With 2021 here and 2020 in the rearview mirror (and good riddance, I imagine most of us would say!), The Vidette takes a look back at the biggest headlines from Trousdale County in the previous year. While COVID-19 obviously dominated the headlines, there was plenty more to report on. This will be the first of a three-part series.


Discussions continued about future use of Trousdale County’s historic courthouse. The Historical Society wants space for a museum, while county officials intend to eventually move the Election Commission there as well.

The Early Bird Café reopened under new ownership. The restaurant, one of Hartsville’s favorite breakfast stops, would close again later in the year and reopen in the fall.

An audit released by the state cited the Tennessee Department of Corrections and CoreCivic for alleged failure to provide medical care for inmates, properly investigate sexual abuse and maintain necessary staffing levels.

Three Trousdale County players — Kobe Ford, Tarvaris Claiborne and Cameron Rankins — were named to the Tennessee Football Coaches Association’s Class 2A all-state football team.

The Industrial Development Board completed the sale of property on Industrial Park Drive to a Smith County man who is building a meat processing plant on the site. The plant was expected to open in January 2021.

Trousdale County’s grand jury indicted a man on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated rape in an August 2020 incident at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in which a CoreCivic employee was assaulted. The case remains ongoing.

Wilson Bank & Trust promoted Seth Thurman to office manager and Jenesia Ellis to assistant manager of its Hartsville branch after Lisa Dies transitioned to semi-retirement.


Trousdale County held three open forums over a three-month period to discuss potentially increasing the local option sales tax and/or extending the wheel tax. A vote on increasing the sales tax by a half-cent failed overwhelmingly at the August election.

The County Commission approved an ordinance requiring the display of address numbers at all residences, with violators subject to fines per day of up to $50. A 180-day grace period was built in, with the ordinance taking effect in September.

Kobe Ford and Tarvaris Claiborne both signed to play football at Cumberland University.

Trousdale County held its basketball homecoming ceremonies. The 2020 Homecoming King was Jay’dynn Hayward, while the Queen was Tori Simmons.

The Hartsville Rotary Club held its fourth annual Father-Daughter Dance, raising over $2,500 for the group’s local projects.

Commissioners received a master plan for proposed improvements to Hartsville City Park, including redesigning the Little League fields, adding a splash pad and building an indoor recreation center. The $11.6 million plan was designed to be implemented in multiple stages over years.

A former prison guard at Hartsville’s CoreCivic prison sued the company, claiming sexual harassment, sex discrimination, wrongful termination and defamation. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed part of the complaint in October, while the remainder of the case is ongoing.

Two teenagers were killed in a Feb. 12 crash on Highway 10. The THP’s report stated that the driver pulled out into the path of a tractor-trailer.


Sheriff Ray Russell told county commissioners that the Trousdale County Jail could go under a corrective plan of action because of chronic overcrowding at the facility. The county has entered a voluntary partnership with the County Corrections Partnership Initiative to find solutions, which could include a new jail.

The 2020 Miss Trousdale, Jr. Miss Trousdale and Band Boosters pageants were held with Faith Parker being crowned as Miss Trousdale, Mia Mitchell as Jr. Miss Trousdale and Charlie Beth Wright as Miss Trousdale Elementary.

Hartsville residents and businesses delivered trailers full of supplies to Wilson County and Lebanon after a series of tornadoes did significant damage to those areas in early March.

Trousdale County Schools closed on March 17 amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. The school system provided meals each weekday through the scheduled end of the school year in May and at its peak was serving nearly 400 meals per day. Spring sports had their seasons canceled and the Hartsville Little League postponed its season as well. Most area restaurants began serving takeout meals only and local churches canceled services.

Deputy Clint Friar returned to work with the Trousdale County Sheriff’s Department, 10 months after being struck by an automobile and suffering major injuries.


The federal government began providing relief for those affected by COVID-19, including $1,200 payments, expanded unemployment payments and Payment Protection Plan funds for businesses.

Dewayne Byrd announced that he would not seek re-election after serving three terms as Trousdale County’s Assessor of Property.

Robert Calhoun became the first person to pass from COVID-19 in Trousdale County. Calhoun worked for over 55 years at Trousdale Medical Center, which later planted a tree and held a service in his memory.

Trousdale County was set to receive over $585,000 in grant funding from COVID-19 relief funds, per state officials. The school system would receive roughly $235,000 and the county figure actually increased to nearly a million dollars.

Tri-County Fiber Communications received just over $500,000 in grant funding from the state of Tennessee to continue its efforts to wire Trousdale County for high-speed Internet service.

Inmates at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center began testing positive for the coronavirus. The Hartsville prison made national news as nearly 1,200 inmates — almost half the population — eventually tested positive. The spike made Trousdale County one of the nation’s biggest hotspots in terms of spread of the virus.

Hartsville Foodland and Piggly Wiggly experienced record sales as consumers, including many from outside the county, rushed to grocery stores to stock up on items as panic increased about the spread of COVID-19.

Hartsville’s Mark Presley was featured on NewsChannel5 as part of its “Take Time to Smile” segments. Presley was recognized for his efforts in organizing tornado relief, setting up curbside and delivery services at Foodland and creating a “Blessing Box” outside his home.

The School Board surveyed parents of the Class of 2020 about how best to handle graduation with schools closed. Ultimately the decision was made to hold a ceremony in June at the football stadium, in order to better allow for social distancing.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

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