Archive: February 2014

Archive: February 2014

Archive: February 2014

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

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



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

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



Public hearing today
February 18, 2014

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

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

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


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

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



“Art of Farming” through a photographer’s eye
February 13, 2014

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

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

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


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

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



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

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



Delta Heritage Center releases 2013 visitor stats
February 12, 2014

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



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

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



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

   With restoration underway, the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., is excited to announce Tina Turnerís contributions to the Flagg Grove School project.
Turner has been involved with the project since her childhood school was moved in 2012, including a sizable donation towards the restoration by the Queen of Rock herself. This donation is in addition to the recent campaign to match a $75,000 donation by local attorney Pat Mann Jr. and his wife, Ann.

In a recent statement by Turner, she expressed thanks to the community for their participation and involvement in the restoration.
ìI would like to personally thank Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne and Sonia Outlaw-Clark and her team at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center for their endless support,î says Turner ìand of course Joe and Pam Stephens, without their donation of the school, this would not have been possible. I also want to recognize all the donations, both public and private, from fans, friends, and associates on this project which is very close to my heart.î
Turner is fully supportive of the project and happy to be able to give back to her community. In addition to a generous monetary donation towards the restoration of the school, she will be providing all the memorabilia,†display cases, gold record awards and stage costumes from her long career. Concert videos will also be showing in the school. All of which will become part of the schoolís interpretive exhibit.
The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center offers an authentic Southern experience showcasing the history and culture of rural West Tennessee. Inside visitors can learn about the history of cotton, explore the scenic and ìwildî Hatchie River and get to know the legendary musicians who called West Tennessee home. Also located on the grounds is Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner, and the last home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes. To learn more about the Center, visit or call 731-779-9000.


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