PRESS RELEASE from Project Healing Waters of Cookeville, July 22, 2017:

On Saturday, August 12th, Project Healing Waters is sponsoring a wading only, Fly Fishing Trout Tournament on the Caney Fork River, below Center Hill Dam at Long Branch Day Pavilion.

Beginning at 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Registration is from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. The entry fee is $50.00, limited to 100 people.

  • Grand prize for the longest trout caught will be a Jackson Mayfly Kayak, valued at $2,000.
  • Second prize for second longest trout caught will be a custom built St. Croix fly rod, valued at $600.
  • Third prize for third longest trout will be an Orvis Encounter fly rod, valued at $250.
  • Additional prize drawing will be held at the end of the tournament.

For further information, contact Pat Dudney at 931-261-3068.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) began in 2005 serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, PHWFF has expanded nationwide, establishing its highly successful program in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and local programs.

Our PHWFF program in Cookeville has been in existence for about 3 1/2 years. We are a 501c3, not for Profit Corporation. Currently we serve about 50 veterans in the Cookeville area.

We meet the first Thursday night of each month at 6p.m. in the
Cookeville High School lecture hall. Through this program we contribute to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans. Veterans are equipped with fly rods, waders and a fly tying kit. Local volunteers teach them the art of fly tying and fly fishing. Our program is free and available to any veteran who may have an interest in what we have offer.

A fire suspected to have been sparked by lightning-strike early Monday caused extensive damage to Building H at Highland Cove Luxury Condominiums overlooking Center Hill Lake.

Crews had mostly extinguished the flames by 8 a.m.

The fire occurred about four miles south of Center Hill Dam just off Dale Ridge Road, Highway 96.

No one was reported injured in the blaze.

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, July 20, 2017:

Tennessee has rate of 3.6 percent for June 2017

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips today announced Tennessee’s unemployment rate for June 2017 was 3.6 percent, the lowest in Tennessee recorded history.

The June 2017 preliminary seasonally adjusted rate surpasses the previous low of 3.7 percent from March 2000. The state has not experienced an unemployment rate below 4.0 percent since it was 3.9 percent in February 2001.

“What’s truly exciting about today’s news is that this is a statewide story,” Haslam said. “Today more than ever, businesses have a choice of where to grow or expand, and because of the policies this administration has put in place working with the General Assembly, we’re seeing the job growth that comes when businesses choose Tennessee.”

June’s rate declines four-tenths of a percentage point from the May revised rate of 4.0 percent. Amid notable improvements in Tennessee’s unemployment rate, the national preliminary rate increases by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month to 4.4 percent, lingering in the 4.0 percentile.

“When a state’s rate declines during a national uptick in unemployment, that’s something to note,” Phillips said. “Just seven years ago more than 10 percent of Tennesseans were out of work. One of Governor Haslam’s top priorities has been to make Tennessee the best state in the southeast for high quality jobs. All indications point to that priority becoming a reality.”

PRESS RELEASE from the Brewers Association of Small and Independent Craft Brewers, July 19, 2017:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 19, 2017)Tennessee Brew Works has partnered with the Tennessee State Parks by creating a new Tennessee State Parks Beer, “State Park Blonde Ale,” with a portion of sales benefiting the mission of Tennessee State Parks.

The Tennessee State Parks and Tennessee Brew Works teams met almost two years ago. Sharing ideas over a common bond of craft beer with aims to better our land and community, they quickly became friends. Since then, they have been actively discussing projects and possible ways for the two organizations to optimize their synergies.

“Together we have found a way to make delicious Tennessee Brew Works craft beer and support Tennessee State Parks with our State Park Blonde Ale. We proudly support the mission of Beer StylesTennessee State Parks as they preserve and protect our natural resources,” said Christian Spears, founder and owner, Tennessee Brew Works.

Fans of Tennessee Brew Works will recognize the beer’s distinctive label artwork, created by Nashville native Bryce McCloud. The State Park Blonde Ale features the image of State Naturalist, Randy Hedgepath. Randy has served the park service for more than 30 years, working as a Ranger Naturalist at South Cumberland and Radnor Lake State Parks. He was appointed State Naturalist by the Tennessee State Parks in 2007. As a former National Park Service Interpretive Specialist, Randy is also one of the most sought after interpretive specialists in the southeastern United States.

Tennessee Brew Work’s State Park Blonde Ale is light, crisp American blonde session ale with subtle floral notes, created with high quality grains and hops. The new beer will be distributed throughout Tennessee and served on draft and in bottles at the Tennessee Brew Works Taproom, 809 Ewing Avenue in downtown Nashville and the Tennessee Brew Works kiosk at the Nashville International Airport.

“Tennessee Brew Works and Tennessee State Parks have combined our mutual appreciation for local craft brew, spectacular landscapes and the great stories of our state. Utilizing Tennessee Brew Works craft beer sales for the benefit of our Tennessee State Parks system is a perfect pairing.

A portion of the sales of the State Park Blonde Ale will be provided to the Tennessee State Parks Conservancy, our non-profit partner, and used to support efforts to preserve and protect our state’s natural and cultural assets. We look forward to the release of the State Park Blonde Ale statewide this month,” said Brock Hill, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner.

About Tennessee State Parks

From its beginning in 1937, Tennessee State Parks were established to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural and historic resources of Tennessee. The public interest has also been served by a variety of benefits for citizens and communities produced by our state park system, promoting stronger communities and healthier citizens across the state through diverse resource-based recreation while conserving the natural environment for today and tomorrow – preserving authentic Tennessee places and spaces for future generations to enjoy. There are 56 Tennessee State Parks to explore.

About Tennessee Brew Works

Tennessee Brew Works was born from a love for craft beer. A startup which began over a home-brew session, they ultimately celebrated their first professional brew in August 2013. Tennessee Brew Works is 100% owned and operated by folks in Tennessee. They are guided by their motto: “We work hard to create high quality craft beer that makes Tennessee proud. Our culture places importance on family, friends, and community, and we hope you’ll be a part of it.”

Anglers’ suggestions for improving fisheries welcome

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency is updating and revising the state’s comprehensive trout-management plan.

As part of the process, the agency is seeking public comments on a new draft blueprint that’s available for inspection on the department’s website.

The deadline for submitting commentary, criticisms and suggestions for agency officials to take under advisement is Aug. 4.

Authored by “a committee of TWRA’s coldwater fisheries specialists” and edited by trout biologist Jim Habera and statewide streams coordinator Brandon Simcox, the trout plan includes sections discussing the history and present-day health of the prized gamefish populations in Tennessee.

Beyond the high, free-flowing mountain streams of the Appalachians — the natural range of the state’s only native species, the eastern brook trout — Tennessee wasn’t home to wild-spawning trout prior to the last hundred years.

However, as a result of the numerous river-impoundment projects undertaken throughout the Tennessee Valley region, as well as an advancing understanding of trout-rearing and habitat-management techniques, the Volunteer State now contains a diverse selection of highly productive trout waters, both year-round and seasonal.

Some rivers, like the Caney Fork, Elk, South Holston and Watauga, consistently lure anglers from across the country and around the world seeking spectacular trout fishing against backdrops of magnificent scenery.

Hatchery stocking is typically relied upon for the maintenance of productive Tennessee trout fisheries. But some waters have, over time, become “naturalized through stocking,” and the fish now reproduce at sustainable or even above-optimal levels, as is the case with brown trout on the South Holston.

Biggest brook trout ever recorded in Tennessee caught below Center Hill Dam on April 1, 2016.

In spring of 2016, the Caney Fork produced a new state-record northern brook trout. The 4-pound, 12-ounce fish was reared at Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery. When caught on a live baitfish by Sasa Krezic of Nashville, the burly brookie measured just over 20 inches and tipped the scales at nearly a pound more than Tennessee’s previous record-setter, which was netted in 1973 on the Hiwassee River and weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces.

The three primary trout species stocked in Tennessee streams and lakes are brown, rainbow and brook. Lake trout are also released in a few select waters.

“Rainbow trout are the most abundant and widely distributed wild trout in Tennessee,” according to the TWRA plan. “Although native to Pacific drainages of the western us, rainbow trout became naturalized in many suitable Tennessee streams through the intensive stocking efforts that defined trout management during much of the twentieth century.”

Brown trout, traditionally native to Europe and Asia, are particularly suited to many Tennessee tailwaters and have thrived as a result of stocking.

“While not as widely distributed as rainbow or brook trout, brown trout can live longer (up to 12 years) and may attain larger sizes up to (25 inches or more),” the plan states. “They typically occur with rainbow trout, but are the predominant wild trout species in a few streams.”

The trout plan outlines goals, strategies, action items and public outreach objectives designed to guide TWRA’s management efforts over the coming years.

The net intention of the Trout Management Plan, as described in the 55-page document’s foreword, is to “provide guidance for the management of Tennessee’s trout fisheries given the current status of wild trout resources and hatchery trout production, as well as changing trout angler preferences and attitudes and new resource management issues.”

The basic mission of the TWRA trout program is to “provide a variety of quality trout angling opportunities that are compatible with Tennessee’s other aquatic species.”

The last time state fisheries officials updated their overall trout-management strategy was in 2006.

“There is no legal mandate or anything like that for us to do this, but we just feel there is value in looking a little further out for such a broad, high-scale planning effort,” said TWRA’s chief of state fisheries, Frank Fiss.

Although it isn’t necessarily written to address particular concerns related to specific water bodies, the statewide plan does speak to issues often on the minds of anglers who frequent trout-holding hot spots and honey holes.

Under “management goals” are sections that address habitat-protection initiatives and minimizing threats from introduced species and disease, as well as discussions on improving and, where appropriate, expanding angling opportunities.

The idea of “biosecurity” is a fundamental concern in the new plan, said Fiss.

Preventing new pathogens and invasive, destructive organisms from entering the state “has really come to the forefront,” said Fiss, a principal author of the 2006 trout plan.

“We were aware (ten years ago) of whirling disease and some of the other things that can be problematic, but at the time they were not as threatening to Tennessee as they are now,” Fiss said. “In just the last five years there’s been a heightened awareness among our staff. North Carolina had some issue with whirling disease, and we are constantly battling Asian carp and other invasive species, so we are just hyper-aware of problems that come with introduced species and pathogens. I would say that’s a new level of focus for us.”

The plan notes that TWRA and federal hatcheries that serve the region are committed to releasing only disease-free fish into the wild. The plan reiterates that trout-stocking in streams by private landowners remains illegal, unless done with TWRA’s assent.

Also discussed at length in the 2017 trout plan is how TWRA can better optimize the use of hatcheries to produce bigger and more abundant fish.

“Anglers obviously prefer to catch larger trout, thus TWRA should strive to stock fish that are at least 10 inches long,” the report says. Consistently hooking up with smallish hatchery trout “can detract from an angler’s fishing experience.”

Moreover, targeting particular streams for stocking even larger fish — like those grown to 14 inches or longer before release in the wild — could enhance angler satisfaction even more. “Catch rates may be reduced, but many anglers would prefer the opportunity to catch larger fish,” the plan’s authors suggest.

The trout plan also includes a section on expanding angling opportunities for people with physical disabilities, as well as youngsters.

“TWRA sponsors or hosts dozens of kids fishing day events across Tennessee,” the plan states. “Several are held at coldwater hatcheries (including Dale Hollow) or other locations where trout can be provided. They often provide kids with the opportunity to catch their first trout.”

Each of the management goals includes descriptions of objectives and problems that tend to confront execution of strategies.

For example, one of TWRA’s management goals is to “maintain a variety of trout fisheries.” The overarching aim, according to the plan, is balancing “a diverse public’s many different skill levels and definitions of quality.”

But a natural problem that invariably arises is “management that optimizes opportunities or satisfaction for one group may exclude or diminish satisfaction for other groups.”

Fiss said it’s helpful — especially when addressing points of contention or controversy among anglers and other stakeholders with respect to individual waters — to have a comprehensive stewardship-plan cataloging all the various aspects of trout management across Tennessee.

Numerous citizen groups and individuals are “very passionate when it comes to trout,” said Fiss. The management plan is “where people can get information so they kind of know where we are coming from,” he said.

Maintaining and improving public outreach is one strategy for attempting to address potentially discordant priorities among trout enthusiasts. The plan prescribes regular public opinion-seeking so as to hopefully “make sure TWRA’s management and trout angler preferences align as much as possible.”

The plan also provides a useful reference when dealing with federal agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which partners with the state on fish-stocking efforts, he said. About half the trout released in Tennessee come from federal hatcheries, and state-run hatcheries also receives federal funding, said Fiss.

According to the plan, trout production increased by 10 percent at TWRA hatcheries over the past ten years, mostly as a result of facility improvements at Erwin, Flintville and Buffalo Springs. However, agency trout managers believe that an additional 40,000 pounds of fish a year, beyond the 275,000 pounds that state-run hatcheries are currently rearing, would further enhance Tennessee’s angling outlook.

In the long run, that probably means bringing another hatchery on line. “TWRA would like to build a new facility, but this would cost about $18 million and — assuming funding becomes available — require several years to complete,” wrote the plan’s authors.

In a subsection on Tennessee’s tailwaters where trout are stocked, like below Center Hill Dam, the plan says that in past decades many rivers “were limited by poor water quality and inadequate flows.” That, in turn, compromised “trout growth and survival,” thus necessitating “higher stocking rates” just to “maintain angler catch rates.” A river’s production capacity for “quality-sized fish” is diminished by inadequate or oxygen-deficient water.

The plan commends federal dam operators for their willingness to pay closer attention to water flows and support building infrastructure improvements with an eye toward enhancing trout habitat.

“Installation of weirs and oxygen injection systems, establishment of minimum flows, and other efforts by TVA have greatly improved water quality below many of its dams particularly South Holston, Cherokee, and Norris,” the plan says. “Operational at Center Hill Dam by the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) have also greatly improved water quality on the Caney Fork, although further improvements there and at Dale Hollow (Obed River) would help improve these fisheries.”

To provide comments on the draft version of the Tennessee Trout Management Plan, email agency staff at TWRA.TroutComments@tn.gov, or write to the TWRA Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204.

PRESS RELEASE from the Sparta Green Market. July 15, 2017

Contact: Margaret Petre
spartagreenmarket@gmail.com
Phone: 615-477-8801

SPARTA, TN – The non-profit Sparta Green Market’s 2017 third event of the season opens July 21, 4-7PM at Metcalfe Park near Liberty Square with a full pavilion of vendors, musicians, and entertainment for the kids.

Due to a rainout last weekend, Grassroots Artisans will be located adjacent to Metcalf Pavilion during the Green Market event.

The Artisan group was “created by a group of four individuals to revitalize Sparta and White County’s economy,” says Wendell Rust, co-founder. The event is held monthly in downtown Sparta and features local artists and crafters and the products they create.

Margaret Petre, Sparta Green Market event chair and founder, says, “We are expecting nearly double the number of venders and crafters. There will be local farmers, cattlemen, bakers, produce growers, face painting artists, balloon animals, and honey producers for the third market of the season.”

Popular keyboardist, Whitney Newport, is back for her third season as the featured entertainer.
The Sparta Green Market is the place for growers who have honey, seasonal plants, vegetables, meat, fruits, and flowers to meet hungry patrons in an entertaining atmosphere.

Ms. Petre says, “Patrons can expect top quality products from the Sparta area.” According to Tennessee Department of Agriculture, acceptable Farm Products include, but are not limited to: farm produce, plants, eggs, honey, meat, cheese, decorative gourds, herbs, animal fibers, and cut flowers.

Ms. Petre continues, “An evening event in Sparta is a good way for families and friends to eat dinner downtown, visit local businesses, enjoy the Green Market, and listen to a free bluegrass concert starting at 7PM. We encourage everyone to support downtown Sparta, enjoy the free entertainment, educational booths, locally grown meat, veggies, fruit, honey, flowers, eggs, and much more.”

Sparta Green Market is a “Green” outing so please bring reusable bags for produce and other goods. No smoking allowed and please do not bring pets to the event.

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, July 12, 2017:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is taking measures to mitigate the risk of drift of herbicides containing dicamba.

In accordance with new rules filed with the Secretary of State:

Anyone applying dicamba products must be certified as a private applicator or licensed as a pest control operator in the category of Agricultural Pest Control (AGE), and is required to keep records for such applications.

The use of older formulations of dicamba products for the remainder of this agricultural growing season is prohibited.

To minimize the potential for off-target movement of the product due to temperature inversion, dicamba may only be applied from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the respective time zone for the location of application.

Applying dicamba over the top of cotton after first bloom is prohibited.

This action is in response to primarily farmer to farmer complaints currently under investigation by TDA of suspected dicamba related damage on cropland. These measures are based on the recommendations of UT Extension and only apply to dicamba products purchased and used for agricultural purposes. The rules are effective immediately through Oct. 1.

“Our approach will offer protection to those who stand to be negatively impacted by off-target movement of dicamba while also allowing those farmers who have invested in products designed for their crops to continue to use the appropriate herbicides responsibly,” Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said.

Dicamba is a broad-spectrum herbicide. Products containing dicamba have been used for household and commercial weed control for decades.

TDA is working to ensure an appropriate and scientifically-grounded response to an increase in complaints of possible dicamba drift. The department has focused staffing and resources to respond to those complaints quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, the department is engaged in daily discussions with producers, the University of Tennessee, manufacturers, other state and federal agencies and ag industry representatives to address this issue.

“Agriculture today is dependent more than ever on new and evolving technologies to help us feed and clothe the world. I’m confident that we can address this issue as we have in other cases to ensure the safe and effective use of these tools,” Templeton said. “We will be forming an advisory group representative of stakeholders to help us determine the best path forward going into the next year.”

State and federal laws mandate applicators strictly follow label directions and consider the weather and potential for temperature inversions when applying any herbicide. Any suspected misapplication should be reported immediately to TDA at 800-628-2631 or 615-837-5148. The department will take appropriate enforcement action for any misapplication, including but not limited to suspension or revocation of a certificate and state penalties up to $1,500 per violation, in addition to federal penalties and possible criminal prosecution.

To assist producers and others who have questions, TDA has developed a dicamba resources webpage with links to educational information, a complete listing of approved dicamba products and the new rules.

The Consumer and Industry Services Division (CIS) of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture monitors a diverse range of materials, products and services to assure quality, consumer protection, public safety and a fair marketplace.

PRESS RELEASE from the Office of Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, July 7, 2017:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has completed an investigation detailing the appearance of a conflict of interest at the McMinnville Water and Wastewater Department after department officials alerted the Comptroller’s Office to their concerns.

During the period June 2013 through September 2015, a former employee responsible for ordering specific chemicals made purchases totaling $46,882 from a company owned by someone with whom he had a close personal relationship. The department used these chemicals to unclog and clear part of the city’s sewer system.

This personal relationship created the appearance of a conflict of interest. It was not possible for department management to ensure that either the motivation for selecting the vendor as a supplier, or the volume of purchases from that supplier, was purely in the city’s best interest.

The volume and cost of chemicals purchased by the department increased significantly during the time the former employee was purchasing from the vendor with whom he had a personal relationship.

Government officials hold a position of public trust and must strive to hold themselves and their employees to standards beyond reproach.

Officials should not engage in any action, whether or not specifically prohibited by statute, regulation or policy, which might result in or create the appearance of private gain, preferential treatment or impeding government efficiency.

“It’s vital that government officials maintain their fiduciary responsibility to their citizens and customers,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “I am pleased to see McMinnville leaders are taking steps to develop a better system for scrutinizing and evaluating vendors.”

To view the investigative report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.

If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at (800) 232-5454, or file a report online at: www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline. Follow on Twitter: @TNCOT

Media Releasee via the Office of Consumer Research at MTSU, July 5, 2017:

A recent statewide survey of Tennesseans by MTSU’s Office of Consumer Research indicate consumers highly trust recommendations from people they know as well as other consumers, but don’t have as much confidence in information from Congress or mainstream television news media.

The current survey of 627 Tennessee consumers was conducted between June 10 and June 19 with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In addition to its traditional questions about consumer views on the economy and finances, the latest survey also gauged the level of trust in a number of different institutions.

“As expected, levels of trust for anything or anyone politically related vary greatly by the respondent’s political affiliation,” noted Dr. Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research in MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

For example, while 77 percent of Republicans surveyed said they “completely trust” or “somewhat trust” President Donald Trump, only 9 percent of Democrats, 33 percent of independents and 20 percent of respondents with no political affiliation expressed such trust in the president.

The full report can be viewed here. Other report highlights:

  • President Trump and Gov. Bill Haslam enjoy relatively high levels of trust among Tennesseans. Of the institutions included on the survey, the U.S. Congress garnered the lowest level of trust.
  • Tennesseans place a higher level of trust in information from marketers (advertisements for product and brands) than they do many of the well-known media outlets and the U.S. Congress.
  • Republicans have a higher level of trust in fellow Republicans in Congress (63 percent responding either “completely trust” or “somewhat trust”) than Democrats have in fellow Democrats in Congress (54 percent responding either “completely trust” or “somewhat trust”).
  • Although there are some minor variations in responses across the three regions of the state, there is relative agreement among Tennesseans in terms of whom they trust.

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, July 5, 2017:

Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson announced today that Lee Pope will serve as the new Open Records Counsel in the Comptroller’s Office of Open Records Counsel (OORC).

As the new Open Records Counsel, Pope will lead the OORC which serves as a resource for citizens, media and governmental entities who have questions about Tennessee’s public records and open meetings laws. The OORC also helps Tennessee citizens and governmental entities understand these laws through educational outreach and promulgating policies, best practices and guidelines. The OORC’s assistance and education efforts are crucial to ensuring transparency in government.

Pope joined the OORC in 2016 as Deputy Open Records Counsel. He played a key role in eliminating a backlog of requests for assistance and in developing a model public records policy for use by government entities which are required to adopt formal public records policies by July 1, 2017. Prior to joining the Comptroller’s Office, Pope worked as Assistant Director and General Counsel for the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Comptroller Wilson also announced that Rachel Buckley is serving the OORC as Assistant Open Records Counsel. She joined the Comptroller’s Office after her previous work as an Assistant Attorney General in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, and as an Assistant General Counsel in the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Buckley is a graduate of Saint Louis University and the University of Tennessee’s College of Law.

Ann Butterworth, who served as the first Open Records Counsel and since 2014 has been serving as the Open Records Counsel, will return to her primary role as Assistant to the Comptroller for Public Finance.

“For the past 10 years the Office of Open Records Counsel has provided invaluable insight and guidance for thousands of Tennesseans,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “I am pleased to announce that Lee and Rachel will now continue this important work. I also want to thank Ann Butterworth for providing excellent leadership over these last few years, and I’m pleased to have her back by my side.”