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.}