Social distanced Metro Council meeting held tonight

LYNCHBURG — Despite the current Stay at Home order, Metro’s business must go on. As such, local officials got clever when planning this month’s Metro Council meeting … typically held in person at the former American Legion Building.

Tonight, the Metro Council will hold their first “socially distanced” meeting – 10 local officials will attend in person and stay six feet apart while others attend remotely. The new meeting format is based on Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 16, which allows city, county, and metro governments to conduct business by electronic means rather than in person during the COVID-19 health crisis. Prior to tonight’s meeting, each individual council member informed Mayor Lewis whether they intended to attend via phone, online, or in person.

Due to the trend of hackers “bombing” public meeting, The Times won’t publicly post the credentials to view the meeting. However, any citizen who wishes to attend tonight’s virtual meeting can contact the Mayor’s office for log in credentials at 931-759-7076.

Electing new fourth district council member

In elections and appointments, council members will vote on someone to replace Shawn Adams as fourth district council member.

Per guidance offered by Metro Attorney John T. Bobo prior to the meeting, “all references to a majority of its members or membership shall be interpreted as a majority of the then existing Metro Council member seats, not merely a majority vote of the quorum present and voting.” These guideline were established in 2009 .

Each fourth district candidate must be nominated by an existing council member and then receive a majority of voice votes. If there are multiple candidates, at the end of each vote, the candidate with the lowest number of votes would be dropped.

In other business, the council will also be asked to approve new members of the Metro Utility and Mayor Lewis will appear before the council to give an update on state grants.

All Metro Council meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the former American Legion Building. Officials have not yet determined whether the May 18 meeting will be held virtually as well. •

{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.}   

Motlow receives nearly $1 million state grant

LYNCHBURG — It’s meant to encourage more high school kids to enroll in college after high school, specifically vocational programs that keep the pipeline of well-trained candidates for local high tech jobs. Earlier this week, the state announced that Motlow College – along with several partners – would be awarded $949,410 through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) program for a Teaching Innovative Learning Technologies (TILT) project. Motlow says the project reflects its commitment to continue building pathways between secondary and post secondary education.

“Our primary goal through the GIVE grant is to foster and strengthen long-term regional partnerships between Motlow, industry, workforce development agencies, and K-12 school systems,” said Fred Rascoe, dean of career and technical programs and project lead. “We are excited to continue developing advanced learning programs for middle school and high school students that facilitate students’ progression to a post secondary school such as Motlow.”

That project will positively impact 300 students over the 30-month grant period in reaching Drive to 55 goals through the creation and expansion of pathways between secondary and post secondary institutions. The mechatronics program in Fayetteville will be expanded by the addition of the robotics concentration. The Robotics concentration instructs in industrial robotic safety, operation, maintenance, end-effector design and application, and robot integration into a mechatronics system.

Motlow GIVE Grant team
The Motlow GIVE Grant team included (front row, left to right) Interim Dean of Students Debra Smith, Lincoln County CTE Director Susan Welch, Director of Grants Tammy O’Dell, and Career and Technical Programs Coordinator Ingrid Rascoe as well as (back row, from left to right) VP of External Affairs Terri Bryson, Emerging Technology Liaison Donald Choate, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Jeff Horner, Executive Director of Automation and Robotics Training Center Larry Flatt, Warren County Director of Schools Bobby Cox, Career and Technical Programs Dean Fred Rascoe, VP of Finance and Administration Hilda Tunstill, and Asst. Vice President for Academic Affairs Melody Edmonds. {Photo Provided}

It will also create a computer coding program for partner school districts beginning at the middle school level, teaching students Swift coding, and a high school program for students to obtain certification in Python coding.

Partnering with Motlow for the project are Fayetteville City Schools, Lincoln, and Warren County Schools, FRANKE, Hamilton-Ryker TalentGro, VideoBomb, Fayetteville-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board, and the McMinnville-Warren County Industrial Development Board.

“Teaching coding, programming, and development demonstrates to the students the importance of logical thinking, organization, and improves problem solving skills,” said Donald Choate, Motlow emerging technology liaison and trainer. “Our cultural and economic landscape is changing as we have become a high-tech society and culture. We want to give our students the skills necessary for a successful high-tech future.”

The Motlow partnership grant was one of 28 that will receive their total of $25 million in state funding. The program prioritizes K-12, post secondary, and industry alignment across rural Tennessee to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship programs that reflect local industries’ workforce needs and enhances career and technical education statewide.

According to the college, the development of the GIVE-TILT project was prepared and written by Tammy O’Dell, grant writer and coordinator, Fred Rascoe, principal investigator, and Donald Choate, co-principal investigator.  Motlow grant team members include Terri Bryson, Melody Edmonds, Larry Flatt, Tammy Foust, Jeff Horner, Teal Lynch, Tammy O’Dell, Sally Pack, Kathy Parker, Debra Smith, and Hilda Tunstill. • 

{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.}

Motlow instructors thriving in all digital teaching environment

Motlow Assistant English Professor Andrea Green recently earned praise from her teaching peers for the “most innovative online approach” to today’s 100 percent online Motlow learning environment. {Photo Provided}

LYNCHBURG — When the college year began, there’s no way Motlow College instructors could have imagined that by April they’d be teaching 100 percent online. But that’s exactly what happened.

In mid-March, college officials decided to close all campuses due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. This meant the conversion of dozens of classes and student services to online-only in just a matter of days. Instructors got innovative in teaching and getting students acclimated to a virtual academic environment.

For example, Motlow Assistant English Professor Andrea Green leveraged the resources built into D2L Brightspace – Motlow’s online learning management system – to provide comprehensive online instruction. Green teaches through the use of discussion boards, quizzes, digital rubrics, calendar tools, checklists, announcements, and videos she has recorded.

Green showed off her online savvy at a recent Motlow best practices event. She demonstrated how her students know what is due when it is due and how to access it. The technology allows her to framework lessons as she threads resources, such as her videos, and activities throughout the course via hyperlinks.

“Motlow recently purchased the Kaltura Video Platform for use with the D2L system that allows me to interact with students in a more engaging fashion,” said Green. “Kaltura allows me to mimic what I do in an on-ground setting. My Kaltura videos have garnered a lot of positive feedback from students.”

Library goes online

While the decision to close campuses forced 100 percent online classrooms, it simultaneously required areas of the College that provide critical services to students, such as libraries and student success, to migrate to a 100 percent virtual environment. Motlow librarians are now teaching Information Literacy via Zoom. Student are also staying digitally connected to the library through LibGuides, which provides free access to textbooks, instructional videos, and a database of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles as well as other information from reliable sources. Student can also register for classes and access their Graduation Planning System (GPS).

Students also have access to their completion coaches. Motlow Completion Coaches are essential to individual student success, as proven by statistics that show Motlow at the top of retention and graduation rates in Tennessee. The Motlow Student Success department is offering group academic advising sessions via Zoom. There are regularly scheduled advising sessions for STEM and non-STEM students, with session registration online from the LibGuides Student Online Resources webpage. •

{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: Metro Deputy Shaun Sherrill

{Editor’s Note: This is the fourth 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.}

Deputy Shaun Sherrill
Metro Sheriff’s Deputy Shaun Sherrill says he understands the reasons for the Stay at Home order but he’s looking forward to interacting with local folks again. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

Metro Sheriff’s Department Deputy Shaun Sherrill likes his routine. During his 12 hour shifts, he usually directs school traffic, attends Moore County court sessions, and serves civil and criminal warrants to locals. Today, work days look a lot different. Schools are closed. Unless it’s an emergency, courts aren’t in session and the department’s suspended serving folks for the time being. Even traffic stops are different.

“We’re a little more lenient,” Deputy Sherrill says. “We’re trying to avoid unnecessary contact. But you’ll still absolutely get pulled over if you are doing something dangerous.”

A native of Tullahoma, Deputy Sherrill moved here with his family in the second grade. He’s worked with the Metro Sheriff’s Department since 2007 — first as a corrections officer and then as a deputy. He and his wife, Mandy, live on Tanyard Hill with their four kids: Seth, an MCHS senior; Dillion, a MCMS seventh grader; Natalie a LES fourth grader; and Brayden, who just started Pre K this year. Adult son, Patrick, also lives nearby.

Deputy Sherrill says Lynchburg just feels different these days. Without the tourist, things are quiet. He also thinks locals seems to be doing their part, which adds to the reduced traffic.

“I think a majority took the Stay at Home order to heart,” he says. “I still see some of the younger ones out riding around but we haven’t had to break up any large groups.”

He says he’s taken the social distancing rules to heart too. He does the shopping for his family while his wife and kids stay safely at home. He’s says they are constantly disinfecting and using hand sanitizer.

He takes precautions on the job too. Sherrill says that deputies usually arrive on scene first, especially at medical calls, and rush right in. Now, they need to get in personal protective equipment (PPE) — N95 masks and gloves first. Unless it’s a matter of life-or-death, they sometimes wait on EMS to arrive before heading in.

When asked about Moore County’s zero COVID-19 cases, Deputy Sherrill credits both local cooperation and Jack Daniel’s early decision to shut down public tours.

“The distillery jumped out there pretty quick and most local businesses followed,” he says.

Deputy Sherrill says fewer tourists means fewer people and less overall risk for locals. Though he understands the reasons for all the extra precautions, Deputy Sherrill says he’s looking forward to life returning to normal in Lynchburg.

“I’m just so used to having lots of interactions with people,” Deputy Sherrill says. “I’m looking forward to getting back into that routine.” •

{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: Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith

Metro EMS Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith say the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely changed the way they work. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

{Editor’s Note: This is the third 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.}

Sirens blaring … adrenaline pumping … usually the first thing on Moore County paramedics Dwayne Clark and Ronnie Smith’s minds is what they can do for their patient. Today, with the global COVID-19 pandemic, they’re forced to add another layer … protecting themselves.

As a result, the pair says they spend an extra two hours each day sanitizing and cleaning the entire ambulance and EMS building. At a call, they now wear masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields. Dispatchers also execute more advanced call screening.

“Used to be, we could rush in and be very aggressive,” Smith says. “Now, it takes a minute to suit up.”

The duo have worked together as paramedic partners for about a year.

Smith is a native of Moore County who still lives here with his wife, Belinda, and sons, Chandler and Cayden. He’s worked in emergency services for the past 28 years and currently serves as an advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) for Metro EMS.

Clark’s hails from Lincoln County. He’s a former critical care paramedic with Huntsville Med Flight, who’s worked in Moore County for the past six years. He lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Anita.

They both say they noticed fewer calls after Governor Bill Lee’s Stay at Home order but now calls seem to be picking up again. Smith says the majority are non-Coronavirus calls and more a result of the “spring trauma” season.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from folks being hurt at home doing projects,” he says. “We’re also getting calls from people who have one or two COVID-like symptoms that just want to be checked but most don’t want to be transferred to a hospital because of the risks.”

When asked about Moore County’s zero confirmed cases, both Smith and Clark agree that there are likely cases in Moore County that just haven’t been tested.

“They are hardly testing anybody,” Clark adds. “It’s also possible that someone’s had it but fully recovered.”

They also both fear that the worst is yet to come and encourage locals to stay diligent.

“Don’t relax,” Smith says. “Keep staying apart even though it’s hard.” •

{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.}

Severe thunderstorms headed this way Wednesday afternoon

LOCAL NEWS — The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Moore County on Wednesday morning. A strong line of storms is expected to move into our area this afternoon and then again late tonight and into Thursday morning.

The storms will be the result of a cold front moving through the Tennessee Valley. NWS predicts damaging winds, and large hail possibly up to two inches in diameter. There’s also a slight chance of tornado activity. The greatest chance for strong storm will be after midnight, so locals should check their weather radios and make sure they aren’t in “do not disturb” mode. For more information, visit the National Weather Service Facebook page or website. •

{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: Lynchburg’s town dog Buddy the Beagle

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

Buddy the Beagle
With the Jack Daniel Visitor’s Center closed to tours, Lynchburg’s town dog, Buddy the Beagle, has been roaming a little wider footprint to keep an eye on the locals. {Lynchburg Times Photo}

The rounds for Lynchburg’s town dog, Buddy the Beagle, are generally pretty simple. He leaves his Main Street home and meanders through the square on his way to the Jack Daniel Visitor’s Center. There, he serves as a sort of “unofficial” welcoming committed to the 300,000 plus visitors that flock to Moore County each year. But recently, since Jack Daniel’s Distillery closed to public tours, he’s been widening his footprint.

“I sometime head down to Barrelhouse BBQ. Chuck’s always good for a snack,” he says. “There are some folks down near the water department that leave me fresh water. I like that. There are also some neighborhood kids I’m fond off.”

Since most experts agree that COVID-19 can’t be transmitted to dogs and cats, Buddy says he feels an extra responsibility to check on the locals here in the town he loves.

“I don’t really feel the need to take any precautions … except maybe with a few of those Square Cats. No need to pratice social distancing,” he says. “I’m also not real fond of those silly masks, but I love belly rubs and ear scratches.”

Buddy says he can’t wait for the tours to return to Jack Daniel but he understands the need for the precautions.

“I feel the anxiety of the humans around me,” he says. “I know this is a stressful time. I guess that’s why I’m determined to deliver as much unconditional love as possible every single day.” •

{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.}

Stimulus Checks soon on the way and so are the scammers

scams
Federal officials remind citizens that no one from a government agency will contact you to sign up for your stimulus check. {File Photo}

LOCAL NEWS — According to the IRS, stimulus checks from the C.A.R.E.S. Act will start being distributed over the next three weeks and for the vast majority, the funds will be automatically distributed. No action is required by individuals. As long as you filed taxes in 2018 or 2019, the government likely has the information it needs already. Social Security recipients will also automatically receive money. You do not need to sign up to receive a check.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns the general public not to fall for scammers claiming they can get you your money early. “No one has early access to this money,” the FTC says.

The FTC also stress that no one from the IRS or any other government agency will ever call you asking for personal information over the phone. Never give out your Social Security number, Pay Pal account, banking account info, and other personal data to someone who contacts you out of the blue.

“Additionally, do not click on links in texts or emails relating to Economic Impact Payments, as this could allow scammers to place tracking devices on your electronic devices and gain access to your personal information for later use. Do not engage with scammers or thieves, simply hang up or delete texts/emails,” Matthew D. Line with the IRS Criminal Division said in a press release.

If you receive a scam call or other communication, you can report it by clicking here. For more information, visit the IRS economic impact payments website by clicking here. •

{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.}

MC schools ask community to #BeTheLight tonight at 8:20 p.m.

baseball field lights
#BeTheLight for our MCHS senior class by turning on your porch light each night at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes. {File Photo}

LOCAL NEWS — It’s a community trend that started in Texas and is now sweeping across Moore County. In an effort to show hope and assurance to the community each night at 8:20 p.m. school officials will turn on the lights at the softball and baseball field. Why 8:20 p.m. to be exact? Because in military time, that’s 2020 – a nod to our MCHS senior class.

The lights will stay on for 20 minutes and the school systems invites the community to join in by turning on the their porch lights at the same time.

“We as a community need to let our kids know we are here for them,” said Director of Schools Chad Moorehead. •

{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.}