The Trousdale County Commission held its regularly-scheduled work session on Monday night at the Hartsville/Trousdale County Community Center, with discussion taking place regarding a second reading and public hearing to be held on an ordinance regarding the rezoning of a property on Western Avenue in Hartsville.
It was the first work session for the newly-elected Trousdale County Commissioners.
The agenda for the upcoming Monday night commission meeting was set.
“It is just a work session tonight,” said Trousdale County Clerk Rita Crowder. “Next week will be when (the rezoning) is decided.”
If passed, the ordinance will rezone the property in question from R1 (single-family dwellings) to R3 (multi-family dwellings), thus allowing for the building of apartments and other multiple-family residences.
Presently, the developer who is requesting the rezoning is planning to build 72 apartments on the property. However, at this time, the developer’s plan is not set in stone.
However, Trousdale County Building, Codes, and Zoning Enforcement Officer Sam Edwards warned that anything could happen between now and the planning phase of the project.
“What (the developer) is intending to put there, you should be considering because he could pass away tomorrow and somebody else inherit the property,” said Edwards. “(The new owner) could do something different with it, or (the developer) could decide to do something different with it. We won’t know that until the planning phase.”
Concerning the matter, several property owners whose properties run adjacent to the property in question, attended the work session with plans to also attend the impending commission meeting.
“Initially, this may look like it will raise people’s property values, but it will not,” said property owner Tracy Fann. “It will actually decrease property values. Any surrounding property is going to be affected.”
Property owner Dillon Adams added, “I’ve worked with contractors before, and we have done studies on these properties, and it’s just detrimental to an area, an apartment complex of this nature. If it was four or five apartments or townhomes, that would be fine.”
But the detrimental effect on property value is not the only concern of property owners surrounding the rezoning ordinance.
“There are a lot of issues (with this rezoning) — floodplain issues, the influx of traffic, sewers issues, and (an increase in) crime rate in the area,” said Adams. “(Those) are major concerns.
“These apartments look great for the first (few) years. Then, they start crumbling and fall into disrepair. Then, you have people moving there that don’t own the property. Therefore, they don’t care. It’s not going to be well taken care of.”
Understanding the long-term effects of the commission’s final decision, property owners still plan to continue to voice their concerns to the county, because, according to Edwards, if the ordinance passes, the rezoning is permanent.
“The rezoning would be permanent,” said Edwards. “(If the ordinance passes), there’s nothing we could do to take it back at that point.”
Dan and Amber White might know a thing or two about parenting.
The Mt. Juliet couple are the parents of eight children.
Together the Whites have four children, three girls and one boy.
However, in 2018, they decided to adopt four children that they had been foster parenting, thus bringing the household total to eight.
“This is how we got into the foster-care system,” said Amber White, who now serves as a children and family counselor and foster care recruiter trainer as she works with families in both Trousdale and Wilson counties. “I do in-home therapy with a company, and most of my kids are foster kids. One of the families that I worked with had several kids, and they started talking about the agency they fostered through ... we just started talking about it.”
Although her desire to foster children may have begun at that moment, Amber White knew that her husband would have to be on board in order to make it happen.
“It took my husband about a year to agree (to foster), but then we decided, ‘We can do this.,” said Amber White. “It took us about a year and a half to finally go fully forward.
“We got our first set of four (foster children) on July 31, 2018. They were two brothers and two sisters. They came to us because they were in separate homes. We were told that they were going to be with us for a while. We fell in love with the kids.”
But as it is the primary goal of the foster system to reunite children with parents, the courts, many times, send foster children home in an attempt to get the family back together. Although it is sometimes successful, it does not always work out well.
“We went to our first court case in October (of 2018), and the judge told (the children), ‘Go home,’ ” said Amber White. “We were like, ‘What just happened?’ Nobody was on board with it, but we couldn’t overrule what the judge said. We were heartbroken. We said, ‘We are never doing this again. They just took our kids.’ That is just the way it felt. Even in the short two-month time, that’s the way we felt about the kids.
“The day that the kids left, Oct. 4, the 11-year-old just turned around and looked at us. He said, ‘Can we come back?’ I said, ‘If God wants you to be back here, then that is in His plan, but I can’t make that decision.’ (The boy) had already anticipated coming back.”
Less than 45 days after the children left, the Whites received a call from an attorney who was representing the children’s interest, and he requested that they take the children back. However, by that time, they were fostering another set of four children.
“We got a call (from the lawyer), (and) he said, ‘They are getting ready to go get the kids ... can they come back to you,’ ” said Amber White. “I said we have another four kids, but if you can make it work, we will also make it work. So, we had 12 kids. We had two sets of fosters at that time, and we made it work.”
Their second set of foster children stayed with the Whites for 15 months and were able to successfully return home to their family, and the first set of children who had returned to the Whites’ home had officially been adopted ... by the Whites.
Davian Alexander White, 18, and Antonio James White, 15, are the two oldest of the White’s four adopted children. Significantly enough, in 2020, as they were able to change their last name to White, they were also given the opportunity to pick their middle names, names that both of the boys are proud of.
According to their mother, the eight siblings get along amazingly well.
“They go everywhere together,” said Amber White. “They are best (friends). They get along great. They really do. Overall, they get along amazingly.”
In agreement with their mother, the boys expressed their love for their siblings in a way that only teenaged boys can do.
“They (his siblings) are cool,” said Antonio White. “They’re very nice.”
Davian White added, “It’s crazy, but I do love them at the same time.”
Sadly enough, this is not always how the story goes for foster children. Davian White recalled the time when a former caretaker was caught up in to drugs and other illegal substances.
“My old caretaker was doing drugs and stuff,” said Davian White. “They were not looking out for us.”
Fortunately, that is not always the case as many foster parents have a heart for their children.
In the state of Tennessee, there are ore than 9,000 children that are currently in state custody, with over 8,500 of these children being in the foster-care system.
There are 98 children from Wilson County, and, thankfully, only one child from Trousdale County is currently in the foster system. However, these numbers can change daily, and children from all over Tennessee can be placed in any suitable home throughout the state.
Since it is a goal of the foster-care system to keep siblings together whenever possible, many foster families in Tennessee have children from different areas of the state. When the number of siblings to be placed together in foster care is high, it sometimes limits the homes that will take them in as a result of some people feeling as if their home is not large enough to accommodate several children at once.
However, Amber White recalls the time she and her husband made it work with 12 children in the house.
“Our house is actually 1721 square feet,” said Amber White. “It has three bedrooms and two baths and the garage that has been turned into a big room. A couple of years, before we started fostering, my oldest daughter said, ‘Let’s make (the garage) into a (bedroom). So, we built a wall and made a (bedroom). There are two sets of bunk beds in that room. Then, we started fostering.
“We did have to re-arrange everything (to accommodate 12 children). My son was a trooper though. He actually slept on the couch for about three weeks. He gave up his bed until we were able to maneuver my office to make it a bedroom for him while the other boys slept in his room. We made it work.”
According to TN.gov, foster parents are dually approved to adopt the children they foster. That affords them the first option of adopting their foster child or any other child that has become eligible for adoption.
For more information on becoming a Tennessee foster parent, interested individuals can call 833-525-8196 or go online to https://healthconnectamerica.com/become-a-foster-parent/.
Throughout each year, the Hartsville Rotary Club sponsors multiple fundraising events to support service projects both locally and internationally. All proceeds go the various projects, as the Rotary’s mission is to serve others.
On Oct. 1, the Hartsville Rotary Club is holding its homecoming gala in downtown Hartsville, between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The festivities will be held on Court Street, just outside of the Trousdale County Courthouse (located at 200 Main Street in Hartsville).
“This event will help raise money for Rotary projects,” said Hartsville Rotary Event Chairman Janie Oldham. “Every year, we sponsor several projects. We do scholarships for the graduating seniors and a food drive for the backpack program and food pantry here in town. We give every third-grader (in Trousdale County) their own personal dictionary. We sponsor Character Counts (a character education program) at all three schools, and we took over Christmas for Kids.
“We also do international projects. We have provided funding for a well in a town in Nicaragua where there is an orphanage.”
Although the Rotary Golf Tournament is the largest fundraiser that the club holds each year, events such as the homecoming gala also help support the club’s projects.
“The homecoming gala is for everyone to, hopefully, enjoy themselves and to raise money for all of the different projects that Rotary supports throughout the year,” said Oldham. “That is the reason we’re are having the gala ... as well as to bring people of the community together.”
Because the event will take place following Trousdale County High School’s homecoming and class reunion, the club’s events committee decided to name it the homecoming gala.
“Last year was the first year that we attempted this particular activity,” said Oldham. “It was prom themed. But this year, we discussed it, and we decided to call it the homecoming gala.
“One of our members decided to do this on the spur of the moment last year, but everybody had a great time. This year, we decided that we needed to put a little bit more promoting and planning into it and make it even bigger and better.”
The homecoming gala is a formal dance for couples, but individuals are also welcomed.
“There will be music and light refreshments,” said Oldham. “We are trying to do some things downtown to get people out and interested. We would like for the gala to be Sunday dress, but people can come in whatever they would like as long as it is appropriate.”
For those interested in attending the homecoming gala, tickets are on sale now at various locations throughout Hartsville.
“The tickets are $25 per couple and $15 for individuals,” said Oldham. “They can be purchased at First National Bank, Wilson Bank & Trust, and Foodland. We just want people to come out and have a good time.”
During Thursday’s meeting of the Trousdale County School Board, newly-elected board members began their service to the school district with a full agenda.
One widely-discussed item on the agenda was the Tennessee Literacy Success Act, which went into effect this year, requiring all Tennessee third-graders to demonstrate proficiency in reading and language arts as a criterion for being promoted to fourth grade.
As part of her principal’s report to the board, Trousdale County Elementary School Principal Demetrice Badru presented the groundwork that has been laid by the school in preparation for the new standards that will affect this year’s third-grade class.
“We started (telling parents) when the (now third-graders) were in first grade (about the new law),” said Badru. “When they got into second grade, we addressed it at the fall parent/teacher conference, and we addressed it at the spring parent/teacher conference. Then we sent home letters with every single kiddo in second grade.
“When we started our open house (this year), I met with the third-grade parents who came. That was one of the first things (we discussed). Not all the parents were excited that we had to sit in the (hot) gym while I was talking about the early literacy law, but at that time, I felt it was so important. They needed to know.”
In January of 2021, the state legislature approved the Tennessee Literacy Success Act, which requires third-grade reading proficiency. However, the law does provide options for students who do not do well on the standardized test.
Students who score below the required state standards may be assigned to a summer reading camp or be required to attend an immersive tutoring program for reading, thus allowing promotion to fourth grade. Both options are provided at no cost to the parents.
Although the issue has been addressed with parents over the past two years, Badru is committed to the continuing education of parents on the state requirements for their students.
“I have a third grader right now,” said Trousdale County School Board member Racheal Petty. “I will say, (Ms. Badru) has done a really good job at informing everyone about it, but I’m sure there are plenty who didn’t listen or will say they didn’t know.”
Badru added, “I will have another meeting with those third-grade parents so that they are aware on parent/teacher conference night. Teachers will also talk with those parents. We have tried to make all of these contacts, but I promise you, there will be some that will say, ‘I have never heard of what you are talking about.’ ”
According to Badru, parents will be given additional opportunities throughout the year to receive information on the upcoming spring assessments.