Archive: Summer 2013

Archive: Summer 2013

Archive: Summer 2013

Tina Turner Days become annual celebration
August 30, 2013

   What started as a fan celebration honoring Tina Turner’s childhood school, Flagg Grove, has developed into an annual festival observing the heritage and legacy of the international music icon. Tina Turner Heritage Days will be held September 27-28 at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn. The event will include tours, concerts and a stew competition.
Friday night is Fan Appreciation Night and includes a reception and exhibit of Tina posters. A documentary titled “From Muskogee to Nutbush” will follow. The film, made during the 2012 visit to Nutbush by a group of young artist from Muskogee, Ok., creates a parallel between the two cities, including their struggles with adversity and segregation and highlights the common bond that is part of the journey – music.
Wrapping up the Friday evening activities is Norwegian Bluesman Knut Roppestad. Born and raised in Horton, Norway, he began his American adventures in the 1980s and continues to travel and perform in the U.S. at every opportunity. “I’ve been a long time fan of Tina Turner since seeing her live in Oslo,” says Roppestad. “I promise a steamy version of ‘Steamy Windows’ for the fans.” Saturday’s festivalgoers can choose between tours of Nutbush, Turner’s childhood home, and painting an abstract of Tina on vinyl. The smell of stew will fill the air as teams compete for the title of “Stewmaster” and live music from the Spotlight Rising Stars of Muskogee, will entertain between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The festival concludes with a Tribute performance at the Ann Marks Performing Arts Center in Brownsville’s Historic District. Former Flagg Grove School student Lollie Mann will open the show with original gospel numbers and share her memories of time spent at Flagg Grove. Following Mann is Music Highway Band. This Jackson, Tenn., group has performed together since 2001, and have worked with such legendary performers as Carl Mann and Eddie Bond, developing their own special blend of rockabilly and country.
Rhythm and blues performer Dorothy Cole will headline the show. Energetic and fun, Cole began her career as a tribute artist in 1993 when she won a Tina look-a-like contest while performing Proud Mary. Since then, she has performed all over the country and in England where she shared the stage with Rod Stewart during a special performance tribute to Tina. A Chattanooga native and Decatur, Ala., resident, Cole appeared in Haywood County for the 2002 dedication of Highway 19 as “Tina Turner Highway.”
“I’m excited about being back in Brownsville,” says Cole. “Performing in Tina’s hometown is always a privilege and I’m especially excited to be a part of the first Tina Turner Heritage Days.”

(Left to right) Tina Turner, Norwegian Bluesman Knut Roppestad, who will perform during the opening night of Tina Turner Heritage Days, and Tina tribute artist Dorothy Cole, who will rock the stage of the Ann Marks Performing Arts Center during an evening concert September 28 in Brownsville.

The Saturday evening concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets and more information, including a complete schedule of events, can be found on the festival website:, or by contact the Delta Heritage Center at 731-779-9000.
The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is home to regional museums depicting the history and culture of the West Tennessee people. Inside visitors will find the Cotton Museum, West Tennessee Music Museum, Hatchie River Museum, the Sleepy John Estes Home and Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner. To learn more about the Center, or call 731-779-9000.


County budget includes same tax rate as last year – employee raises
August 30, 2013

   Passing Haywood County’s new budget next Tuesday night ought to be a breeze for county commissioners. At last night’s public hearing there was little comment and no debate about spending or income in the 58-page document.
As in year’s past, the budget predicts a deficit, but if history repeats itself, budget makers might end 2013/2014 treating taxpayers to an upside surprise. Last year’s budget ended with nearly $3 million more in the bank than the budget committee projected.
Here are some highlights:
• Last year’s budget (year ended June 2013) predicted a fund balance of $9,198,964, after deficit spending of nearly $2 million. The estimate presented Thursday predicts the bank will actually balance with $12,014,744 at the end of the fiscal year. That’s surplus cash of $2.8 million more than the budget projected.
• The budget committee has predicted they will end the new year (year end June 2014) with $11,120,117, meaning they think government operations will spend about $900,000 more than is expected to be taken in.
• Taxpayers will pay the certified tax rate of $2.3956. While last year’s tax rate was $2.58, the new tax rate takes into account reappraisals and most property owners will write about the same checks when bills are delivered in October. The exception is farmland owners, who will experience an average 25% hike because the value of farmland has risen dramatically.
• The wheel tax will be unchanged.
• County workers will get raises or one-time bonuses. The pay hikes vary from department to department.
• Three new employees will be added to the jail’s staff.
• Haywood County’s annual debt payments are about $1.8 million.
• County government debt is $19,627,000. Most of the note payments end in the early 2030’s.
• The budget predicts it will cost $44,955,012 to fund operations in 2013/2014.
The breakdown includes:
County general, $11,073,350
Sanitation services (there are two budgets), $1,476,721
Debt payments, $1,930,905
Road department, $3,559,370
Schools including the cafeteria, $27,107,438
• Income predicted to be derived from property taxes is $8,799,500.
• The assessed valuation of Haywood County property is $366,737,513.


Haywood County budget to be heard tonight
August 29, 2013

   The public is invited to a review of county government’s proposed new budget today. The public hearing is set for 6pm at the county courthouse.
Budget commission members toiled for months to develop the $40+ million spending and income plan that, if approved next week, will be retroactive to July 1 and extend through June 2014.
Taxpayers will learn that the proposed tax rate will be lower than last year, but property reassessments make the rate effectively the same as the previous year. Except for farm owners, most taxpayers will write checks for equal to those of a year ago. Farmland owners can expect to pay about 25% more. The wheel tax will remain the same.


Public invited to budget comment next week
August 22, 2013

   Months of number crunching will be publicly unveiled next Thursday when Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith and the county commission’s budget committee hold a public hearing. The session is set for 6pm at the courthouse August 29.
Smith said Wednesday that the certified tax rate – roughly $2.39 – will be proposed. The rate, although lower than this year, will mean most taxpayers will pay about the same thing. The rate changed because property was reappraised during the last year. The rate is expected to yield to government about the same income as 2012/2013.
Smith says the last budget year ended with better results than budgeted. Fund balances, or savings accounts, grew to $16 million according to comments Smith made Tuesday to the metro charter commission.
While most commercial and residential property owners will pay about the same amount of property tax, farmland owners can expect dramatic increases. Estimates made by the assessor’s office and in budget committee meetings project farm taxes will increase by an average of 25%. The value of farms dramatically increased in the last reappraisal – the result of escalating sale prices of land.
At the public hearing, leaders will review the highlights of the budget and the public will be allowed to comment. Smith says a specially called meeting of the county commission is scheduled for September 3, also at 6pm.


Brownsville’s planners to consider Dupree Street development today
August 22, 2013

   The Brownsville Planning Board will be asked to take action on a site plan that proposes a 1,860 square foot “temporary” building on a 1.46 acre tract located on Dupree near the Wal-Mart shopping complex. First State Bank is proposing the structure, and has signaled its intention to build a bank there.
Regional Planner Thomas Skehan, who advises the city’s planning board, says there are at least three issues that need to be considered. He’s concerned about trees, the length of time the bank will use the temporary structure and ingress/egress on to Dupree. Otherwise, Skehan says in his notes, he is prepared to recommend the site plan be approved.
Planners meet this afternoon at 4pm.


Metro committee gets down to work – hears expert – schedules mayors
August 7, 2013

   Jay West, an expert on consolidating local governments both big and small, told the Haywood County Metro Charter Committee Tuesday that metro governments are a hard sell with voters. They are “tough to pass.” Once adopted a consolidated government in the United States has never been repealed either, according to West.
Mr. West is the Executive Director of County Officials Association of Tennessee (COAT). His resume includes stints as city councilman and vice mayor of Nashville. He has authored a number of metro-charters in Tennessee. Voters have approved some of his charters he has written and others have failed.
At Tuesday’s metro meeting, West, who is also a lawyer, made a presentation and pitch that the group hire him to write Haywood County’s charter. Procedurally, he recommends the charter group determine the specifications and rely on him to craft the language.
West works for a “flat fee” but when pressed Tuesday wasn’t prepared to say what he’d charge Haywood County. He said, “For the flat fee I will give you a charter – a document that reflects what you want.”
Excerpts of comments made by Mr. West
• On taxes. Nashville/Davidson County is the state’s oldest metro-government. Its consolidated operations have a 50-year history. He said Davidson County taxpayers have found that “taxes have increased at a decreasing rateÖ. that’s what happened in other areas, too.”
• On industry. West believes one government helps industrial recruiting. “My personal opinion is that it is a benefit. They (industry) want to do business with one entity.”
• On borrowing money. Consolidated governments generally help a community’s “bonding authority.” We may be able to borrow money at lower interest rates as a metro, according to West.
• Charters are not boilerplate documents. West has been involved in the writing of four metro charters. He says, “every charter is different.”
• Cost more or less? Even though there are hundreds of consolidated governments in the United States West says there are no economic studies indicating consolidation means government cost more or less to operate.
Committee members did not take action on West’s proposal he be hired.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 12 at 4pm at the Justice Complex. Mayors Jo Matherne, Allen Sterbinsky and Franklin Smith will be asked to appear and discuss current government operations.


First State Bank signals intention to expand in Brownsville
August 1, 2013

   The Brownsville Planning Board has approved a plan to subdivide property located on the bypass near Wal-Mart. Planners took the action at a planning board meeting last week. This week First State Bank, based in Union City, issued a news release signaling their intention to develop the property, but stops short of stating they’ll build a new bank there.
The tract, as described on the city’s planning board agenda, is a “two lot subdivision sitting on approximately 14.5 acres. The property is located on the west side of Dupree Avenue just north of property owned by the American LegionÖand cattycorner to the Super Wal-Mart property.”
In a news release issued by First State Bank Wednesday (see news release here), the bank describes its commitment to Brownsville and states there are “contingencies within our contract that must be completed prior to the actual purchase of the property. Once these items are satisfied and we receive Regulatory approval from FDIC, the purchase should be completed.” The statement continues, “Upon completion of the property purchase, First State will move forward with a plan to utilize the new property to best meet the needs of our customers, our staff and our community.”
City Planner Sharon Hayes wrote in an e-mail to Brownsville Radio that it is “our understanding the bank intends to construct a new banking facility” on the tract but a building plan has not been submitted to city planners.
First State currently operates with two locations in Brownsville at 25 South Grand and 111 Peachtree Plaza. First State operates 31 full-service locations in 25 communities in West, Middle and East Tennessee.


Former study committee leader now charter commission chairman
July 24, 2013

   Three people were elected to administer the metro charter committee. The panel met late yesterday afternoon.
Dr. Dorothy Grandberry nominated Christy Smith as chairman. There were no other nominations and Smith was elected. She is the former editor of the Brownsville States-Graphic and was chairman of the first metro charter study group which did their work in the 1980’s.
Gem Bell declined when he was nominated for vice-chairman and eventually Joe Barden IV was elected. Barden is a building contractor and former member of the Haywood County School Board.
County Commissioner Marjorie Vaulx declined a nomination for secretary but nominated Jan McAdams. McAdams accepted and was elected. She is an employee of the county school system.
Michael Banks will serve as the committee’s lawyer.
Dr. Grandberry suggested an important first step. She asked that organizational charts be developed for present city and county staff. Members are also studying the metro charters of other Tennessee metro governments.
The next meeting is set for August 6 at 5pm


Little work for county commissioners at Monday meeting
July 16, 2013

   In a short session Monday Haywood County Commissioners approved the purchase of a Vulcan gas range for the county jail at a cost of $15,891.00.
Commissioners were told to expect to be asked to approve the 2012 International Building Code when they meet next. The Code places new rules and requirements on contractors.
Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith said he expects to complete the county’s budget sometime in August. Budget planners have not yet determined a tax rate or whether county workers will get pay increases.


10 appointed to Metro Charter Commission
June 27, 2013

   Mayor Franklin Smith has named ten of the fifteen people that will write a consolidated government charter that will likely be put to popular vote sometime in the first half of next year. The charter would propose to combine the Haywood County and Brownsville governments, creating the Tennessee’s third metro government.
Smith appointed, and the county commission confirmed, Dr. Dorothy Grandberry, John Duckworth, Tim Stokely, Joe Barden, Gem Bell, Kathy Ward, Rick Bowden, Charlie Tripp, Christy Smith and Marjorie Vaulx.
Mayor Smith made the announcement at a specially called meeting of the Haywood County Commission Thursday night.
Mayor Jo Matherne will name five more people to the commission. Matherne said she expects to make her appointments July 9.
The charter commission has nine months to complete their work and the county commission will provide $50,000 to fund the work.
The charter group must conduct their first meeting within five days of the final appointments.


Governor brings big check to Brownsville – more downtown improvements on the way
June 27, 2013

   Brownsville is place that has “a lot going” for it – and that’s why Governor Bill Haslam a check for $506,566 for continued improvements to East Main Street.
Martha Lyle Ford attended the governor’s visit for us and delivers today’s news story.
The transportation enhancement grant comes from money appropriated by Congress to Tennessee Ö state officials then determine which communities will receive the funds. Haslam said that the State surveyed the needs of various communities and then choose recipients which have “a lot going for them.”
The funds will be used to renovate aging curbs and sidewalks from Court Square down the first block of East Main Street. Haslam said the funds will be used to make the area more accessible and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. New lighting will also be included.
In making the presentation, Haslam said to the 50 or so citizens gathered, “Downtowns are important Ö they are where folks come together Ö downtown is everybody’s neighborhood Ö”
State Representative Craig Fitzhugh and State Senator Delores Gresham stood with Haslam as he made the presentation. Fitzhugh said, “Brownsville has long been the jewel of West Tennessee Ö we’re going to help polish it up a bit with this enhancement grant.” Haslam also visited Humboldt yesterday where he dropped off a check for about $400,000 for improvements to Humboldt’s downtown.


Metro Government Charter Commission – two-thirds named tonight
June 27, 2013

   Ten of fifteen people whose work could dramatically overhaul governments in Haywood County will be named tonight. Mayor Franklin Smith has called a special meeting of the Haywood County Commission to unveil his 10 appointees to the Metro Charter Commission. Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne will appoint the other 5.
The group will have nine months to write a charter consolidating Brownsville and Haywood County’s two governments. Only two other counties in the state have metro governments.
The charter commission’s document will eventually be put to a referendum in which Brownsville and rural voters will decide if it really is a good idea.
The county commission meets tonight at 6. Commissioners may also be asked to tend to year-end budget amendments. The county’s fiscal year ends Sunday. Already county commissioners have voted to extend the parameters of the 2012/2013 budget until the new budget is approved – and that’s not likely until August.


Brownsville public hearing today to study proposed budget
June 21, 2013

   A sneak peek into the 2103/2014 Brownsville budget will happen this afternoon at city hall. Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne and aldermen from the city’s four wards will hold a work session this afternoon at 3. The mayor will present her budget proposal.
Mayor Matherne said in today’s session she’ll get “aldermen’s feedback in order to make changes” before the first reading of the new budget.
Like Haywood County, Brownsville has just received its certified tax rate from the state. The mayor said the rate is .0027 of a cent less than the current rate of $1.80. Haywood County’s rate was 19 cents less but the county’s budget was heavily impacted by the change in the assessment of farmland. Assessments in Brownsville changed very little, as evidenced by the fractional change depicted in the certified rate.
The mayor said her mission is to complete the budget after today’s workshop with a plan to vote when the city board meets July 9. The city’s budget requires two readings to become law.


Taxicab board meets Monday to consider application
June 21, 2013

   It’s been years – maybe decades since Brownsville had public transportation – but that apparently is about to change. The city has published notice that its Taxi Cab Board will meet Monday, June 24 to consider an application from Alpha & Omega Transit Network, Inc. According to the notice Cee P. Palmore is the owner.


Haywood Countians top shots – again
June 19, 2013

   Three Haywood County youth competitive shotgunners took home awards at the state scholastic shooting competition this week. Carah-Beth Maddux and Ford Ellington were declared the best shots in the state in their category. Zach Tinsley won third place overall in his class.
The Haywood County Young Guns placed second in the varsity division’s skeet shooting competition. The team hit 282 out of 300 targets.
• Carah-Beth Maddux was the top varsity female shot with a score of 96 out of 100.
• Ford Ellington broke 97 of 100 targets to be the state’s top male varsity shooter.
• Zach Tinley’s score was unavailable but he placed third overall in the junior varsity division.
More than 500 youth shooters competed in the Tennessee Scholastic Clay Target competition sponsored by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.


County commissioners called to special meeting set for June 27
June 18, 2013

   Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith put county commissioners on notice last night that they should plan to attend a called meeting June 27. At the special meeting Smith will ask county legislators to confirm his appointments to the metro charter commission. County government is responsible for 10 appointments. The City of Brownsville will appoint 5 people.
Smith’s announcement came last night during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Haywood County Commission.
At the June 27 meeting year-end budget amendments will also be managed, though that job may be fairly small because nearly five-dozen adjustments were made during last night’s session.
Commissioners will meet at 6pm.
Tax valuations way up
County commissioners learned last night that the six-year reappraisal program yields a county property assessment increase of $32,729,171. Much of the increase comes from increased value of farm acreage. Most farmland increased in value by more than 30% according to the assessor’s office.
The state has certified the county’s tax rate fractionally higher than $2.39 – that’s 19-cents lower than the 2012-2013 tax rate. The certified tax rate is the rate county government will charge if they intend to bring in the same amount of revenue as last year. Though the certified tax rate is meant to keep tax bills more-or-less level after reappraisals, some taxpayers could pay more and some less.
Commissioners also agreed to a “continuing budget and tax rate” until they complete their budget work for fiscal 2013-2014. The county’s budget year ends June 31. “I don’t think we’ll have a budget until August,” Mayor Smith reported. He did not comment about the anticipated tax rate but did say that county government has, so far, spent less than predicted in this year’s budget.
Other business
ï Bob Kendrick was re-appointed to a four-year term on the Haywood County Utility Board.
ï Commissioners amended the county personnel manual to allow sheriff’s deputies, who work 12-hour shifts, 12-hour paid sick days.
ï The jail committee was eliminated from the county commission’s roster of standing committees. The jail committee was appointed to study needs at the old jail that eventually led to the construction of the criminal justice complex. No longer needed in the judgment of county leaders, the work of the jail committee will be taken over by the public safety committee.
ï County commissioners heard a presentation from fundraisers who are asking area county commissions to help raise $1 million as seed money for a new Veterans Cemetery that will be established in Henderson County. The 135-acre cemetery will be the state’s fourth veteran’s cemetery and will receive $6 million in funding from the federal government once the initial cash is raised. Haywood County has been asked to donate $9,200. County commissioners will consider the donation in their 2013-2014 budget.


Metro government charter commission – Brownsville approves
June 12, 2013

   The Brownsville City Board has voted to take the metro government proposal to the next level. Tuesday night aldermen and the mayor voted to appoint a charter commission.
The vote follows the Haywood County Commission’s passage of the measure three weeks ago. The next step will be for Brownsville Mayor Matherne and County Mayor Franklin Smith to appoint members of a 15-person charter commission. Mayor Matherne will appoint 5 members and Mayor Smith 10.
Once assembled, the charter commission will be responsible for drafting a proposed charter for a new combined government. The proposed charter will then be voted on by residents of Brownsville, and by residents of the rural Haywood County. It would have to pass in both of those votes in order to become a new government.
Stanton could include itself – totally consolidating all governments here. The Stanton City Board is expected to vote on the measure soon. If Stanton elects not to participate, it has no effect on Brownsville and Haywood County’s consolidation.


Brownsville to develop downtown entertainment venue
June 12, 2013

   The Brownsville City Board voted unanimously to purchase a parcel of land just off Court Square on South Lafayette to be developed as an outdoor entertainment venue.
The tract, located between Las Palmas Restaurant and Jefferson Street, is owned by Jim Haywood; Haywood has offered to sell the property to the City for $55,900 ñ about $14,000 less than its appraised value. Development includes plans for an amphitheater for music, movies, and performances. According to Mayor Matherne, the funds for the purchase will come from this year’s Economic Development budget.


Stormwater ordinance passes first reading
June 12, 2013 – By Martha Lyle Ford

   An ordinance to update the City’s Municipal code regarding stormwater management passed first reading Tuesday. Mayor Matherne explained that this is the first in a series of steps that need to be taken in order to comply with new policies of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The measure will be considered again on its second reading at the Board’s July meeting.


Farmers’ Market Coming to Brownsville?
June 12, 2013 – By Martha Lyle Ford

   For years, there’s been talk about the City building a facility to house a farmers’ market. That possibility took a step toward becoming reality last night when Aldermen voted to approve a resolution to apply for funding to develop and build a facility. Application will be made to the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise program for $150,000 – $200,000.
Already 11 local producers have expressed support for the proposed market, as well as the UT Ag extension service and Haywood County government. The proposed site for the Farmers’ Market is at the corner of Anderson and Jefferson Streets, across from the newly constructed Brownsville Housing Authority offices. No timeline was given for the application and approval process.


Critical RR Industrial Park railroad spur to be repaired
June 12, 2013

   According to Brownsville officials, the railroad spur, which services the industrial park, is in desperate need of repair. So last night, the City Board agreed unanimously that Brownsville should apply for funds from the Delta Regional Authority to pay for the repairs, estimated to cost around $200,000.
Representatives of Lowe’s Warehouse in the industrial park, report that they have 35-40 railroad cars in and out of the park each week. If approved, the City would be responsible for paying 10% of the cost, or $20,000. Lowe’s will be a partner in the application for funding. Paving in the industrial park
Streets in the industrial park need some repairs as well. Ford Construction Company submitted the low bid to perform paving work on Welch, Morgan, and Blackwell Streets and on Lowe’s Boulevard. The City Board approved to accept Ford’s bid of $211,304.


News Briefs from Brownsville’s June City Board meeting
June 12, 2013

   The Mayor and each alderman gave short reports Ö all praising the weekend’s highly successful Relay for Life events. Alderman and Vice Mayor Carolyn Flagg, who served again as chairman of Relay, received compliments and congratulations from her fellow Board members and mayor.
Alderman Simmons also commended the City employees of the Public Works Department for their hard work in preparing for and cleaning up after the events.
Mayor Matherne announced the City’s Fun Camp for Kids will be held June 24 ñ 28th. Flagg announced that Ward 2 will have a clean-up, beginning at the old Lasco building, on Saturday, weather permitting.
Mayor Matherne also asked aldermen to submit to her the names of citizens they would like to have serve on the newly-forming Human Relations Board. Each alderman will submit 2 names which will be voted on at the City Board’s July meeting.
Department reports
Director of Central Dispatch Starla Singleton reported that the City had passed its recent audit by the FBI.
Chamber of Commerce Director Renee Moss announced that 4 businesses joined the Chamber in the past month: Bliss Salon and Spa, Fast Pace Urgent Care Clinic, Kreme Kastle, and Milano’s.
Police Chief Chris Lea reported that his department is submitting applications for 3 federal grants totaling $256,000 to help fund two more School Resource Officers, more bullet proof vests and other equipment, and audio-visual equipment needed for department training and community education programs.
Delta Heritage Center director Sonia Outlaw-Clark reported that both the Exit 56 Blues Fest and the first Hatchie Bird Fest were very successful. She also announced that the Center, in collaboration with the Dunbar Alumni Association and the College Hill Center, has received funding for presenting a film series called “Created Equal” which is intended to foster discussion on race relations in the community.
And Code Enforcement officer Rene Hendrix reported that numerous derelict buildings will soon be demolished including properties on Robin, Greenwood, N. McLemore, N. Grand and Austin Street.


Aldermen and the mayor to act on metro government today
June 11, 2013

   All eyes are on city leaders today in Brownsville. Brownsville aldermen and the mayor are expected to vote this afternoon on whether a charter commission should be appointed to write a document by which Brownsville and Haywood County governments would be consolidated.
Haywood County Commissioners, by a narrow margin, approved the charter commission last month.
Stanton’s government could also join the consolidation movement – but their participation isn’t pivotal in the consolidation of Brownsville and Haywood County.
If a charter commission is appointed, they’ll have nine months and a $50,000 budget to write the outline for the new government. The plan would be put to voters in a referendum for a final decision.
The city board meets today at 5:30 p.m.


Concert series kicks off with Music Highway Band, Wildwood Express
June 7, 2013

   BROWNSVILLE TN (JUNE 7, 2013): The “Sleepy” John Estes porch will be rocking Saturday, June 15, when two of West Tennessee’s favorite bands take the stage for this season’s first Concert on the Porch. Rockabilly’s Music Highway Band will open the season when they take the stage at 7 p.m., followed by Wildwood Express. Concerts are presented free to the public each month on the third Saturday, June through September, at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville.
“Both of these groups are energetic and like to get the audience involved,” says Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark, “so we know the kick-off of our summer series will be full of fun.”
Music Highway Band was organized in Jackson, Tenn., in 2001, and has worked with such legendary artists as Carl Mann and Eddie Bond. You may remember the original trio who played many years at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame as the house band. Over the years, members were added and this diversity has led to developing their own special blend of Rockabilly and country. Band members include Stan Brunner, Sammy Wood, Jimmy Webb, Donald Carp, Gary Spraggins and Jimmy Stephenson.
Wildwood Express will take the stage around 8 p.m., and perform old time stringed music including bluegrass gospel, instrumentals and old time country. Their instruments of choice include the banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, upright bass and guitar. The band is made up of Grover Westover, Paul Jackson, Gary Spraggins and Coley and Marilyn Graves. All are members of the Jackson Tennessee Area Plectral Society whose main purpose is the preservation of old time stringed music.
You are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets for the outdoor concert. Drinks and snacks will be available. You are also welcome to bring a picnic or visit the surrounding restaurants.
For a complete schedule of upcoming concerts, visit The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center is a tourist information center and home to three regional museums depicting the history and culture of the West Tennessee people. Inside visitors will find the Cotton Museum, West Tennessee Music Museum, Hatchie River Museum, the Sleepy John Estes Home and Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner. To learn more about the Center, visit or call 731-779-9000.

Music Highway Band, a rockabilly and country band from Jackson, Tenn., and Wildwood Express, an old time string band, will kick off the 2013 summer concert series “Concert on the Porch” Saturday, June 15, at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. Concerts are held each third Saturday, June through September, beginning at 7 p.m.


Government budget year-end looms – county working on new numbers
June 7, 2013 – By Martha Lyle Ford

   The process of creating and adopting the 2013-2014 budget for Haywood County is moving along as expected – slow but sure.
County department managers are submitting their proposed budgets for 2013/2014, outlining how much money they expect will be needed to provide government services.
The Budget Committee of the Haywood County Commission has met with many of the department heads over the past two weeks and will meet with the remaining departments soon. According to Haywood County Trusteee William L. Sonny Howse, the budget committee has met with the Sheriff’s Department ñ which includes the jail operation — , Ambulance Authority, County Executive’s office, Register of Deeds, County Trustee, and County Court Clerk. Budget makers have not, so far, voted on a recommendation they’ll make to the county commission.
New property tax data will make a difference
The six-year property reappraisal is in focus. The appraisals help determine the county’s property tax rate and therefore the amount of taxes each property owner must pay in the coming year.
According to Haywood County Property Assessor Dare Simpson, the reappraisal process has been going on for 6 years ñ that’s how long it takes to appraise all of the land and properties in the county. This year ñ the 6th year in the cycle ñ is the year when all the documentation is sent to the Tennessee State Department of Property Assessment in Nashville, which then calculates the certified tax rate for the county. The certified rate is the tax rate required to bring in the same amount of revenues ñ money ñ in taxes as before the property is reappraised. In most reappraisal years the tax rate goes down, but because property values go up, taxpayers pay approximately the same amount of money. If budgeters want to change the tax rate, their starting point will be the the state’s certified rate.
Not everybody agrees
Property owners who disagree with the new appraisal calculations are taking their concerns to the Equalization Board ñ a 5 person committee appointed by the Haywood County Commission to settle such matters. The Equalization Board is scheduled to finish its work on Monday. Simpson says there have been fewer disputes brought before the Equalization Board than she had anticipated. Members of the Board are George Williams, Maltimore Bond, Tara Joyner, Rick Bowden and Susan Wilson.
The county’s fiscal year ends June 30, but it’s unlikely the budget will be prepared by then. Brownsville’s fiscal year also ends in June. The city’s budget process is also in progress.


Effect of a megasite – UT study shows economic impact of VW plant
June 4, 2013

   KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP and local writers) – How much impact could our megasite have on the Haywood County economy? A research study by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville shows Volkswagen’s assembly plant, located on a megasite in Chattanooga, is responsible for more than $643 million in annual income.
The study also estimates that the plant increases state and local tax revenue by $53.5 million annually. Last month, VW announced it had reached a production milestone at the plant when the 250,000th midsize sedan rolled off the assembly line.
The milestone came a little more than two years since production began at the plant.
The Memphis Megasite – located in the southwest corner of Haywood County – is the only certified megasite still available in Tennessee and leaders say it is well positioned to attract a mega-industry sooner than later.


Catch your limit before Relay- Saturday is free fishing day
June 4, 2013

   NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP and local writers) – Tennessee’s annual free fishing day is coming up this weekend. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will allow fishing without a license in the public waters on Saturday. The annual event is part of an effort aimed primarily at youngsters to increase interest in fishing in the state.
Children ages 13 through 15 will able to fish without a license through June 14.
The TWRA stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events associated with the free fishing day. A basic one-day fishing license for state residents costs $5.50, while an annual hunting and fishing license costs $28. No permit is required for children younger than 13.
Saturday’s weather is perfect for free fishing day – just be sure you catch your limit by the Haywood County Relay for Life kickoff at 5:30 p.m.!

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