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Tripp Ham National Grand Champion — again
April 7, 2014

    His competitors may be tired of hearing the announcement by now — "National Grand Champion — Tripp Country Ham." Yesterday, at the National Country Ham Association meeting in Paducah, Kentucky, Tripp Country Ham won, for the seventh time, America's top award for country ham.
   Tripp Country Ham is headquartered on South Washington Street in Brownsville and is owned by Judy and Charlie Tripp.



Election commission introduces new Internet site
April 2, 2014

   The Haywood County Election Commission has a new Internet site, haywoodvotes.com.
   The new site includes voter information. The May Metro Government ballot is among valuable information found on the site.



Two high school students win Southwest awards
April 2, 2014

    Congratulations to Dannon Eubanks and Emma Baumheckel who are school winners in the Southwest Tennessee EMC Youth Tour Short Story Contest. Both are juniors at HHS.
   Emma won $75, and Dannon won a week-long, all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC.



Exit 56 Blues Fest announces music line-up
March 28, 2014

    Blues fans will gather May 24 at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville for the 4th Annual Exit 56 Blues Fest. The music festival continues to attract Blues enthusiasts from all over the region and is West Tennessee's only dedicated Blues festival outside of Memphis. The event is Saturday, May 24 and begins at noon. It will feature arts and crafts, car and motorcycle cruise in, a deep-fried barbecue eating competition and an eclectic gathering of West Tennessee Blues men and women.
   This year's music line-up opens with Memphis Jones, a regular at B.B. King's in Memphis and music historian who entertains the audiences with stories about the songs he sings. Also performing throughout the afternoon are West Tennesseans Lorina McMinn and The Myxx and Dorothy Guinn and Savannah Shoals, along with Mississippi's Sean Apple and his All Night Long Blues Band.
   Beginning at 5 p.m., the Elam McKnight Band will take the stage with a set of their own before backing up West Tennessee Bluesman Dudley Harris. Also making a first time appearance at the festival is Tennessee Sax and the Blues Gentlemen. Many will know Tennessee Sax as Linzie Butler, a Jackson native who has performed all over the world.
   The Eric Hughes Band takes the stage at 7 p.m. Hughes has played the festival since its inception in 2011 and this year brings his complete band to entertain with his special blend of Delta and urban blues. He recently released his fourth CD entitled "Drink Up."
   Headlining this year's festival is Little Boys Blue, a band formed in 1993 by the award-winning team of Jimmy D. Taylor, of Brownsville, and Jackson's Steve Patterson. Accompanied by Mark Brooks, Dave Mallard, Dave Thomas and Alex Taylor, this band does "boogie blues with an attitude," encompassing a mixture of electric, acoustic country blues, rhythm and blues and Americana roots music. The group has just finished working in the studio and will soon release their newest CD, "Bad Love," on the Jaxon Record label.
   Admission is free. A complete schedule can be found at www.Exit56Blues.com.



   Little Boys Blue will headline this year's Exit 56 Blues Fest May 24. The festival is free and held annually on the grounds of the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville.

   About the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center: The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers a refreshing Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and ÒwildÓ Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who call West Tennessee home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



Delta Heritage Center receives award
March 24, 2014

   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center recently received an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM) during its annual conference in Greeneville, Tenn.
   The award recognized the Center for a brochure highlighting the 2013 art exhibition "Two Sides to Every Story." The exhibit showcased the work of Memphis artist John Sadowski and featured realism and abstract works. The realism work depicted regional landmarks and points of interest.
   The organization's annual Awards Banquet was held at Greeneville's historic General Morgan Inn March 19. Attendees visited the Andrew Johnson historic sites and the Dickson Williams Mansion prior to the award ceremony held on the hotel terrace.
   Founded in 1960, TAM fosters communication and cooperation between museums, cultural societies and other members in order to keep the public informed on the importance of understanding and preserving Tennessee's cultural, historical and scientific heritage. The organization also encourages best practices in Tennessee museums and continued education among its members. To learn more about TAM, visit www.tnmuseums.org.
   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers a refreshing Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and ÒwildÓ Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who call West Tennessee home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center was recently honored with an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums (TAM). Accepting the award for its "Two Sides to Every Story" art exhibit brochure is Sonia Outlaw-Clark, director of the Center. The award was presented by TAM President Adam Alfrey at award ceremonies held March 19, 2014, in Greeneville, Tenn.



Did you attend Flagg Grove School?
March 10, 2014

   Did you attend Flagg Grove School in the northwest area of Haywood County near Nutbush? If so, the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center would like to talk with you and document your stories about the school and what it was like to attend there.
   The Center is also seeking items from the school including pictures of the school, class pictures, old school books, school and PTA programs, and any other items relating to the school.
   Flagg Grove School is currently being restored and stories and items collected will help tell the story of the school and the students who attended. It will also house memorabilia from its most famous student, Anna Mae Bullock, known worldwide as Tina Turner.
   If you attended or have information related to the school, please contact the Delta Heritage Center at 731-779-9000 or email info@westtnheritage.com.
   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers a refreshing Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and ÒwildÓ Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who call West Tennessee home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



HHS teams place second and third in Tennessee Academic Decathlon state competition
March 4, 2014

   In the Twenty-ninth Annual Tennessee State Academic Decathlon competition, Haywood High School’s Purple Team placed second overall, and the White Team placed third overall. The teams brought home 44 medals, four plaques, two trophies, and two scholarships. As the second-place team, the Purple Team can participate in national online competition, and has the option of applying for a wild card slot in the on-site national competition to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, in April. With 60,000 points possible for a team, the HHS teams’ scores were only 414.1 points apart.
   Emma Baumheckel, Dannon Eubanks, and Symphony Timberlake were invited to participate in the prestigious Speech Showcase to deliver their award-winning speeches to the entire group of decathletes from across the state.
   Winning individual medals were the following:
   Symphony Timberlake – Bronze Medal in Speech
   Camry Williams – Copper Medals in Math and Essay
   Jaylon Douglas – Bronze Medals in Literature, Science, Math, and Social Science, Copper Medal in Economics
   Nikki Cummins – Silver Medal in Math, Bronze Medal in Essay
   Ryan Watson – Silver Medal in Essay, Copper Medal in Science
   Milean Mans – Gold Medal in Interview, Bronze Medal in Literature, Copper Medal in Math
   Ricarnicea Johnson – Bronze Medal in Interview
   Jabria Nixon – Bronze Medal in Math, Copper Medals in Science, Economics, and Super Quiz
   Chars Edwards – Silver Medal in Math, Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Kia Davis - Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Brent Ward - Silver Medal in Science, Bronze Medal in Social Science, Copper Medals in Literature and Super Quiz
   Jason Elrod - Bronze Medal in Economics, Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Dontai Anderson - Bronze Medal in Economics, Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Dannon Eubanks - Silver Medal in Speech, Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Will Clinton - Silver Medal in Literature, Bronze Medal in Math, Copper Medal in Super Quiz
   Emma Baumheckel - Gold Medals in Literature and Social Science, Copper Medals in Music, Art, Math, Economics, Speech, and Super Quiz
   Emma Baumheckel was also recognized for being the highest-scoring student on the Purple Team, and Ryan Watson was the highest scoring member of the White Team. As the highest-scoring seniors on their teams, Brent Ward (Purple Team) and Nikki Cummins (White Team) were each awarded $300 Tennessee Academic Decathlon Achievement Scholarships.
   On the White Team, Jaylon Douglas (Varsity Division) and Nikki Cummins (Scholastic Division) each received plaques for scoring fifth overall in their divisions. In the Honors Division, Will Clinton received a plaque for scoring fifth overall, and Emma Baumheckel received a plaque for scoring fourth overall.
   Coaches for the HHS Academic Decathlon teams are Glynn Bridgewater and John Thomas.



Planning Commission Approves 3,500 Square Foot Building on N. Washington
February 28, 2014

   BROWNSVILLE, Tennessee (February 27, 2014)Ñ The City of Brownsville Regional Planning Commission gathered in City Hall for their monthly meeting Thursday night.
   Plans were presented for a proposed 3,000 square foot building will be located just off of North Washington Avenue, near Brownsville Family Medicine will be built on property owned by Dr. Jack Pettigrew between Tambell and College Streets. Managers will seek to house businesses centered around health and wellness.
   Renderings showed a structure stylistically similar to Brownsville Family MedicineÑprimarily consisting of brick construction, awnings and greenery.
   Planning Commission members voted to approve plans for the project with construction of a building up to 3,500 square feet.
   The planning commission also reviewed zoning schematics from City of Brownsville Planning Director Sharon Hayes. Commission members are currently reviewing plans to re-zone sections of Brownsville from high-density residential to single family housing. For the most part, those plans go along with existing structures inside the city limits, and would seek to be a pro-active residential zoning measure for future development based around the Memphis Regional Megasite.
   Planning commission members will continue to survey the areas, which include parts of Lafayette Avenue, Hatchie Street, Anderson Avenue, and the U.S. Highway 70 bypass.



Consulting firm moving forward on final historic district recommendations
by Joe Sills

   BROWNSVILLE, Tennessee (February 18, 2014)— The City of Brownsville hosted a public meeting Tuesday to review the creation of three new National Historic Districts by Phil Thomason & Associates.
   The Nashville-based consultation firm has been working with Main Street Brownsville and the Historic Zoning Commission to draft the new historic districts for the City of Brownsville. Creation of the districts would bring recognition to the historic nature of buildings located within their bounds and make revenue-generating buildings within their bounds eligible for a 20% tax credit on improvements.
   “This is the logical next phase after you complete a survey of the community and a survey report, which we’ve done this past year,” said Phil Thomason, the firm’s principal.
   That report revealed more than 450 properties within the city limits of Brownsville in 2013.
   Last fall, Thomason & Associates proposed the extension of the current College Hill Historic District and the creation of three new districts—North Washington, Dunbar-Carver, Jefferson Street Commercial Historic District, and a Court Square Historic District.
   All but one of those districts remains on the table.
   The proposed Court Square district will not be added at this time, according to officials at City Hall.
   “The National Register folks felt like there were too many changes and alterations,” said Thomason. Although, he notes that through Main Street Brownsville, property owners on Court Square would could be eligible for a 10% tax credit.
   Thomason says historic districts sometimes come under scrutiny from property owners, though they provide some benefits for structures within them: tax benefits, review of federal projects such as road construction, increased heritage tourism and higher property values.
   According to Thomason, people occasionally wonder if a historic district will raise their property taxes. However, historic precedent says that they do not. “They don’t prevent houses from being torn down. And it doesn’t mean you have to open your house up to tours…unless you want to,” he says.
   The Thomason & Associates team will continue to gather information about Brownsville’s past before making their final recommendation for the historic districts. If you would like to contribute, contact Rebecca Hightower with Thomason & Associates at rebeccadhightower@gmail.com.



Public hearing today
February 18, 2014

    This afternoon at 5:00 at City Hall Brownsville's leaders will sponsor public meeting to discuss the proposed expansion of one Historic District and the creation of three new districts.
   The districts were identified during an historic and architectural survey conducted in Brownsville by a Nashville consulting firm.
   The three projects include:

  • Expansion of the College Hill Historic District
  • Creation of a North Washington/College Street Residential Historic District
  • Creation of a Jefferson Street Commercial Historic District
  • Creation of a Dunbar-Carver residential Historic District

   National Register listing is an honorary designation and does not place any restriction on property owners, according to a notice posted by City Hall. Leaders say the listing will provide tax credits for the "substantial rehabilitation of income producing properties and other economic benefits."



Haywood County Commission Discusses College Hill Ramp, Champion Cypress Tree
February 13, 2014 - by Joe Sills

   The Haywood County Commission met in regular session on Monday evening.
State Route Honors
   The Commission voted to approve a resolution from the Tennessee State Legislature to name State Route 1 (U.S Highway 70) part of the “Gold Star Family Memorial Highway.” The name honors veterans and family members of veterans across Tennessee. But the commission tabled a resolution for a two-mile section of that highway to be dedicated to former state representative Jimmy Bishop. County Commissioners are awaiting word from Mayor Franklin Smith on additional information regarding the location of that section of State Route 1.
College Hill Ramp still sore spot
   Heated discussion arose over a report from the Conservation Board on the much-talked-about wheelchair ramp at College Hill. According to Commissioner Bob Hooper, the ramp should have passed through the county Conservation Board as well as the city’s Historical Zoning Commission before being constructed.
   Apparently confusion arose when the Haywood County Budget Committee approved disability enhancements at College Hill, which resulted in the construction of the $8,400 ramp.
   Conversation is currently underway between the Conservation Board and Historical Zoning Commission as to whether to keep the ramp, or attempt to replace or modify it to be more historically accurate to the 160 year-old campus of College Hill.
Sheriff’s department sick leave changed
   County commissioners approved a four-hour per month increase in sick leave for Haywood County correctional officers who work 12 hour shifts. Approximately 20 Haywood County employees meet this criteria; and their extra hours will be retroactive to October 17, 2013.
Commissioners talk about tree
   The 130 foot tall bald cypress tree located in Big Muddy Creek Bottom—near Stanton, TN—was publicly commended for being recognized as the Tennessee State Champion Cypress Tree. The tree, which is likely more than 800 years old, predates documented European exploration of West Tennessee and could well be one of the oldest living things in the southeastern United States. It measures an astounding 42 feet in diameter.
Hay baler for the county farm
   The purchase of a $36,000 hay baler for the county farm was also approved. $27,000 of that money comes from an insurance settlement after severe weather damaged the farm in December of 2013. The county also received $5,500 trade in value for their old hay baler from John Deere.



"Art of Farming" through a photographer's eye
February 13, 2014

   "The Art of Farming," a look at the rural landscape of West Tennessee as seen through the eyes of photographer Christy Hunter, will open at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., March 7. An artist reception will take place at 6 p.m., followed by a short tour and presentation by Hunter.
   Hunter has been a photographer for over ten years with much of her work centered on gardens, flowers and outdoor nature scenes. In 2011, she moved from the St. Louis area to Munford, Tenn., where she discovered new subjects along the back roads and countryside of West Tennessee.
   According to Hunter, her world was opened to the beauty of things from the past; old stores, houses, barns, and beautiful farmland. As she explored the countryside capturing these scenes, a collection of images began to form around farm life.
   "The past is left for us to discover and learn from," says Hunter. "As I capture images, I try to think about those stories; the shapes, colors and the beauty that farming brings to our lives."



"Corn Field During Sunset" by photographer Christy Hunter is one of the featured photos during the exhibition "The Art of Farming" March 7 - April 30, at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn.


      The exhibition will look at everything from the shape of the plants, the new and old farm equipment, and the types of buildings that are all part of the farming tradition in West Tennessee.
   "The Art of Farming" exhibition will be on display through April 30 and is free and open to the public. For more information about the exhibit, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



Brownsville approves $1.2m downtown renovation projects
February 12, 2014

   Projects along East Main Street in Brownsville’s downtown area continue to develop as Brownsville City Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a $781,199 contract with Ford Construction of Dyersburg, TN for sidewalk improvements along East Main. The board met Tuesday. The project is connected to the proposed Tamm Park at East Main and Washington, and consists of sidewalk renovation as well as the relocation of some above ground utilities to new locations beneath the ground.
   The City Board also approved a $433,111 contract to DC Construction of Brownsville for the construction of Tamm Park. That money comes from a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Grant, and requires no match from the city.
Other business
   Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne presented a special award to the Haywood High School Tomcats and Haywood Middle School Lady Warriors basketball teams, who have both finished their regular seasons undefeated. Said Matherne, “We are very proud of our young people always, and just wanted to give them special recognition.”
   An honorary certificate signed by the Mayor will be given to both the Tomcats and the Lady Warriors. Both teams are now participating in state tournaments.
   The board approved a parade permit for the Rev. Clay Evans Scholarship Foundation to be held on May 3, 2014. The scholarship foundation, which gives three $1,000 scholarships each year to Haywood County students is celebrating their 40th year. According to foundation representative Louise Bennett, “We wanted to do something big. So we want to start the day with a parade and afterwards move to Woodlawn Baptist Church.”
   Rev. Clay Evans will be speaking at the church, along with a world-traveled choir from Chicago.



School board to look at new school plans
February 12, 2014

    At last night's Haywood County School Board meeting board members agreed, for planning purposes, to start visiting newly constructed schools and looking at plans.
   Though they did not announce immediate intentions to build any new buildings, the thinking is clearly on board members' radar. School's Chairman Harold Garrett said the school board ought to be prepared to build new schools should the county "receive a gift" from a megasite industry.



Delta Heritage Center releases 2013 visitor stats
February 12, 2014

   BROWNSVILLE TN (FEBRUARY 12, 2014): The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center presented its 2013 statistical report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday night at the City's regular monthly meeting. The museums and historic buildings continue to attract guests worldwide and with the restoration of Flagg Grove School, more and more attention is being placed on developing a destination and experience that will continue to draw visitors to Brownsville and Haywood County.
   With an average of 20,000 guests a year, the Delta Heritage Center is, for some, their first impression of Brownsville and Haywood County. The visitor information collected is used in marketing efforts and also to track the impact those efforts are having on the community. Tourism's economic impact on Haywood County in 2012 was $14.1 million.
   Visitors from all 50 states and 40 countries stopped at the Center last year. Among the top five states represented are Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Ohio. The state of New York ranked in the top 10 for the first time since tracking began in 2010. Other top states include Mississippi, Kentucky, North Carolina and California.
   International visitors to the Center increased by 6.5% in 2013. Top five originating countries are Canada, Germany, England and the United Kingdom, Australia and France. Italy and Israel also ranked among the top 10.
   The Center also tracks volunteer hours, information requests and events. Through website request and a reader service ad placed in the Tennessee Vacation Guide, over 3,000 requests for additional information was received in 2013. Other marketing efforts include billboards, radio and TV appearances and magazine advertising.
   The Center has developed several annual events over the past four years that attract visitors. Thirteen events were hosted in 2013 including the first Hatchie BirdFest. Other annual events are the Exit 56 Blues Fest, Tina Turner Heritage Days, Concert on the Porch and traveling exhibits.
   Volunteers play an active role at the Center. In 2013, 18 adults and numerous student volunteers donated more than 1,000 hours. Volunteers greet visitors and give tours, as well as help with special events and other activities. Their help is essential in allowing the Center to remain open seven days a week to serve the traveling public.
   The Delta Heritage Center also participated in seven community events including National Night Out, Holiday in Haywood, school career days and business fairs and area conferences.
   The Center's Advisory Board regularly reviews its strategic plan to ensure efforts are kept on track and focused. In 2014, expect to see more emphasis on regional music and events planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Rock 'n Roll.
   About the Center: The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is an authentic Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Guests learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and “wild” Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who called West Tennessee home. Located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



Latest charter revisions to be considered today — could this be the final meeting of the Charter Commission?
February 3, 2014 - Meeting #19

   Reporting that the Brownsville Haywood County Charter Commission’s attorney, Michael Banks, has “done an exhaustive review and research project” on suggestions made by members of the public, local leaders, authorities and legal experts, Chairman Christy Smith delivered a newly revised charter yesterday. The group will meet this afternoon for the 19th time.
   In her e-mail, Smith says, “I believe we are very close to a charter we can approve and hope that we complete the deliberations” tonight. In her mail she thanked Mayor Jo Matherne and Judge Lyle Reid “who took extensive time to review and comment…” Reid and Matherne, separately, delivered lengthy written comments to members of the commission.
   The charter commission began their work last summer. In addition to conducting three public hearings, commissioners have either hosted or been the guest at numerous smaller gatherings to discuss the document.
   Two weeks ago, Vice-Chairman Joe Barden IV said he hopes to see a referendum on the charter in May.
   Today’s meeting is at 5pm at the Justice Complex
   The revised charter is attached here. The authors highlighted the sections recently revised.



Tina Turner contributes to Flagg Grove School project
January 30, 2014

   With restoration underway, the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., is excited to announce Tina Turner’s contributions to the Flagg Grove School project.
   Turner has been involved with the project since her childhood school was moved in 2012, including a sizable donation towards the restoration by the Queen of Rock herself. This donation is in addition to the recent campaign to match a $75,000 donation by local attorney Pat Mann Jr. and his wife, Ann.
   In a recent statement by Turner, she expressed thanks to the community for their participation and involvement in the restoration.
   “I would like to personally thank Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne and Sonia Outlaw-Clark and her team at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center for their endless support,” says Turner “and of course Joe and Pam Stephens, without their donation of the school, this would not have been possible. I also want to recognize all the donations, both public and private, from fans, friends, and associates on this project which is very close to my heart.”
   Turner is fully supportive of the project and happy to be able to give back to her community. In addition to a generous monetary donation towards the restoration of the school, she will be providing all the memorabilia, display cases, gold record awards and stage costumes from her long career. Concert videos will also be showing in the school. All of which will become part of the school’s interpretive exhibit.
   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers an authentic Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and “wild” Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who called West Tennessee home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



Tennessee Unemployment Benefit Tax Information Now Available
January 28, 2014

   1099-G Forms Provided Online And Mailed To Claimants
   NASHVILLE - Recipients of Tennessee unemployment benefits during 2013 can now access the information they need for income tax purposes on the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development homepage: https://tdlwd.tn.gov/ui1099/. They can also go straight to the log-in page: https://tdlwd.tn.gov/ui1099/login.aspx.
   By entering their birth date or the same PIN they used to certify or inquire on their unemployment claim, claimants can view a summary of total unemployment benefits paid to them, view the total amount of federal income tax withheld, and print a summary of this information.
   (IMPORTANT Ð The birth date must be entered in the exact format requested on the form.)
   The department also began mailing the IRS Form 1099-G to more than 172,000 benefit recipients on January 14, 2014. The forms will reach claimants no later than January 31, 2014. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward 1099-G forms.
   Recipients of unemployment benefits are not required to submit a copy of their 1099-G form with their income tax return. If claimants do not receive their form in the mail and do not have access to the Internet, they may send a written request, including their name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and phone number, with signature, to:
Special Services Unit
Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development
220 French Landing Drive
Nashville, TN 37243-1002
   Questions concerning repayments that are not shown on the total amount of the IRS Form 1099G should be referred to the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040.



Charter commissioners set Valentine's Day deadline
January 27, 2014

   According to a memo sent to his fellow charter commissioners last week, Vice-Chairman Joe Barden IV would like to see the charter question on the ballot in early May. "In order to place the charter referendum on the May 6 ballot we must file the charter by February 14; so we have work to do to finalize this document for filing," Barden wrote.
   The Brownsville Haywood County Charter Commission will meet today at 5pm at the Justice Complex. It will be the 18th meeting of the commission. The panel started its work last summer.
   Discussion will likely focus on comments from the three public hearings held in December and January.
   If the charter commission makes their self-imposed deadline, the referendum would be held on the same date as the intended Democratic Judicial Primary. So far no candidates have announced that they will participate in the primary election.



Haywood High brings home awards in 29th Academic Decathalon
January 27, 2014 - By Rita Hathcock

   Two Haywood High School Academic Decathlon teams competed in the West Tennessee Regional competition Saturday, January 25, 2014, and won 52 medals, 4 plaques, and the second and fourth place trophies. The Purple team scored second in Super Quiz and second overall. The White team scored third in Super Quiz and fourth overall
   Individual medal winners were as follows:
Ricarnicea Johnson - Bronze Medal in Super Quiz
Dannon Eubanks - Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Ryan Watson Ð Bronze Medals in Super Quiz and Math
Milena Mans - Bronze Medal in Super Quiz, Copper Medal in Math
Dontai Anderson - Silver Medal in Super Quiz, Bronze Medal in Math
Nikki Cummins - Bronze Medal in Super Quiz, Copper Medal in Math
Camry Williams - Copper Medals in Math and Music, Bronze Medal in Super Quiz, Silver Medal in Art
Marco Romero - Bronze Medal in Super Quiz, Gold Medal in Math
Will Clinton - Silver Medals in Super Quiz and Math, Bronze Medal in Language and Literature
Chars Edwards - Copper Medal in Math, Bronze Medal in Art, Silver Medals in Super Quiz, Economics, and Music
Kia Davis - Copper Medals in Math and Music, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Peyton Antwine - Bronze Medal in Music, Silver Medal in Super Quiz
Symphony Timberlake - Bronze Medals in Art and Super Quiz
Jaylon Douglas - Copper Medal in Social Science, Bronze Medals in Super Quiz, Science, Music, Language and Literature, and Economics, Silver Medal in Math
Brent Ward - Copper Medals in Social Science, Science, and Art, Silver Medals in Math, Economics, and Super Quiz
Emma Baumheckel - Copper Medals in Math, Music, Language and Literature, and Economics, Bronze Medal in Science, Silver Medals in Art and Super Quiz, Gold Medal in Social Science
   Jaylon Douglas, Brent Ward, and Will Clinton won plaques for scoring fifth overall in their divisions. Emma Baumheckel won a plaque for being the third highest scorer in her division. Ryan Watson was the highest scoring member of the HHS White Team, and Emma Baumheckel was the highest scoring member of the HHS Purple Team.
   This year is the 29th year for Academic Decathlon competition in Tennessee. For the twenty-ninth consecutive year, Haywood High School will advance to state competition. Other West Tennessee schools participating were Madison Academic Magnet High School (first place), Obion County Central High School (third place), and Liberty Technology Magnet High School (fifth place).
   State competition will be held on the Austin Peay State University campus in Clarksville, February 28- March 1.
   Mr. John Thomas and Miss Glynn Bridgewater are the HHS Academic Decathlon coaches, and they join the teams in thanking faculty, staff, administrators, and student volunteers who has helped in the teams' success.



Brownsville Regional Planning Commission Reveals Business Data
January 24, 2014

   -Joe Sills (@joesills)
   BROWNSVILLE, Tennessee (January 23, 2014) - Discussion at Thursday evening's Regional Planning Commission meeting centered around possible restructuring of city zoning to enhance protection of gateways into the city and an update on the Main Street Brownsville proposal.
   Regional planner, Tom Skehan presented several rezoning strategies for the commission to consider, with the goal of updating some of Brownsville's 30 year-old zoning ordinances. The ordinances were last updated in 2008, but still need some work according to Mayor Jo Matherne. "The environment out there is changing, and we should, I think begin to address it," stated Matherne. "Solar farms are beginning to pop up everywhere and there may be an opportunity to take advantage of some of that as tax income."
   City of Brownsville Planning Director Sharon Hayes updated the commission on the results of a business survey from the proposed Main Street Brownsville corridor. The study concluded that the corridor, which Brownsville has applied for, held 671 jobs in December of 2013. Additionally, the property value of the proposed Main Street corridor exceeded $29 million.
   The study also released a business by category analysis of the corridor, which yielded some interesting results. Within the corridor, Brownsville has:

  • 27 Barbershops or Salons
  • 14 Restaurants (2 of which serve alcohol)
  • 6 Banks or other financial services
  • 6 Furniture stores
  • 5 Accounting services
  • 5 Lawfirms
  • 5 Physicians
  • 4 Groceries
  • 4 Special Interests (Fitness, Karate, Tattoos, Dance)
  • 3 Newspapers, magazines or radio stations

   Those, combined with a number of other businesses add up to 671 jobs as of December, 2013. An infographic of the results can be seen on the Point5Digital Facebook page www.facebook.com/NewsTalk1015.



Emergency shelter available during cold snap
January 23, 2014

    With forecasts for temperatures plunging into single digits and wind chills below zero, the Haywood County Emergency Management Agency has opened two heated shelters. The shelters are at the Parks and Recreation Building at 100 Boyd Avenue and at City Hall in Brownsville.
   EMA Director Robert Parks says additional information is available by calling 731-780-3311 or 731-443-0807



Interstate 40 Westbound at Exit 42 in Fayette County Closed to Remove Bridge
January 23, 2014

   Traffic will utilize exit ramps to detour around closure
   MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contract crews will close a short section of I-40 West at Exit 42 in Fayette County this weekend to continue demolition of the original SR 222 bridge that crosses over the interstate. SR 222 over I-40 will also be closed during the demolition process. The closures are as follows:

  • Saturday, January 25, 2014, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, January 26, 2014, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  •    During the closure, traffic on I-40 West will be routed up the off-ramps at Exit 42 and back down the on-ramps to reenter I-40. Traffic on SR 222 will not be able to cross over I-40 during the closures. Message boards will be placed in the area to alert motorists to the closure. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and TDOT HELP Trucks will also be on-site to assist with traffic.
       The work is part of a $10 million project to construct a new interchange at I-40 and SR 222 in Fayette County.
       For travel and TDOT construction information, visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway/ or download the new TDOT SmartWay mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android. Travelers can also dial 511 from any land-line or cellular phone for travel information or can follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TN511 for statewide travel information. Drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools responsibly. Drivers should refrain from texting, tweeting or using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle. TDOT advises drivers to "Know before you go!" by checking traffic conditions before leaving for your destination.



    Tornado Safe Space at Haywood Middle School Update
    January 21, 2014

        The tornado safe space at Haywood Middle School is underway. A foundation has been laid and blocks are being set in place. The shelter will join others at Haywood Elementary and the Criminal Justice Complex.
       The school safe zones are only open to the public when school is not in session. The shelter at the Justice Complex is open at all times during periods of severe weather.



    Final metro charter public meeting last night
    January 17, 2014

       The Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter Committee hosted their third and final public hearing last night.
       During the three two-hour sessions, they've heard at least two consistent themes - add more representatives to the metro council and fix the law enforcement strategy.
       The committee's draft makes room for ten elected metro council members. One person would be elected from each of the county's ten legislative districts. Citizens addressing the committee insist ten isn't enough. At last night's meeting, John Ashworth told the committee he thought twenty was the right number. There are currently twenty members of the Haywood County Commission.
       While the proposed charter no longer includes elected positions for trustee, register of deeds, county clerk and assessor of property, it does include an elected sheriff. Under the current proposal, the sheriff would be responsible for duties described in the state's constitution - serving process and running the county jail - but not necessarily for law enforcement. The draft describes a system in which the metro council and the mayor can decide whether the sheriff also is in charge of the countywide police department or if, instead, a police chief is hired. There have been a number of people who told the committee that the sheriff's duties should include the constitutional and law enforcement duties.
    Next steps
       The charter commission will reconvene - the next date isn't yet firm - to assess the public hearings and consider changes. Once their work is complete and the charter is submitted to the Haywood County Election Commission, a referendum will be held for voters to decide the fate of consolidating Brownsville and Haywood County's governments.



    Robinson's Eagle Scout project gives a little more
    January 16, 2014

        Haywood Schools student Grayson Robinson raised the funds and found help to build a flag stand at the football stadium where now stands an American Flag, a Tennessee Flag and a HCS flag flying high. Grayson is earning his Eagle Scout award and the flag installation is his Eagle project. This week he donated $314.17 in extra funds to have the flagpole stand repaired at Haywood Middle School.
       School Superintendent Teresa Russell said that Grayson has given the schools gifts that "will keep on giving for years to come."



    TRAFFIC ALERT - Interstate 40 Eastbound at Exit 42 in Fayette County Closed to Remove Bridge
    January 16, 2014

       Traffic will utilize exit ramps to detour around closure
       Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) contract crews will close a short section of I-40 East at Exit 42 in Fayette County this weekend to begin demolition of the original SR 222 bridge that crosses over the interstate. SR 222 over I-40 will also be closed during the demolition process.
       The closures are as follows:
    • Saturday, January 18, 2014, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    •  Sunday, January 19, 2014, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  
       During the closure, traffic on I-40 East will be routed up the off-ramps at Exit 42 and back down the on-ramps to reenter I-40. Traffic on SR 222 will not be able to cross over I-40 during the closures.   Message boards will be placed in the area to alert motorists to the closure. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and TDOT HELP Trucks will also be on-site to assist with traffic.  
       The work is part of a $10 million project to construct a new interchange at I-40 and SR 222 in Fayette County.  
       For travel and TDOT construction information, visit the TDOT SmartWay web site at www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway/ or download the new TDOT SmartWay mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android. Travelers can also dial 511 from any land-line or cellular phone for travel information or can follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TN511 for statewide travel information. 



    Stanton Program Hopes to Boost Haywood County Learning with Artificial Intelligence, Free Wifi
    January 15, 2014 - By Joe Sills (@joesills)

       Stanton, TN— A new educational program sponsored by the Town of Stanton hopes to prepare Haywood County students for high-paying manufacturing jobs by using an artificial intelligence tutoring system and free, city-wide wifi.
       The program, which utilizes a scientific concept called knowledge space theory, would be available for free to Haywood County students, and use artificially intelligent software called ALEKS to replicate a human tutor. “Knowledge space theory is used to mimic you, a human tutor, interacting with me as a human student,” explained Stanton Mayor Dr. Allan Sterbinsky.
       ALEKS is an acronym for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.
       According to Sterbinksy, there are currently 180 highly-skilled maintenance worker positions waiting to be filled in neighboring Madison County in the next 3-5 years. Those jobs hold an average salary of $63,000. And with the 1,700-acre Haywood County Megasite in Stanton’s backyard, Sterbinsky feels more of those positions may be headed towards Haywood County residents.
       Those positions require strong math, reading and communication skills—skills that the majority of Haywood County students do not currently score well in. Presently, 65% of Haywood County students fail state math tests.
       The small town’s mayor says ALEKS can help fix that.
       "We want to be part of the solution,” says Sterbinsky. “We want to help citizens obtain their GED. We want to help elementary and high school students improve math and reading skills… teachers in Haywood County are already maxed out, they already have enough work to do, so we're giving these tools to the parents and church members."
       Students can sign up to participate in Stanton’s ALEKS pilot program on Friday, January 31st at 7:00pm at the Stanton Town Hall.
       The only tools students would need to utilize ALEKS are an internet connection and web browser; but Stanton hopes to give even further help by providing one of those requirements using free, town-wide wifi services. "Those will be up within the next three to six months," remarked Sterbinsky.
       The Stanton Mayor holds a Ph.D. in Educational Research from the University of Memphis, and has recently completed a 600-student study using ALEKS in Jackson, TN. That study ,
       conducted with one of the top 100 researchers in the world—University of Memphis Institute for Intelligent Systems professor Xiangeng Hu—concluded that ALEKS worked as advertised. According to that study, "T (knowledge space theory) allows for a precise description of what the student knows, does not know, and is ready to learn next."
       Students using human tutors and ALEKS scored evenly on tests conducted during the study.
       Now, Sterbinsky hopes to use that knowledge to give Haywood County students more job opportunities by partnering with the Advanced Maintenance Technician Program at Jackson State Community College (JSCC). The goal is to reach JSCC’s program entrance requirements of a 19 score on the ACT or 350 on the SAT.
       Stanton's artificial intelligence tutoring program kicks off on Friday, January 31st, 7:00pm with an orientation meeting at Stanton Town Hall. There, students can sign up to participate in the program’s initial pilot study on a first-come first-serve basis.



    BPD offering citizens police academy
    January 9, 2014

        If you're interested in learning more about police work in Brownsville, participation in the Brownsville Police DepartmentÕs Citizens Police Academy may be for you.
       Applications for the six-week course are being accepted through January 17. The twice-monthly two-hour sessions will include information about the structure and operation of the BPD, how legal statues are applied, introduction to the officers of the BPD and police equipment and techniques.
       Applications are available at the main office at 118 North Lafayette Street, and on the City of Brownsville web site, www.brownsvilletn.gov.



    Tomcats #2 in AP polls
    January 8, 2014

       A real Tennessee sports fan - even one as far away as East Tennessee - knows the name Tomcat. They recognize Tomcat as the name of the basketball and football teams with a long, long history of winning. This year's Haywood High boy’s Tomcat basketball team is keeping the reputation alive with a 13-0 record. Yesterday the Associated Press named the Cats the #2 AA team in the state.
       Kendall Dancy is the Tomcat's head coach.



    Frigid temps close schools, open warming station
    January 7, 2014

        Single-digit overnight lows and daytime highs that aren’t much warmer, coupled with wind chills that dip "the feel" below zero, have prompted leaders to close schools today.
       Yesterday Parks & Recreation offered their building on Boyd Avenue as a warming station.
       Temperatures today are forecast to get into the 20’s but school officials haven’t said what their plan is for tomorrow, yet.
       Parks & Recreation says those who can’t find a warm enough place can depend on using their building at least until tomorrow.



    Cold weather taxing electric grid, utilities warn — ask for help
    January 7, 2014

       NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority says it is preparing for heavy electric demand because of the arctic weather blowing into the state.
       The public utility serving nearly all of Tennessee and parts of six neighboring states said it expected demand to reach 32,000 megawatts on Tuesday, close to the 32,572 megawatt winter record set in January 2009, when temperatures in the TVA region averaged 9 degrees.
       Parts of the state were facing the prospect of single-digit temperatures and wind chills as much as 15 to 18 degrees below zero as the air mass crossed the state Sunday evening and Monday morning.
       The TVA has suspended all non-essential maintenance work to minimize the risk of power interruptions.
       Southwest Electric Membership Electric Co-opp issued a statement this morning requesting that customers reduce their consumption as much as possible by "turning down your thermostat, turning off unnecessary lights and limiting the use of electric heaters if possible." Southwest said "we expect this alert to be lifted by midday once temperatures begin to rise."



    Tenn. flag easy to fly upside down
    January 7, 2014

       NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's flag is easy to fly upside down. It has even been seen flying that way above the state Capitol. That's because it's not easy to tell when the flag is right-side up.
       The three-star symbol in the middle of the flag represents West, Middle and East Tennessee.
       WPLN-FM reports many people want to fly the flag so that the three stars are arranged like a triangle with one over two. But that's not right. According to a directive made law in 1905 by the Legislature, "the highest star shall be the one nearest the upper confined corner of the flag."
       The mistake is easy to make. In 1976, the U.S. Postal Service released a commemorative stamp with the three-star design upside down.



    Parks, entertainment venues, Farmer’s Market all in City Hall’s plan for 2014
    December 31, 2013

        In 2013 Brownsville’s leaders started several projects aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure and appeal. On New Year’s Eve, Brownsville Radio contacted Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne to ask about progress. At least four of the initiatives are moving along but one is stymied by the state legislature.
    Tamm Park, downtown
       Request for bids has been advertised, and bid opening is scheduled for January 7th; construction to begin upon approval of bid this Spring.
    East Main Street pedestrian improvements
       Bids will be opened January 7th. Funding will replace existing sidewalk on East Main in front of Tamm Park and Brownsville Family Restaurant, install utilities underground and enhance landscaping. The money is also earmarked to repave Haralson St. from the Hwy19/Hwy 54 split on W. Main to the Bypass @ Preston Place.
    Farmer's Market
       Brownsville received a grant from USDA Rural Development for Phase I of the project to be located at the corner of East Jefferson and Anderson Avenue. Paving and dirt work is included initially. Work should begin this spring.  The city is applying for a grant with the TN Dept. of Agriculture for construction of the shed for the market.
       Results of the grant application should be known by summer 2014.
    Haywood lot located on the west side of the square
       Brownsville purchased the lot in 2013. No specific plans have been finalized but the intent is to create an amphitheater/outdoor entertainment area as part of the overall Downtown Master Plan for Main Street. Brownsville will seek grant funding through Local Parks & Recreation Fund.
    Annexation Exit 56
       Last year the state legislature passed a law placing a moratorium on annexation. The law, which was recently reviewed and extended, has stopped Brownsville’s plan to annex a small tract south of I-40 at Exit 56. Utilities have already been installed in the area. A Jackson developer promises to build a new hotel there when the annexation is completed. Mayor Jo Matherne says that until the state lifts the stay on annexation the project is on hold.



    Flagg Grove challenge met, Tina Turner school house renovation funded
    December 31, 2013

        Ann and Pat Mann promised to donate $75,000 to help renovate the one-room Haywood County schoolhouse attended by rock n’ roll legend Tina Turner if their pledge could be matched. Organizers say the Manns will deliver the check Thursday, and that just over $75,000 has been committed.
       Tina Turner was born in Haywood County and lived her early years in Nutbush.
       The dilapidated schoolhouse known as Flagg Grove was located in a field on Joe Stephens farm near Nutbush. Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark organized a mission to rescue the historic structure. Stephens agreed to donate the building and Brownsville funded the job of moving the building to the parking lot of the Delta Heritage Center.
       With the Mann’s commitment, Outlaw-Clark and others organized the fundraiser. Individual pledges, Outlaw-Clark said Tuesday, were $75, 029.59.
       A ceremony is scheduled for Thursday morning at 11am when Ann and Pat Mann will deliver their contribution.
       The schoolhouse it situated on the parking lot alongside the shotgun house blues legend Hammy Nixon once called home. City officials hope the two buildings will soon become significant tourist attractions.



    Bad weather won't stop Saturday's Christmas basket deliver
    December 18, 2013

        The weather forecast for Saturday morning may be one of the worst ever in the 29 year history of the Brownsville Radio Basket project but just like the post office, and Santa Claus himself, packages must be delivered.
       Rain seems likely, and there might even be some thunder, but the Christmas baskets, somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 of them, will have to be delivered Saturday morning.
       We'll have baskets ready to deliver between 8 and 9 a.m. Please try to be the first in line! The delivery process begins as volunteers load vehicles at the Brownsville Utility Department's gas warehouse located on Dupree Street.
       Mayor Franklin Smith is the event's co-sponsor.



    Haywood Park Hospital wins Cigna contract
    December 18, 2013

        In a letter circulated via e-mail yesterday, Haywood Park Hospital CEO Joel Southern said Haywood Park has just won a new contract "retaining our hospital as a provider in the Cigna network." Ê
       "This agreement was important for many reasons, but it is our community who have Cigna insurance who benefit the most. We understand how important it is to have access to healthcare close to home and work," Southern wrote.



    Historic planners meet today at city hall
    December 18, 2013

       Brownsville's historic zoning commission is scheduled to meet today at 4pm at City Hall. Commissioners are developing historic district design guidelines. They are also overseeing the work of consultant Thomason and Associates. The Nashville firm is preparing paperwork for the creation of new and expansion of existing historic districts.
       A draft of rules for commercial signage for the historic district can be seen in PDF format HERE.



    Public hearing Ñ how did commissioners respond?
    December 18, 2013

       News Analysis
       With some possible exception, none of Monday night's public hearing questions and comments seemed unexpected or to ruffle members of the Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter Commission. In a report broadcast on Brownsville Radio and published on point5digital.com Tuesday we provided summarized details of what most of the participants had to say.
       Today we've prepared a summary of select responses from the charter commission.
    Concern: Too much power is vested in the mayor's office.
       Commissioners said they believe "checks and balances" are in place to assure the mayor's actions are transparent.
       The commission's plan parallels the structure of federal and state governments in which the executive and legislative branches are separate and, they believe, balance authority.
       For example, in the case of the most important job appointments or terminations, the mayor can't act alone. The mayor must win approval of the metro council and must do so at meetings open to the public.
       Other rules require that the council and the mayor must work together but do so separately. The mayor may not be a member of the metro council or vote, but he may veto their actions. The council may, in turn, override a mayoral veto.
    Concern: Equal opportunity for a diverse population
       Fewer elected representatives result in more accountability, according to the authors of the draft charter. Commissioners believe that exactly who in government is responsible will be apparent than either of the present governments.
       Charter Commissioners believe the requirement of a Human Resources Department will increase the likelihood that hiring practices more thoroughly consider diversity and other legal issues.
    Concern: Discontinuing the constitutional offices is illegal.
       Michael Banks, who is the lawyer for the commission, believes eliminating the so-called constitutional elected leaders is legal. Banks points to language in the state constitution, which, he says, doesn't require elected office holders. Further, Banks believes, the theory has been tested and confirmed by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
    Concern: Taking away voters' right to elect office holders
       This concern focuses on the draft charter's plan to discontinue the election of the assessor of property, register of deeds, county clerk and trustee.
       "You're locked in" once an elected official wins an office, commissioners say. If the office holder doesn't do a good job, then he or she may not be "fired" until the next election, and only then if they have become unpopular.
       Charter Commissioners point out that their proposal is close kin to a city form of government but makes departments and workers even more accountable. For example, in Brownsville, the city board is made up of the mayor (who has a vote and chairs the meetings) and four aldermen. The metro charter requires more checks and balances than Brownsville's current form of government by separating the legislative (board or council) and executive (mayor) branches.
       Government will be "getting smaller" if the metro charter is adopted. Metro Charter Committee member Dorothy Granberry said, ..."this is representative governmentÉ. you can hold your mayor and council responsible..."
    Concern: Will the new government really make a difference?
       Commissioners provided a number of comments including the following opinions:


    • Less government and fewer elected officials will allow citizens to better understand where decisions are made and who to blame (or give credit) for operations. Transparency is the word commissioners often used to describe this viewpoint.

    • There will be "one set of people" (metro council and mayor) operating the government. Government will operate as "a unit" instead of several independent (constitutional offices as example) operations. This will provide efficiency.

    • Commissioners believe one government will be an asset to economic growth, and will be especially important to industrial and business recruitment.

    • Though they have not been specific, charter commissioners believe there will be significant taxpayer savings because operations will be consolidated and streamlined.

    •    There are at least two other concerns that are significant and seem to capture the attention of the panel. Commissioners have heard from a number of people who believe the sheriff should not only provide services as required by the state's constitution but also serve as the chief law enforcement officer. A number of citizens have expressed concern that ten is too few members of the metro council.



      REACH holds graduation ceremony for 19 students
      December 18, 2013

         The Haywood High School Reach Academy held its December graduation ceremony on December 17 for 19 students who are early graduates of the HHS Class of 2014. Participating in the ceremony that took place at Sunny Hill Innovative Learning Center were Superintendent Teresa Russell, Deputy Superintendent Vincent Harvell, HHS Principal Jerry Pyron, and the Class of 2014 President Justice Brown. Hosts for the event were Director of the REACH Academy Drayton Hawkins and REACH Graduation Coach Stephen May.
         Earning Valedictorian honors in the class was Adriana Caletre. Lanqueya Hess was Salutatorian of the Class. The other graduates were Ismael Aguirre, Dalvin Bailey, Shaniece Bufford, Martez Comage, Keundra Gibbs, Darvis Jarmon, Ibrahim Jobeh, Jessica Johnson, Montravious Jones, Jose Lemus, Amente Mans, Whitney Mitchell, Jasmine Perry, Devante Taylor, Ricky Taylor, James Whitelow and Chassidy Worles.
         James Whitelow received a $500 scholarship from Vincent Harvell, representing the Leadership Haywood County Class of 2013.
         Guest speaker for the ceremony was Dexter G. Moragne. He is a 35-year U. S. Postal Service employee and is Pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Covington, Tennessee, where he has served for 24 years. He congratulated the graduates on completing this challenge and gave them a message from the real world, encouraging them to set goals and work hard.
         Guests representing the city, county, Board of Education and Haywood County Schools Central Office joined a packed house of family and friends who came to celebrate with the graduates.
         The REACH program offers an innovative, rich, rigorous and engaging program designed to address the individual academic and developmental needs of the program's students. REACH is an acronym for Receiving Educational Academic Credits Hastily. This allows those students who have gotten behind in their course work to catch up and graduate on time. The program also ensures that each of our students has been accepted into a post secondary program before graduation. The REACH program has two main objectives: 1) Increase the graduation rate of the students attending Haywood County Schools. 2) Decrease the dropout rate of students attending Haywood County Schools. In order for a student to graduate from the REACH program, they must have completed all requirements as set forth by the Tennessee State Department of Education.



      Questions and answers - comments pro and con - the Metro Charter Commission's first public hearing.
      December 17, 2013

         December 16, 2013 Less than a dozen people asked questions and/or commented during a two-hour public hearing on the proposed Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter. The meeting was held at the Justice Complex last night and ended slightly before the two-hour time limit set by the panel.
         Is it legal? Will it allow fair, diverse participation? Are there enough elected representatives? What about the law enforcement plan? Most of last night's discourse struck the core of issues charter commissioners have spent the most time discussing and debating. They started their work last summer and produced the first draft just a couple of weeks ago.
         Last night's crowd totaled around 60 people. The community's elected leadership were mostly no-shows. The attendance included about a half-dozen of the 20 county commissioners and only one of Brownsville's aldermen. Mayors Jo Matherne, Allen Sterbinsky and Franklin Smith were there along with Trustee William Howse and Sheriff Melvin Bond.
      Select comments
         Tennessee's NAACP President Gloria Sweet-Love who is a rural Haywood County resident asked questions about diversity pointing out that less than a third of the charter commission are "people of color."
         Another rural resident, Jerry Hollingworth, expressed concerns that discontinuing the elected positions of assessor, register of deeds, trustee and county clerk is illegal. "You are taking away my right to elect officials," Hollingworth said.
         James Pirtle probed the council on how people will know about opportunities within the new government.
         Rodney Wright worries about the power of the metro mayor. Wright also expressed concern the council could be unfairly influenced by voters concentrated in Brownville Ñ while rural voters might become marginalized.
         Perhaps the hearing's most vocal opponent, Johnny Haynes said, "...you are planting the seed for corruption...it's a rich man's form of government..."
         If Haynes was the most vociferous opponent, Lyle Reid may have been, with some reservations, the night's top supporter. He said Brownsville, Stanton and Haywood County's current forms of government would be "the last to choose" when writing a new plan. He called county government archaic. However he said "serious flaws" are included in the present plan including the blueprint for the sheriff's department. Reid believes there are not enough representatives included on the metro council.
         Former County Commissioner Pam Russell addressed the group stating that she understands how the abolishment of the constitutional offices could streamline government and make operations "more efficient."
         Mayor Jo Matherne, who did not express a view on consolidation, said commissioners should think about adding language that helps set a course for community planning. "A community that fails to plan will fail..." Matherne said.
      Next session
         The Metro Charter Commission will hold its next public meeting at Mt Zion Church, 100 Lafayette Street in Stanton January 9 at 6pm.
         Charter Commission Chairman Christy Smith called the charter writing process "alive and flexible..."



      Federal Extensions Of Unemployment Benefits Set To Expire At Close Of 2013
      December 17, 2013

         Tennessee's Unemployment Program Continues To Support Jobless
         NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development is alerting more than 18,000 Tennesseans currently receiving federally extended unemployment insurance that those payments will soon end. The federal legislation that extended Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) expires at the end of 2013 in the absence of congressional action.
         "We don't want people who are presently receiving EUC to be caught unaware, expecting their EUC benefits to continue into 2014," said Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips. "We also want workers to know that the Tennessee unemployment insurance program that provides the first 26 weeks of benefits is not affected by the expiration of the federal EUC extension."
         After December 28, 2013, Tennessee will return to the system in which an approved new claim can have a maximum of 26 weeks of Tennessee Unemployment Compensation (TUC) benefits.

      • The last week for which EUC will be paid is the week ending December 28, 2013.
      • If claimants certify for that week in a timely manner, they will receive their final EUC payment during the week ending January 4, 2014.
      • All EUC payments stop at that time, regardless of the number of weeks claimants were initially notified they would receive.

         The latest date for which claimants must have received their final regular state payment in order to transition to EUC federal benefits is the week ending December 21, 2013; in those cases claimants will receive EUC for one week only.
         Only individuals who have worked and met the re-earnings requirement will be eligible for Tennessee unemployment compensation.
         The Department of Labor encourages claimants to explore the Jobs4TN.gov database, which contains more than 90,000 jobs. Once registered, jobseekers can easily connect with employers and be notified when suitable openings are posted. Additionally, the department's network of Tennessee Career Centers across the state offers services including job placement, training referral, Internet access, and helpful workshops. Find the Career Center nearest you by visiting www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.shtml.



      Charter comments start Monday - commission sets rules
      December 13, 2013

         If you've been following the work of the Brownsville Metro-Charter Committee you may have questions about their work Ñ and you may have suggestions. The first (there will be three) public hearing is scheduled for Monday, 6pm at the Justice Complex.
         Anticipating there will be many with thoughts and questions the Charter Commission has set rules for those who would like to speak.

      • The public hearings will end in a maximum of two hours...unless the questions and comments conclude earlier.
      • Each speaker must identify him/herself and may speak for two minutes, either to ask a question or to make a comment. (Dr. Dorothy Granberry has agreed to be the timekeeper.)
      • No speaker may return to the microphone until all who wish to speak have had an opportunityÉand then only to ask a new question or make a different comment.
      • Each participant will be asked the register.
      • The room will be set up with the commission members within the bar of the court at tables in a U shape facing the courtroom. We will have microphones so that all/any commission members may field questions.

         "We hope some high school students interested in watching government at work will be present as ushers and to hand out any materials we may need to distribute," Charter Commission Chairman Christy Smith said.



      Brownsville Radio to broadcast public hearings and videotape for Internet
      December 12, 2013

         The Brownsville-Haywood County Metro Charter Commission has scheduled three public hearings, and Brownsville Radio plans live broadcasts of all three. The first public event is scheduled for Monday night, 6pm at the Justice Complex. The next hearing is set for January 9 in Stanton and the final event is January 16, again at the Justice Complex.
         The broadcasts will be uninterrupted and carried in their entirety. Additionally, Brownsville Radio has made arrangements with Haywood High School's Broadcasting class to videotape the sessions. The videos will be available for viewing within a couple of days of each hearing at brownsville.point5digital.com



      Brownsville buys new police cars and tackles zoning issues
      December 10, 2013 - By Martha Lyle Ford

         Christmas bonuses, rezoning, and new police cars were on the agenda last night as the Brownsville Mayor and Board of Aldermen met in regular session at City Hall. Business was concluded in less than an hour as several department heads were under-the-weather or absent.
      New Police Cars
         Brownsville aldermen and the mayor unanimously approved the purchase of 4 new vehicles for the Brownsville Police DepartmentÉ The 2014 Chevy Impalas will cost $21,305.14 each. These funds are already included in the 2014 budget and the vehicles are purchased through a state government contract. Mayor Matherne stated that purchasing the vehicles this way is less expensive than if the purchase were bid out.
         Police Chief Chris Lea reported that one more vehicle will be purchased next year É at that point the entire Police vehicle fleet will be 5 years old or less and all will still be under warranty.
      Rezoning in North Brownsville
         The Board approved Ð on first reading -- Ordinance 903 which proposes rezoning a section of north Brownsville from High Density Residential to Low Density Single Family Residential. The area is located generally in the Scott Street, Key Corner Street, North Grand Avenue neighborhood.
         The measure was recommended to the Board by the City Planning Commission. Analysis by Planner Tom Skeehan had determined that Brownsville has, according to Mayor Matherne, "an inordinate amount of R-3 (High Density Residential) areas" and not enough "decent, affordable single family housing on smaller lots.
         City Planner Sharon Hayes stated that the objectives for the rezoning are to 1) revitalize the area, 2) reduce blight, 3) protect older homes, and 4) avoid inappropriate in-fill of the neighborhood.
         The Board's vote was unanimous É there will be a second reading of the ordinance at the January City Board meeting.
      Historic Districts
         The City Board approved hiring Thomason and Associates to complete necessary documentation to submit applications to the Tennessee Historical Commission and the National Register of Historic Places. The application process is projected to be completed by October 2014. Thomason and Associates will be paid $18,816 to complete the project.
         Over the past year, Thomason and Associates Preservation Planners have conducted a survey of historical properties in Brownsville. The compilation of their data has led to the proposal of three new historic districts and the extension of the existing historical district. The new districts would be 1) North Washington/East College Street Historic District, 2) Downtown Commercial Historic District, and 3) Civil Rights Historic District. The College Hill Historic District boundaries would be extended.
      Budget amended
         The City Board unanimously approved Ð on first reading -- to amend the City's 2013-14 budget to take into account increased expenses not foreseen when the budget was passed in August. Budget increases are $35,000 for special projects, $70,337 for law enforcement, and $1,698,158 for community development. The ordinance will have second reading at the January meeting of the Board of Aldermen and Mayor.
         Mayor Matherne encouraged everyone to visit College Hill Center to see the Festival of Trees sponsored by the Carl Perkins Center. The event extends through December 18.
         She also reported that bids for construction of the Tamm Park will be opened on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. There will be a pre-construction conference on Thursday for anyone interested in knowing more about the requirements of the project and bidding.
      Brownsville Housing Authority Board
         Danny Murley was unanimously approved for reappointment to a 5-year term on the Brownsville Housing Authority Board. Mr. Murley has been serving a partial term, filling a vacancy left when Mr. Jack Fletcher left the Board. Mr. Murley's term will expired in 2019.
      Christmas bonuses
         The Board unanimously approved Christmas bonuses for City employees É Full-time employees will receive $275 and part-time $75. Prior to the vote, Alderman John Simmons said, "I think this is money well spent." Employees will receive their bonuses in time for Christmas shopping --- it will be added to their paychecks next week.



      Superintendent celebrates schools; board votes to support resolution about buses
      December 11, 2013

         When the Haywood County School Board met in regular session on Tuesday, December 10, Superintendent Teresa Russell celebrated several schools and students for their accomplishments. She congratulated students from all the schools who participated in the Christmas at College Hill event on December 9. She also commended East Side students for their new clubs and activities and for their Reading Buddies program. These students have been reading to students at Anderson. East Side students will also be visiting Sugar Creek and Crestview residents this week. Mrs. Russell reported that the HOSA organization at HHS held a successful "Fill the Bus" event recently to collect donations of food and money for the school's Backpack program. And in the sports arena, she reported that the HMS basketball girls are undefeated and the HHS boys are undefeated.
         Board members approved a request from the Superintendent to accept a Utrust Mini Grant for $4,000 to be used for technology in a school. They also supported a resolution written by the Tennessee School Board Association regarding statutory caps on school buses. Currently, school buses must be removed from their fleets upon 17 years of service or 200,000 miles, regardless of how mechanically sound they may be or the results of mandatory inspections performed by the Department of Safety. This resolution urges the General Assembly to eliminate or at the very least, increase the caps on school buses to enable districts to run them as long as they are safe and passing inspections conducted by the Department of Safety.
         In other business, Superintendent Russell reported that the audit for the school activity accounts and cafeteria funds for the year ending 6-20-13 found no significant problems. Several minor findings had been addressed, according to CFO Vincent Harvell.
         In the Director's Report, Superintendent Russell went over the state's report card for Haywood County Schools with board members and guests at the school board meeting. For a complete look at the report card, go to tn.gov/education and click on Report Card.
         Mrs. Russell reminded everyone that the REACH Program graduation will be held at Sunny Hill Innovative Learning Center on December 17 at 6:30 p.m.
         The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 14, at 6 p.m.



      Taylor and Curtis chosen as 2013 Parade Grand Marshal
      December 10, 2013

         Tom Taylor and Jerry Curtis are no strangers to folks in Haywood County. Both have served more than 30 years on the Brownsville-Haywood County Rescue Squad and over 35 years collectively as volunteer firemen. So it's no surprise that they have been chosen to lead this year's community Christmas Parade.
         The co-Grand Marshals began their official duties November 30, when they flipped the switch to light the community Christmas tree. Over his lifetime, Taylor has 18 years experience at Haywood Company, 16 years at Wal-Mart and also served more than six years as a volunteer on the Brownsville Police Department during the tenure of Darrell Bull. Curtis has worked at Wal-Mart for the last 15 years and 10 years at MTD.
         They invite the public to the festivities on the courthouse lawn this Saturday, December 14, beginning at 3 p.m., when all the children are invited to decorate their bikes, trikes, scooters or just about anything else they can ride, push or pull and join Santa for the Children's Parade. Santa will hang around for picture and to hear all the wishes of our local boys and girls. You're also invited to bring your letters for Santa, too.
         Our four-legged friends get in on the fun, when Santa will lead the First Annual Pooch Parade at 4 p.m. He'll also take time to have pictures made with your pets.
         The Haywood High School Show Choir will perform at 5, along with other area church choirs and groups helping to ring in the season and entertain the crowds gathering for the big parade which will begin at 6 p.m.
         The Carl Perkins Center's Holiday Hustle fun run/walk will also be taking place. You can register at the Carl Perkins Center and enjoy the stroll from Boyd, down East Main and around the courthouse before the parade.
         Food will be available on the square and parade watchers are invited to shop with local merchants while waiting for the parade to begin.
         Over 35 entries have been confirmed for this year's parade which promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The parade is sponsored annually by the Brownsville-Haywood County Rescue Squad. In the event of pouring rain or inclement weather, the parade will be rescheduled for Monday, December 16.

          Tom Taylor (left) and Jerry Curtis visit with the crowd and wait to perform their official duties as Grand Marshal during this year's Community Christmas Tree Lighting November 30.



      Becoming the Volunteer State exhibition opens at Delta Heritage Center
      December 7, 2013

         The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, Brownsville, will host the Tennessee State Museum traveling exhibition "Becoming the Volunteer State: Tennessee in the War of 1812" Dec. 19 - Feb. 3, 2014. The exhibit commemorates the war's 200th anniversary and features artifacts, maps and an in-depth exploration of the significant role of Tennessee and its people in this important chapter in history.  Curator Myers Brown will lead a tour of the exhibition and answer questions at an opening reception Thursday, Dec. 19, beginning at 6 p.m. Brown is an Archivist with the Tennessee State Library and Chair of the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
         After years of escalating tensions, the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, the war culminated with the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. By the time the war was over several Tennesseans were beginning to emerge as important American figures, including Andrew Jackson, David Crockett, Sam Houston, Edmund Gaines (Act of Congress Medal winner), and Sequoyah.
         The war in the south was waged predominately by Tennessee militia, volunteers, or regular army units raised in the state. So many Tennesseans volunteered for service that the state was soon known by the nickname, the “Volunteer State.” The victory at the Battle of New Orleans propelled Andrew Jackson to the White House and established Tennessee at the forefront of American politics.
         Two notable events from the War of 1812 are forever etched in the collective consciousness of America’s heritage: the British burning of Washington, D.C. when First Lady Dolly Madison saved the portrait of George Washington before she fled the capital, and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner” by attorney Francis Scott Key during the British attack of Ft. McHenry at Baltimore.
         The Tennessee State Museum collaborated with other organizations to develop and produce the exhibition, including The Hermitage: Home of President Andrew Jackson, the State Library & Archives, and the Tennessee War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee. Important art, portraits, uniforms, weapons and period artifacts from the era, as well as a broad variety of documentary art, maps and illustrations have been selected to recreate a flavor of the times.
         The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is home to regional museums depicting the history and culture of the West Tennessee people. Inside visitors will find the Cotton Museum, West Tennessee Music Museum, Hatchie River Museum, the Sleepy John Estes Home and Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner. To learn more about the Center, visit www.westtnheritage.com or call 731-779-9000.



      Just over $21k pledged — over $19k already in hand
      December 6, 2013

      29th Brownsville Radio Christmas Basket Radiothon
         Between 7:15 and noon today, Brownsville Radio listeners pledged $21,150 to the 29th annual Brownsville Radio Christmas Basket Radiothon. The charity event is co-sponsored by Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith.
         Pledges were continuing to come in, even those the radio broadcast ended. Contributors had already delivered about $19,200 of the pledges by the time this news report was written at about 3pm.
         Christmas baskets for needy families will be delivered December 21.



      Emergency/road crews preparing for onslaught of weather
      December 6, 2013

         The State of Tennessee has declared a state of emergency — schools are closed in Haywood County and around the area. Crews that deal with problems created by icy weather are ready to go. This morning the National Weather Service continues to warn about an early winter ice storm that could strike today. Most forecasters predict frozen precipitation – mostly in the form of freezing rain could strike by noon today and continue through the afternoon. Forecast models say the precipitation should end by late afternoon but could leave behind a layer of ice capable of breaking limbs and power lines. Travel could be treacherous.
         Another round of wintry weather is anticipated in the middle of the night Saturday and into Sunday morning.
         Brownsville Radio will keep you informed on the air and by text alert.



      Website woes don’t keep Haywood Park Community Hospital from helping with sign-up for health coverage
      December 4, 2013

         You’ve most likely heard the confusion surrounding the website for the Health Insurance Marketplace, the government’s new platform for offering affordable health insurance. While the site may not be fully functional yet, Haywood Park Community Hospital’s application counselors can help make things more clear and assist with the sign-up process. And, if you enroll by December 23, 2013, you will have health insurance January 1, 2014!
          A primary goal of the Affordable Care Act is to help eligible Americans gain access to affordable health care. Most U.S. citizens are required to enroll for health insurance by March 31, 2014. Based on household income and dependents, you may be eligible for health insurance coverage at no cost through Medicaid. Or, you may be eligible for new health insurance options on the Health Insurance Marketplace – and financial help from the government towards the cost of premiums may be available.
          "This is where Haywood Park Community Hospital can help," said Joel Southern, CEO. "With many people in our community lacking access to a computer or having difficulty enrolling on the government’s website, our application counselors can help. We can assist individuals and their families evaluate the available health plan options and determine if they are eligible for Medicaid or other financial assistance."
      Health Plans on Health Insurance Marketplaces
         All health plans on the Marketplace must offer a comprehensive set of benefits, and individuals cannot be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Some of the available health benefits include preventive care and wellness services, doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital and emergency department care, lab services, pediatric services – and more.
      Medicaid Expansion
          "Even though Tennessee has chosen not to expand Medicaid, there are still many individuals in our community who qualify for Medicaid coverage," explained Joel Southern. "We can help screen these individuals and if they qualify, we can enroll them at any time, with health coverage beginning immediately."
          "While a major function of www.healthcare.gov is assessing whether individuals and families qualify for financial help to lower the cost of the insurance, Haywood Park Community Hospital's application counselors can perform the same analysis and help with the sign-up process," Joel Southern said.



      Charter commission schedules hearings — to complete draft by Friday
      December 3, 2013 - Meeting #17

          At last night’s Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter Commission meeting the panel made good on a promise to take their thoughts to the public before a final vote. Commissioners also agreed on a final draft.
      Draft to be delivered by Friday
         Deciding how Brownsville and Haywood County governments would merge — the transitional procedure — was discussed last night. Lawyers for the commission suggested two and in one case, three, ideas for the final transition of elected offices and departments.
         If voters pass the consolidated plan it will “come alive” as lawyer Michael Banks put it September 1, 2018 when the new legislators take office.
      The transition takes place in two phases
         The evolution begins immediately upon approval of the voters when a “transition task force” is appointed. The task force will include the mayors of Brownsville and Haywood County, the government’s attorney, the administrator of elections and the chair of the Brownsville Haywood County Metropolitan Government Charter Commission. The charter assigns various responsibilities to the task force.
         The new representatives, including the 10 member metro council and the metro mayor, would be elected in August 2018 and begins phase two. When the new government takes office less than 30 days later the former elected officials and in some cases employees will be asked to head various departments at least temporarily. If the official or worker is unwilling or unable then the new metro mayor will appoint someone temporarily. Eventually department heads will need a mayoral appointment and confirmation by the metro council. Each department is defined in the charter and each department has its own transition plan.
         Commissioners promised that the draft, with new language agreed upon last night, would be published by Friday. On the road
         In October, when Chairman Christy Smith published a list of frequently asked questions, she asked commissioners to think about how their first draft should be presented to the public. Last night they decided to hold three public hearings. At the hearings citizens will be allowed to comment and ask questions.
         Each meeting will last two hours and have been scheduled for:
      December 16, 6pm at the Justice Complex
      January 9, 6pm in Stanton, the location to be announced
      January 16, 6pm, at the Justice Complex
         All of the public hearings will be recorded and transcribed for further review.
         Smith said last night that charter commission representatives are available to talk to civic and church groups upon request. The charter commission has already spoken to at least one private group, has made a presentation to the Brownsville Exchange Club, and will present to the Brownsville Rotary Club today.
         Smith has also published her e-mail address (ctsmith923@bellsouth.net) so that people may contact her with questions and to schedule presentations.
      What happens next?
         The charter commission has not scheduled further meetings and it isn’t expected they will reconvene until after the public hearings. After the public hearings, Smith said, the commission will schedule additional meetings as necessary and consider what they’ve heard from the public — eventually submitting a final version of their work.
         The Haywood County Election Commission has 80 to 120 days to schedule a referendum after the charter is filed as final.



      This afternoon — first draft complete metro charter?
      December 2, 2013

         When the metro charter commission meets this afternoon it will be their 17th get-together, and it could be one of the most important meetings so far. The group expects to see the first complete draft of the charter.
         Commissioners have taken the last two weeks off, waiting on their attorney, Michael Banks, to complete the draft. Banks has said most of the work is done, but writing the transition — how the governments would move from the current operation to the new model— has taken extra time. If voters approve the consolidated government, it won’t go in to business until 2018, according to the most recent straw poll commissioners participated in and crafting the right words of transitioning has been time consuming, according to Banks.
         If today’s meeting concludes with a charter ready to present for public comment, Chairman Christy Smith says public hearings will be scheduled at which citizens may ask questions, offer suggestions and comments. Smith says commissioners will also make themselves available to talk to civic groups. After the period for public comment, commissioners will convene to write the final version that will be decided by voters — likely sometime next year.



      Draft of charter due Monday
      November 29, 2013

         The Metro Charter Commission will almost certainly take up their work again Monday — and Monday’s meeting could be one of the most important.
         Commissioners have stood down for the last two weeks, waiting on their attorney, Michael Banks, to craft the words that deliver a draft document of their thinking so far. Banks has said most of the work is done, but writing the transition — how the governments would move from the current operation to the new model— has taken extra time. If voters approve the consolidated government, it won’t go in to business until 2018, according to the most recent straw poll commissioners participated in, and crafting the right words of transitioning has been time consuming, according to Banks.
         Monday’s meeting will be the 17th session of the charter commission.
         Chairman Christy Smith said once commissioners agree on the wording, the next step will be a series of public meeting at which citizens may comment and question the work. After the public meetings the commission will reconvene and consider the final work.
         The charter commission is scheduled to meet Monday at 5.



      Haywood County Democratic Part wants primary election
      November 26, 2013

         If Haywood County's election calendar wasn't busy enough already, along comes yet another opportunity to go to the polls next year. In an e-mail sent late yesterday, Election Registrar Andrea Smothers said the Haywood County Election Commission received "notice from the local Democratic Party that they are calling a county primary for the district-wide offices."
         The primary will all voters to select democratic contenders for the offices of circuit court judge, chancellor, district attorney general and public defender, according to Smothers. Haywood County is in the 28th Judicial District. Candidates for these offices also face voters in Crockett and Gibson Counties.
         The election commission set Tuesday, May 6 as the date for the primary. The offices targeted in the primary will be ultimately decided in the general election scheduled August 7. The deadline to qualify for the primary is noon Thursday, February 20, 2014.
         With the addition of the primary, the Haywood County Election Commission has scheduled six elections for next year.
      They are:

      • Democratic Primary for district offices, May 6
      • City of Brownsville, June 17
      • County General and Statewide Primary, August 7
      • General Election and Stanton General, November 4

         A seventh visit to the polls is likely and could be set on a date separate from all the others; the yes or no decision for metro government.



      Next metro meeting delayed another week
      November 25, 2013

          Though the Brownsville Haywood County Charter Commission has given specific instructions to their lawyer about the features of the proposed charter, writing the first complete draft it has taken longer than thought. The charter commission won’t meet today as planned because there’s still not enough reading available.
         The commission last met November 11 when they decided to give lawyer Michael Banks until today to finish the draft. In an e-mail memo to charter commissioners this weekend Chairman Christy Smith said that though Banks had made some progress, it would be best to put the next meeting off until December 2.



      Main Street Brownsville Elects Board Members, Gets Rolling
      November 22, 2013 - By Joe Sills (@joesills)

         The Main Street Brownsville committee elected a board of directors and adopted bylaws on Thursday night in the Haywood County Courthouse.
         According to Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne, approval of the bylaws also approves the Main Street Brownsville program area which extends roughly from Grand Avenue on West Main past Anderson Avenue on East Main.
         The Main Street Brownsville committee has until January 1, 2014 to file its’ application to Main Street Tennessee—a coordinating partner of the National Main Street Center which provides admitted communities funding for revitalization of their downtown areas, as well as enhanced marketing opportunities for Main Street areas.
         Currently, only Collierville, Dyersburg, Ripley and Union City represent West Tennessee in the Main Street Tennessee program, which boasted an economic impact of $82 million last year.
         That’s high cotton—and newly elected Main Street Brownsville President Sandra Silverstein says Brownsville has every reason to compete with those towns, “I’m very excited about everything that’s happening. You know timing is everything and I see so many events that are going on in this community right now. When they all come together we’re going to be the hottest spot not only in Tennessee but in the South.”
         Other elected officials include Jim McAdams, Vice President; Brandon Williams, Secretary; and Betsy Reid, Treasurer.
         Main Street Brownsville hopes to kick off their first fundraiser in several weeks. They’ll be selling copies of the Thomason & Associates Historic Brownsville Survey, which was presented at the Brownsville Business Association meeting earlier this week. The group hopes to raise significant operating expenses by selling the in-depth, 450 building survey of Brownsville.
         Brownsville hopes to combine a successful Main Street program with the creation of new National Historic Districts to revitalize the small West Tennessee town’s economy and generate tourism.



      Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission Approves Application Process for New National Historic Districts
      November 22, 2013 - By Joe Sills (@joesills)

         The Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission unanimously approved to move forward with applications for three new National Historic Districts and the expansion of the town’s only current district on Thursday night.
         The application process is extensive, and will likely require a grant from a state organization such as the Tennessee Historical Commission.

         The motion to move forward with the application process was raised after review of an extensive 450 building survey of Brownsville's historic buildings, conducted this summer by Thomason & Associates of Nashville, Tennessee. The decision sets in motion the survey’s recommendation to expand the current College Hill Historic District along Key Corner and West Main Streets. In addition, it begins the process of creating new districts along North Washington Avenue and East College Streets, the Southeast corner of the Square, and—perhaps most notably—a Civil Rights Historic District along Jefferson Avenue.
         National Historic Districts are approved through the National Park Service, and while they provide tax credits for improvements and possible tourism benefits, the designation does not provide any protection for properties located within their boundaries.
         Historic District protection can only come through the creation of local zoning overlays, which place restrictions on the types of signage, usage and construction of buildings within their borders.
         "Whenever you set up (national) districts and setup local, you establish value of around 6-8% higher value than properties directly adjacent to them," said Dan Brown, a local government coordinator from the Tennessee Historical Commission, who has been assisting the Historic Zoning Commission this year. Brown added, "Those properties also stabilize quicker than others around them when there is economic pressure."
         Currently, the Historic Zoning Commission is in the preliminary stages of reviewing new local zoning regulations that would protect the proposed districts—a process that could take several months.
         "In all cities the National Register districts are where you begin and then the community outlines what they see is important to protect locally," stated Brown.
         The Historic Zoning Commission wants to be careful when finding the right mixture of local zoning regulations to work beside the new National Historic Districts. "We want to look at putting these things on the National Register then form some strategy for forming the overlays," added commission member Joe Barden.
         Brownsville's current zoning regulations were a source of criticism in the Thomason & Associates report on Monday night, with particular attention being paid to commercial zoning along the proposed Main Street Brownsville corridor. However, much of that falls outside of the proposed new National Historic Districts.
         For Brownsville, the goal here is to triple the area of businesses and residences which are eligible for federal tax credits to improve their structures. Currently, any contributing building within a National Historic District that generates income is eligible for a 20% federal tax credit towards rehabilitation. That sort of historic rehabilitation creates jobs in the local construction industry enhances civic pride and creates a destination for affluent heritage tourists.



      Historic planners meet today
      November 21, 2013

         Brownsville's Historic Zoning Commission meets today. Among the agenda items is consideration of next steps for evaluating and implementing the report delivered by Thomason and Associates Tuesday.
         The report suggests adding three new historic districts and expanding the existing historic district.
         Commissioners will also continue to work on development of Historic District Design Guidelines for the commercial district.
         The commission meets at City Hall at 4pm.



      Survey in Brownsville Recommends Three New National Historic Districts
      November 20, 2013 - by Joe Sills (@joesills)

         An in-depth survey of Brownsville has uncovered enough historically significant architecture to warrant the creation of three new National Historic Districts and the expansion of the town’s existing College Hill National Historic District, which could bring tax credits and tourism to the "Heart of the Tennessee Delta."
         At least, that's what a Nashville-based survey group presented to the Brownsville Business Association on Tuesday night.
         According to Phil Thomason—Principal of Thomason & Associates, a firm who specialize in historic surveys—a total of 450 individual buildings were examined during a five-month period from May to August of this year. The survey covered every street in the 9.1 square-mile town, focusing on buildings built prior to 1960.
         "I found the results encouraging and astonishing and so full of hope with what we can do with this community," Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne told the crowd gathered at the town’s Backyard Barbecue. "We sell ourselves short so much of the time and we don’t need to do that."
         The results yielded some uplifting information to many locals, and outlined areas for three new historic districts to compliment the College Hill Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. They are: a North Washington/East College Historic District, a Downtown Commercial Historic District located around the South and East of Brownsville’s Square, and a Civil Rights Historic District surrounding the old Carver High School.
         The group also recommends expansion of the 30-year old boundaries of the College Hill Historic District and the inclusion of a handful of individual properties. "A lot can happen in 30 years," said Thomason, "so we like to go in a re-inventory everything."
         The findings may have shocked some local business owners in attendance, whose eyes grew wider as Thomason and historical researcher Rebecca Hightower presented an analysis of the West Tennessee cotton town's wide variety of important buildings, including Victorian, Colonial, Greek, and Tudor Revival, as well as Art Deco and Craftsman style homes—many of which are not currently protected. Recommendations were also made for aesthetic improvements along some of the asphalt-lined gateways into the proposed districts, such as some current commercial areas along Main Street.
         The survey was funded by the City of Brownsville and a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission, and represents just a portion of government funding that may help Brownsville rehabilitate its historic buildings in an attempt to draw tourism to compete with recently revitalized towns like Covington, Bolivar and Ripley.
         But to get to that funding, Brownsville will still need to actually form the historic districts, which involves the creation of zoning regulations from the Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission and an application process with the National Parks Service.
         Still, the process may be worth it—especially for business owners. Properties located within a National Historic District are automatically eligible for a 20% federal tax credit on property improvements. In addition, property values within National Historic Districts tend to rise more quickly than those located outside of them.
         And the historic rehabilitation business is booming. From 1976-2010, historic rehabilitation generated over $100Bn in economic impact, from job creation to tourism. It's an established market that Brownsville business owners may want to tap into.
         Thomason says Brownsville has a lot to gain from focusing on preservation, "Heritage tourists are more affluent. They spend more, they stay longer and they make return trips. Those of us in the historic community have always been impressed with the architecture that you’ve had here. Brownsville was always known as one of the true gems in West Tennessee."
         What to do with the results of the survey is now in the hands of the City of Brownsville and the Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission. Be sure to check back with Point Five Digital on the radio, Facebook or Twitter for further updates.



      County commission mulling changes to county judiciary
      November 19, 2013 - By Martha Lyle Ford

      Two judges?
         Haywood County's Charter would have to be changed if Haywood County Commissioners follow through with action on an idea discussed Monday night. The charter amendment would move juvenile court responsibilities from the General Sessions judge to a to-be-established Juvenile Court judge. The General Sessions judge's pay would be reduced by 25% which would help pay for the new Juvenile Court judge position.
         The county commission met Monday night. Mayor Franklin Smith launched the discussion about the judgeship.
         Commissioner Bob Hooper said the idea for the change had come from him and from conversations he had had with County and City attorney Michael Banks and current General Sessions judge Roland Reid.
         Judge Reid, who was in attendance Monday night, reported that after considering Hooper's idea he is "neutral." He said, "I've considered the pros and the cons of it. I'm not against it, but I'm not going to carry the flag for it either."
         Mr. Hooper reported that at least 17 other counties in Tennessee have separate Juvenile Court Judges and General Sessions Judges. Lauderdale County has a similar set-up.
         Reid has been Haywood County General Sessions judge since 1993, when he made a commitment to the Commission that he would not practice law while also serving as judge. Previous judges had continued to practice law while also sitting on the bench. The General Sessions judge position was changed from part-time to full-time in 2002.
         Reid said last night he hopes to serve another 8-year term and will run for reelection next year.
         "If the Commission determines that making the change is a good idea and is good for the community, I'm okay with it," Reid commented. When asked if he has enough time to get all of the work done that needs to be done, he replied, "Yes."
         The Commission took no action Monday but is expected to take the matter up at its January meeting.
      City's request to expand planning region withdrawn
         Brownsville has withdrawn a request that county government expand its planning region.
         At the October meeting of the county commission, legislators considered a request from the City Hall to expand Brownsville's planning region to match its urban growth boundaries.
         At the earlier meeting Brownsville officials and County Planner Tom Skeehan explained that approval of the request would give zoning and permitting authority to the city planners for property south to the Hatchie River. After extensive discussion in October, the Commission unanimously voted to postpone action on the measure until last night. Mayor Smith reported that he'd received correspondence from city officials asking the county commission to disregard.
      Part of Wyatt Road de-listed
         The Commission unanimously approved a recommendation by the Haywood County Highway Commission to remove a portion of Wyatt Road from the County's Uniform Road list. Two-tenths of a mile of the dead-end gravel road was affected. The request to take the road portion out of county maintenance was made by a farmer who wants to install an irrigation system through the road.
      Inadequate bridge hinders farmer's progress
         Commissioner Larry Stanley brought up another road concern - a bridge on Estanalua Road, which is too small for farm machinery to cross. Stanley reported that the inadequate bridge requires farmers to drive an extra 10 miles to reach their fields. Mayor Smith promised to request that the highway commission renovate the bridge.



      Historic report to be unveiled today
      November 19, 2013

          Phil Thomason and Rebecca Hightower will present an historic assessment of Brownsville today. The two are with a Nashville firm hired by City Hall to review the city's historic assets. Last week city officials said the report contains a "treasure trove" of historic wealth.
         Conducted over the last several months the task included research of some 450 commercial and residential structures. This afternoon's meeting will include photographic examples of various architectural styles and periods through the 1960s. The effort includes recommendations for heritage preservation, asset-based economic benefits and expansion ideas for tourism.
         The public is invited. The meeting starts at 5:30 and will be conducted at the Delta Room of Back Yard BBQ.



      Brownsville's historic assets to be shown off next Tuesday
      November 15, 2013

         A just completed survey reports that Brownsville has a “treasure trove” of historic assets. The results of the work, commissioned by City Hall, will be unveiled next Thursday during an event at Back Yard Barbecue’s Delta Room.
         Phil Thomason and Rebecca Hightower will present the appraisal performed by Thomason & Associates, a Nashville based firm. The study was funded through a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission
         Conducted over the last several months the tasks included research of some 450 commercial and residential structures. Next Thursday’s meeting will include photographic examples of various architectural styles and periods through the 1960s. The effort includes recommendations for heritage preservation, asset-based economic benefits and expansion ideas for tourism.
         The public is invited. The meeting starts at 5:30.



      Second safe space approved for Haywood Schools
      November 14, 2013

          With the first of two tornado safe spaces completed, the Haywood County Board of Education has approved a construction plan for the second.
         The shelter at Haywood Elementary is finished and, now, ground is not far from being broken on the Haywood Middle School Safe Space, which will feature six classrooms.
         Taxpayers spent $1,550,000 on the elementary school structure. The middle school shelter will require $1,575,000. The school board accepted bids this week. The structure will likely be complete sometime near the start of the 2014/2015 school year.



      School workers to get bonus this week
      November 14, 2013

         During the 2013/2014 budget process the school board elected to give school workers a $400 bonus. School officials said this week the checks will be distributed November 15.



      Students saluted by school board
      November 14, 2013

         Superintendent of Schools Teresa Russell recognized two HHS students for outstanding achievement this week.
      • Will Clinton earned membership into the prestigious 30+ Club for making at least 30 on the ACT.
      • Deonte Brown was recognized for competing on the state level in the cross-country race. He placed 39th out of 188 in a 5K.



      Brownsville expected to officially become a Main Street town early next year
      November 14, 2013

         At this week’s Brownsville City Board meeting aldermen and the mayor took action that moves Brownsville closer to becoming a Tennessee Main Street Town.
         Brownsville Radio contacted City Planner Sharon Hayes who provided additional details about Brownsville’s Main Street journey.
         Hayes reports that the undertaking started about two years ago. And, now, Brownsville is in the final stages of the application process.  The designation first required entry into Tennessee Downtowns (TD), a program sponsored by the State Department of Economic and Community Development.
         “Our effort was spearheaded by a steering committee of dedicated local volunteers and guided by state Main Street professionals along with our Collierville mentor.  We have successfully progressed building on a series of activities and projects through goal setting under the Main Street 4-Point Approach — Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring.  The culmination has been a Downtown Master Plan and a mission for downtown revitalization,” Hayes wrote in an e-mail.
         The most recent actions moving Brownsville steadily along:  organization of a Main Street Board of Directors, the drafting of bylaws, and setting boundaries. The next step is to complete a lengthy application. City Hall has contracted with TD Steering Committee member Hayden Hooper to complete the documents.
         “We plan to submit the application in early January and expect to be notified sometime in February of our acceptance,” Hayes said.
         See more information on Tennessee Downtowns and Main Street including a list of State-certified cities and stats on economic development at this site: www.tennesseemainstreet.org



      Territories downtown and just east of square to see improvement
      November 13, 2013

         When the Brownsville City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Tuesday, they learned that work will start within a few weeks improving the Tamm lot downtown and streets and sidewalks between the square and Jackson Street. Leaders also approved application for a $1 million grant that will extend the work further east.
         “All of the questions have been answered,” Mayor Jo Matherne said about the construction projects already funded. These include an elaborate park for the Tamm lot (just east of the courthouse). Enhancements aimed at aesthetics and pedestrian improvements from the square to Jackson Avenue are also anticipated. The mayor said advertisements for bids would be composed soon and the work could likely start, weather permitting, sometime in early 2014. Another million to be spent
         The board unanimously approved a Transportation Alternatives Program grant application. The total endowment is for $1 million but city leaders say they will have to chip in local funds of up to $300,000 to qualify for the subsidy.
         “This is to continue the development of the East Main Street corridor,” Mayor Matherne said. “…to make it more friendly to pedestrians” The work will include improvements to utilities, sidewalks, streets and other infrastructure. “This is the gateway to our central business district,” Matherne commented.
      DRA Grant
         The Delta Regional Authority has approved a rail spur grant. Aldermen and the mayor accepted the terms Monday. The money, $162,598, will be used to make repairs and improvements to the rail line servicing the Industrial Park.
      Other news from Monday’s meeting
      • City leaders will hold a budget session Monday December 2 at noon. City Hall will present semi-annual budget amendments to aldermen and the mayor.
      • The Brownsville Energy Authority’s recommendation that George Chapman be appointed to BEA’s board was approved.
      • Madeline Matheny and Julie Dahlhauser were reappointed to the Library Board.
      • The council approved application for the annual Christmas Parade (December 13) and an application for a companion event sponsored by the Carl Perkins Center that takes place the same day.
      • Most city workers will get the day after Thanksgiving off when City Hall will also be closed. City Hall will be open on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas but aldermen and the mayor provided an extra “floating day off” employees may take during December.
      • The board endorsed submission of an application authorizing participation in the Main Street Program.



      Brownsville’s Utility Rates compare favorably in area
      November 13, 2013

         At Monday’s Brownsville City Board meeting Brownsville Energy Authority manager Regie Castellaw provided aldermen and the mayor with a bar graph comparing Brownsville’s gas, electric and water rates to other utility rates in West Tennessee. The comparison proves that Brownsville’s rates are among the lowest.
      Gas
         When compared to Humboldt, Covington, Memphis, Jackson, Gibson and Lake Counties, Brownsville has the next-to-lowest lowest rate for natural gas.
      Electric
         BEA has the lowest electric rates when compared to Jackson, Covington, Dyersburg, Ripley, Gibson County, Southwest and Forked Deer
      Water
         Water rates in Brownsville are also the lowest when compared with Covington, Humboldt, Jackson, Ripley, Dyersburg, Huntington and the Haywood County Utility District.
         Castellaw also commented that the utility has been approved for a half-million dollar wastewater improvement grant that will go a long way in renovating the city’s aging water system. “Some of our sewer infrastructure is approaching 100 years old,” Castellaw commented. But, he said, with the continued outside financial aid, which have been coming regularly, utility workers are gaining ground on a system that would be otherwise troubled by its stage in life.



      First real charter document could come near first of the year
      November 12, 2013

         Holiday schedules and the tedium of writing the details of the suggested Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter may delay the unveiling of the real first draft until the New Year. The news came at yesterday’s Committee of the Whole assembly of the charter commission.
         The panel met for two hours Monday. It was their 16th get-together. They talked at length about methods for eventually getting the public involved and informed. They also made substantive decisions about previously undecided fine points.
         Michael Banks, who is charged with the minutia of writing the draft, said yesterday that describing the transition — from present to consolidated is “taking up more time than we thought.”
         Commissioners took action on several subjects
      Metro Council Pay
         Under the present proposal the ten representatives of the metro council will have many responsibilities and the commission discussed, at length, the compensation of councilpersons. Finally deciding on $500 monthly, the stipend is more than Haywood County Commissioners make ($100 per meeting) and the same as Brownsville’s aldermen. The charter will allow the council to adjust its pay at the beginning of a term of office.
      Department of Public Safety
         The new government would have a Department of Public Safety led by a manager. The charter will require the manager, like others, to hold a Bachelor’s Degree or have equivalent experience.
      Chief Of Law Enforcement
         A college degree in criminal justice or equivalent experience will be required for those seeking to run the metro government’s police department. Qualifications include POST certification. Under the present thinking, the metro council can appoint the sheriff as chief law enforcement officer. To be qualified to run for sheriff a candidate must be POST certified and have five years of law enforcement experience.
      School Board members
         Haywood County School Board members are presently paid a small stipend — $50 per meeting and $25 for mid-month luncheon gatherings. The new charter will state, “school board members may be paid…”
      Amendments to the budget
         Like Brownsville’s government is today, the consolidated government will pass budgets by ordinance. After discussion last night, the group intends to require budget amendments also be made by ordinance. Ordinances, under the new government plan also closely mirror Brownsville’s existing requirements, requiring two readings and sometimes a public hearing.
      Agendas
         The agenda for regular meetings of the metro council must be published at least three business days in advance. The same regulation will apply to special called meetings except that for called summits only agenda items may be discussed.
      Next steps/future meetings
         Charter commissioners will take next Monday off, providing Michael Banks more time to draft. His work will focus on the transition. He describes the work as “90% done.”
         Once the final draft is delivered, it’s likely certain commissioners will want to renew debate about some of the features before the public hearings commence.
         Last night Commissioner Tom Archer made it clear he wants the group to talk more about the number of people who will serve on the metro council. “Is ten enough?” Archer questioned.
         The next meeting is scheduled for November 25, 5pm at the Justice Complex.



      Santa makes his first stop in Brownsville Saturday, November 16
      November 9, 2013

         Haywood County children are invited to visit with Santa Saturday morning during a special Breakfast with Santa at this year's Holiday in Haywood. The pancake breakfast is presented by the Brownsville Unit of the Boys and Girls Club and will be held from 9-11 a.m., at the Haywood County Justice Center Saturday, November 16. Cost is $5 and includes breakfast and a picture with Santa.
         Children who just want to get their picture taken with Santa ($3) can drop by any time before Saturday at noon. All proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club.
         Letters to Santa can be brought to the event beginning at noon on Friday, Nov. 15. Letters will be published in the December 19 issue of the Brownsville States Graphic.
         Holiday in Haywood is a two-day shopping mart featuring retail and specialty merchants showcasing their best holiday wares and gift ideas. This year's event is held November 15-16, at the Haywood County Justice Center, 100 South Dupree. Friday hours are noon -7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission is free. Attendees are asked to use the north door under the breezeway.
         Items that will be available for sale include clothing, jewelry and accessories, handcrafted pens, jewelry boxes, frames, wine racks, wood decor, ciders, butters and jellies, toys, pecans, Tupperware, cakes, pies and candies, purses, candles, and more.
         Holiday in Haywood is sponsored by the Brownsville Business Association. For more information about this event, contact Vickie at 731-225-5683.



      Metro charter commissioners have today off
      November 4, 2013

         For the first time in weeks the Brownsville/Haywood County Metro Charter Commission isn’t meeting. Commissioners are taking the week off because their attorney, Michael Banks, needs extra time to complete the first official draft. At last Monday’s meeting Banks said he needs two weeks to write the paper and commissioners decided they need the document before work could further progress.
         The charter commission’s next meeting is set for 5pm November 11.





       


       


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