‘Make Lasting Connections’ Symposium an Important Moment
On April 20, community leaders from across the Plateau joined with Sewanee faculty and students and board members of the South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) for the “Make Lasting Connections” symposium. The event was cosponsored by SCCF and the University of the South’s Office of Civic Engagement.
Many participants responded positively to the program. One participant wrote in the evaluation, “It was an important moment for the health, wealth, and well being of the mountain, and a step forward in improving our social connections and networking. I have already made connections that were not possible without the symposium.”
Speakers emphasized the idea of collaboration throughout the day, from an inspiring interactive talk by Karen Proctor to open the conference, to a presentation of model community projects from the Winrock International team of Linsley Kinkade, Michelle Perez, and Jordyn Williams. Whitney Kimball-Coe of Rural Assembly delivered the keynote address. Following the address, Katie Goforth led participants in an exercise modeling collaboration.
“The program had a really nice arc to it,” observed Allie Cahoon, a Monteagle resident. “Karen Proctor’s talk really helped us understand leadership and collaboration at a personal level—the attitudes you have to cultivate to collaborate with others. The Winrock team then showed us how do to that at a community-wide level and showed some great examples of successful communities in Arkansas. And then Whitney Kimball-Coe brought those lessons together by talking about how community-wide work has an impact on individuals. It was inspiring.”
A highlight of the day was a training session for organizations to compete in a $50,000 grant round offered by SCCF. The “Make Lasting Connections” grant is a new grant round offered in celebration of SCCF’s 10th anniversary and awarded for collaborative projects. Applications will be accepted this summer from multi-organizational teams working on a significant challenge. “Some of you may have come knowing exactly how you would respond to this opportunity, and some of you came with no idea at all. We hope both those conditions change as you talk to others in the room,” said Tom Sanders, executive director of SCCF, in opening the symposium. Evaluations from participants showed that those goals were met.
SCA: A Celebration of Mutual Generosity
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Everywhere you look the civic association is doing something—we’re supporting people or people are supporting us,” observed Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) Co-President Kiki Beavers, welcoming guests to the 39th annual awards dinner. SCA’s interactive role in the community resonated in the aura of mutual generosity evident on the evening of April 26 at Kennerly Hall. SCA members and friends gathered there to celebrate the 2022 Summa Cum Laude and Community Service awardees and the unprecedented success of the 2021-2022 Community Chest fund drive.
Presenting the awards, board member-at-large David Michaels said of David Green, Summa Cum Laude lifetime achievement awardee, “He has lived the message of Love Thy Neighbor.” A lifetime resident of Sewanee, known for being a great neighbor, a great friend, a great employee of the University, and a great family man, Green’s highest distinction was as a member of the Sewanee Volunteer Fire Department. He served the SVFD 59 years, 49 of those years as chief, building an all-volunteer, multi-racial, and mixed-gender fire department that was the envy of small towns throughout Tennessee.
Introducing the Community Service awardees, Michaels said the SCA received so many nominations the awards committee decided to honor two individuals: Sue Scruggs and John Solomon.
The nomination letter for Scruggs said, “If the animals on this mountain could pull it off, there would be a Sue Scruggs Day.” Director of the Marion Animal Resources Connection, Scruggs has dedicated her life to finding foster and forever homes for stray, abused and neglected animals. Accepting the award, Scruggs thanked the community for being “overwhelmingly helpful and supportive,” and, because the animals she rescues are always front and center, she added, “I need fosters.”
“Every time I see John Solomon, he is doing something for others,” said the nominating letter calling for Solomon’s recognition. His volunteer efforts range from helping with packing and pickup at the South Cumberland Farmers Market to translating for Spanish speaking immigrants at the county health department. Solomon lends his efforts to a long list of community initiatives, including the SCA, Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary, Community Council, Bell Ringer, the Arcadia Board, and the Sewanee Tennis Association. He also serves as a University trustee. Accepting the award, Solomon explained modestly, “It’s the community that drives me to giving back.”
Solomon’s comment echoed the generosity evident in the outstanding success of the 2021-2022 Community Chest drive to fund initiatives which enrich the local quality of life. Spokesperson for her fellow co-stewards, John and Kathy Solomon and Clay Yeatman, Paula Yeatman reported the fund drive surpassed its $102,291 goal with bells and whistles. The more than 400 donations totaled over $111,000. “I’m so honored to be part of this community,” Yeatman said. The surplus will be used, in part, to increase the award to the Sewanee Elementary Parent Organization by $5,000, for a total of $30,000.
The membership elected the following slate of officers for 2022-2023: President, Kiki Beavers; Vice President, Ken Taylor; Secretary, Millicent Foreman; Treasurer, Husnain Ahmad; Member-at-large, Carl Hill; and Member-at-large, David Michaels. Bentley Cook has agreed to continue as Director of Classifieds, an appointed position. Beavers thanked the officers stepping down from service: Brett Del Balso, vice president; Erin Kuntz, treasurer; Jared Sorenson, member at large; and Brandon Barry, immediate past president.
Summing up the SCA’s efforts in the past year, Beavers highlighted the thank-you-note design contest at Sewanee Elementary School and Children’s Center, and the March for the Supply Drive partnering with the Community Action Committee and Office of Civic Engagement to collect non-food items to augment the CAC food pantry. In July, the SCA will host a school supply drive to benefit SES. The Community Chest application process will begin again in August. As Beavers observed, the SCA is “everywhere you look.”
Monteagle: Drugs Seized; Streetlights; EV Charging Stations
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April 25 meeting, the Monteagle Town Council heard updates on the police’s efforts to curtail drug traffic, the streetlight inventory underway, and expanding Monteagle’s electric-vehicle (EV) charging station resources. The council approved purchases for the police and utility departments.
Reporting on Monteagle’s efforts to curtail illegal drug traffic and use, Police Chief Jared Nunley said officers seized one-half pound (231.3 grams) of meth in the last calendar year. “That’s a lot,” Nunley stressed. “The fentanyl we can’t give a gram amount on, because it’s in the meth and in the pills. We have enough fentanyl we got off the streets to kill every citizen in Monteagle…You can see what our priorities have been.”
The council approved Nunley’s request for new software for the reporting system. “Ours is going obsolete,” Nunley said. “We’ve got to have it.” The department will share the system with Tracy City, the county sheriff, and the judge and court clerk’s offices. “They can pull up [data] and see charges,” Nunley explained. The sheriff’s department assumed $80,000 of the total expense and paid for Monteagle’s server, Nunley said. Monteagle’s cost, $16,500, includes a one-time fee of $5,000 for transferring the current software data.
Taking up another “must have” need, the council approved purchase of a manure spreader to replace the Utility Department’s out-of-service spreader. The $5,500 cost includes delivery.
In his update on operations, utility manager John Condra said the fire hydrant testing and maintenance recently conducted by an outside contractor revealed 24 out-of-service hydrants. Condra will research rehabbing the hydrants to a serviceable condition.
Alderman Nate Wilson said the inventory of the town’s 200 streetlights has revealed some are no longer needed and will be turned off to save money. In other locations, streetlights will be added. “We’re trying to have lights at most intersections,” Wilson said, “but we don’t need two.” Contact Wilson with questions at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman reported on efforts to increase the town’s EV charging station resources. The town is currently considering contracting with Green Spot for relocating the charging stations currently at city hall. The city would receive a percent of the revenue the stations generated. A state program might also provide Monteagle with EV charging stations, Rodman said, but the city would not receive any revenue from the state sponsored units.
Janet Miller-Schmidt reported on the three recent town hall meetings conducted to solicit residents’ ideas and suggestion for developing the Main Street corridor. “We need more input from young parents,” Miller-Schmidt insisted. To that end, the town will conduct a survey available online and mailed out in residents’ water bills.
Updating the council on the baseball program, Alderwoman Jessica Favaloro said umpires were needed. The position pays $25 per game. To serve as an umpire or volunteer to help with the baseball program, contact Favaloro at <email@example.com>.
From May 9-12, Sparkle Week, Monteagle residents can place items they want to discard at curbside for pickup by city employees. The city will not pickup batteries or tires. The mayor asked residents not to put out pickup items until the evening of Sunday, May 8.
University Commencement Weekend, May 6–8
The University of the South’s 2021-22 academic year comes to a close May 6, 7, and 8 with three ceremonies marking graduation weekend on the Mountain.
The University of the South will hold a Convocation for Conferring of Degrees for the School of Theology on Friday, May 6; the University Baccalaureate on Saturday, May 7; and a Convocation for Conferring of Degrees for the College of Arts and Sciences on Sunday, May 8. All events will begin at 10 a.m. in All Saints’ Chapel and will be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person <https://new.sewanee.edu/parent...;.
Honorary degrees will be presented to the Rt. Rev. Dr. Glenda S. Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings during the School of Theology Commencement on Friday. Bishop Glenda Curry will give the baccalaureate address at the University’s Baccalaureate ceremony on Saturday.
On Sunday, May 8, commencement exercises will be held in All Saints’ Chapel and on the Quadrangle for the College of Arts and Sciences. More than 415 students will graduate from the College. The presentation of diplomas will take place on the Quad so that families and guests may see the conferral live, and the entire service on closed-circuit TV.
Awards and honors will be announced, concluding with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallion for character, leadership, and service to the University and the Sewanee community—the University’s highest award.
The valedictory address will be followed by the conferral of degrees, and Acting Vice-Chancellor Nancy Berner will read the University’s charge to the graduates. The traditional Sewanee recessional takes the new graduates through a corridor of faculty members who line the sidewalk outside the Chapel—and takes them into an outpouring of applause and cheers. The graduates, families, and guests will be able to continue their celebration during a luncheon honoring the Class of 2022.
Per University policy, masking indoors is optional with few exceptions.
Hazardous Waste Collection
The Franklin County Solid Waste Management facility on Joyce Lane will have its annual Hazardous Waste Event, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 30.
Hazardous household waste is defined as corrosive, flammable, toxic or reactive materials used in your home, car or truck, garden and lawn, such as:
Household Cleaners—drain openers, oven cleaners, wood/metal cleaners and polishes, toilet bowl cleaners, disinfectants;
Automotive Products—fuel additives, grease/rust solvents, air conditioning refrigerants, starter fluids, auto body putty, coolants, carburetor/fuel injector cleaners;
Lawn/Garden Chemicals—fungicides, herbicides and pesticides;
Home Maintenance Chemicals—oil-based paint, paint thinner, wood preservatives, paint strippers/removers, adhesives;
Miscellaneous—fingernail polish remover, pool chemicals, photo processing chemicals, medicines/drugs goes to the Sheriff’s Department, reactive aerosols, compressed gas, mercury thermometers and thermostats;
Accepted daily at Joyce Lane: TVs and other electronics, fluorescent light bulbs, computers and accessories, dried latex paint, antifreeze, motor oil, home use needles, batteries.
No explosive, ammunition, radioactive, or medical waste materials will be accepted.
For more information call (931) 703-2435 or go to www.ISWArecycle.net
SUD Frustrated Over ARP Funding; Amending Charter
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners spent a good portion of the April 19 meeting discussing allocation of American Rescue Plan (ARP) matching-grant funds and the board’s efforts to seek legislative action to amend the private act that chartered the utility. Neither initiative is moving forward as the board hoped.
SUD Board President Charlie Smith and Manager Ben Beavers recently attended a meeting of the Franklin County Commission Finance Committee to present SUD’s request for ARP funding for five projects costing just over $655,000. According to a letter from Franklin County Mayor David Alexander, “Franklin County has $3,738,000 available from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for Water Projects.” For utilities receiving matching-grant funding, “the Utility providers part would be 20 percent.”
Smith said the finance committee could not answer a question “about TDEC money versus ARP money.”
The committee did not have a clear explanation for allocations totaling over $1 million, Beavers concurred. What appeared to be the case was, “They [the county] already gave 30 percent of the [ARP] money to one utility. We get there, and suddenly the rules change.”
“Two point four million or $3.5 million [available] is a big difference,” said SUD Commissioner Johnny Hughes, who also serves on the Franklin County Commission.
“I’m not optimistic we’ll get a substantial portion of what we asked for,” Beavers conceded. He proposed the fair way to divide the ARP funds among utilities would be based on number of customers served. “If they don’t give us any money, how will they justify that, but in the end, what can we do.”
SUD’s request included $325,000 for identifying and replacing lead service lines to comply with federal law. Cowan requested $9 million for replacing lead service lines. “I asked for what I thought was our share,” Beavers said.
Beavers stressed the top-shelf item in SUD’s ARP request was purchase of a hydro-excavator to dig up service lines to inspect them for lead connections. SUD has 600 services which were installed when lead connections were commonly used. Beavers said if SUD did not receive funding for the excavator, the utility would need to purchase one.
Other projects in SUD’s ARP request include installing “variable frequency drive” controls at the water plant to reduce energy consumption, a $25,000 expense that would pay for itself in savings in 18 months; $24,941 to upgrade the SCADA system at the water plant to heighten cyber security; $150,000 to upgrade the 12-year-old membrane filtration module at the water plant; and $130,000 for a new bar screen at the main sewer pumping station to prevent disposable wipes and face masks from clogging and damaging pumps and creating a health hazard for employees tasked with repair.
Smith introduced a discussion revisiting SUD’s efforts to amend the private act that chartered the utility, striking the line prohibiting commissioners from serving more than two consecutive terms. Center Grove Utility District (CGUD) has pursued the same course of action to remedy the difficulty of finding people to serve as commissioners. (SUD’s recent election had five candidates for two seats, but in the past SUD has had difficulty finding commissioner candidates.) SUD sought the assistance of State Representative Iris Rudder and Senator Janice Bowling with no results. Smith said, CGUD recently received a reply from Rudder’s office stating, according to the legal department, the 2004 passage of Public Chapter 618 addressed the issue. In doubt, CGUD consulted with Tennessee Association of Utility Districts attorney Don Scholes who insisted the 2004 legislation did not remedy the problem. Smith said SUD would keep “nibbling away” at finding a solution. If the utility elected a candidate for a third consecutive term, a lawsuit would need to be initiated by a SUD customer for the utility to suffer negative repercussions, Beavers noted.
Mountain T.O.P. Takes on the Housing Hurdle
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
In her work for a nonprofit tasked with addressing the needs of Plateau residents, Mountain T.O.P. Program Director Julie Keel hit on a difficult truth: “Housing is hard, and housing is always part of the conversation.” Regardless of the challenge — education, work force development, climate change, helping those in recovery reenter society — “You always bump into housing,” Keel insisted. Acknowledging the critical role housing plays, Mountain T.O.P. recently hosted a Housing Summit. Among the 44 attendees were representatives from the sheriff’s office, the Grundy County mayor, SETHRA, mental health and social service agencies, Catholic Charities, Housing Sewanee, the University Office of Civic Engagement, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), USDA Rural Development, as well as architects, sustainability coordinators, and loan agencies. “It was a group of people I’ve never seen together before in my experience,” Keel said.
The total absence of affordable homes on the market tops the list of problems the group addressed. Even if prospective homeowners educate themselves about the challenges of home upkeep and mortgages and qualify for a low-income loan, “they can’t qualify for purchase because the cost of homes has increased so much,” Keel said. A once “affordable” home costs two to three times what it did before the housing boom. “We couldn’t build homes fast enough” to meet the need, she observed.
Grundy County has only 220 “affordable rental” units available on a sliding scale with a SETHRA housing voucher. “We often don’t see the problem of homelessness here,” Keel said. “People live in crowded conditions and the woods hide things.” Many who own property or whose families own property, but no house, live in campers, cars, and sheds. The Chattanooga Homeless Coalition offers help for those homeless because of circumstances such as a house fire or an abusive relationship, but the closest shelter is in Cleveland, Tenn.
Grundy County is unique for having both a high level of poverty and a high level of home ownership, but the homes are frequently old and unsound making the occupants especially vulnerable to high utility bills, storm damage, and other climate change factors. Auburn University’s Front Porch initiative designs energy efficient small one-and-two-bedroom homes as a housing solution, arguing the higher monthly mortgage payment is offset by lower utility and maintenance expenses. Green Space, a Chattanooga nonprofit committed to regional sustainability, plans to pilot a program showing the cost benefits of health care insurance providers investing in sustainable housing to keep people healthy and safe. Keel cited “Housing First” homelessness assistance data which shows providing a person with a safe, affordable residence made them far more successful in addressing other life hurdles such as substance abuse. Critical to understanding the problem, a mortgage that eats up more than 30 percent of a family’s income qualifies as “substandard housing,” Keel said.
What is on Mountain T.O.P.’s housing-solution horizon? With continued funding from USDA Rural Development and THDA now a funding source, Mountain T.O.P. will continue its home repair mission and possibly build a home from the ground up. Call (931) 692-3999 or visit the website <mountain-top.org> to request home repair help. With Grundy County lacking resources such as Housing Sewanee and Habitat for Humanity, Mountain T.O.P. wants to launch a Housing Subsidiary Development Organization or attract a HSDO to the area.
Mountain T.O.P. hosts a monthly Housing Advisory Council and offers Housing Counseling, 2-5 p.m., Wednesdays, at the Littel-Partin Building (old Grundy County High School). Walk-ins welcome or phone (931) 692-3999 for more information.
Keel stressed housing solutions differed from case to case. If the hurdle to home ownership is a low credit score, the first step may be to remedy that problem. For the homeless who own land, “It makes no sense to say sell the land,” Keel said. “Home ownership is the biggest builder of wealth.”
Climate Accountability Plan: What Do You Think?
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The University recently drafted a new Climate Accountability Plan (CAP) and invites the community to comment and make suggestions. “We have a 2030 carbon neutrality goal,” said Amy Turner, director of the Office of Environmental Stewardship. Turner tapped her watch, “It’s 2022. It’s time to rethink and retool. Every few years we need to look back and ask what we have accomplished and how we are going to move forward.”
“The CAP builds on the 2008 Climate Action Plan and the 2013 Sustainability Master Plan,” Turner explained. The University committed to carbon neutrality in 2007 and has reduced emissions by 36 percent since then. The question: How to get to zero?
Highlighting up front the importance of TVA’s commitment to provide cleaner energy, the CAP identifies five strategies. One, implement energy efficiency projects across central campus; two, establish renewable energy sources; three, transition heating, cooling and campus fleet vehicles away from fossil-fuel-intensive systems; four, implement policies and procedures to mitigate carbon impacts from commuting, air travel and waste management. If aggressively pursued, these first four strategies would reduce carbon emissions by 10,400 metric tons. “The remaining 4,200 metric tons of carbon emissions is cost-ineffective to mitigate at this time with the available technologies,” the CAP acknowledges. “The plan calls for either carbon sequestration on the Domain or purchasing carbon offsets to neutralize the remaining 4200 metric tons, as a fifth strategy.”
Looking to specifics, the CAP calls for maximizing the number of systems connected to the highly efficient chilled water plant loop which already cools over 500,000 square feet of campus buildings. The University also intends to pursue “utility scale solar” to address 90 percent of the Domain’s load profile, to electrify the vehicle fleet, and to provide a commercial-scale digester with campus wastes to produce pipeline quality biogas as a natural gas replacement on campus. This list offers only a sampling of the complex and interrelated tactics and techniques the University intends to employ. At the Stewardship, Community, and Leadership level, the CAP invites individual decisions and action: increased reliance on regionally and locally grown food; reducing or increasing reuse of food waste by 90 percent; capturing and reusing rainwater; and decreasing water consumption.
In response to the CAP, the recent “Action by Design” exhibit at the University Art Gallery, featured displays by four classes—Art History, Earth Art and Eco-Action, Sustainable Structures, Costume Design—and research by the Babson Center’s Carey Fellows. “It was all about making things visible and making a space where people could all join in the conversation and build bridges across faculty, staff, community, and students,” said Shelley MacLaren, UAG Director. The displays featured interactive storyboards where visitors responded to prompts with notes about how to “Design your plate,” “Design your outfit,” “Design your village” and more. An intriguing response to “Design your route” read: “If cars are the problem, electric cars aren’t the solution.”
The call for comments and suggestions continues. To view an interactive CAP document allowing page by page commentary, visit <https://new.sewanee.edu/office...;.
As Turner pointed out, “It’s 2022. It’s time…How we are going to move forward?”
Need in the Shadows: March for the Supply Drive
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
People with limited financial resources typically come to the Community Action Committee (CAC) ministry of St. Mark and St. Paul for groceries and help with utility bills. But now, thanks to the recent March for the Supply drive, CAC clients can receive assistance with equally important and often unrecognized needs—needs not met by food banks and what people can purchase with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—what CAC Director David Goodpaster calls “the need in the shadows.”
Circumstances surrounding the pandemic brought “the need in the shadows” to Goodpaster’s attention. In the spring of 2020, the University made funds available to aid students who could not leave campus. “They blew through that money in no time,” Goodpaster said. “That told us there was a need in the shadows on campus, so there must be a need in the community at large as well.” Goodpaster was aware of the University funding because his wife Lauren worked for the Dean of Students. The stranded students had shelter and food, but lacked other basic necessities, those items found in the two or three in-between aisles in the grocery store, things such as feminine hygiene items and toiletries. And for the community at large, the list expanded to include cleaning supplies, paper products, household supplies, detergent, diapers, other personal care items, and pet food—necessities people cannot purchase with SNAP benefits and not available from food pantries.
When the CAC launched a campus-focused drive to collect nonfood necessities for students and community members in need, faculty, staff and students embraced the effort donating enthusiastically. A few months ago, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) board approached the CAC about hosting the same sort of drive as the first program in its Treasures for the Chest initiative. “The SCA reinvigorated the previous attempt and made it even larger scale bringing the entire community on board,” David Goodpaster said. Lauren Goodpaster, now with the Office of Civic Engagement, coordinated students and Bonner scholars to help with promoting and collecting items on campus and the SCA handled the non-campus community leg of the program. Some donors gave monetary gifts, but most contributions were “shadow” needs items found in those two or three non-food grocery store aisles.
Speculating on the March for the Supply drive’s tremendous success, Goodpaster said, “Perhaps it was because it offered people an opportunity to give something besides checks and canned food and loaves of bread.” On-campus donation boxes were located at high-traffic areas like the Bishops Common, McClurg Dining Hall, and Fowler Center; off-campus collection sites included money collection boxes at Taylor’s Mercantile, the Blue Chair and the Frame Gallery and donation bins at the Messenger office and Regions Bank. Sewanee Elementary School and the Interact Club at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School also accepted donations.
When clients come to the CAC office for groceries, they often stay and chat the way people do when shopping, David Goodpaster pointed out. A few days after the drive concluded, a woman came for groceries and inquired about the large supply of cat food. Goodpaster urged her to help herself. “It warmed her heart,” he said, knowing both her and her pets’ needs were met.
The highly successful drive will become a twice annual event held in both the spring and fall. Now when people stop by the CAC for groceries, they can select from the stockpile of other items desperately needed in their homes. The need in the shadows occurs year-round.
Sewanee Fourth of July Committee Announces the 2022 Theme
The Fourth of July Committee is proud to announce the theme for the 2022 celebration: “Hot Diggity All-American Dogs!” The theme can encompass all things “dog” – from our beloved pets to the All-American favorite food, hot dogs, and anything and everything in between.
We invite everyone to join us on Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4, to commemorate the formation of the United States of America and celebrate with fun, food, family, and friends.
Start brainstorming your ideas for a Hot Diggity celebration like no other with creative parade floats, imaginative cakes, and artistic costumes for you and your dogs. Look out for more information announcing event registration, the grand marshal, and schedule details.
Franklin County Schools Tackle Teacher Wage Gap
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April 11 meeting, after reviewing the certified-teacher salary increases proposed by the PECCA team, the Franklin County School Board recommended increasing base salaries an additional $500 in the hope of making wages at Franklin County schools competitive with neighboring Coffee, Lincoln, and Moore counties. “We’ve had a revolving door all year and open teaching positions,” said Linda Foster, Human Resources Supervisor. “We can’t hire teachers with our current pay scale.” The board also reviewed procedures to curtail e-cigarette use, agreed to stop routine drug testing of athletes, and heard presentations from the Franklin County NAACP and educators from Sewanee Elementary School.
PECCA refers to the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of the Professional Educators of Tennessee. The Franklin County PECCA team who drafted the revised pay scale consisted of representatives from the Franklin County Education Association and the board of education management. The initial proposal called for increasing the base starting salary to $40,000 and adding a 22nd step, giving a salary increase to teachers employed longer than 21 years. Most neighboring school districts have 25 years-of-service steps and some have 30 steps, Foster said. The revised scale also incorporated more consistent multipliers for figuring the wage increase for each year of service. Implementing the proposed recommendations would cost $681,972.
Board member Sarah Marhevsky asked if the starting salary could increase to $40,500, pointing out neighboring school districts would likely increase their base salary as well, which could put Franklin County behind again.
Board member Sarah Liechty agreed, “If we could be a few dollars ahead of the curve, this might be the year we should look at that.” According to County Finance Director Andrea Smith, the financial outlook for the school district was favorable. “Property taxes are coming in really good, and sales tax amazingly keeps going up,” Smith said. She also cited federal COVID relief monies offsetting some of the district’s expenses.
Foster will revise the proposed scale adding $500 to the base wage at each years-of-service step. The board will review the cost and impact when they take up budgeting next month.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean presented an overview of the new procedures for addressing e-cigarettes. The procedures call for testing to determine if the vaping liquid contains THC or CBD. Vaping THC falls under the category of a “zero tolerance” drug offense, Bean said, with alternative school the mandatory disciplinary action. For CBD vaping, less severe disciplinary action will apply. The rules will be enforced at all county schools beginning in the fall.
Bean recommended deleting the policy calling for routine drug testing of athletes. “It’s not much of a deterrent,” Bean said. Drug testing identifies few offenders since the students know when the testing will occur and costs $15,000-$20,000 annually. Bean proposed using the money for drug education instead. Neighboring school districts do not drug test. Bean will draft a replacement policy calling for drug testing of a student only when a coach or teacher suspects drug use.
The board voted to renew Interquest Detection Canines contract. The company provides canine drug searches. “[It’s] more effective than drug testing,” said board member Chris Guess, “because the students don’t know when they’re coming.” Only Bean knows when the searches will take place.
In other business the board approved a budget amendment for an HVAC unit at Huntland School, cost $500,000, and a resolution to enter into a contract for mental health tele-services, cost $55,891.
Marhevsky introduced discussion on the disciplinary procedures policy, recommending removing corporal punishment to address “nuisance” level two behaviors. Board Chair CleiJo Walker noted corporal punishment was second to last in the list of disciplinary options, and Guess pointed out it was rarely used. Liechty said the policy lacked positive strategies for transforming undesirable behavior. “Discipline is not teaching,” Liechty said. The board will revisit corporal punishment in May.
Franklin County NAACP Education Committee Chair Chris Colane read a statement addressing the recent investigation by the Tennessee Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, which found a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “The incidents of a racially hostile environment at Franklin County Schools are grossly incongruous with the goal of ensuring brighter futures for all our children…It is our duty to watch the process and stand guard for any improprieties in the resolution of the problem.”
Providing an overview of projects and programs at SES, teachers highlighted unique hands-on learning opportunities. The Forest Kindergarten spends part of every day in an outdoors classroom where learning curriculum and sensory awareness go hand in hand. The Friday School spring program allows children to choose from diverse activity-based classes ranging from farm care to screen printing taught by community members. The library curriculum includes an outdoors storybook trail and visiting local business to learn how they use reading. The biannual book fair raises more than $2,200 for purchase of supplies.
Celebration of Jazz with the Charles Lloyd Trio
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
On April 21, the University will welcome world-renowned jazz saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd back to the Mountain for a celebration of jazz. Lloyd will be joined by Bill Frisell on guitar and Gerald Clayton on piano — the Charles Lloyd trio.
Lloyd, a Memphis native, began his career playing with some of the greatest jazz leaders, including Ornette Coleman and Cannonball Adderly. Over the course of his career, he has worked with musicians as diverse as Howlin’ Wolf and the Beach Boys. In recent years, Lloyd has worked with greats including Norah Jones, Zakir Hussain, Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson.
Stephen Miller, chair of the music department, said from a musical standpoint, the Charles Lloyd Trio’s performance is exciting based solely on the caliber of musicianship the three men possess, but of particular note is how this concert came to be.
Lloyd played the Mountain twice back in the 1960s — in 1964 in support of Adderly’s sextet and again in 1967 as the frontman to the future star pianist, Keith Jarrett. It’s those performances and the upcoming concert that make Lloyd’s appearance in Sewanee seem like a true ‘full-circle’ moment.
“These concerts were under the auspices of the Sewanee Jazz Society, and at one of them, his performance mesmerized a certain Sewanee student in the crowd,” Miller said. “Buck Hinkle, Jr., became a life-long fan of Lloyd’s, followed him around the country, brought him to our attention and has helped to make this concert possible. The music literally changed Buck’s life, and for Lloyd — who is still a completely vibrant musician — to play Sewanee again late in his career seems just perfect. This performance will be something of a homecoming.”
In describing Lloyd’s sound, Miller said Lloyd relies heavily on his Tennessee roots but also draws from his time spent living and working in Los Angeles.
“He’s been on the road performing since around 1960. As all fans of jazz know, it’s an improvisatory genre and really must be heard live, so in terms of sheer aesthetics and musical beauty, this is a great opportunity for the community. Lloyd’s saxophone and flute will take you into other dimensions of existence, and Frisell on guitar and Clayton on keys both have similar qualities of transcendence,” Miller said.
The Charles Lloyd Trio will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 21, in Guerry Auditorium.
Tickets are $20 each and may be purchased at
Season Finale for the SSO
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
The Sewanee Symphony Orchestra (SSO) will celebrate its season finale on Wednesday, April 20 with “Goodbye for Now: a Sondheim Memorial,” a production dedicated to the late legendary composer Stephen Sondheim.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium, and repertoire will include “Send in the Clowns” and selections from Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” The symphony will be joined by vocal soloists Kerry Ginger, assistant professor of voice, and Erik Gustafson, instructor of voice.
Tiffany Lu, director of the SSO and visiting professor of orchestral conducting, said in addition to closing out the orchestra’s season, the finale concert will also pay homage to the late Sondheim.
“Sondheim was a giant of American composition, lyrics and theater music, and the final selection on our concert, ‘Goodbye for Now,’ is a poignant tribute to his contributions to our musical landscape today, as well as what we hope will be only a temporary farewell to seniors as they graduate and go on to do wonderful things in the world beyond the Domain,” Lu said.
In “Goodbye for Now: a Sondheim Memorial,” Ginger will perform a solo in “Send in the Clowns” from “A Little Night Music.”
“My first exposure to Sondheim was seeing a family member as ‘Rapunzel in Into The Woods.’ I also had friends get me into ‘Sweeney Todd and Company’ at various points in high school and college, but it really wasn’t until graduate school that I began to understand the extent of Sondheim’s work and to really see how perceptively he trained his eye on character,” Ginger said. “His death last November was a gut punch to so many theatergoers, musicians, directors and other creatives because of how very special his output has been.”
Ginger said she has long been a Sondheim fan and to take part in the SSO finale concert is her expression of gratitude for the composer and his work.
“Sondheim’s lyrics uniquely capture the complexity of his characters’ desires and objectives, and his music perfectly illustrates their inner emotions. Not a word or a note is wasted in Sondheim, nor does he spare any character from critique. He was a brilliant social satirist, but also wrote with great empathy and pathos. I hope our audience gets a sense of the variety and power of his works, from his incisive lyrics to his evocative musical soundscapes,” Ginger said.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at Angel Park
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
For the second time this season, the University theatre department will welcome Shakespeare to the stage.
“Much Ado About Nothing” will open at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 19 and run through Thursday, April 21, at Angel Park in downtown Sewanee. “Much Ado About Nothing” is the comedic story of two pairs of lovers and their antithetical approaches to romance. Claudio, a soldier in love with Hero, intends to marry his beloved, while Benedick, who despises marriage, attempts to guard himself from Beatrice, whom he has loved for much of his life.
The performance will be directed by Dakota Collins, a senior theatre major who played Hamlet in the fall production of “Hamlet.” Collins has been acting since he was 15, frequently spending summers with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Apprentice Company program.
“What I love about directing is what I love about Shakespeare — it’s all there on the page. My job as I see it is to understand how the language works as thoroughly as I can, and then point the actors towards how they can see what Shakespeare’s written for them on the page and use that to help the audience see and hear the story. What I love is seeing the moment where it clicks and the actor feels the language in their body and the story is really there. It’s like magic,” Collins said.
Collins added that the show will feature puppetry designed and operated by costume designer Emma Miller.
Also taking part in the performance is junior Kristopher Kennedy, who will be playing the role of Benedick. Kennedy said he sees Benedick as a sort of fatalist, a soldier convinced that he will die any day and thus, looking for love is pointless.
“Benedick has always been one of my favorite characters in all of Shakespeare because that kind of emotional invulnerability masked by humor is something [that is] painfully relatable [to me]. Benedick’s arc is basically him moving from being a man who refuses to love to a man fully committed to love’s ideals and willing to risk his own life for them,” Kennedy said. “When he was younger, he probably didn’t think he’d live to see 30, and so he protected himself from surrendering to any of life’s loveliness, because he saw his own mortal soul as a liability in any permanent endeavor, like marriage.”
Throughout the play, Benedick is worn down by Beatrice’s wit, tenacity and independence. Kennedy describes the transformation Benedick undergoes as a complete one-eighty.
“Benedick made his life one of impermanence and transience, and so he blanches from the beautiful things in life that require others, including Beatrice, the woman he’s known and loved. But then suddenly he learns that all is not lost: Beatrice loves him, and this opens everything up – there’s hope for love, and with that hope, there’s suddenly a life worth living for. From then on, the rest of Benedick’s actions are informed by his love for Beatrice, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Kennedy said.
Electronics Recycling Event
The Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace (CCJP) will be hosting an electronics recycling event in honor of Earth Day noon–5 p.m., Sunday, April 24, in the parking lot of the Hair Depot on Highway 41.
Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.
All electronic items are accepted with the exception of TVs that are built into wooden cabinets and/or contain cathode ray tubes.
Volunteers are needed. To help out with this event please sign up here: <https://www.signupgenius.com/g...;.
For more information email <cumberlandjusticeandpeace@gmail. com>.