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Article Calendar

March 2019
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Smith County Health Department to offer free prenatal class on April 17, 2019

CARTHAGE, Tenn. — The Smith County Health Department/Community Health Center will be offering a prenatal class to new and expecting mothers on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.  

This class is a one-time, two hour session to help expecting mothers increase their knowledge and understanding for a healthy pregnancy and will highlight areas such as prenatal care, nutrition and breastfeeding, safety, infant care and family planning.

This free class is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will be led by experienced health department staff familiar with prenatal care. 

Participants are highly encouraged to engage in the class and work together to gain a better understanding of the health of their baby and themselves. 

There will also be a drawing for essential gifts for baby and the expecting family. 

For more information, or to sign up for the class, please contact the Smith County Health Department/Community Health Center at (615) 735-0242 as soon as possible as there are a limited number of slots available!

Smith County Animal Rescue Organization plans Bingo Night fundraiser on April 13, 2019

Members of the Smith County Animal Rescue Organization (SCARO) have been busy planning various fundraisers as they work toward their goal of opening an animal shelter here in Smith County.

Throughout the month of March, the group has been selling hotdogs and showing off adoptable animals at Tractor Supply in Carthage during SCARO’s Buy a Dog for the Cause event.

SCARO’s next fundraiser will be Bingo Night, held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at the Smith County Bank, located at 50 Main Street North in Carthage.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is open to all ages.

Bingo cards can be purchased for $15. 

Popcorn, drinks, and snacks will also be available for purchase.

Cash, check, Venmo, debit, and Paypal will be accepted at the event.

All proceeds will go directly into the SCARO shelter fund.

The mission of the Smith County Animal Rescue Organization is to reduce pet homelessness in Smith County, Tennessee, through their spay/neuter assistance program and their foster/adoption program. The group also aims to construct an animal shelter in Smith County.

Keep an eye out for SCARO’s future fundraisers, like Bark in the Park 2K Walk/Run, a Silent + Live Auction, Pooch Plunge, a comedy show, and even Goat Yoga. 

SCARO holds monthly meetings at 5:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the Smith County Chamber of Commerce. 

Follow the Smith County Animal Rescue Organization Facebook page for news and updates, pictures of adoptable animals, upcoming fundraisers, and more. You can also visit their website.

Food for Thought: Popcorn

The following article was submitted by Mary Parker Draper, Smith County Extension Agent:

Pop, Pop, Pop! What makes popcorn pop? Watching the popcorn turn from the hard yellow kernel to the fluffy white treat is almost as enjoyable as eating the corn, not to mention the aroma while popping. Popcorn is said to be the favorite snack food for the average American.

There are several types of corn and all corn does not pop. It takes a unique type of corn to be popcorn. Turning a hard kernel of corn into popcorn is a scientific process.  The secret is in the kernel!

According to wonderopolis.org, “Inside each kernel of popcorn is a tiny droplet of water surrounded by a hard shell called a hull. As the popcorn is heated, the water turns into steam, which builds pressure inside the kernel. When the hull can no longer contain the pressure —POP!  The kernel explodes, and a fluffy new piece of popcorn is born.” The small kernel of popcorn has soft starch surrounded by water and covered by the hard outer surface. When heat reaches a degree of about 212 the water inside the corn turns to steam and the magic is done. So you might say that the trick to popcorn is water, starch, and heat.

Popcorn can be a healthy option for a snack. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), popcorn is relatively high in fiber. It does not contain cholesterol and it is almost fat-free. The FDA goes on to say that one serving of popcorn can supply about 70 percent of the recommended daily intake of whole grain. Popcorn also contains a number of vitamins including folate, niacin, and vitamins B6, A, E, and K. Adding too much salt, butter or margarine diminishes health value. These should be used sparingly. Enjoy this unique treat with olive oil and dried herbs for a healthier snack. Remember the scientific secret of how a tiny drop of water can turn into steam and make this delicious popcorn.

This week’s “Food for Thought” recipe is Onion Dip, submitted by Gina Conder, Night Owls FCE Club.

Onion Dip

1 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded

½ cup Swiss cheese, shredded

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2/3 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup onion, chopped

½ cup milk

Set oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients and put in a one-quart dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with crackers, pita chips, pretzels, or tortilla chips.

Smith County High Quarterback Club 6th Annual Bass Tournament set for April 27, 2019

The Smith County High School Quarterback Club would like to invite you to participate in their 6th Annual Bass Tournament, which will be held on April 27, 2019, at the Defeated Creek Marina at Cordell Hull Lake. 

Blast off is at 6:30 a.m. and Weigh-In will take place at 3:00 p.m.

Cash prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, as well as Big Fish. 

The 1st place winner will receive $1000, and a $500 award will be given to the winner of the Big Fish competition.

Pre-Entry prices for the tournament are $50 per boat and $20 for the Big Fish competition. On the day of the tournament, entry prices will be $60 per boat and $25 for the Big Fish competition.

Please mail pre-entry payments to: 


232 Friendship Hollow Road

Pleasant Shade, TN 37145

If you have any questions about the bass tournament, please contact Matt Oldham at 615-735-7250, Chris Carlyle at 615-670-1658, or Rob Hord at 615-735-7796.

Smith County Strategic Plan Update Meeting slated for April 23, 2019

Save the date! A Smith County Strategic Plan Update meeting will be held at the Smith County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

This event is designed for county leaders to receive as much input as possible to update Smith County’s strategic plan regarding topics such as parks, health, traffic, tourism, infrastructure, safety, government, and other related topics. 

Your input will help determine the overall direction for Smith County’s future.

Stop in, submit your comments, and talk with elected officials about your vision for the community.

UCEMC Cares, Inc. awards grants to local organizations – February 2019

L to R: Wesley Rigsby, Chairman of the Board, Pleasant Shade Community Center; Stephen Russell, Board Member, Smith County High School Baseball Boosters; Anne Cole, Secretary, UCEMCCares; Katie Martin, Extension Agent, Smith County 4-H; Kenneth Frye, UCEMCCares.

In February 2019, UCEMCCares Inc. awarded $1,659.53 to the Pleasant Shade Community Center; $1,506.51 to the SCHS Baseball Boosters; and $1,160 to Smith County 4-H.  

UCEMC Cares, Inc. is a state chartered, nonprofit corporation designed to accumulate and disburse funds to improve the quality of life in the service area of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC). For more information, contact your local UCEMC office or visit the UCEMC customer portal at www.ucemc.com.

UT Extension News: “Lawn Weed Control”

The following article was submitted by Chris Hicks, Smith County Extension Agent: 

As spring has finally arrived after a long wet winter, many are glad for the chance to get outside, enjoy the sunshine, and start working in the lawn. While personally I get tired of mowing pretty quickly, I actually enjoy it for the first few weeks of spring.

One thing I don’t enjoy are the weeds that creep into the yard. Plants like purple deadnettle, wild violets, and henbit are pretty to some, but their beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I behold them as weeds. If you feel the same about weeds in your yard, here are some tips for controlling them:

  1. Maintain a healthy stand of grass. Have you ever noticed the grass above your septic field lines is green and healthy when other grass is brown and dead? Those areas are getting water and nutrients that other areas are not. They also generally have fewer weeds. The best defense against weeds in the yard is a healthy stand of grass. To maintain a healthy stand of grass in Tennessee requires adjusting your mowing height according to your turf species, fertilizing according to soil tests, and irrigating during dry spells. If you’re not willing to do that I don’t necessarily blame you because it requires time, money, and extra work, but don’t be surprised when neglecting these details leads to weeds being an ongoing issue.
  1. Identify the weed problem. If you have weeds and want to know what they are, we can identify them free of charge at the UT Extension office. Fresh samples are usually easily identified, samples that have been on the dash of the truck for two weeks are more challenging. 
  1. Adjust mowing practices. Annual weeds are generally well controlled by mowing the plants before they set seed so mow early and often. Raising your mowing heights will also allow grass to develop a healthy root system and out-compete many weeds. You might also try mowing in different patterns to avoid soil compaction which can alleviate problems from weeds like goosegrass and spurge. 
  1. Use herbicides according to the label. There are hundreds of different products labeled for weed control in lawns. When selecting one of these products, read the label and make sure it is safe to spray on the turfgrass species you have, and that it will kill the weeds you need it to. Be mindful of wind conditions, make sure you wear clothing that will protect you from chemical splashing, and follow label instructions as to sprayer cleanup and jug disposal. 

If you need help with herbicide selection, we have recommendations based on years of data we can provide free of charge at the UT Extension office at 125 Gordonsville Hwy. in Carthage. You will also find several good publications as well as a weed ID tool at our website smith.tennessee.edu. 

Carthage City Council appoints new city attorney during special-called meeting

The Carthage City Council appointed Todd Moore, an attorney from Brentwood, Tennessee, to replace outgoing city attorney David Bass.

The Carthage City Council selected a new city attorney during a special-called meeting on the evening of Thursday, March 21, 2019.

The need to appoint a new city attorney arose after current city attorney David Bass announced his resignation during the March meeting of the council. Bass has served as the Carthage City Attorney for over 20 years.

Bass will continue acting as city attorney until April 1, 2019.

During the special-called meeting, three candidates—all from outside of Smith County—interviewed for the city attorney position.

Mr. Jim Judkins, Mr. Todd Moore, and Mr. Tom Walsh all addressed the council and then fielded questions from council members and the mayor. 

After the interviews were conducted, the council voted 4:1 to appoint Todd Moore as the new city attorney.

Todd Moore has spent over 25 years counseling individuals, businesses and local governments and trying cases involving land use, zoning, eminent domain, corporate formation and dissolution, contracts, risk management, asset protection, wills, trusts, and estate planning matters.

Todd has several clients that he has advised for many years including the municipalities of Thompson’s Station, Chapel Hill, and Brentwood, Tennessee, each of which he has represented for over a decade. Todd has also worked with dozens of local businesses and hundreds of individuals and families since founding his private practice in Williamson County in 2000.

Todd grew up in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, and is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis (B.A. History, 1989), and the University of Tennessee College of Law (J.D., 1992). He lives in Brentwood with his wife Christie and their two children, Jim and Mollie.

Mr. Moore requested that Mr. Bass stay on until the end of the month so that the two attorneys could work together to help Mr. Moore familiarize himself with the working of the city and the issues it is dealing with.

Mr. Moore will take over for Mr. Bass on April 1, 2019. 

During the meeting, the council also voted 4:1 to allow Mr. Les Fisher to purchase a new utility truck for the city Public Works department.

The council also voted to opt-in to Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) for retired employees after determining that no liability or cost would fall to the city and the council could opt-out at a later date if they so desired.

You can watch the full special-called meeting of the Carthage City Council below.

SCI First Responder Friday: Ricky Gibbs

Smith County Insider is proud to announce our latest spotlight series, First Responder Friday. 

Each Friday, Smith County Insider will publish an interview with a local first responder, in hopes that it will allow our readers to get to know the fine folks who serve our county.

For our inaugural First Responder Friday, Smith County Insider interviewed Ricky Gibbs, a Firefighter/AEMT/Rescue first responder who lives in Elmwood, Tennessee. 

Smith County First Responder Ricky Gibbs

Ricky has proudly served as a first responder for 27 years.

Read the complete interview below. 

SCI: When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?

RG: When we were expecting our first child I wanted some basic first aid. I could not find a class so I took the entire EMT course at TTU.  As part of that you have to do clinical ride-a-longs with EMS.  After my first call on clinical, I knew I wanted to try to help people.

SCI: What is the best thing about your job?

RG: When you are going about your daily life and see people, especially kids, and you know you had a part in helping them during a bad situation.

SCI: What is your proudest work accomplishment?

RG: It’s not one thing in particular.  It just that moment when you are first to arrive on a scene and you see the scared face of someone in trouble and you say, hi, I’m here to help or you are looking for that missing Alzheimer’s patient or the lost kid and you radio back we found them because at that moment you know the relief and joy that you just gave to the family.

SCI: What advice would you give to someone looking to go into your field?

RG: I have worked at DTC Communications for 30 years as my regular 8 to 5 job, so it would be you don’t have to be a full time emergency responder to be able to make a difference, but you do have to be willing to constantly expand your knowledge, willing to drop what you are doing at any time and go about your duties in a professional manner. Secondly, I would say remember wearing a pager, and being listed on the roster of a department does not make you a “fireman” or “rescue technician”; attitude, training, dedication and being dependable does.  

SCI: What are your favorite hobbies/activities outside of work?

RG: I like to golf and travel when I can, but outside of that, volunteering in emergency services is pretty much my main hobby.

SCI: Anything else you want to share with the readers of Smith County Insider?

RG: I don’t think the people in our county fully understand the role that volunteers play in the “emergency chain of events” and sadly getting people who are truly dedicated to volunteer to fill those roles is becoming harder and harder.  The way we have done things for years and years is quickly coming to an end.  Probably within the next 10 years we will have to transition from 100% volunteer in the Fire & Rescue area to some type combination scenario of paid personnel supported by what few volunteers we have left.

Thank you for your thoughtful answers and dedicated service to Smith County, Ricky!

Don’t miss next week’s First Responder Friday!

Tennessee youth support annual Kick Butts Day to help stop tobacco use

The following press release was submitted to Smith County Insider by Megan Kinslow, Smith County Health Department: 

CARTHAGE, Tenn. – Young people in Smith County joined youth all across Tennessee to take part in Kick Butts Day on March 20, 2019. Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. 

“We are very proud of the young people in Smith County who are doing what they can to reduce tobacco use and help save lives,” said Michael Railling. “It’s very important that we raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco use in our state and community.” 

Smith County High School SADD Club and Gordonsville High School SADD Club participated in Kick Butts Day this year by setting up a tobacco booth at lunch to educate their peers on the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use.

Students at Smith County High School educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use.

Statistics from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids show 9.4 percent of high school students, or 31,900 teenagers in Tennessee are smokers. The organization also reports 2,600 Tennessee children and teenagers become new daily smokers each year. Statistics also show how deadly this daily habit can be: the group estimates 125,000 children and teens now alive in Tennessee will ultimately die prematurely as a result of smoking.

Tennessee youth are making great strides in reducing tobacco use thanks to the TNSTRONG movement. TNSTRONG stands for “Tennessee Stop Tobacco and Revolutionize Our New Generation” and was developed by and for Tennessee teens. Join the movement on Facebook @TNSTRONGmovement, on Twitter @TN_STRONG and on Instagram @tn.strong.

The Smith County Health Department offers smoking cessation services to help both youth and adult smokers kick the habit. Contact the clinic at 615-735-0242 for details. The Smith County Health Department is located at 251 Joy Alford Way and is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Tennesseans who are ready to kick butts and drop tobacco for a smoke-free life can also call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW to connect with a counselor for free assistance in quitting smoking. Learn more and enroll online at www.tnquitline.org. 

To learn more about Kick Butts Day 2019, go to www.kickbuttsday.org.

A Gordonsville High School Student stands behind the table that the GHS SADD Club set up for Kick Butts Day.

Spaghetti Dinner to support Cub Scout Pack #367 to be held March 23, 2019

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, local Cub Scout Pack 367 will host a spaghetti dinner and auction fundraiser at the Carthage United Methodist Church, located at 608 Main Street in Carthage, Tennessee.

The fundraiser will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

A plate of spaghetti can be purchased for $5. Please call 615-670-0678 to reserve your plate.

Enjoy a nice dinner, stay for the auction, and support Cub Scout Pack 367!

School Board members discuss transparency, personnel policy at March meeting

“Transparency” has been the buzz word at many local meetings lately, and this month’s gathering of the Smith County Board of Education was no different.

During the meeting, board member Marty McCaleb inquired about hiring and firing procedures. His inquiry was prompted by recent staff changes within the basketball programs at both Gordonsville and Smith County High School.

It was brought to the attention of the board that the board has no power to hire and fire personnel within the school system. The Director of Schools makes the final call on personnel changes, after being given a recommendation by school principals and Central Office staff, who interview potential candidates. 

For example, when a coach is hired, the principal and athletic director of a particular school conduct interviews and make a recommendation for hire, which then goes before the Director of Schools for approval. 

Each month, school board members receive a report of all personnel and staff changes in the “Superintendent Actions” section of their packet.

School Board Attorney Jamie Winkler pointed out that the board could vote for a policy change regarding the way that personnel changes are reported to the board by the Director of Schools.

Earlier in the meeting, Attorney Winkler gave the board a broad overview of procedures for in-school position changes. 

After some discussion, the school board decided to have a work session with Attorney Winkler in order better understand the in-school personnel policies and procedures that are set in place, as well as go over the duties of school board members.

This work session will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 1, 2019, at the Smith County Board of Education.

During the work session, the board is expected to review policies and procedures and have discussion relating to the role of the board of education, duties of a board member, job vacancies, transfers, and reassignments.

You can watch the full March meeting of the Smith County Board of Education below. 

The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Press Release: Smith County Schools statement regarding audit finding

The following press release was submitted to Smith County Insider by Director of Schools Barry Smith:

Barry Smith, Director of Schools in Smith County

Smith County Schools received an audit finding in the 2017-2018 school year because a penalty of $37,180 was assessed by the Internal Revenue Service for noncompliance related to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). This current audit finding relates to the Affordable Care Act for 2015. This amount was assessed as the employer shared responsibility to offset the costs of any employees that obtained health insurance through the Marketplace. Money was budgeted for the potential expense on August 5, 2014, in a Special Called Board Meeting. 

Formal discussions with the Board on the Affordable Care Act began upon its passage. Businesses of more than 50 employees were subject to penalty unless they offered affordable coverage to all full-time employees. 

In 2014 the cost of providing insurance for 150 full time non-certified employees was $622,908.00 yearly, versus paying the assessment from the IRS in the amount of $37,180. Significant study was conducted and all budgetary items were considered. The Board could not feasibly expand coverage without asking for a tax increase and amended its budget to cover potential costs of the assessment. In the 2018-2019 school year budget with 165 non-certified employees, the cost would be $902,880.00 for the year. In comparison, the expenditure in 2018-2019 to the IRS was $35,100 for the 2016 assessment related to the Affordable Care Act. 

Other school systems in Middle Tennessee are being affected by the Affordable Care Act as well, and have been forced to undertake similar analysis of the most feasible budget option. This recurring expense is included in the line item of the regular instruction medical insurance budget each year.

Other options include cutting full-time non-certified employee hours back to less than 30 hours per week to avoid triggering the Affordable Care Act. Smith County Schools have chosen not to punish employees by cutting hours or pay but instead budgeting to offset the cost for employees utilizing the Marketplace.

Any questions may be directed to the Smith County Board of Education Central Office.


Director Smith’s statement is in response to an article recently published by The Tennessee Star reporting that the Smith County School System was required to pay $35,000 due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act.

Smith County Democratic Party to hold Biennial Reorganization Convention to elect leaders on April 6, 2019

The Smith County Democratic Party will hold a Biennial Reorganization Convention to elect leaders on Saturday, April 6, 2019. 

Doors open for registration at 1:00 p.m. Convention start time is 2:00 p.m. at the Smith County Chamber of Commerce, located at 939 Upper Ferry Road in Carthage, Tennessee.

Local Democrats will elect a Chairperson, Vice Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, and the Executive Committee for a two-year term. 

All Democratic residents eligible to vote in Smith County are urged to attend to discuss the party’s agenda and events for 2019-20. 

Attendees will evaluate the effectiveness of the county party bylaws and leadership, determining our needs, electing leaders and enacting reforms to build a stronger grassroots organization.

The convention is open to all Smith County Democrats. Attendees should arrive early to complete credentialing forms and be admitted to the convention prior to 2 p.m. when the meeting will begin. Please bring voter registration card.

For more information, please email SmithCountyDemocrats@gmail.com or Tweet @DemsSmith.

Ad paid for by Smith County Democratic Party.

“I Want It All!” Sale at the Smith County Ag Center – April 5 & 6, 2019

The “I Want It All!” Sale will be held at the Smith County Ag Center on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6, 2019, from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on both days.

This can’t-miss event will feature over 40 vendors with a wide range of offerings. 

The “I Want It All Sale!” will take place both inside and outside of the Ag Center, and food will be available for purchase.

If you have any questions about the event, please text 615-588-6452 and ask for Bea. 


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