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Article Calendar

July 2020

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Smith County Schools releases re-opening plan for 2020-2021 school year

On Friday, July 10, 2020, the Smith County School System released a “Structure for Learning” plan for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. 

The goal of the plan is “a traditional return to school for most students while offering a virtual learning experience for qualifying students who cannot return.”

Currently, Smith County Schools plans to operate with the approved calendar and implement a staggered return to school, beginning with a half-day on August 5 and a full day on August 7.

In the first few weeks, individual schools will have the flexibility to modify their return schedules to best fit each school’s needs, with the goal of being at full capacity as soon as possible. 

This model will allow for schools to reopen while still providing more time and flexibility to address necessary professional learning needs, technology updates, and support(s) for the most at-risk or trauma affected students. Individual schools will create a schedule to accommodate the size, demographics, and needs of their school population.

In the coming days, information specific to each school will be available on that school’s website and at the school. For questions, please call your school’s principal.

The Smith County School System’s plan presents three scenarios: (1) traditional on-campus learning with safety precautions, (2) a hybrid of on-campus and remote learning, and (3) remote learning for all students. 

Due to the ever-changing circumstances with COVID-19, a change in scenario may take place at any time.

More detailed information is expected to be released mid-July. 

You can view a statement from Director of Schools Barry Smith about the re-opening of Smith County Schools below. 

For information and updates about Smith County Schools, visit https://www.smithcoedu.com.

UCEMC prepares to launch new Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) on August 1 – One Call Does It All!

The following press release was submitted to Smith County Insider by Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Beginning August 1, 2020, this is the only number you’ll need to take care of UCEMC business around the clock, seven days a week:


UCEMC has implemented a new user-friendly Interactive Voice Response System (IVR) that conveniently allows us to look up account information based on your phone number.

From there, you can report outages, pay your bill with a credit card, manage your UCEMC account, and during regular business hours, speak with our district customer service representatives in Carthage, Cookeville, Gainesboro or Livingston.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and you can call us from anywhere. It’s toll-free.

“All of our former contact numbers are obsolete as of August 1,” UCEMC General Manager Jimmy Gregory explains. 1-800-261-2940 is now the only number you’ll need to report an outage, review your account, pay your electric bill, or speak to service representatives at any of our districts. We’re confident that this change will simplify the process of account management for our members.”

Keeping this number handy will help you manage your Upper Cumberland Electric Membership account when it works for your schedule, when you’re traveling or when you can’t find the time to go online.

Visit ucemc.com for more information on how one call does it all at Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation.

Local People. Local Power.

Wreck at 4-way stop in Gordonsville causes power outages

At 3:42 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, 2020, a vehicle crashed into a light pole in front of the Dollar General in Gordonsville, causing several businesses and residents in the city to lose power.

According to Gordonsville Police Chief Shannon Hunt, the driver of the vehicle was coming from Hickman when she ran off the right hand side of the road and t-boned the light pole.

The driver was transported to Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital with minor injuries.

Several residents and businesses remain without power as of 7:30 p.m.

UCEMC crews are on the scene.

McDonald participates in National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools

MTSU student and Smith County native Delanie McDonald participated in the National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools at the White House on July 7, 2020.

MTSU student and Smith County native Delanie McDonald had the opportunity to travel to the White House this week to participate in the National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools, which was held on July 7, 2020.

McDonald, who currently serves as the student trustee at Middle Tennessee State University, spoke in a panel setting with President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and Vice President Pence and his wife. 

“It was such an honor to be invited to the White House as a representative of higher education students across the United States,” McDonald told Smith County Insider. “I was able to hear from some of the most influential leaders in our country and discuss the current challenges that face our education system. It is inspiring to see so many people dedicated to ensuring our safe return to school this fall. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities God has given me in the past four years and I’m so proud to be a Blue Raider!”

Congratulations, Delanie! You represent Smith County and MTSU well. 

You can view a transcript of the National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools here, and watch the recording on YouTube here. 

Smith County Chamber Corner Show – July 2020

Check out the July 2020 edition of the Smith County Chamber Corner Show!

This month’s show features updates from Chris Hicks and Mary Parker Draper with the Smith County UT Extension Office, as well as Jessica Murphy and Mary Leslie Wakefield from the Smith County Drug Prevention Coalition. 

Chamber Director Bill Woodard also sits down for an interview with Smith County Coronavirus Task Force Director Dr. Roger Duke and Smith County Mayor Jeff Mason.

If you would like to promote your event or local business on the Smith County Chamber Corner Show, contact the Smith County Chamber of Commerce by calling 615-735-2093 today. 

Watch the full show below, or catch it on DTC3 TV!

UPDATE: SCHS Class of 1970 Reunion postponed

Due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the Smith County High School Class of 1970 Reunion Committee has decided to postpone their 50th Class Reunion, which was set to take place in Granville, Tennessee, on August 1, 2020.

The reunion will be rescheduled at a time deemed safer for all attendees.

For forthcoming updates, classmates can visit the SCHS Class of ’70 Reunion’ Facebook page or email knl37030@gmail.com.

Sign up for Smith County 911 Emergency Alerts via Amazon Alexa

Smith County 911 provides Emergency Alerts to the residents of Smith County via Hyper-Reach. These alerts warn citizens of hazards and other important information by phone, text message, and email. Now, Smith County 911 has enhanced its ability to deliver critical messages by adding delivery over smart speakers. 

For Alexa, the Hyper-Reach service is a skill that must be enabled by the citizen on the citizen’s Alexa device. All that is required is to say, “Alexa, enable Hyper-Reach” and follow the instructions provided by the Alexa device. The whole process should take less than a minute. A more detailed explanation is available at www.hyper-reach.com/alexa.

Once enabled, when Smith County sends a relevant message for your location, a notification is triggered on the Alexa device. Usually the device will play an alert tone and flash a yellow light. You then ask Alexa to play the notification, which the device will do. Since your Alexa device already has your location, it is a very simple set-up.

The Hyper-Reach skill is free to all Alexa users and is now included as part of the Smith County 911 standard Hyper-Reach Emergency Notification System. 

“We are very excited to be able to add Alexa delivery to our Hyper-Reach toolbox. This gives us an additional way to get you the important information necessary. We urge all Alexa users in Smith County to take a couple of minutes and set this up so that you have as many ways as possible available to you to receive Emergency Notifications,” Smith County EMS & 911 said in a statement on Facebook. 

If you haven’t signed up to receive emergency alerts via text message, phone call, and email, you can sign up by clicking here. 

Follow Smith County Emergency Medical Services & Smith County 911 on Facebook to stay informed!

Best of the 2020 Smith County Fair on the River

This year’s Smith County Fair on the River has come and gone, but you can re-live some of the highlights with this video filmed and edited by Smith County Insider reporter J.R. Smith. 

Thanks to all who made this year’s fair a success! 

See you at the 2021 Smith County Fair!

Food for Thought: Summer Family Activities

by Mary Parker Draper, Extension Agent – Smith County

COVID-19 continues to disrupt our lives. From diminished work hours and income, to summer camps that are socially distant, 2020 has brought immense changes. As summer days arrive bringing extra daylight hours in the evenings, many families are looking for activities that are fun, inexpensive, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“Summer nights mean longer daytime hours, and traditionally family time has included trips to theme parks, visiting friends or family, or even week long vacations,” comments Christopher T. Sneed, University of Tennessee Extension consumer economics specialist. “With the disruptions caused by COVID-19, some families are struggling to make ends meet and looking for inexpensive options for some family fun during the summer months.”

Sneed suggests considering these options for nighttime entertainment as a family this summer:

  • Going for a walk in your neighborhood
  • Exploring a nearby park and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from people not in your household
  • Having a family game night, with board games, card games, or outdoor games like hide and seek or tag
  • Writing letters to family or friends you have not been able to see or visit
  • Playing charades, Pictionary or other games that use imaginations
  • Cooking dinner together as a family or baking a dessert for neighbors
  • Completing a scavenger hunt at home or in the neighborhood
  • Playing water games on warm sunny days, with water balloons, water guns or other discount toys

Another option for family time is to plant and tend a garden together, says the expert. Not only will this help fill summer evenings, but also the produce a garden yields can be healthy for the family budget and provide nutritious options at mealtime.

“Lots of online retailers have also offered free content in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” adds the expert. “Taking advantage of some of these offers can help break up the monotony of staying home and isolating during summer months.” Sneed suggests looking for virtual tours of zoos, aquariums or museums first, as these options can provide supplemental education to children.

For other ideas for family activities, contact Mary Parker Draper at the extension office at 615-735-2900. 

Check out this week’s “Food for Thought” recipe for Crab Dip. This week’s recipe was submitted by the Hickman FCE Club.

Crab Dip

2-8oz cream cheese

1 -6 1/2 oz can crabmeat with juice

1-tablespoon horseradish

1 small onion finely chopped

Mix well. Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

PRESS RELEASE: Smith County Young Republicans Endorse Bellar for Judge

Update on 7/9/20 at 3:00pm cst. The Smith County Young Republicans retract their original press release and released the following statement (below in bold). All of the SCYR executive board members resigned their positions. 

July 9, 2020 –The Smith County Young Republicans officially retract their press release submitted for publication on July 8, 2020. This press release contains an endorsement for an Independent Candidate. This endorsement is a violation of Tennessee Young Republican Federation bylaws as an Independent candidate cannot be endorsed in cases where a Republican candidate is nominated. The mission of the Tennessee Young Republican Federation is to promote the growth and acceptance of the Republican Party among young professionals and is committed to electing Republicans to office. The Smith County Young Republicans Executive Board acknowledges this violation, and all executive board members have resigned. The Smith County Young Republicans remain committed to electing all Republican candidates in Smith County.

July 8, 2020 — The Smith County Young Republicans Executive Board is pleased to announce their endorsement of Branden Bellar for the 15th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge race. The SCYR Executive Board came to this conclusion after examining the experience and history of affiliation with the party of the two candidates.

Mr. Bellar has far more experience in the courtroom, including trying cases in the Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Supreme Court. Mr. Bellar primarily works as a trial lawyer, including many cases in front of juries. Mr. Bellar’s opponent, Mr. Collins, has never tried or administered a jury trial. Experience in the jury trial setting is of utmost importance for someone who is going to be the presiding judge of a court that handles jury trials. In addition to his experience in the courtroom, Mr. Bellar also has served in a variety of government roles as a municipal judge, city attorney, and county attorney.

As supporters of the Republican Party, we must also examine the candidates in view of their affiliation to the party. An examination of the voting records of the candidates shows that Mr. Bellar has supported the party longer and more often than Mr. Collins. Before the primary election cycle for this seat, Mr. Collins had only voted in the Republican primary one time. Mr. Bellar has previously voted in the Republican primary on three different occasions before voting in March also. When considering his voting record and political activity, we believe Mr. Bellar aligns more closely with the Republican Party than Mr. Collins.

This endorsement is the view of the SCYR Executive Board.

The above press release was submitted and paid for by the Smith County Young Republicans.

UT Extension News: “Using Native Warm Season Grasses for Wildlife”

by Chris Hicks, County Director – UT Extension Smith County

Last week we discussed how native warm season grasses (NWSG) can be used in a cattle forage system. Their ability to provide another source of food during the summer slump makes NWSG a great choice in Tennessee pastures. However, there are also wildlife benefits associated with establishing NWSG. Establishing NWSG can enhance habitat conditions for those species that need early successional habitats to meet various life requirements. 

Fields of NWSG are attractive to wildlife such as quail, rabbits, and grassland songbirds because of the cover they provide. The availability and quality of cover on a property often limits the number of species, as well as the number of individuals within a species. It is important that the cover allow animals to travel, nest, and feed throughout the field, not just around the edges. NWSG grow in bunches and when sown and managed correctly, contain open ground between bunches that allows mobility, nesting, and brood rearing opportunities for small wildlife such as quail, rabbits, sparrows, and young turkeys. 

Adequate bedding and escape cover can be a limiting factor for white-tailed deer on some properties. NWSG provide quality cover during the winter if the grasses are not previously bushhogged or otherwise destroyed. Fields of NWSG are often magnets for rabbits, over-wintering songbirds and deer. NWSG can be particularly useful for small wildlife at a time when quality cover is at a premium. Tall NWSG, such as big bluestem, indiangrass and switchgrass, are especially valuable as their stems remain somewhat upright, and leaning against each other, continuing to provide cover even after winter rains, snow and wind. Deer seek out NWSG fields on cold, clear days because they can remain hidden in the tall grasses, yet are still able to absorb the sun’s warm rays. 

Depending on the situation and your objectives, you may choose to manage your field of NWSG strictly for wildlife, or for a combination of wildlife and farming. If you are managing exclusively for wildlife and not to produce cattle forage, it is important to realize the presence of forbs is critical in making a field of NWSG most attractive to wildlife. Buried in the seedbank are plants such as ragweed, blackberry, partridge pea, beggar’s-lice, pokeweed, native lespedezas and annual sunflowers. 

These plants provide an excellent canopy of brood rearing cover for quail and wild turkeys; quality forage for deer, rabbits and groundhogs; and later produce seed and soft mast that is an important source of energy through summer and into fall and winter for many wildlife species. Scattered brush and small trees also can make a field of NWSG and associated forbs more attractive to wildlife, particularly bobwhites and several species of songbirds.

Fields of NWSG must be managed properly if they are to continually provide cover for wildlife. If not managed correctly, NWSG can become rank and unattractive to many species over time. Prescribed fire, disking and grazing are recommended for managing NWSG and associated old-field habitats. This is necessary to maintain an open structure at ground level for wildlife movement.This is best done on a rotational basis with part of the field being burned or disked each year. 

The University of Tennessee Extension office in Smith County has several publications related to wildlife management. If you are interested in these, please call me at (615) 735-2900. 

Press Release: Mark Your Calendars for Two Sales Tax Holidays!

The following press release was submitted to Smith County Insider by a representative from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.

First Holiday is July 31 -August 2 ; Second Holiday is August 7-9


NASHVILLE ⎯ Mark your calendars! For 2020 only, the Tennessee General Assembly has approved two sales tax holiday weekends to help Tennesseans save money and support the economy amid the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The first tax-free holiday weekend focuses on clothing and other back-to-school items. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 31, and ends Sunday, August 2, at 11:59 p.m. During this time, consumers may purchase clothing, school supplies, and computers and other qualifying electronic devices without paying sales tax. Certain price restrictions apply. For school supplies and clothing, the threshold for qualifying items is $200 or less. For computers and other electronics, the price threshold is $3,000 or less. Download our list of tax-exempt items here.

Exempt items sold online are also eligible. Consumers must purchase items for personal use, not business or trade.

The second sales tax holiday weekend focuses on restaurant sales. It begins at 12:01 a.m. on August 7 and ends Sunday, August 9, at 11:59 p.m. During this time the retail sale of food and drink by restaurants and limited service restaurants, as defined in Tenn. Code Ann. §57-4-102, is exempt from sales tax.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense economic strain on Tennessee families. These sales tax holidays will allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money and support Tennessee businesses,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.

“We want to remind everyone about these opportunities for tax relief,” Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. “It’s a good opportunity to save money during these difficult times.”

For more information about the sales tax holiday weekends, visit www.tntaxholiday.com. You can also read our frequently asked questions, as well as this important notice.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws, as well as the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department collects around 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2019 fiscal year, it collected $15.3 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $3 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the Department, visit www.tn.gov/revenue.

Smith County Schools releases Re-Opening Survey

On Monday, July 6, 2020, the Smith County School system shared a Re-Opening Survey in order to get input from stakeholders about the 2020-2021 school year, which is set to begin on August 5.

The Smith County School System released the following statement concerning the survey: 

“We appreciate our families’ patience and flexibility as we make decisions to support our students and staff in this evolving environment. District staff has been working diligently to determine the best plan to safely re-open schools. We have studied plans of similar districts, are consulting daily with local health officials and other districts to help develop the best plan for Smith County students. We have prepared a survey to collect input from our stakeholders. Click here to access survey.”

The re-opening survey contains questions about online versus traditional learning, safety measures, transportation, technology training, and students’ access to support and a reliable internet connection at home.

If you have a child in the Smith County School System, click here to take the survey.

For information and updates about the Smith County Schools, visit https://www.smithcoedu.com.

July 2020 Meeting of the Carthage City Council

The Carthage City Council held its monthly meeting on Thursday, July 2, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. 

The meeting was held at the Smith County Chamber of Commerce in order to practice social distancing.

You can watch the full meeting below.

Please note that the audio at the beginning of the meeting sounds distorted. Audio issues are resolved at the 3 minute 30 second mark.

Thanks to Smith County Animal Clinic for sponsoring Smith County Insider’s live broadcast of this meeting.

Subscribe to Smith County Insider’s YouTube channel to stay up-to-date on meeting coverage, business spotlights, video features, and more!

The Carthage City Council meets at 6:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at Carthage City Hall, located at 314 Spring Street in Carthage, Tennessee – 37030.

All meetings are open to the public and streamed live at https://www.facebook.com/smithcountyinsider/. 

Riverview Regional Medical Center implements Limited Visitor Policy – Effective July 7, 2020

The following announcement was submitted to Smith County Insider by a representative from Riverview Regional Medical Center in Carthage, Tennessee. To learn more about Riverview Regional Medical Center, visit https://www.myriverviewmedical.com.


Due to the current prevalence and trend of Covid-19 in our community, we have implemented limited visitor policies to protect our patients, employees, medical providers, and community.


  • One visitor for those having outpatient surgery.
  • One visitor per labor and delivery, pediatric, special needs, or end-of-life care patient.
  • No visitors for general inpatients, imaging, laboratory, or other outpatient services. Exception: One visitor for OB Ultrasound
  • No visitors for Renewal Center
  • No visitors under age 12.
  • No visitors in the Emergency Department, unless approved by the ED Charge Nurse.
  • Visitors must enter and exit through the ED Waiting Room/Walk-in Emergency Entrance. They will be screened for temperature and symptoms, must check-in on arrival and check out when they are leaving.
  • All visitors must provide their own mask and wear it at all times.


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