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.}

Local Internet remains down for some due to Nashville bombing

All Internet is connected. That’s why the explosion that damaged the AT&T data center in Nashville is trickling down to Moore County users. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — All Internet is connected. The source of your family’s WiFi snakes across the U.S. like a giant spider web — one major hub connecting to another either through cabling in the ground or through the air. So, when a major data center and switching station like the AT&T one located in Nashville gets damaged, the trickle down can be significant.

On Christmas Day around 6:30 a.m., a bomb exploded in front of AT&T main office located at 166 Second Avenue in historic, downtown Nashville. It claimed at least one life, injured others, damaged over 40 businesses, and shut down cell and Internet services for thousands in Tennessee including much of the state’s 9-1-1 system.

According to AT&T, the explosion shut down power to the building. At the time, they switched to natural gas powered back up generators to keep services hobbled but live. Several hours later, emergency crews working in the area discovered a gas leak and shut down all incoming natural gas as a safety precaution. Data centers can’t run without power and all AT&T fed Internet providers across the state have experienced an outage since, including Lynchburg’s Monster Broadband.

“It’s really unfortunate and frustrating, especially on Christmas Day,” said Monster Broadband co-owner Charles Johnston. “We’ve been monitoring the situation around the clock since it happened and many of our communications folks stepped away from their families to provide as much information to our customers as possible.”

According to AT&T’s update at 8:30 a.m., the focus of the restoration continues to be getting power to the equipment in a safe and secure way. Challenges remain, including a fire which reignited overnight and led to the evacuation of the building.

The company says teams are on site working with safety and structural engineers. They have drilled access holes into the building and are attempting to reconnect power to critical equipment.

Johnston’s says he’s hopeful AT&T can re-route Internet traffic soon to restore local services. •

This is an ongoing story and will be updated as more details become available.

{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.}

Goodbranch, Goosebranch added to Moore County fiber expansion

If you’ve noticed large rolls of orange conduit along Moore County roadways, it’s part of an over $1.1 million project to expand fiber Internet in Moore County. Two new roads were announced this week. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — According to Mayor Bonnie Lewis, two new roads have been added to the fiber expansion project funded by a federal grant from the CARES Act. Goodbranch Road and Goosebranch Road have been added to the project allowing an additional 162 Moore County homes and businesses to connect to Monster Broadband’s fiber Internet network.

The $192,330 grant will be issued to Metro Moore County as part of the Local Government Allocations portion of the CARES Act monies. This grant money is in addition to the $1.1 million grant that Monster recently received to add 26 new miles of fiber Internet coverage inside Moore County. (To read our full coverage of that grant, click here.)

“We had to make sure our plan for the CARES Act funds was not duplicated with any other requests through the PATRIOT Act or other sources of funding,” explained Mayor Lewis. “Because most all of our PPE and employee expenses were met through other sources we decided to apply for additional broadband coverage in the county. Monster Broadband had already applied for and received their CARES Act grant ($1.1M) paid to businesses to expand coverage. We decided to use our allocation to pick up where their grant stopped.”

All hands on deck for the December 15 deadline

The deadline for both projects is December 15 and the Monster team is working overtime to get the work done including hiring additional contractors.

“This is really an all hands on deck situation,” says Monster Broadband co-owner Charles “Boo” Johnston. “We are working day and night to get the project up and running — not only to meet the deadline but also because we realize that quality Internet is now more important than ever with so many Moore County citizens working and attending school from home. We really appreciate the public’s patience.”

As a public utility, Monster works along Moore County roads in the right of way. Johnston says that even though he knows it’s disruptive, he instructing his crews to do everything possible to put things back exactly as they found them — though that often takes a little time.

Johnston and Steve Baker, two MCHS class of 1990 graduates, launched Monster Broadband in 2009. Last year they launched their first fiber network in the Ridgeville subdivision along Tims Ford Lake. Since then, they’ve brought fiber speeds of up to 250 megabytes per second to over 500 homes in both Tennessee and Texas, where Baker now lives.

Citizens who live along Goodbranch and Goosebranch can contact Monster Broadband via email at sales@monsterbroadband.com to pre-order the service. Once they have your name, address, and a phone number, they will contact you as soon as your home is install ready, Johnston says.

Click here to like the Monster Broadband Facebook page and stay updated. •

{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.}

Monster wins $1.1 million grant to expand fiber in Moore County

Monster will expand fiber in two segments. One will begin Hurricane Creek Road and move towards Cobb Hollow and the Smith Chapel area. The second phase will begin in Lois near Short Creek Road and make a loop on Tanyard and back around to Highway 50. {Art Provided}

Good news is coming for households struggling to get adequate Internet connections in the rural areas of Moore County. Monster Broadband – a local Internet Service Provider founded by two Moore County High School graduates – just received a $1.1 million grant to expand fiber coverage in Moore County.

“Our mission from the start was to get the highest Internet speeds possible to the folks living in rural area that tend to get forgotten by the larger providers. This grant will allow us to expand our fiber to hundreds of Moore County households,” co-owner Charles Johnston said.

Johnston and Steve Baker, two MCHS class of 1990 graduates, launched Monster Broadband in 2009. Last year they launched their first fiber network in the Ridgeville subdivision along Tims Ford Lake. Since then, they’ve brought fiber speeds of up to 250 megabytes per second to over 500 homes in both Tennessee and Texas, where Baker now lives.

Members of Monster’s fiber crew works along Hinkle Lane near the Blue Gill Grill. The TN Emergency Broadband Fund grant will allow them to expand 26 additional miles inside Moore County. {Photo Provided}

The Monster award is part of $61 million to be awarded in Tennessee as part of the Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund. The grants are funded through the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allotment from the federal government and distributed through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

ECD received 84 applications for $89.1 million in funding. Following review and a public comment period, 62 projects representing $61.1 million were funded.

Monster plans to expand fiber in two segments. The one will start at Hurricane Creek Road then onto Cobb Hollow Road, Raysville Road, Price Hollow Road, Bobo Hollow Road, Woosley Road, and then across Highway 55 to Hilltop Circle before ending at the Smith Chapel subdivision.

The other begins in Lois at Short Creek Road then onto Marble Hill Road, Little Bean Hollow Road, Galloway Lane, Tanyard Hill Road before looping around on Bull Run Road back to Highway 50.

Pursuant to federal guidelines, these projects are limited to those that would enhance access to individuals and families affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the lack of broadband access in their area. Eligible entities included those authorized to provide broadband services in Tennessee, and eligible areas were limited to those unserved or underserved locations lacking all equipment necessary to provide a broadband connection capable of supporting telemedicine, distance learning, and telecommuting.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to step up and do our small part in helping our state, county, neighbors, and friends,” said Baker. “The Coronavirus battle is new to us all, the battle to push broadband in underserved areas has been a task we have been fighting for 11 years.  As we stated in our application, we have never applied or considered a grant before, times are different now and the need for our services has never been greater.”

Though Monster does not have a timeline for the projects yet, they will announce roads as they go live and are install ready on their Facebook page. Click here to like their page and stay up to the minute. •

{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.}