Triplett Named All State

Polk’s Hannah Triplett has just been named to the Tennessee Softball Coaches Association All-State Team for 2015. Triplett was also recently named to the District 5-AA All District Team where she was named Co-Player of the year along with teammate Brianna Muller.
Triplett, a rising senior, led the Lady Wildcats in their march to the regular season and district tournament championships. The Ladies also finished second in the Region and ended their season in the Sectionals. They compiled a 20-7 record overall.s-Triplett Named All State
Hannah compiled some impressive offensive stats to go with her 14-6 mound record. She finished with a .437 batting average and led the team with 30 runs batted in and 16 doubles.

SROs still in budget for Polk County TN Sheriff’s Department

Polk County’s budget committee met several time in Ducktown, with the bulk of the first conversation about the budget for the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Steve Ross is asking for additional funding to cover school resource officers. Of four SROs planned for the county, two and a half positions will be paid for by the school system. Ross said he was applying for grant money to cover the county’s cost, but he will not know if the grant is received until after the beginning of the school year.
Commissioners need to cut $448,484 out of the current budget request in order to balance the budget without a tax increase. The budget requests include a 75¢ pay raise for county employees, who have not received a raise since 2011.

Second District Commissioner Karen Bracken said they could cut $100,000 right away if they did away with SROs. Ross explained the total cost of four SROs to the county would be $41,583. He said $93,750 would be coming from the school system.

Bracken told Ross he needed to sit down and read the grant because there were a lot of stipulations included. She said it called for the officers to be paid for an additional 12 months after the grant money ran out. First District Commissioner John Pippenger said the grants were a “3 and 1” grant, which was better than the last time the county tried to get help with SROs, when the county would have had to pay for two years.

Bracken said the Governor allowed money for schools that would include paying for officers, and asked why the county would pay for them if that money was available for the school system. Ross said he believed that was the money the school system planned to use in order to pay for 2 ½ of the officers. He said if they were county officers, they could also be utilized during the summer months for patrol.

First District Commissioner Mark Bishop asked if vehicles would be needed for SROs. Ross said there were vehicles that could be used. He said the patrol cars with the most miles that they utilized as back-up vehicles would be used for SROs since they would not be used as much.

Bracken asked how many officers there were in the department, saying the grant would only pay for one SRO if the force was under 20. Ross said they had 13 deputies, but a “sworn force” of 25. He said he had been talking with the Southeast Tennessee Development District about the grant, and they had asked him his numbers and said he was okay. Ross said if the grant only covered one officer, that meant the county would only half to pay for half a position.

Pippenger asked to take a straw poll of commissioners to see how many of them were is support of SROs. Pippenger, Greg Brooks, Mike Curbow, Buster Lewis, and Daren Waters were all in favor of having SROs. Bishop and Sheena Gaddis said it depended on whether or not there was money in the budget.

Bracken said she was against them, and reminded the board that they were about to use SSOs instead of SROs. She said the training was the same. Polk County News Editor Cheryl Buehler asked if SSOs were essentially security guards. Bracken said they were not, and could be retired officers.

Pippenger said SSOs could be POST certifiable, but SROs were POST certified. He pointed out that up until this year, he was still POST certifiable.

Gaddis said she would want the officers to be utilized if they were funded. She asked what the job description would be. Ross said they would teach DARE, go to ballgames, and walk around the schools. Bracken asked if they would get paid overtime for going to ballgames. Ross said there would be officers at the grammar schools where there were no games, and the officers could be moved around to cover things without using overtime. Gaddis asked if the long breaks for holidays would be used like summers; Ross said yes.

Bracken asked if there were other security measures that could be utilized. She indicated Polk County did not have issues with school shootings and was not a big city.
Buehler said SROs were useful for more than just school shootings, and asked if it might be worth considering their usefulness with bullying.

Ross was also asked about increases in money for overtime for guards and communications. Ross said part of that was due to an upcoming trial, where sequestering would be required. An item for an extra guard for the road crew was also included in the Sheriff’s request. Pippenger said that was an extra person they were not used to yet, and suggested that money could be used toward raises or for the SRO.

Pippenger asked if there had been an increase in revenues from probation. Ross said there were unfortunately a lot of “customers,” so that money was going up to. He also said the new work-release program was bringing about $5-600 a week into the general fund.

Bracken asked about guaranteed overtime for officers. She said scheduled overtime did not have to be. Brooks said they had done the math two years ago, and it was cheaper to pay overtime than to hire additional officers.

Gaddis suggested the committee needed to schedule a meeting to begin going over cuts to the budget.

Stink aired during Sanitation Committee meeting

A workshop meeting was held last month to discuss issues with sanitation. Use of local garbage dumps for out-of-county residents and proper tire disposal were the hot topics.

Second District Commissioner Karen Bracken said there was a $70,000 overage in garbage costs on the west end of the county. She said there were a lot of people from Fannin County using the dump at Grassy Creek, and there was no follow through with permits. Third District Commissioner Daren Waters said several people had been watching and seeing out of state people dumping garbage in the county.

Workers at the dumps are required to check license plates or ask for permits to ensure only Polk County residents are dumping trash. Only out-of-towners with a permit can use the local dumps, and the garbage must be generated in Polk County.

Bracken said it appeared as though people knew when the lady at the dump who checked out-of-county permits was not there, and they all showed up on that day. She said permits did not even say why the person had a permit and there was no follow up. Waters said there once was a time when the permits came to the commission. Budget Director Kelley Morgan said they got their permits in the County Executive’s office, and had to show their reason when they applied, but it did not show on the permit.
Bracken said it was 10¢ a pound in Fannin County, and Bradley and McMinn also both charged for garbage dumping.

Second District Commissioner Greg Brooks said the board had had this conversation too many times. He said he would call the garbage service providers and tell them someone would be sent in under cover, and if they did not turn them away, it would be a violation of their contract. Brooks said if the company was getting money for overage fees, they had no incentive to stop it from happening.

Bracken said there was also a problem with tires being dumped. Pippenger said tires were not supposed to just be dumped off, and should be signed off on by Steve Lofty. Third District Commissioner Daniel Deal said they kept a list at Grassy Creek. He said the tires were locked up, an no tires could be dumped unless they were put on the list.

Bracken said she had seen Carroll tires dumping at Benton and did not see Lofty. She said they were a wholesale distributer and did not collect fees for tire disposal. She asked about Massengill tire, as well. She said the county paid out $16,000 for tire disposal and asked how much they received back from the state. A portion of money collected by the state for tire disposal is returned to the county.

Morgan said she was not certain the line item for money from the state, and suggested they invite Lofty to come explain the process. Pippenger said he knew that when Tony Reynolds was in charge, Massengills would fax something to show how many tires were being dumped. Bracken said she had been told small businesses couldn’t dump tires there. Pippenger said that was not true.

Following the discussion, Morgan brought up an issue with Bracken about comments regarding the Audit Committee, as well as comments Morgan said were made by Bracken to her in an email. Morgan said it struck a nerve with her that Bracken said they had a “non-functioning” Audit Committee. Morgan said she made a snide remark to Bracken that Bracken believed the entire county was non-functioning and didn’t know how they had survived without her. She said Bracken’s response was that it was quite obvious to her how Morgan had survived. Morgan asked what she meant by that comment.

Morgan said Bracken never had anything good to say about anything anybody does and that it was a slap in the face. Bracken denied that, and said her issue was the number of times the Audit committee met. She said her first email was to clarify what was in the resolution that formed the committee. Bracken said if they only met once a year, they would only be electing officers at the meeting and doing nothing else. She said the AFR came out in January, but the committee didn’t meet until June. Morgan said Bracken just wanted to attack.

Bracken said she had been asking since January for the Audit Committee to meet. She said they were responsible and answerable to the county commission, not the Budget Director. Morgan said she was the one that got the audit findings, not the commission, and she was going to make sure they would meet. She said she was sick of Bracken acting like no one knew how to do their job. Bracken said she was just asking questions; Morgan said it was that she asked them in a demeaning way. She said Bracken talked down to people and it was disrespectful. Bracken asked how Morgan would like her to phrase things and if she would like to teach her how to talk. Morgan said she just wanted Bracken to treat people with respect.

Pippenger said the committee didn’t like to be summoned like dogs. Bracken said she never contacted them, and only spoke to Audit Committee Chairman Joe Waters one time. She said she asked the Chairman of the commission to ask them to come.

Pippenger referenced a post on Facebook made by Bracken that the committee had failed to turn in their recommendations to the county. He said the recommendations had been turned in. He said there was nothing in the code that said the commission was required to vote on the opinions of the committee. Pippenger said the commission could do whatever they wanted. Bracken said the commission was supposed to vote on the recommendations and asked why there was an audit committee if they weren’t going to do anything. Bracken said the findings would never go away if nothing was done. Pippenger said voting on them didn’t change anything.

Brooks said the committee felt like they had done what was asked of them and would not be summoned to a meeting by one commissioner. He said he was told that of a majority of the commission wanted them to come, they would come.

Morgan said she still wanted to know what Bracken meant by her comment. She said she felt like it was sexist. Bracken said it couldn’t be sexist because she was a woman, and said she was not going to answer. They both agreed to cut off communication with one another.

Tennessee Overhill Supports Whitewater Recreation on the Ocoee River

The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association (TOHA) is pleased to announce a resolution passed by its Board of Directors at its May 19, 2015 meeting in support of preserving the Whitewater Recreation on the Ocoee River.

Tuesday night’s meeting at Tsali Notch Vineyard featured Stacy Stone, Grassroots Campaign Coordinator for the Ocoee River Council and the America Outdoors Association. Tennessee Overhill-Stacy Stone Presentation She highlighted the consequences to whitewater recreation and economic viability to the region if the contract between the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority to provide reliable recreational release of water for 116 days per year is allowed to lapse. That contract expires in March 2019. The last recreational release for rafting will occur in October 2018.

“The economic impact to the region would be devastating. The Ocoee River is an economic and tourism center of gravity in the southeastern corner of Tennessee. The lost of this unique and valuable resource would cost 622 full-time job equivalents and $43 million in economic benefits,” says TOHA Executive Director Gerald D. Hodge, Jr.

He concludes, “The mission of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association is to promote and preserve the natural and cultural resources of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk counties through cultural tourism. This threat falls well within our mission set and we are proud to support efforts to preserve it!”


Three arrested for burglaries around lakes

The Polk County Sheriff Office has made three arrests in an investigation of burglaries to automobiles in and around the Parksville Lake and Jacks River areas. The Sheriff’s Office has over 20 reported break-ins to automobiles with the last two weeks.

On May 30th, while on patrol, Sheriff Deputies arrested Michael Larry Burch at Parksville Beach when they saw Burch allegedly in the process of breaking into a parked vehicle. Burch was charged with Burglary to an Auto, and meth-related charges.

On May 31st, Daniel Davenport and Zachary Mathews were arrested after Polk Deputies, while on patrol, pulled into Kings Slough parking lot while Davenport and Mathews were allegedly in the process of breaking into a parked vehicle. When deputies approached the defendants, they jumped into vehicle belonging to Davenport and fled.
Polk Deputies gave chase into the National Forest. Forest Service, Polk Detectives, and TWRA responded to assist deputies. After extensive search of the area, Davenport was placed in custody. Mathews was arrested the following day. Polk Detectives seized suspects vehicle and collected prints and possible DNA evidence along with electronic devices with investigation ongoing.

More arrest are pending forensic results from evidence collected at scene and from other thefts and burglaries.

Heritage-Guinn House

The old Guinn Homeplace

The old Guinn homeplace picture made about 1905 has been used before, but it’s one of my favorites. Pictured is Cornelia and Abraham Guinn, and Amanda (b. 1888) and William D. (b. 1893), children of Wash and Louisa Gee Guinn.

Heritage-Guinn HouseThis picture was shared several years ago by Carl Gaddis, Jr., from Canton, Georgia, one of our faithful and long time PCHGS members who applied for his First Families of Polk County certificate through his ancestor, Almon Guinn, who was here when the county was formed in 1839. Almon was married to Sarah Lillard, and this is their son, Abraham (1928 – 1919) pictured here. I’m not sure where the old house was located, but it was probably in district 2, for that’s where they lived in 1900, with the John McDonalds on one side and Becky Jones on the other. In 1910 they were living with son John and Margaret in District 5 (Greasy Creek) just before Cornelia died in 1912 and Abe died in 1919. Both are buried in the old Benton Town Cemetery.

We also have in our files a picture of another old Guinn house that was on the banks of the Ocoee River and was covered by water when the Parksville Lake and dam were built. It was a large two story building with verandas and porches almost all around, and the Albert Crumley family who lived there at the time were standing on the porch. (Submitted by Marian Presswood.)


“Home, Sweet Home” Author was Here in Cherokee Land

By Marian Bailey Presswood, Polk County, TN Historian
From an article written by J. D. Clemmer

“Home, Sweet Home” is a song that has remained well known for over 190 years. Adapted from American actor, author, playwright and dramatist John Howard Payne’s 1823 opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan, the song’s melody was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop with lyrics by Payne. The words are as follows – sing along with me:
“Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home; A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there, Which seek thru’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere. Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home! There’s no place like home There’s no place like home!”

John Howard Payne (pictured) was born in 1791 on Long Island, New York into a large well to do family. He was not happy working in his father’s business, but had a passion for being an actor, was later in life the American Counsul for Tunisia. He put the immortal words into a song to use in an opera to be given in London, England while he was staying in Paris, and it became the world’s most popular song, selling over 100,000 copies! After his passing in 1852, someone said of him, “Never was a dead poet so famous for a single song, or so honored.”

After John came back to America from Europe he came here to the Cherokee Nation to gather material for the first issue of a magazine in New York of which he became editor. He visited John Ross, the great Cherokee leader, who helped him with maps and manuscripts. Ross, at the time, lived in a log cabin in Bradley County, having been driven from his fine residence at Rossville by Georgians.

On the night of November the 7th, 1835 while Payne was a guest at the Ross cabin, a detachment of the Georgia State Guard came across the state line and arrested both Payne and Ross. As they took them horseback toward Georgia, some of the guards began to sing “Home, Sweet Home.” Payne said to them, “I composed that song,” but they hooted at him and didn’t believe him. They were kept prisoners in a log cabin in Springplace. Ross was released in eight days, and Payne in twelve days after his arrest. Bradley County Historian, John W. Wooten, wrote that Payne and Ross were never charged or brought to trial. He said the real object of their arrest was “to give Georgia authorities a chance to examine their private papers, hoping to find some evidence of sedition so as to convict them, and remove Ross from the Nation, and so deprive the Cherokees of his wise leadership.”


When released, Payne being in a strange country, had no clue in which direction to go to reach the Ross home, but feeling in great danger of being robbed, turned into the first highway, the Vann Road and old Federal road. Fortunately, he made his way to the McNair home across the state line in Tennessee – in land, which would become Polk County after the Forced Removal. He was warmly received and later wrote, “Nothing could be more cordial, nor kinder than my reception and treatment by the McNairs.” He sent word to Ross as to his whereabouts and was taken again to the Ross cabin and from there went on to Knoxville where he had influential friends. A largely attended indignation meeting was held there to protest the illegal arrest and ill treatment of such an important visitor. Before he continued his journey home to New York, he published a lengthy address to the American people giving an account of his arrest and ill treatment by Georgians. They must have been embarrassed by their actions, for Georgia later erected a monument at Spring Place to honor him for the wrong they had done. Although he died in Tunisia, he was reinterred in Oak Hill in Washington, D.C. and a large monument marks his final resting place there.

During the War Between the States, the song was reputedly banned from being played or sung in Union Army camps for being “too redolent of hearth and home and so likely to incite desertion.”

So, how many of you knew that the author of “Home, Sweet Home” was once a visitor here in what later became Polk County? Not I! That’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing the heritage articles because I learn as much as the readers do. We are indeed fortunate to have the preserved writing of such great historians as J. D. Clemmer and his daughters, Misses Sudie and Lucy, who faithfully kept his articles and clippings, and filled volumes of scrapbooks with additional genealogy information mostly collected by another great historian, Uncle Billy Harrison. Uncle Billy took his little Blue Horse lined notepads and went door to door and wrote down all the oral history he could get from Polk families. I can just see them sitting in the front porch rockers chewin’ tobacco and spittin’ and talking about their ancestors, their children, who they married, and how they were related to other Polk Folks. Those nineteen little Blue Horse notebooks were ‘borrowed’ by a relative visiting here from Texas who promised to return them – and, of course, never did. Luckily, Miss Sudie and Lucy had copied most, if not all, of the information they contained. I consider that to have been the absolutely greatest resource on Polk County history there was until the current historical hociety gathered over 700 family stories and wrote dozens of topical history article for the Heritage of Polk County published in 1997.

Yep, you’re right, it’s nag time, so get out your little Blue Horse notebook and get busy Preserving YOUR History! We’d love to have a copy for our files at the PCHGS Genealogy library if you would be so kind as to share.

Commission to offer property to Baptist Association

A potential purchase of the Polk County Baptist Association building did not go as planned, and the commissioners are now offering to sell the property to them instead. At the May commission meeting, Building Committee Chairman Buster Lewis said the appraisal for the building was listed at $90,000. All the commissioners agreed that was too high.

Problems with the building currently housing the Election Commission initially prompted the county to seek the Baptist Association building. The building is located on county land, with a lease allowing the Baptist Association to build and operate there. Ryan Potts had approached the board several months ago in the hopes that the county would give them the land; commissioners decided to investigate the value of the building instead.

Election Administrator Steve Gaddis said the Benton office was currently closed and he would move everything to Ducktown in a couple weeks if nothing changed. He said aside from the roof issues, the septic was not working. Steve Lofty said it was his understanding there was no cleanout on the sewer line, which was causing the bathroom issue. Gaddis said they had electrical problems, as well, and that power strips were plugged into power strips.

First District Commissioner Mark Bishop said the county could not afford to give that much money for the Baptist Association building. He said the third floor was open at the courthouse. Bishop also asked about the cost of erecting a metal roof over the Election Commission building.

County Executive Hoyt Firestone said it was his understanding the Baptist Association wanted to sub-lease the building. First District Commissioner John Pippenger said he had heard from people who are afraid if the Baptist Association does not exist in the building, they will exist on paper only.

Third District Commissioner Sheena Gaddis suggested maybe they could offer something lower than $90,000. Pippenger suggested offering to sell them the property for its appraised value of $50,000.

Budget Director Kelley Morgan asked what was wrong with the third floor of the courthouse. She said utilities were already being paid, and it would not cost the county any money.

Register of Deeds Kandi Bramlett asked why the county should buy something when they weren’t taking care of what they had and already had a place the election commission could go. She said all the county offices had the same issues with electricity.

Second District Commissioner Karen Bracken asked if there was an issue with having the election office in the courthouse. Firestone said there was not, and that it used to be in the courthouse.

Sheena Gaddis made a motion to offer the land to the Baptist Association. Pippenger said they needed to check with County Attorney Jimmy Logan to ensure they could do that. Bishop voted against the motion; all others voted in favor.

Polk County, TN School Board hears about bullying

A group of concerned citizens, as well as the family of Jazmine Harris, were on hand at the June 1st School Board meeting. After routine school board business, Paul Moison spoke to the board and Dr. James Jones about the bullying problem.

Moison said he had been sending email correspondence to Jones since March, following the suicide of Patrick Griffin. Moison said he never got a reply, and asked Jones where the urgency to fix the problem was. He said his emails asked what was being done to prevent another suicide. Moison asked if Jones thought Harris’s suicide could have been prevented.

Moison said he did not know either child, but both were in the band and Harris was very hurt by Griffin’s passing. He said both kids were considered “different,” Griffin for being smart and Harris for having crazy-colored hair and nails. He suggested the Basin wasn’t ready for that. Moison asked if the investigation into Griffin’s suicide had been opened back up. He said parents he had spoken to were afraid it would get swept under the rug since the changes were coming at the end of the school year.

“Where is the urgency? What is your obligation to the students,” Moison asked.

Jones said he did not have a comment about any ongoing case because he couldn’t comment. He said he could talk about moving forward, and explained committees were being formed on both sides of the county made up of educators, administrators and parents. (See separate story for full information on bullying policy changes). Jones said they may include students in the committees, as well.

Jones said nothing had been swept under the rug to his knowledge, and nobody wanted kids to be bullied. He said they are planning town meetings with the committees and welcome different ideas.

“We are not a perfect entity,” Jones said. He said he never had classes on bullying or suicide when he was in school, and stressed that they were not trained in suicide counseling.

Jones said he wanted to involve parents more, parents of bullied students as well as those of the bulliers. He said he would never sweep anything under the rug, and that the changes being worked on were not the solution, but just the beginning.

“We are humbled by this,” Jones said.

Jones was asked why it took two deaths for them to make changes. He said he did not have an answer for that.
Angel Harris asked Jones why she never heard back from Jones when she reached out to him. She asked how anything could ever happen if no one was ever a witness to the bullying. Jones said he was not permitted by the lawyers to respond to her specific case, but that situations were harder when there are no witnesses or evidence.
“Is a pattern over two years not good enough,” Harris asked. “And never any witnesses? No pattern? I just don’t understand.”

Jones was told it was easy enough for him to say he could not talk about it, but they had to bury a child.

Moison said he’d been told the cameras in the schools all had wires hanging down from them and did not work. Principal Turner said the vast majority of cameras were working, and that two of them had problems.

Jones encouraged everyone to come to his office, call, or email him to discuss the policy and offer suggestions. He said everything helped, and he wanted to build something from the foundation up.