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Report recommends new 105-bed jail for Trousdale County

A committee formed to discuss the possibility of a new jail for Trousdale County met on July 15 to discuss recommendations in a new report.

The University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) compiled a needs assessment for Trousdale County based on trends of arrests and the average jail population dating back to 2011, and population projections through 2041.

CTAS official Jim Hunt, a Jail Management Consultant, visited the county twice earlier this year in compiling the report.

The CTAS report recommends a 105-bed facility (89 male, 16 female) and the consideration of including support needs for the future. The projected rate of bookings was over 1,100 by 2036. By comparison, total bookings were 756 in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The report also notes challenges with the current 44-bed jail, which dates back to 1956 and was expanded in 1992. Among the issues cited were “a lack of adequate types of housing to… separating inmates by their individual risks and needs,” that “the jail routinely exceeded (operating) capacity between 2011 and 2016…” and current security challenges.

The current jail also lacks space for inmate programs designed to reduce the risk of reoffending.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said after discussions with Sheriff Ray Russell, he envisioned an expanded facility that could house a jail and criminal courts, similar to what Macon County has. There have been discussions about turning the current jail into a workhouse once a new facility was in place.

“My personal thought is to build it all in a new facility where we have all the standards in place, without having to staff two facilities,” the mayor said.

District Attorney General Jason Lawson, who is part of the jail committee, asked for his office and that of Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner to be involved in the design of courtrooms if they are included in building plans.

The next projected steps, according to Chambers, are putting together a request for qualifications for architectural/engineering work and a staff analysis to determine what roles would be needed at a new facility.

The current jail has 22 total staffers: an administrator, a lieutenant, four sergeants, two food workers and 14 corrections officers (including one vacancy), and a total operating budget in 2020-21 of $1,184,163.

No site has been identified for a potential new jail and no estimate on cost or timeline for building has been made.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Car show caps off 2021 Trousdale County Fair

The Trousdale County Fair completed its 65th anniversary celebration last week with a number of events celebrating the past as well as the event’s future.

The sixth annual Car, Truck & Bike Show, which was held Saturday to benefit the Hartsville Backpack Program, drew 247 total cars, trucks, tractors and motorcycles in attendance.

Best of Show went to Hartsville’s Ken O’Saile for his 1970 Pontiac GTO.

Estimates on the amount raised were not yet available, but organizers were hoping to match or exceed the $20,000 raised by last year’s show. In addition to the vehicles on display, a number of vendors were set up, food was provided by Dillehay’s Café, PigPen BBQ and the Bizikaya hibachi truck and a 50/50 drawing was held. The winner, who asked not to be identified, donated his winnings of $890 to the Backpack Program.

Exhibits were on display Friday and Saturday, and returning events included the LEGO contest and Tea with the Queen. A new trivia contest was won by the Rotary Club, which donated its $100 winnings to Trousdale READS, the local branch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Also held on Saturday was the annual Lions Club pancake breakfast, along with kids’ farm games, the chicken show and a Heritage Day picnic with live music.

The Trousdale County Fair is the oldest youth/agricultural fair in the state, and that heritage was well represented with a large number of entries in multiple categories.

The Fair Board wishes to thank the sponsors who make the fair possible each year and also thanks all those who came out to support the 2021 event.

“It was great to be able to celebrate 65 years of the Trousdale County Fair. We had some challenges and growing pains, but we appreciate the support of the community. Planning for next year’s fair is already underway, and we hope everyone will mark their calendar now for the first week in August. A special thanks to our sponsors! Without them, there would be no fair,” said Fair Board chairman Kathy Atwood.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Tennessee announces plans for Summer P-EBT cards

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) wants Tennesseans to know additional benefits will be available for families who need help purchasing food this summer.

The state’s fourth round of benefits made available as part of the Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program will provide hundreds of dollars in benefits to qualifying families so they can immediately begin purchasing food.

“Research shows well-nourished children are healthier, more attentive, and have better mental performance,” TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter said in a press statement. “The launch of this additional round of support will enhance the well-being of Tennesseans by providing benefits to families who didn’t qualify for earlier rounds of P-EBT, as well as by providing additional benefits to those families who still need our help. We are grateful we can provide this additional assistance to our fellow Tennesseans.”

Summer P-EBT is an extension of Tennessee’s P-EBT program, which provided food benefits to approximately 800,000 children who received free and reduced meals at school.

There are two categories of children who are eligible for Summer P-EBT benefits:

• School-aged children who qualified for the National School Lunch Program as of the last day of July. Beginning Aug. 6, 2021, eligible school-aged children will receive a single disbursement of $375 in food benefits on their existing P-EBT card. Children who qualified for Summer P-EBT in June or July will receive their deposit by the end of September.

• Children under the age of 6 whose family received benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in June and/or July. Eligible children under 6 who qualify through their family’s SNAP participation will receive a disbursement of $375 on their regular SNAP EBT card later this month.

Qualifying children who don’t already have a P-EBT card will be issued one. Parents can check to see if they’re eligible for Summer P-EBT and verify their mailing address on the Parent Portal at Parents who need additional assistance are encouraged to call the P-EBT Hotline at 833-496-0661.

P-EBT benefits were provided to more than 765,000 children during the first round of P-EBT for the spring 2020 school semester and 368,000 children were mailed cards for the second round that ended in September. The third round of P-EBT covered the remainder of the 2020/2021 school year, with benefit cards being sent to more than 576,000 students.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (PL 116-127, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 (PL 116-260), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (PL 117-2) provides the Secretary of Agriculture authority to approve state agency plans to administer P-EBT. Approved state agencies may operate P-EBT when a school is closed for at least five consecutive days during a public health emergency designation when the school would otherwise be in session.

Chamber of Commerce hands out awards

The Hartsville/Trousdale Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards ceremony and fundraising auction during its Aug. 10 meeting.

Over 50 people were in attendance at the Community Center for the event, which is the Chamber’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

The auction brought in a total of $2,545 and included such items as a granite-top table, a wooden U.S. flag and Tennessee Vols football tickets.

The awards were handed out to those in the community who made a difference over the past year. Commissioner Richard Johnson was recognized as the Government Employee of the Year, Hartsville Strong was named Civic Group of the Year, Wayne Andrews was named Volunteer of the Year, Most Improved Business Appearance went to Hartsville Foodland and Business of the Year went to Tri-County Electric.

“They all give something back to the community and we appreciate them,” Chamber Director Natalie Knudsen said of the award winners.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

TCAT considering severing ties with Macon County schools

Macon County Director of Schools Tony Boles informed the Macon County Board of Education last week that the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Hartsville would be ending its partnership with Macon County after the 2021-2022 school year.

TCAT-Hartsville provides materials and instructors at the Tri-County Extension Campus in Red Boiling Springs, commonly referred to as the vocational school. The campus is utilized by both Macon County High School and Red Boiling Springs High School, as well as Jackson County High School.

Boles said that he received a letter from TCAT-Hartsville stating that they would “no longer administer the Tri-County Extension Campus.” Boles said the institution cited various reasons for ending the partnership.

“(It was) mostly budgetary and enrollment and the fact that a lot of our students … weren’t going on to TCAT-Hartsville in post-secondary (education),” Boles said.

Boles stated that he and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Supervisor Kathy Cothron were working to find a replacement for students going forward after the 2021-2022 school year.

“In Macon County, we cannot do without the programs that TCAT offers,” Boles said. “The training (the students) receive is necessary for them to enter the workforce here in Macon and surrounding counties.”

TCAT-Hartsville President Mae Wright said negotiations were ongoing with Macon County.

“As President of TCAT Hartsville, I must be fiscally responsible for all campuses and their long-term economic health. Unfortunately, over the past few years we have experienced a deficit in operation of the extension campus. Operational expenses have far outweighed our revenues. We do want to serve the secondary students interested in technical education and most importantly continue their studies on into post-secondary education. I have met with the Director of schools from both Macon and Jackson counties. We are looking at ways in which we can make this work without further compromising our overall budget,” Wright said in an email to The Vidette.

Boles said that he and Cothron, as well as representatives from Jackson County, would be meeting with TCAT-Hartsville, as well as TCAT-Livingston, prior to the next school board meeting.