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Preserving a piece of Hartsville's history

As Trousdale County’s official historian, John Oliver takes a particular delight in preserving and sharing stories from the past.

But Oliver recently completed a project that serves as a physical reminder of local history as well, with a remodel of the old Key United Methodist Church building on Stott Street. He also held an open house in early October to allow the public to view the new-look building, and photos also can be seen on Facebook.

Key United dates back to 1866, even before Trousdale officially became its own county. According to a 1976 account in The Vidette, a combination church and school was built that year on Puryears Bend Road and was known as the “Church in the Woods.” The Stott Street location was built in 1907 and Key United moved to its current location in the 1970s.

“Mr. (H.W.) Key started the church, and several others,” Oliver said in telling of the church’s history. “The 1907 church was built on the hill and was in the Black community of town. There was no parking lot because people walked to town.”

In the 1940s, the local Presbyterian church closed (currently the location of Prime Fitness on River Street) and the building owner donated the church’s windows and front doors to Key United. Those windows and doors are still in place today.

“That’s why this church has really nice windows; they couldn’t have afforded it otherwise,” Oliver said. “The windows make it so charming.”

When the church moved, the Greentop Street site was sold to Nathan Harsh, according to Oliver. Harsh used the building as housing and a kitchen was added at that time. The building has gone through different owners before Oliver and his wife, Lynn, purchased the property in 2017, according to records from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

“My wife asked, ‘What are you going to do with the old church?’ and was told they didn’t know. She said, ‘If you’ll give me a decent price I’ll buy it because I want to restore it,’ ” Oliver said.

When the Olivers purchased the property, John said there was significant termite damage and foundation issues. Over the years he and others have worked to restore the property into habitable shape, including gutting the interior, replacing the roof and stabilizing the foundation. Oliver declined to say how much time or money he had spent in remodeling the building.

“We completely rewired, replumbed and insulated it,” Oliver said. “We put new floors, new walls on the inside. Everything’s brand new, except the windows. They had to be rebuilt frame by frame.”

The bell tower was still in good shape and the bell itself, which dates to 1910, is still in place as well.

The building could be used by a church or as a residence by a new owner, as the Olivers plan to have the property evaluated by a real estate agent and then put up for sale. It is currently zoned as residential property. Oliver added he could even see a Nashville musician purchasing the property and using it as a retreat, as it is in a quiet, out-of-the-way neighborhood.

“We made it available for either,” he said. “The sanctuary is one big room, the choir loft area could be a bedroom or office as it has double barn doors and can be closed off. We added a back deck that can be used for entertaining.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

Local pharmacies begin offering COVID-19 boosters

The Tennessee Department of Health was to begin offering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to certain populations, beginning Monday, Oct. 25.

For individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after they complete the initial series:

• 65 years and older

• Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings

• Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions

• Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

For individuals who are 18 years and older and received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a booster dose is recommended at two or more months after the initial vaccine.

Trousdale County’s Health Department has both the Pfizer and Moderna boosters and will offer vaccinations from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Hartsville Pharmacy has the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson versions and offers vaccinations during business hours. Trousdale Pharmacy does not currently have boosters but that could change based on directives from its parent, Gibbs Pharmacy in Lebanon. Walgreens has the Moderna booster and is open during pharmacy business hours, although an appointment is preferred.

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. More information on the CDC’s recommendation for a booster dose is available online at rus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Local health departments across the state will be administering COVID-19 booster doses. Not all types of vaccine will be available at all sites. Individuals are encouraged to check to find a location that is offering their preferred COVID-19 vaccine.

Information on appointment availability at local health departments can be found at Appointments are encouraged but not required. Booster vaccines are also widely available from pharmacies, medical clinics, and other sites.

Tips for a safe Halloween

Sheriff Ray Russell and staff want to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween. Motorists should be extremely cautious and alert for children along the roadway. Halloween should be a fun and enjoyable event for everyone.

The Sheriff’s Office encourages everyone to note the following safety tips published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

1. Be sure older children TAKE FRIENDS and younger children are accompanied by a TRUSTED ADULT when “Trick or Treating.”

2. Accompany younger children to the door of every home they approach and make sure parents and guardians are familiar with every home and all people from which the children receive treats.

3. Teach children to NEVER enter a home without prior permission from their parents or guardians.

4. Teach children to NEVER approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

5. Make sure all children wear reflective clothing and carry a glow stick when out at dusk and at night.

6. Make sure children are able to see and breathe properly and easily when using facial masks. All costumes and masks should be clearly marked as flame resistant.

7. Teach children to NEVER approach a home that is not well lit both inside and outside.

8. Teach children to stay alert for any suspicious incidents and report them to their parents, guardians, and/or the proper authority.

9. Teach children if anyone tries to grab them to make a scene; loudly yell “This person is not my father/mother/guardian,” and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.

10. Consider organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or in community centers as a good alternative to “Trick or Treating.”

Everyone should be aware that on Sunday, Oct. 31, sheriff’s deputies will enforce Municipal Code 11-806 Halloween Curfew.

The Code states: “It shall be unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to be on or about the public streets from 8:00PM to 5:00AM the night of October 31 or another such date as the board of commissioners deems proper for the observation of the Halloween celebration.

It shall be enforced on those that do not have a lawful reason for being on the street. It will not interfere with going to or from work or out while with a parent or guardian.

It shall be unlawful to possess any egg for the purpose other than for food on or about this period of time.

Possession of eggs could result in a fine of $5.00 per egg plus court costs.

It shall be unlawful to possess any other item for the purpose to be thrown at person or property on or about this date — hedge apples, brick, rock, water balloons, etc., not limited to just the above items.”

Additionally, Municipal Code 11-805 Wearing Masks will be enforced, which states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to appear on or in any public way or place while wearing any mask, device, or hood whereby any portion of the face is so hidden or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer. The following are exempted from the provisions of this section: (1) Children under the age of ten (10) years old. (2) Workers while engaged in work wherein a face covering is necessary for health and / or safety reasons. (3) Persons wearing gas masks in civil defense drills or exercises or emergencies. (4) Any person having a special permit issued by the town clerk to wear a traditional holiday costume.”

To report criminal activity, call the Sheriff’s Office at 615-374-3994, or in case of emergency dial 911.

— Submitted

Sparks named new CEO at Trousdale Medical Center

HighPoint Health System announced on Oct. 18 that Carolyn Sparks has been named as permanent chief executive officer (CEO) of its Riverview and Trousdale facilities. She has served as interim CEO since July.

“We are thrilled to welcome Carolyn into her new role as CEO of Riverview and Trousdale,” said Susan Peach, Market President of HighPoint Health System. “Carolyn is a great healthcare leader. She has tremendous operational expertise paired with a strong dedication to people and community. We are confident that she is the right leader to take these hospitals into the future.”

Sparks comes to HighPoint Health System from Southern Tennessee Regional Health System (STRHS), another LifePoint Health system in Tennessee, where she has served as chief operating officer (COO) of its Winchester and Sewanee locations since 2020. During her tenure at STRHS, she led several capital and construction projects, the expansion of service lines, the recruiting of new physicians, and many staff development and community initiatives. Prior to STRHS, she served as assistant administrator of LifePoint Health’s Hospital Support Center in Brentwood. Sparks is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

“In addition to her extensive operational experience, Carolyn brings HighPoint a genuine commitment to people and dedication to ensuring that a hospital is an excellent community partner,” said Jack McCall, chair of the Trousdale Board of Trustees. “We’re excited to welcome Carolyn permanently to our community and to seek new and greater ways to advance our mission of Making Communities Healthier.”

Sparks earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va., and a master’s degree in health administration from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

“I am so grateful for the warm welcome I have already received from the Hartsville and Carthage communities and the hospital teams these past few months,” Sparks said. “Riverview and Trousdale are wonderful facilities and valuable assets to the health and well-being of these communities, and I look forward to what lies ahead as we continue creating a place where people choose to come for health care, physicians want to practice and employees want to work.”

Brian Crook announces campaign for County Commission

Brian Crook is formally announcing his 2022 candidacy for County Commission, representing the 8th District of Trousdale County.

Crook has lived in the Willard Community of the 8th District his whole life and is the proud son of a hometown tobacco and dairy farmer and a registered nurse of over 45 years. He is a father of four children and a husband of over 17 years.

“I proudly serve my hometown as a deputy sheriff. I’m here to serve the people of this county and I will always defend it, no matter the threat,” Crook said. “I’m here to represent the long forgotten working men and women in my community. I’m here to be your voice when the decisions need to be made when it affects every one of our lives.”

Crook complained of what he said “so-called progress” does to the little man, saying he believes small-time farmers are shutting down and the little man has been forgotten.

“I’ve watched the history on which our town was founded be erased a little each year that passes. From the local stock barn being open on Mondays to the old men whittling on the front steps of our courthouse before it was closed down, I can recall when the life of the county was the tobacco industry. Almost all of the main streets had a tobacco warehouse where you could sell your crop. Many of the boys from school would go work in the fields with the local farmers in the summer to help them get their crops in,” Crook added.

Crook said he wants to represent the men with calloused hands and the women that have worked all their lives, whether it be at home or in a career they chose.

“I’ve worked all my life, doing things from driving a truck to driving a nail to driving a campaign based on our Second Amendment rights, as well as all our rights given to us from God above. I know what it takes to live paycheck to paycheck to put food on the table,” he said.

“I’m a firm believer that our county government needs to be full of people who represent their community, not their own personal needs and wants. Please allow me to be your voice and represent you and your livelihood one vote at a time. As a true constitutional candidate, I’ll be the voice that is determined to be heard: your voice! Thank you for your consideration and God bless.”

— Submitted