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County Commission to vote on replacing playground surface

The County Commission will vote Monday evening on approving up to $100,000 in funding for replacement of the surface in the Trey Park playground.

The Parks & Recreation Committee held multiple discussions last year on replacing the current grass surface, and indicated a preference for rubber mulch instead of wood chips. The mayor’s office has received estimates into the cost, but will have to bid the job out.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers noted that the $100,000 would come from a Local Government Support Grant received by the state in 2021.

Replacing the Trey Park surface will coincide with work done on a grant received last year for adding handicapped-accessible play equipment in the playground. The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, which awarded the grant, is requiring the remainder of the play surface be replaced as a condition of receiving the grant.

“TDEC wants (material that meets) an international standard… If we don’t meet that standard, TDEC might refuse to reimburse us that $90,000 we got through the grant. This seems to be one of those situations where he who has the fiddle calls the tune,” Chambers said.

Other budget amendments up for votes Monday will include:

  • $7,104 for increases in health insurance premiums;
  • $10,090 on bonus cleanups for the workhouse and clerk’s office;
  • $8,550 in insurance recovery for the sheriff’s department;
  • $5,000 in grant funding for equipment at the Senior Center;
  • $27,500 grant funding for books, equipment and computers at the library;
  • $3,350 in increased costs for patrol laptops for the sheriff’s department; and
  • $87,475 in closeout funds for the Streetscape project.

Chairman Dwight Jewell noted that the Streetscape funds were in the previous year’s budget and not used. Monday’s vote, if approved, would move those into the current year’s budget but not actually cost the county any money.

Commissioners will also vote on a number of reappointments, with David Nollner and Rick Davis being named for four-year terms on the Beer Board, Leah Petty and Seth Thurman for four-year terms on the Industrial Development Board, Mark White to a four-year term on the Water Board and Freddie Banks and Ron Moreland to four-year terms on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The County Commission will meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the old courthouse.

Three rezoning ordinances are up for first reading and will come back if approved for second votes and public hearings in February. The first would move 3.12 acres on Scruggs Lane from A-1 to R-1, the second 16.2 acres on Templow Road from A-1 to R-1 and the third 3.86 acres on Pike Lane from A-1 to R-1.

A measure to increase the costs for renting a rolloff trash container will be up for a vote, as will a resolution to sunset the current wheel tax on May 31. Any remaining funds from the wheel tax, which was voted in to pay for the high school, will be dedicated to paying toward the replacement of the middle school roof. As the wheel tax was intended for paying education debt, that use will satisfy the requirement.

The County Commission will meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the old courthouse.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsville

St. Jude's fundraising duck visits Hartsville
  • Updated

Hartsville played host last weekend to a unique fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — Mr. Vanderquack.

Mr. Vanderquack is a 20-inch stuffed duck that is traveling to all 50 states as part of a campaign to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude’s. The hospital, located in Memphis, has been among the leading pediatric cancer facilities in the U.S. since its founding in 1962. Parents are not billed for children’s treatment and the hospital is funded through nearly $1.5 billion in annual donations.

Susie Wymer of Lebanon is among the group of volunteers nationwide participating in Mr. Vanderquack’s travels. She picked up the stuffed duck, which is equipped with a GPS tracker, at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium last Friday evening and came through Hartsville before continuing on to Columbia, Ky., where she was to pass Mr. Vanderquack on to his next carrier. From there, he was headed into Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. His journey has hit over 30 states thus far and is scheduled to end in Memphis in September.

Mr. Vanderquack’s travels can be followed online at or through the Mr. Vanderquack Facebook page.

“They have state coordinators who organize legs of the drive. People volunteer to drive the duck; it’s all volunteer-based,” Wymer said. “He was coming from the Clarksville area and I took him around to get various photo ops.”

While in Hartsville, Wymer met up with Mark Presley and the pair took photos at multiple local landmarks such as the train depot, the courthouse and the TVA nuclear tower. They also stopped by Wilson Bank & Trust on Saturday morning to get photos with employees there before Wymer left for Kentucky.

Donations can be made at and go entirely toward St. Jude's mission, Wymer noted. The stated goal is to raise $100,000 through the duck’s travels across the U.S.

“They’ll present St. Jude with a check for the donations at the end,” she said.

Wymer said she found out about Mr. Vanderquack through an online group chat in a Jeep group she follows and was inspired to participate.

“I felt it’s a great cause and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I saw they were going through Nashville and signed up for it.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

County gets $820K estimate for courthouse HVAC

Trousdale County’s Commission will vote Monday on approving an $820,000 estimate for replacing the heating and cooling units at the old courthouse.

At the County Buildings Committee meeting on Jan. 13, County Mayor Stephen Chambers discussed the estimate with commissioners and the need for repairs to the century-old building.

While the courthouse is no longer used for its original purpose, the County Commission still holds meetings there and the Election Commission will be moving into the building at some point in the near future. Other uses have previously been discussed as well.

Representatives from Trane Co. looked over the building and came up with the estimate.

“Based on the system that’s over 50 years old, we’ve put together replacing the existing system and also increased filtration and other items that make it eligible for American Rescue funds,” said Brian Bolin, Account Manager for Trane.

Trousdale County is expected to receive almost $5.2 million from the American Rescue Plan passed in 2021, and improving air quality of existing facilities to make them less likely to spread COVID is considered an acceptable use for funds under current U.S. Treasury guidance.

Bolin noted that the current system has to be switched from heating to cooling and can not do both at a time. “In the fall and spring when there are swing days, you can’t switch,” he noted.

An updated system would eliminate that problem, he said, and also make the building considerably more energy efficient.

“This probably will match up with the historical aspects of the building and retain them more than any other system,” said commissioner Dwight Jewell, who noted that the county had looked at other possibilities as well. “Plus it was probably the most efficient system there is for this configuration and I think it would serve us well.”

Chambers said he had received estimates from two other companies. He did not list them but said the estimates were similar to the one from Trane.

Committee members voted to advance the proposal to the Budget & Finance Committee for future consideration. During Tuesday’s meeting, that group opted to recommend the measure to the full Commission. Since it uses American Rescue Plan funds, a budget amendment will not be required but a vote of the Commission will suffice instead.

The committee also received an update on improvements to the courthouse for the Election Commission from Public Works Director Cliff Sallee. Painting and sealing is done, the lights have been reworked and replacing the flooring is still in the process of being completed, he said.

The Election Commission had previously given a deadline of Feb. 1 to have the courthouse office ready to move in, given that there are three elections scheduled in 2022. Chambers said the county was unlikely to meet that deadline and that the election office would probably stay in place until after the November 2022 election.

Committee members also advanced to the County Commission a request for qualifications for a new criminal justice center. If approved, the county would solicit bids to construct a new facility. Asked what might be done with the old jail, Jewell said he felt there was no need to make such a decision immediately.

Chambers also presented a request from the county’s Health Department to look into expanding the current facility on East Main Street. The mayor said he felt American Rescue Plan funding could also be used for such a purpose as it fit directly with the law’s language. He added that he had also received a letter from the Tennessee Department of Health concerning a potential grant opportunity that could be used instead.

A letter from County Health Director Adalberto Valdez estimated that the Health Department would benefit from adding two clinical rooms and a storage room, totaling around 720 square feet. The ventilation system also needs looking at, the mayor said.

“This would be easy to tie to COVID, that they need this extra space to work with,” committee chairman Richard Harsh said.

The mayor asked the committee to hold off on any action until he could get more information on ARP and other grant requirements.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Lesley Overman seeks to represent 5th District

County commissioners will vote Monday evening on filling a vacancy in the 5th District.

Lesley Overman has put forth her name to fill the vacant seat left by the resignation of Coy Dickey, who stepped down in December. If appointed, Overman would serve the remainder of the current term, which expires in August.

“Nobody else is doing it. I complain a lot, so I might as well put my money where my mouth is,” Overman said with a smile when asked why she was putting her name into nomination.

Overman, who operates the Cake & Co. catering service, said she had no particular agenda to focus upon if appointed.

“I’m just here to learn and to serve,” she said.

Asked if she might run for a full term in the August election Overman said, “We’ll see how this goes. I know I have to make a decision by April.”

If any other candidates put forward their names by Monday, the Commission would vote among the candidates to choose a new commissioner. Anyone wishing to put his or her name forward should contact the county mayor’s office at 615-374-2461.

The County Commission will meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the old courthouse.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Weaver discusses legislative agenda during Hartsville visit

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver kicked off her 2022 “Coffee & Conversations” visits last week with a stop at Hartsville’s Early Bird Café.

Weaver spoke on various issues facing the legislature in its 2022 session, which began last week. Beside ongoing debates over COVID-19 restrictions, the legislature is also tackling redistricting and the governor’s wish to update the formula for education funding.

While acknowledging the need to update the Basic Education Program, the formula which has funded Tennessee schools for over 30 years, Weaver said she had concerns over what a new formula might look like and its effect on rural schools in her district.

“I just think it’s way too much change, too quick,” she said. “We’ve had a formula for all these years and now we want to vote on something? I think that’s not wise.”

Weaver said she was concerned that having funding follow a student might be a backdoor way of introducing vouchers, which are adamantly opposed by public school officials.

“When I’ve asked that question they say, ‘No, no, no.’ But this is mostly in Nashville and Memphis. The 40th is a rural area. What they’re doing in Nashville is not what’s going on out here,” she said.

Asked about what issues she plans to carry before the legislature in 2022, Weaver spoke on a bill she was working on with Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) that would add anti-vaccination beliefs to the list of criteria schools would not be allowed to discriminate against.

“That’s going to be a heavy lifter,” she said. “I’ve also worked on teacher licensure, where a teacher can go for another endorsement. A lot of times we’ve had regulations that made it real cumbersome for teachers.”

She also mentioned work on allowing teachers to be licensed in Tennessee if they are moving from another state where they are currently licensed. Eliminating unnecessary teacher testing is another area she said she wants to focus upon.

“With a 7,000 teacher deficit because good ones are retiring, we’re really going to be hurting,” Weaver noted.

She also mentioned a bill she hoped to see passed that would allow drivers to register their vehicles for two years at a time by paying double the annual fee, but noted there were potential complications for clerk’s offices in tracking registrations.

“It sets the rhythm off in clerks’ offices. They may have all this money and they have to spend it all in one year,” she said.

Weaver, who also serves on the Transportation Committee, also spoke about a proposed expansion of Exit 258 (Carthage, Gordonsville) off I-40. She has been fighting to get approval for that project for some time.

“In order to get economic development, we need that. I know two companies that have looked at it and looked at that mess. I’m still going to be after that and Highway 141.”

Weaver is likely to cease representing Trousdale County after the 2022 election, as a redistricting map proposed by House Republicans has moved the county out of District 40 and into a newly drawn District 35.

“I’m heartbroken; I’ve built a relationship with this county and the people here,” she said. “When I first got Trousdale, I lost Macon and that was hard. I still have people from Macon County who call me. I will work with whoever the new representative is to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Trousdale County’s Garrett Rieger lays the ball in for two points against STEM Academy. The Jackets cruised to a 72-31 victory last Friday to remain undefeated in District 8-A.