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.}

New state laws as of July 1

Over 20 recently passed, new or expanded Tennessee state laws went into effect on July 1. {File Photo}

The state “slow poke” law, a new law to address the state’s teacher shortage, and a law to keep animal abusers from owning pets … these are part of the over 20 laws that took effect on July 1 in Tennessee. Here are a couple, we thought that might interest you:

1 | An Extension of the State’s Slow Poke Law | People driving slow in the left lane bug you? Good news. State lawmakers extended the state’s “Slow Poke” law to include not only the interstates by also any divided highway with two or more lanes in each direction. Tennessee drivers could face a $50 fine if they creep along in the passing lane.

2 | Law to Address Teacher Shortage | The General Assembly also passed a law to help Local Education Agencies (LEAs) fund a Grow Your Own scholarships to train high school students and non-teaching staff to become certified educators in a three-year program at an area college.

3| Teacher’s License Revoked for Certain Crimes | Teachers will now have their state license pulled by the State Board of Education if found guilty of certain crimes such as communicating a threat concerning a school employee, arson, aggravated arson, burglary, child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, aggravated child endangerment, providing handguns to juveniles, sexual offenses, and violent sexual offenses. In addition, it includes teachers or administrators whose name is placed on the state’s Vulnerable Persons Registry or the state’s Sex Offender Registry, or those identified by the Department of Children’s Services as having committed child abuse, severe child abuse, child sexual abuse, or child neglect.

4 | New law banning animal abusers from owning pets in the future | Legislators also passed Senate Bill 1800, which bans some convicted animal abusers from ever owning any pet again. The new law prohibits individuals convicted of some of the worst offenses against animals from owning companion animals for at least two years from the date of conviction and may impose a lifetime prohibition.  Upon a subsequent offense, the court shall prohibit the individual from having custody of any companion animal for the person’s lifetime.

For a complete list of all new Tennessee laws that went into effect on July 1, click 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.}

Southern Festival of Books goes virtual

The Southern Festival of Books will take place as planned in October but this year as a free, virtual event. {File Photo}

Books and other forms of the written word are helping us get through this global pandemic. It’s for that reason among others that the organizers of the state’s largest literary event will transition the annual Southern Festival of Books to a free, virtual event.

Organizers recently announced that this year’s Southern Festival of Books will take place virtually, and for free on October 1-11 in order to maintain the health and safety of not only the authors but also the hundreds that attend the annual Music City event. Humanities Tennessee will transform the three-day festival to virtual access during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will miss being at the beautiful Nashville Public Library and on War Memorial Plaza, with all of the buzz and energy that the Festival weekend brings. But the important traditions will carry on in new and exciting ways; the opportunity to hear writers read from and discuss their works, and the chance to engage in ideas and discourse that are vital today. Writers will join us from around the country, and we will also share some sites and literary history from Tennessee,” said Humanities Tennessee Literature and Language Program Director Serenity Gerbman.

“We are energized by the chance to reach audiences of all types who aren’t able to visit Nashville in person but who will be able to join the Festival from anywhere in the world. The celebration of the written word will continue, and we hope you will join us Oct. 1-11.”

Confirmed authors include actor, comedian, and writer Michael Ian Black, poet Nikky Finney, Devil in the White City author Erik Larson, author and Parnassus owner Ann Patchett, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethway. The full roster of 100 authors will be announced soon.

“Now more than ever we need to find ways to connect with each other and foster community.  Ingram Content Group proudly supports Humanities Tennessee and its decision to virtually host the Southern Festival of Books this fall.  The free programming offered during the festival and throughout the year is vital to the region as it prompts us to reflect upon stories and ideas of all kinds,” said Ingram President and CEO Shawn Morin.

By necessity, the Festival’s annual Authors In The Round fundraising dinner will also transition to a virtual format with details forthcoming.

“We look forward to all we will learn presenting this year’s Festival online, so that when we return in 2021 with the Festival and “Authors In The Round” dinner in person, both events will be energized to celebrate community, literature, and learning as never before,” said Humanities Tennessee Executive Director Tim Henderson.

For more information, visit the Humanities Tennessee 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.}

7 Things To Do July 4 Weekend

All Weekend — Going to the drive in is as American as baseball or apple pie. Southern, middle Tennessee is lucky to have one of our very own located in Estill Springs. The Montana Drive In will show a couple of vintage flicks this weekend that are perfect for a little socially distanced fun. They’ll play Gremlins (1984, PG), Batman (1989, PG-13), Curse of la Llorona (2019, R), Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, R), The Jungle Book (2016, G), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015, PG-13) this weekend. Click here for showtimes.

Friday — Oh hello grandmother … kick off July 4th weekend with the musical styling and overall entertaining DJ Dusty D at Hard Dock Cafe at Tims Ford Marina from 5:30-8:30 p.m.. He’s a local fourth grade school teacher and Jack Daniel’s tour guide who also spins a few mean tunes. You’ll have a good time … we promise.

Friday — A July 4th weekend shrimp boil? Yes please. The Mercantile Cafe offers a Friday night shrimp boil each first Friday of the month and in July that lines right up with the July 4th holiday. The Shrimp Boil starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. and take out is available. Click here for more info.

Friday — The River Bistro is one of the hidden gems in the southern, middle Tennessee dining scene. Nestled in quaint downtown Normandy, they offer seafood, pasta, steaks, as well as a meat and three lunch menu. On Friday night, they’ll host live music by Rosenthal + Fox. Seating is limited due to social distancing and reservations are highly recommend. Click here for more details.

Saturday — Pssst. Come here and we’ll tell you a secret. A certain Moore County resident throws a huge Independence Day bash each year complete with fireworks. Though it’s a private event, the fireworks rival anything that a surrounding county puts on. You can view them from anywhere near the intersection of Highway 129 and Highway 55 on Saturday starting around sundown.

Saturday — There may not be a Frontier Days celebration this year but one Moore County tradition lives on. The Metro Volunteer Firefighters will be on the Lynchburg Square on Saturday with their famous roasted corn from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will offer corn for a donation and all proceeds will go to Moore County-based non-profits.

Saturday — July 4th and fireworks go hand-in-hand. Drafts and Watercrafts Restaurant at Twin Creeks will host their annual Light Over the Lake event on Saturday at 9 p.m. Seats at the restaurant will be available via reservation only. Call 931-201-5516 to reserve your spot. Even if you don’t snag a spot, the fireworks will be visible at both the Dry Creek Boat Ramp and the Winchester Bass Club area. Click here for more information.

{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 Musict 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.}

Unemployment rates decrease in all 95 TN counties

{Graphic Courtesy of the TN Department of Labor and Workforce Development}

Re-opening the state is causing a marked increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases but it is causing an important decrease in one other area … unemployment. According to the latest numbers by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), the unemployment rate in all 95 Tennessee counties went down during the month of May.

Moore County’s unemployment rate went down to 9.4 percent – down from 12.2 percent the previous month. Franklin County experienced the greatest regional change – down 14.4 percent from 21 percent the previous month. In other surrounding counties, Coffee County is down 5.6 percent from 19.8 percent to 14.2 percent. Bedford County reported 13.9 percent – down 4.7 from 18.6 the previous month. Lincoln County reported an 11.8 percent unemployment rate – down 4.4 percent from the previous month.

This follows a sizeable state wide unemployment rate across Tennessee as business shuttered temporarily as a COVID-19 precaution.

Even with marked improvement, 42 counties had unemployment rates greater than 5 percent, but less than 10 percent. Fifty-three counties, more than half of the counties in the state, had rates greater than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent.

Weakley County had Tennessee’s lowest unemployment rate in May. The county’s new rate of 7 percent is 2.5 percentage points lower than it was in April.

Fentress County had the second-lowest figure in May at 7.1 percent, down from 9.9 percent the month before. Williamson County’s unemployment rate was the third-lowest statewide. At 7.4 percent, the rate is down 3.1 percentage points from the county’s all-time high of 10.5 percent recorded in April.

Sevier County continued to have the highest rate of unemployment in Tennessee. Still, the county’s new rate of 18.5 percent is a staggering drop of 10.6 percentage points from April’s record high of 29.1 percent.

At 17.6 percent, Warren County recorded the second-highest unemployment rate in May, down 7.5 percentage points from April’s rate. Marshall County had the third-highest rate for the month with a rate of 17.5 percent, a decrease of 6.6 percentage points from the previous month’s rate.

The statewide unemployment statistic from May also decreased significantly. The new preliminary rate of 11.3 percent is down from the revised April rate of 15.5 percent. Nationwide, unemployment decreased to 13.3 percent in May, down from the 14.7 percent rate recorded the month before. Unlike the statewide rate, county unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. To see all county rates, click 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 Musict 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.}

Tennessee will get two sales tax weekends this year

Tennessee will get not one but two Sales Tax Holidays this year thanks to the General Assembly. {File Photo}

The General Assembly passed the 2020-21 fiscal budget last Friday and there’s an Easter egg in it for residents … not one but two sales tax weekends this year. The traditional sales tax weekend for clothing, school supplies, and computers will take place on July 31 through August 2. A second sales tax free weekend for restaurants will take place on August 7-9.

The state also increased the price limits on eligible individual items to up to $200 for clothes and school supplies and up to $3,000 for computers and televisions. In 2021, the sales tax holiday eligible items will return to $100 and $1,500 limits, according to the Department of Revenue.

Previously lawmakers had discussed doing away with Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday due to budget concerns, but decided to keep it based on some retailer numbers being down due to the pandemic.

For a complete list of exempt items, click 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.}

DREMC, Senior Center partner to offer electric bill assistance

Duck River presents a check to the Moore County Senior Citizens for electric bill help to be distributed in Moore County. Pictured at the check presentation are (from left to right) DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence, Moore County Senior Center Director Sharon Pragel and DREMC Office Supervisor Tara Groce. {Photo Provided}

MOORE COUNTY — Duck River Electric Membership Cooperative (DREMC) along with matching dollars from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently partnered with the Moore County Senior Citizen’s to deliver Moore County’s part of $60,000 in electric bill assistance through Project Help.

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) is donating $30,000, which will be matched by Tennessee Valley Authority through its COVID-19 Community Care Fund, making a total of $60,000 available to help members who qualify for the cooperative’s Project HELP program amid financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 crisis and recovery.

“The pandemic caused the loss of jobs, uncertainties and economic standstills in our communities, which left some members struggling to pay monthly bills, including electric bills,” says DREMC Office Supervisor Tara Groce. “With this additional funding for Project HELP, more families impacted by the lingering effects of COVID-19 will receive assistance.”

The three decades old program is an emergency residential energy assistance program overseen by local charity organizations in seven counties served by DREMC and supported by generous monthly and one-time donations from members and employees, who have given more than $214,000 over the past five years to the program. In Lynchburg, the Moore County Senior Citizens oversees the distribution of funds.

Assistance is available year-round to applicants who qualify.

“Over the past year, we’ve assisted Moore County residents with electric bills 30 times using Project HELP funds,” says Sharon Pragel, director of the Moore County Senior Center. “We are so thankful for the additional Project HELP funding today. Assistance through DREMC’s Project HELP program ensures that resources are available to those in need.”

To apply for electric bill assistance through Project HELP, visit the Moore County Senior Center at 87 High Street in Lynchburg. Normal hours are weekdays, 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you need to speak to someone at the organization, call 931-759-7317 or 931-703-1014. •

{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.}

Wanna fish with Lynchburg native Bill Dance?

Bill Dance learned to fish with his grandfather along the banks of the Mulberry Creek. You can win a fishing trip with him by supporting the 2020 Tennessee Conservation Raffle. [Photo Credit: Stephen Walcott via TWRF}

Did you know the legendary angler Bill Dance – yeah the one in the ever-present UT baseball cap – is a native of Lynchburg? Before he became the host of multiple fishing television series and an author … well, he learned to fish right here on the Mulberry Creek.

And you could win a dream fishing trip with him if you support the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Foundation (TWRF) and their 2020 Tennessee Conservation Raffle.

The winner will be treated to a one day, six hour trip with one of America’s most recognized anglers. Dance has generously donated the trip and depending on the time of year and his schedule, the trip could be fishing for Mississippi River catfish, jigging for crappie, or going after largemouth bass in one of West Tennessee’s many lakes.

Formerly known as the Elk Tag Raffle, this year’s Conservation Raffle has opportunities for everyone whether a hunter, fisherman, camper, or lover of the outdoors. One hundred percent of the funds from the raffle goes to support wildlife habitat restoration.

In addition to the fishing package, other packages available this year include an elk hunting package, a deer hunting package, an off-road package, a turkey hunting package, a waterfowl hunting package, and a camping package. All the packages feature additional items and a complete list of the prizes can be found by clicking here.

A single ticket is $20 and are on sale now until August 16. There is no limit to the number of raffle tickets that can be purchased. Raffle tickets may be purchased online directly by clicking here. The winning tickets will be drawn live this year at the August meeting of the Commission which will be held in Kingsport. •

{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.}

TWRA: Stop littering state parks

Keep Tennessee Beautiful, that’s what state wildlife officials are shouting to the rooftops as more and more litter shows up in state public wildlife areas and state parks.

Since social distancing became the norm back in March, more and more folks are flocking to fishing areas, hiking trails, and camping sites throughout Tennessee. Locally, the parking lots at both Short Springs State Natural Area, South Cumberland State Park, and Tims Ford State Park stay full. Some tourism experts estimate that traffic is up in state parks by as much as 30 percent.

trash at South Cumberland
Earlier this week, the Tennessee State Park Facebook page posted these pictures of trash left at South Cumberland State Park. {Photo Provided}

And some of these folks aren’t being very good guests.

“People are parking in undesignated areas, littering, vandalizing, going off trail, injuring themselves, etc.,” they said in their FB post.

“Our mission is to preserve and protect these natural, cultural and historic places. We need our visitors to help us take care of these lands so that present and future generations can enjoy them.”

State Park officials remind visitors that most parks have re-opened but with occupancy and usage limits. If you arrive in an area experiencing high visitation with no available parking, state park officials ask that you find another destination for your outing or come back at a different time. Officials also remind guest never to park along the shoulder of roads – as this is dangerous and destroys the grounds. If you are hiking, always stay on the designated trail.

For a complete list of Tennessee State Park rules and regulations, 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.}

New bill seeks to make Juneteenth an official Tennessee holiday

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 as the nation approached its second bloody year of the American Civil War. In it, Lincoln proclaimed, “that all persons held as slaves, within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.” But news traveled slow before the age of social media and 24/7 news. Or maybe the folks in Texas – the most remote of the slave states with few Union soldiers present to enforce the proclamation – drug their feet. Either way, slavery remained the status quo in Texas well beyond what was lawful.

That changed on June 19, 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to publicly read federal orders letting all Black slaves know they were free. That day, became known as Juneteenth.

At first, June 19 was only celebrated regionally in Texas with church-centered community meals but eventually the holiday spread throughout the South and eventually the United States. Today, friends and families across the nation will celebrate with cookouts, street festivals, and public remembrances.

In Tennessee, Juneteenth is recognized as a special day of observance but not an official state holiday. That could change if new legislation passes the General assembly. On Tuesday, Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) introduced a bill that would make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

JC Penney, Target, Twitter, the NFL and others give their employees a paid day off to celebrate. Banks such as Chase and Fifth Thirds Bank will close early that day. This year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam will also give state workers the day off and say they intend to make the day a state holiday.

To voice your opinion, contact Moore County’s representatives Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. •

{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.}