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Trousdale County fumbles away chance at region championship

The Region 4-2A championship will stay in Watertown for one more season after the Purple Tigers took advantage of Trousdale County’s mistakes to hand the Yellow Jackets a 31-21 defeat Friday evening.

It is the fourth season in a row that Watertown (7-3, 5-0) has claimed the region championship and the victory gave the Purple Tigers seven wins in their last eight games after an 0-2 start to the season.

“Kids believe. We just kept believing in what we were doing and the kids believed in it,” Watertown coach Gavin Webster said. “We’ve been preaching all week that bad things happen sometimes. We said we were going to have a big ballgame and things aren’t going to go right all the time.”

“I was hoping this squad would be the one to get over the hump,” Trousdale coach Blake Satterfield said. “Tonight we just didn’t play great football. Now it’s an uphill battle… Hats off to Watertown. They took advantage of the bad conditions and there’s a reason they’re a four-time region champion.”

Trousdale County (8-1, 4-1) had been ranked No. 2 in Class 2A and the Yellow Jackets grabbed the early momentum when Bryson Claiborne got outside and raced 62 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on the second play of the game. The Jackets’ defense forced a punt and Trousdale looked poised to take control.

But Watertown’s defense stiffened and a snap went over the punter’s head, setting up the Purple Tigers at the TC 25. Five plays later, Kwame Seay found the end zone to put Watertown on the scoreboard.

Watertown took a 13-7 lead in the second quarter on Adam Cooper’s 4-yard carry and looked poised to extend the lead before halftime. But Trousdale’s Kane Burnley forced a fumble along the visitors’ sideline and set up the Jackets in positive territory and Cole Gregory’s 2-yard plunge with 14 seconds left before halftime gave the hosts a 14-13 lead.

“We gave up a big touchdown but they fought right back and didn’t let it bother them,” Webster said. “Some people are going to lay down. We didn’t.”

Watertown would benefit from a pair of Trousdale County fumbles to score on short fields in the fourth quarter after trailing 21-20 entering the final period. Claiborne’s fumble was recovered by Blaze Kinslow at the Trousdale 18.

Four plays later, quarterback Brayden Cousino went off the left side for a 7-yard touchdown to put the Purple Tigers back ahead. Cousino would add a 2-point conversion run to put Watertown ahead 28-21.

On the ensuing kickoff, Watertown forced a fumble that was recovered by kicker Trey Pack at the Trousdale 36. The Purple Tigers would drive to the Trousdale 3 before setting for Pack’s 20-yard field goal, which made it a two-possession game with just 3:20 remaining.

“We both had crucial turnovers and both got scores off them,” Webster said. “That’s just part of big ballgames.”

“That’s the story every year we’ve played Watertown the first time around and lost, it’s been turnovers,” Satterfield said. “Tonight we didn’t play well enough to win a region championship. We didn’t play like a championship football team.”

Cooper led Watertown with 138 rushing yards on 25 carries as the Purple Tigers outgained the Yellow Jackets 265-204. Claiborne, who had been averaging nearly 10 yards per carry, managed just 18 yards on 12 carries after his long scoring run.

Both teams will open the Class 2A playoffs at home on Friday, with Watertown hosting Bledsoe County and Trousdale County hosting Tyner Academy.

If the Jackets win, they will face the winner of Meigs County and East Robertson, with the higher seed hosting. Should Watertown win, they would host the winner of Westmoreland-Marion County.

Education officials hear public concerns on school funding at Hendersonville town hall

State education officials are hearing from parents, teachers and even students as they work toward changing the way public schools are funded in Tennessee.

On Oct. 27, Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn attended the first of eight planned town hall sessions over three months across Tennessee to hear the public’s comments on revamping the Basic Education Program (BEP), the funding formula for Tennessee schools. According to the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, the BEP funded public schools to the tune of nearly $4.9 billion for the 2019-20 school year.

“I think you heard today that people, especially parents and our families that came out, really want to ensure that dollars get as close to the student as possible,” Schwinn said. “I think having these conversations about a student-based formula means we are tying dollars to what the child’s needs are.

When you’re talking about student-based funding, it is saying, ‘Based on the needs of this child, the state will allocate this much money.’ That might mean more for students with disabilities, English learners, economically disadvantaged students.”

Earlier in October, Gov. Bill Lee announced plans for a full review of the BEP formula with an eye toward focusing on what he called a student-centered investment strategy. The state has set up a central steering committee that includes House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin). A number of subcommittees have also been set up to focus on specific areas of school funding.

“Republicans in the General Assembly are committed to building the best public education system in the nation. We have invested more than $2 billion in new education dollars since becoming a supermajority 10 years ago. That money is in addition to fully funding the BEP,” Lamberth said in an email.

“Re-examining how we fund education is the appropriate next step. It will help us determine if there are things in the BEP that are cumbersome or outdated that could be streamlined. Every child — no matter where they live — deserves well-equipped schools capable of preparing them for the best possible chance at a happy, successful future.”

“We are morally obligated to provide great classrooms, excellent teachers in a safe environment while maintaining equal opportunities for our students to excel. We have outstanding schools in Sumner County, but not every child in Tennessee has had the same access to resources like AP courses, classroom technology or broadband Internet,” Lamberth added.

The event was held at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville and included comments from parents, educators and school staff. In all, over 60 people were in attendance. Speakers included people from Sumner, Davidson, Rutherford, Robertson, Montgomery, Cheatham and Williamson counties.

Three areas of focus were the subject of comment by multiple speakers: more overall funding for public schools, allowing education funding to follow the child from one school to another and providing state funding to support staff, such as school counselors and nurses.

Increased overall funding was a point of emphasis for many of those who chose to speak.

“We need to provide equitable education to all of our students,” said Robert Taylor, a parent from Davidson County. “It’s very difficult to educate at a high level when we have some of the lowest funding per student in the country.”

“It’s important that the state take a close look at the districts and how much funding has actually been serving our students,” said Emily Masters, a member of the Davidson County Board of Education. “Many of our districts have been grossly underfunded.”

Vanessa Sheehan, of the Hendersonville League of Women Voters, said Tennessee ranked No. 45 out of the 50 states in funding per student. In 2019-20 Tennessee spent $9,978 per student compared to the national average of $13,597, she said.

“A Berkeley economist and two colleagues two weeks ago won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Their research concluded that students who attend schools with more funding earn more as adults…”

Kent Foreman of Williamson County echoed the need for increased school funding, saying, “The pie is just not big enough… We’re spending $77 per day to imprison people, and $53 per day to our students.”

The second area of focus, allowing state funding to follow the student, was discussed from multiple perspectives. While some in attendance called for voucher programs, others said keeping those funds in the public school system and allowing students to move within a district to a better-performing school or to another district was a better option.

“It brings accountability to the schools… being able to choose where your child is educated,” said Callie Cook, a member of the Freedom Fighting Collective, a Clarksville-based advocacy group.

“Competition makes us all better,” added Frank Napolitano of Hendersonville. “We need to be open to school choice, public funding following the student.”

“When funding follows students, it needs to follow them to public schools,” Masters countered.

“Public dollars should be used for public schools that are accountable to voters, not vouchers,” added parent Evelyn Hoyt.

Schwinn emphasized that allowing funding to “follow the child” did not necessarily refer to a voucher program for private schools, a topic that has become a contentious one in the General Assembly.

“Any conversation about vouchers would be a different piece of legislation. This is a conversation about funding our public schools in a way that will move academic achievement forward,” she said.

Funding for support staff, such as counselors, nurses and even psychologists, would be a radical change to the BEP, which does not currently fund such positions. But a number of speakers insisted that the state should address student needs that go beyond the classroom as part of a new funding formula.

“Schools are expected to be all things for all kids… We need school staff who are well trained and well compensated,” Lorelai Gould, a retired school counselor, said. “Public education is our cornerstone as a society, as a democracy.”

Mary Lynn Caperton, a retired teacher, added, “We have an extreme need for school counselors. Our kids are in need of a lot of support with social skills, coping skills. School counseling is academics, emotional skills and work/employment skills.”

The Department of Education will continue to solicit comments from the public regarding school funding. In addition to the remaining public town halls, Schwinn said Twitter town halls would be held twice monthly and comments can also be emailed to

“What I heard across the board is that everyone wants what’s best for kids,” Schwinn said. “What that’s going to look like is part of the development process. We want a bigger pie, not just a redistribution of the pie. Whether comments are emailed, tweeted, they are all going to be considered equally. We need to encourage as many voices as possible.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Study estimates Trousdale needs 30-plus miles of water lines

Members of the Water Board got a preliminary look at a report on what it would take to extend service to areas of Trousdale County currently without water.

At the board’s Oct. 26 meeting, Evan White with Mid-Tenn Engineering spoke to the group about the feasibility study, which was commissioned earlier this year and is still being worked upon. A final report could be bready by the board’s November meeting.

White said preliminary indications were that extending services would, based on current populations, only pick up 96 customers with an estimated 31.7 miles of new water lines laid down at an overall cost of $9.43 million. As part of the study once completed, roads without service will be ranked in order of cost-effectiveness.

“Some of those would also require booster pumps at $50,000 to $75,000,” White said. “None of the roads on this list is a return on your investment, so nothing is feasible from a business standpoint. You will not make your money back; it would be more serving the folks in your county.”

At a previous meeting, County Mayor Stephen Chambers had noted that the state comptroller’s office would probably not look favorably on investing money into projects that would not provide a return on that investment.

The board asked that the final study be limited to county-maintained roads and not include private roads that might have only one or two homes.

“You’re going to get into all sort of easement issues,” board member Dwight Jewell said of private roads. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t do them, but that would probably be at a later date once the public roads are taken care of.”

White added that the possibility of future development could not be incorporated into the feasibility study. The Water Board had previously noted that some areas without current water service were much more likely to be developed if service were available.

Board member Mark White suggested that the final list could be looked at on a case-by-case basis with an eye toward future development possibilities, even if they were not included in the study itself.

“I don’t know that the state of Tennessee is the best judge as to what does or does not make money,” he said. “If nothing else, we can look people in the eye and say, ‘It’s going to cost $4 million to put water down your road. Do you want a $200 water bill?’ ”

Jewell added that looking at current population densities and land that were also divided into tracts might be a possibility.

“I think that would be a way to bridge the gap between what exists and what probably will exist,” he said.

The American Rescue Plan relief plan passed by Congress earlier this year will have significant federal money for water, and could potentially be part of any future plans, Evan White noted. The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation has already said it intends to make almost $1 billion available in grants to communities for eligible water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects.

Mark White said he felt the board should examine the possibility of incremental rate hikes with an eye toward using such funds to address targeted areas.

“We need to entertain the idea of managed increases over the next several years; as a board rank what makes the most sense and what has the most potential for development,” he said. “Have a plan to pay for it ourselves rather than depend on Uncle Sam… This would be a massive undertaking but it’s the right direction.”

“I’ve thought for a long time we needed to have a bigger discussion about rate increases of some sort, if nothing else to keep up with inflation,” added board member Todd Webber.

General Manager Tommy McFarland also noted that Trousdale does not have a commercial rate of customers and that could also be a future possibility.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Hartsville's Community Pregnancy Center plans chili cook-off

Hartsville’s Community Pregnancy Center will be holding its fourth annual Chili Cook-off and Fall Festival on Saturday, Nov. 2 in Hartsville City Park.

From noon-3 p.m., attendees can sample chili and enjoy live music, a live auction, cake walk, children’s games and more. A baked goods sale and craft sale will also take place. The auction will begin around 12:45 p.m. and the cake walk at 2 p.m., and there will also be free face painting available.

“We couldn’t have one last year because of COVID, even with it being outside,” said Peg Shonebarger, the center’s director. “We’re excited to get back on track this year! We’ve gotten donations from businesses so we’ll have a live auction, live music, a cake walk, bake sale and of course, the chili!”

The event is a fundraiser for the Community Pregnancy Center, which offers pro-life counseling, parental classes, pregnancy testing and other services to its clients. The center also works to provide help to expectant mothers through donated items such as clothes, diapers, car seats and more.

All proceeds from Saturday’s event will benefit the Community Pregnancy Center, which has been open since summer 2017 at 783 E. McMurry Blvd.

For more information on Saturday’s event, contact the CPC at 615-680-8026.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or

Chamber of Commerce brings back for Open House Shopping Days

The Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Yellow Jacket Football Fantasy contest wrapped up last Friday in conjunction with the team’s last home game. This year’s winner was Compliance Engineering, LLC. A big “THANK YOU” to all of the participants in this year’s contest.

For the past seven years, the Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the Open House

Shopping Days. This event kicks off the holiday shopping season while supporting our local merchants and businesses.

This year’s Hartsville Open House on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 5-6 will be a hybrid event featuring both online and in-store shopping. Each business will have its own QR code for shoppers to scan, allowing us to once again award the $250 cash prize to one lucky shopper.

This new format will allow you to connect with more locally owned small businesses as well as your favorite storefronts in Hartsville. The following businesses are participating this year: Advanced Propane, BabyGraceStore, Creekbank Boutique, First National Bank, Foodland, Hartsville Liquors, Hartsville Nutrition, Hartsville Pharmacy and Gifts, Piggly Wiggly, Psalmbird Coffee, Rustic Lillee, SaGrace Florists, Volunteer Pool & Hardware, and Wilson Bank & Trust.

It’s holiday shopping done local! Shop safe, shop local, shop unique!

November’s Chamber meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 9 at noon in the Community Center. Please bring your community announcements, and the program will be

Trousdale Medical Center and the newest member of the TMC team: Dr. Sean Donovan, head of the Emergency Department. Lunch will be catered by Piggly Wiggly featuring fried chicken, green beans, baked potato casserole, dessert and a drink. The cost is $10.

The Community Thanksgiving Celebration & Meal will be held in person this year on

Tuesday, Nov. 23, from 4-7 p.m. in the Eleanor Ford Theatre at the high school.

A Thanksgiving meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, roll, pie and beverage is free to everyone who works and lives in

Trousdale County. This event is a great way to count our blessings while enjoying a meal with old and new friends. A slideshow featuring historic Hartsville and Trousdale County photos offers an enjoyable look back at our community.

Meal delivery is available for shut-ins. If you receive Meals on Wheels, you will have a Thanksgiving meal delivered on the evening of Nov. 23. Anyone needing — or who knows of someone needing a meal — please contact the Chamber at 615-374-9243 and leave a message with the name, address and phone number where the meals are to be delivered. The Hartsville-Trousdale County Volunteer Fire Department will be delivering these meals. There will be no “to-go” boxes of meals at the door.

This event is funded completely through donations and the community has always been very generous in supporting this event. Please make your contributions payable to H-TCC and mail to: H-TCC @ 328 Broadway Rm 7, Hartsville, TN 37074. If you need more information or have questions about this event, please contact the Chamber at 615-374-9243 or email you!

Speaking of Christmas, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be visiting with children, taking photos and sharing cookies and hot chocolate on Friday, Dec. 10 at the Community Center. The annual tree lighting will follow at the courthouse.

Hartsville’s annual Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. This year’s theme will be “Miracle on Main Street — Saluting the Heroes.” The Grand Marshal will be former district attorney Tommy Thompson. Parade registrations are available at the Administration Building, Wilson Band & Trust and First Natiional Bank. There is no entry fee and you can register for the parade by contacting the Chamber at 615-374-9243 or, or Racheal Petty at 615-804-8945.

Mentors are still needed for Trousdale County High School seniors through the

TNPromise program. Trousdale County needs 10 mentors to sign up by Dec. 3 to meet the need of 14 mentors. To learn more and apply you can visit, or contact Tyler Ford at or 309-945-3446.