Moore County Schools closed but will serve free student meals

LOCAL NEWS — Based in part of the recommendation from Governor Bill Lee on Monday morning, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead announced that all Moore County school will close beginning Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed through Tuesday, March 31.

“At that point, the situation will be assessed to determine the need for further closure,” the school system announced Monday around 10:30 a.m.

During the closure, all Moore County campuses will be closed to all groups. This includes all sporting events and sports practice.

However, the system will provide free breakfast and lunch to any child aged 0-18. Food will be distributed at Lynchburg Elementary at the pick up and drop off door. Staff will serve breakfast from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to school officials, the student must be present to pick up food.

“You do not have to be a student in Moore County to participate,” the school system said. •

{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.}

Live Updates: Moore County Coronavirus Closings

LOCAL NEWS — Sometimes life comes at your fast. Over the past week, we’ve witnessed the coronavirus situation evolve quickly … even in our small town. Things seem to change rapidly. So we’ve gathered a comprehensive list of all the Moore County related closings and postponements in one handy list.

{Editor’s Note: This list is in alphabetical order and will be updated daily. Last update March 17 at 11 a.m.}

Jack Daniel’s Distillery – Brown-Forman will closed the distillery to public tours beginning Monday, March 16 until further notice. Miss Mary Bobo’s and the Lynchburg Hardware and General Store will also close. The Distillery will continue to operate normally. Click here for more details.

Lynchburg Nursing Center – In an effort to protect their vulnerable patient population, the Lynchburg Nursing Center will significantly limit visitors for the time being. The Center is helping families communicate in alternative ways including telephone, texting, and video calls to residents.

Metro Utilities Department – As of Monday, March 16 the lobby of the MUD office in Lynchburg will be closed to walk in traffic. Employees will continue to report to work and the drive through will be open during regular business hours to accept payments.

Moore County Court System – Per an order from the Tennessee Supreme Court, most in-person judicial proceedings in Tennessee will be postponed for the remainder of the month of March. This includes Moore County General Sessions and Moore County Circuit Court hearings. Click here for more details.

Moore County Public Library – The library remains open regular hours but is closed to foot traffic. Patrons may borrow books, videos, and other materials on a drive thru/curb side basis. There are also several ways to access materials online. Click here for more info.

Moore County Schools – All Moore County schools will close on Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed through March 31. Click here for more details.

Motlow College – College officials have decided to extend spring break until March 22. Classes will resume online only on Monday, March 23. Click here for more details.

Oak Barrel Half Marathon – In response to COVID -19 and Distillery’s decision to suspend some operations, the organizer have postponed the annual Oak Barrel Half Marathon until October 24. The event usually takes place in April. Click here for more details.

{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.}

State orders in-person courts, including Moore, closed through March

On Friday, the Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffery Bivins declared a state of emergency … essentially closing all state and county courts to in-person proceeding except in cases where the proceedings are “necessary to protect the constitutional rights of a defendant.”

According to the order, essential individual courts and court personnel will remain in office and “will remain open under all circumstances” but most in-person proceedings will be postponed.

“Each day across the State of Tennessee, thousands of people attend court proceedings in-person when they come to the courthouse as jurors, witnesses, litigants, or in another capacity. Public spaces in courthouses tend to be small, tightly packed bench seats that provide the type of situations public health officials have encouraged people to avoid during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Chief Justice Jeff Bivins.

“However, judges, court clerks, and others provide essential constitutional functions that must be carried on. In issuing this Order, the Court struck a balance in limiting the public’s exposure to the virus with continuing essential court functions judges must provide to ensure the administration of justice.”

Exceptions to the order would include orders of protection, emergency child custody hearings, emergency matters of child protection, temporary injunctive relief, mental health orders, emergency protection of elderly or vulnerable individuals, and any proceedings directly related tot he COVID-19 public health emergency.

Court proceedings will be limited to necessary individuals only and closed to the general public. In the event the court offices are closed to the public, those office would remain “open” through telephone and email during regular business hours. Drop boxes would be used to file official court documents.

“This is new territory for everyone,” Chief Bivins said. “We encourage judges, court clerks, attorneys, law enforcement, and others to work together to develop creative solutions that work for their individual jurisdictions. The goal is to limit the number of people coming into court each day while continuing to meet our duty and administer justice. We may amend this Order as the situation evolves, and we understand more about the obstacles judges and court staff are facing.”

To read the order in full, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Motlow extends spring break in response to coronavirus

Motlow website screenshot
Image shows a screenshot of Motlow College’s current homepage showing that they are at a Level 2 response. {Image Provided}

LOCAL NEWS — Motlow College announced on Friday that it will extend Spring Break for all students in response the the coronavirus pandemic. Spring break, originally schedule for March 9-15, will now extend through Sunday, March 22. Classes will resume in an online only format beginning Monday, March 23 and continue online only through Sunday, April. The college will re-evaluate at that point.

The Motlow Spring Break extension will be for students only. Staff will report to work as normal under the direction of their division leaders.

“The extension of Spring Break provides both students and the College the needed time to prepare for alternative delivery methods for classes and to deepen the availability of technologies needed to provide remote services should they be needed. The goal of
this period is to ensure the well-being of staff, students, and faculty while supporting the academic mission of the institution during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response,” the college said in a press release on Friday afternoon.

Throughout the week, Moltlow College officials sanitized it’s building and worked to update their pandemic plan that divided responses into four distinct levels.

The move to extend Spring Break currently puts the College at a Level II operational stage. Throughout the pandemic response period, the operational status of the College will be posted on the homepage of Motlow’s website (mscc.edu). The operational level icon that displays at the top of the College’s home page will also link students to more detailed information about the college’s pandemic status. Students are encouraged to take time to review the homepage and the linked coronavirus information page to familiarize themselves with the various stages. Students are also encouraged to take any measures they believe are needed to continue their academic plans online, the college explained in a press release.

The College also decided o cancel all student extracurricular activities through the end of the month – including student travel. For more information, visit the Motlow College website. •

{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.}

Jack Daniel suspends tours temporarily in response to COVID-19

Brown-Forman will suspend tours at Jack Daniel’s Distillery beginning on Monday, March 16. Miss Mary Bobo’s and the Lynchburg Hardware Store will also close temporarily. {Photo Provided}

LOCAL NEWS — Beginning on Monday, March 16, Brown-Forman will suspend all tours at Jack Daniel’s Distillery as well as close Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant and the Lynchburg Hardware & General Store temporarily in response to the conronavirus outbreak in the state. As of Thursday, there were 18 confirmed cases in Tennessee.

The Distillery will continue to operate as normal.

“Our goal is to minimize the risk to employees and guests and help lower the probability of the spread of the virus to our employees, their families and the community,” they said in a press release Thursday afternoon.

“Existing tour reservations that occur before March 16 will be honored. This closure will remain in place until the health emergency subsides. All tickets previously purchased during this time are refundable. We appreciate the understanding of all those who are impacted and encourage all to put their health and safety first.” •

{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.}

MCHS hosts blood drive on Wednesday

LOCAL NEWS — There is zero evidence that the COVID-19 virus can spread through blood donation or transfusion. Despite that fact, health officials say they are beginning to see a drop off in blood donations due to public fears.

Should an outbreak happen in Tennessee, the last thing hospitals need to worry about is adequate blood supplies for trauma and cancer patients. The good news is that you can help. The American Red Cross will host a blood drive at Moore County High School on Wednesday, March 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. To make an advanced appointment, click here.

MCHS is located at 1502 Lynchburg Highway. For more information, call 800.733.2767 or visit the American Red Cross website. •

{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.}

MUD announces billing, due date changes

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Utilities Department announced on Tuesday that they’ll be making significant billing changes beginning in July. As a result, your due dates, invoice format, and account numbers will all be changing.

According to a press release, the changes will happen “to allow enhanced usage information and more online options for reviewing and paying your water bill.” Consequently, all water meters will be read on the last full week of any given month and all MUD bills will arrive the first week of the month. Then bills will be due no later than the 15th of each month.

“We understand that you may have to make adjustments to accommodate the new due date,” MUD officials told The Times. “During the months of July and August, we will waive any penalty or late fee for bills due on the 15th and not paid until after the 25th of the month. Any payment received after the 25th of the month will incur a 10% penalty.”

After the month of August, all due dates and penalties will be applied as stated on the bill. Any customer on automatic payments through ACH, will see those payments post on the 15th unless that date falls on a weekend. In that case, automatic payments will be processed the first business day after the 15th.

Starting in July, members can also login into the Metro Utility Department website to view their usage, or pay their bills online.

“We’re excited about many of the new offerings we will be able to provide in the future as a result of this change but we also understand how changing the due date can be disruptive. That’s why we will work with you to make this transition as easy as possible,” MUD officials said.

For more information, contact the MUD offices at 931.759.4297. •

{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 Moore seeks FEMA reimbursement

LOCAL NEWS — According to the Tims Ford Dam rain gauge, Moore County received over 11 inches of rain from February 5-12. During that time period, Metro Public Safety officials received 49 calls about flooding and downed trees, according to Director Jason Deal.

On Wednesday, February 12, a severe thunderstorm with intense straight line winds blew through southern, middle Tennessee around 6:30 p.m. That single night the Metro call center received 17 calls reporting downed trees. Thanks to quick work by Metro Public Safety … as well as a few neighbors with chainsaws … all those road were cleared by midnight.

Louse Creek road remains closed from Spencer Ridge Road to Rick Garland Road due to a mudslide and unsafe hillside conditions.

With all these disaster-related events lately, Metro Moore will be seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)re-imbursement for qualifying work, Public Safety Director Jason Deal told the Metro COncil on Monday.

On Tuesday, Director Deal met with FEMA officials to estimate damage. The FEMA re-reimbursement rate is $3.84 per capita and based on the total population of Metro Moor County. According to the latest census data, Moore County’s population is around 6,384 people. This mean Moore County could qualify for a little over $24,000 in federal reimbursement money.

Director Deal will report back to the Metro Council at their next meeting, which takes place on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. To have your item added to the agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076.•

{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.}

Senator Bowling kills state deregulation bill

STATE NEWS — A week ago State Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) introduced a senate bill that would remove state license requirements for over 25 professions. It was one of two companion bills. In the House, Representative Martin Daniel (R – Knoxville) introduced HB 1945 and in the Senate Janice Bowling (R – Tullahoma) introduced SB 1914.

A couple of days later Senator Bowling place her bill in a general subcommittee – effectively killing it. Any bill that passes the House must then progress to the Senate. If the bill remains in subcommittee, there no way for it to progress into state law.

The bills sought to remove licensing requirements for 27 different professions including: accountants, architects, engineers, landscape architects, and interior designers, barbers, cosmetologists, funeral directors and embalmers, contractors, home inspectors, plumbers, locksmiths, real estate brokers, land surveyors, soil scientists, auctioneers, those involved with pesticides, rental location agents, private investigators, polygraph examiners, individuals engaged with fire protection sprinkler systems, servicers of fire extinguishers and related equipment, alarm contractors, private protective services, geologists, tattoo artists, body piercing artists, real estate appraisers, and professional employer organization.

Supporters said that occupational licensing is an impediment to employment. Opponents say that consumers who are exposed to potentially dangerous instruments and harmful chemicals as well as those exposed to financial losses should remain protected. In particular, cosmetologist were very vocally opposed to the bill on social media and organized a Change the Bill Campaign. •

{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.}

Mayor: Sanitation ordinances need teeth

LOCAL NEWS — Garbage being thrown out the back door to collect on the lawn … garbage being thrown out the front door and rolling down the hill … properties that look like a junk yard there are so many dead vehicles lying around. Issues like these affect property values, cause neighbor disputes, attract vermin, and tie up local officials with constant complaint calls, according to Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis, and she needs “teeth” to address them properly.

“We have these laws on the books,” she told the Metro Council on Monday. “But we need teeth to be able to enforce them.”

She’s right. There’s an entire chapter in the Metro Codes book relating to health and sanitation. For example, Metro Code 5-102 states that all persons within Metropolitan Moore County are required to keep their premises in a clean and sanitary condition, free from accumulations of refuse. Metro Code 5-206 addresses health and sanitation nuisances stating that it’s unlawful for any resident to allow any premise owned, occupied, or controlled by them to become and remain filthy. There are also laws revolving around stagnant water, weeds, dead animals and other public health issues.

Sheriff Tyler Hatfield reminded the Metro Council that these offense are civil and not criminal.

“We can cite them into General Sessions court but without consequences and fines, it won’t do much good,” he said.

Mayor Lewis did not come to the meeting without a plan and offered several recommendations which included: official letters from a Metro official to offending homeowners, a fine schedule, the formation of a Metro Sanitation Board, and even charging repeat offenders for clean up and adding it to their property tax bill.

Metro Council member Sunny Moorehead recommended looking at how surrounding counties handle the issue and using the parts of their plans that make sense for the county.

Metro Attorney John T. Bobo also added that Metro would need to handle situation where the offender and the property owner are not the same.

“We’d also want to be very careful not to place ourselves in the middle of private disputes,” he added.

The Metro Council will address the issue further at a future meeting. The next Metro Council meeting takes place on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. To have your item added to the agenda, contact Mayor Lewis’s office at 931-759-7076.•

{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.}