Tri-County almost ready to start Phase 2 of broadband buildout

Graphic courtesy of Tri-County

Tri-County Electric is nearing the end of Phase 1 of its broadband buildout in Trousdale County and is looking to begin Phase 2 in the coming weeks.

The utility did recently find out that it would not receive a portion of $10 million in grant funding provided by state legislature in the 2017 Broadband Accessibility Act, but officials said that would not hamper efforts to expand service.

“We didn’t get awarded any grant money and obviously, that’s disappointing,” said Paul Thompson, Executive Vice President/General Manager of Tri-County. “However, we’re very thankful for what we got in round one and it doesn’t change what we plan to do in Year 2.”

Tri-County received $1.35 million in 2018, the first of three years in which the state will provide grants for broadband expansion.

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Thompson noted a delay in getting the Phase 1 rollout complete, which covers most of Trousdale County west of the downtown area.

“Weather’s been a big factor and has slowed us down a lot; we also had to change contractors. The one we started with just wasn’t meeting our expectations,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he expected Phase 1 to be complete in mid-April. The original timeline called for completion sometime in March.

“The ones we’ve got connected are extremely happy with their service; we’ve got nearly all the drops built on 231 South toward Lebanon,” he said. “We think we’re on track to finish it all by the middle of April.”

Phase 2, when it begins, primarily will feed from the downtown area, including Puryears Bend Road, Boat Dock Road, 141 North and South, out to near the Highway 10 intersection.

“We had hoped to try to combine Years 2 and 3, but it looks like we will still be in a three-year build,” said Tammy Dixon, Marketing Manager for Tri-County.

Thompson said in the next few weeks, Tri-County would be contacting residents in the Phase 2 area to gauge interest in broadband service. Public meetings will be held similar to ones held before Phase 1 construction, but no timeline has been set for those meetings.

“We’re going to try to focus on initial builds on where the biggest demand is,” Thompson said. “There was a lot of interest and we got people signed up, and then we had to wait until we heard from the grant.

“What we want to do this year is get a good handle on and finish the first phase, then go into these meetings with a more structured approach. I feel comfortable with what we’ll be able to deal in Year 2.”

Tri-County’s broadband service provides 50MB download/upload for $49.95 per month, 100MB for $59.95 per month and 1 GB for $89.95 per month with no data caps. Installations are free, provided that customers sign up for Tri-County’s Demand Response program. That program allows the utility to monitor cycling processes of HVAC units and water heaters, while the homeowner retains control of their system.

To signup for Internet service or to get on the list for when construction reaches your area, call 615-688-2114 or go online to www.tcemc.org/fiber/signup.

Service will remain unavailable in the southern portion of Trousdale County served by Middle Tennessee Electric. An amendment proposed by State Sen. Ferrell Haile to allow electric cooperatives to team up was withdrawn due to opposition from other entities.

“I didn’t feel like we could get that through this year. Certainly we want to try to address that again next year,” Haile told The Vidette. “We don’t need to put hindrances on our rural… cooperatives that want to work together.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Committee examines cost of proposed fire, EMS merger

Details of a proposed merger between Trousdale County’s Volunteer Fire and EMS departments were the topic of conversation during a meeting Monday of the Emergency Committee.

“We wanted to see if we could answer some of the questions people might have,” said commissioner Bill Fergusson.

Commissioners heard from EMS Director Matt Batey, who presented preliminary estimates of costs that could be incurred by such a merger.

An ordinance to combine the two, along with EMA, passed on first reading at February’s County Commission meeting and will be up for a public hearing and second vote at the March 25 meeting.

RELATED LINK: Commissioners give initial OK to fire, EMS merger

RELATED LINK: Emergency Committee backs ordinance to merge fire, EMS

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Batey presented two options for the merger. One would leave two full-time ambulance crews but move one to the fire hall during daytime hours. The second would add a third full-time EMT crew, which would be stationed around the clock at the fire hall.

“I think the biggest concern that’s been asked of me is what it would cost,” Batey acknowledged.”

Batey estimated that the first option would incur additional costs of roughly $9,000 annually. That would go toward salary increases for EMT personnel who would be taking on fire duties as well. Option 1 also calls for the deputy fire chief to be filled on a volunteer basis.

Additionally, administrative staff would probably move to the fire hall.

“There’s no dramatic increase in having to fund additional personnel,” Batey said of Option 1. “It wouldn’t be full-time staffing, but it still keeps it staffed pretty regularly.”

Option 2 would cost roughly $140,000 annually, according to Batey’s estimate, and would require adding three full-time personnel.

Batey also addressed questions on the proposed organizational chart, saying that most of the positions already existed within the county’s current framework.

“Pretty much all of this exists, outside the deputy fire chief and the third EMS unit,” Batey said.

Asked what the benefits of merging would be, Batey responded, “It increases cross-trained personnel, we train together, we’re all under one leadership.”

Committee member Bill Hunt added, “Let’s be realistic; if that engine can get out five minutes soon that what our people are presently doing, that’s five more minutes to get out there to save someone’s life.

“No one’s trying to throw anybody out; we’re trying to up the service and make it better.”

The fire hall is not currently equipped for full-time staffing as it lacks beds, showers and a kitchen. Batey said that could be worked around for the time being, suggesting a futon for bedding.

“Those just aren’t absolute necessities,” Batey said of showers and kitchens. “If they need a shower, they can always run up to the EMS building. It’s not a dealbreaker; it’s something you can look at from a long-term picture.”

Questions were also asked about the current response time by the fire department, something that became a point of contention at February’s Commission meeting.

Asked what the Volunteer Fire Department’s current response time is, interim Fire Chief Mark Beeler said the average time for 2018 was just over eight minutes.

“We look on the incident report and see when it’s paged; then we look and see what time the first engine unit arrived on scene, not necessarily the first personnel,” Beeler said.

Fergusson added that he had checked with the Sheriff Department’s dispatch office, which handles pages for fire. According to Fergusson, the time for an engine to leave the fire hall after a page was consistently around five to seven minutes over the last 13 months.

Commissioner Ken Buckmaster, who also serves as a volunteer firefighter, raised concerns over incorporating EMT personnel into fire and vice versa. Job descriptions have not yet been defined for all positions in the proposed organizational chart.

“I am not opposed to this given the correct logistics,” he said. “But if you think that you’re going to guarantee improvements to the services… We don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m scared… I am afraid of who’s going to tell me to do what and get me hurt.”

Committee members ultimately voted to recommend Option 1 to the full Commission.

“I think we can do this and somewhere down this road, things are going to get better. It’s going to take time… it’s a good place to start,” said committee chairman David Nollner. “In the long run, it’s going to be good for the whole county.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Spring festival next weekend to benefit Hartsville child

Submitted photo

A spring festival is planned next weekend as a benefit for a Hartsville girl with spina bifida.

Ana Murray, a student at Trousdale Elementary, was born with spina bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down. In April 2018, she went with her family to Thailand for an experimental stem cell treatment that has in her case resulted in marked improvement.

The family is working to raise $40,000 for a second round of treatment. The spring festival is designed to help with that effort.

“This is hopefully going to raise the bulk of what we need,” said Sarah Murray, Ana’s sister.

The festival will be held Saturday, March 16 beginning at 2 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. Admission is $10.

“That includes a barbecue lunch,” Murray said. “The silent auction has tons of items that have been donated from places in Pigeon Forge to the (Tennessee) Titans to local places.”

There will also be face painting, popcorn, cotton candy, a cake walk, gospel singing and appearances by Marvel Comics characters Captain America and Iron Man.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Trousdale County’s Jake Gregory receives award as Midstate’s top scholar-athlete

Trousdale County senior Jake Gregory was recognized last week by the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation for achievement in the classroom as well as on the playing field.

Gregory was the recipient of the NFF’s Admiral William P. Lawrence Award, which is presented annually to the player deemed the top high school football scholar-athlete in Middle Tennessee.

The award was presented as part of the NFF’s annual banquet, which was held Feb. 27 in Franklin.

Photo by Amanda Carman & Davy Cothron / Trousdale County Schools
Jake Gregory, center, was presented with the Admiral William P. Lawrence Award as the top scholar-athlete in the Midstate by the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation. Also shown are Gregory’s father Barry, brother Cole, mother Hope and sister Hannah.

Former Trousdale coach Brad Waggoner nominated Gregory for the award, stating, “Described as a relentless worker, Jake has been a team captain the last two years and was a major leader in leading our team to the state championship game this year. His determination and drive to be the best allowed him to become first-team all-region in 2016, 2017 and 2018, team captain in 2017 and 2018, and all-state in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Traits of dependability and hard working will make Jake successful at whatever he pursues.”

The award is based on scholarship, sportsmanship and value to his team and is named after Admiral William P. Lawrence, a decorated Navy aviator from Nashville who spent six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. While in captivity, Lawrence wrote “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee,” which became the state’s official poem in 1973.

The award has been given annually since 1968, with past winners including Lonnie Sadler, Jonathan Quinn and Will Bartholomew.

Gregory is the son of Barry and Hope Gregory. A four-year letterman for Trousdale County, he was a two-time captain and a three-time all-state selection as a lineman for the Yellow Jackets. He was the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year in the region and was named Most Valuable Lineman in 2018.

In the classroom, Gregory is ranked fifth in the Class of 2019 and carries a 4.0 GPA. He scored a 34 on the ACT and plans to attend Tennessee Tech to major in chemical engineering.

“How many football players have one of the highest ACT averages in the school?” said TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson. “I’m humbled by his intelligence and his athleticism.”

Gregory is also Vice President of the senior class and a member of both Student Council and Beta Club. He was voted Most Versatile by the faculty at TCHS.

“Jake is fully deserving of this award. He is a perfect example of what hard work can do for not only an athlete but for a student as well. His work ethic in the classroom, weight room, and on the field will be missed greatly,” added new Jackets coach Blake Satterfield. “I was fortunate enough to have him as a student and player (most recently as a defensive coordinator in 2019) and these characteristics in which he displays will lead to a successful career in whatever path he chooses. Good luck to Jake from not only myself but from my coaching staff and our community.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports

Trousdale Elementary holds annual reading day

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Chief Deputy Wayland Cothron reads to a group of students at Trousdale County Elementary School.

Business and government leaders from the Trousdale County community visited Trousdale County Elementary School last week as part of the annual “Read Across America” week.

“Read Across America” is an annual reading motivation and awareness program organized by the National Education Association that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

Participants read books to children in each classroom at TCES on March 1 as part of the “Read Across America” campaign. Readers included Chief Deputy Wayland Cothron and Deputy Dusty Cato of the Sheriff’s Department, Director of Schools Clint Satterfield, EMS Director Matt Batey, Chamber of Commerce Director Natalie Knudsen and Vidette editor Chris Gregory.

In addition to reading to students, participants were able to explain the impact reading has on their careers and in their lives.

TCES teacher Kellie Porter helped organize local efforts for “Read Across America,” which she has done the last three years.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Trousdale students get firsthand look at impact of distracted driving

Students at Trousdale County High School recently got a firsthand opportunity to see the dangers of driving while distracted by cell phones.

Trousdale was the first high school in Tennessee to host the Save a Life Tour, described as the nation’s most advanced and high-impact Safe Driving Awareness Program.

“I was asked earlier in the year if our school would host,” said TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson. “It targeted kids on texting and driving, or even just talking on their phone.”

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Schools
TCHS student Jess Holder tries out one of the simulators during the ‘Save a Life Tour.’

The program utilizes crash videos, victim impact statements and simulators that give students an idea of the effects of distracted driving.

According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, 58 people in Tennessee died from distracted driving crashes and 170 people died from alcohol-impaired crashes in 2018.

WKRN-2 out of Nashville was on hand to see the program in action and the sobering effects on students.

“We know that teens are using phones and if we can educate them early on the dangers, hopefully, we can have an impact,” said Vic Donoho, Director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

“You could hear a pin drop in there from the videos,” Dickerson said. “More accidents are just running off the road because of the texting.

“Your intention when you get in that car is not to hit somebody, but everytime you get behind the wheel there’s that opportunity.”

“What that shows them is when you don’t have complete control over your vehicle, it’s very easy to lose all control of your vehicle,” said Michael Campbell of Save a Life Tour.

Dickerson said the program challenged students to put their phones away while driving for seven days, saying that it takes that long to begin to break the habit.

“They said it’s almost like an addiction to some people; they way they feel they have to look down if a message comes,” she said. “I’m guilty too. I have hands free, but I’m trying to put it down.”

Dickerson said she would get feedback from faculty, staff and students to determine if Trousdale County will use the program in the next school year. Previously, Trousdale has used the Think Fast program.

“It was worthwhile,” Dickerson said. “It made us all think.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff Reports

Commissioners give initial OK to fire, EMS merger

A plan to merge the county’s Volunteer Fire Department, EMA and EMS services received preliminary approval from the County Commission on Monday evening after lengthy discussion.

Commissioners approved on first reading an ordinance that would combine all three departments into one, with a Director/Chief appointed by the mayor to be in charge and three deputy chiefs to oversee day-to-day operations.

Steve Cross, a representative from UT’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), the group that wrote the ordinance, made a presentation to commissioners promoting the merger and explaining the organizational chart.

Graphic courtesy of Municipal Technical Advisory Service

Under the plan, an EMS crew whose members are cross-trained for fire response would be stationed at the fire hall around the clock. They would serve as a first response for fire and as a third EMS response unit should the county’s other two ambulance crews be out on calls.

EMS/EMA Director Matt Batey told commissioners he expected costs to be funded from the Ambulance Service’s fund balance, which is currently over $600,000.

“The vast majority of these positions are already filled,” Batey said.

Members of the public in attendance spoke both for and against the plan during a comment period prior to the commissioners’ debate.

Supporters cited increased training for all departments, a more streamlined organization and better response time for first responders.

“By joining all three services and cross-training our personnel, we not only make our services better but safer,” said Bill Hunt, a Trousdale County resident and retired EMT.

“This is one step in a process. Tonight’s vote doesn’t say, ‘I want to do this.’ It says, ‘I think I want to do this but I want to talk about it more,’ ” said commissioner Bill Fergusson.

“If this passes, we have March, April May and June to come up with qualifications for these positions, do the budget…,” added commissioner David Nollner.

Opponents raised questions about costs of merging departments and the role of the current volunteer firefighters under the plan.

“I just don’t think we have the resources, and I know the senior citizens cannot afford any more taxes,” said Shirley Chambers.

“How many of these are going to be new positions? How’s it going to be funded? There’s not enough information here,” said commissioner Mary Ann Baker.

“I’m not particularly against it; I just need to know that they’re going to put someone in charge of my division that can keep me safe, has the experience and the qualifications,” added commissioner Ken Buckmaster, who serves as a volunteer firefighter. “We don’t know the qualifications, the pay, what it’s going to cost.”

Buckmaster also raised concerns about whether the fire hall would need to be reworked to accommodate being staffed full time, something not currently done.

The measure eventually passed on a voice vote and will come back for a second reading and public hearing at the Commission’s March meeting.

“We have to recognize the growth of this county… With that, we’re going to have do things today, tomorrow, five years from now to meet the needs of the people of this county,” Fergusson said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

County Commission votes down Skillet Creek rezone

A proposed rezoning of property on Skillet Creek Road was rejected on a 15-4 vote by the County Commission during Monday night’s meeting.

The property owner had requested that 29 acres be reclassified from A-1 (agriculture) to R-1 (residential) to allow for six to eight homes to be built on 1-acre lots at the front of the property.

Residents of the Skillet Creek area turned out en masse for a public hearing on the proposal, which required a tiebreaking vote from County Mayor Stephen Chambers to pass on first reading in January.

Before the debate began, commissioner Bill Fergusson said he had spoken with the owner, who was willing to have part of the property rezoned rather than the entire 29 acres. But his motion to send back to the Planning Commission failed by a 13-6 vote.

A further motion by David Nollner to limit public debate to only residents of Skillet Creek Road itself failed on a voice vote.

Residents of the area complained the development would increase traffic and cited a lack of current infrastructure (roads, water, etc.) in the area.

“It’s a little road… to increase the volume of traffic that much would bring safety issues. It’s a rural area,” said Bill Badger.

“We wanted the peace and tranquility of a small town. We came back to be in a nice community,” added Mitch Allen. “From my property, I’ll be able to look at these houses. That’s not why we came here.”

Votes to approve the rezone came from Gary Claridy, Richard Harsh, Dwight Jewell and David Nollner. Grace Thomas was not present at Monday’s meeting.

Development of the property can proceed despite the failure to rezone. Agricultural zoning allows for housing on 3-acre tracts instead of the 1-acre lots allowed by residential.

Commissioners also approved three other zoning requests:

On second reading, changing property on Hayes Street from R-1 to R-3 to allow for townhomes;

On first reading, changing property along Highway 231S near Rocky Creek Church from A-1 to C-1 for a proposed restaurant and wedding venue; and

On first reading, changing property on Windy Acres Lane from M-1 (industrial) to A-1.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers made one nomination to the Water Board, whch was approved. Todd Webber, an Air Force veteran who now works as a project manager for a construction firm, was approved by commissioners to fill one of two vacancies created by resignations earlier this month.

Commissioners also approved resolutions to accept funds for a $322,216 landfill grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for work on a Gammons Lane site. The grant will reimburse half of the county’s expense on the project.

Four budget amendments were approved:

$644,432 in funding for the landfill project (Solid Waste fund balance);

$5,000 for transmission replacement on an ambulance (Ambulance Service fund balance);

$436.38 in vehicle repairs for the Sheriff’s Department (internal transfer); and

$29,556 in line-item adjustments for the Highway Department (internal transfer).

Six notaries were approved: Hope Gregory, Sophia Roach, Samantha Grossman, Shewanna Gray-Cross, Denise Quigley and Darlene Pendleton.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Hartsville man indicted on kidnapping charges

A Hartsville man has been indicted on three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping in relation to a November 2017 home invasion.

Jeffery Damont Allen, 39, was arrested Monday evening and booked into the Trousdale County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office

Agents of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began looking into a reported kidnapping and home invasion that had occurred on Claiborne Street in November 2017.

Deputies with the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Office initially responded to a 911 call that three masked men with guns entered the home and demanded money. Agents learned that the subjects bound three people who were in the home before placing one of the males in the trunk of a car and driving away.

The investigation revealed that early the next morning, the victim was able to escape his captors near Lebanon, and called 911 from a nearby home.

During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that connected Allen to the abduction.

The Trousdale County Grand Jury returned indictments on Feb. 19.

Allen is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on May 13.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports

Volunteer Fire Department called out to laundromat

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
One of the volunteer firefighters carries out a lint trap door of a dryer that caught fire at a local laundromat Friday morning.

The Volunteer Fire Department responded Friday morning to a small fire at the laundromat located on East Main Street.

A customer told The Vidette the fire started in one of the dryers just after 10 a.m. Firemen at the scene confirmed that the flames appeared to have begun in the lint trap of a dryer.

There was substantial smoke but appeared to be only minor damage to the inside of the building, located near the corner of Damascus Avenue.

No injuries were reported.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Emergency Committee backs ordinance to merge Fire, EMS departments

A proposed merger between Trousdale County’s Volunteer Fire Department and EMS took its first step forward Tuesday night, receiving approval from the county’s Emergency Committee.

An ordinance put together by the state’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) calls for fire, EMS and EMA to come under one department, headed by one official. The organizational chart accompanying the ordinance calls for three deputy chiefs – one for fire, one for EMS, one for EMA – who would oversee day-to-day operations of each department.

Steve Cross, a fire management consultant for MTAS, made a presentation to the committee on the proposal.

Graphic courtesy of Municipal Technical Advisory Service

“It helps their efficiency and effectiveness in responding to emergency events,” Cross told committee members, while noting that a similar model is used in Davidson County.

“We’ve looked to try to make our services better as our community grows and continues to grow,” said commissioner Bill Fergusson. “This is something we’ve looked at for a while. Now tonight we’re trying to see how do we do this.”

Consolidation of services, according to MTAS, would include the following benefits:

  • Fire, Rescue, EMS and EMA members’ safety will be enhanced due to consistent training and operational guidelines and best practices;
  • Mayor and/or elected officials have direct access to affect public safety through one Director/Fire Chief;
  • Efficient chain of command that takes into consideration span of control and division of labor;
  • Efficient, effective interagency communications; and
  • Consistent cross-training training for members.

The proposal calls for EMS personnel who are trained in fire response to be stationed at the fire hall around the clock, with other personnel on hand from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. This would be a third ambulance crew (the county has two currently) who would serve as a first response unit in case of fire and as a third option for emergency transport if the other two ambulances were in service.

Cross also noted that combining services could make it easier to obtain grants for equipment and training, since more people would be served.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said he envisioned transitioning to a merger, with the ordinance not taking effect until the new budget year starts on July 1. Chambers said that would give county government time to come up with job qualifications for the deputy chiefs and other positions and to figure out the budget for a combined agency.

“My thought is if you’re going to do it, it needs to be no sooner than July 1,” the mayor said. “There are a lot of parts and pieces to be worked out, getting your budget numbers together… That would be my preference.”

Commissioners tried to address concerns from both the volunteer firefighters and the community that merging would not diminish the effectiveness of services in Trousdale County.

Commissioner Gary Walsh noted that a petition has made its way around and as of Monday had 259 signatures, asking that the departments be left separate as they currently are.

“Volunteers (firemen) are the backbone for us… We’re just trying to make a process better,” Fergusson said. “What person who’s a volunteer wouldn’t want to get better?”

The ordinance will go before the County Commission for a first reading at its Feb. 25 meeting. If it passes, a public hearing and second reading will take place at the Commission’s March meeting.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Mayor asks County Commission for $644K to fix old landfill

Funding for the cleanup of an old landfill in Trousdale County will be on the agenda for Monday’s County Commission meeting.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers is submitting a budget amendment requesting $644,432 in funding for the landfill, located off Gammons Lane. In 2017, inspectors from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) discovered that leachate from the landfill was contaminating water downhill from the site.

The county is being required to address the problem and has a deadline of Oct. 31, 2019 to have work finished on the site.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

Trousdale County has been notified that it is eligible to receive half of the amount requested in matching funds via a state grant. The grant requires the county to front the entire amount and submit receipts for reimbursement.

“They’ve given us a copy of the grant contract they’ve approved us for,” Chambers said. “Since it involves appropriation of funds, we’ve got to go before the County Commission before I can sign the contract.”

Chambers had provided commissioners last month with a preliminary estimate of just over $720,000 to fix the landfill site. He noted that figure contained a 15 percent contingency, which was not covered in the grant proposal from TDEC.

“That still allows engineering fees… and is about point on with the estimate,” Chambers said. “The estimate was just an initial look at it. It could come back… less than that.”

The county has until May 15 to present TDEC with a plan for corrective action on the site.

Also on the Commission’s agenda is the acknowledgement of two resignations from the Water Board. Chambers said he hoped to have at least one nomination Monday night and perhaps both. He set a deadline of Feb. 20 for applications and said as of Tuesday he had 13 applications.

“I want one position with a financial background… and the other someone with some business background,” the mayor said. “I think there’s a good chance I’ll hav both on the 25th.”

Also on Monday’s agenda are:

First reading on two rezoning requests: one on Highway 231 from A-1 to C-1 and on Windy Acres Lane from M-1 to A-1;

Public hearings and second readings on two rezonings: one on Skillet Creek Lane from A-1 to R-1 and one on Hayes Street from R-1 to R-3.

The Skillet Creek rezone required a tiebreaking vote from Mayor Chambers to pass 11-10 at its first reading in January.

Commissioners will also have three other budget amendments:

$5,000 to replace a transmission on an ambulance;

$436.38 in repairs on a Sheriff’s Department vehicle; and

$29,556 in line-item internal transfers within the Highway Department’s budget.

The County Commission will meet Monday evening at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

School Board approves $1M bid for elementary school renovations

Trousdale County’s School Board approved a bid for just over $1 million in renovations to the elementary school during last Thursday’s meeting.

Board members accepted a bid from FTM Contracting out of Cookeville that totaled $1,009,000 for work to take place over the summer break.

The contract will cover replacing doors and windows, renovations to restrooms, painting the interior of the building and replacing water fountains.

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Government

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield told The Vidette the funding would come from the school system’s fund balance and had already been earmarked in the 2018-19 budget by both the School Board and County Commission.

“Both of these are very good bids; they’re within $700 of each other,” Satterfield. “The difference is in the linear feet on the wainscot (wall paneling). That makes my recommendation FTM.”

Board members also approved a mini-grant for the elementary school to cover incentive programs for student achievement. Similar mini-grants were approved in January for the middle and high schools.

Satterfield added that the school system would apply for a grant under Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed initiative to expand vocational education opportunities.

“The big thing for us is the expanded dual enrollment. We’ve got two dual enrollments now (TCAT and Vol State); that will increase to four. That’s really going to help our students down the road,” Satterfield said.

“We’re going to feature our mechatronics and nursing education programs.”

Satterfield also added that Trousdale County Schools were rated No. 13 in the state in the 2019 NICHE rankings. He also noted achievements by the school system in 2018, including Jim Satterfield Middle being named a Reward School and high performance on TNReady tests.

“That’s outstanding,” Satterfield said. “Only because of your (board) leadership are we able to make those accomplishments.”

Trousdale’s ranking is up from No. 17 in 2018. The district was rated No. 10 in 2015 and No. 9 in 2016. The NICHE rankings factor academics, teachers, culture & diversity and parent/student surveys.

Trousdale had an overall B+ score, with a B+ in academics, teachers, diversity and college prep. Trousdale rated C+ in clubs & activities and A- in health & safety.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Haley’s Hearts Winter Carnival scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23

Haley’s Hearts Foundation is preparing to hold its ninth annual Chili Cook-off and Winter Carnival.

The fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Trousdale County High School auditorium. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door.


Attendees can eat all the chili they can handle, along with tea or lemonade. There will also be carnival games, a silent auction, vendor booths and sweets to eat! Young girls can also met and greet princesses.

All proceeds from the carnival go to assist individuals or families that have incurred significant expenses because of illness or death related to a congenital heart defect (CHD). The foundation also works to raise awareness of CHD, as well as sponsoring the Forever 5K each year.

Haley’s Hearts was founded by Ryan and Tina Chasse in memory of their daughter Haley, who passed away in 2010 at age 5 from complications caused by a CHD.

For more information on the carnival or on Haley’s Hearts Foundation, call 615-374-1326 or go online to haleyshearts.org.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Dwight Jewell retires as Trousdale County building inspector

Dwight Jewell officially ended his tenure as Trousdale County’s building inspector and codes officer last week, retiring after eight years.

A reception was held at the county’s administration building on Feb. 13, which was Jewell’s last day of work.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers thanked Jewell for his hard work and presented him with a commemorative glass plaque and a pipe (Jewell is known for his pipe collection).

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
County Mayor Stephen Chambers presents Dwight Jewell with a commemorative pipe in honor of Jewell’s retirement as building inspector.

“When Mr. Jewell came into office, he had a lot thrown on him that he probably didn’t know was part of the job. But he’s endeavored to do the best he can and has made great improvements in the office. He’s leaving it in a much better position than it was when he found it,” Chambers said.

“He’s done a lot for the county; things we wouldn’t even realize. I want to thank him for his service to the county. He’s contributed greatly to the operation of Trousdale County.”

Jewell has overseen high growth in Trousdale County during his eight years as building inspector. For each of the last two years, the county has seen over 100 building permits purchased and that streak is expected to continue this year.

Jewell also worked closely with CoreCivic in overseeing the construction of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center.

“It’s been a hard job to do; I did the best I could and tried to treat everyone the same,” Jewell said. “If Sam can do that, he’ll be much more successful than I ever was.”

Sam Edwards was appointed last month to fill the position by Mayor Chambers and was approved by the County Commission. A former veteran, Edwards has been working with Jewell on a part-time basis since the beginning of the year to learn the job.

“I just appreciate the opportunity to do this. It’s not the end of my service to the county, just a different way,” Jewell said.

Jewell was elected as a county commissioner from the 7th District last year. He currently chairs the Building Committee and Law Enforcement Committee, and also serves on the Budget & Finance, Executive and Communications committees. He has also said he would be available on a part-time basis to assist Edwards as needed.

Jewell is married to Martha Joe Jewell, a retired teacher, and is a father of three and grandfather of four.

Asked his future plans, Jewell joked, “Whatever I want to do!”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Former Drug Task Force deputy Keith Holder arrested, charged with homicide

A former Drug Task Force agent was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon after being indicted by a Trousdale County grand jury on six counts, including vehicular homicide.

Keith Alan Holder, 47, of Carthage, is charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication, vehicular homicide by recklessness, criminally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, DUI and fraud of insurance claim.

RELATED LINK: Trousdale County grand jury to hear evidence in Crittendon case

RELATED LINK: Questions raised after body of Donovan Crittendon found in Cumberland River

Holder is charged in the June 2018 death of Donovan Crittendon, 26, whose body was pulled from the Cumberland River near the Highway 141 bridge on June 9.

Photo courtesy of TBI
Keith Holder

Crittendon had gone missing June 3 after last being reported in the company of Holder after they reportedly left the Lock Six Apartments together late that evening.

Holder was found by boaters hours later, but reportedly did not disclose that Crittendon was also missing until the following day.

At the time, Holder was employed by the 15th Judicial District Drug Task Force as an agent from Smith County. His employment was terminated later in June as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the case at the request of District Attorney General Tommy Thompson.

A press release from the TBI stated in part: “At the request of 15th District Attorney General Tommy Thompson, on June 3, 2018, TBI Agents began investigating an incident in which Keith Holder crashed his personal vehicle into the Cumberland River in Trousdale County. Holder swam to shore and left the scene. His passenger, Donovan Crittendon, died when the vehicle submerged into the river. At the time of the incident, Holder was a deputy with the Smith County Sheriff’s Department, assigned to the 15th Judicial Drug Task Force. He is no longer employed there.”

An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Medical Examiner in Davidson County found the cause of Crittendon’s death was “undetermined,” while listing that Crittendon had a blood alcohol level of 0.126 at the time of his death. The report also states that Crittendon’s body was decomposed when he was found.

Holder was booked into the Trousdale County Jail on $75,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on June 17.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Flash flood watch issued for Trousdale County

Photo courtesy of National Weather Service

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for Trousdale County and most of Middle Tennessee as even more rain is headed to the area.

The watch went into effect Tuesday at noon and will continue through Thursday at 6 a.m. in Trousdale County.

Forecasters expect 2-4 inches of rain to fall through Thursday night, which could cause street flooding. Also, low-lying and poor-drainage areas could be at risk for flash flooding, as well as creeks and streams.

Fire damages Hartsville’s La Quesadilla Mexican restaurant

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Members of the Volunteer Fire Department respond to a fire at La Quesadilla early Tuesday morning.

A fire broke out at Hartsville’s La Quesadilla Mexican restaurant in the early morning hours Tuesday and did serious damage to the building.

EMS Director Matt Batey told The Vidette emergency officials were notified around 4 a.m. of the fire. Members of the Volunteer Fire Department and EMS responded to the scene and were still on hand after 8 a.m.

No one was in the building and no injuries were reported.

La Quesadilla owner Alberto Rodriguez said fire officials told him they believed the fire started in a gas heater on the right side of the building and spread from there.

Damage to the right side of the roof and building was noticeable from the scene.

Rodriguez said the building was insured but said it was too soon to determine the extent of damage. The restaurant will be closed until further notice, Rodriguez said.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

Trousdale County Fair honored at state convention

The Trousdale County Fair continued its winning ways at this year’s Tennessee Association of Fairs (TAF) Convention, bringing home the Premier Fair Award in the A Division for the 2018 Fair.

Trousdale County also garnered two first-place awards in the Showcase of Fairs Competitive Exhibits for its Fair Letterhead and Creative Fair Idea-Non-Agriculture, as well as a second-place award for its T-shirt, which was designed by Urban Mills of Lebanon.

Submitted photos

“The Fair is all about agriculture, fun and celebrating Trousdale County. We have over 200 volunteers who contribute to making our fair happen in Trousdale County, and it truly is a showcase of our community. It’s one special time that all ages and groups can come together and share a tradition,” said Fair Board president Kathy Atwood.

Fair Board executive secretary Judy Woodard was presented with the Judy Basse Memorial Award as outstanding fair secretary as well.

“We were very excited to see that Judy was honored in that way. As they said that night, there wouldn’t be a Trousdale County Fair without Judy Woodard. We felt like it was time she was recognized,” Atwood added.

Woodard has served as the Fair’s executive secretary since 2004 and has volunteered with the fair for many years before that.

2018 Fairest of the Fair Shelby Vaughan competed with other young ladies representing fairs across the state of Tennessee, making those in attendance proud of her poise and accomplishments.

The Premier Fair Award is presented in three categories: Division A for counties with a population under 21,000; AA Division for counties with a population of 21,000 to 47,000, and AAA Division for fairs in counties with a population of over 47,000.

Wilson County won the Premier Fair title in Division AAA while Rhea County won in Division AA.

“Fairs highlight the best that our farms, farmers, and communities offer in the state,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Hatcher. “Agriculture education is so important, especially in a time when fewer people are directly connected with farming and the sources of wholesome food and fiber.”

In the regional division, the Appalachian Fair and the Tennessee Valley Fair received the Award of Merit. In the state division, the Tennessee State Fair received the Award of Merit based on overall fair operations. Other honorees included Clara Terry of the Scott County Fair, who received the Thornton Taylor Award for outstanding dedication to the fair programs in Tennessee.

The statewide Fair Showcase offered prize money and awards in 36 categories including best fair catalog, website and educational displays, promotional videos, posters, scrapbooks, creative ideas, and free-standing and table-top exhibits. In its 21st year, the competition drew 504 entries from 38 fairs.

In 2018, almost three million visitors attended county, regional, and state fairs in Tennessee, which generated $12 million in gross receipts. More than 19,000 volunteers devoted valuable time and resources to the events featuring more than 200,000 agricultural exhibits. Some 26,000 exhibitors showcased livestock, farm crops, and other agricultural assets.

Hotel representative addresses Chamber of Commerce

The Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce welcomed a representative from a hotel chain as its guest speaker at last week’s meeting.

Jeremy Griesbach, President of Development for Cobblestone Hotels, spoke on what a proposed hotel could bring to Trousdale County and attempted to address concerns that have risen from members of the community.

Cobblestone is one of two hotel chains to have been in contact with the Chamber after a hotel feasibility study was conducted last year by county government. That study found that Trousdale County could support a 47-room hotel.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette
Jeremy Griesbach of Cobblestone Hotels was the guest speaker at last week’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“In 10 years we’ve gone from four hotels to 134 now open,” Griesbach told the audience. “We span 26 states, as far east as Pennsylvania and upstate New York, as far south at Texas, as far west as Idaho.”

Cobblestone specializes in hotels in smaller communities, with Griesbach calling them “upper midscale” in quality, similar to a Hampton Inn.

“Probably 80 to 90 percent (of the hotels) are in communities with 3,000 to 10,000,” Griesbach said.

Cobblestone currently has no presence in Tennessee, but plans to begin construction of one in Elizabethton in East Tennessee sometime this year.

Griesbach said each Cobblestone has refrigerators and microwaves in every room, pillowtop mattresses, 42-inch televisions, free hot breakfast and a beer/wine lounge.

“One of the things in talking with local people is lots of concerns that we’re going to end up with a hotel with nothing but methheads, bedbugs and people we don’t want hanging out,” Griesbach said. “That’s not what we’re going for. We’re looking at spending $4 million to $5 million on this project. Our rates are going to average $90, so hopefully that will keep that element out.”

Griesbach added that rooms are checked at least every other day at other Cobblestone locations to ensure that no illicit activities are taking place on hotel property.

The Chamber is currently working to secure local investors to fund 30 percent – or roughly $1.5 million – of the cost. Investors must be qualified with sufficient net worth or annual income to be able to take part. Finding a suitable property in Hartsville is also an area the Chamber is working with Cobblestone on.

Griesbach played up the potential economic impact a hotel could have on Trousdale County beyond the facility itself.

“You have a lot of people coming here, whether it’s to visit people, business, funerals, reunions,” Griesbach said. “Ninety percent of those are going 20 miles down the road to find a place nice enough to stay at.

“They’re not eating here, shopping here, buying gas, spending money in town. Normally a hotel room averages $150-200 in spending at other businesses.”

In last week’s Vidette, Chamber Director Natalie Knudsen estimated that a hotel/motel tax could bring almost $50,000 in revenue to county government, based on a 70 percent occupancy rate.

“If we put it in the right location, it’s only going to benefit the area around there, with property values increasing and hopefully leading to more development,” Griesbach said.

Based on the feasibility study, Cobblestone projects a 47-room, two-story hotel with five extended-stay suites, 10 king-size rooms and the rest queen-size. It would have no swimming pool or meeting room, but would have a convenience center and workout room.

Cobblestone owns a management company to operate its facilities and a construction company to build hotels. Griesbach estimated a hotel would bring eight to 10 full-time jobs to Hartsville, based on Cobblestone’s other facilities.

As the Chamber is still working to secure the investment group no timeline for opening a hotel was offered, but Griesbach did say the typical contract called for opening eight months after construction began.

The Chamber posted video of Griesbach’s talk to Youtube for anyone interested in learning more about a potential hotel.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.