Sheriff asks council to reduce speed limit on Tanyard Hill Road

Based on the recommendation of the Highway Advisory Board, the Metro Council voted to lower the speed limit on Tanyard Hill Road from 55 mph to 45 mph on Monday night. {File Photo}

Based on speeding complaints from local residents, Metro Sheriff Tyler Hatfield along with SRO Mike Rainey and Captain Shane Taylor appeared before the Highway Advisory Board on Monday night to request that they recommend lowering the speed limit on Tanyard Hill Road from 55 to 45 miles per hour.

“It’s a narrow road with sharp curves and very little shoulder,” Sheriff Hatfield stated.

“There’s also a lot more boat and camper traffic now,” SRO Rainey added.

“We’ve actually had a deputy run off the road along Tanyard,” Sheriff Hatfield continued.

When not posted, the road defaults to the state limit of 55 miles per hour. Hatfield, Rainey, and Taylor requested that the committee recommend to the Metro Council that the speed be reduced and posted to 45 miles per hour.

They also recommended two other narrow, dead end roads — Beech Court and Crest Drive — be reduced from the county wide 45 mph to 25 mph.

The recommendations passed unanimously and the Highway Department will work to get the changes posted immediately. •

Metro Council meets tonight

LYNCHBURG — The Metro Council will meet tonight in a regular session meeting. The Highway Advisory Board will meet at 6 p.m. just prior to the Metro Council meeting at 6:30 p.m.

In new business, the council will consider a couple of recommendations from Metro Sheriff Tyler Hatfield and the Highway Advisory Board. The council will also consider procedural changes to Metro’s purchasing process. Lastly, the council will consider revision’s to Moore County’s cell tower ordinance.

All Metro Council meetings are open to the general public and take place at the Lynchburg Legion Building located on the Booneville Highway. If you have questions or concerns, contact Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076. •

{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.}

School Board will discuss COVID re-opening plan on Thursday

MOORE COUNTY — What’s the continuous learning plan and/or COVID re-opening plan for Moore County Schools? That question will be front and center at the Metro School Board meeting on Thursday, July 16 at 6 p.m. In order to accommodate what could be a larger crowd, the meeting will take place at the LES Cafeteria.

On June 18, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead told The Lynchburg Times that he planned to stick to the Metro School Board approved schedule if possible. (To read that article, click here.)

“We have a school board approved schedule in place and I’m going to do everything I can to stick to it,” he said. “The one variable I can’t control is the virus.”

Whether or not schools should re-open to onsite learning and what that would look like has been a hot topic in Moore County recently as confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise. After holding steady at five total cases up until June 26, Moore County’s case count has since more than quadrupled. As of Monday, July 13 there were 21 total cases with 15 of those being active.

All Metro School Board meetings are open to the general public. To full the full agenda, click here. •

{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.}

State wildlife officials seek Moore County anglers public feedback

Moore County anglers can ask questions and give feedback during the TWRA online public meeting on July 9. {File Photo}

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) announced this week that they plan three separate Facebook live events in the month of July to get public feedback about fishing in Tennessee. The three events will focus on three distinct regions of fishing in Tennessee. TWRA will discuss Middle Tennessee on Thursday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. on the TWRA Facebook page.

West Tennessee will be discussed on July 14 at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) and East Tennessee on July 16 at 5:30 p.m. (CDT).

Moore County anglers can provide questions or comments in advance by emailing ask.twra@tn.gov, or on TWRA Facebook or Instagram via direct message during the event.

“We want to hear what people are experiencing on the water, what they like and don’t like, and any questions they might have,” said TWRA Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss. “We will have our local Fisheries managers available to answer questions during the event do our best to answer questions live.”

All meetings can easily be attended virtually and seen live on Facebook by clicking here. The TWRA encourages everyone to watch live and send in questions or comments before or during the meeting. There is no other option to attend these meetings due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and social distancing requirements. •

{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.}

Metro Council meets tonight

LYNCHBURG — The Metro Council will meet in person for the first time since Governor Bill Lee issued the Safer at Home Order back in March. Both the April and May Metro Council meetings limited in person attendance to 10 people. All others attended virtually.

Prior to the June 15 meeting, there will be an unprecedented five public hearings. Two will deal with the upcoming fiscal budget and the other three will be an attempt to clarify language in the Metro Ordinances.

The first, at 6:05 p.m., will be to hear public comment regarding folding the Urban Services District (the former Lynchburg city limits) fund into the Metro General fund. The second, at 6:10 p.m., will be to hear public input on the Metro Budget for fiscal year 2020-21.

At 6:15 p.m., there will be a public hearing regarding the Metro Council’s intent to clarify wording on Metro Zoning Ordinance 7.7.100 regarding fines for violations of zoning ordinances. The Mayor requested clarified language to give the Sheriff’s Department and Codes Enforcer “teeth” when dealing with violations. At 6:20 p.m., there will be a public hearing regarding the Metro Council’s intent to clarify language of Metro Zonig Ordinance 7.7.030 regarding required building permits. According to Mayor Lewis, they’ll just be cleaning up the language. The final public hearing, at 6:25 p.m., will seek public input on the council’s intent to correct duplicate numbering in ordinances 6.4. 140-160.

The regular meeting will begin t 6:30 p.m. In new business, the council will consider new planning commission members, Metro Budget amendments, appropriations for non-profits, and adjusting the tax levy for fiscal 2020-21 to $2.38 and $2.40 for the Urban Services District.

The June 15 meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building off Highway 129. There will be a special session meeting on June 22 to hear the second and third readings of the 2020-21 Metro Budget. All Metro Council meetings are open to the general public. •

{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.}

Metro Utility Board meets on June 9

LYNCHBURG — The Metro Utility Department Board will meet in a regular session meeting on Tuesday, June 9 at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the general public however due to COVID-19 precautions members of the general public will need to attend virtually.

Tuesdays agenda includes an engineer’s report, a review of the Metro Utilities Department handbook, and a manager’s report.

If you would like to attend the meeting, call the MUD offices at 931-759-4297 and someone there will provide you with a link and virtual access code for the meeting. The MUD offices are located at 705 Fayetteville Highway. The lobby doors remain locked to the general public due to COVID-19 precautions. They are available weekdays by phone and payments can be made at the night drop. If you need to meet with a specific staff member, you may do so by appointment. •

{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.}

Metro Council rejects another attempt to revise barrel tax issue

They are built from scratch from American white oak then individually charred 20-25 seconds to give Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey its distinct color and flavor. Ask any distiller and they’ll tell you, the barrel is a key ingredient in the Lynchburg whiskey-making process. And that barrel was once again the subject at a recent Metro Council meeting.

On Monday, council member Wayne Hawkins asked to be added to the agenda to seek approval for Moore County to initiate legal remedies against the State of Tennessee for the second time in less than six months. The issue? The language of what the local property assessor believe is 80 plus years of unpaid, whiskey barrel tax by Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

But first a little backstory

To understand the events of Monday night, you must first understand it’s genesis. All Metro offices are audited annually through the State Comptroller’s office at no cost to the county. It also pays third party auditors to conduct individual property tax audits … either randomly chosen or picked by the local assessor’s office.

From talking to multiple sources, the barrel tax issue all started with a third party auditor in 2017. That individual was the first to suggest that barrels were subject to property tax. Initially one individual within the State Comptroller’s office agreed by e-mail that the barrels were taxable, but even in that e-mail, the person said he had very limited knowledge of the whiskey and barrel manufacturing process.

Then, the state auditor’s office even went so far as to estimate that Jack Daniel owed Metro Moore $2.7 million in revenue from fiscal year 2017-18 that was “due but not yet collected” and buoyed by the exact number, the local office mailed Jack Daniel’s Distillery a bill … something they’ve done every year since.

Then in 2018, as the State Legislature considered the law that clarified that the barrels are exempt, the Comptroller’s office learned more about those facts and, ultimately, more senior members of the Comptroller’s office withdrew their support of the original auditor and Metro Assessor’s position.

A few weeks later, the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill with some telling language. It allowed, “Tennessee whiskey barrels to remain exempt from property tax.” HB 2038 passed in the House of Representatives by a 78-12 margin and it’s companion bill SB 2076 passed unanimously in the Senate before heading to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk.

Hawkins makes detailed presentation

Hawkins made several assertion in his Power Point presentation:

Assertion #1: “Up until the early months of Lamar Alexander’s first term, Brown-Forman paid taxes on the barrels they purchased.”

Not true, said Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis during open discussion.

“Never, ever has Jack Daniel’s paid a barrel tax to Moore County … ever,” she stated emphatically. “The 2018 law was nothing more than a clarification.”

It’s a fact confirmed by the Tennessee Distillers Guild who in 2018 told The Tennessean they polled the group’s membership and none have ever been accessed property tax on whiskey barrels. The Guild represents over 30 distilleries from Memphis to Knoxville and all points along the way including Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury, Southern Pride Distillery in Fayettevile, and the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville.

Assertion #2: “In concert with Brown-Forman’s management, the Alexander administration reclassified the barrels as manufacturing process equipment (or property), which is not subject to sales tax.

This is where the presentation gets a little muddy. Property tax and sales tax are two different things. The law Hawkins asked his fellow council members to sue the state over references barrels as the subject of property tax not sales tax.

Furthermore, Mayor Lewis confirmed with Jack Daniel’s Distillery that it does not pay sales tax on the barrels because it acquires or uses them under a “sale for resale” certificate, which is what any manufacturer uses when buying a component part of a product it manufactures and resells.

In a written statement to Mayor Lewis, the distillery stated, “In other words, for sales tax purposes, Jack Daniels treats the barrels and their parts as materials that will be manufactured into a final product sold to customer, which is consistent with the fact that the barrels are not subject to property tax because they are manufactured items.”

The exact language of the bill then State Representative David Alexander sponsored (HB 2038) is, “As enacted, specifies that aged whiskey barrels, during the time in which such barrels are owned or leased by a person that produces or manufactures whiskey in those barrels, are considered, and have always been considered, “articles manufactured from the produce of this state, or any other state of the union, in the hands of the manufacturer”, for purposes of exemption from property taxation.

“It’s an industry killer.”

Hawkins based his request, in part, on a 2017 Moore County audit that assumed “all equipment used in the manufacturing process has always been considered as property subject to property taxes in both Tennessee and Kentucky.”

In a 2014 interview with Whiskycast, Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory stated that, “Kentucky is the only place in the world that actually taxes barrels of aging spirit.”

And even Kentucky changed it’s mind. In April 2014, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear rescinded its “barrel tax” calling it an “industry killer.”

It’s an opinion Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis shares.

During Monday night’s meeting she told the council, “If you want to see to the impact of Jack Daniel in little Lynchburg come sit with me all day, every day since March,” she told the council. “It’s a ghost town. The people who have been allowed to open their businesses … it doesn’t matter. Because until Jack Daniel reopens, we’re Mulberry or Petersburg.”

{Editor’s Note: In March, Brown-Forman decided to suspend tours at the Lynchburg distillery in response to COVID-19. It remains shuttered today. Click here for that article.}

She also reminded the council that the “barrel tax” question was added to the ballot in 2012 and Moore County voters did not approve it. She also asserted that the 2012 barrel tax effort played a part in Brown-Forman shifting part of it’s barrel construction into Lincoln County.

“Drive south on Highway 55 and go into Fayetteville 37334, there’s where all your barrels are going. Those warehouses are built daily.”

She continued that moving forward with never-ending efforts to tax Jack Daniel barrels as property would make Fayetteville Mayor Bill Newman and Lincoln County taxpayers “very happy.”

In the end, the majority of council members agreed: John Taylor, Sunny Rae Moorehead, Meghan Bailey, Keith Moses, Houston Lindsay, Amy Cashion, Denning Harder, Arvis Bobo, and Gerald Burnett voted against approving money to pursue the barrel tax issue. Wayne Hawkins, Tommy Brown, and Gordan Millsaps voted in favor. David Boyce and Sandy Thomas were not present at the meeting. Attending remotely, Patrick Maynard lost connection prior to the vote. It failed 9-3.

When we reached out for comment, both of Moore County’s state legislators agreed with the council’s final decision.

“I would not support any any action to impose a barrel tax on our distillers,” Representative Iris Rudder told The Times. “You have to remember that any such tax wouldn’t just affect Jack Daniel. There would be lots of smaller distillers affected as well.”

State Senator Shane Reeves agreed.

“Jack Daniel’s has been making its world-famous whiskey since 1866 in Lynchburg,” he said. “That 150-year partnership, which has brought a lot of jobs, tourism, and revenue into this county, has only been possible because of the intentional effort by Moore County to have a low-tax, pro-business climate. Let’s not break something that has been working for over 15 decades.”

In a bit of serendipity, Jack Daniel mailed its annual Distillery Report to Moore County homes this week. In it, the Distillery reports that it accounts for one-half of all local taxes collected in Metro Moore County. Additionally, Visitors Center bottle sales contributed another $333,000 to Metro’s debt fund. They also employ over 700 Moore County residents, which is equivalent to 50 percent of all private sector jobs.

In addition, the reports states, that Jack Daniel’s “substantial payroll and vendor purchases ripple throughout the region” to the tune of $100 million in employee compensation and another $182 million in compensation throughout the state.

They also make hundreds of charitable donation to groups as close as the Whiskey Runners Car Club and Lynchburg Youth Baseball and national groups like the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Cancer Society. •

{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.}

Metro Council meets tonight … virtually

LYNCHBURG — The Metro Council will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. In order to follow social distancing recommendations, 10 people (including council members, the mayor, department heads, and the media) will meet at the American Legion Building. Other council members and the public will attend remotely. For credential to login into the meeting, contact the Metro Mayor’s office at 931-759-7076.

Monday night’s agenda is packed. In new business, the council will consider language clarifying language for several Metro ordinances. They will also hear a resolution to adopt personnel policies and to apply for a litter grant. Additionally, they will consider a resolution to allow the Metro Water Department to lease or purchase new water meters.

On budget news, the council will consider the final budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year and consider a recommendation from the Budget Committee to dissolve the Urban Services Fund into the General Fund. The Metro Council will also consider a spending plan for the Governor’s Local Government Support Grant.

Metro Council member Wayne Hawkins has asked to speak to the council at large about two items HB 2038/SB 2076 and a Car Club Event Resolution. As you’ll recall, during the March 16 meeting, Hawkins appeared before the Metro Council on behalf of the Whiskey Runners Car Club, the organization behind Lynchurg’s fall car show, Cruisin’ in the Hollow. The organizers were concerned that their event, which traditionally happens on the first weekend in October, would conflict with the Lynchburg Music Fest’s new date, October 2-3. However, after The Times spoke with LMF organizers, we confirmed that there was no conflict because the music festival would be held at a different location this year. Click here for that article. •

{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.}

School Board meets Monday … virtually

LYNCHBURG — The Moore County School Board will resume business on Monday night but not as usual. April’s regular session meeting will be held online. To listen, click here.

On the agenda for the April 27 meeting, the Board will review policies based on TSBA recommendations, as well as vote on as Board resolution to suspend some policies due to COVID-19.

Director Moorehead will present a request from the annual Bike to Jack and Back fund-raising ride to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The group requested the use of the LES campus for camping during their October 17-18 event. October’s set to be a busy month for Lynchburg. The second annual Lynchburg Music Fest will take place at a yet undisclosed location on Oct. 2-3 and the Jack Daniel World Championship Invitational BBQ will take place in Wiseman Park on a new date this year, Oct. 10. The Oak Barrel Half Marathon – which normally takes place in April – will happen on October 24.

Director Moorehead will present a letter of resignation from varsity boys head basketball coach Heath Hardin. He will also discuss with the Board how refunds for this year’s senior trip – which was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns – will be allocated. Varsity cheer sponsor Erin Rutledge will also request permission for the 2020-21 squad to attend cheer camp at Tennessee Tech University.

Driector Moorehead will give a report on the construction progress at MCHS, graduation plans, prom, and the LES Gym floor replacement.

To view a full agenda, click here. The online meeting is available to the public beginning at 6 p.m. For more information, visit the Moore County Schools website. •

{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.}

Metro Council meets as planned on March 16

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Moore County Council will meet in a regular session meeting on Monday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. There will be a Metro Budget Committee meeting at 5 p.m.

In new business, the Council will be presented with the resignation of a fourth district council member, Shawn Adams. Adams previously decided not to run for re-election, according to Mayor Lewis. Mayor Lewis also confirmed that four individuals have stated their intention to run for that office in August.

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) Electrical Engineer Chad Pinion will also address the council. Sheriff Hatfield’s asked to speak to the Metro Council about jail repairs. Wayne Hawkins has also asked to address the council concerning the Jack Daniel Barrel Tax, the Lynchburg Music Fest, and a car show in the park.

Metro EMA Director Jason Deal will present Moore County’s Coronavirus Plan to the Metro Council on Monday night. The Mach Tenn Running Club has also asked to be added to the agenda to seek approval for the new October date for the Oak Barrel Half Marathon. That event was originally slated for April 4.

All Metro County meetings are open to the general public and take place at the American Legion Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. •

{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.}