State cash assistance to needy families is live now

STATE NEWS — The program we told you about earlier in the week goes live today.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services now offers monthly cash assistance to Moore County families adversely affected by COVID-19. The program, which is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Benefits, offers cash assistance from $500 to $1000 per household depending on size. Benefits will be available for up to two months.

To qualify, a family must have children in the household, be at or below the eighty-fifth percentile of the state media income, and be able to show they been impacted by COVID-19. Documentation will include birth certificates, tax returns, school attendance records, or other documentation that verifies that children live in the household.

To apply for the program, 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.}

Positive COVID-19 case in Sewanee

COVID-19 update

SEWANEE — A Grundy County pre-school announced Thursday through a public statement that the parents of one of it’s students recently tested positive for COVID-19. This is the closest confirmed case to Moore County since the global pandemic began.

Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady also confirmed the cases in a video announcement on the GRUNDY 1st public Facebook page.

Both parents of a student at Sewanee Children’s Center tested positive. The couple own residences in both Davidson County (where there are 75 confirmed cases) and Grundy County. According to Mayor Brady all person suspected to have contact with the parents are now being tested or are in self-quarantine. He went on to state that the couple has not been back to their Sewanee home since March 5. •

{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.}

Hike where Davy Crockett once did at Walls of Jericho

Check out spring fed rivers, caves, natural rock formations, and waterfalls at the Walls of Jericho Guided Hike on Saturday. {Photo Provided}

The Paint Rock River flows to your left as a Ruffed Grouse ducks behind a large Eastern Red Cedar. You can hear – but not yet see – a waterfall and smell the mossy, earthy dirt of a hidden cave. Legend holds that Davy Crockett once hunted these grounds and maybe stood exactly where you are standing. This will be the scene on Saturday, March 14 during a guided hike at the Walls of Jericho located along the Tennessee, Alabama line near Franklin County. Click here for complete details.

Originally owned by Texas oil magnate Harry Lee Center, the Nature Conservancy purchased the land in 2004. It now exists as 21,543 acres of protected land with history dating back to the 1700’s. According to area historians, Davy Crockett once explored the land when his family owned property nearby. In the 1800’s, a traveling preacher who performed baptisms in the Turkey Creek gave the area its biblical name.

It’s a picturesque piece of property with several unique features. The area contains the highest concentration of caves in the U.S. It’s also home to dozens of waterfalls nestled along gorgeous rocky bluffs. The “walls” are the result of the large, bowl-shaped natural amphitheater that gives rise to steep, 200-foot sheer rock walls.

The guided hike takes place on March 14 beginning at 8 a.m. Hikers should meet at the Walls of Jericho trailhead located at Estillfork, Alabama about 45 minutes from Franklin County. The estimated seven mile hike can be challenging. Leashed dogs are welcome. You can anticipate spring fed rivers, caves, natural rock formations, and waterfalls. Guides will also discuss Speleogenesis (cave formation) and offer both a day or overnight hike option.

There is a chance of heavy rain on Saturday. You can monitor the event’s Facebook page for up-to-the-event information or find a ticket link. •

{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, 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.}

Flu kills two children in Tennessee

{Art courtesy of the CDC}

STATE NEWS — State health officials report the first two pediatric flu deaths in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, one child in Middle Tennessee and one child in East Tennessee are now dead due to flu-related illness. The first flu-related child death happened in Texas in November.

During any flu season, children and people over the age of 65 are most at risk for developing serious complications from the flu. For all Tennesseans, health officials recommend getting a flu shot as soon as possible. Most county health departments, including the Moore County Health Department, offers flu vaccinations free of charge.

Health officials also warn those suffering with the flu to stay home and avoid infecting other people. People with flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after the illness begins but can infect others for up to a week.

There are subtle differences between the common cold and flu. Flu symptoms tend to arrive abruptly with fever, aches, and chills. Flu patients often feel fatigued and weak. Sneezing, coughing, or a sore throat are more common with a cold than the flu. Flu patients also often suffer with a headache.

The Moore County Health Department is located at 251 Majors Boulevard. They are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and closed every Saturday and Sunday. For more information about getting your flu vaccination, call them at 931-759-4251.•

{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.}

Do cougars roam near Lynchburg?

Sheep farmer and part-time moonshiner Tom Sparks knew something wasn’t right that afternoon in 1920 as he walked in the woods behind his home. His flock responded nervously. They fidgeted and stayed close together. The last time they’d acted this way, a bear had been nearby, so Sparks examined his surroundings carefully. Moments later something pounced from behind … a large cougar weighing nearly 200 pounds and standing over six feet tall on its hindquarters. It lunged at his neck. Sparks unsheathed his knife and blindly stabbed over his left shoulder. As fate would have it, he landed two stabs and the animal ran away into what would someday become the Great Smokey Mountains.

Four years later, another man Mr. W. Orr killed a cougar just 20 miles from Spark’s cabin. When Sparks heard, he brought over his knife and matched it to the scar on the animal’s left shoulder blade. It was the same animal. And with that, the last Eastern Cougar in Tennessee was dead … or so the legend goes.

For the past 100 years, many southerners have repeated and believed a version of this story. But others claim, the smart, elusive animals never left. The truth, as always, is probably somewhere in between.

Is it really a cougar?

Though native to our state, hunters in the early 1900’s nearly hunted Eastern Cougars into extinction in Tennessee. Food supplies were short and so were populations of the cougar’s favorite meal, the white-tail deer. But according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), there have been 10 confirmed cougar sightings in West Tennessee in the past four years. The rumors of the animals roaming East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee have persisted, but those “sightings” have never been confirmed.

Local vet Wendy Wade Morton posted a trail cam photo from her Flat Creek home just last week, that strongly resembles a cougar. It didn’t take long for multiple folks to chime in that they’d spotted one too.

But that’s unlikely according to Joy Sweaney, a TWRA wildlife biologist we spoke with.

“Folk think they see them a lot, but nine times out of 10 it’s something else” she says. “We haven’t had a confirmed sighting in Tennessee since 2016.”

According to Sweaney, there was a rash of sightings beginning in 2015 that began in Obion County in West Tennessee and ended in Wayne County in 2016.

“That’s the closest we’ve been able to confirm that they’ve gotten to southern, middle Tennessee. Whether it was one cougar that was moving around or several, we can’t confirm,” she said.

According to state wildlife officials, there are basically three sub-species of cougar: Eastern Cougars (which are thought to be extinct), Western Cougars, and the Florida Panther. Many posit that Western Cougars, which have been known to travel for thousands of miles are migrating east. They also think some Florida panthers may be heading north.

“In 2015, a hunter also illegally shot and killed a cougar with an arrow in Carroll County,” Sweaney says. “We were able to confirm via DNA that that cougar came from South Dakota. Males don’t share territory, so one will travel a very long way looking to establish his own domain.”

Until recently, it was also perfectly legal to own a pet cougar. In fact, you could walk right into a pet store and purchase a cougar kitten. But in 1980, the state started requiring permits for the animals, and some believe the surging population could be from animals who were set free.

There’s no cougar hunting season

In their fall Hunting and Trapping Guide, the TWRA states, “There is evidence cougars and alligators are expanding their territories into Tennessee. Species expanding their ranges into Tennessee are protected and may not be taken until a hunting season is proclaimed. Alligators and cougars are protected by state laws in Tennessee.”

That’s right. It’s illegal to hunt, trap, or kill a cougar in Tennessee unless your life is at imminent risk. This protection, plus the surging population of white-tail deer combine for an ideal opportunity for a cougar resurgence.

They’re often mistaken for a bobcat, the only other large cat known to live in the state, but there are a couple of key differences. One, bobcats are much smaller. A typical bobcat weighs just 40-50 pounds, where a male cougar can weigh up to 200 pounds. Bobcats have pointed ears with tuffs. A cougar’s ears are more rounded. The biggest indicator; however, is the tale. A bobcats tail is … well bobbed … rarely extending more than four to five inches. A cougar boasts a long, thick tail that can be as long as three feet.

So what should you do if you see one in the wild? One, keep your distance, say wildlife officials, but don’t run. Stand your ground, maintain eye contact, and make as much noise as possible. Also, if you can do so without turning your back on the animal, pick up any children or small pets that are with you … as the animal may be zeroing in on them as prey.

You should also report the sighting to the TWRA’s closest regional office, so they can investigate. For Moore County, that’s the Region II, District 22 office located in Nashville. You may reach them by phone at 615-781-6622. For more information about cougars in Tennessee, check out the TWRA’s Cougars in Tennessee page. •

{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.}

Chicken recalled at TN grocery stores

STATE NEWS | Last Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Tip Tip Poultry from Rockmart, Georgia recalled several ready-to-eat poultry products in grocery stores across the U.S. including seven Tennessee retailers: United Grocery Outlet, ALDI, Dollar General, Food Lion, Kroger, Save-a-Lot, and Walmart. For a complete list, click here.

According to the USDA, the company recalled the items due to potential listeria contamination. Listeria is a harmful germ that causes fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal pain. It can be especially dangerous in older adults, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

Though most of the products should already be pulled from retailers shelves, consumers should check their personal pantries for frozen cooked, diced, or shredded chicken products that were produced between January 21 and September 24 with product codes from 10000 to 19999 and 70000 to 79999 from Butterball, GFS, Tip Top, Clean Eatz Cafe, Delizous Farm, Perdue, Sysco, West Creek, R.W. Zant Co., and H. Walker Foods. For a complete product list, click here.

For more information, visit the USDA recall site by clicking here. Consumers should immediately throw away the suspect product or return it to the store where it was purchased. Consumers can also call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-674-6854 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST,  Monday through Friday. •

{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.}

Metro Council meets tonight

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Council will meet tonight in a regular session meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. Beforehand, there will be a Budget Committee Meeting at 6 p.m. and a Public Rezoning Hearing at 6:20 p.m.

The hearing relates to the rezoning of 5.28 acres of property located at the corner of Highway 129 and Charity Road from A-1 agricultural to I-1 light industrial for a truss-building business. Anyone who lives in the area who has questions or concerns, should attend the public hearing.

In new business, the council will hear a resolution to restore 9-1-1 fees to the rate of $1.50 per month. In 1998, the General Assembly established those fees at a rate of $1.50 per month but in 2014, they were reduced to $1.16. If approved, the resolution must be forward to the State Senate and House of Representatives for final approval.

Russell Sells will also appear before the Council to define the operations of the Metro Utility Board. The Council established the board in 1990 in the resolution only clarifies its scope and responsibilities. The Metro Utility Board members will also be approved at this meeting.

The Metro Council will also consider the creation of a five member Beer Board. Previously, the Beer Board consisted of just three members. The Mayor appoints Beer Board members and the Council approves them. Each member is appointed for a one year term.

In other business, Sheriff Tyler Hatfield will appear before the board to discuss closing the Lynchburg Square on Thursday, October 31 for Halloween on the Square. The Council will also consider granting permisiion to close the public square for the annual Jack Daniel BBQ.

All meeting are open to the general public and any interested citizen. •