Jack Daniel’s names Chris Fletcher new Master Distiller

Chris Fletcher worked as Assistant Master Distiller under Jeff Arnett and is the grandson of former Master Distiller, Frank Bobo. Jack Daniel named him Master Distiller on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s)

LYNCHBURG — On Wednesday, Jack Daniel’s Distillery announced that Chris Fletcher would become the eighth person ever to be named Master Distiller.

Fletcher follows Jeff Arnett who took over the position in April 2008 and stepped down in September.

Fletcher, 39, had previously served for six years as Assistant Master Distiller and will be responsible for the overall quality of Jack Daniel’s from “grain to glass,” innovation and serve as a global ambassador.  In addition, he will oversee the distillery’s new “Distillers in Training” program which aims to recruit, teach, and mentor the next generation of whiskey makers.  

Born and raised in Lynchburg, and now carrying on a family tradition, Fletcher is the grandson of former Master Distiller Frank Bobo, who served in the role from 1966 until his retirement in 1989.

“For the past six years, Chris has been right there and involved in every major distillery innovation, product and enhanced production process while ensuring our Tennessee Whiskey is of the highest character and quality,” said Larry Combs, Jack Daniel Distillery SVP and General Manager. “Chris has whiskey making in his blood, but he also has this incredible and unique combination of knowledge, expertise and creativity that will position us well into the future. Folks like Chris don’t come along every day, and backed by our tremendous senior leadership team, I have no doubt that he will flourish in this new role.”

Fletcher’s work at Jack Daniel’s stretches back to 2001 when he worked as a part-time tour guide while attending college. He graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from Tennessee Technological University in 2003 and began work as a chemist with Brown-Forman in Research and Development for eight years. Following several years working in the bourbon industry, Fletcher came back home to the Jack Daniel Distillery and was named Assistant Master Distiller.

“It’s an honor to be named Master Distiller here at Jack Daniel’s and join a line of folks who’ve made the best whiskey in the world,” said Chris Fletcher. “Over the last 17 years, I’ve been able to learn and work alongside so many talented whiskey makers, and I am very grateful for the mentors I’ve had, including Jeff Arnett who taught me so much. Our distillery and team here in Lynchburg are the best in the business, and I cannot wait to continue working with them crafting the world’s favorite Tennessee Whiskey.”

Chris, his wife, Ashley, and three-month old son, Payne Thomas, live in Lynchburg, Tennessee. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Reporting changes cause COVID data confusion

{Graphic Provided by the TN Department of Health}

STATE NEWS — Today the Tennessee Department of Health released new numbers based on changed modeling and it’s causing confusion with both state and county leaders as well as media across the state. The TDH is reminding residents to consider case trends over several days and not just the daily COVID counts as it makes adjustments to the way it monitors cases counts in the state.

On Thursday, the afternoon COVID numbers supplied by the state showed Moore County’s COVID-19 case count jumped by 18 from 97 to 115. That large fluctuation is just a correction to the numbers, state officials explain.

The Tennessee Department of Health made changes to the way COVID-19 data is reported today. For example, the state will no longer provide numbers for “recovered” cases and instead TDH will report the number of “Inactive/Recovered” cases. This will include cases who are 14 days or more beyond their illness onset date (or for asymptomatic individuals, their specimen collection date) and who are not deceased.

The state also reported the there are an approximate 1,700 cases for whom the county of residence needs to be corrected and that correction will happen all at once.

They also explained that occasionally a commercial laboratory will experience issues with sending results electronically. When this occurs and then gets resolved, TDH uploads a batch correction as quickly as possible but those corrections sometimes result in a large fluctuation in the daily numbers.

It’s unclear which (if any) of these changes caused the big jump in Moore County numbers.

It’s also important to note that Moore County’s active case count, according to the state, went from 36 to just 15 even though the total increase overnight was 18 cases. Clearly THD new reporting parameters is experiencing growing pains. The Lynchburg Times will continue to closely monitor these number over the next several days. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Master Distiller Jeff Arnett leaving Jack Daniel’s

After 20 years with Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Jeff Arnett is stepping down from his position. No official word yet on what’s next for the distillery’s seventh master distiller or who will replace him. {Photo Credit: Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

Jack Daniel’s announced Thursday morning that following a 20-year career at the distillery – including the last 12 years as master distiller – Jeff Arnett was stepping down from his position with the company. According to sources, employees were informed via a company wide email on Wednesday.

Arnett took over the position in April 2008 and was the distillery’s seventh master distiller following a long line of whiskey makers including Jess Motlow, Lem Tolley, Jess Gamble, Frank Bobo, and Jimmy Bedford. Recently, the distillery’s also recognized that its founder Jasper Newton Daniel named a freed slave, Nathan Nearest Green, as his first master distiller.

As Master Distiller, Arnett was responsible for the overall whiskey-making operations in Lynchburg. Prior to that position, he oversaw quality control and the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel program. Throughout his time at the distillery, he worked in a variety of capacities including warehousing, maturation, distillation, charcoal mellowing management, barrel quality and bottling, and enjoyed a long tenure on the Master Tasters’ panel. He also traveled the world as a brand ambassador for the distillery.

“When Jeff became the master distiller, we said that he would carry on the long tradition of folks who have made the world’s best whiskey for more than 150 years, and that’s exactly what he’s done,” said Jack Daniel Distillery SVP and General Manager Larry Combs. “He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the distillery and brought with him the creativity and the expertise that makes Jack Daniel’s the most valuable whiskey brand in the world. We thank him for his leadership not only at Jack Daniel’s but in the whiskey industry and wish him all the best.”

According to a press release from the distillery, they will name Arnett’s replacement sometime in the next few weeks. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Monster wins $1.1 million grant to expand fiber in Moore County

Monster will expand fiber in two segments. One will begin Hurricane Creek Road and move towards Cobb Hollow and the Smith Chapel area. The second phase will begin in Lois near Short Creek Road and make a loop on Tanyard and back around to Highway 50. {Art Provided}

Good news is coming for households struggling to get adequate Internet connections in the rural areas of Moore County. Monster Broadband – a local Internet Service Provider founded by two Moore County High School graduates – just received a $1.1 million grant to expand fiber coverage in Moore County.

“Our mission from the start was to get the highest Internet speeds possible to the folks living in rural area that tend to get forgotten by the larger providers. This grant will allow us to expand our fiber to hundreds of Moore County households,” co-owner Charles Johnston said.

Johnston and Steve Baker, two MCHS class of 1990 graduates, launched Monster Broadband in 2009. Last year they launched their first fiber network in the Ridgeville subdivision along Tims Ford Lake. Since then, they’ve brought fiber speeds of up to 250 megabytes per second to over 500 homes in both Tennessee and Texas, where Baker now lives.

Members of Monster’s fiber crew works along Hinkle Lane near the Blue Gill Grill. The TN Emergency Broadband Fund grant will allow them to expand 26 additional miles inside Moore County. {Photo Provided}

The Monster award is part of $61 million to be awarded in Tennessee as part of the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund. The grants are funded through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

ECD received 84 applications for $89.1 million in funding. Following review and a public comment period, 62 projects representing $61.1 million were funded.

Monster plans to expand fiber in two segments. The one will start at Hurricane Creek Road then onto Cobb Hollow Road, Raysville Road, Price Hollow Road, Bobo Hollow Road, Woosley Road, and then across Highway 55 to Hilltop Circle before ending at the Smith Chapel subdivision.

The other begins in Lois at Short Creek Road then onto Marble Hill Road, Little Bean Hollow Road, Galloway Lane, Tanyard Hill Road before looping around on Bull Run Road back to Highway 50.

Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband access in their area. Eligible entities included those authorized to provide broadband services in Tennessee, and eligible areas were limited to those unserved or underserved locations lacking all equipment necessary to provide a broadband connection capable of supporting telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to step up and do our small part in helping our state, county, neighbors, and friends,” said Baker. “The Coronavirus battle is new to us all, the battle to push broadband in underserved areas has been a task we have been fighting for 11 years.  As we stated in our application, we have never applied or considered a grant before, times are different now and the need for our services has never been greater.”

Though Monster does not have a timeline for the projects yet, they will announce roads as they go live and are install ready on their Facebook page. Click here to like their page and stay up to the minute. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Bradshaw shocks in Democratic primary

A Memphis environmentalist and single mom defeated a Nashville attorney last night in an upset win that had political tongues wagging on Friday morning.

Five candidates vied for an opportunity to run against the Republican nominee to replace retiring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. Marquita Bradshaw won with 117,345 votes in a staggering upset win. She will face off with Bill Hagerty in the November election.

Others vote totals were Gary Davis (30,733), Robin Kimbrough (87,846), James Mackler (78,568) and Mark Pickrell (16,012).

Noelle Bivens and Christopher Hale faced off for an opportunity to run against incumbent Scott DesJarlais for U.S. House of Representatives District 4. Hale got 16,089 (58.9%) of the vote compared to Bivens 11,218 (41.1%). In Moore County, Hale also beat Bivens by a 145 to 74 margin.

Chase Clemons ran unopposed for Tennessee Senate District 14. He will face off with Shane Reeves in the November election. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Hagerty, DesJarlais win Republican primary races

Two State Republican primary elections took place Thursday night: one for U.S. Senate and another for U.S. House of Representatives.

In a primary battle that overtook television and social media with leading candidates Bill Hagerty and Manny Sethi swapping licks to replace retiring Senator Lamar Alexander, Hagerty won the Republican nomination for United States Senate by a wide margin. He earned 330,893 (50.8%) to Dr. Sethi’s 256,732 (39.4 %)

In Moore County, Sethi won with 627 votes to Hagerty’s 600. It was close.

In the U.S. House of Representative District 4, incumbent Scott DesJarlais won. The final state vote totals were Scott DesJarlais (55,178), Doug Meyer (14,173) and Randy Sharp (8,279).

Republican State Senator Shane Reeves and Republican State Representative Iris Rudder both ran unopposed. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Harrison and Cauble win in County General Election

Moore County is an interesting place to be on Election Nights. Locals gather around the Lynchburg Gazebo waiting on results to be written in on the big board. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

As polls closed in Moore County at 7 p.m. on Thursday, as is tradition, folks started gathering near the gazebo on the square for election results. Local General Sessions Judge Terry Gregory served as the “unofficial” town crier as he moved back and forth from the County Building bringing out the new precinct totals. Election nights in Lynchburg are a charming, small town affair.

There were only two contested race this year in the County General election: Metro Council District 4 and Assessor of Property. Road Superintendent candidate Shannon Cauble was officially running unopposed but local Chris Bateman ran as a write in candidate.

Four candidates vied for three seats on the Metro Council District Four. The final votes were Peggy S Blackburn 190 votes, Arvis N. Bobo 220 votes, Bradley K. Dye 229 votes, and Patrick A Maynard 175 votes. The top three won. New members Blackburn and Dye as well as incumbent Bobo will represent District Four at the next Metro Council meeting.

Two candidate competed for Metro Assessor of Property. Incumbent Wayne Darrin Harrison won with 1,058 votes. Rhonda L Sawyer earned 592 votes.

In uncontested races, Amy L. Cashion, Sunny Rae Moorehead, and Shane E. Taylor were all elected to the Metro Council’s three First District seats. Keith Moses will continue to represent District 3 at the Metro Council.

Shannon F. Cauble (1,301 votes) will become our next Road Superintendent. She bested write in candidate Chris Bateman (298 votes).

Three new Metro School Board members won in uncontested races: Greg Thompson, District 2; Nathan Buchanan, District 4, and Tanya Vann, District 5.

William Noles was also elected to the Urban Service District. He also ran unopposed. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Nonprofit claims Manchester released raw sewage into the Duck River

{Editor’s Note: This is a breaking story and we will update here when more details become available.}

A non-profit organization is suing the City of Manchester for illegally dumping untreated sewage into the Duck River. {Photo Courtesy of the City of Manchester}

MANCHESTER — A state non-profit named Tennessee River Keeper filed a lawsuit against the City of Manchester on July 9 claiming the city has dumped nearly 34 million gallons of untreated sewage into the Duck River. Click here to view a copy of that complaint.

Tennessee River Keepers is filing the suit under the umbrella of the Clean Water Act. The group claims that the Manchester Sewage Treatment Plant has received over “336 violations within the past five years and over 33,930,595 gallons of untreated sewage” have been released. It also states that EPA records show over 50 sanitary sewer overflows from January to February 2020.

Tennessee Riverkeepers is seeking an immediate injunction and a $37,500 civil penalty along with their legal costs. •

Tullahoma PD seeking Moore County man in shooting

{Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. Each update will be timestamped.}

TULLAHOMA — A Moore County man is accused of a shooting in Tullahoma and local authorities are actively looking for him.

Tullahoma Police Officers responded to a shooting on July 2, 2020 at 1:30 a.m. at 2113 North Jackson Street, the location of the Baymont by Wyndham hotel. The victim was transported to the Tennova Healthcare-Harton helipad and Vanderbilt life flight flew him to a trauma hospital.

Police are looking for the alleged shooter, Benny Robert Reese, age 51 of Moore County, Tennessee. This is an ongoing investigation, and Police believe the two individuals knew each other.

If you have information regarding this incident, please contact Investigator Johnny Gore at 931-455-0530 or  jgore@tullahomatn.gov. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Manhunt: Authorities seek help in locating Northgate Mall shooting suspect

{Editor’s Note: Updated at 5:00 a.m. on Friday. We will update this story as it develops along with a time stamp of the update. }

Hugh “Adam” Keckritz, age 22

TULLAHOMA — If someone in southern, middle Tennessee knows where Hugh “Adam” Keckritz is hiding, they aren’t talking to local law enforcement.

It’s been over a week and authorities still haven’t made an arrest in the June 4 shooting at Northgate Mall.

Local authorities are encouraging any citizen with information to call it in.

Keckritz attended Moore County High School and once lived in Lynchburg.

Shots fired after an altercation

Last Thursday around 5:30 p.m., shots were fired following an altercation near the arcade at the mall. According to the victim’s family members, Kechritz pistol whipped the victim and then shot him in the back as he turned to run. The 19 year old victim suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen area and was transported to Tennova Harton’s Emergency Room initially and then transported via helicopter to an area level one trauma center, according to family members.

Tullahoma Police Department dispatched a large presence and placed the mall on lock down. Shoppers at nearby stores were also immediately evacuated.

Law enforcement from the surrounding counties and Tennessee Highway Patrol are assisting in the search for the suspect, who is considered armed and dangerous. If you have information, call Investigator Johnny Gore with the TCP at 931-455-0530 or email him at jgore@tullahomatn.gov. Moore County residents can also call the Metro Moore County Sheriff’s Department at 931-759-7323.•

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}