of expired, unused, unwanted, and potentially dangerous prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Sites cannot accept liquids, needles, or sharps – only pills or patches.

“This is an important program for both health and environmental reasons,” David Salyers, TDEC commissioner, said. “It’s a convenient way to rid a household of prescription drugs that are no longer needed, and it keeps those drugs out of our water supply. We are happy to partner with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services on this effort. The partnership helps make this program succeed.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many patterns of normal daily life, and that includes regular disposal of potentially harmful prescription medication,” Marie Williams, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, said. “On this National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, we’re encouraging people to get back in the habit of safely and securely disposing the medications they no longer need.”

“We know most people who get addicted to opioids start with a prescription,” Lisa Piercey, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Health, said. “That is why it is important to properly dispose of your unused prescription drugs, to prevent the unintended consequences of misuse, which can lead to addiction and use of other drugs such as fentanyl which are having an outsized impact on drug overdose deaths in our state.”

Dropoff locations, available year-round, can be found online in a map of 355 authorized collection sites throughout Tennessee. Take Back Day events can be found at Substance Abuse Prevention Coalitions and other community groups team up with their local law enforcement to host the events. According to national research, about two-thirds of people who misuse or abuse prescription medications obtain them from family or friends.

To keep everyone safe, collection sites will follow local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. Pandemic precautions may have limited access to permanent drop boxes, which are normally available on-demand.

This year’s Take Back Day is important because the April 2020 Take Back Day was canceled due to the pandemic, and the amount of medication collected in Tennessee during the October 2020 Take Back Day was about one-third the amount collected in October 2019.

The event this month is the DEA’s 20th nationwide Take Back Day since its inception over 10 years ago. Last fall, Americans turned in nearly 493 tons (985,392 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,500 sites operated by the DEA and over 4,100 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Those partnerships have now collected nearly 6,850 tons of prescription medications since the inception of the initiative in 2010.

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