Skip to main content
A1 A1
A healthy getaway

Entrepreneur Kris Intress decided to slow down the high-paced corporate life to pursue her dream of positively impacting the lives of people by helping them take control of their health, wellness, and happiness.

The result of her dream was the development of a 200-acre property that hovers along the Sumner County-Trousdale County line in Castalian Springs known as Rock Springs Retreat Center.

After the loss of her mother, Intress decided to take her career in a different direction, which led her to purchase the property that became the retreat center that opened in May of 2017. She drew her inspiration from her mother, a nurse who dedicated her life to helping others.

“Her life was dedicated to helping people move through those challenging times in their lives,” said Intress. “I just took a moment to say to myself, ‘How do I honor my mom?’ That was a life-changing experience for me.”

Rock Springs Retreat Center offers fitness and wellness retreats, from Weekend Warrior to Full Throttle. For those who may find themselves struggling with weight or emotionally burned-out from life, the retreats allow guests time to invest in themselves.

“My mom always preached, ‘If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anybody else,’ ” said Intress.

Rock Springs Retreat Center Director of Sales and Marketing Tari Barker added, “What we have discovered is that many people think they are coming for weight loss, but really what they are looking for is that they just want to feel better. They want to feel better physically and emotionally. They are at a burnout stage. This is really all part of a personal journey. When you are uncomfortable with the physical, it doesn’t matter how many pounds you need to gain or lose. It really comes down to, ‘I’m ready to invest in myself. I want to take this time to have a reset, healthy vacation. I want to come back feeling better and stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally.’ ”

Although Rock Springs Retreat Center provides its guests with certain baseline testing, it does not attempt to operate as a medical or health-care facility. It strictly provides guests with a fresh reboot.

“The retreats that we offer are fitness and wellness retreats,” said Barker. “Our guests might come for a week, or they might come for three weeks, or even three months. It really depends on what they’re looking for as far as achieving their goals.

“We are not a medical facility. We are not a health-care facility. We are a fitness program. We do certain baseline testing. We take their blood pressure and monitor their heartrate. But we respectfully stay in our lane as being a fitness retreat.”

Rock Springs Retreat Center attracts guests both nationally and internationally and provides shuttle service two times on Sundays between the Nashville International Airport and the retreat center.

“We have national (guests), and we have some international guests,” said Barker. “But our business comes primarily from across the U.S. We have a large population of guests that come that are within driving distance, and we have other guests that jump on a plane to come stay with us.”

For the fitness and wellness retreats, guests can expect a full experience.

“We help them to identify the types of workouts that they like,” said Barker. “We do cooking demonstrations. At the end of (the guest’s) stay, we help them develop their next plan.”

Although the Fit Farm is at the heart of Rock Springs Retreat Center, they also offer other programs and events, including team-building activities, corporate parties, family gatherings, and weddings.

“The event space we have built out has become so much more relevant to our local community,” said Intress. “So often, we forget to enjoy the people we are with. Our event center has axe-throwing, bull-riding, fishing, bocce ball, beans-bag toss, putting and chipping. We have all kinds of things that allow a party or event to take on such a different light.

“Since coming out of COVID, our perspectives have changed. We’re slowing down, taking a moment, deciding what’s important, and taking back control of something that we felt was taken away from us. But the important thing is the community, bringing people together again, reengaging, especially after COVID. That is pretty important, and I’m excited to be able to do this with the community.”

TCAT Hartsville chosen for new program

Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) Training Coordinator Christopher Allen announced on July 12 that the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Hartsville was chosen as a hub for the criminal justice certification program.

The program provides training for those interested in pursuing a career as a correctional officer for county jails in Tennessee. Students who complete the program, and who meet all requirements, will receive a preliminary Tennessee Corrections Institute Basic Training Certification.

Currently, training for correctional officers is very limited, usually comprised of only an initial one-week course as required by the state. This new program will provide extensive training over eight months with hands-on experience, thus allowing students to decide whether this is truly their desired career path. Additionally, with this program in place, sheriffs will be able to hire correctional officers that have already completed their certification.

“When we hire correctional officers, we have a basic class we send them to for a week, and that’s all the training they are required to get by the state,” said Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell. “When we get this (program) going, (the newly hired correctional officers) will already be certified.

“It is going to help us get better quality correctional officers in the long run. They will be better trained. It will take the burden off the sheriffs from having to send them (to training).”

The criminal justice certification program was in the planning stages for several months before receiving the go-ahead from the state.

“This particular program that we are doing was negotiated throughout our Tennessee Board of Regents — our governing board — and the governor’s office,” said TCAT Hartsville President Mae Wright. “A lot of accolades go to Sheriff Russell. He came to me, and we spoke about (the program) and were trying to find ways to do it. Then, somehow word got out ... it went to the governor, and here we are today. So, we are ready to make it happen.”

This program has been put in place to address the critical shortage of correctional officers in Tennessee.

“There’s not a quick and easy way to get those folks trained as quickly as what is needed in the field,” said Wright. “Everybody is building jails. They are expanding every year it seems. Look at Wilson County and the large building they’re erecting now to house more inmates. There is definitely a need for more correctional officers to help support that.”

Russell added, “(The need for correctional officers) is bad. We have one county (in Tennessee) that is 25 (officers) short. There is another jail near us that is about 50 short. I’m one short right now, and I’m getting ready to hire one. Every jail that I know of is short.”

The new program is set to begin in September.

“We are starting in September in the Middle Tennessee area,” said Wright. “It will actually take place at our Wilson County campus in Lebanon.” Russell added, “There are only three (programs) like this, in East, Middle, and West (Tennessee). Hopefully, there will be more of these (programs) across the state.”

As September draws near, the college is in need of experienced instructors and interested students. “We are already in the process of getting applicants,” said Wright. “We are in the process of seeking an instructor. We are 100% invested in this and want to make it the best program in the state of Tennessee. We want everyone to look to this program when they are looking to train their correctional officers. We want them to come to us.”

With the new training program available through TCAT, the need to send newly-hired correctional officers to other areas of the state for training will be eliminated, as they will be able to train in the local area in which they are seeking employment.

Election day excitement

Election day is here, and the local mayoral candidates will be watching the polls closely throughout the day.

Incumbent Stephen Chambers is seeking an additional four years as the Trousdale County mayor. He is being opposed by county commissioner Bill Fergusson and professional speaker Jack McCall.

“I’ve gotten good reception from the people I’ve talked to,” said Chambers. “So, I feel pretty good about it (referencing his campaign).

“I have over a decade of experience working with the state and local government and federal agencies, and I’ve worked hard to address issues that citizens have had concerning transparency of the local government. I’ve been working on the park, downtown revitalization, and more jobs (for people in Trousdale County). So, I’m pretty happy with our progress.”

With a full resume from his time as a county commissioner, Fergusson referred to the mayoral election as a “job opening,” his campaign as an “interview,” and the voters as the “selection committee.”

“I think my message is out there,” said Fergusson. “What I’ve tried to relate to people is that this is a job opening. When I talk to people, I have information for them. This is my resume for the position ... this is my interview, and you’re a part of the selection committee.

“I think people should look at the candidates and what they can bring to the table. I have a well-rounded list as to what I’ve been a part of. Campaign-wise, I think there are some things that I have mention to people that really resonate.”

McCall, on the other hand, says he is “cautiously optimistic.”

“So far, so good,” said McCall. “I’m cautiously optimistic. In a three-way election, anything can happen. It’s probably going to be closer than most people think.

“My approach has been, 40% wins the race, because the other two candidates will have to split 60% of the votes. It would be most unusual if two candidates each got 40%.”

McCall is appreciative for the support that he has experienced thus far.

“I’ve had a great campaign committee working with me,” McCall said. “They are very experienced. Over the last three months, I have been sizing up who the movers and shakers are, and I will lean heavily on their great experience with the court. And I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to ask for help. I’ll gather everyone after the election, and we will plan how to move forward.”

Trousdale County Sheriff Ray Russell, who has been in office for 26 years, is running for reelection, with Russell being opposed by Daniel Gunter. Gunter is a former Trousdale County K-9 officer.

All 20 county commission seats will be filled today as well, with 16 of the current county commissioners running for reelection.

There are four school board seats that will be filled. Three of those individuals are running unopposed — incumbent John Kerr (District B), Robert F. Atwood III (District D) and Rachael Petty (District E).

A fourth school-board seat in District C will also be filled in the only contested school-board race, involving Deanna Bode and Kayla Ring.

Bode and Ring entered the mix during a special qualifying period after Jason Sullivan resigned in early May. The winner of the District C will fill the final years of Sullivan’s term.

The polls close tonight at 7 p.m. The results of the election will be released after that time.

Candidates vie for school-board seat

When Jason Sullivan resigned his position on the Trousdale County School Board this spring, he left a District C opening in today’s local election.

Sullivan completed his last day on the school board on May 20, which left time for a special qualifying period for candidates to throw their hats into the ring for his vacated seat.

Candidates Deanna Bode and Kayla Ring both qualified to run for the District C seat during the special qualifying period. The winner will complete the final two years of Sullivan’s four-year term. Both candidates vying for the seat say that they have a vested interest in the Trousdale County School District, as both are mothers of school-aged children.

“I have kids in school,” said Bode. “I have two grandchildren that will someday go to Trousdale County schools. I now have three children that have graduated and three children in school. So, I definitely have a vested interest in what goes on in Trousdale County for the long-term.”

With experience in education, Bode is quite familiar with the school system.

“My job is education,” said Bode. “I have 20-plus years in education. I spent some time teaching in Sumner County, but I spent the bulk of my time in Trousdale County. I taught fourth grade. I also was the assistant principal at the elementary school for six years. I come from the third generation of Trousdale County educators. My grandmother was a fifth-grade teacher for many years. My father was the assistant principal at the high school for 20-plus years, and my mother was a kindergarten teacher. So, Trousdale County education has my heart for sure.”

Although not currently working in Trousdale County, Bode still works with school districts throughout the state.

“I work for a non-profit consulting company that works with school districts all over the state,” said Bode.

“It has given me a perspective as to how other school districts are structured and what their instructional components look like. It has given me a great appreciation as to what we have going on in Trousdale County.”

But for Bode, retaining great teachers and school safety are her top concerns.

“If we want to have a great school system, it starts with great teachers,” said Bode. “I feel like the school board in the past has really put towards policies that have helped our school system to hire and retain great teachers.

“Safety is also an important concern. You can’t have a quality education system if you’re concerned about safety.”

However, Ring, who is rivaling Bode for the school-board seat, knows that monetary considerations are also important to any school system.

“I have been in the banking industry going on 15 years,” said Ring. “(Finances) are a very important part. I have sat through many school-board meetings where they were discussing the teachers and staff and their income and how that process works.”

And with her understanding of financial matters, Ring is certain that her banking experience as an assistant vice president will be helpful to both the school board and her district.

“I think what I do for a living in that regard can certainly play a helpful role,” said Ring. “That’s what I do all day. I look at numbers and income and debt to income.”

However, what Ring feels that she brings to the table goes deeper than just her work experience.

“One of the main reasons I’m running is that our family is in Trousdale County ... that’s where we are rooted,” said Ring. “My husband is from Trousdale County. I am originally from Wilson County, born and raised in Lebanon. When we had our son, we knew we wanted to make our way back to Trousdale County. I wanted my son to be able to have the same experience that my husband had growing up in a small town.”

Although family is at the top of her list of reasons for seeking election to the school board, Ring has other reasons as well.

“(Another) big reason I wanted to run is that I was attending the school-board meetings and work sessions and was often attending by myself,” said Ring. “There were no other parents there.

“At the meetings, I was doing a lot of learning ... how the school board works, how the school system works, the whole process. Even though I have not been in the world of education, I like to be educated, and I was essentially a sponge. I quickly learned how important the school board really is. If you have questions or problems, there is someone there to support you in your district. That was all new to me.”

Because Trousdale County has experienced growth, Ring wants to help the schools and newcomers to the area bridge any gaps that may exist.

“I became pretty passionate about wanting to do what I could, to not only help the schools, but to bridge gaps that might exist for anyone coming into the county,” said Ring.“This county is really growing. To me, the school board bridges the schools with the community.”

For Ring, a large part of bridging the gaps for her district means communicating.

“I really want people to come talk to me and me to be able to reach out to them and help their voices be heard in things they might be concerned about,” said Ring.

“I think every concern needs to be heard, whether it comes from staff or students or parents.”

The District C school board race will be decided after the polls close at 7 this evening.

Above: Madly Harper was one of the youngest participants in the Trousdale County Fair’s sheep show on Saturday. Left: Gracey Plemons showed her sheep at the sheep show on Saturday at the Trousdale County Fair.