It’s time for the annual Swiss Heritage Celebration on Saturday, July 30, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CDT) at the Stoker-Stampfli Farm Museum in Gruetli-Laager, Tenn. The public is invited to join the fun.
The event commemorates the 153rd year since families from Switzerland settled the Colony of Gruetli in Grundy County. Nearly 700 people visited the 2021 gathering. During the 48-year history of the festival, Consuls General from the Swiss Consulate in Atlanta have attended as honored guests and speakers.
The Mountain Top Polka Band from Asheville, N.C., will return with its rousing repertoire of polkas, marches and waltzes. The audience is invited to join in the band’s sing-along and polka lessons.
Besides the music and dancing, visitors can glimpse rural life in the late 1800s by touring the historic farmhouse and viewing its furnishings, documents, memorabilia and quilts. Attendees can purchase soaps, crafts, handmade children’s toys, mountain plants and herbs. Local artisans will demonstrate soapmaking, woodworking, and carding and weaving of Alpaca wool.
Children will enjoy jumping in the bounce house, swinging on a tire swing and climbing on the fire truck, courtesy of the local fire department. Kids of all ages can ride a flag-festooned wagon around the grounds.
Vendors will be on hand to sell beverages, bratwurst, sandwiches, Greek food, canned goods, fried pies and baked goods, including Swiss cookies and Springerle cookies. A highlight of the day is always the tasting booth featuring locally made wine and cheese.
The cost is $5 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free. Plenty of parking is available.
For more information, visit
The 63rd annual Monteagle Mountain Market Arts and Crafts will be held on July 30 and July 31, at Hannah Pickett Park in Monteagle. It is one of the longest-running and most popular craft shows in the Southeast. There is free parking and admission.
This event will feature more than 150 artisans and crafters displaying their handmade creations which will include: fine art; stained glass; pottery; fine, primitive and refurbished furniture; bird houses; paintings in a variety of media; quilts; woodcrafts; folk art; toys; jewelry; leather items, cigar box art; metal art; soaps and lotions; local honey; embroidered baby items and doll clothing; knitted and hand sewn items, and so much more.
The Monteagle Fire Department will have a fire truck for the kids to check out, they will talk about fire safety and offer kids activities. There will also be games for the kids. Don’t forget to take a moment and cool off in the misting tent.
A variety of delicious food will be available from barbecue and catfish to roasted corn and homemade ice cream, and everything in between. There will be something for everyone.
Hannah Pickett Park is behind Monteagle City Hall, 16 Dixie Lee Ave. A covered area in the park will house picnic tables with a short walk to newly installed playground equipment for kids of all ages.
Contact the South Cumberland Chamber of Commerce at (931) 924-5353 or <email@example.com>. Additional information can be found on the Facebook page.
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
At the end of the 65th season of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, planning for the 66th is already underway.
John Kilkenny, executive director of the festival, reported that the festival ended on a high note with a total of 262 students — from Canada, Central and South America and Europe — and hundreds of patrons from the Mountain community and beyond.
The beginning of the season saw aria showcases, a celebration of the music and legacy of composer Stephen Sondheim, and numerous performances from student ensembles.
“This summer featured multiple world premieres and a living composer on each symphony concert. A highlight was the premiere of Avner Dorman’s double concerto featuring festival faculty, Natasha Farny,” Kilkenny said.
Kilkenny specifically highlighted the success of the opera program, which he described as a vital new component of the SSMF machine.
“Our opera program was busy with aria showcases, chamber music concerts and an amazing scenes program that highlighted American music,” he said. “I could not be more proud of their work and the direction we are heading together.”
To learn more about the festival or how to support the 66th season, visit
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 25 meeting the Monteagle Town Council took up multiple issues impacting strategic planning. The council heard a report from the committee charged with reviewing building codes and zoning ordinances, set in motion plans to hire a strategic planning consultant, and approved zoning ordinances for apartments and campgrounds.
In reviewing building codes and zoning ordinances from 2016-2021 and their impact, the committee chaired by Ed Provost observed half the zoning in that period could be regarded as “spot zoning.” Provost stressed the controversial practice raised the question, “If you’re helping someone out, are you having a detriment to anybody else?” Examining the tiny homes issue, the committee maintained “tiny homes” should not be looked at as “affordable housing.” The committee recommended increasing the tiny homes size requirement from a minimum of 400 square feet to 800 square feet. Acknowledging the $5,000-$10,000 cost of a site plan, the committee recommended prospective builders should be able to make an inquiry presentation to the planning commission before taking on the expense. For approved site plans, the committee recommended if the project did not begin within 12 months, the plan needed to be reviewed again. “The [Petro] truck stop would fall in that category,” Provost said. Central to strategic planning concerns, the committee recommended updating the zoning map and charging impact fees and tap fees to cover the expense of water and sewer infrastructure.
Reporting on the water and sewer capacity study underway for the past 18 months, engineer Travis Wilson said preliminary results would be available by mid-August. The city was not under a “moratorium” limiting water and sewer connections, Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman said, but, rather, was waiting on the results of the study. “We’re growing,” Rodman insisted. “We need to know we have the capacity.” Asked about water shortage due to dry conditions, utility manager John Condra said Laurel Lake had dropped two feet in the past three weeks and was down to 9 feet 8 inches. The “trigger point” for drought restrictions is 8 feet 7 inches. Fire Chief Travis Lawyer said there was not currently a “burn ban.” A burn permit was not required until Oct. 15.
Alderman Nate Wilson introduced a discussion about the need to hire a strategic planning consultant. “Zoning should be informed by strategic planning,” Wilson said. A strategic plan would consider police and fire protection, utilize water and sewer capacity data, and incorporate citizen input. The city budgeted $10,000 for a consultant. “We don’t know what the cost will be,” Wilson acknowledged and said it would depend on the amount of detail the city requested. Anticipating issuing an RFP to hire a consultant, the city will hold a workshop to determine what they expect from the consultant, the estimated cost, and to discuss possible grant opportunities.
The council approved on first reading an ordinance amendment allowing apartments in C-2 zoning as a special exception on review. Alderman Wilson noted he initially objected when the council previously discussed apartments in C-2, because the amendment did not include the “upon review” clause.
The council approved on second reading allowing campgrounds in R-3 zoning as a special exception on review. Provost commented Monteagle building codes governed campground developments.
The council also approved a resolution to adopt a consultant selection policy consistent with Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) guidelines. The resolution will allow the multi-modal grant negotiated in 2019 to move forward, Alderman Wilson said. Change in TDOT administration has slowed the process.
Signature Health Care will host a Jeep Invasion at 3 p.m., Saturday, July 30, featuring jeeps, vendors, and face painting. All proceeds will benefit restoration of Hannah Pickett Park.
Since 1908, the Sewanee Civic Association and its precursors have believed in the power of area citizens to help sustain community projects and programs. Through these associations, the community has funded many worthwhile endeavors.
Since 1942, the Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) has organized the Community Chest, which has raised more than $1 million in the last decade for local organizations.
Sponsored by the SCA, the Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) is pleased to announce the beginning of the 2022–23 grant cycle. All nonprofits that benefit the community are encouraged to apply.
The 2022–23 funding application can be downloaded from the website. The application deadline is Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Grant funds will be distributed starting April 2023, contingent on funding availability.
This year, organizations can also apply online with this form
https://forms.gle/fxGNMW2cgSv7...;. It does requires you to have a Gmail email account.
The SCC is a nonprofit organization and relies on funding from the community in order to support charitable programs throughout the greater Sewanee area. As the 2022–23 grant cycle begins, the SCC is also kicking off its yearly fundraising campaign.
The SCA urges everyone who benefits from life in this community, whether you live, work, or visit, to give generously. Donations are tax deductible. Contributions, payroll deductions and pledges are accepted at any time at P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375. You can also make a donation through PayPal Giving
For more information, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The School of Theology at the University of the South is pleased to announce Andrew Thompson, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics, has been appointed Director of the Center for Religion and Environment. The Center for Religion and Environment fosters conversation around the increasingly rich intersections of religious belief and environmental awareness and care. The Center draws on the University’s world-class programs in environmental studies and theology to produce resources for religious communities, through webinars, written content, a certificate program in nature contemplation, and consulting for creation care ministries.
Thompson said, “The University has an Episcopal seminary and world-class environmental studies programs, located in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world. We’re ideally positioned to contribute to discussions about religious faith and responsible care for the planet. For years, the Center for Religion and Environment at Sewanee has been a resource for individuals and communities interested in creation care, and I’m excited to build on that important work in such a unique setting.”
Thompson brings a long-standing scholarly and practical focus in environmental ethics to his new role. While his scholarship examines how cultural and social systems interact with environmental crises, Thompson also seeks real-world resources in order to create a more constructive relationship between humans and the environment. Of the intersection of ethics and the environment Thompson writes, “In today’s world, where environmental harms magnify social imbalances, anyone concerned with the moral life must focus on reconciling human relationships with the natural world as well as with one another.”
Thompson’s demonstrated leadership and administrative experience, most recently as Director of the Alternative Clergy Training at Sewanee (ACTS) program, will greatly benefit the Center’s outreach and growth. “Dr. Thompson articulates a compelling vision for the Center as an academically oriented place of intersection between the College and the School of Theology, and between the Church and the academy,” says the Very Reverend Jim Turrell, Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Theology. “I am truly excited by the potential of the Center under Dr. Thompson’s leadership.”
The Franklin County Arts Guild (FCAG) offers six Community Art Shows each year to promote the arts in Franklin County and the surrounding area. The Franklin County Arts Guild invites original contributions from artists of all ages in any media for inclusion in its Community Arts Shows at the Artisan Depot. Individuals wishing to submit work for a community show should submit their work at the Artisan Depot on published intake dates during gallery operating hours. Each artist is free to interpret the theme of each show as they wish. All work must be submitted ready for display. Membership in the Guild and gallery fees are not required for these shows but members can participate. Works can be submitted for sale or not for sale (NFS). Commissions for works sold are 25 percent of sale price.
Community Art Shows include:
“The Cowan of Times Past,” Aug. 4–Oct. 2, intake dates, July 29–July 31, opening reception, Friday, Aug. 19.
“Marvelous and Magical Masks,” Oct. 6–Nov. 27, intake dates, Sept. 29–Oct. 2, opening reception, Friday, Oct. 21.
“Recycled and Reimagined,” Dec. 1–Jan. 29, intake dates, Nov. 24–27, opening reception, Friday, Dec. 16.
“Languages of Love,” Feb. 2–April 2, intake dates, Jan. 26–29, opening reception, Friday, Feb. 16.
“Being a Flower is a Big Responsibility,” April 6–May 29, intake dates, March 30–April 1, opening reception, Friday, April 21.
“Something for Children,” June 1–July 30, intake dates, May 25–28, opening reception, Friday, June 16.
The Artisan Depot is operated by the Franklin County Arts Guild and is located at 204 Cumberland St. East, Cowan. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. More information can be found at <http://www.franklincoarts.org/...;.
Former Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety was confirmed on July 21 by the U.S. Senate as the next U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa. Read more https://www.dailymaverick.co.z...
Not everyone can afford central air conditioning for their homes.
And not everyone can tolerate the summer heat well enough to leave their air-conditioned homes for necessities like groceries.
So keep an eye out this summer for neighbors who might be living without air conditioning or who are elderly or have medical conditions.
Medical experts say the following symptoms could mean your neighbor is suffering from a heat-related illness: confusion; fatigue or weakness; mail piling up outdoors when they’re at home.
Anyone can suffer from heat stroke if they get too hot or from dehydration if they don’t drink enough water. But elderly or sick neighbors have a higher risk.
If you can:
- Call or visit an at-risk neighbor twice a day.
- Invite the neighbor to stay with you in your air-conditioned home on the hottest days and even overnight if you have room.
- Remind your neighbor to drink plenty of water. Bring pitchers of cold water, lemonade and caffeine-free iced tea as gifts.
- Offer to do the grocery shopping for your neighbor or to drive him or her to the store.
- Find indoor events and community- or church-sponsored activities that the neighbor could participate in as a way to stay cool during the day.
- Know if your at-risk neighbor keeps pets inside. If so, tend to the animals as well by filling water bowls frequently and making sure plenty of pet food is on hand.
Research shows that just about 17 percent of us check on neighbors during the summer. Make your family one that increases that statistic.
If you know of someone in the SVEC service area in critical need of assistance in acquiring a fan or window air conditioner for health reasons, refer him/her to the Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative SVECares program at www.svalleyec.com under the “News and Resources” tab.
Phoebe Robins Strehlow Bates died on July 16, 2022, following a two-week illness. A mainstay of the community for almost 70 years, Phoebe was 96. A memorial service is set for Aug. 20, 2022, in Kennerly Hall at the Parish of St. Mark St. Paul (formerly Otey).
Phoebe was born on Sept. 25, 1925, into the upper crust of Peoria, Ill., society. Her father ran a noted construction company that built much of Bradley University. In this environment, she learned the importance of civility and creating social ties, which would serve her well in every community she joined. Rather than taking the role of a debutante, however, she chose to attend college and later marry a French professor.
She met her husband Scott Bates at Carleton College in 1946, immediately after he returned from World War II. She says she fell in love with his smile and his poetry. After six months of cooking school, mandated by her parents, she married and joined him at the University of Wisconsin, where he was pursuing his PhD. In 1951, they journeyed to France on one of the first Fulbright Fellowships. Phoebe studied motherhood with instruction from three-month-old Robin and further refined her cooking skills under the tutelage of her landlady. The family moved to Sewanee in 1954 when Scott was offered a one-year position in the French Department. They remained there for the rest of their lives.
Arriving in Sewanee with three-week-old Jonathan was a shock. Faculty wives at the time were expected to be gracious hostesses, even as they pushed baby carriages over gravel roads to the “Supply Store” in heels, stockings, pearls, and gloves. Phoebe quickly made friends with other mothers, especially Eileen Degan and Nita Goodstein. Remembering her own entry shock, she made it a point to reach out to new couples to make them feel at home. Sylviane Poe, arriving from France with French professor George, talks about the importance of Phoebe contacting her and speaking to her for an hour in French during her own first week in Sewanee.
Faculty wives were also expected to be unpaid volunteers responsible for maintaining Sewanee civic life. Phoebe helped to found the Sewanee Chorale and the Sewanee Crafts Fair and was an active participant in the Sewanee Woman’s Club, Otey Parish’s Thurmond Library, and the Hospitality Shop. She initiated the Sewanee Siren, predecessor to the Messenger, and was the editor for 16 years. Later she authored the newsletter for both the Friends of the Library and the EQB Club. Because of her participation in the latter endeavor, she insisted that the all-male academic clubs begin admitting women. She was also instrumental in the Sewanee Elementary School’s peace pole.
Thanks to her training in French cuisine, Phoebe became famous for her dinners and also for a yearly banquet at the French House. She and Scott also held a yearly “slump party” following graduation, which would attract more than 100 faculty and spouses to their house off Jump Off Road. Guests would play horseshoes, badminton, ping pong and other games or gather around the piano to sing while Phoebe played.
On behalf of her four sons, hers was one of the four White families—along with four Black families—participating in the NAACP’s civil rights case that desegregated Franklin County schools in 1962. To help raise funds for the local NAACP, she initiated a tradition of the organization providing chicken dinners at the crafts fair. At a time of racial tension, Phoebe showed the same respect for her Black acquaintances as her White ones, a core value that she passed along to her sons.
She also taught French in the Sewanee Public School for two years on a volunteer basis, and students from that time still remember replying, “Bonjour, Madame,” to her, “Bonjour, mes enfants.”
Arguably, her major contribution to the community was the Sewanee Siren, which she founded in 1967 and edited until 1984. At the time, the newsletter had to be typed on stencils, and every Wednesday night she would laboriously assemble the content and the ads, supervise the illustrating and otherwise prepare the paper for the mimeograph machine. Early on, she had to use a manual typewriter, and a single mistake could mean retyping the entire page.
Astute readers would sometimes pick up the humorous way she juxtaposed certain ads with certain articles. Some of the Siren’s features continue in today’s Messenger, including its weekly back page poem and “Nature Notes.”
In 1985, Phoebe was the recipient of the Sewanee Civic Association Citizen of the Year Award, a high honor from the SCA for her years of community service. She was the Sewanee Woman’s Club Honorary Member of the Year, 2004–2005, which is the highest award of the club, and rewards long-standing membership and service.
In recent years, especially after Scott died in 2013, Phoebe had to withdraw from many of her activities although she served as chair of the Sewanee Woman’s Club at age 90 and continued to run a book club. She was also swimming a mile a day and walking two miles up until her late 80s. Until the very end, she was a reliable source for Sewanee history, remembering names of faculty and community members and the houses where people once lived. Historians, especially those interested in Sewanee’s racial history, have journeyed to her house to interview her.
Phoebe not only contributed to civic life but helped Sewanee evolve into a vibrant, diverse community. Because she believed so deeply in the Sewanee community, many others came to believe as well.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the July 19 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with purchase of two items SUD initially intended to wait to acquire with American Recovery Plan (ARP) funds. At the June meeting the board grappled with the wisdom of delaying purchase of items critical to SUD’s operation.
The self-cleaning bar screen system for the main pumping station on Bob Stewman Road will filter out disposable wipes and face masks which clog and damage sewage pumps and create a health hazard for employees tasked with repair. The purchase cost, $205,000, also includes a manual bar screen to protect pumps at the wastewater treatment plant lagoons. SUD manager Ben Beaves said the combined cost for the self-cleaning and manual units was less than the cost of the most expensive self-cleaning unit which filtered out smaller debris. “The most expensive one catches more stuff,” said Beavers, “but if it [debris] will pass through a quarter inch screen it won’t hurt us.”
Beavers is negotiating with the distributor on the $17,000 installation cost. The Bob Stewman Road unit will require a crane to install. “If they put it in, we can hook it up,” Beavers said. Commissioner Donnie McBee observed SUD could rent a crane.
The trailer mounted vacuum excavator system, cost $60,000, will aid in locating lead fittings on water service lines. Federal law requires water utilities to identify and precisely locate all lead fittings in the system within the next three years, Beavers said. He described the vacuum excavator system as an industrial vacuum cleaner paired with a high intensity pressure washer. The vacuum excavator uses high-pressure water to penetrate and break up soil and the vacuum removes the loose material, exposing buried utilities without causing damage to buried conduit, pipe or lines. The distributor recently demoed the unit for SUD. Beavers showed photographs of lead fittings on a water line exposed in the demonstration. “It makes a nice clean hole with no mess,” observed McBee. “It worked exactly like I hoped it would,” Beavers said. “Now we’ll know exactly where to dig.”
The multi-purpose tool can also be used to clean the lagoon bar screen and sewer system grinder pumps. Board President Charlie Smith pointed to enhanced “personnel safety” as another plus in favor of purchasing the unit.
Updating the board on the project to narrow Highway 41A, Beavers said the Tennessee Department of Transportation would file for “substantial completion.” Beavers will request release of the unused SUD funds held in escrow for the project. “Then we go to the University,” said Commissioner Doug Cameron. The University has indicated it would provide financial assistance to offset the cost to SUD. The project was undertaken at the University’s behest.
Beavers report on operations showed decreased unaccounted for water loss during the period of low water usage in late May with students gone and many faculty out of town. “That looks like a clue to me,” said Smith. Unaccounted for water loss is water produced at the plant which does not pass through customer meters. “I’m leaning toward a metering cause,” Beavers said. The plastic Hersey meters installed several years ago frequently gave trouble, he noted. Zone meter data has not shown the water loss is occurring in any particular part of SUD’s service area, nor does the water loss correlate with the number of meters in an area. Unaccounted for water loss costs SUD $30,000 annually, Beavers said. By industry standards, $10,000 of that amount is considered “unavoidable,” but the other $20,000 is “recoverable.” “We don’t know where the water loss is,” Beavers insisted. “It’s a never-ending battle.”
Each week, the University monitors the Centers for Disease Control county level data tracker for COVID-19. This three-level system, which provides guidance on indoor masking, indicates that as of July 14 our four-county area is categorized as Medium.
Effective immediately, and until further notice, masking is now optional in public spaces inside all University buildings. At all levels, individuals can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk. Individuals with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
All visitors to University Health Services (UHS) must continue to wear a mask, according to its stated policies.
Faculty may require masks to be worn in their classes, laboratories, studios, and offices.
Staff members may require masks to be worn in their offices.
As was previously announced, these data change weekly, and University policies may change as a result. Please be diligent about checking the website for updates <https://new.sewanee.edu/>;.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
The exhibit currently on display at the University Archives takes visitors behind the scenes into the classrooms, dormitories, and boarding houses where mountain students lodged in the early days of education on the Mountain. Rather than a chronological assessment, “Local Learning: Education on the Mountain Around the University of the South, 1880-1971” is as story about being there. St. Mary’s School’s rules for the all-female student body listed first: “No car riding with boys at any time.” For the 1920-1921 academic year Sewanee Military Academy enrollees attended classes in Palatka, Fla., where they lodged in a hotel. Quintard Hall, the school’s regular home, burnt to the ground when a fire discharged a munitions supply.
Students in Alison Miller’s Introduction to Museum Studies class (Easter semester 2020) curated the exhibit, the third student exhibit to be featured at the archives, said Director Mandi Johnson. Material availability largely dictates topic selection, Associate Director Matthew Reynolds explained. But from there students have a free rein. Offered a glimpse of what is hiding just out of sight, each student selects two projects to research and write descriptive labels for.
“There were local private primary schools, there was St. Andrew’s, there was St. Mary’s,” said Johnson touching on some of the archival materials available for the “Local learning” topic. Student interest quickly veered away from a straight-line chronological narrative.
Fairmont College opened in 1873, at the site of what is now Dubose Conference Center, to avoid the scourges of the yellow fever epidemic. The narrative about “Why girls should be sent to Fairmont” boasted “The location upon the Cumberland Plateau…yielding chemically pure freestone water and bathed in fresh bracing air is one of the healthiest in the United States.” The school earned an international reputation for educating young women. In 1910, Mayling Soong, who would become Madame Chiang Kai-shek, took summer courses at Fairmont.
Sewanee’s first long-term public primary school, Billy Goat School (c. 1899), taught 150-300 boys and girls in a three or four room schoolhouse. St. Mary’s School officially opened in 1896 as “an industrial school for Mountain girls.” The “no” rules also included, “No drinking,” “No smoking,” “No visiting dormitories or fraternities in Sewanee.”
An Order of the Holy Cross narrative (c. 1916) describes the St. Andrew’s Chapel as “the most important part of the weekly routine” for the boys who attended St. Andrew’s School.
Sewanee Military Academy first known as Sewanee Preparatory Academy became Sewanee Grammar School then Sewanee Military Academy, and finally Sewanee Academy before the merger with St. Andrew’s in the 1981. In the early days the students lodged in boarding houses. An 1870-80s photograph shows the rambunctious youngsters in full uniform posing on the roof.
“Sewanee Academy was when the military aspect was dropped,” Williams said. “SMA brought in St. Mary’s students for a few years. Then it became Sewanee Academy in 1970-71.” A 1968 photograph shows SMA girls in their uniforms, plaid A-line skirts. For winter, the girls wore wool kilts in the same tartan plaid.
In the public sector, the exhibit includes the 1926 blueprint for Sewanee Elementary School and a 1948 photograph of Sewanee African American students posed with the building materials for Kennerly School, Sewanee’s segregated school for African American children.
When the school desegregation debate came to the fore, the Sewanee Civic Association circulated a survey inquiring about residents’ opinions. Results indicated 88 percent favored integration and 94 percent said educational quality for black children at segregated schools was not “equally as good as that received by white children.”
A final display shows the 1964 affidavit of a Sewanee African American woman threatened at a local grocery store where she was told by another customer, she should take her children out of SES if she did not “want to see them killed.”
The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 5, weekdays, 1–5 p.m., and mornings by appointment. For the ultra-curious, Johnson and Reynolds will gladly guide exploration deeper into archival resources. Looking ahead, this fall’s student exhibit, Athletics, will peek behind the scoreboard at the sidelines, fans, and historical impact. Go to <https://library.sewanee.edu/ar...; for more information.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. State Primary and County General Election voting is Aug. 4.
Raised in the Lake Pontchartrain area of Louisiana, a University scholarship brought District 5 Franklin County Commission candidate Spike Hosch to Sewanee. After graduation, Hosch worked abroad in finance for several years and returned to the Mountain as a AmeriCorps VISTA to set up the nonprofit financial institution BetterFi, a loan alternative for the working poor and blue-collar employees preyed upon by pay-day lenders. Hosch’s even-handed views on schools, zoning and taxes reflect the broad ranging experiences he brings to the table.
“The push to move students away from public schools is scary,” Hosch said. “Sewanee Elementary School must be preserved. Public school is a big deal to me.”
Asked about how best to keep county schools safe, Hosch stressed, “Access to mental health resources is paramount and educating families. Families are closest to these things [school shootings] before they happen. Information to them is critical, what to be looking out for and what they can do. But arming teachers is ludicrous. Things could end up worse if something happens at a school. Gun control isn’t realistic in our current political climate. You also need to consider, though, the harder you make it to get something, the less likely someone will do something bad with it.” Hosch cited the example of cigarettes which now require the purchaser to verify they are 21 years old or older.
Turning to zoning, Hosch pointed to a recent county commission meeting where 20-30 neighborhood residents stepped forward to object to rezoning to allow for retail development. “The county commission listened,” Hosch said. The commission sided with the residents. “There’s a balance to be struck. When a person owns property, they have the right to decide what to do with it. But, some things don’t need to be next to residential neighborhoods.”
Hosch offered a similarly equitable opinion on whether the county commission should lower the property tax rate to prevent property owners from paying increased taxes due to increased property assessment valuations. “More revenue can be good,” Hosch said, “but with inflation at 10 percent and gas close to $5 per gallon, providing relief to residents by lowering the tax rate makes sense.” He argued for “a minimal year by year increase so the county isn’t losing money as the dollar gets weaker, but people aren’t hit with the full freight of appraisals going up.”
Hosch is running unopposed for District 5 Seat B. “I want to see Sewanee, Sherwood, and Keith Springs represented,” he insisted. “Ideally, I’d like for there to be multiple candidates to choose from and to see more involvement.”
Hosch plans to set up a dedicated email account and phone number for constituents to contact him. “What is the best way to be accessible to the people I represent?” Hosch asked. He welcomes ideas and suggestions.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
After learning the county finance committee denied the schools’ request for additional funds, the Franklin County School Board voted at the July 11 meeting to pay for the bus owner/driver wage increase by drawing money from the fund balance reserve. The board also approved the Code of Conduct for the 2022-2023 school year.
County Finance Director Andrea Smith said she reviewed how the certified tax rate was handled five years ago and used the most recent summary’s numbers to update projected school property tax revenue. The new calculation decreased the schools request for additional funds from $350,000 to $250,000. Smith said she was “comfortable” with the school board drawing the $250,000 needed from the fund balance reserve. She noted the schools had gained more than $3 million in sales and property tax revenue over the past few years, which had increased the fund balance. She also pointed out typically the schools used less of the fund balance than anticipated. The budget “includes the request on the bus drivers and the teachers’ step increase,” Smith stressed. “Everything you felt like you needed to have in there is in the budget.”
Introducing the 2022-2023 Code of Conduct for the board’s approval, Human Resources Supervisor Linda Foster said the 40-page document was “98 percent the same as last year…This is our attempt to comply with federal and state laws” and “to make everyone aware of what’s required.” The Code of Conduct will be published on the school district’s website. Paper copies are available on request.
Code of conduct changes include authorizing teachers to withhold a student’s phone for the duration of instructional time if the phone is a distraction to the class or student and stipulating students with e-Cigs and/or dab pens may be assigned to the Alternative School as well as face legal ramifications for their actions. The code also details the procedure and policy applying to students who seek enrollment outside their zoned district.
Commenting on personnel, Foster said there were still 15 open teaching positions. “We’re working very hard,” Foster insisted. “I want a teacher in every classroom.” Foster said some teacher applicants received online degrees. “Online Universities can be easier for people in our community to work with,” Foster pointed out. She also cited a change in state regulations on hiring retired teachers that might bring some back to the classroom.
Varsity tennis volunteer Linda Winn addressed the board, championing the health benefits of tennis and asking the board to fund the construction of tennis courts. At present, student athletes practice at the Winchester courts which were cracked and deteriorated, Winn said. She cited two grant opportunities and a $100,000 matching donation offer. “I would love to have tennis courts,” said Director of Schools Stanley Bean. He concurred about the health benefits, observing that unlike football, “Tennis is a lifelong sport.” Bean estimated the cost of six tennis courts at $300,000 and found the matching donation offer very enticing. “If we put up $100,000, they’re going to put up $100,000. That’s two-thirds of the money.”