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Looking back at 2017

Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 7:55 am


State and local officials break ground in June 2017 for the Shelbyville College of Applied Technology satellite campus on property next to the Franklin County Annex Building on Dinah Shore Boulevard. The event was on of Franklin County’s significant highlights in 2017.

–File photo


A long-awaited move by the Franklin County School Board in February 2017 brought tremendous satisfaction to vocational-technical school proponent Christine Hopkins. The board approved Monday to give 8.5 acres to Franklin County government to build a Shelbyville College of Applied Technology satellite campus on property next to the county’s Annex Building on Dinah Shore Boulevard.

Looking back at 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, here’s a look back at the main events that happened in Franklin County during the first six months of the year.

The second six months will be posted early next week.

Decherd moves

on from former


The Decherd Board of Mayor and Aldermen had accepted City Administrator Mike Foster’s formal resignation at its monthly meeting on Oct. 10, 2016, paving the way for Rex Clark to move into the position that was vacated at 2017’s beginning. Clark was the former manager at Big Daddy’s Sports.

Board advised

against seat belts

on buses

A school bus tragedy in Chattanooga has prompted the State Legislature to consider in early January 2017 about whether to require safety belts in buses as a statewide measure, but an assessment from the local level was the drawbacks could be worse than the benefits.

FCHS shooting

thwarted; two 

youths detained

Two juveniles were detained in mid-January 2017 on charges related to an alleged plan to carry out a shooting at Franklin County High School. No threat materialized and FCHS classes were held as usual.

Standing Rock


visit Sewanee

When Native Americans challenged the Dakota Access Pipeline project in 2016, they were met with extreme force, including being shot with rubber bullets and TASER weapons, and many not affiliated with the protest rose up to support the opposition.

A group appeared at the University of the South in January 2017 to shed light on what was happening in the Western U.S. and how they and other parts of the nation would be affected.

Marshall claims

Volunteer of Year


Though a unique turn of events, it was announced in January 2017 that Denise Ingle Marshall was the Herald Chronicle’s Volunteer of the Year for 2016.

Marshall nominated fellow volunteer Sue Fulmer for the 2016 title only to find out someone else thought highly enough of her helpful efforts to put her name in the running as well.

In the end, the online voters gave their nod to Marshall which came as a pleasant surprise.

Committees review

middle school land

sale options

The Franklin County School Building and County Commission’s School committees were considering January 2017 what the current North and South property would be worth if they were sold to combine both institutions into a single unit at a different site.

The North property, due to its commercial development potential, would be worth $3.83 million in a best-case scenario. The South property, in a mirror comparison, would be worth $490,050 under ideal circumstances, according to estimates

Local anglers aim

to improve

Tims Ford


The Tims Ford Bass Club, in conjunction with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, was working in January 2017 on a project to improve the lake’s fish species’ sustainability.

By constructing man-made spawning sites, the Bass Club and TWRA aim to improve the ecological viability of the lake, allocating nurseries for fish to lay their eggs.

Veterans War

Memorial receives

feedback from afar

Monuments reflect humanity’s inclination to honor the cultural achievements of brethren who have boldly gone before.

A special dedication in Huntland serves that instinctive impulse by recognizing the brave men and women who have answered their nation’s call to arms and people are taking notice.

The city unveiled a Veterans War Memorial on Dec. 7, 2016, the 75th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Fourth District

to get new Fire Hall

Thanks to generous donation announced in February 2017 from a local woman, the Fourth District Fire Department has new ground on which to build a Fire Hall.

Mary E. Faris, Franklin County General Sessions Court Judge Thomas C. Faris’ mother, donated roughly half an acre at the intersection of Holders Cove Road and Carter Farris Lane to the Winchester-based Fire Department.

University of South

upgrading Internet

The University of the South was working in February 2017 with Ben Lomand Connect to install an additional fiber optics line to achieve redundancy in its campus Internet service, improving overall dependability.

Live testing on


system for


When a county official shares an update on a plan to resolve a longstanding communication problem that endangers lives to those emergency first responders hampered by the challenge, and then that official takes action to resolve it, that is progress.

One week after Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Smith explained the ongoing project in February 2017 to remedy the first responder’s communication dilemma to the County Wide Fire Committee, a team of technical experts and emergency personnel were conducting an actual radio test in Sherwood and Sewanee to assess the conditions.

State Comptroller

warns Decherd

of potential

Sunshine violation

Decherd Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings are usually conducted on a bright note, but at least one gathering in February 2017 had a dark cloud looming over it.

The State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury notified Decherd Mayor Robin Smith via letter that concerns were presented to the Nashville office regarding the nature in which a private meeting was conducted between the mayor and the board. According to the letter, information received by the Treasury’s Office of Open Records Counsel alleged that on Jan. 9, Decherd held a closed-door meeting to discuss an increase in the city’s water rates.

The comptroller’s letter stated that meetings of the board regarding the provision of water services to the City of Decherd would be subject to the Open Meeting Act requirements. No further action from the state was taken.

TCAT grant request

follows transfer of

school property

to county

A long-awaited move by the Franklin County School Board in February 2017 brought tremendous satisfaction to vocational-technical school proponent Christine Hopkins. The board approved to give 8.5 acres to Franklin County government to build a Shelbyville College of Applied Technology satellite campus on property next to the county’s Annex Building on Dinah Shore Boulevard.

F.C. School District

‘Teachers of the Year’

Each year, The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors outstanding teachers throughout Tennessee.

The Teacher of the Year program’s mission is to applaud teachers who care about children, who devote their professional lives to enriching the lives of Tennessee children and who demonstrate exceptional gains in student achievement.

In February 2017, the following teachers were selected as Franklin County School District’s “Teachers of the Year:” Pre-K through fourth grades, Alicia Wall, second grade teacher at Sewanee Elementary School; fifth through eighth grades, Dana Etheridge, eighth grade math teacher at North Middle School; and ninth through twelfth grades, Beverly Bowlen, teacher of high school Spanish, Speech and ACT Prep at Huntland High School.

Gov. Haslam speaks

at town hall meeting

on fuel tax proposal

Gov. Bill Haslam held a town hall meeting in February 2017 in the Franklin County Annex’s community room to speak about his “IMPROVE Act,” which would create $278 million in new revenue funds for road and bridge maintenance and repair by raising fuel taxes and offsetting that increase by cutting the tax on groceries by one-half percent, from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent, eliminating the Hall Income Tax by 3 percent over the next two years (1.5 percent each year).

Betty Fraley retires

from extensive

educational career

Betty Fraley had a stellar career as a Franklin County educator, but after paying her long-term dues, she decided in February 2017 it was time to toss in the towel.


 rock quarry

request back to

County Commission

After being defeated nine years earlier, a rezoning request by Tinsley Asphalt to allow a rock quarry near Greenhaw Road was resurrected in March 2017 and was on its way to the Franklin County Commission to be considered.

The Planning Commission approved 3-2 to forward the request to the County Commission to deliberate at its 7 p.m. March 20 meeting at the Courthouse. Tinsley Asphalt had later withdrawn its request, and by year’s end, no further action had been taken by the county on the quarry issue.

Grant applied

for to fund

vo-tech school

A vo-tech school on the former Franklin County High School property became another step closer to becoming a reality in March 2017.

When the county commissioners met to approve a plan to improve technical educational opportunities and bring new industries into the county, it literally took about 15 minutes to reach a unanimous decision to take that path by approving to fund $1 million to get a $5 million block grant that allowed the project to proceed.

Petition against


middle schools

Although the School Board was considering building a combined middle school, some Franklin County residents took an active stance to keep North and South at separate campuses.

A petition was circulated in March 2017 and had nearly 250 signatures against combining the two learning facilities.

Steve Kirby tries

to resurrect

Dogwood Festival

A common Tennessee tale takes the talent from nascent beginnings of stardom and follows their propulsion to center stage. For one Franklin County resident, though, Music City connections rooted in years of networking behind-the-scenes earned him a vote in the Country Music Association’s annual Awards.

Winchester’s Steve Kirby had been a CMA voting member since 1986 and had begun a drive to get the Dogwood Festival back in Winchester after it had been canceled because of financial issues.

President Trump’s

Nashville rally brings

local support

When the nation’s 45th President visited Nashville to celebrate Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday and attend a rally in Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, thousands of people, mostly his supporters, showed up.

After Franklin County resident David Statum, clinical director of the Coffee County Mental Health Treatment Court, and a nurse educator for Western Governor’s University, learned that President Donald Trump was coming to Nashville, he wasted no time in making arrangements to attend the event.

Winchester opens

door for distillery

Winchester approved the first reading of an ordinance in March 2017, amending the laws regulating alcohol manufacturing within a municipality at the City Council meeting Tuesday in a move paving the way for a distillery inside city limits.

Robinson named

‘Tennessee Farmer

of the Year’

On 3,300 acres in southern Middle Tennessee, Mike Robinson and his wife, Krislyn, have spent 32 years raising cattle and a family as well as planting, cultivating and harvesting a variety of row crops.

All the labor has paid off in countless ways, and Robinson’s efforts in 2016 led him to being named the Tennessee Farmer of the Year by University of Tennessee Extension.

Chamber Business

Expo celebrates

25 years

A marriage’s quarter century mark is referred to as the silver anniversary because it’s such an achievement. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce hosted its 25th annual Business Expo in April 2017, and like its corresponding anniversary, it was an assuredly valuable experience.

Johnson drops

lawsuit against

Franklin County

After reaching middle ground, a lawsuit filed by Register of Deeds Lydia Curtis Johnson against Franklin County Mayor Richard Stewart about getting salaries increased for four of her employees was dropped in April 2017.

Decherd Elementary

remembers Wylan

Honoring a lost friend brings communities together as they remember the life taken from them.

Decherd Elementary School paid tribute to the fallen Wylan Watson, a 10-year-old student there who lost his life in a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle accident on April 2, 2017. The memorial was held April 7, 2017, on the DES front lawn.

Newly hired coach

welcomed at FCHS

Isaiah Phillips was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Franklin County High School boys basketball team in a press conference held in April 2017 at FCHS.

High on the Hog’s

30th chapter still

building memories

A week marked by recurring heavy rainfall and thunderstorms did not deter those in April 2017 who wanted more than just a chance to sample food made by the best barbecue cookers around at the 30th annual High on the Hog Festival at Winchester City Park.

Saying thanks

to a community’s

fire department

Keith Springs Mountain, like many small communities, is tight-knight with its residents relying on a volunteer fire department to ensure safety, and a local motorcycle club has extended its thanks in April 2017 with a financial contribution. Cumberland Mountain Riders Association, a 13-year-old local organization, donated $1,500 to the Keith Springs Volunteer Fire Department recently at the entity’s April meeting.

Crash victims file

$95 million suit

against Kia Corp.

The parents of twin brothers John and James Hill who died from a Dec. 31, 2015, collision on Dinah Shore Boulevard sued the car corporation they deem responsible for $95 million in April 2017.

Coffee County residents Aaron Hill and his wife, Lynetta Hill, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Tennessee on grounds Kia Motors and its parent group, Hyundai-Kia Automotive, are responsible for what occurred in the New Year’s Eve collision.

 Jenkins’ jury conviction

in Cowan cornfield

killing upheld

David Jenkins’ conviction for the March 2013 beating death of 26-year-old Corey N. Matthews, whose body was found in a Cowan cornfield was upheld in May 2017 by the Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals. Jenkins, convicted in May 2015, is the only one of the four defendants to take his first-degree murder case before a jury.

‘No Excuses


paves early path

toward college

With rising tuition costs plaguing college students, Rock Creek Elementary School took proactive approach at the earliest educational stage to give future leaders a better opportunity to succeed.

Rock Creek added No Excuses University to its curriculum where the goal is to get young students mentally walking down a path toward college while they are years away from that milestone in life. No Excuses University involves a network of schools, with a presence spreading nationwide, that focuses on exposing youths to how much better their lives could be by becoming college graduates.

School Board



middle school

The Franklin County Board of Education acted in May 2017 on a resolution presented by Adam Tucker to ask the County Commission to appropriate $37.5 million to build a consolidated middle school. The board, although expressing mixed feelings about whether to upgrade the 50-year-old North and South middle school buildings, approved the resolution 7-1 with Linda Jones casting the dissenting vote.

School Director

Dr. Lonas moves on

Dr. Amie Lonas resigned from her position in late May 2017 as Franklin County’s director of schools to accept a position with the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk., Va. Her last day was June 30, 2017.

Poll shows people

want Dogwood back

A Herald Chronicle poll revealed that five of six respondents would like to see Winchester’s signature spring event, the Dogwood Festival, returned to the city’s historic downtown square. Funding for the Dogwood Festival was not approved by the City Council last year, so the event was scrapped for 2017.

Decherd merchants

discuss revamping


Downtown Decherd business owners began exploring in June 2017 to spruce up the Main Street section of town by establishing a steering committee to pursue beautification projects.

New role being

considered for

Townsend Center

With the Townsend Center’s alternative school staff and students moving from their 900 S. Shepherd St. location in Winchester into the county school administrative building, near the Franklin County Annex Building at 851 Dinah Shore Blvd., the freed up space could be used as a new home for the community’s Head Start program.

School Board selects

Stanley Bean as

new director

The Franklin County School Board decided in a split vote in June 2017 to avoid a school director candidate search and give the position to Stanley Bean.

Bean, the school system’s director of student support services and facilities who also serves as county wide athletic director, replaced Dr. Amie Lonas who accepted a position as dean of academic affairs at the Joint Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia.

TCAT satellite



brings optimism

A groundbreaking was held in June 2017 for the Shelbyville-based Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Franklin County.

About 170, including Gov. Bill Haslam attended the event where the satellite campus will be built near the Franklin County Annex Building.

Gary Edwards Drive

honors local’s lifetime achievement

To recognize a career-long commitment to community and company, a new exit road from Decherd’s Nissan facility was named Gary Edwards Drive in June 2017.