WHISKEY MAKING 101: Motlow joins MTSU, Columbia State in $300K USDA fermentation science grant

Motlow State Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher will lead the fermentation science partnership with MTSU and Columbia State. A $300,000 USDA grant will fund the project. {Photo Provided}

EDUCATION | Motlow State is located in Lynchburg – the unofficial whiskey capitol of the world – and right in the heart of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. So, it only makes sense that they’d be the perfect educational partner for a fermentation science programs.

The USDA just awarded a $300,000 grant to Motlow, MTSU, and Columbia State with an eye toward attracting future agricultural students to the Fermentation Science Program, according to a recent press release.

It’s a three-year, $300,000 grant proposed by MTSU’s Tony Johnston, who is partnering with Motlow Chemistry Instructor Nathan Fisher and Columbia State’s Karen Kendall-Fite, with faculty from all three schools participating.

“Our collaboration in this grant award is part of a larger, long-term vision. We are very intentional about our plan to introduce a variety of Fermentation and Distillery Science learning opportunities,” said Motlow President Dr. Michael Torrence. “Our vision includes broadening short-term certificate training opportunities, as well as the development of new degree programs. Those programs will specifically seek to cultivate the success of minority and underserved populations in these fields.”

The grant increases awareness of agriculture and introduces fermentation concepts into lower-division undergraduate math and science classes at Columbia State and Motlow, and drives fermentation science as a career option.

“Students, in general, aren’t aware of what fermentation science is, much less that it’s agricultural,” said Johnston, professor, and director of the MTSU Fermentation Science program. “The grant seeks to get more students interested in agriculture as a career.

 “Agriculture is an applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field, but it is not traditionally viewed this way,” Johnston said. “The grant provides an opportunity to connect the dots between STEM courses and agriculture and raise awareness of and increase the potential for a student to become interested in the applied STEM career that is fermentation science.”

Johnston said part of the grant would go toward classroom equipment — smartphones and scientific equipment — for Motlow and Columbia State students to learn about chemistry, biology, and math through applications of Fermentation in their freshmen- and sophomore-level courses. The funds will also pay for faculty training.

For more information about this exciting new opportunity, contact Nathan Fisher, Motlow Chemistry Professor, at 615-220-7879 or nfisher@mscc.edu. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

Moore County COVID-19 Update: 6 Things to Know This Week

This map represents cases by county as of Friday at 2 p.m. {Graphic Provided}

With the announcement of Friday’s numbers at 2 p.m., Tennessee reported 189,454 total confirmed COVID-19 cases. Our state experienced 136 new deaths this week but the deceased rate remains at around one percent. According to the state, 172,618 total COVID-19 patients have recovered or have inactive cases. Here’s the top six things you need to know for this week:

1| Moore experiences it’s largest one week increase. According to today’s numbers, Moore County gained 24 new COVID cases in the past seven days – from 145 on September 19 to 169 today. This is the largest weekly increase since the state began tracking numbers in March. There were more recoveries (17) than new active cases (11) in the past seven days. Moore County has experienced one COVID-related death.

2| Coffee County replaces Bedford as regional hotspot. Regionally, Coffee County experienced that greatest seven day increase with 141 followed by Franklin County (88), and Lincoln County (35). Previous regional hotspot Bedford County experienced the smallest increase this week with 33.

3 | More new state cases than recoveries reported this week. In state numbers, there were more new COVID cases (8015) in the past seven days than recovered/inactive cases (7636). Tennessee had 136 new COVID deaths this past week for a total of 2,352. Nearly three percent of Tennessee residents have reported confirmed cases.

4 | Regional testing moves from Manchester to Tullahoma. This week regional testing moved from the Old Southern Family Market in Manchester to Waggoner Park in Tullahoma. Free COVID-19 testing will take place at 1208 East Carroll Street in the pavilion closest to Industrial Boulevard. Locals may remain in their cars for testing.

5 | Nashville names hotspots. If you are headed to Nashville this weekend, it’s best to avoid COVID hotspot identified by the Metro Health Department this week including 49 sites and six downtown bars. These location have been linked to more than 2,600 cases of coronavirus and include Loser’s, Tootsie’s, Dogwood, Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk, Dawghouse Saloon, and Winners.

6 | Flu vaccinations are especially important this year. Health officials say in the midst of the COVID 19 health situation it’s now more important that ever to get a flu shot. According to the CDC, the flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading this year and recommends that all people six months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. It’s best to get your flu vaccine before the end of October. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

Rural Roadside Rescue: TDOT presents herbicide plan to Metro Council

Johnsongrass is an invasive species that often blocks visibility where Moore County roads intersect with state highways. {Photo Credit: USDA}

LOCAL NEWS | Drive Highway 55 between Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Moore County High School and you’ll notice a constant down both sides of the road … shoulder high Johnsongrass. Growing unchecked, it can block Moore County driver’s vision as they turn onto local and state roads.

If you drive into Lincoln County, the grass isn’t a menace. What’s the difference? Several years ago, the Metro Council voted to opt out of the state’s roadside herbicide spraying program and mowing is more costly and can’t keep up.

According to TDOT, the state highway department and Metro Highway Department receive numerous complaints from locals each year concerning obstructed views when attempting to turn onto Highway 55, Highway 82 from numerous county roads including Good Branch Road, Cobb Hollow Road, Firetower Road, and the Five Points area near Motlow College.

Keeping the grass in control is an important but costly job. In the most recent year, TDOT spent $26,963 mowing 178.77 acres in Moore County. For comparison, the state agency spent $59,352 mowing 855.98 acres in Lincoln County. That’s a difference of $69 per acre in Lincoln County versus $151 per acre in Moore County, according to TDOT.

The State Highway Department will present a plan to spray Johnsongrass on local roadsides during Monday night’s Metro Council meeting. Two individuals from TDOT, Jarrod Bonar and Lance Roland, will appear to explain the states herbicide program and to ease any concerns about the “all kill” chemicals that have been used in the past.

Specifically, they will address UT Extension’s Larry Moorehead’s previous concerns about Round Up, which caused erosion and drifted into other areas, according to Mayor Bonnie Lewis. TDOT now sprays Out Rider, an herbicide that kills Johnson Grass only as well as a drift control chemical called Sharp Shooter.

Moorehead recently rode Moore County roads with TDOT and local farmer Jody Preston — who works as a Operations Tech for TDOT — to visualize the difference in the mow versus spray methods.

According to Mayor Bonnie Lewis, Moorehead did his own research after the ride along and agrees with the use of Out Rider on local roadsides.

The Metro Council meeting takes place on Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Lynchburg Legion Building located just of the Booneville Highway. For a complete agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076 or read our meeting preview click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 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.}

Unemployment work search requirement resumes

job searching
Tennessee will resume its work search requirement for those receiving unemployment benefits beginning the last week of September. {File Photo}

STATE NEWS | According to the latest numbers available from the Tennessee Department of workforce and development, the unemployment rate in Moore County is 6.4 % – as compared to 9.5% for the state. That’s down from the 7.5% rate from June but up from the 3.9% unemployment rate for the same time period last year.

Unemployed citizens collecting unemployment benefits will need to once again complete weekly work searches beginning Sunday, October 4, according to a state press release.

Claimants who choose to continue receiving unemployment benefits will start work search activities during the week of Sunday, Sept. 27. They will then document those searches during their weekly certification for Sunday, Oct. 4, and each week after that date.

Furloughed or temporarily laid off claimants who currently have a definitive return to work date do not need to complete this requirement. Self employed individuals currently receiving benefits will be required to call on clients, submit bids or proposals, apply for contract or gig work, and / or attend training. Claimants who are out of work due to one of the COVID-19 reasons listed in the CARES Act may be exempt from performing job searches if they self-certify that they are unable to look for work due to one of the designations and are otherwise able and available, according to the state.

For one-on-one assistance, career specialists at Tennessee’s more than 80 American Job Centers can work with job seekers at no cost to provide customized job searches, job fairs, re-employment services, and eligibility assessment (RESEA) appointments, and help them determine if job training assistance is available. Centers are located regionally in Decherd, Fayetteville, Winchester, and Tullahoma. Click here for contact information.

Traditional job search methods also satisfy the requirement to remain eligible to receive benefits. If a claimant fails to complete their work searches, they will be denied benefits for the week they did not meet eligibility requirements. •

{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.}

Raiders move up in AP prep poll

We’re a moving on up … no seriously, after another road win Friday night against Forrest in Chapel Hill, the Moore County High School Raiders are ranked number five in the Associated Press Tennessee High School football statewide poll after week four.

Tennessee AP-member sportswriters and broadcasters select the top ten teams playing TSSAA football in the state.

The list, which was released on Monday, show the top 10 Class 1A teams as: 1. South Pittsburg 2. Lake County 3. Huntingdon 4. Copper Basin 5. Moore County 6. Fayetteville, 7. Coalfield. 8. Cornersville 9. Greenfield and 10. Monterey.

Other area teams earning ranks this week were Tullahoma (number three Class 4A) and Giles County (number eight Class 3A).

Moore County moved up one spot from number six to number five. Cornersville, who Moore County defeated on September 4 by a score of 33-23, held steady at number eight.

On a Division 1 Class A poll on the popular prep football site Coach T, the Raiders are ranked number two right behind South Pittsburg. Click here to see that poll.

On Friday, it will be number five versus number six (or number two versus number seven … depending on which poll you put more stock in) as MCHS heads to Fayetteville to take on the Tigers. •

{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.}

Virtual talent competition seeks video auditions

Country hit maker and Grand Ole Opry member Craig Morgan will share his music industry insights and experiences with the 2020 Path to Fame Virtual Talent Competition grand champion. {Photo Credit: Nate Griffin}

You’ve heard of talent competition shows like The Voice, American Idol, and America’s Got Talent right? What if we told you that the folks at Pigeon Forge did their very own version, Path to Fame, and that auditions will be coming to two towns less than an hour’s drive from Lynchburg?

Path to Fame 2020 will be the third consecutive year for the Tennessee-based talent scout … and this year due to COVID-19, there will be a virtual twist. In previous years, Path To Fame traveled with a team of talent scouts to various markets in the Southeast. To accommodate restrictions and venue closings due to COVID-19, the talent competition has been re-engineered to accommodate video auditions. 

“We know that performers were affected by the economic shutdown and operating restrictions necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Pigeon Forge Executive Director of Tourism Leon Downey. “Pigeon Forge’s theater community would like to help those performers, along with other talented folks, by bringing the Path To Fame Virtual Talent Competition online for 2020. We hope easy access to the competition will encourage performers to make a video and take advantage of this great career-building opportunity.”    

The grand champion will claim a prize package that includes tools to help launch the winner’s own path to fame, including a virtual career consultation with country star Craig Morgan. 

Anyone over the age of 18 who fits the search criteria can audition but officials have designated four hometown markets for this year’s auditions:  Asheville, North Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Huntsville, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Contestants may showcase their talent in one of four categories: vocalist, instrumentalist, comedian and specialty act. Individuals and groups of five or fewer can may compete. All contestants must register and submit an audition video following the contest rules and regulations to be eligible to win.

Judges will select four finalists to represent each of the hometown markets. The 16 finalists will compete for the grand champion title and the prize package that includes 12 monthly consultations with a Nashville-based talent executive and a virtual meeting with Broken Bow Records country music star Craig Morgan. 

Morgan possess strong ties to Pigeon Forge. The Tennessee native and Grand Old Opry member served as master of ceremonies at the award-winning Country Tonite show before finding success with country hits like That’s What I Love About Sunday, Almost Home, and Redneck Yacht Club. Morgan will share his music industry insights and experiences with the 2020 Path to Fame Virtual Talent Competition grand champion.


“We’re thrilled to work with Craig Morgan this year in part because he also began his own ‘path to fame’ in Pigeon Forge,” said Downey added. “Given the success of Path to Fame Talent Competition over the past two years, we’re eager to discover more talent this year, and we hope the virtual nature of this year’s contest will encourage even more people to audition.”

The grand champion prize package is comprised of career-building tools, including a one-year mentorship with Nashville-based talent executive John Alexander who discovered Kelsea Ballerini and spent more than a decade at Great American Country television network. Alexander will assist in establishing consultations and industry meetings for the grand champion. Additionally, the winner will perform in Pigeon Forge during a complimentary return trip and receive assets and experiences to advance his or her career. 

Pigeon Forge helped launch the careers of Janelle Arthur, Carly Pearce, and Mandy Barnett. For more information and details to enter are available PFFame.com. •

{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.}

Local Public Safety official explains change in COVID numbers reporting

Thanks to Moore County Public Safety Director Jason Deal, we now understand a little more about the confusing COVID-19 numbers reported by the state last Thursday. On Friday morning, he shared information supplied by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) about the changes.

In it, state health official explain that they are “improving” the data to reflect the evolving knowledge of the pandemic in our state.

Two major changes

The reports now reflect two major changes. One, active cases are now calculated differently — shortening the active period from 21 days to 10 days. This is resulting in a huge difference in the active case count. Before the change, the TDH numbers reflected 36 active cases in Moore County. After the change, there were just 15.

According to TDH, the case count reports will now include figures for “Inactive/Recovered” cases and will no longer include data for “Recovered” cases. “Inactive/Recovered” cases will include people who are 14 days or more beyond their illness onset date (or, for asymptomatic cases, their specimen collection date). This will more closely align with what is now understood about the infectious period of COVID-19, as recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show most patients with COVID-19 are no longer infectious after 10 days. Previously, TDH considered a case recovered after a 21-day period.

Also, the 18 new cases that showed up last Thursday were in part a data correction. According to the state around 1,700 Tennessee cases were incorrectly assigned to the wrong counties based on patient-provide information. This could for example happen with someone living inside Moore County has a Tullahoma or Mulberry zip code, which is common.

“These cases will be corrected all at once, which will result in case counts changes for some counties,” the state said.

It’s a statement that tracks. On September 3, Moore County’s new COVID cases jumped 18 from 97 to 115. Since then, Moore County gained no new cases on September 4 and September 7, and one new case on September 5, September 6, and September 8.

The state now also provides county snapshots that show total cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and inactive or recovered cases on a county level. To view that daily report by county, 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.}

Reporting changes cause COVID data confusion

{Graphic Provided by the TN Department of Health}

STATE NEWS — Today the Tennessee Department of Health released new numbers based on changed modeling and it’s causing confusion with both state and county leaders as well as media across the state. The TDH is reminding residents to consider case trends over several days and not just the daily COVID counts as it makes adjustments to the way it monitors cases counts in the state.

On Thursday, the afternoon COVID numbers supplied by the state showed Moore County’s COVID-19 case count jumped by 18 from 97 to 115. That large fluctuation is just a correction to the numbers, state officials explain.

The Tennessee Department of Health made changes to the way COVID-19 data is reported today. For example, the state will no longer provide numbers for “recovered” cases and instead TDH will report the number of “Inactive/Recovered” cases. This will include cases who are 14 days or more beyond their illness onset date (or for asymptomatic individuals, their specimen collection date) and who are not deceased.

The state also reported the there are an approximate 1,700 cases for whom the county of residence needs to be corrected and that correction will happen all at once.

They also explained that occasionally a commercial laboratory will experience issues with sending results electronically. When this occurs and then gets resolved, TDH uploads a batch correction as quickly as possible but those corrections sometimes result in a large fluctuation in the daily numbers.

It’s unclear which (if any) of these changes caused the big jump in Moore County numbers.

It’s also important to note that Moore County’s active case count, according to the state, went from 36 to just 15 even though the total increase overnight was 18 cases. Clearly THD new reporting parameters is experiencing growing pains. The Lynchburg Times will continue to closely monitor these number over the next several days. •

{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.}

150,000 Purple Martins roost in downtown Nashville

Thousands of Purple Martin take over the trees near the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. {Photo Provided}

NASHVILLE — Due to COVID-19, the Nashville Symphony isn’t currently performing but there’s still a show happening nightly in downtown Nashville. An estimated 150,000 Purple Martins have taken up roost in the tourist district on the plaza outside the Schermerhorn Symphony Center … and they are causing quite the stir.

Purple Martin exist as a staple of Tennessee summers. They arrive each March, many to the same Martin house or box they’ve summered in for years, and leave each September to winter in South America and the Amazon. Each year, the global population of martins gather at just 350 roosting sites to prepare for their winter migration. {Editor’s Note: We reported on the Purple Martin’s return to Moore County earlier this year, to read that coverage, click here.}

Martin and humans enjoy a special relationship. They are North America’s largest swallow and in the East, they are nearly 100 percent dependent on human-made birdhouses for nesting areas. It’s a tradition started by this areas Native Americans who once hollowed out gourds to provide nesting spots. They can be seen in all 95 Tennessee counties but rarely in urban areas.

“Most of the purple martin population no longer nests in natural cavities. The species only continues to exist because individuals invest in and maintain purple martin houses,” said Tennessee Wildlife Federation (TWF) CEO Michael Butler. “When we saw what was happening downtown, it only seemed right to the Federation to share in the cost of their roosting site when it’s hurting a fellow nonprofit already impacted by the pandemic.”

If you’re looking for a fun, social distanced outing, the Purple Martins are putting on quite the show … but it will have a short run. They’re fueling up for a long flight back to South America. Be warned though as the birds swan dive and move in ballet like motion across the sky, they tend to poop … and 150,000 birds create a lot of it. It covers the sidewalks, the fountains, the windowsills, the Symphony Hall, the trees outside … and you might get dive bombed just looking up. You’ve been warned. The flock of birds are also loud and can be heard from blocks away.

Purple Martin are protected migratory songbirds by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so despite the fact that they’re wreaking havoc, the symphony is being patient if not chagrined hosts. They says once the Martins have traveled South, they’ll break out the press washers. Until then they’re enjoying a bit of entertainment … completely on brand for 2020.

In fact, they’ve partnered with the TWF to raise money to help with the unexpected clean up costs. Without income from performances, the symphony — like many non-profits during COVID — doesn’t have extra cash just lying around. The TWF will match donations dollar-for-dollar (up to $5,000). This partnership transformed the Purple Martin visit from a nuance to a once-in-a-lifetime performance.

“We are profoundly thankful to Tennessee Wildlife Federation, as well as to The Nature Conservancy and other conservation groups, for stepping in and helping raise funds to help us take care of the Schermerhorn,” said Nashville Symphony President and CEO Alan D. Valentine. “This will help us stay focused on the critical work of bringing back the musicians and staff who fulfill the Nashville Symphony’s mission of providing great music and education programs to the diverse population of Middle Tennessee.”

The TWF set a goal of raising $10,000 for the clean up and as of September 1, they’d raised $10,600.77. If you’d like to contribute to help with the clean up, click this link. •

{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.}

FEMA: New $300 a week available for Tennessee unemployed

There’s good news for those panicked by the end of the weekly $600 federal post to state unemployment. New money is now available for local unemployed through FEMA Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance. {File Photo}

On Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a grant that would give those unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic an extra $300 a week on top of state-provided unemployment. It’s part of the Lost Wages Assistance Program. FEMA made up to $44 billion available from the Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to Americans.

It’s great news for locals who are struggling to make ends meet after the $600 a week federal boost to state unemployment ended through the CARES Act on July 25.

For more information, visit the FEMA Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance Guidelines page by clicking here. Those who would like to apply may do so through the Grants.gov portal. •

{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.}