Hammer and Harrell

Earl Hammer, who has been a fixture associated with the iconic Hammer’s Department Store since 1958, celebrates his birthday in style with a special tribute at the store involving friends, customers and local officials. Winchester Mayor Terry Harrell shakes Hammer’s hand after proclaiming Jan. 25 as “Earl Hammer Day.” Harrell explained to the crowd that Hammer has been an integral part of the community.

With 2019 becoming 2020, here’s a look back at Franklin County’s highlights during the past calendar year. Highlights from July to December will appear in the Jan. 2, 2020, edition of the paper as well as on this website. 

Winchester plans to move fire station off Square

After 40 years near the Square, plans were made in January 2019 to move the Winchester Fire Department’s Station No. 1 to a new location in a $2.46 million renovation project.

The proposed new location for the fire hall is the former Don Hall Ford building at 800 S. College St.

The City Council has been looking at relocating the fire station due to the unique challenges of trying to get fire trucks in tight spaces and around traffic on the square.

City officials have said the move will make it easier to get to areas where Winchester’s development has been expanded into.

The move had not been completed by year’s end.

Huntland water plant to be renovated

The Huntland Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved in January to spend $206,000 to renovate the city’s 20-plus-year-old water plant.

There were previous plans to do work on the plant, but it was not supposed to be as extensive as the new proposed renovation.

Move made toward replacing Crow Creek Center

Sherwood residents announced in January they wanted to build a new Crow Creek Valley Community Center rather than upgrade the current, greatly deteriorated building.

A special meeting was held at the center, and the input received from Sherwood residents indicated a new facility would best serve the community’s interests.

Lhoist North America, which mines limestone in the area, had indicated it was willing to replace the facility, based on how much residents have said it is needed.

Funding for two middle schools on way to commission

The Franklin County Finance Committee approved in a 4-3 split vote in January to forward a $48 million funding request for two new middle schools to the County Commission to consider at its Jan. 15 meeting at the Courthouse.

Those in favor said the two schools are necessary because the current 50-year-old north and South structures have greatly deteriorated to where health and safety issues have become concerns.

They also said the current facilities are not conducive to learning with classes often interrupted because of inconsistent room temperatures, and sewers have also backed up.

Those in opposition said the School Board initially supported one combined middle school but later decided to go with the two new schools at their current campuses.

Winchester man charged with homicide after wife dies

Charges against James Romanalun Hill, who was in Franklin County Jail in January following a domestic dispute, were amended to homicide after his wife, Samantha Nicole Hill, died while in critical condition at Erlanger Baroness Hospital in Chattanooga.

The bond amount for Hill, 25 at the time, of Winchester, was also increased from $500,000 to $1 million, according to jail records.

Former Townsend School to become cultural center 

The debate had been lengthy in deciding what to do with the former Townsend School that was the county’s only African-American school before merging with Franklin County High School in 1965.

That question appeared to be answered in January with a heritage museum that will pay tribute to Franklin County’s long rich history and the history of Townsend.

A group of former students and concerned members in the community did not want to see the school torn down. They said they would like to see it used as a space for educating the public about the history of the school.

Plans were to have the facility renamed the Townsend Cultural Center with the building hosting a museum, along with music festivals, receptions and other activities. The center’s mission would be to maintain the African-American heritage and history of the Townsend School and the Franklin County community and to provide a convention hall for the general public.

Commission approves to fund two new middle schools

Franklin County was officially on its way in mid-January toward getting two new middle schools.

The County Commission approved 14-2 to fund $48 million to build two new educational facilities at the current North and South middle school campuses.

About 200 attended the meeting at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Special 90th birthday tribute for Earl Hammer

Hammer’s Department Store has been a steady presence in Winchester’s shopping community for more than 60 years, and the man behind the bargain outlet’s successful reign turned 90 in January.

A special gathering was held at Hammer’s Department Store, 100 First Ave. S.E., on the Winchester Square to pay tribute to Earl Hammer and the significant contribution he has made to Winchester and Franklin County.

TBI, local authorities make arrests in drug sting operation

A drug investigation lasting nearly two years came to a head in mid-January with 12 arrested in Franklin County on a variety of drug charges.

A Franklin County grand jury on Jan. 7 indicted about 20 suspects on a variety of charges stemming from incidents in 2017 and 2018.

Winchester Police Chief Ritchie Lewis said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation led the undercover effort and was aided by personnel and equipment from his department.

Reports also said agents and officers with the Middle Tennessee Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department aided the unified effort by locating and arresting suspects.

Former Decherd employee pleads guilty to facilitating theft

Decherd former Water Works Superintendent James Wesley Parks, 35 at the time, of 151 Harris Chapel Road in Winchester, had pleaded guilty in January to a charge of facilitation of theft between $60,000-$250,000, according to Franklin County Circuit Court records.

Parks was sentenced to serve 11 months, 29 days in jail with 100 public service hours. He was also sentenced to serve 3 years, 6 months’ probation running consecutive with other cases.

Also charged in the case was a Decherd business owner, Jeffery Jerome Frame, who earlier in the month had a charge for theft of property between $60,000 and $250,000 dismissed on the condition that he pay restitution.

The charge stems from an arrest on Sept. 6, 2017, in connection with allegedly taking more than $200,000 from the city, according to Franklin County Circuit Court records.

District Attorney Mike Taylor previously said Parks and Frame were suspected of drafting bogus orders through the Water Department for equipment that was never delivered.

Rudder gets key state appointment

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada named Rep. Iris Rudder in January as vice-chairman of the House Government Operations Committee.

Rudder lives in Winchester and represents Tennessee House District 39 which includes Moore, and part of Franklin and Marion Counties.

The 15-person committee is responsible for legislation concerning the creation of new departments, commissions, boards, agencies or councils of state government. It also manages the reauthorization of existing departments, commissions, boards, agencies, or councils of government.

Earl Hammer honored at age 90

In honor of his major contributions to improving life in Franklin County through a store that has been declared a local institution, Jan. 25 was declared Earl Hammer Day.

About 80 showed up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to give Hammer their best wishes and share memories that have developed during the last 60 years.

Requiem for a veteran editor

Betty Dement, who spent more than 50 years in the newsroom at The Tullahoma News, the Herald Chronicle’s sister newspaper, died Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Dement joined The News in 1962, just as the newspaper was converting from old typesetting methods to more modern offset printing. She was promoted to managing editor in 1977, a position she held until 2015.

Huntland sewer project continues to make progress

Getting a community-wide sewer system has been in Huntland’s plans for several years, and progress has been made toward getting it installed.

During the January Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, Mayor Dolton Steele updated the board on the recent developments for the long-awaited project.

February was Career and Technical Education month

With ground recently broken on Dinah Shore Boulevard to accommodate a new Tennessee College of Applied Technology, it seemed only fitting that February has been designated as Career and Technical Education Month in Franklin County.

County Mayor David Alexander made the announcement on Jan. 18 that February is being set aside to draw attention to the importance of how vocational education is paramount to Franklin County’s future workforce and its role in developing qualified employees to work in much-needed, non-college-related occupations.

The TCAT building is expected to accommodate its first students in January 2020.

Winchester increases building code construction fee

The Winchester City Council raised its base building code construction fee in January from $87.15 to $120 after a close 3-2 vote.

The council was divided on whether the increased revenue from the fee change would offset the potential loss in contractors selecting other locations because they don’t want to pay higher amounts.

Mayor Terry Harrell, who only votes in tie-breaking situations, had to be the deciding factor in a rare moment due to Councilwoman Jeannie Bates being absent from the January meeting.

The mayor can only vote when needed if a council member is not present and that came into play in this instance.

Council Members Gene Snead Jr. and Willie Womack voted against the measure with Councilwoman Cile Alexander and Councilman Bruce Spencer voting in favor of the increase. 

Hog Day tradition continues with visit from state first lady

Hog Day has evolved into a traditional Franklin County gathering with the most recent chapter attracting a high-ranking repeat visitor — Tennessee first lady Maria Lee.

Lee attended the 2018 event — always held at the Davis, Kessler & Davis law office property at 705 Dinah Shore Blvd. in Winchester — when she was on the campaign trail with her husband, Bill Lee, who was elected on Nov. 6, 2018, as Tennessee’s new governor.

Mrs. Lee said she had so much fun last year that it seemed only fitting to come back and get reacquainted with many of the Franklin County residents and visitors who were at hand in early February to guess the weight of two hogs with the winner either keeping them or putting them up for sale to garner the proceeds.

 Franklin County Fair garners state accolades

For the second time in three years, the Franklin County Fair was been selected by the Tennessee Association of Fairs as having the most improved event in its class and also received awards for three first-place finishes.

In addition to most improved fair, the accolades list includes first place in the premium tabloid category for having the best fair book, first place for fair poster and first place for best season pass.

The Franklin County Fair also recorded three third-place finishes for creative fair idea, fair ribbon arts and crafts, and fair follies picture.

The awards were presented during the Fairs Merit Awards recognition dinner program during the 97th annual Convention of the Tennessee Association of Fairs held Jan. 17-21 in Nashville.

7th suspect arrested in murder, kidnapping

Seven suspects were behind bars in early February in connection with the 2017 murder and hanging of a Tullahoma man.

David Edward Steele, 33, was reported missing on Oct. 3, 2017. Several days later, his body was found hanging from a tree in Franklin County.

An autopsy showed that Steele died of asphyxiation with a contributory cause of a gunshot wound to the leg.

On Nov. 13, 2018, the Coffee County grand jury handed up a 10-count indictment against seven individuals, but by the end of that month, only four had been captured — Bruce Edward Dorsett Jr., Shawna R. Haney, Voltaire Xavier Hickerson and Michael Andrew Taylor.

Now, with the arrests of Jamie Wilson Holland, Bryan Dudley and Miguel Sanders, all seven were in custody.

Nissan breaks ground on regional training center 

Nissan Decherd broke ground on a new regional training center in early February that will continue to strengthen the bond between Nissan and Franklin County.

On hand for the celebration were Nissan employees, Infiniti employees, local government officials, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville President Laura Monks, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce officials and Franklin County School System officials.

The facility will be located between the Nissan Powertrain Assembly Plant and the Infiniti Powertrain Plant at 520 Nissan Powertrain Drive. 

Repairs to Mt. Garner arch still in limbo

The Mt. Garner arch has been welcoming citizens to the cemetery of the same name since its creation in 1914, but it has needed repairs in recent years, and requests to fix were not been fulfilled.

Michael Gillespie, Decherd Historical and Preservation Society co-founder, voiced his concerns for a third time to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen about getting the arch fixed because there had been no progress on the venture.

Gillespie’s passion for the arch led to him running for Decherd mayor, and he claimed the position later in the year. 

Cowan receives another good audit report

Audits can sometimes make or break a town’s chances to receive grant money or any other endeavors a municipality might choose to embark on, which is why having a good audit report is important for the future.

Cowan was once again on the good side of an audit after receiving an unmodified opinion from Bean, Rhoton & Kelly, PLLC for fiscal year 2018.

Two pilots survive Moore County helicopter crash

Two pilots were treated for injuries they sustained when the civilian-owned Sikorsky HH-60L Black Hawk helicopter they were flying crashed in a privately owned Moore County field five miles south of Tullahoma in early March.

Meet Sewanee’s little ‘Heart Hero,’ Harry Reinhard

Sewanee Elementary School kindergartener Harry Reinhard was the inspiration behind a whole lot of skipping at his school where students kicked off their Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser in March for the American Heart Association.

The fundraiser inspires students to skip rope while raising money for heart disease research and education.

And it’s such research that leads to success stories such as Harry’s.

After undergoing heart surgery on Jan. 8 at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Harry was able to return to school just four weeks later, on Feb. 11, right when his classmates started the AHA fundraiser and bestowed upon him the fantastic title of “heart hero.”

Estill Dollar General making headway

It became clear where the new Dollar General Store in Estill Springs would be going in early March with the sign being added to the new facility.

The new store, which opened later in the year, is located just north of the current facility on Highway 41A but is on the west side of the road. 

Suspect pleads to life in James Leon Wood case 

The wife of a Winchester homicide victim pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in March in the death of her husband and received a life sentence in prison, according to Franklin County Circuit Court records.

Glenna Yvonne (Newingham) Wood, had been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of James Leon Wood, who was reported missing from his 124 Spring Hill Drive residence on Jan. 18, 2018.

Huntland cell tower remains in limbo

It’s no secret that Huntland would benefit from having a cell tower, but several obstacles have slowed the dream from becoming a reality.

Alderman Ellis Counts updated the board in March on his efforts to see what can be done to remedy the situation.

Counts said he went to Chattanooga to talk to Southern Towers which has made a commitment to install the tower.

By year’s end, the project was still on hold with Southern Towers unable to secure a carrier that would ensure the tower would go up. Southern Towers, however, has made a two-year lease on property to install a tower in the event the project is able to move ahead.

Estill Lions take pride in greenway project

With the anticipation of the arrival of spring in March, several industrious members of the Estill Springs Lions Club took it upon themselves to restore the natural beauty of the Taylor Creek Greenway in Estill Springs.

The Lions Club was instrumental in the vision and creation of the 54-acre recreational park nearly 20 years ago, and their efforts continue to keep it looking pristine.

Manchester man in custody after high-speed chase

A 19-year-old Manchester man remained in Franklin County Jail in March on a $35,000 bond following his arrest after an early morning high-speed chase by police that ended with the vehicle leaving the road at the Winchester Roundabout.

A 1-year-old child was in the vehicle, which led to additional charges.

Corbin D. Kell of Manchester was charged with aggravated child abuse or neglect, evading and resisting arrest, speeding 25 miles over the speed limit, failure to maintain financial responsibility, failure to maintain and exercise due care, child restraint violation, traffic control device violation, reckless endangerment, assault and reckless driving.

County mayor cites need for spec building

Other nearby counties have had success in attracting industries due to having speculation buildings ready in advance for industrial development, and Franklin County needs to do the same, according to Mayor David Alexander.

He told the county’s Long Range Planning Committee in March that interest by outside companies in potentially relocating to Franklin County would increase if a ready-to-move-in spec building were available.

Mayor recommends Long Range Planning Committee be expanded

Steps were being taken in March to expand the Long Range Planning Committee to gain a broader view about what direction Franklin County may take in the near and long-term future.

County Mayor David Alexander addressed the committee at its February meeting and said the committee is comprised solely of county commissioners, but it would be better to have a wider base of expertise to draw from.

The committee decided to recommend that Franklin County Solid Waste Director William Anderson, Director of Schools Stanley Bean or a designee and the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce executive director be added as regular members because they are not county commissioners but have diversified backgrounds as department directors.

Potential trust fund suggested to maintain F.C. Jail Museum

Franklin County’s Old Jail Museum has been a local icon, and a neighboring land owner has suggested a charitable trust be established to ensure it always remains that way.

James Duncan told the County Commission in March that he owns property near the museum’s 400 Dinah Shore Blvd. location in Winchester.

He said he was appearing before the commission to open a dialogue to potentially do something to make sure steps are in place to maintain the facility that was Franklin County’s fourth jail with its roots stemming back to the late 1800s.

DREMC receives$2.14 million communications grant

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation announced in March that it had received a grant award totaling $2.14 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission for DREMC’s east fiber loop and smart-grid fiber communication project.

The project will deploy smart-grid improvements that in turn can be used to form the backbone of a gigabit-speed fiber broadband network.

Bids approved for North, South projects

The School Board approved on March 28 to hire two different contractors to build the new North and South middle schools at a $40.588 million combined cost.

Robert S. Biscan & Co. from the city of Franklin was selected by the board to do the work at North while SouthLand Construction Inc. of Brentwood was awarded the contract for the South project.

Food donation helps those in need

Decherd’s Brent Bates donated more than 40,000 pounds of food to those in need in late March to go toward the Helping Hands Community Outreach Ministry group which sent items to tornado victims in Lee County, Alabama.

Voucher proposal stirs emotions at local level

A controversial Tennessee school voucher proposal, approved by the House Education Committee, drew opposition in late March and early April from some Franklin County School Board members.

They said the program could take money away from public school systems and create an unfair environment for the students who remain in the systems.

School vouchers rely on publicly funded scholarships to send students to private schools.

The legislature later approved the voucher system.

Sheriff’s Office, TBI investigates two suspected inmate suicides

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office called in the TBI in early April to assist in an investigation of two recent inmate suicides, according to a press release.

Sheriff Tim Fuller said that in his 13 years at the department’s helm, no suicides had been committed in the Franklin County Jail.

“Now we’ve had two in two weeks,” he said. “There was no forewarning or anything.”

Fuller said two other suicides had occurred before he became sheriff, marking a total of four in the past 20 years.

‘If Only’ sends strong message about opioid crisis

An annual U.S. narcotics overdose death toll which is far beyond the total American losses from the Vietnam War sends a clear message that not nearly enough is being done to combat the opioid crisis, according to James Wahlberg who directed and produced the film “If Only.”

The half-hour movie, created to increase awareness of youth prescription drug abuse, was shown in early April to about 250 in the Franklin County High Scho0l Auditorium.

Wahlberg, brother of Academy Award-nominated actor Mark Wahlberg, attended the showing on behalf of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and Millennium Health to add to the movie’s strong message about swaying youths from opioid abuse.

Commission approves rock quarry rezoning

After 11 years amid controversy, the Franklin County Commission approved a request from Tinsley Asphalt Inc. in April to rezone property in the 5600 block of Greenhaw Road from an agricultural to an industrial district to allow a rock quarry.

The commission voted 10-6 with an audience of about 150 present at a public hearing on the rezoning at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Commissioners in favor of the rezoning were Scottie Riddle, Dale Schultz, Chuck Stines, David Eldridge, Angie Fuller, Don Cofer, Sam Hiles, Lydia Curtis Johnson, Adam Casey and Carolyn Montoye-Wiseman.

In opposition were Greg King, Johnny Hughes, Helen Stapleton, Barbara Finney, Doug Goodman and Gene Snead.

High on the Hog features BBQ legend Mixon

The High on the Hog Festival was underway in April, and a barbecuing legend was back in Winchester, drawing interest to the 32nd annual event.

Myron Mixon, who appears in the “BBQ Pitmasters” reality television series, competed in the Kansas City Barbecue Society BBQ contest at Winchester City Park.

Mixon is a four-time barbecuing world grand champion and brought some of his famous recipes to compete in the contest.

Huntland gets $936,000 BlueCross grant to upgrade City Park

The city of Huntland was chosen in April to receive a total investment of $936,000 from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation in the form of a new city park complex.

The park bears the BlueCross Healthy Place program name and offers numerous amenities to city and area residents and their children for years to come. Some of the many features covered in the investment include a full basketball court with bleachers, a fully accessible playground, a walking track with outdoor fitness equipment, water fountains, picnic tables, grills, parking areas, and an upgraded pavilion for hosting community gatherings.

Sheriff’s Office eyes ways to prevent future jail suicides

Two April inmate suicides sent the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on a path toward determining what can be done to prevent other like occurrences.

Sheriff Tim Fuller said his department was looking at ways to determine which inmates might be suicidal and what action could be taken to prevent it from happening.

“The biggest thing is awareness,” Fuller said, adding that having additional information individually about inmates could reveal signs that they could be at risk.

He used an example that if an inmate had a death in their immediate family, it could be a foundation for extreme depression that could lead to suicidal tendencies.

New North, South schools christened in groundbreaking

Twin groundbreaking ceremonies were held in April at North and South middle schools to herald the beginning of construction efforts that will ultimately build two new facilities by August 2020.

Franklin County Director of Schools Stanley Bean began each event by welcoming attendees before speaking briefly about what each school will mean to area students, faculty members and the Franklin County community.

Huntsville team claims 2019 High on the Hog Grand Champion title

Moods were high in April during the 32nd annual High on the Hog Festival as the barbecue competition winners were announced during an awards ceremony at the Red Roof Pavilion at the Winchester City Park.

State Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, greeted the teams who placed in the competition and presented awards and honors to this year’s winners.

Huntsville, Alabama-based team Fat, Drunk, and Stupid BBQ took top honors as the Grand Champion of this year’s festival. According to Pit Master Laddy Ratliffe, James Evans, Ron Stephens, and James Henley, the team’s name comes from the popular late 70s film “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”

Revolutionary War vet’s block to be added to memorial

Ron Smith was hoping to get a commemorative stone block dating back to World War I to place at the veterans monument he helped create in Winchester, but little did he know he would get one dating nearly 140 years before that.

Smith, a Vietnam War veteran who established the Honoring All Veterans monument in front of the Franklin County Annex Building with Scot Bradford and Moore-Cortner Funeral Home, received a stone block in April in honor of John Sells, who served in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Army from Pennsylvania and died in the Battle of Yorktown.

As a tribute, a special gathering as held on May 2 at the memorial in the 800 block of Dinah Shore Boulevard. Sells wasn’t from Franklin County, but his descendants have resided in the immediate area in abundance.

Decherd man shot, airlifted to Erlanger

A Decherd man was transported to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga in April after being shot in the face with a 20-gauge shotgun, according to Decherd police reports.

The man who was shot, identified as Tommy Wilkerson, was found lying on the ground at his residence on College Street when authorities arrived. He was taken to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga by a Life Force Air Medical Services helicopter. He later died from his wounds.

The shooting suspect, Roger Dale Burgess, was arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

David Lowhorn, 100, reflects on life

Franklin County native and World War II veteran David Lowhorn celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year, and what he most wanted to do to celebrate his special day was surprising.

Many seniors who have lived for a century would be content to spend the day relaxing and napping after enjoying a birthday celebration. Lowhorn, however, had other plans for his birthday — he went horseback riding.

Rayburn Chapel to be revitalized after 130 years of history

Franklin County historian L. Jarod Pearson reflected in April on his efforts to revitalize the Rayburn Chapel, located on the corner of South Sycamore and Maple streets in Cowan.

The chapel is 130 years old and contains rich Franklin County history.

Hammer’s Department Store closes

Citing his father’s age and physical condition making it difficult to continue on, Hammer’s Department Store is closing, according to Josh Hammer, the son of the man who had managed the Winchester bargain outlet since 1958.

Hammer said in early May that his father, Earl, was in a position where continuing on with the store’s operations on the Winchester Square would be difficult, so a decision had been made to sell out the inventory and close the business.

Earl Hammer recently turned 90 and was honored in special tribute on Jan. 25 that was attended by about 80 who showed up to give him their best wishes and share memories that have developed during the last 60 years.

Tribute plaque honoring Chief Young unveiled

The late Dennis Young had made a significant contribution to Winchester as its police chief, and a special tribute plaque was unveiled in his honor on May 8 during a special dedication ceremony at the Police Station’s main entrance at 401 Second Ave. S.W.

Winchester Mayor Terry Harrell and current Police Chief Ritchie Lewis unveiled the plaque honoring Chief Young, who had led the department for 17 years and served a total of 36 years in law enforcement.

Young passed away in 2017 from a heart attack.

Members of Chief Young’s family were in attendance and were honored by the large gathering of deputies, officers, firefighters, and area civic and business leaders.

Community Outreach making a helpful difference

Franklin County’s Community Outreach movement, which provides free dental care and medical and eye exams, again reached out to several hundred families on May 4 by making life a lot easier.

The event, which also included distributing free food and clothing along with free haircuts amid performances by musical acts, was held at First United Methodist Church, 100 S. Jefferson St., and at First Baptist Church, 108 S. High St., both in Winchester.

School Board Member Gary Hanger passes away 

Franklin County School Board Member Gary H. Hanger passed away unexpectedly from an apparent heart attack on May 24 at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System in Winchester.

The loss of the 71-year-old veteran educator was difficult to bear for those with whom he served. School Board Chair CleiJo Walker said Mr. Hanger’s presence will be sorely missed. “It was a real shock to everyone,” she said. “Gary was a lifelong friend, fellow educator and board member.

“He brought a great deal of knowledge to the board, always thorough in his decisions, using a common-sense approach to solving issues. His many years as an educator made him a real asset to our board.”

Cowan seeks grant to promote tourism

The Cowan City Council amended its 2019-20 fiscal year budget in late May to include an $11,500 appropriation in hopes of securing a $75,000 grant to rehabilitate the Centralized Train Control Building to use as an information center/public restroom facility and promote tourism.

Vice Mayor Mark Ledbetter said the move goes hand-in-hand with the Mountain Goat Trial’s planned recreation path section that would extend into Cowan.

The Mountain Goat Railroad carried coal and passengers between Palmer and Cowan across the Cumberland Plateau, according to the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance, an organization supporting the effort to turn the old railroad bed into a multiuse recreational path.

The stretch was named after mountain goats because the climb onto the Cumberland Plateau was one of the steepest railroad ascents in the world.

Two 17 year olds drown in Middle Tennessee lakes

A late spring weekend turned out to be tragic for two families who each lost a teenage boy to drowning incidences in Middle Tennessee.

One drowning occurred on May 31 at Tims Ford Lake and the other occurred on June 1 at a reservoir in Tracy City.

Local state zoologist earns national award

David Withers, a zoologist with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, received the 2019 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ recovery champion award during a ceremony held on May 17 at the South Cumberland State Park’s Sherwood Forest.

The award is given to two individuals each year across the nation. Withers was recognized for his work to protect the painted snake-coiled forest snail, an endangered species known to live exclusively in the Sherwood area of Franklin County.

Fentanyl incidences reported in immediate area

The Winchester Police Department responded in early June to three calls in a week’s time about individuals who had been unresponsive due to being exposed to fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an opioid used as a pain medication, and it is used together with other medications for anesthesia. Fentanyl is also abused as a recreational drug, often mixed with heroin, cocaine or marijuana. Medical personnel revived the individuals using nalaxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, which is used to block the effects of opioids in overdose cases.

Franklin County Garden Club celebrates 90th anniversary

Members of the Franklin County Garden Club were honored in May at the historic organization’s 90th anniversary celebration.

The event was hosted at the Franklin County Library on Friday.

Club members and visitors alike took part in the festivities, and in addition to the fine conversation, attendees enjoyed cupcakes, cookies, mixed nuts and a refreshing beverage. According to the club’s current president, Lola Eslick, the organization was initially founded by Elizabeth Drake in 1929 and was then known as the Winchester Garden Club.

Franklin County changes ambulance provider

The County Commission approved 13-0 in June to select A&E Emergency Services LLC as Franklin County’s new ambulance service provider.

Commissioners Carolyn Montoye-Wiseman, Barbara Finney and Scottie Riddle were absent from the meeting.

Finance Committee rejects school budget a second time

The Finance Committee rejected the school system’s budget a second time in June, citing that if further cuts aren’t made this year, Franklin County could be faced with a high tax increase for the second year in a row.

The school system’s budget was approved later but did not include across-the-board pay increases.

Commission approves up to $2 million to finish jail

With an estimated additional $1.98 million deemed necessary to finish the Franklin County Jail’s expansion, the County Commission has approved up to $2 million in additional funding in late June to finish the project.

The commission decided the issue in a 10-3 vote during a special meeting Monday.

Commissioners in opposition included Adam Casey, Greg King and Dale Schultz. Commissioners Chuck Stines, Helen Stapleton and Sam Hiles were absent from the meeting.

Change orders in the additions to the jail were estimated to cost an additional $1.98 million. The committee reviewed the change orders in a special meeting June 12 before agreeing to forward the issue to the commission to seek a bond issue that could be financed over a 12-year period.

The jail expansion’s projected cost was initially $8.9 million. However, after bids were received, the actual cost had escalated to $12.4 million. Other changes had set the cost at $14.6 million. With an additional $1.98 million, the new total would be $16.58 million, an increase of 13.5 percent.

Groundbreaking held for BlueCross Healthy Place

Huntland city officials and community members were joined on June 19 by representatives from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation to celebrate the beginning of construction on a BlueCross Healthy Place complex located at the Huntland City Park.

The groundbreaking ceremony heralded the start of construction on the BlueCross Healthy Place project which was completed this fall.

The complex is located at the Huntland City Park and is an all-inclusive playground.

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