Archive: Fall 2011

Archive: Fall 2011

Archive: Fall 2011

Delta Heritage Center welcomes Billy King for book signing

   The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center, in Brownsville, Tenn., will host its annual Holiday Open House Sunday, December 4, from 1-4 p.m. The Center also welcomes Historian Billy King for a special program and book signing of his new release Big Black Creek, Vol. 1.
King is president of the Big Black Creek Historical Association (BBCHS) and recently published his first book about the history and people of the Big Black Creek area. The book takes you on a journey from 1000 AD to the present day with both historical facts and witty observances.
Open House attendees will be treated to a short talk by King beginning at 2 p.m., after which he will autograph copies of his book. Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to further the association’s preservation work.
The Big Black Creek is a waterway that figured prominently in the early settlement of the area around Denmark, Tenn. King, along with 28 other community members, formed the BBCHA in 2006 to identify, preserve and promote historical sites within a ten mile radius of the creek. This area includes the communities of Denmark, Mercer, Leighton and Woodland, all in west Madison and east Haywood Counties. It also includes Britton Lane and a good portion of the book touches on the effect the Civil War had on these communities. For more information, visit the Big Black Creek website at


The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is a tourist information center and regional museum located off of Interstate 40 at Exit 56 in Brownsville, Tenn. For more information, call 731-779-9000 or visit


26th annual Brownsville Radio Christmas project is Friday
November 25, 2011

   Raising nearly $30,000 on its silver anniversary last year, Brownsville Radio listeners are getting set to start the Radiothon’s next 25 years Friday, December 2.
Then morning radio host Paul Jackson and station manager Carlton Veirs founded the event in 1986. They asked the Brownsville Jaycees to help spend the money provided by listeners and help distribute the food and toys. Franklin Smith was the Jaycee’s front man and, since then, has become the Radiothon’s co-sponsor and, perhaps, hardest worker.
This year organizers hope Radiothon contributions will top the $20,000 mark funding Christmas for between 250 and 300 families.
The broadcast starts Friday morning at 7:15 a.m.


Public hearing Monday night will help decide new county districts
November 18, 2011

   Monday night (November 21) at 6:30 p.m. County Mayor Franklin Smith will host a public hearing to accept comment and discuss a county redistricting plan. The November meeting of the county commission will immediately follow.
The last census, completed in 2010, reports that Haywood County lost about 1000 residents, but it also reveals there was some shift in where people live. The change in population means the boundaries of the county’s legislative districts must be changed.4th
Most of the proposed changes are fairly minor but, under the plan, some people will be moved from one district to another to make sure elected county officials, from county commissioners to constables, equally represent them.
Haywood County presently has ten districts with two county commissioners elected from each district.
Based on the last redistricting accomplished about ten years ago each commissioner represents approximately 939 people. A district has twice that number – 1879.
The 2010 census reports that Haywood County now has four districts that are out of the allowed plus or minus 5% population tolerance.

  • District 1 is too small with 262 people to few (-13.93%).
  • District 9 is too small with 384 too few residents (-13.02%)
  • District 2 is too large with 169 too many people (+9.01%)
  • District 7 contains 384 people over the limit (+20.46%)

Presently six of the county districts contain majority black residents and four majority white.
The county’s redistricting has voted unamiously to adopt a plan that will keep the 6/4 racial make-up but change some lines to accommodate the population goals.
CTAS’s plan proposes to make six changes to balance the representation. Boundaries would be redrawn in six of the ten districts including districts, two, three, four, five, seven, and nine.
The county commission must submit their plan to the state before December 31.

Click here to see a map of the proposed new districts.
Note: Very large file (25MB), may take several minutes to download and open.

Brownsville and Stanton are about to get one million dollars from state government
November 11, 2011

   Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty have approved more than $23 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with infrastructure improvements in Tennessee and $1 million is coming to Haywood County.
“Community development is essential in growing the economy and creating a business friendly environment,” Hagerty said. “CDBG grants allow communities to take the steps needed that will ultimately encourage existing businesses to expand and future companies to relocate and invest in Tennessee.”
Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The Department of Economic and Community Development administer the CDBG program in Tennessee. The governor’s press release states Stanton will receive $500,000 for housing and Brownville will get $500,000 for sewer system improvements.
Click here for more information:


Traveling Exhibit Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Tennessee Sit-Ins

   The landmark events that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s are the focus of a traveling exhibition opening at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center on December 9, 2011.
The exhibit, entitled We Shall Not Be Moved: The 50th Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins continues through January 22, 2012, and is free to the public.
During the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans began mobilizing in a massive movement against segregation. This included non-violent, direct action campaigns, which culminated in sit-in demonstrations, economic boycotts, and marches.
Fifty years ago, a handful of Nashville college students from Fisk University, Tennessee A&I (later Tennessee State), and American Baptist Theological Seminary along with religious leaders Kelly Miller Smith and James Lawson, began a sit-in campaign targeting downtown lunch counters. These actions sparked the formation of a mass sit-in movement, which became the model used across Tennessee and the rest of the South.
These actions will be examined in this special exhibition, organized by the curatorial staff at the Tennessee State Museum. The exhibit also looks at segregation in the state and how significant resistance developed in African American communities.
Although the sit-ins were organized as a non-violent action, occasionally students were met with violence from white bystanders, however it was usually the protesting students who were arrested and taken to jail. The exhibit examines why these students were willing to face possible violence and endure incarceration, and how their parents reacted.
The exhibit covers similar events which occurred in Chattanooga, Memphis and Knoxville and other locales.
Along with period photographs of these events, the exhibit includes such artifacts as signage, which has been preserved to show examples of segregation during this time. Other important artifacts include a letter from a sit-in participant describing a protest and other items related to the sit-ins.
We Shall Not Be Moved: The 50th Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-Ins will be on view December 9 through January 22, in the center’s Special Exhibits area. Located at 121 Sunny Hill Cove in Brownsville, Tenn., the museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and is free to the public. Visit for more information.

Student protesters sit-in at Walgreens on Fifth Avenue in Nashville, February 20, 1960.
Photo by Jimmy Ellis, courtesy of The Tennessean.

Tent City family evicted after trying to register to vote in Fayette County, about 1960.
Courtesy of The University of Memphis Special Collections.

About the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center:

   In 1999, the City of Brownsville created a Tourist Information Center and regional heritage center consisting of three museums. The West Tennessee Cotton Museum depicts the history of cotton in one of the richest cotton producing counties in the state. The West Tennessee Music Museum highlights the many talented musicians who called this region home and who have left their mark on the music industry. The Hatchie River Museum features three aquariums and tells the story of the last “wild” river in the lower Mississippi system and its unique eco-system. The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is located at 121 Sunny Hill Cove in Brownsville, Tenn., right off of Interstate 40 at Exit 56.


Not Mt Suribachi for sure — but still significant!

Brownsville’s downtown renovation includes new “period” lighting. Workmen are installing 27 new fixtures.

Chamber’s annual Christmas parade set for December 3
October 25, 2011

   The Joys of Christmas is the theme for this year’s Brownsville/Haywood County Christmas parade.
The parade is scheduled for December 3.
Entry forms for the parade are now available at the chamber or by clicking here.

City collecting taxes, changing budget procedure, spending grant dollars
November 9, 2011

   Amending Brownsville’s budget has become a bigger job because city officials say amendments should be made only by ordinance.
“The budget is created by ordinance — so it must be amended by ordinance,” Mayor Jo Matherne told aldermen during Tuesday’s city board meeting.
In the past the city board has simply voted on budget amendments, but the new procedure requires two votes and a public hearing. Amendments are common at just about every city board meeting but that’s likely to change. The mayor set December 9 as a “budget workshop” day at which aldermen will manage several amendments.

Economic report expected in December
The final report from the University of Memphis’ study on Brownsville and Haywood County is expected to be delivered next month. Mayor Matherne told aldermen to expect a Brownsville on the Move presentation when the board meets December 13.

Handling lots of money
City Clerk Jessica Frye reported that just over $880,000 has been collected in Brownsville property taxes. The tax notices were delivered just a couple of weeks ago and Frye said taxpayers hurried to take advantage of the early-pay 2% discount.

City to buy property
A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant will allow the city to buy flood prone property. The $1.2 million grant will purchase an estimated 16 homes that have experienced regular flooding. Under the program the city will buy the properties and tear the houses down. The rules state that no new homes may ever be built on the tracts.
Brownsville taxpayers are required to match the grant with $150,000. Mayor Matherne said half of the city’s match is included in this year’s budget and the other half will be added to next year’s city expenses.

Grants fund new emergency equipment
Fire Chief Mark Foster has been busy spending money. He’s using nearly $400,000 to buy two new trucks. A new pumper truck will cost $189,900 and will replace a 1978 model. A new rescue truck is also on order. The truck will cost $209,900. Funding for the new equipment comes from a $750,000 grant.

New Cops
Three new Brownsville Police Department hires were introduced to Brownsville’s elected leaders Tuesday. James Davis, Cindy Johnson and Michael Clayborn are already on the job. Johnson holds police academy certification; Davis and Clayborn are scheduled to attend the academy.

National Emergency Alert System test Wednesday at 1pm
November 8, 2011

   Brownsville Radio will participate in a national test of the Emergency Alert System known as EAS. The test is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8.
The EAS test alert is expected to be broadcast on radio and TV all over the country.
The system is used by state, national and local officials to warn the public about emergencies. Most commonly it is used during severe weather, but could be activated by the president in a national emergency.
The Federal Communications Commission and the Emergency Management Agency organized the national test. The system is tested weekly on a local basis but there has never been a nationwide test of EAS.
The alert will be transmitted throughout the country and will be monitored by participants that include us here at Brownsville Radio. After the test, we are required to report the results to the FCC.
If all goes well, Brownsville Radio (WNWS-WTBG) should hear the brief test tomorrow at 1pm.
To learn more about the EAS system and the test, CLICK HERE.

Christmas Basket Radiothon December 2
November 8, 2011

   For the 26th time, the first Friday in December is the date for the Brownsville Radio Christmas Basket Radiothon. Mayor Franklin Smith is the project’s cosponsor and, along with former Brownsville Radio morning show host Paul Jackson, has worked to raise money for the needy every year.
Last year, celebrating 25 years, Brownsville Radio listeners topped the $25,000 goal in less than five hours. Organizers estimate participants have now contributed at least $500,000 over the years.
The station’s format is always the same; open the phone lines about 7:15 a.m. and keep them open, taking donations, until about noon.
All of the money is used to buy food and toys for needy Haywood County families.

Inspector says he’ll recommend certification
November 7, 2011

   The Haywood County Jail has likely passed state inspection.
Sheriff Melvin Bond said the jail inspector told him Friday he will recommend the jail be certified by the Tennessee Corrections Institute. The inspector visited the jail October 31.
The jail is located in the county’s new Justice Complex.

Solar Farm to be a little late coming on line
November 7, 2011

   The Associated Press is reporting that construction of the solar farm in Haywood County has been delayed, but not by much.
The West Tennessee Solar Farm is now expected to go online early next year. The work was originally scheduled to be completed this month.
Project manager Elliott Barnett of Signal Energy LLC of Chattanooga, which designed and is building the farm, blamed the delay on “the upgrade of the electrical lines that go from the solar farm to the Chickasaw Electric Cooperative substation.” He says the substation is where the power will actually hook into the grid and about nine miles of line needed upgrading.
The AP story reports the farm will produce about $100,000 worth of electricity monthly. The power will be sold to TVA.

Commissioners will redraw some county district boundaries
November 2, 2011

   The last census, completed in 2010, reports that Haywood County lost about 1000 residents, but it also reveals there was some shift in where people live. The change in population means the boundaries of the county’s legislative districts must be changed.
Most of the changes are fairly minor but some people will likely be moved from one district to another to make sure elected county officials, from county commissioners to constables, equally represent them.
Haywood County presently has ten districts with two county commissioners elected from each district. Under the law, that could change, but appears quite unlikely.
Based on the last redistricting accomplished about ten years ago each commissioner represents approximately 939 people. A district has twice that number — 1879.
The 2010 census reports that Haywood County now has four districts that are out of the allowed plus or minus 5% population tolerance.

• District 1 is too small with 262 people too few (-13.93%).
• District 9 is too small with 384 too few residents (-13.02%)
• District 2 is too large with 169 too many people (+9.01%)
• District 7 contains 384 people over the limit (+20.46%)

Presently six of the county districts contain majority black residents and four majority white.
The county’s redistricting committee met yesterday and is looking at two proposals submitted by the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS). Both would accomplish the numerical goals, but one of the plans would reduce the majority black districts from 6 to 5. At yesterday’s meeting it seemed clear the committee was intent on keeping the racial balance as it presently is.
CTAS’s plan proposes to make six changes to balance the representation. Boundaries would be redrawn in six of the ten districts including districts, two, three, four, five, seven, and nine. Only districts one, six, eight and ten would remain unchanged.

• Eight people would be moved from District 5 to District 4.
• Thirty-two people move from District 4 to District 5
• Ninety-two people move from District 3 to District 2
• One-hundred-thirty-nine people move from District 7 to District 3
• Two-hundred-five people move from District 7 to District 9
• Two-hundred-twenty-four people move from District 2 to District 1

The county commission must submit their plan to the state before December 31.

2011 Festival of Trees

   Christmas is just around the corner and we would like to invite everyone to participate in the 2nd Annual Festival of Trees sponsored by the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center. The Festival is a great opportunity to promote your business, school, organization, company, and church. To enter all you need is $30.00, a tree and a little imagination. This is a contest so DREAM BIG! Trees will be displayed in the College Hill Center on Grand Avenue in Brownsville, TN. The deadline for entry fee is November 7th, but space is limited so act quickly.
A Preview Gala and Tree Auction will be held Tuesday, November 15th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Tickets may be pre-ordered or purchased at the door for $10 per person. For more information and an application to enter a tree please contact the Exchange Club-Carl Perkins Center at 772-8378.
The Festival of Trees will be free to the public Wednesday, November 16th through Saturday, November 19th from 9:00am -7:00pm. Come join in the celebration for a spectacular tour of the beautiful trees that represent hope, faith, and unconditional love to those in need. Vote on your favorite trees.
Our wish is that you will join us this Holiday Season and focus on those who are the present and the promise of our future, our children.
Contact Marty Williams, Administrative Assistant, Brownsville-Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, 121 W. Main St. Brownsville, TN 38012, 731-772-2193 Office, 731-772-2195 Fax, Email

4th Annual Holiday in Haywood November 11-12
October 31, 2011

   Those looking for special bargains and unique holiday gift items will have the perfect opportunity during the 4th Annual Holiday in Haywood 2-day shopping mart planned for November 11-12, in Brownsville, Tenn. “Holiday in Haywood” will feature over 25 retail and specialty merchants all under one roof and offering a variety of items perfect for your holiday gift giving. The event will take place at the National Guard Armory located at 221 Morgan Street.
New to this year’s event is the addition of Breakfast with Santa Saturday at 9 a.m. Hosted by First South Bank, tickets are $10 per child and include breakfast, a visit with Santa and an activity with Santa. All proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the March of Dimes.
Families, individuals and groups are invited to have their Christmas portrait taken by a professional photographer Saturday. Appointments are encouraged to minimize wait time. Call Laura Bailey at 731-617-0535. Portraits will be available in time for gift giving or holiday cards. Pet portraits will also be taken.
“Last year over 1,000 people came through the doors during the event,” says Monica Bivens, Holiday in Haywood coordinator. “This year we’re expecting even more.”
Doors will open Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., giving shoppers plenty of time to make their choices. The Haywood High School Show Choir, along with other regional artists, will entertain shoppers during the evening hours. Saturday at 11 a.m., the Haywood High School Cheerleaders will present a Fashion Show featuring items from participating retailers.
“The response from retailers has been wonderful,” explains Bivens, “and we are very confident in the variety and quality of the items that will be available.”
Among the many items for sale will be handmade quilts, handcrafted jewelry, all natural soaps and lotions, candles, homemade pies, cakes and other culinary goodies, roasted nuts, ladies and children’s clothing, toys and books, wood-crafted items and much more. There will also be a large selection of personalized gift items available including on-site monogramming.
“Holiday in Haywood” is sponsored annually by the Brownsville Business Association. For more information about the event contact Bivens at 731-772-4042, or

Shoppers at Holiday in Haywood will have lots to choose from this year, including personalized items such as coffee mugs, license plates, t-shirts and ornaments. The annual event will take place November 11-12, at the National Guard Armory in Brownsville, Tenn.

Planners moving forward with more Brownsville improvement
October 28, 2011

   The Brownsville Municipal Regional Planning Commission met on Thursday afternoon at City Hall to discuss ongoing and future downtown enhancement projects.  They also looked at a site plan for a proposed residential development in the South Washington Avenue territory.

The court square Brownsville renovation project is nearing completion, with contractors confident it will be finished prior to November 30.
Measures are already underway to extend the project down East Main to Jackson Avenue, with new sidewalks, underground utilities, and lamp post lighting to blend with what has just been done around court square.  Bids for that phase will begin sometime early next year with the actual project to start probably a year or more from now.  Thursday Commissioners heard from Rhonda Thompson as part of a public hearing on a grant application for yet another phase of similar paving and landscaping to continue all the way down East Main to Park Avenue. Thompson is the city’s grant writer.  Randy McKinnon of TLM Associates was at City Hall with drawings of this third phase and to answer questions.  The City Board has agreed to apply for a $750,000 partial matching grant to implement the Jackson Avenue to Park Avenue phase.  Response to the grant request is not expected until sometime late next summer, and actual construction may not commence until three years from now given all of the regulatory requirements.  This time frame is comparable to that of phase one.  The eventual goal is to have similar sidewalks, landscaping, and lighting east from Court Square to Anderson Avenue.

New housing project on the drawing board
Commissioners, for the first time, saw a site plan Thursday for a 60 unit, single family dwelling building project in South Brownsville.  New Horizons Developments, in association with Haywood Partners, LP, whose principals are from Mississippi, plan to construct the sixty units of affordable rental housing next to the current Prairie Creek subdivision near South Washington.  If all planning and regulatory requirements are met, the developers of  ” Lakeview “ subdivision hope to have the project completed and ready for occupancy by the fall of 2012.
Building Inspector Jerry McClinton noted that the development could add $6 to $8 million to the property tax rolls.  The Planning Commission will consider the development for a vote at its next scheduled meeting, which may not be until early December due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Brownsville Arts Council


   As the band vamps Whiskey River’s intro, he steps into the spotlight to wild applause. As he sings the first line, “Whiskey river take my mind…,” the crowd is hushed. Then, a restless energy spreads like wildfire across the audience. All over the venue you hear the same thing being repeated, “Is that Willie?” “He looks just like Willie!’ “Darn, he sounds just like Willie!” “That’s gotta be Willie!” The scene is the same whether he is appearing at a festival with an audience of 25,000 or at a more intimate venue like the Marks Performing Arts Center. No, Willie Nelson won’t be there in body but his music and persona will be there in the capable hands of internationally acclaimed tribute artist, Marion Deaton.
During his 35 –year- career as a musician and entertainer, the Clarendon, Arkansas native and Lakeland, TN resident has entertained audiences all over the world and appeared with two generations of rock and country greats including Roy Orbison, Ronnie Millsap, Percy Sledge and many more. In the last few years he has been appearing with his versatile, funky “Smooth Willie Show Band’ in a tribute to Willie Nelson.
Marion is one of those fortunate few look-alikes who not only has the look ‘dead on’ but also has the voice ‘dead on.’ His laid back demeanor makes him a natural Willie. Learn more about Marion at
November 5th marks the artist’s only Tennessee performance in 2011 having just returned from a standing room only Australian Tour. Marion Deaton’s Tribute to Willie Nelson is part of the Brownsville Arts Council’s mission to cultivate art and appreciation of the arts in the community.
The show weaves a history of Willie’s writing career from Crazy to On the Road Again and chronicles his recording career from a celebration of the Stardust Album to Beer for My Horses.
The one performance only event will be at 7 p.m. at the Ann Marks Performing Arts Center, 127 N. Grand Avenue at College Hill, Brownsville, TN. Tickets are $12.50 for adults and $6.00 for students.
The artist will be available for interviews 2 weeks prior to the event. Please call 901-377-6971 for an interview appointment, or visit for more information, Thanks for your support.

County Commission must replace retiring member Janice King
October 18, 2011

   The Haywood County Commission quickly went through a routine agenda last night. The courtroom was about half full of people who had come to watch their government at work.
Mayor Franklin Smith told the commission that Janie King is stepping down from her post as County Commissioner District 1, He read Commissioner King’s immediately effective resignation letter.
Stating that she is resigning her position for health reasons, Commissioner King in her letter expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve and recommended the interim appointment by the Commission of Janice Rogers as her replacement.  Ms. King has represented District 1 on the Commission along with Kathy Chapman.  Mayor Smith thanked Ms. King for her service and indicated the process for her replacement would begin immediately.
Commissioners unanimously passed budget Amendments including the approval of applying around $941,000 in loan proceeds, previously slated for the now completed Justice Complex, to payment of ongoing renovations to Haywood High School.  They also followed the Budget Committee’s recommendation to sell about 70 acres of the County Farm known as the Harrell property. They’ll place the farm money against debt.
Last night’s meeting included a report by Lisa Hankins, Director of REDI, which is the title of the Regional Economic Development Initiative, a program representing twelve counties in rural West Tennessee.  REDI has four areas of concentration: education / workforce development, technology, entrepreneurship, and capacity building in the region.
Much of the presentation by Director Hankins focused on education, including guidance and assistance provided to high school students in obtaining aid for and applying to area community colleges. Of 208 Haywood High seniors last year, about half, or 103 students, enrolled in the REDI program, and many of those benefited from grants, scholarships, or other aid facilitated by REDI employees. Abbey Nichols of Brownsville serves high schools in Crockett and Haywood counties for the program.

Brownsville Town Hall Meeting will help voters understand new law
October 18, 2011

   A new law that will require voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls won’t go into effect until next year, but in preparation for this new requirement, the Haywood County Election Commission will hold a town hall meeting to inform the public of the change in the law.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, at the Haywood County Justice Complex in the courtroom. The purpose of the meeting is to present information regarding the new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012. The town hall meeting will include a presentation, followed by a question and answer period.
The major points of the law include:

      •  A voter is required to produce a federal or state government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. Some examples of a valid photo ID, even if expired, are a Tennessee driver license, U.S. passport, Department of Safety photo ID card, state or federal employee photo identification card, or a U.S. military photo ID. Student college IDs will not be accepted for voting purposes.
      •  Free photo IDs may be obtained from any Department of Safety driver license testing station. Registered voters must sign an affidavit stating that the photo ID is for voting purposes, that they are a registered voter, and that they do not have any other valid government-issued photo ID. The Department of Safety will not issue a free photo ID if the person already has a valid government-issued photo ID
      •  Voters who are unable to produce a valid photo ID will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot, at the polls. Voters casting a provisional ballot will have until two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID.
      • Voters with a religious objection to being photographed, or voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee – for example, the voter cannot pay for a birth certificate for proof of citizenship – may sign an oath affirming to the information and will be allowed to vote on the machines.
    •  Voters who vote absentee by mail, voters who are hospitalized, and voters who live in licensed nursing homes or assisted living centers and vote at the facilities are not required to show photo IDs. Registered voters over the age of 65 may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.

“The goal of the town hall meeting is to educate the public and prepare voters for the upcoming 2012 elections,” Andrea Smothers, administrator of elections said. “We want voters to have plenty of time to obtain a valid photo ID if they do not already possess one. We encourage everyone to attend the November 1 meeting.”
For more information about the new voting requirements, contact Mark Goins, coordinator of elections, or Andrew Dodd, elections specialist, in the state Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959 or your local county election commission at 772-1760.

Free Child Safety Seat Check-up
October 18, 2011

   The City of Brownsville Police Department is sponsoring a Child Safety Seat Check-up event on Friday October 21st. This Free event will be at the Brownsville Wal-Mart from 2pm -4pm.   Child Seat Technicians will be on hand to check, instruct, and properly install Child Seats. This is event is open to all Brownsville/ Haywood County residence.

Developer says he’s planning to bring new hotel to Exit 56
October 13, 2011

Jackson, Tennessee entrepreneur developer David Hunt says his property at Exit 56 will be the site of a new hotel. Hunt, who has for years told city leaders he’d build south of the exit reaffirmed his plans in a telephone interview with Brownsville Radio Wednesday. Mayor Jo Matherne reported Tuesday that the work to extend utilities under the Interstate to service Brownsville’s newly annexed tracts has just been completed. The utilities provide sewer and water on the south side of Exit 56. The north side of the Exit saw remarkable growth when it was annexed decades ago, but there’s been no new growth south of the intersection in years. Hunt owns property at the southwest corner of Exit 56. Matherne said Hunt’s property isn’t in the new city limits but she expects, barring unforeseen complications, to annex once the hotel plans are firm. Matherne mentioned that a lawsuit challenging the city’s urban growth boundaries might be problematic. Details of how many rooms or the name of the hotel aren’t available. Hunt said he may also build a family-style restaurant on the tract. “Really, I’d like to develop that whole strip,” Hunt said. The developer said he is currently building a hotel in Fayetteville and forecasts its completion by next spring. Once the Fayetteville hotel is open he says he will turn his attention to the Brownsville development.

Haywood County Clerk makes voter ID easy
October 13, 2011

If you don’t have the right photo ID you won’t be able to vote next year. Maybe you’re not worried about that just yet — but sooner or later you will be and things are being done about. Officials say 30 county clerks across Tennessee, including Haywood County Clerk Sonya Castellaw have agreed to issue photo driver’s licenses at no charge to registered voters who do not have them. Under a new state law, starting in 2012 voters will have to show a state or federal photo ID to vote in Tennessee. According to state officials, county clerks will provide this service beginning next Monday and continuing through March 12th, a week after the presidential primary election.

Girls invited to compete for “Miss Hatchie” title

           Girls up to age 21 are invited to compete for the title of “Miss Hatchie” during the annual Miss Hatchie Pageant Saturday, October 22, in Brownsville, Tenn. The competition will be held at the Ann Marks Performing Arts Center, 127 North Grand. Competition begins at 10 a.m. Doors will open at 9:15 a.m.
A queen and three alternates will be chosen in each category. Trophies and crowns will be awarded. You do not have to be a resident of Brownsville or Haywood County to participate. This competition is a preliminary for the 2012 West Tennessee Strawberry Festival for ages 6-21; all festival rules apply.
Entries will be taken at the door or contestants can pre-register by downloading an entry form at For more information, contact Melanie Jacocks at 731-780-0828.


32nd Annual Tennessee Trash Car Show October 16

           BROWNSVILLE, TN (September 28, 2011): The Tennessee Trash Car Show in Brownsville, Tenn., will celebrate its 32nd anniversary Sunday, October 16. The show is one of only a handful in the area that has been held consistently for over 30 years. This year’s event will take place at the WOW/Elma Ross Public Library, 100 Boyd Ave.
The club began in 1978 when Tim Sills, David Duke and Jim Mayer began fixing up old cars and traveling to areas show, some as far away as Indianapolis. Eventually these three decided they should organize their own and the first Tennessee Trash Car Show was held in 1979. The title “Tennessee Trash” is taken from the old Tennessee Dept. of Tourism song about keeping Tennessee beautiful.
While the actual ‘club’ no longer exists, former members and a few newcomers continue the tradition that raises money for Haywood County charities. The Multiple Disability Class has been the beneficiary of the show’s proceeds for most of the 32 years.
“This is something we love and it’s a way for us to give back to our community,” says Sills. Over the years, the event has contributed more than $100,000 to local charities.
For the past few years, the show has been held in conjunction with the annual Hatchie Fall Fest during the third weekend of October.
Participants are asked to register between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Entry fees are $25 per car and includes an event t-shirt. Judging will begin at 1:30 p.m., and winners will be announced during an awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m. There will be classes for all entries.
With 100+ cars participating, Sills estimates that crowds reach well into the thousands during the daylong event. There is no admission fee for spectators. Concessions and t-shirt sales will be available. For more information, contact Tim Sills, 731-780-6061; Wayne McCool, 731-772-9276; or Joe W. Sills, 731-780-1356.

Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation captured the favor of the judges last year with their scarecrow “lineman.” More than 30 scarecrow of various character and sizes surround the Haywood County Courthouse during the annual contest to be held Saturday, October 8. Scarecrows remain on exhibit for the Hatchie Fall Fest on October 18.

“Scare”ing up fun on the Square October 8

           The scarecrows will soon be making their yearly appearance on the lawn of the Haywood County Courthouse in Brownsville. The annual scarecrow competition will be held Saturday, October 8, beginning at 5 p.m. This year’s event will also include live entertainment by Hannah Company. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded during the evening when judges have made their final decision.
The annual contest is free and open to all age groups. Judging will be in two categories; children and adults, with cash prizes awarded for 1st ($100), 2nd ($75) and 3rd ($50) place in each. A gift package will also be awarded to the overall “Most Creative” entry. All participants are encouraged to be present at the time of judging.
Groups and organizations are encouraged to participate, as well as school classes and individuals. You do not have to be a Haywood County resident. Scarecrows can be made of any natural materials, but cannot depict an actual person. A complete list of rules and regulations can be found online at
While the out-of-town judges are busy making their decisions, the community is invited to join the fun by bringing your lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of music on the lawn. Hannah Company, a local rock group will begin performing at 5.

If you have a great idea for a scarecrow, there is still time to enter. Entry forms will be accepted until noon, Friday, October 7. Enter online at, stop by the UT Extension office, 130 South Wilson, or call 731-780-5144 for more information. 

Haywood County sets budget
September 26, 2011

        Haywood County Commissioners agreed on a spending and property tax plan Monday night. The property tax rate was set at $2.58.
Some quick facts about the budget
•  Total expenditures, including schools and roads, is $46,734,338.
• The county’s total fund balance, if the 2011/2012 spending and tax plan runs according to budget, will be $6,163,489 at the end of the fiscal year.

Mayor Smith says he’ll have citizens involved in the next budget
September 26, 2011

        Taking advice from Haywood Company’s Steve Correa, Mayor Franklin Smith said he’d name a committee of citizens to “work with” the county’s budget committee on the next county budget.
Correa was probably the most influential of outsiders in Haywood County’s months long budget discussion.  He is Haywood Company’s plant manager.  Haywood Company is Haywood County’s largest taxpayer.
Correa encouraged Mayor Smith to appoint graduates of the county’s leadership program to the committee.
Mayor Smith said he would begin the 2012 budget process in January.

County commissioners poised to vote
September 23, 2011

        There’s no law, ordinance or even local requirement that a public hearing be held on the county’s operating budget, but each year Mayor Franklin Smith and the county’s budget committee host a hearing and review the budget with whoever wants to see it and talk about it.
This year there have been two such meetings. Haywood Countians have had a lot to say, and have met success with influencing the county’s budget makers.  The most recent meeting was September 22.
Monday night County Commissioners will vote on the proposed new budget. The tax rate is expected to be set at $2.58.
The county commission meeting is scheduled for 7pm at the county courthouse.

U of M Report now available on line
September 23, 2011

        The draft of the Brownsville on the Move Executive Summary authored by the University of Memphis is now available on line.

Click here to read the entire report.

University of Memphis delivers Brownsville on the Move results
September 22, 2011

          Graduate students and their advisors delivered and reviewed a 22-page Executive Summary draft of their Brownsville on the Move research.  The pages are packed with findings and short and long term plans the researchers believe will “put Brownsville on the move.” They say they will publish a more detailed 200-page report soon.
The project started in the fall of 2009 when then-Mayor Webb Banks asked University of Memphis experts to help find ways to make Brownsville grow economically.  The process started in the spring of 2010 and ended earlier this year.  The U of M’s graduate planning program worked on the project. Dr. Ken Reardon, Director of the University of Memphis’ Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning, led the group.
The executive summary was unveiled yesterday at the Brownsville Planning Board meeting.
Major research findings include positive notes about our agricultural economics, our success in attracting new industry over the past several years, Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge, rich social history, diverse cultures, citizen support for projects and committed political leaders.
Most of the pages of the document describe short and long-term solutions that range from building greenways, walking and bike riding trails, improvements to historic areas to building a new high school and even turning the courthouse into a place for educational opportunities. The researchers suggest a time-line for implementation in Near –Term (1 – 5 years), Short-Term (6-10 years) and Long Term (11-15 year) goals.

Fire drill at jail went well
September 22, 2011

          Sheriff Melvin Bond surprised his staff and jail inmates with a fire drill yesterday conducted at the new jail.  The sheriff ordered the test about 8am.
Bond said the drill, which included evacuation of inmates and a response by local firemen, went smoothly.  Bond is preparing the jail for a follow-up inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute expected at the end of October.

Budget makers to hold another public hearing tonight
September 22, 2011

          How satisfied are you with a tax rate of $2.58?  The county’s budget committee once discussed raising the rate from $2.38 all the way to $2.90 — but public but sharpened pencils have lowered the need to dramatically raise the property tax.
The latest budget was crafted using a formula of budget cuts crafted by Budget Committee Member Joe Stephens.
Tonight at 7pm Mayor Franklin Smith and the budget committee will again host a public hearing at which citizens may comment.

Bill Haslam welcomes Marathon Heater to Brownsville
September 21, 2011

         Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has joined with local officials in cheering the arrival of Marathon Heaters.  The company, as you know, is the latest arrival to the Brownsville Haywood County Industrial Park and moves into the space formerly occupied by Haywood Element.
Haywood County and Brownsville chipped in $50,000 to help bring the company here.  The money was used by Marathon to move equipment into their new plant.
Haslam and the state are taking some credit, too.  He says the Jobs4TN economic development plan contributed to the successful location of Marathon.
The press release from the state says Marathon will invest $1m in Haywood County and employ up to sixty workers.

University of Memphis economic study to be unveiled today
September 21, 2011

         So what would make Haywood County grow?  Better industrial recruiting incentives?  A better school system?  Should we set ourselves up as a bedroom community or maybe a retirement center?
We’ll get some of those answers today as the University of Memphis begins unveiling the results of months of study of the Haywood County economy.  U of M students and advisors will brief the Brownsville Planning Commission on the study today

Franklin Smith reelected Chairman Haywood County Commission
September 20, 2011

         Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith has been reelected Chairman of the Haywood County Commission.  The election came at Monday’s meeting of the county commission.

Jackson Tennessee economic leaders encourage Haywood County.
September 20, 2011

               Two guests made presentations at the Monday meeting of the Haywood County Commission.  Brownsville resident and Jackson Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Kathy Gruenewald Watts, along with Jackson Chamber Executive Director Kyle Spurgeon, addressed commissioners.  They emphasized the importance of the megasite to Haywood and surrounding counties and stated their continuing support and efforts for the project. Watts and Spurgeon encouraged local government to do everything in its power to improve education and reduce crime, as these are two criteria industrial executives will weigh heavily when choosing a site for construction or expansion.

Jim Parks has retired from the BPD
September 20, 2011

         A reception was held yesterday at the Brownsville Police Dept. honoring the retirement of Lt. Jim Parks.
Between the Haywood County Sheriff’s Dept. and the Brownsville Police Dept., Lt. Parks has served the citizens of Haywood County for the last 39 years as a police officer. His career started in 1972.  “Jim is always a joy to be around and will be greatly missed,” Brownsville Police Chief Chris Lea said.
Former Police Chiefs, Lucian English and Gil Kendrick were among guests at Park’s retirement reception.

Brownsville Police Chief Chris Lea (left) congratulates Jim Parks at his retirement ceremony Monday.

Keeping the meetings straight
September 16, 2011

         Mayor Franklin Smith hopes to get the county’s budget passed at a meeting late this month, but county commissioners are likely to participate in at least two meetings in between. Below is the schedule for important county meetings. • September 19 the county commission will meet in its regular monthly session. The 2011/2012 budget vote will not take place at this meeting. • September 22, Mayor Franklin Smith and the budget committee will hold a public hearing on the budget. The 7pm meeting at the courthouse will allow members of the public to comment and ask questions about the new budget. • September 26 the county commission will meet for the purpose of considering the 2011/2012 budget.


Brownsville Awarded Tree Planting Grant
September 14, 2011

             The City of Brownsville has been selected for a $6,712 tree planting grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.  Mayor Jo Matherne was notified last week in an award letter from State Commissioner of Agriculture, Julius Johnson, congratulating the City as the recipient of the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) Community Tree Planting grant.
The TAEP program is administered by Tennessee’s Forestry Division and is designed to assist Tennessee Agriculture producers and the state’s nursery industry.   Three public areas have been chosen for planting of canopy shade trees this coming fall:  the Fire Station on West Main, Jefferson Courts at Anderson and Jefferson, and the WOW site on East Main.
“We are extremely pleased to have been selected for this tree grant,” remarked Mayor Matherne.   “The trees will add beauty to the city and contribute to environmental sustainability, attributes so many residents advocated during community meetings this past spring. We hope this will be the first round of plantings in years to come.”


Tax rate headed for vote at $2.58
September 14, 2011

          At one time county leaders thought they’d have to raise the property tax rate a whopping 22%, but that’s been headed off thanks to new work by the county’s budget committee. County Commissioners will vote on a twenty-cent increase, elevating the property tax rate from $2.38 to $2.58. The twenty-cent hike will fund repayment of loans made to improve the high school and complete the justice complex.
Tuesday, Mayor Franklin Smith ordered published a revised budget that includes a new round of budget cuts. The new budget was developed in a proposal authored by Commissioner Joe Stephens suggesting all County General departments slash their planned spending from 3% to 12%.
The county commission will meet in regular session next Monday night but won’t take up the budget until a special sessions set for September 26

Improvement projects moving quickly in Brownsville
September 14, 2011

         The City of Brownsville Mayor and Board of Aldermen quickly dispatched city business in a meeting lasting less than an hour on Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.
Mayor Jo Matherne updates
•  The court square landscaping grant project will not prevent the upcoming homecoming festivities or the Fall Fest.  This project stems from a matching grant applied for by the Webb Banks administration in 2007.  The City obtained $735,000 in grant funds and must match that amount with a twenty percent contribution of around $184,000.  All but $34,000 of the City’s part has been paid, and the current City Budget provides that remaining sum this year.  Completion of the project is expected sometime around December first.
•  FEMA has approved the first of two phases of a grant to purchase flood-damaged properties in Brownsville.  $464,000 for phase one will be used to acquire properties already designated by the agency.
• The $550,000 project to extend city utilities across interstate 40 at exit 56 is expected to be finished by the end of September.
Parades planned
On the city’s agenda were applications for three parade permits, all of which were passed unanimously.  The first was by the Fifteenth Review Club for the annual Marla Angotti 5k / 10k walk and run to be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011, at 9:00 A.M. to raise funds for St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  For more information, contact Mary Anne Gorman at 780 – 5055. The second permit concerned the March of Dimes Biking for Babies event scheduled for Saturday, October 1, 2011.  Interested people can contact President Joanna Morris of First South Bank in Brownsville.  The final permit on the agenda went to Haywood High School for the homecoming parade slated for Friday, September 30, beginning at 4:00 P.M.  Alderman John Simmons expressed concern for the safety of young children attempting to get candy thrown from the homecoming parade vehicles.  There is an ordinance prohibiting the practice, and participants in the parade will not be allowed to do it this year.

Brownsville’s economic future?  U of M report may help determine — to be released next week
September 14, 2011

        Remember that economic study being conducted by the University of Memphis?  The results are about to be released.
City Planner Sharon Hayes reports that a draft of the findings will be reviewed at the Brownsville Planning Board meeting next week.
The study is designed to help Brownsville and Haywood County plan economic growth.
The planning board meets next Wednesday at 4pm at City hall.


(Officers pictured from left to right)Lt. Barry Diebold, Ptl. David Culver, Lt. Jason Haynes, Ptl. Darren Jenkins, Lt. Mark Covington,Ptl. Mike O’Connell, Cpl. Anthony Rankin

Brownsville PD Wins top Traffic Safety Award
“Best of the Best in Traffic Safety”

        On Friday September 9th, 2011 the City of Brownsville Police Department received top honors at the 7th annual Tennessee Law Enforcement Challenge Awards Presentation Ceremony in Nashville.  The Police Department received the “Top” Tennessee Traffic Safety Championship award.  This award was the culmination of seven years of outstanding traffic safety programs.  The Brownsville Police Department has won seven state awards and one national award over the past seven years for their efforts in traffic safety.    The combined efforts of specialized enforcement with community education, has been instrumental in reducing crashes in the City of Brownsville by over “50%” in the past seven years.  This award is a testament to the officers of the Brownsville Police Department and their commitment to make the City of Brownsville a safer place to live.


“Concert on the Porch” series ends with two weekends of blues and gospel

        The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center’s summer concert series comes to a close this month with two weekends of great music. Blues artist Dr. David Evans and Elmo Lee Thomas will perform “on the porch” Saturday, September 17, followed by the Gospel Stars and Total Praise September 24. Both concerts will begin at 6 p.m.
Evans has been performing country blues (guitar and vocals) since 1962, having learned directly from many of the old southern blues musicians. One of those musicians was Brownsville bluesman Hammie Nixon. Evans toured with Nixon for five years. He is currently Professor of Music at the University of Memphis and has taught at the University of Mississippi. Evans’ first musical partner was Alan Wilson, who went on to become a member of the blues-rock group Canned Heat. Since 1980, Evans has been touring in Europe and is a member of the Last Chance Jug Band, a five-piece group based in Memphis since 1989.
Joining Evans for the September 17, “Concert on the Porch” is Elmo Lee Thomas. Thomas, also a member of the Last Chance Jug Band, has been the driving force behind one of the Mid-South’s most popular bands, Elmo and the Shades, for over 25 years. He is a Memphis native and has a reputation of being a high-energy blues shouter and soul singer. Thomas has long been recognized as one of the region’s top harmonica talents.
Brownsville’s own New Gospel Stars will take the stage on Saturday, September 24, for the final concert in the series. This band has been performing across the region since the 1990s and will perform many of the old gospel favorites. The group features the talents of M.C. Cliff Jr., Mary Maclin, Felicia Walker, Johnny Bond, Robert Bryant and Jerry Miller.
Opening the evening for the Gospel Stars will be Total Praise, a group of Brownsville women who began their journey as a gospel group about a year ago. This group includes the vocal talents of Hazel Walker, Sheketa Holmes, Tiffany Tolivar, Keisha Walker, Ti-Anna Wiley and Christy Henderson.
The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center presents “Concert on the Porch” May through September and features a different artist and genre each month. For more information about the concert series, call 731-779-9000 or visit The Center is located off of Interstate 40, Exit 56 behind McDonald’s, in Brownsville, Tenn.

The Haywood County Budget Committee will meet Thursday afternoon at 4pm to discuss the county’s budget and tax rate. The meeting will be held at the Haywood County Courthouse


The Haywood County Commission’s Budget Committee will meet Wednesday, September 7th at the Haywood County Courthouse for the purpose of discussing Haywood County’s 2011/2012 county operating budget. The meeting is at 4pm and will be located in the county mayor’s conference room.

Grant money to help equip BPD
September 5, 2011

        The Brownsville Police Department has won a grant that will fund much needed safety equipment, according to Police Chief Chris Lea.
The money comes from the Department of Justice.  The police department will be getting a check for $14,464.
Lea says the department will buy new high visibility light bars and electronically secured gun racks for patrol cars and additional back-up Tasers equipped with attached high -definition video recorders.

The JAG Program provides states, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement, prosecution and court, prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, planning, evaluation, and technology improvement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Haywood County Election Commission Informs Voters of New Law

        The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed a law to make the elections process more secure. Beginning in 2012, voters must present identification bearing their names and photographs in order to vote, just as if they were boarding an airplane or cashing a check.
The process is simple: voters who do not have valid photo IDs may obtain free photo IDs for voting from any participating Department of Safety driver service center across the state. And voters over the age of 60 who have driver’s licenses without photos and no other form of valid photo IDs for voting may have their photos added to their licenses free of charge.
County election commissions are making efforts now to get the message out about the changes well in advance of the 2012 elections.
“Our staff is prepared to help voters learn about the new requirements, and, if necessary, how to get a photo ID,” said Andrea Smothers, Administrator of Elections.  “We will do our best to ensure every voter is informed in plenty of time.”
Examples of acceptable photo IDs, even if expired, include: a Tennessee driver’s license with a photo, a United States passport, a Department of Safety photo ID, a United States military photo ID, a state-issued handgun carry permit, or any other photo ID issued by the federal or state government, except college student IDs.
“Local election administrators are working hard to prepare voters and poll workers,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I am confident this law will be beneficial and can be implemented smoothly.”
Some citizens will be exempt from the new law, including: absentee voters, residents of nursing homes or assisted living centers who vote at the facility, people who are hospitalized, people who have religious objections to being photographed and those who are indigent and unable to pay for photo IDs. Voters who do not bring photo IDs to the polls may vote with provisional ballots that will be counted if they return to their local election commission office and present a valid photo ID within two business days of the election.

For more information about the voting requirements, contact the Haywood County Election Commission at 731-772-1760 or call Mark Goins, Coordinator of Elections, or Andrew Dodd, Elections Specialist, in the state Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959.

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