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Ward School honors teachers

Four former teachers of the Ward School were honored at the well-attended Black and Gold Banquet, which took place at the old Ward School building in Hartsville on Saturday night.

The event was hosted by the Ward Scholarship Committee as a fundraiser to help preserve the old school building.

“The last four teachers that taught in our school — our historic, black school — (were) honored at the Black and Gold Banquet” said Ward Scholarship Committee Chair and former Ward School student Betty Locke. “These are the last four teachers of the Ward School that are still living.”

Guests at the banquet helped to honor Dorothy Valentine Black, Bobby Joe Lewis, J.T. Simpson and Ed Lee Martin for their time and service to the school.

Black, a second-grade teacher, began her teaching career at the Ward School — her alma mater — after earning her teaching degree from Tennessee State University (TSU).

“One of my former teachers said that they needed a second-grade teacher (at the Ward School) and asked me if I would be interested in it,” said Black. “I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’ At that time, I was thinking about going to New York, so I said I would think about it. He told me that if I was interested in the job, I should go down to the superintendent’s office on Monday morning and tell them I was interested. Since I didn’t have any money, I went down, and he hired me.”

Although his 30-year teaching career was quite extensive, Lewis recalled his time at the Ward School with fondness.

“I taught Tennessee history ... I was a physical education (P.E.) coach, and I was also the health education teacher (at the Ward School),” said Lewis. “I taught at 14 different schools in my career and taught in six different counties in the state of Tennessee before I retired. During that time, I picked up a lot of wisdom and knowledge and understanding from meeting such a variety of different cultures, races, and nationalities.

“When I ended my career, schools had integrated. I had every type of student throughout the world who were in attendance at some of those schools, and I picked up so much knowledge from the different cultures that I had the opportunity to work with.”

Simpson taught multiple courses and grade levels at the Ward School.

“I taught here (at the Ward School) for two years, from 1961-62,” said Simpson. “I taught health, science, English, and social studies. All the students were mixed in together. Some of them were high school, and some of them were elementary.”

Though unable to attend Saturday night’s festivities, Ward School students and teachers remember Martin, the former football and basketball coach, with affection.

“We remember him mostly for his coaching skills, because, as a matter of fact, he was the longest coach to be with us at Ward,” said Locke. “He had to coach multiple sports, but our main focus back then in the 1960s was our football team.”

The Black and Gold Banquet is one of many events sponsored by the Ward Scholarship Committee, which attempts to raise money to maintain the old school building.

“The main focus of the efforts that we’re putting forth is to maintain the building,” said Locke. “As an organization, we own the building. We are trying to maintain it — to keep it up and running — and maybe provide some after-school programs in the near future.”

Transporting Thanksgiving

Some area residents were unable to attend the seventh annual community Thanksgiving celebration last Saturday.

So, firefighters from the Trousdale County Volunteer Fire Department took some of the celebration to them.

Those area firefighters were on the go, delivering meals to some grateful area residents.

For six years, the first responders have gone above and beyond their call of duty to help the Hartsville-Trousdale County Chamber of Commerce deliver meals to elderly and shut-in residents of the county.

“They are good people,” said Hartsville resident Annie Russell. “They are wonderful.”

Hartsville resident Kathy Gammon added, “We are so grateful and thankful to them for delivering the meals.”

Although the community Thanksgiving celebration is an annual event, during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the dinner was cancelled.

However, it was during that time that the Hartsville-Trousdale County Chamber of Commerce decided to thank the first responders for their service to the community with a private Thanksgiving meal.

“During COVID, we couldn’t meet in person (for the community Thanksgiving celebration),” said Hartsville-Trousdale County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Natalie Knudsen. “The schools were closed that year. So, the chamber fed all the first responders. We gave them all free Thanksgiving meals.”

Trousdale County Volunteer Fire Department Captain Jerod Mitchell added, “(The chamber of commerce) reached out to us and asked if we were interested in them doing something for us. We said yes. Of course, who isn’t interested in free food? And we had a pretty good turnout.”

According to Mitchell, the fire department first got involved in delivering Thanksgiving meals as a way to connect with the community.

“A few years ago, Miss Knudsen reached out to us, and I thought it was a good thing for us to be part of,” said Mitchell. “It was something that we could do for the community.

“The personal relationships that we build with people that we deliver (meals) to is a way of getting to know people in the community, and in-turn, them getting to know us. So, late at night if we have to pull up into their driveway, they know who we are. So, it’s a really good relationship builder between the community and the fire department.”

The fire department delivered approximately 100 Thanksgiving meals on Saturday.

Unexpected surprise from Trousdale County voters

The federal and state midterm elections that were held on Nov. 8 produced a consistent showing from Trousdale County voters, with a 35% voter turnout.

Although the turnout was higher for the local elections in August, the county’s numbers closely paralleled other areas of Tennessee.

“I’m doing an audit right now, and we had a 35% voter turnout, which was certainly comparable to the rest of the state,” said Trousdale County Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton. “We didn’t have any local races, so we had a somewhat higher turnout in August.”

However, when comparing the numbers for early voting to those of Election Day, Paxton had an unexpected surprise from Trousdale County voters as he audited the results of the Nov. 8 race.

“One thing that was unique about this election, as compared to the last two or three November elections, is that we pretty much had a 50/50 split for those who voted early and those who voted on Election Day,” said Paxton. “In the past couple of elections, we leaned more heavily towards early voting.

“In the past, it has been more like a 60/40 split, where 60% were voting early and only 40% would show up on Election Day. But this time, if you look at the voting, we had 1,009 early voters, and on election day, there were over 1,100 voters. So, there were actually a few more people that voted on Election Day than they did early. That was not something that we predicted based on previous elections. I’m not sure why it happened that way. That was just kind of unique as compared to four years ago and even eight years ago.”

Vying for re-election, Republican incumbent John Rose emerged victorious over Democratic challenger Randall Cooper in the race for the District 6 U.S. House of Representatives seat. Trousdale County handed 1,634 votes to Rose, while Cooper only received 447.

Statewide, Rose received 129,311 votes, compared to Cooper’s 65,598.

The Tennessee House of Representatives District 35 seat will be occupied by Republican William Slater. Slater received 13,156 votes districtwide, 1,674 of which were from Trousdale County as he ran unopposed.

At the state level, all four proposed amendments to the Tennessee Constitution were passed.

Area residents voted yes to Amendment 1, which would prohibit union membership as being a condition for employment. There were 1,560 votes in Trousdale County cast in favor of the amendment, while 451 votes were cast to keep the legislation as written.

Statewide, 1,140,629 Tennesseans voted to pass Amendment 1, while 493,629 opposed it.

Trousdale County residents voted yes to Amendment 2, which would designate the Tennessee Senate Speaker as acting governor when the governor is unable to perform the office’s powers and duties. There were 1,286 local residents who voted to pass the amendment, and 521 who voted to keep the legislation as is.

Statewide, 1,175,023 Tennesseans voted to pass Amendment 2, while 399,545 voted against it.

Local residents also voted yes to Amendment 3, which would ban slavery as a criminal punishment in the state of Tennessee. There were 1,467 Trousdale County residents who voted to pass the amendment, while 488 voted to keep the legislation as written.

Statewide, 1,292,834 voted to pass Amendment 3, while 332,636 residents voted against it.

Finally, Trousdale County residents voted to pass Amendment 4, which would allow ministers to serve in the Tennessee legislature. There were 1,202 local residents who voted for the amendment, while 695 residents voted to keep the current legislation.

Statewide, 1,019,828 residents voted to pass Amendment 4, while 595,698 opposed it.

Veterans from all branches of the service were represented at the Veterans Day program that was held on Thursday night at Trousdale County Elementary School.

Stricter regulations may impact new commercial builds

The Trousdale County Planning Commission held a discussion forum at its monthly meeting on Monday night at the Trousdale County Community Center. As a result of the forum, the county may soon have more stringent building ordinances governing new commercial builds.

Discussions regarding stricter building regulations began after the recent opening of the new Dollar General (DG) Market, which faces McMurry Boulevard in Hartsville.

“We’ve been discussing for a couple of months about how we want our commercial buildings inside the county to look moving forward,” said Trousdale County Planning Commission Chairman John Kerr. “This came about when the Dollar General (Market was built). This is nothing negative towards Dollar General. They came and they followed what rules we had. I thought (the new store) was going to be like the Dollar Generals I’d seen in Castalian Springs or Lebanon, but you get bit when you assume something. So, we’ve been discussing some possible changes we would like to make moving forward with commercial builds.

“I am pro-business, but I want businesses to be a reflection in our community.”

A few specific items governing new commercial construction that the planning commission is considering include the type and percentage of specified building materials used in a build, landscaping and its maintenance as a part of new builds, and a dark-sky ordinance that would regulate light pollution from new commercial buildings.

“A fad now for commercial properties (is having a dark-sky ordinance),” said Kerr. “We can control the light and keep it on the commercial property and keep it out of bedroom windows.”

While the planning commission is carefully considering more stringent rules for new builds, it is also keenly aware of the potential negative outcomes from such regulations.

“A lot of commercial operations have a footprint that they have to follow,” said Trousdale County Planning Commission member Heather Bay. “(For example), Mt. Juliet has lost a lot of industry because their hardscapes are so difficult that manufacturing was not eligible to go to Mt. Juliet (because of all the regulations).”

Kerr added, “We sure don’t need to lose any industry.”

The planning commission still has a lot to consider before making any definite decisions about the current building ordinances, but it plans to further address this issue again in the near future.