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Challengers vie for county commission seats

The Trousdale County general election will be held on Aug. 4, but local ballots will not be the only ones being cast in the state of Tennessee.

State and federal primaries that precede the Nov. 8 general election will all take place on that date as well.

In the local election, of the 20 Trousdale County commissioners who represent the county’s 10 districts, 16 will seek reelection for another four-year term for the non-partisan seats.

County commissioners Rick Davis (District 5), Richard Harsh (District 6), and commission chairman Dwight Jewell (District 7) are not up for reelection this year.

County commissioner Bill Fergusson is not seeking reelection for his seat on the county commission. Fergusson, along with Jack McCall, will challenge incumbent county mayor Stephen Chambers.

Of the four districts with only one incumbent up for reelection, two of those districts have only one challenger. District 5 incumbent Lesley Overman will be joined on the ballot by Will Dennis. Incumbent Amber Russell will have Wilson Alan Carman alongside of her on the ballot in District 6.

In District 7, the lone incumbent, Gary Claridy, is on the ballot along with Chris Gregory and Judy Kerr. In District 8, the incumbent, Steve Whittaker, has Brian Crook and Stephanie Urick challenging.

Three other districts will have four individuals listed on the ballot. The District 3 race will consist of incumbents Jerry Ford and Gary Walsh along with challengers Grant Cothron and Joseph Mirsadshanow. In District 9, incumbents Richard Johnson and Rachael Jackson Jones will be opposed by Marshal Myhan and David Thomas. The District 10 race will be comprised of incumbents Beverly Atwood and Mary Ann Baker along with newcomers Tommy Belcher and Wayne Brown.

District 1 and District 3 consist of three-person races. In District 1, incumbents Kenneth Buckmaster and David Nollner will be challenged by Mark Presley, and in District 2, incumbents Shane Burton and Landon Gulley will be opposed by Carla Jean Ferraro.

District 4 will only have two individuals on the ballot, incumbents Terry “Bubba” Gregory and Lonnie Taylor.

In the Trousdale County non-partisan Sheriff’s race, Daniel Gunter is opposing incumbent Ray Russell. Russell is a 33-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and has served as the Trousdale County sheriff for 26 years.

His opponent, Daniel Gunter, is a former Trousdale County deputy K-9 handler.

Of the five seats on the Trousdale County School Board, three seats will be up for grabs in August.

Incumbent Johnny Kerr is running unopposed to retain his Zone B (consisting of districts 3 and 9) position on the board.

Robert Atwood III and Rachael Petty are also seeking seats on the school board. Both are running unopposed.

Atwood is seeking election in Zone D (districts 7 and 10) and Petty in Zone E (districts 4 and 8). Atwood and Petty are filling the vacancies left open as Regina Waller and Anthony Crook are not seeking reelection.

The remaining two seats on the school board — Barbara Towns (representing Zone A, districts 1 and 2) and Jason Sullivan (Zone C, districts 5 and 6) — are not up for reelection until 2024 as those two seats were filled during the 2020 election.

All of the school board candidates are running as independents.

Other local candidates that are in pursuit of additional four-year terms include unopposed incumbents Kim Taylor (Trousdale County circuit court clerk), Cindy Gregory Carman (Trousdale County trustee) and Rita Crowder (Trousdale County clerk).

A fantastic fly-by

The Hartsville Vidette is in the process of running question-and-answer profiles of the Trousdale County educators who have been selected as the teacher of the year in their respective schools.

We begin the profiles with a glance at Ashley Ewen, who is a sixth-grade math teacher at Hartsville’s Jim B. Satterfield Middle School …

Name: Ashley Ewen

School: Jim Satterfield Middle School

Age: 37

What grade/subject do you teach? I teach 6th grade math

How long have you been in education? This is my ninth year.

How many years have you taught at your current school? Nine years

What is something unique about you — whether it’s a hobby, skill or past accomplishment — that most people likely wouldn’t be aware of? I served as the assistant cub master pack No. 367 for several years and hosted an overnight camp at Boxwell Reservation. I also coached youth soccer for many years, and I when I was in fifth grade, I won an award for academic achievement that was signed by Bill Clinton (which is telling my age).

What do you enjoy doing in your free time (hobbies, etc.)? I love exploring — caves, trails, abandoned places, new towns … really, anywhere I’ve never been.

Is there anything unique about your teaching situation that you’d like to detail? Not really … I just teach math. Students typically like my class, so I suppose that is unique for a math class.

How would you describe your teaching style? Entertaining and relatable

Could you share a couple of strategies for how that you keep students engaged and motivated? I use a lot of analogies and pop-culture references. I also use choral response 98% of the time. You won’t find a lot of hands raised in my classroom.

Have you ever encountered a challenge in teaching that required you to rethink your teaching methods and/or approach? The increasing class sizes are the biggest challenge for keeping everyone engaged, on track, and monitoring comprehension.

What is different, unique and/or enjoyable about the school that you are currently teaching at? The most enjoyable part of my job is the staff I get to work with every day. I love my sixth-grade team. We are all really good friends and enjoy what we do. That makes the days fly by. I also couldn’t ask for a better administrative staff. We really have a great working environment at JSMS.

Why did you choose teaching as a career path? I always knew I wanted to work with kids. I originally went to school to be a physical therapy assistant, but my time with scouts showed education was where my talents were best served.

What is the most fulfilling part of teaching? Those ah-ha moments are my favorite, but when students come back to visit and tell stories of things they remember doing in class, that just warms the soul.

What is the most challenging part of teaching? Accountability, a lot of the weight of student achievement is placed solely on the teacher(s) and the school.

How has your view of teaching changed since you first embarked on your teaching career? I used to think summer breaks and snow days were real.

How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career, and how do you see it continuing to evolve going forward? There has been a big shift towards the use of technology in the classroom. When I left for college, I didn’t even know how to use a flash drive.

If there was any one variable that you could control or enhance to help with the educational process, what would that be and why? Funding … everything begins and ends with the right funding in the right places.

Who is somebody who has been especially impactful in your teaching career, and why did he/she make such an impact on you? I would say my students have had the greatest impact on my teaching career, because all of my skills and philosophies have developed and improved from my experiences in the classroom with them.

Could you share what has been one of your most memorable moments in teaching? Oh, there have been so many. I don’t know if I could name just one, but 2020 was definitely my most memorable year.

What is the most meaningful thing a student could say to you? I remember …

How would you ideally like to be characterized or remembered as a teacher? I would like to be remembered as the fun one.

Health is wealth

Medical professionals regularly affirm that neglecting one’s health can have serious consequences.

Since the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, many individuals have neglected basic, necessary health screenings or visits to the doctor. Some may have also lost or had a change in health insurance status.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that more than 40% of the adult population in the U.S. has delayed routine healthcare because of the pandemic. Regardless of the situation, it can be easy to neglect one of the most important aspects of life … one’s health.

Unfortunately, one of the hardest-hit populations from this new reality are senior adults.

The good news is that Hartsville residents have a resource in the community that offers opportunities for senior adults to enhance their quality of life, the Trousdale County Senior Center.

According to the center’s director, Ginny Gregory, part of the mission of the center is “to help all senior adults in everyday life.” The center offers recreational activities like yoga, dance, bingo, bowling, thrifting, shopping, lunch, and many other activities that allow senior adults to stay active.

As an outreach to the community, the Trousdale County Senior Center, in partnership with the Trousdale County Medical Center and other community sponsors, will be holding its annual health fair to encourage healthier lifestyles among community residents.

However, the health fair is not only for seniors but for the entire community. All attendees will have an opportunity to receive free health screenings.

The health fair will be held from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. on May 2 at the Trousdale County Senior Center, which is located at 270 Marlene St. in Hartsville.

The event is not the first health fair being offered by the senior center, but it is the first offered by the center since the onset of COVID-19. With it being an event for the entire community, it will allow area residents to have the opportunity to receive free health screenings and assessments that may be long overdue. The health fair will provide a wealth of free information from pharmacies, home health agencies, hospice, and other health organizations.

Organizations such as the Lifetime Hearing Clinic will be on site during the fair and will be administering free hearing tests. Additionally, a representative from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) — which is a part of the greater Nashville Senior Council — will be present at the health fair. Because Medicare can be very confusing for many seniors and can generate a series of questions, SHIP exists as a free, unbiased counseling service to answer all of one’s Medicare questions.

The impact of COVID-19 has taken a toll on people both physically and mentally, increasing the importance of not neglecting one’s health. Area individuals feel that the health fair — which is an indoor event that will be held regardless of weather conditions — could be a step in that direction.

“Get back out and get routine checks,” Trousdale County Medical Center executive assistant Stephanie Dennis said.

Commission explores grant funding for sidewalk project

The Trousdale County Commission discussed whether to apply for sidewalk grants at its regularly-scheduled work session held on Monday night.

Trousdale County Mayor Stephen Chambers was seeking feedback from the commission as to whether to apply for the Tennessee Department of Transportation multimodal grant. The county did not receive those funds in previous years.

Multimodal Access Grant projects are funded by the state of Tennessee at 95% and require local governments to do a 5% match. The money from the grant will be utilized to fund a sidewalk project between the train station, the Mexican Grilled Cheese, and the First National Bank.

According to Chambers, it is not unusual to have to apply for grant money more than once.

“What affected our scoring last time (for the grant) was that they said that they would like to have more public hearings and that we did not have the complete streets ordinance,” Chambers said.

However, according to the rural planning organization (RPO) director, very few rural areas have complete streets ordinances.

“I would hope that we’d apply for it again,” commissioner Richard Harsh said. “If it was worthy last time, it would be worthy again.”

Continued discussion on the matter is expected at next Monday night’s commission meeting.

Commission chairman Dwight Jewell nominated Robert Thurman to fill the third seat on the PILOT Approval Committee. The third seat is a non-elected position.

“My nomination is to be Mr. Robert Thurman,” Jewell said. “He is a citizen of our community that is without reproach. I don’t think that there is anyone in here that could say a bad word against him. Certainly, I can’t. I can’t think of anyone that could be more qualified to make these decisions.”

The PILOT program defers taxes or a portions of the taxes on news businesses that come to the area. The PILOT Approval Committee works with these businesses under a pre-approved framework, making decisions on how much to offer these businesses with the approval of the budget and finance committee.

Other topics on the agenda for next Monday night’s meeting include: appointments to the animal shelter board and industrial development board; budget amendments; Resolution 2022-10-754 involving a senior center vehicle management policy; and Resolution 2022-11-755, which pertains to a resolution to add private drives to the official road name list (none of which will be county maintained). Additionally, Ordinances 237-2022-06 and 236-2022-06, both of which are rezoning requests but may be dependent on septic-system approval, will be considered.