Jack Honey, Jack Apple bottling returns to Lynchburg

Full bottling operation for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Apple are headed back to Lynchburg after being bottled in Louisville in 2020. (Photo Credit: Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

LYNCHBURG — Jack Tennessee Honey and Jack Tennessee Apple are headed back home.

Earlier this week, Louisville TV station WLKY reported the Brown-Forman would be returning the bottling of both Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple solely back to Lynchburg

Previously, the popular new iteration of Lynchburg’s famous hometown product had been bottled both in Louisville and Lynchburg, according to the company. The switch will eliminate the cost of transporting the liquid from Lynchburg to Louisville and also result in the elimination of around 30-40 Louisville jobs.

“The moving of bottling volumes within our network is not unusual, as this product has previously been bottled at both locations, but these decisions are never easy to make. We will ensure the support services outlined in their contracts are provided,” the company said in a statement. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated community 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.}

The Lynchburg Times Top 10 stories of 2020

Big changes at the distillery, a playoff run and Mr. Football finalist for the MCHS Raiders, a fiber Internet expansion, and a community coming together in a global pandemic – these are some of our Top 10 headlines from 2020. (File Photos)

Just because Lynchburg’s located in a small Tennessee county doesn’t mean we don’t experience big headlines that trickle through the nation. In 2020, The Lynchburg Times covered lots of headlines. Here are our top 10:

10. Buddy the Beagle gets his own Facebook Page | There’s famous and then there’s Lynchburg famous and Buddy the Beagle is definitely the later. Whether he’s cruising the historic Lynchburg Square looking to score some snacks or up at the Jack Daniel’s Visitor’s Center getting belly rubs from the tourist, Buddy is nothing if not popular. In January, one of Buddy’s friends at Jack, Allison Goodwin Hartung, decided he deserved his very own Facebook page. You can follow his hijinks there. Click here to read that story.

9. Nearest Green and Jack Daniel distillery create diversity partnership | Much of the foundational history of Lynchburg revolves around the unlikely friendship of two men, Jasper Newton Daniel and Nathan “Nearest” Green. Even if you don’t know it, the two shaped Moore County in countless ways that still echo today. So in June it felt fitting that their two distilleries would partner to shape the future of the distilling industry in ways that would have made both men proud. Together, they made a $5 million pledge to launch the Nearest Green School of Distilling, develop the Leadership Acceleration Program (LAP) for apprenticeships and establish the Business Incubation Program (BIP), which is focused on providing expertise and resources to African Americans entering the spirits industry as entrepreneurs. Click here to read that story.

8. Moore County deputy and subject exchange fire | Officer involved shootings are a rarity in Moore County, but in May a Moore County Sheriff’s Deputy and a suicidal subject exchanged fire at a home on Powell Hollow Road. The subject made a full recovery and no charges were filed in the standard TBI investigation that followed. Click here to read that story.

7. Barrel Tax issue fails … again | In 2012, Moore County voters voted down an attempt to levy a separate tax on Jack Daniel’s Distillery barrels. At the time, opponents of the ballot measure argued that it would be an “industry killer” and in 2018 the Tennessee Legislature showed their agreement by passing HB 2038 and SB 2076, bills that clarified that “Tennessee whiskey barrels [should] remain exempt from property tax.” Despite those facts, the issue seems to pop up in Lynchburg every few years. That’s exactly what happened in May when Metro Council member Wayne Hawkins made a presentation asking his fellow council members to approve money to legally revisit the issue. Much discussion ensued, but ultimately the motion failed by a 9-3 margin. Click here to read that story.

6. Kip Moore, Josh Turner, and Justin Moore headlines Lynchburg Music Fest | Lots of local events got cancelled or rescheduled in 2020 but with a brand new sprawling farm venue located in rural Mulberry and plenty of room to social distance, the Lynchburg Music Festival kept their October 4 date and snagged some outstanding acts. In August, they announced that Long Black Train crooner Josh Turner and two Academy of Country Music’s New Artists of the Year Kip Moore and Justin Moore (no relation) would headline. Click here to read that story.

5. Chris Fletcher replaces Jeff Arnett as Jack Daniel Master Distiller | In September, Jeff Arnett shocked Lynchburg and much of the whiskey-making world by announcing his departure from one of the best industry jobs in the world, Jack Daniel Master Distiller. Click here to read that story. Nearly a month later, the distillery announced that the Assistant Master Distiller and grandson of former Master Distiller Frank Bobo, Chris Fletcher, would take over the top spot. Click here to read that story.

4. Kris White replaces Jason Dobbs as MCHS Raider football head coach | In May, Raider Head Football Coach Jason Dobbs announced he was resigning his position at MCHS to pursue an opportunity at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro. Click here to read that story. Later that month, Director of School Chad Moorehead announced that an old coach would be the new head coach, Kris White. He would lead the Raiders to a 10-1 regular season and a playoff run. Click here to read that story.

3. Monster Broadband wins $1.1 million fiber grant | As the COVID 19 situation worsened, more and more Moore County residents depended on the Internet to work, attend classes, and connect online. In August, a local Internet company, Monster Broadband, applied for an were awarded a $1.1 million grant through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund that added 26 new miles of fiber Internet into our tiny county. In October, Metro Moore County applied for funding that added two more roads, Goodbranch and Goosebranch, to Monster’s fiber expansion. Click here to read that story.

2. Raiders make the playoffs; Parker named Mr. Football finalist | After their 10-1 regular season, the Moore County Raiders made a playoff run with not one but two Mr. Football nominees on their roster: Kaden White and Kyler Parker. On November 6, they beat the Wayne County Wildcats 49-14 and then moved passed Huntington on November 13 by a score of 42-22. Moore County ended their season on November 20 with a 38-29 loss to Fayetteville City, who would move on to win their first ever TSSAA Class 1A Football Championship with a 20-14 win over South Pittsburg. Raider QB Kyler Parker would go on to be named as one of the three Class A Mr. Football finalist. Hunter Frame of South Pittsburg ultimately won the award on December 8.

1. COVID-19 virus hits Moore County | Lynchburg may exist inside the second smallest of Tennessee’s 95 counties but the COVID-19 global pandemic created as many headlines here as in bigger cities. By March, confirmed cases of the virus started popping up throughout southern, middle Tennessee including as close as Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, and Lincoln counties. On April 29, the Lynchburg Nursing Center confirmed its first case – the fourth in the county. As of the last day of 2020, Moore County has experienced 701 total cases of COVID-19 and lost six friends and neighbors to the virus. •

{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.}

Jack Daniel “elves” partner with Lynchburg’s Angel Tree program to make Christmas extra special for local kids

Jack Daniel employees loaded up over 100 “party in a bag” gifts for Moore County kids as a collaboration with Santa Stocking Stuffers. It’s was part of the distillery’s participation in the BF 150 Projects to celebrate Brown-Forman’s 150th anniversary. (Photo Provided)

“There were a lot of mom tears shed,” says Jack Daniel’s Marsha Manley as she describes the project she and other distillery employees recently completed to make Christmas 2020 extra special for some Moore County children. They collaborated with Moore County Stocking Stuffers – Lynchburg’s Angel Tree programs – to deliver a “party in a bag” to 146 local kids.

The collaboration is part of Jack Daniel Distillery’s participation in the BF 150 Projects, an intracompany celebration of Brown-Forman’s 150 years in business. Founded in 1870 by Gavin Brown, the company challenged it’s employees across all brands to celebrate by doing good in their communities.

Manley says their idea centered around giving local kids everything they’d need to make Christmas an “experience” in their household including a board game, card game, popcorn, candy, and other snacks. The group also filled individual bags with a pullover or sweatshirt and a gift item specific to the child’s age group like a talking stuffed animal or Bath and Body Works set. Each family also received a Little Caesars gift card appropriate to the size of their family.

Marsha Manley, Diane Potts, and Tara Parks are three of the seven “Jack Daniel elves” that worked to make Christmas 2020 extra special for local kids. (Photo Provided)

Seven local employees including Manley, Tara Parks, Diane Potts, Kim McWhirter, Mary Beth Dickens, Laura Zimbrick, and Janelle Glenn spent several days playing Santa both online and in area stores.

“Several of us left Lynchburg at 9 a.m. one day and didn’t get back until nearly 7 p.m.,” says Manley. “We went back the next day for two more buggies full and spent countless hours online shopping.”

Manley says it was time well spent.

“It was really heartwarming to give back to children and families right here in Moore County,” Manley says. “We all teared up knowing all that work would transform into a child’s smile.” •

{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.}

Wanna own a piece of the Jack Daniel’s Barrel Tree? Benefit auction starts Dec. 1.

The Jack Daniel’s Barrel Tree is up in Lynchburg and cities across the U.S. and you can own the top barrel. (Photo Credit: Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

Each year, Jack Daniel’s Barrel Trees pops up in Lynchburg as well as cities around the globe. It’s a fun, holiday tradition that supports a great cause, Operation Ride Home, which helps help junior-enlisted service members and families travel home.

The first barrel tree went up in 2011. It was 26 feet tall and made from 140 American white oak whiskey barrels. After all, since no barrel is ever filled with Jack Daniel’s twice, we’ve got plenty of them around. All the barrels used to made the famed Jack Daniel’s Barrel Trees were once entrusted to mature the famed Tennessee Whiskey.

It brought folks from all around Tennessee, the U.S., an the globe to tiny Lynchburg. Today, replicas also go up in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Dallas, Boston, Las Vegas, Tampa, Cleveland, and Nashville.

As part of its “Operation Ride Home” program, the famed distillery and partner, the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), will auction off the top barrel of each tree with proceeds helping junior-enlisted service members and families travel home from their place of military service. Due to the current pandemic, travel for these heroes is on hold due to Department of Defense restrictions but will commence as soon as they are lifted. Since the program began in 2011, ORH has helped send a total of 8,583 individual junior-enlisted service members and their families home while raising $1.8 million in donations. Men and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard have been assisted with travel to all 50 states.

“The Jack Daniel Distillery barrel tree has always brought people together to celebrate the spirit of the season and remind us of the sacrifice of so many heroes and their loved ones” said Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller. “We hope our friends will stop by and join us to reflect on this special time of year. After all, we all need some extra cheer this holiday season.”

The barrel tree auction kicked off on December 1 and if you ‘d like to learn more about taking home one of the the barrels from this year’s trees, 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.}

Popular Jack Daniel’s Countdown Calendar returns

The oh-so-popular Holidays Countdown Calendar is back for 2020 and can be purchased locally at the White Rabbit Bottle Shop. (Photo Credit: Jack Daniel Distillery)

LYNCHBURG — Everybody’s looking for an opportunity to buy local this holiday season and living in Lynchburg – home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery – comes with some perks. You can share the holiday spirit and a taste of Lynchburg with the 2020 Holiday Countdown Calendar. The annual calendar, which first launched in 2018, is available for purchase at the White Rabbit Bottle Shop inside the Jack Daniel’s Visitor’s Center. It’s only available in select U.S. and global markets.

The limited-edition calendar features 24 windows designed to reveal a special Jack Daniel’s item on each day leading up the December holidays, making it a perfect gift for whiskey lovers or the centerpiece of a new seasonal tradition. “Surprise” products featured in this year’s calendar include four 50ml bottles each of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, three bottles each of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, and two bottles each of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, Gentleman Jack and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select. The calendar will also contain premium items, including four shot glasses with various logos from the Jack Daniel’s family of brands.

“We launched our Holiday Countdown Calendar three years ago to give friends of Jack Daniel’s a fun way to come together and celebrate the season,” said Jack Daniel’s Global Brand Director Matt Blevin. “We’re excited to feature a brand new selection of bottles and gift items this year, making it our best and most exclusive calendar yet.” •

{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.}

Jack Daniel kicks off Operation Ride Home fundraising with $100k donation

Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Armed Service YMCA kicked off Operation Ride Home fundraising on Veterans’ Day. (File Photo)

LYNCHBURG — For the past 10 years, Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg has made sure American service members make it home for the holidays and special occasions. In partnership with the Armed Service YMCA, they’ve raised money to offer financial assistance to active-duty, junior-enlisted military and their families to travel  from their  military bases to loved ones’ homes across the country under Operation Ride Home. On Veteran’s Day, they kicked off fundraising for the program.

A video promoting the program launched on Veteran’s Day and features locals Jason Bobo, Rae Steelman, Paul Anderson, Patrick Hill, Drew Smith, Melvin Keebler, John Hart, and Blake Fitzpatrick. They are all U.S. military veterans who now work for the distillery. They all discuss how important it is to get to come home as a junior enlisted service members and how much they appreciate the support that their company gives the military.

In the video, Smith and Bobo visit a family with a Operation Ride Home check and the film follows a family as they get to travel to see loved ones in Seattle. Bobo and Smith also all discuss how much they appreciate the support that their company gives the military. To view the video, click here.

In total, Operation Ride Home has generated more than $1.8 million in donations that have allowed 8,583 service members to spend the holiday with their families. It’s assisted servicemen and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard with travel to all 50 U.S. states.

This year, due to the current pandemic, travel for these heroes is on hold until the lifting of Department of Defense restrictions.  But that’s okay Jack Daniel officials say, as soon as restrictions are lifted, the program will once again focus on reconnecting as many U.S. military families as possible.

“Serving in the military is stressful enough for our heroes, but this year even more so as they and their families sacrifice for us all while waiting to see their loved ones,” said Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. “We will be pulling out all the stops to raise awareness of Operation Ride Home, help address the tremendous financial needs our junior-enlisted face and celebrate with them when restrictions are lifted and they can visit their loved ones.  It will be a special time and one they all so deserve.”

As it has done throughout the program, Jack Daniel’s kicked off the campaign with a $100,000 donation on Veteran’s Day and is asking friends to visit operationridehome.com and contribute to help more service members make it home. Their goal is to eclipse 10,000 service members and their families who have been assisted throughout the life of the effort as well as exceed $2 million dollars in overall donations. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.

“Having been there, I know what it’s like when you’re a young servicemember trying to provide for your family while facing financial hardship and the stress that comes with wearing the uniform,” said ASYMCA President/CEO William French. “Operation Ride Home has made a tremendous difference in so many lives and this tenth anniversary is going to be special as we work to get as many home as we possibly can.  I can’t wait to look them in the eye and let them know they’re going home.”

The ASYMCA works with the various military commands in specific areas co-located with ASYMCA branches to identify and prioritize junior-enlisted service members and families most in financial need. Plane tickets and pre-paid debit cards are given to assist those traveling. Operation Ride Home is open to active duty E-5 and below, both single and married, who might not otherwise financially be able to travel home. The option to drive or fly is an individual decision. For additional information on eligibility and to view participating installations that qualify for travel assistance, 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.}

Jack introduces two new small-batch Tasters’ Series bottles

Keebler’s Jamaican Allspice Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and finishes it for 180 days with toasted Jamaican allspice wood to create a nose of fruit, smoke, and sweet tobacco. (Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

LYNCHBURG — They may be a global whiskey making company but that doesn’t mean that Jack Daniel’s Distillery isn’t also producing some of the best small batch, experimental whiskeys available on the market.

Today, they announced the sixth and seventh whiskeys in its Tennessee Tasters’ Selection series. Each release is sold in 375-ml bottles and are available exclusively at the Jack Daniel Distillery and a very few select stores across Tennessee. The bottles reflect sample bottles used daily by Jack Daniel’s Master Tasters and include a customized label, distillery name embossment on the front, and Taster Sampler Bottle mark on the back of the glass structure.

Master Taster Melvin Keebler selected the first new bottle called Jamaican Allspice. It takes Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and finishes it for 180 days with toasted Jamaican allspice wood to create a nose of fruit, smoke, and sweet tobacco.

Master Taster Jessica Hartline created 14E19 Twin Blend, which gets its name from the entry date of 20 barrels of Tennessee Whiskey and 30 barrels of Tennessee Rye that entered the barrelhouses on May 19, 2014. She selected the 50 barrels and blended them to produce a flavorful and complex 107 proof whiskey with complementing spice and floral accents.

“Our newest additions to the Tennessee Tasters’ series represent the creativity and craftsmanship that Mr. Jack began with more than 150 years ago,” said Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. “Our Master Tasters embodied that spirit with these bottles by complementing the character of our classic Tennessee Whiskey with rare woods for the Jamaican Allspice bottle and hand-selected barrels of Tennessee Rye for the Twin Blend. We can’t wait for our friends to try them.”

The two new releases are limited to approximately 24,000 bottles for each release, the distillery introduces them several times each year after being carefully chosen by Jack Daniel’s Master Tasters to deliver unique and diverse experiences. They sell for $39.99 each. •

{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.}

Jack wants you to “Make It Count” in new ad campaign

What have you always wanted to do? Jack Daniel’s wants to know in its new Make It Count campaign. (Art courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

Order one of everything on the menu, throw your ringing cell phone in the lake, order a round for the entire bar … what have you always wanted to do?

That’s the question Jack Daniel’s asks in their new Make It Count ad campaign, which launched globally on October 1. The campaign will appear on TV, social media, digital, and print platforms in over 100 countries.

According to a press release, the new campaign is meant to showcase the Lynchburg distillery’s unique view of the world — “to live boldly and with purpose every day, much like Mr. Jack did throughout his own life.”

The 60 second First Timers video highlights a group of Jack Daniel’s drinkers deciding to live boldly and do things they’ve always wanted to do. A production team shot the new video in Kiev, Ukraine over five days while the creative and clients teams watched from an appropriate social distance on Zoom. To watch the video, click here.

The brainchild of creative agency Energy BBDO, the inspiration for the campaign came from a vintage Jack Daniel’s ad that read: Proudly served in fine establishments and questionable joints. It’s a reminder that Jack Daniels is for everyone.

“Relaunching an iconic brand like Jack Daniel’s? We’ve always wanted to do that. It has been a wonderful collaboration with our client partners, and we’re thrilled for what’s to come,” said Josh Gross and Pedro Pérez, Co-Chief Creative Officers of Energy BBDO.

Media agency Spark Foundry will handle the global ad buy. •

{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.}

Master Distiller Jeff Arnett leaving Jack Daniel’s

After 20 years with Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Jeff Arnett is stepping down from his position. No official word yet on what’s next for the distillery’s seventh master distiller or who will replace him. {Photo Credit: Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

Jack Daniel’s announced Thursday morning that following a 20-year career at the distillery – including the last 12 years as master distiller – Jeff Arnett was stepping down from his position with the company. According to sources, employees were informed via a company wide email on Wednesday.

Arnett took over the position in April 2008 and was the distillery’s seventh master distiller following a long line of whiskey makers including Jess Motlow, Lem Tolley, Jess Gamble, Frank Bobo, and Jimmy Bedford. Recently, the distillery’s also recognized that its founder Jasper Newton Daniel named a freed slave, Nathan Nearest Green, as his first master distiller.

As Master Distiller, Arnett was responsible for the overall whiskey-making operations in Lynchburg. Prior to that position, he oversaw quality control and the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel program. Throughout his time at the distillery, he worked in a variety of capacities including warehousing, maturation, distillation, charcoal mellowing management, barrel quality and bottling, and enjoyed a long tenure on the Master Tasters’ panel. He also traveled the world as a brand ambassador for the distillery.

“When Jeff became the master distiller, we said that he would carry on the long tradition of folks who have made the world’s best whiskey for more than 150 years, and that’s exactly what he’s done,” said Jack Daniel Distillery SVP and General Manager Larry Combs. “He has worked tirelessly on behalf of the distillery and brought with him the creativity and the expertise that makes Jack Daniel’s the most valuable whiskey brand in the world. We thank him for his leadership not only at Jack Daniel’s but in the whiskey industry and wish him all the best.”

According to a press release from the distillery, they will name Arnett’s replacement sometime in the next few weeks. •

{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.}

Tourism up and COVID counts down several weeks after Jack tours resume

According to numbers provided by both Jack Daniel’s and the Tennessee Department of Health, tourism number are up in Moore County since the Visitor’s Center resumed public tours while active COVID cases are trending down. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

LOCAL NEWS — Maybe it’s too soon to tell, but the re-opening of Jack Daniel’s Distillery to public tours doesn’t appear to be causing a local spike in COVID-19 numbers.

In early August, the distillery quietly resumed public tours at the Visitor’s Center and re-opened both the Hardware and General Store on the square and Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant, though all three modified things a bit. Masks are required. Hand sanitizer is at the ready, and in order to encourage social distancing, the number of folks allowed in all three at one times has been greatly reduced.

So we wondered, what effect (if any) is this having on both local COVID numbers and the many local business that cater to tourism in Lynchburg.

Weekly COVID numbers trend down in Lynchburg

Despite the fact that Jack Daniel’s draws tourist from not only around the state but around the world, the weekly numbers reported by the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) seem to be trending down. Just prior to the reopening, Moore County gained 17 new COVID cases for the week ending August 7. Since then, that number has been trending down. For the week ending August 14, there were 13 new cases, 11 new cases the following week, and just eight new case the final week in August.

As of Wednesday’s 2 p.m. COVID numbers provided by the TDH, there were just 36 active cases in Moore County — a decrease from the previous week.

Small businesses get bump but still struggle

We spoke to three historic district small businesses recently and all three reported seeing a small increase in foot traffic but numbers that were no where near 2019.

“Last year on this day, I was $500,000 in sales above my sales today,” one small business owner said. “The COVID situation has really impacted our businesses.”

Another local business manager said she’d noticed a slight difference but no major increase in foot traffic since tours resumed. In part, she attributed this to the fact that the Visitor’s Center stopped utilizing buses on tours as a COVID 19 precaution. This means the distillery is not currently dropping off tourists on the Lynchburg Square as the last part of its public tour.

“We’ve seen a slight increase,” she said. “But it hasn’t been huge.”

Another business owner estimated that her business was up by about 25 percent since tours resumed.

“We would love for things to be back to ‘normal’, but we are optimistic that things will get better,” she said.

Situation that’s constantly evolving and monitored

Distillery officials say the active case counts and trends are something they are monitoring weekly.

“In terms of the COVID numbers, we evaluate these on a weekly basis as well as being informed anytime there is a new case,” Jack Daniel’s senior leadership told us. “Our HR team is responsible for tracking and contact tracing. This team includes our onsite nurse who serves as point for this work. We have a Homeplace review every Friday and this is one of the factors considered. Ultimately, senior leadership will make the decision if we adjust any operations in response.”

Jack Daniel’s say they would not hesitate to shutdown public tours again if that’s what the data suggested was in the best interest of both the distillery and the community but at the moment the numbers seem to be trending down. When we asked them what impact (if any) resumption of tours had had on local COVID numbers, they responded with a confident, “none.”

“In terms of resumption of tours impacting COVID cases in Moore County, we are confident it is none,” distillery officials told us. “The daily cases have dropped considerably.”

Distillery officials say they believe the summer spike was completely driven by the summer vacation season.

This graphs provided by Jack Daniel’s Distillery shows that there has been no real spike in new COVID-19 cases in Moore County since the Visitor’s Center re-opened to public (if modified) public tours in early August. {Graphics Provided}

“Daily guest count continues to climb as COVID cases have dropped back to near zero as vacation season wrapped up.”

Officials say the next trend they’ll monitor will be the impact of return to school.” •

{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.}