Some locals brace as $600-per-week unemployment ends

More than 714,000 Tennesseans have applied for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the economy in March. {File Photo}

During the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’ve often heard it said that we’re all in the same storm but not all in the same boat. And it’s true. Some segments of the economy like Internet and healthcare are soaring. Those who work in travel, hospitality, and tourism are struggling.

Many Moore Countians who lost jobs in March have been making ends meet with the help of a $600 a week federal boost to unemployment through the CARES Act called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). That boost will end this Saturday, leaving over 20 million Americans wondering what comes next.

“Between a car payment, food, lights, etc., I’m not sure how we well get by,” says Jill (not her real name) who recently got permanently laid off from the hospitality industry. “I’m also a single mom with two kids who is going to have to buy school supplies.”

The FPUC funding was only ever meant to be temporary. Once the CARES Act expires most folks currently on unemployment will go back to the state benefit that tops out at $275 a week – that’s less than minimum wage for a 40 hour a week position.

Jill says on top of the financial stress, her son with asthma falls in the vulnerable category, and she’s constantly worried about the virus. She says she recognized the temporary blessing of the extra $600 per week and saved a nest egg for when it runs out.

“Many Americans barely get by as it is and it’s proof that wages need to be better,” Jill says.

State officials say it’s important to know that if you’ve been approved for federal FPUC payments and completed certification through July 25 but your claim has not been processed yet, you will still receive those payments retroactively. If you have questions or concerns, contact the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development by clicking 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.}

Organizers cancel 2020 Lincoln County Fair

Folks from Moore County will miss the Lincoln County Fair Harness Races this year. Organizers cancelled the event last week but say they are determined to return in 2021. {Photo Provided}

LINCOLN COUNTY — One of southern, middle Tennessee’s fall rites of passage will not take place this year due to public health concerns concerning COVID-19. Lincoln County Fair President Randy Cowley recently announced the cancellation on the event’s website.

“This decision was not made lightly and was only made after seeking guidance from the State of Tennessee, the CDC, local authorities and other organizations,” Cowley stated. “The safety of everyone involved with our fair was the highest priority in making the decision and we as a board felt the restrictions needed to keep everyone safe would not allow us to create the same enjoyable fair experience that everyone has come to expect. Even so, cancelling has been a heartbreaking decision for us.”

This will be the first year since the Lincoln County Fair launched in 1905 that a fair will not happen.

“We are saddened and heartbroken for the impact this will have on businesses, family farms, school organizations, civic groups, adult and youth competitors, exhibitors and sponsors who rely on the income and exposure the Lincoln County Fair brings them. We understand that our fair is a valued fundraiser for many school groups and that the loss of revenue for them alone will be detrimental,” Cowley said.

Cowley said the next Lincoln County Fair will take place in September 2021 as planned. For more information, visit the Lincoln County Fair’s website by clicking 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.}

Nonprofit claims Manchester released raw sewage into the Duck River

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

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

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

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

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

Tennesseans now get discount at state parks

Need a break? Spend the night in one of Tennessee’s 56 state parks, including nearby Tims Ford, and get a discount as a Tennessee resident. {Photo Provided}

In March 2020, the world changed for most of us. Suddenly social distancing, quarantine, masks, and sanitizer became part of our daily lexicon. As the COVID-19 global pandemic forced many inside, others continue to look for ways to connect outdoors. It’s in that spirit that the Tennessee State Parks system decided to offer a new discount specifically for Tennessee residents.

On Wednesday, they announced a 10 percent Tennessee Resident Discount meant to encourage spending the night outdoors while making it more affordable. Tennessee is already just one of six U.S. states who do not charge an admission fee at state-sponsored parks.

“Our hope is that all Tennesseans – especially young adults, new residents, families with small kids, and price-sensitive travelers – will get outside and discover the beauty and wonder of your state parks,” said Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Jim Bryson. 

The discount is available to reserve a campsite, cabin, or lodge room at any Tennessee State Park including Tims Ford, Old Stone Fort, South Cumberland, and Henry Horton. To reserve a spot at one of 56 state parks, contact them by phone at 800-471-5295 or by clicking 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.}

Watch a Blake Shelton concert at the drive in

The Montana Drive in Estill Springs will present a special Blake Shelton concert on Saturday, July 25 at 8:30 p.m. (Photo Provided}

ESTILL SPRINGS — The shut down of pretty much all live music is one of the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of folks packed into a small venue or even a large arena just isn’t the best idea considering the respiratory spread of the virus. But as social distancing restrictions increase, the popularity of the local drive in has increased for more than just movies as it provides a safe, creative way to still enjoy entertainment.

On Saturday, July 25 those two concepts will collide as Encore Drive In Nights presents Blake Shelton at the Montana Drive In is nearby Estill Springs. Shelton will perform with Gwen Stefani and Trace Adkins.

The concert was filmed exclusively for the drive in performance and will also include behind-the-scenes interviews with the performers.

“This is such a great way to enjoy music with your family and friends and stay safe,” said Shelton. “I’m excited we’re getting the chance to perform a concert for fans and we’re going to go back and play old hits like Austin, newer songs like God’s Country and we might even introduce something brand new.”

The Montana is one of nine Tennessee drives in to play the concert. The performance will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 and the cost will be $114.99 per car load (up to six people). Tickets are on sales now at this link. •

{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.}

Local Walmarts now require masks

According to their corporate website, all area Walmart and Sam’s Club stores will begin requiring masks on Monday, July 20. {Photo Courtesy of Walmart}

Officials at Walmart and Sam’s Club in Tennessee and throughout the U.S. announced this week that customers must now wear mask to gain entry to all stores.

“We know some people have differing opinions on this topic. We also recognize the role we can play to help protect the health and well-being of the communities we serve by following the evolving guidance of health officials like the CDC,” stated Walmart CEO Dacona Smith on their corporate website on Wednesday. To read that complete post, click here.

The new requirement will be implemented at the Winchester, Fayetteville, and Tullahoma Walmarts effective Monday, July 20.

“While we’re certainly not the first business to require face coverings, we know this is a simple step everyone can take for their safety and the safety of others in our facilities. According to the CDC, face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s critically important for everyone to wear a face covering in public and social distance,” they stated on Wednesday.

To ensure consistency, all stores will have a single entrance. Walmart stores will not provide masks if customer show up without them.

“As we have seen in states and municipalities with mask mandates, virtually everyone either brings a mask or readily complies with the requirement, and we anticipate that to happen in other areas as well,” they said. •

{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.}

Once-in-a-lifetime comet visible in Moore County

Comet NEOWISE is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a comet with the naked eye. It should be visible in Moore County through July 19. {Photo Provided}

It’s a once in a 6,800 year astronomical opportunity local stargazers won’t want to miss. Keep your eyes peeled now through July 19 for Comet NEOWISE as it makes a rare appearance that can be seen by the naked eye … but the window is closing quickly.

The three-mile wide comet began its trip near Earth on July 14. It is the first “great comet” to pass near Earth since the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997. The comet is named for the NASA mission that discovered it back in March. Its massive dust tail makes it appear as if it’s hurdling towards Earth … but don’t worry, it’s harmless.

According to local astronomer Billy Hix, the comet can be seen about an hour before sunrise or hour after sunset very low in the northern horizon.

“By July 19, it will be about two fist width (approximately 20 degrees) above the northwest horizon right after sunset. The comet is moving away from earth so it will be getting dimmer,” Hix said.

Luckily, rural areas without light pollution – like the rolling hills of Moore County – are the perfect place to view the comet. If you want to try and capture an image, use a tripod and a long exposure.

Newowise’s closest approach to Earth comes on July 22, at a distance of about 64 million miles. To view a NASA video on how to spot the comet, click here. To check out the International Space Station’s view of the one-in-a-lifetime comet, 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.}

Iconic 80’s films play at drive in

A trio of iconic eighties films, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, and The Empire Strike Back, will play at the Montana July 10-16. {Images Provided}

ESTILL SPRINGS —Watching a classic blockbuster again on the big screen enjoys a certain cool factor. Beginning on Friday, the Montana Drive in will play a trio of iconic eighties flicks: Ghostbusters (1984, rated PG), Karate Kid (1984, rated PG), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980, rated PG).

Starting Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver, the original Ghostbusters is a hoot. Released on June 8. 1984, Aykroyd conceived the films plot as a comedy device for John Belushi and himself. When Belushi died, he partnered with Harold Ramis to re-write the film – setting it in New York City. In 2015, the Library of Congress selected Ghostbusters for preservation in the National Film Registry. It will show nightly at 8:30 p.m.

Wax on … wax off. Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Elizabeth Shue star in this first installment of the Karate Kid franchise. The plot follows a teenager as he learns karate to protect himself against a couple of bullies. The film earned critical acclaim for its action sequences, writing, storyline, acting, and music. Morita earned both Academy Awards and Golden Globe nods for his role as Mr. Miyagi. It will show directly following Ghostbusters each night.

Easily the most popular of the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strike Back follows the original Star Wars as Luke Skywalker and friends pursue Darth Vader. It stars Mark Hammil, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, and others. It was the highest grossing film of 1980 and was also selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. It will play nightly following the 2015 Disney Pixar film Inside Out.

Through the summer, the drive in showings are $10 a carload. The restrooms are open but only two individuals are allowed in the at one time. To encourage social distancing, they’ll serve a reduced menu at their outside concession stand only. For more information, visit their 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.}

Celebration will move forward despite COVID-19 concerns

The Celebration Board of Directors announced on Wednesday that this year’s event will take place with a few COVID-19 accommodations to keep fans safe. {Photo Credit Shane Shiflet via The Celebration}

SHELBYVILLE — Organizers say they plan to move ahead with the 82nd annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration. Their board of director announced on Wednesday that they were in the process of finalizing plans for this year’s show slated to begin August 26.

Despite their intention to move forward, they will be making some changes to accommodate local, state, and federal COVID-19 guidelines. For example, if they prefer, box seat holders will be allowed to work with Celebration staff to move their seats to a less crowded area of the arena.

“The move will be a one-year temporary move and the customer will not lose the right to the original box they’ve previously had,” they stated. “Also, if the customer moves to a different location they will be refunded the difference in price if the new box is less expensive and charged the difference if the new box is more expensive than their original box.”

The Blue Ribbon Circle Club will continue this year but in a new, outside location in the front lawn of the current Blue Ribbon. Table tops inside the Blue Ribbon Circle Club will be spread out. Food selection may be limited and will no longer be self serve.

Due to COVID-19 guidelines, there will not be a corporate sponsors party this year. There will also not be any Celebration sponsored after-show parties or entertainment including live music.

“The board just didn’t feel comfortable with the current executive orders in place of having that many people in one confined location,” they said.

Individual barns can still have gatherings, food and normal customer entertainment but they won’t be allowed to bring in outside entertainment.

Also this year, organizers will require all entries to stable 48 hours prior to their performance. For more information about this year’s changes, visit The Celebration website bu 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.}

Tims Ford plans outdoor survival school

Learn the keys to outdoor survival at Tim’s Ford Forged at the Ford. {File Photo}

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Think you could survive for three days and two nights on an island in Tims Ford Lake with just a handful of gear? Then you should definitely register for Forged at the Ford Outdoor Survival School, which will take place July 17-19. Registration ends on July 10, and there are limited spots available.

A Tims Ford Park Ranger will teach campers a variety of survival basics using minimal equipment and resources. Participants will learn friction fire, shelter building, knots, and more. During the three days, campers will live off the land by learning wild edible plants, trapping, fishing, and outdoor cooking. Rangers designed the program for all skill levels but campers must be at least 14 years old to attend and campers 14-17 years old must be accompanied by an adult.

The list of required gear includes a fixed blade knife, ferrocerium rod, screw top water bottle, hatchet or axe, 8×10 tarp, 50 feet of paracord, a flashlight or headlamp, a small metal pot, a sleeping bag, fishing line with assorted hooks, and a extra set of clothes in a waterproof container. Optional gear will include a hand saw, insect repellent, and a small first aid kit. All campers will be inventoried upon arrival.

Forged at the Ford is a rain or shine event. The price is $200 per camper. For more information, contact the Tims Ford Park Office at 931-958-3536 or visit their website. To register for the event, click here. •

{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.}