A Raider Homecoming: Friday night lights is a family affair for the White and Dickey families

The Whites (from left to right Holly, Kaden, Dawson, and Coach Kris White) say they are grateful to be back home in Moore County where football comes with family and a sense of community. (Photo courtesy of the Moore County Sports Network)

Homecoming in Moore County is one part Friday night lights and one part family reunion. Parade floats stuffed with colored tissue paper sit parked in the end zone as the queen and her court sit perched atop borrowed convertibles waiting for their royal loop around the field. It’s a night when the former star quarterback and his buddy lean against the home side fence reminiscing about the good ole days and old fames lock eyes from across the bleachers.

This year’s game will be another kind of homecoming as Raider Coach Kris White, flanked by his sons, Kaden and Dawson, will take the field on Friday for his first ever homecoming game as a head coach.

Community, family, and football

Coach White served as the Raider defense coordinator during the 2007 season under then coach Thomas McDaniel. After one year, he left to take an assistants position at Oakland High School before moving on to Knoxville Catholic High School. But he says Raider Stadium and this community were never far from his mind.

“When I left, we continued to keep up with the team and the players,” he says. “We also had lots of former players and their parents come cheer us on at Oakland.”

Kris and his wife, Holly (Dickey) White knew they always wanted to come back home to southern, middle Tennessee. They also knew that Kris longed for the challenge of a head coaching position but when the idea first popped up, Holly says there was a pause.

“At first, we though not yet,” says Holly. “Our boys (Kaden and Dawson) had already managed several moves during their school careers and we knew they wouldn’t be excited about another one … especially for Kaden senior year.”

But then the phone calls started pouring in … first one and then several from Lynchburg friends, and those involved with the program to voice their support and encouragement. Coach White says after he and Holly discussed it, it was family and a sense of community that finally moved the needle for them.

“My mom didn’t get to come see the boys play last year and neither did Holly’s dad,” Coach White says. “During this pandemic, family’s just started to mean more to everybody.”

In addition to their parents, both Holly and Kris have siblings who live in the area. Friday nights are now a family affair for the White and Dickey families as a sea of aunts, uncles, and cousins line the Moore County bleachers to cheer on Kaden and Dawson. Kaden, a senior, is the leading Raider receivers with 322 yards and Dawson, a freshman, has added 289 of his own all purpose yards. The “Smash Brothers” as the Moore County Sports Network announcers have nicknamed them also combine for an impressive 122 tackles as the Raider’s safeties.

Coach White says family and the love of football in the community made the MCHS job very tempting.

Director of Schools Chad Moorehead says when he spotted Kris White’s application in the stack coming in for the Raider football head coach opening, he immediately knew he was the best candidate.

“About a week later, the MCHS administration presented him to me as their choice, and I agreed with the decision,” Director Moorehead says.

Both Coach White and his wife say that no matter how far away they moved that Moore County always felt like home and it didn’t take long for it to become the new normal.

“Moore County treated me great when I coached here before,” Coach White says. “You can feel the love of football and this team in this community. I’ve never forgotten that feeling.”

“Kaden and Dawson stayed connected to lots of their friend from before,” says Holly. “So we knew this transition was going to be much easier than they realized.”

The Whites also had another deep connection to Moore County, Lynchburg native Janice (Keller) Morey and her husband, Randy. The two also coached at Oakland High School during Kris’s tenure there as an assistant.

“I did her girl’s weight program during the day and got to know her well. Of course, Holly already knew her well from growing up together. Randy also coached there. Ryder and Kaden were the same age and played middle school baseball together. Dawson and Keller were also the same age. We all became really good friends.”

Those familiar faces helped smooth the tradition for everyone.

Coaching players to become young men

It’s a combination that seem to be clicking for this year’s Raider team. White inherited a senior-heavy roster from outgoing Raider Coach Jason Dobbs, whom White considers a good friend. He’s added to it rock star athletes from other sports like basketball and baseball to create a bench that’s both athletic and deep.

Beyond athletics, Coach White says he trying to teach his Raider team to become young men with respect and discipline. It’s a coaching style the players respond to as evidenced by their 5-1 record. Coach White credits that winning record not only to his players but also to the skill and devotion of his assistants: Morey, TJ Christian, Wes Black, Schuvaud Whitaker, and Manny Buchanan.

“I’m only as good as my assistants and how hard they work for this team,” says Coach White.

Moore County will take on Jo Bryns tonight at Raider Stadium. Homecoming ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. and the game will kick off at 7 p.m. If you can’t attend the game, it will be broadcast live on Raider Country 105.1 and 95.5 FM with Joe Abraham and the Moore County Sports Network, on the NFHS Network, or The Lynchburg Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

The Unexpected Life of Jack Daniel

By Tabitha Evans Moore | Editor & Publisher

Unlike many brands with a larger-than-life namesake, Jack Daniel existed as a real person, one who walked the streets of Lynchburg. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

Honeysuckle garland hangs around the sprawling front porch of a brick mansion situated on a bluff overlooking the East Fork of the Mulberry Creek. In the distance, you can see the lights of Lynchburg two miles away. Mercantile stores, a couple of saloons, a flour mill, a barrel factory, a tannery, a tin shop, and three blacksmiths — all thrive inside the Lynchburg city limits thanks, in part, to their business with the distillery.

Horses and carriages line the estate’s drive and a single Oldsmobile shines in the distance. That’s Jack’s car — the only automobile in town. The cool September night air carries the sound of children playing outside and music playing inside.

As the guests arrive, Elizabeth Motlow (Jack’s sister) and her husband, Connor, offer wide smiles and a beverage from a silver tray — a Tansy Julep (Jack’s favorite drink) or a healthy pour of Old No. 7 neat. Lemonade and cookies for the kids sits on a table out front.

Upstairs in the ballroom, a group of local musicians plays in the far left corner as Nearest Green sits nearby clapping, keeping time with the musicians, and encouraging the dancers. Jack intentionally placed his old friend’s table here. Nearest loves the pulse of the music. His sons, Eli and George, sit beside him with grinning bemusement.

It looks like the entire town is here and the walls line with smiling faces. As Jasper Newton — long known as Uncle Jack by this point — enters the room his infectious, larger-than-life presence commands the room.

He only stands five foot two but his signature outfit — a wide-brimmed country squire hat and formal, black, knee-length frock coat make him seem much taller. His bright, almond-shaped eye survey his friends and family and a sincere smile breaks out under the broad, full mustache that cascades over his top lip.

If we could have watched — local beverage in hand — as a Jasper Newton Daniel birthday party unfolded, it might have looked a lot like this.

Unlike many brands based on a personality, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey springs from a real person … one who lived and breathed right here in Lynchburg. You’ve stood where he stood. You’ve seen what he saw.

The story Jack Daniel leaving home at a young age, living with Dan Call, meeting and learning whiskey-making from Nearest Green, and eventually launching a whiskey brand that would become world famous are now well known facts. What’s less well known is Jasper Newton or Uncle Jack the man his family and friends knew during his lifetime. To celebrate his birthday month, I decided to examine the unexpected life of Jasper Newton Daniel the man not Jack Daniel the brand.

“You know Jack was an amazing person, and everything we do today really flows out of what Jack was doing back then,” says unofficial Jack Daniel historian Nelson Eddy, of Finn Partners — Jack Daniel’s marketing and communications firm.

Eddy’s marketing presence at the distillery dates back 33 year to the days of tourism trailblazer and legendary storyteller Roger Brashears and Postcards from Lynchburg ad campaign creator, Art Hancock.

“The Motlow family hired Art and I considered him a mentor,” says Eddy. “Over the years, they shared files and information with me and that kind of led to this role.”

When we asked him what most people don’t know or might find surprising about Jasper Newton Daniel’s life, he had plenty to say.

Jack was likely born in 1848 not 1850

Though no one can definitively prove the actual birthday of Jack Daniel, September 1848 is a pretty good guess. It’s a date historians came to through deduction using the U.S. Census from those days and local oral histories as their guide.

“We knew the 1850 date on the Jack Daniel statue at the distillery was wrong based on the correct date of his mother’s death,” Eddy says.

Jack’s mother, Lucinda Cook Daniel died in 1849, not 1847, as it states on her tombstone at the Lynchburg Cemetery, according Nearest Green Distillery founder Fawn Weaver in her recent forward to Ben A. Green’s Jack Daniel’s Legacy.

“In piecing together all available information (including the original handwritten diary of Jack’s sister, Louisa, housed at the Albert Gore Research Center), I was able to determine Jack likely wrote a “9” at the end of his mother’s death year when ordering the gravestone marker and the monument mason mistakenly took the “9” for a “7,” she says.

According to Eddy, no one’s ever discovered Jasper Newton Daniels birth certificate and based on the times, it’s not a given that one existed. Birth certificates weren’t a requirement in the United States until after the turn of the century, and they cost money. With 10 children, Jack’s parents may not have filed one to save money, Eddy says.

“But we know that back then, the Census listed a person’s age as of their last birthday. If the June 1850 U.S. Census lists Jack’s as a one year old in September 1849 then his birth year must have been 1848.”

Jack Daniel and Nearest Green weren’t contemporaries

By now, everyone knows the genesis of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Jack learned the famous Lincoln County Process from a Black slave on the Dan Call farm by the name of Nathan “Nearest” Green and by all accounts made him the first official Master Distiller when he purchased the Lois still from Call. Around 1884, Jack purchased a piece of property located near Cave Spring Hollow in Lynchburg and soon after, he introduced the world to his Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey.

Based on a historical photo from the early days at the Lynchburg distillery, many believe that Jack and Nearest were around the same age but that’s not true. By the time that photo was taken, Nearest had retired from the whiskey making business and returned to live on the Call’s farm.

Based on this historical photo from the early days of Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, many mistake the man seated to Jack’s right (left in the photo) as Nearest Green. According to family members, that’s actually George Green, Nearest’s son. {Historic photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

“When Jack sets up at the cave spring in Lynchburg, Nearest stays with Dan Call in Lois on the farm,” says Eddy. “Jack then hires Green’s sons, Eli and George, to work at the distillery and we know from conversations with the Green family that that’s George seated to Jack’s right in that photo.”

“Just after the end of the Civil War, Jack’s relationship with the Green family was such that he sat George to his right in that photo, which would have been a position of honor,” Eddy says. “It was unheard of in that time period.”

Jack likely inherited his love of music from Uncle Nearest

Little Jack Daniel likely thought of Nearest Green like a favorite uncle and it’s well documented that Green’s influence on young Jack went well beyond whiskey making.

According to oral histories, Nearest Green played a mean fiddle and Dan Call often hosted dances on the farm with Nearest playing and Dan calling dances to the delight of the guests. It’s a tradition Jack Daniel continued as he became successful.

Jack Daniel’s home burned several years after his death, but in its day it existed as a mansion overlooking a bluff not far from where the Jack Daniel’s Distillery south processing plant sits now. He built a ballroom on the second floor of the house with a Steinway grand piano in the corner and often hosted community dances there, according to Eddy.

This exists as the only known photo of Jack Daniel’s home, which once sat on a bluff overlooking the East Fork of the Mulberry Creek near the old Lynchburg, Fayetteville Turnpike. You can see Jack’s brother-in-law, Connor Motlow, seated on the right side of the porch. The identity of the man holding the Tennessee Walking horse is not known. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

“That mutual love of music is probably the reason why Jack Daniel decides to outfit the Mr. Jack Daniel’s Original Silver Cornet Band,” says Eddy.

Jack Daniel loved speed

Both Eddy and Ben Green’s Legacy book paint a picture of a young Jack Daniel with energy to spare and no time to sit by idly.

From oral histories, we know that young Jack Daniel ran instead of walked nearly everywhere he went. He loved speed and he loved horses, of which he owned many. In fact, Jack Daniel mounted on a horse became a familiar sight not only Moore County but also Coffee County, Flat Creek, and beyond.

Whether he was riding alone, in a wagon delivering whiskey, in a buggy behind speedy horse, Jack Daniel was on the move. Horse riding eventually developed into experiencing horse-power as Jack Daniel was rumored to have owned the very first automobile in the county.

“It makes sense,” says Eddy. “He would have been the wealthiest man in the county and he has a love of speed.”

Jack Daniel lived as a true, southern gentleman

According to Eddy, Jasper Newton Daniel lived much like a Gentleman Jack of his time. He loved to joke and had a great sense of humor. He courted (though unsuccessfully) and threw great parties.

“He was a genuinely good guy in an industry filled with unsavory characters,” Weaver states in her Legacy preface.

He also exuded a certain dapper sense of style: formal, black knee-length frock coat, fawn-colored, silk-lined vest, broad tie, trimmed mustache and goatee, topped with a country squire hat. Even if you had not known who he was exactly, he would have stood out in a crowd.

Though he left school early, Jack Daniel received an education thanks to the persistence of Dan Call’s wife, Mary Jane.

Many people think of Jack Daniel as uneducated, but we know that not to be true, says Eddy. He loved to read and cherished his books — writing his name in them several times so that they’d always find their way home.

“One book we know he owned because it exists today with his name written in it is a copy of Ben Hur, a book written by a Lew Wallace a former Union general in 1880,” says Eddy.

Known around town as The Donations Man, Jack Daniel financed many a church project, farm, businesses, and family emergency. He was known to give lavish birthday and wedding presents and often loaned money even though he knew there was little change he’d be repaid. It’s a local legend that Jack Daniel financed every church in Moore County — save the one that refused money from that “whiskey maker.”

“It is said that he would have died a poor man if his nephews, Lem and Tom Motlow, had not helped him conserve some resources,” Green writes in the Legacy book.

In the end, Eddy says Jack Daniel lived more like a Apple’s Steve Jobs than inventor Thomas Edison.

“He didn’t invent whiskey making or the Lincoln County Process,” says Eddy. “Charcoal mellowing was just the ways things were done back then and it was likely brought over from Africa as a slave tradition.”

Eddy says fifteen other people in Moore County were making whiskey at the same time Jack Daniel made whiskey and they all used the Lincoln County Process. Jack Daniel just did it better. He changed out his charcoal vats often resulting in an award-winning product known for its “pureness and exceptional quality.”

It’s the same product (though slightly lower proofed) made the same way that sits on liquor store shelves today. So, as September comes to an end, grab a bottle of the original Old No. 7, pour yourself a generous glass, and a raise a toast to Jasper Newton Daniel — a Lynchburg original. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

The Big Ben Show: Local podcasts from the rolling hills of Moore County

Benji Garland (far right) and Bradley Dye (middle) interview Metro Moore County Sheriff Tyler Hatfield on Wednesday night for The Big Ben Show. “They are easy guys to talk to,” Hatfield said later. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

The Internet credits Adam Curry and Dave Winer with “inventing” the podcast back in 2004. Since then, they’ve ballooned in popularity with over 800,000 now in circulation. Today, half of Americans aged 12-34 listen to them.

You can listen to sports podcast or those that talk about true crime. In Knoxville, they record podcasts discussing the Tennessee Vols. In Nashville, they podcast about the country music industry. And in Lynchburg, from a tiny house located down a secluded back road, Benji Garland and friends podcast about local folks and their stories.

“I thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could interview people from around Lynchburg and get their story,” he says. “You can’t just walk up to people.”

And so Lynchburg’s first podcast was born

Garland started just five months ago with the first episode of The Big Ben Show. Since then, he’s interviewed 37 people and people from as far away as South America and Ireland listen.

Garland says it began as a solo adventure but he decided he didn’t like the sound of his own voice that much. Then, the show evolved into one-on-one interviews but that too felt not quite right.

“The beginning episodes were scripted,” he says as he waits on interview number 38, Metro Sheriff Tyler Hatfield, to arrive. “But I didn’t like that. They weren’t natural and felt repetitive. It didn’t flow.”

Now, more often than not, he interviews people with a regular co-host, Bradley Dye. Dye, who was Garland’s fourth podcast interview, brings another perspective, and layers to the interviews, Garland says.

“When he’s here, he delivers,” Garland says. “He’ll ask the questions I wished I’d thought of.”

Dye says the two never show prep and he rarely knows who the interview subject is until the day of … he says he and Garland’s on air chemistry just works.

“I’m just riding Benji’s coattails here,” he says. “But I enjoy it. It gives me a moment to think about something besides my woodworking business.”

Three men and a microphone

Once Hatfield arrives, the three men sit around a round, high top table and chat. In the middle sits Garland’s MAC Book and three microphones, two of which are Shure SM7B’s vocal microphones.

“I tell people these were the microphones Michael Jackson recorded Thriller on. They are the real deal,” says Garland.

The three sit and have an unscripted, off-the-cuff conversation. It’s casual, relaxed but thoroughly engaging. They seem comfortable like three guys chit chatting while they have a beer.

“I’ve just always been interested in learning new things, and the more you talk to people, the more you learn,” he says. “You can take so much from people’s stories.”

Garland says sometimes he picks his interview subject and sometimes people ask to be on the show. His guests are diverse from local high school seniors to elected officials running for state office.

However, his favorite interviews are his fellow teachers, he says. An educator himself, Benji graduated from the Moore County school system before heading to Tennessee Tech University. He now teaches at Deerfield Elementary School in Coffee County. On The Big Ben Show, he’s interviewed LES first grade teacher Terry Davis, LES teacher Marcy McKenzie, Coach Mike Walker, and Director of Schools Chad Moorehead.

He’s also interviewed notable folks like Mayor Bonnie Lewis and EMA Director Jason Deal.

After the Sheriff Hatfield interview, Garland will edit the podcast and then upload it to a website called Buzzsprout, where people can listen to it for free. They also automatically load it onto Apple Podcast and Spotify. Then Garland loads it onto The Big Ben Show Facebook page.

So what’s next for The Big Ben Show?

“The next goal is to go live,” he says. “Live broadcasts on YouTube or Facebook are the next big thing.”

If you want to check out Lynchburg’s first, only, and most successful podcast to date, check out The Big Ben Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Buzzsprout, or check out his Facebook page. •

{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.}

Rock Star Mom: Lacey Ray splits her time between a toddler and a special needs infant

Lacey Ray will split her time on Mother’s Day between her toddler in Moore County and her special needs son Carter at Vanderbilt. {Photos Provided}

It’s months after the birth of her second child, Carter, and he and brother, Jackson, still haven’t met. That’s the present Moore County mom, Lacey Hobbs Ray, would like most … for her sons to be in the same room for the first time.

Her story is the stuff of a TV drama. She nearly gave birth to Carter on the side on Interstate 24. Thanks to quick thinking by her husband, Chris, and a lightening fast reaction from Murfreesboro EMS, Carter arrived safely in an ambulance on the way to Tristar Stonecrest Hospital. He was seven weeks early.

Thanks to genetic testing, they knew Carter had Downs Syndrome at around 14 weeks. What the couple didn’t anticipate was the trickle down of medical issues that came with Carter’s spunky, early arrival.

Only four pounds at birth, Carter suffers with Esophageal Artesia Type B, which is basically a fancy way of saying he has a long gap between his esophagus and stomach. It’s extremely rare but something that can be fixed. Carter successfully gotten through one surgery and Are now waiting on him to have the second so he can finally come home.

In the meantime, Lacey and Chris make it work, even though only one of them can visit Carter at a time. In fact, Lacey says she only gets to hold him about once a week.

She and her husband live in the Raysville area of Moore County. Both work at Jack Daniel. She’s a shipping logistics specialist and he works in warehousing. Chris’s dad, Jerry Ray, is one of the most prolific farmers in Moore County. Like his dad, Chris also farms. He raises cattle and produces row crops when he’s not at the distillery. Combine all that with the fact that the couple have a rambunctious two year old, Jackson, well, their life is currently a whirlwind.

It’s a fact Lacey seems to take in stride.

“My mother showed me that I can work and be a mother, and still be there for my family and kids, so I don’t think it has affected my goals and plans,” she says.

Lacey works full time and splits time between her tractor-loving toddler in Lynchburg and her bursting with personality newborn in the PICU at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Despite his health challenges, Carter isn’t shy about letting the nurses know what he wants. He doesn’t like the vent tube that helps him breathe and he isn’t shy about fussing about it.

“He’s very opinionated,” says Lacey. “We just need to get a insides as strong as his outsides.”

And Jackson, well he just seems to roll with the punches. On any give day mom Lacey, dad Chris, or grandparents Jerry and Barbara Ray or Pat and Bob Hobbs might pick him up. Lacey says he’s pretty easygoing except when it comes to bedtime.

“He want mommy to do the nighttime routine and that’s okay,” she says.

So how will Lacey spend her Mother’s Day. True to form, she’ll spend half her day at the hospital with Carter and the other half in Moore County with Chris and Jackson … and that’s okay too. •

{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.}

Brandy Lendley: Mother of seven and Lynchburg midwife

{Editor’s Note: Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and this is the first of two interviews with local moms. Their stories stood out as interesting but we want to wish all moms a happy day.}

Brandy Lendley assisting at a recent home birth. The Lynchburg mom’s been present for over 150 live births in the past two years. {Photo Courtesy of Natasha Thomas Photography}

Motherhood is sacred and each birth tells it’s own story. That’s what Moore County native and local midwife Brandy Rutledge Lendley says when describing her journey as both a mother of seven and also one who brings other mother’s children into the world.

Lendley lives in the Charity community with her husband, Matthew, and their seven children: Justin, Isabella, Isaiah, Julianna, Jessie, Ileigh, and Jasper. Matthew works in the shipping department at Jack Daniel’s Distillery and volunteers as a Metro Firefighter.

Lendley says she always wanted to be a mother … and she grew up knowing she’s have six children (today she has seven).

“I always said growing up that I wanted six children. That I’d be a vet and my husband would stay home and care for them,” Lendley jokes. “When I had Justin (her first child), that changed.”

Because she knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, Lendley enrolled in night school at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Shelbyville and earned her nursing degree. She worked as a LPN in the labor and delivery department of an area hospital for 13 year before deciding to pursue a midwife apprenticeship.

Today, she’s finished the long list of requirements necessary to become a certified professional midwife and will soon sit for the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) exam. In total, she’s been present at over 150 live births in the past two years. She says she got interested in midwifery after researching the possibility of a home birth with her third pregnancy. It turned out she wasn’t a good candidate but the idea stuck with her.

Interest in home births has always been strong, Lendley says. When she realized that home births have always and will always happen, she became passionate about being an advocate for those women.

“In the 19th century, over half of babies were born as home with midwives,” she says. “It used to be the standard.”

Today, midwives are highly trained and play a big part in not only the birthing process but also prenatal and postpartum care. Midwives screen each mother-to-be carefully to make sure a home birth will be a good fit. Midwives see their patients every month until 28 weeks. After that, they see mom twice a month until they reach 36 weeks.

“After that, we visit every week until she has the baby,” Lendley says. “If we see any red flags, we immediately consult a physician for collaborative care.”

Lendley says each birth is highly individualized. Some moms want a alternative, natural approach and other moms want all the bells and whistles found at a hospital.

“We typically help someone who’s had a bad experience at a hospital or birth trauma … maybe a provider who didn’t listen to them,” Lendley says. “Our job is to facilitate a redemptive birth.”

Lendley says the best example of this is a recent patient. She’d been forced to have a c-section at the hospital due to complications and really wanted to experience a traditional birth this time around.

“The baby ended up being nine pounds and 10 ounces,” says Lendley raising an eyebrow. “But the look on her face at the end was like, ‘I did it.’ It was very empowering. “

On Mother’s Day, Lendley says she’ll spend her day with her family and probably visit her own mother, Debbie Rutledge. She also says there’s a better than average chance she’ll be at a birth. •

{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.}

Essential: John Manis of American Craft Distillers of Lynchburg

{Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

It was an idea whose time had come … small-batch, artisan hand sanitizer. That’s the impression we get from John Manis — one of the co-owners of American Craft Distillers of Lynchburg. We met on a Friday afternoon recently at their location on the Lynchburg Square.

A native of Indiana, Manis came to southern, middle Tennessee by way of Orlando. He and his wife, Cathy, live in Tullahoma but own property on County Line Road.

Five years ago, he and Ray Tucker of Moore County, decided to open the Lynchburg Winery on the historic Lynchburg Square. In 2018, they added American Craft Distillers of Lynchburg. Today they produce wine with locally-grown grapes as well as distilled spirits like moonshine, rum, vodka, and, of course, whiskey. The distillery side is one hundred percent tourism based. They don’t ship whiskey or sell through a distributor. Instead, they rely of foot traffic from the square to move product.

“The square is where the magic is,” Manis says.

Though he didn’t know it at the time, whiskey-making was actually a family tradition.

“Right after we opened, my uncles messaged me to let me know that it’s actually in my blood,” he says. “My grandfather Kirkpatrick made moonshine in Rogersville near the Cherokee Dam. He was a corn farmer and owned a grist mill.”

It’s those whiskey making instinct and a desire to do good in his community that gave Manis the idea to start making hand-santizer out of the high-proof ethanol they use to produce spirits. American Craft Distillers of Lynchburg were one of the first of Tennessee’s smaller distilleries to produce it.

With his partner, Ray Tucker’s, role in the local healthcare scene it seemed like a natural fit. Tucker works as the Director of Surgical Services at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System in Winchester.

As the COVID-19 situation evolved, more and more individuals and institutions started meticulously cleaning and disinfecting multiples times a day. That increased usage disrupted the supply chain for regular sanitizers made from isopropyl alcohol. That’s when Manis decided to step in.

“We’ve got product. We could do this,” Manis says he told Tucker. And Tucker agreed.

As a small-batch distillery, the hand sanitizer project began small-batch as well … first in 16 gallon batches, then 55 gallon batches, and finally in 300 gallon batches to meet demand. The first 25 gallons they produced went to the Winchester hospital. After that, they started handing it out to Moore County first responders and healthcare professionals and then to the surrounding counties.

“We’re small,” Manis says. “We can’t help everybody but we can help our locals.”

According to Lynchburg Winery General Manager Alissa Fly, they donated hand sanitizer to as close as Bedford and Franklin counties and as far away as Huntsville and Murfreesboro. Manis says after the first round of deliveries, they started producing sanitizer to sell to consumers due to high demand.

“What they were normally using in a month, was gone in three days,” he says.

At this point, Manis says they were selling 100-200 bottles a day.

“The week before last,” Fly says. “I opened four minutes early at 10:56 a.m. at there was a line out the door. By 10:06 a.m., I’d sold 26 bottles and we completely sold out by noon.”

To date, they’ve sold around 2,000 consumer bottles … some in bulk to local trucking companies like Titan Transfer and Big G. Manis says the revenue from the consumer sales went right back into producing more hand sanitizer. For every one bottle they sell, they give away five more.

Manis says demanding is waning enough that he can slowly return to his bread and butter … distilled spirits but he’s been grateful for the experience.

“It’s been worth it because we know we’re helping our community,” he says. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}

Essential: Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital’s Brittany Parks

{Editor’s Note: This is the ninth of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

Brittany Parks of Moore County has worked at the Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital for the last seven years. She says pandemic or not, giving animals the best possible care is always their mission. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

Life looks a little different these days at the Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital (LVH) located on Majors Boulevard just off the historic Lynchburg Square, according to vet tech student Brittany Parks. Parks, a Moore County resident, has worked at LVH for the past seven years.

“I love the medical aspect of it,” she says referring to working with the LVH patients. “I just prefer animal medical instead of people medical. The animal stuff isn’t as contagious as the people-to-people stuff is.”

She says in late March – for their safety and the safety of their patient’s human companions – Drs. Wendy and Bryant Morton as well as the LVH staff decided to work curbside until further notice. Today, they give pet vaccines, help sick animals, and handle emergencies … all while owners wait patiently outside.

“We go out, get the patient, do their exams, and then go back out and go over what we found with the owners,” Parks say. “We don’t bring the owners inside at all.”

Parks says the back and forth increases the amount of time it takes to see each animal.

In addition, they now work with limited staff. Two of LVH’s five normal staff members chose not to work through the COVID-19 situation because they fall into the high-risk population. Parks, along with vet assistant Tessa Metcalf, receptionist Macey Cross, and Dr. Morton now work four days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Lucy, the office cat, stays in house twenty-four seven. Parks says, the LVH staff now does twice the cleaning, twice the laundry, and executes more steps per visit with just a staff of three.

Even in a global pandemic, local animals still experience emergencies. Animals get hit crossing local rural roads. They accidentally ingest poison. Pets suffer accidents and falls just like humans do.

“It’s also spring dog fighting season, and things need to be stitched up,” Parks says.

Parks says that Dr. Morton often works after hours emergency calls on his own but sometimes, he needs assistance. She says as a group they felt as if shutting down completely just wasn’t an option.

When we ask her what the one part of a “normal workday” she misses most, she says having the ability to truly comfort an owner who’s made the difficult decision to euthanize their beloved pet. Not being able to be hands on is difficult, she says.

“I can still be in the room with them,” Parks says. “But I can’t put my arm around them or hug and comfort them.”

Parks lives in the Harry Hill area of Moore County with her husband Dale, stepsons, Bradley and Joshua, and daughter, Ashlee. A third stepson, Daniel lives nearby in Shelbyville. When she is not at work, she says her family takes the same precautions of everyone else and fills their quarantine days outside gardening and working on her family farm with the goats, horses, chickens, a calf, cats, and five new Australian shepherd puppies.

In the end, Parks says that even with a reduced staff and different procedures, all of the staff at LVF are doing their best to give all animals the best possible care with as little frustration as possible.

“If we weren’t there, where would they go?” •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}

Essential: Woodard’s Market Cashier Westin Hart

{Editor’s Note: This is the fifth of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

Woodard’s Market cashier Westin Hart says despite the governor’s Stay at Home order, the local small business is busier than ever. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

When he took the Woodard’s cashier job two years ago, MCHS senior Westin Hart never imagined there would come a day when he’d need to tell a customer they couldn’t buy toilet paper. But that was the scene recently at Lynchburg’s independently owned grocery store.

“We’ve had to temporarily limit the number of rolls customers can buy,” he says. “Sometimes the reactions aren’t pleasant. I would tell you about them but I don’t think I’m allowed to say all those words.”

Prior to Governor Bill Lee’s Stay at Home order, Woodard’s Market had a predictable rhythm. Farmers and distillery first shift workers in the morning and locals doing dinner shopping in the afternoons. Now, he says, it seems busy all the time.

“Despite the Stay at Home order, we’re busier than ever,” he says.

Westin lives near Lois off Highway 50 with his parent Wendy and Kevin Hart. His foster sister, Kursten Hawkins, attends Motlow. His sister, Delaney, remains in Chicago attending DePaul University. He says conversations with her keep him grounded in the seriousness of the situation.

“It’s a much bigger deal there then it is here,” he says. “People there take it much more seriously.”

When he’s not at Woodard’s Market, Westin says he quarantines like everyone else … reading Stephen King novels and binge-watching the TV series, Haven, with his girlfriend, Bryanna Taylor. He says he’s trying to salvage as much of his senior year as possible.

“I’ve been looking forward to my senior year since forever,” he says. “Senior trip, prom, senior nights at spring sports, graduation …. I’ve lost two-thirds of that. At first I was really angry, sad, and disappointed but now I’ve come to terms with it.”

Westin says the senior class recently held a meeting via Zoom where advisers made a commitment to hold prom and graduation as soon as all this passes. Until then, Westin says he’s looking forward to attending Tennessee Tech in the fall where he plans to study Information Assurance and Cyber Security.

“I might as well make the best of it,” he says.

When asked about the moment that stands out most to him during these unique times, Westin says customer expressing gratitude really made an impression. He says at the end of March, customers started coming up and saying thank you.

“They’d say things like, ‘I really appreciate you being here and risking your own health for us.’ That means a lot,” he says.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}

Essential: Volunteer firefighter Scott Parks

{Editor’s Note: This is the first of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

Metro Volunteer Fire Captain Scott Parks
Metro Volunteer Fire Captain Scott Parks says pandemic or not, when the tones go off, you get up and go. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

First responders usually rush in when everyone else heads out. During a quarantine, they go when others stay in. That was the case recently for Metro Volunteer Fire Department Captain Scott Parks.

When he arrived on scene, the car sat over 75 feet from the road, ripped in half. The driver, who’d been ejected in a one car crash on Flippo Road, lay on the banks of a nearby pond. The bystanders who called the wreck in rushed to the scene and pulled him out — likely saving his life. Parks says the severity of the accident plus the COVID-19 precautions made things feel surreal.

“We made sure everyone had on gloves,” Parks said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have, and still don’t have masks. Everyone was much more deliberate in everything they did but when you are getting a patient out, you definitely have to break the six foot rule. That’s just the nature of it.”

A native of Tullahoma, Parks moved to Moore County in 1994. He met his wife Tara Tucker Parks in 1995 and says their first date was a Moore County High School football game. The couple and their two children, Emily and Sawyer, now live in the Ridgeville area of Moore County. Tara works as the assistant logistics manager at Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Emily attends the University of Tennessee as a junior and Sawyer is an eighth grader at Moore County Middle School.

In addition to his volunteer work with the MVFD, he also works at Jack Daniel’s Distillery in the IT department. He’s currently one of dozens of employees working from home rather than onsite in the Holler.

“We’re taking every precaution,” he says. “Everyone who can, works from home. Everyone else practices the six foot rules and there’s lots of disinfecting going on.”

As for his volunteer work with the fire department, less movement means fewer emergency calls. Parks says he’s definitely noticed a lower volume since Governor Bill Lee’s Stay at Home order. But it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t.

“When the tones go off, you get up and go,” he says.

Helping is just the nature of Moore County

As of Sunday, Moore County was one of seven Tennessee counties without a confirmed COVID-19 case. When asked what he attributes this to, he’s got nothing but praise for our local leaders.

“I think Metro EMS and Mayor Lewis have done an outstanding job,” he says. “I also feel like the distillery’s decision to stop public tours was a big part of the mitigation here.”

When we asked Parks if he felt essential, he demurs.

“It’s never about me,” he says. “We have a team. There aren’t a lot of us who do this and every one of us are essential. But I feel as if I have an obligation to my community.”

Parks also says he’s bracing for the worst of the pandemic.

“We haven’t hit the apex yet. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better,” he says. “But we’ll get through it together. Neighbor helping neighbor is just the norm for Moore County … pandemic or not.” •

{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.}

Lynchburg Leapling: Staples celebrates “eighth” birthday

Holly recently celebrated the milestone of her “eighth” birthday by heading to Sewanee with local photographer Jill Mansfield for a birthday shoot. {Photo Credit Grass Roots Photography}

By Tabitha Evans Moore | Editor & Publisher

She’s one in a million … well one in four million to be exact. And as far as we can discern, the only leapling in Lynchburg. Despite the fact that she’s a Motlow College student who can legally drive, Moore County native Holly Staples will celebrate her eighth “official” birthday today (Saturday, February 29).

She’s the second oldest of four children born to Steve and Shirley Staples of Lynchburg and she says her birthday’s always been a source of a little friendly teasing.

“Growing up my siblings used to always pick on me on birthdays,” she said. “They’d wait until the very last minute to say, Happy Birthday.”

Being a Leap Year baby does make her feel special and different though her parents really never made a big deal about it.

“We’d usually just celebrate on the last day of February or the first day of March, whichever came closer to the weekend, really,” she said. “I had skating parties and sleepover parties just like any other kid.”

Leap Year babies are known for their unique personalities and abilities. Superman is a leapling. So are celeb like Ja Rule, Tony Robbins, and Winchester native Dinah Shore. Working towards a Mass Communications degree, Staples uses her writing and photography to express her individuality.

“I strive to be a great writer and storyteller,” she says.

In addition to her studies, she runs a personal blog, The Vintage Writer, as well as her photography Instagram page @wandering_compass29 where she shares images from Tims Ford Lake, local back roads, and places she’s explored .

Surprisingly, her elusive birthday’s never caused her much legal or technical issues. She got her driver’s license on time with no hassle. Registering for college was no big deal.

“The only problem I ever had ironically was on my 21st birthday. My friends and I went to spend the night at the Opryland hotel in Nashville. I ordered a bottle of our local product to celebrate and room service didn’t believe me.”

Staples plans to spend her “eighth” birthday in style. She recently hired local photographer Jill Mansfield of Grass Roots Photography to take a birthday shoot in nearby Sewanee to commemorate the day. She also says she and her parents have plans to celebrate at High Pointe in Monteagle.

“After that, my friends and I will probably just go to Broadway in Nashville to have dinner and listen to some live music,” she says. “It will be a great eighth birthday.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering 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.}