Thursday, January 18, 2018


Marion County Schools & Richard Hardy releasing at noon 1/12/2018


The Marion County TN Schools and the Richard Hardy Special Scholarship District will be releasing school Friday, January 12 at noon in anticipation of inclement weather coming this direction.

IMPROVE act nurtures unintended consequences


The much debated IMPROVE Act that emerged from the Tennessee General Session this year that targeted sustainable infrastructure funding has some smaller municipalities scrambling with the reality that the tax cuts in the bill impact their discretionary spending. Locally, the City of Whitwell has certainly crunched the numbers to discover that the net effect on their budget, as the law stand right now, actually increases the total revenue from the state, but dramatically reduces the discretionary funding.

In the top of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly earlier this year, a Governor Bill Haslam-driven legislation sought to increase and maintain revenue for the state’s aging infrastructure. The IMPROVE (an acronym for Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads, and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy) Act was intended to increase fuel taxes in the state with that additional revenue to be specifically earmarked for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure goals. Suffering a profound blowback from legislators and constituents, the bill was amended to include several tax cuts including sales taxes on food and the complete phase-out of the Hall Tax. The hiccup comes when those tax cuts’ impact on community revenues are calculated end up hurting more than the road money was helping.

State representative Rick Tillis (Diet 92) spoke to the proposed changes to the existing law. Tillis began, “The Hall Tax was a tax on returns of investments, so the legislature has been chipping away at that since 2016. That affects the local cities because they get a percentage.” Tillis went into the proposed fix. “So what Barry Doss is proposing is taking a certain percentage of sales tax and giving it directly to the cities to help replace the tax cuts that the state took away from them. So, we’re reducing taxes, which is good, but we’re looking at ways to replace the tax that the state affected without raising any taxes. The current proposal seeks to divert existing tax revenue from the state sales tax to, at least, soften the blow that some municipalities are taking.” Doss was the sponsor of the original IMPROVE Act as well as the apparent spearhead of the proposed supplemental legislation. Reportedly, Doss’ proposal also includes taking five percent of the current fuel tax allocations and distributing it on an equal basis to municipalities. As it stands today, the total allocation of the gas tax is contingent on a per capita basis. This component seeks to carve a small percentage to be distributed equally between municipalities.

The City of Whitwell explored the impact of the original legislation and learned that the gas tax revenue would yield the city over $16,000 for roads. However, they show that they will lose $15,903 in other funding as a result of the tax reductions incorporated into the IMPROVE Act. Because of the specificity of the use of the gas tax on roads, the net surplus is almost irrelevant because the reduced revenue would have been in discretionary spending for the city.

The official language of the proposal is still being ironed out. Legislators are keeping an eye on the proposal and look to move on it in the bottom of the legislative session which starts in January.

More information on Sequatchie shooting from Monday


Marion County Sheriff Bo Burnett recently released some of the details surrounding the shooting in Sequatchie Monday, January 1.

The victim has been confirmed as Brandon Shrum, 24 years old. Reports indicate that Shrum approached the assailant’s, Johnny Watts, residence on Dancing Fern Road with a shovel in his hand “banging on Mr. Watt’s home yelling threats,” according to Sheriff Burnett. Burnett indicated that Watts fired two warning shots, presumably in the air, in an effort to scare Shrum from the premises. Shrum, apparently, approached Watts with the shovel still in hand. Watts then shot Shrum three times. Shrum was later pronounced dead and his body is being sent for an autopsy.

Burnett confirmed that there were reports filed by Shrum previous to this incident that indicated that Watts and Shrum had already developed a contentious relationship. “Shrum’s girlfriend lived a couple of houses up from Watts and there had been previous reports of Watts following them up to Whitwell and veering towards them on the highway.” Burnett confirmed that no charges have been filed as of Tuesday, January 2. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) had possession of the previous reports involving the two people involved in the shooting.

Though acknowledging the investigation was incomplete, Burnett indicated that it was likely that Watts would face the grand jury in February and “see if they see enough to indict him.”

We’ll be sure and follow this story for more updates.

Whitwell High School Christmas Tournament 2017

Picture royalty and fee free use of one-time use of photo granted for periodicals that do not incl Marion County, TN in their service footprint. Free use contingent on citation "David Riley/Marion County News"

Bredesen enters race for Corker’s U.S. Senate seat


Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has added his name to a crowded field of candidates for the U.S. Senate seat that Bob Corker announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. Bredesen  joins fellow Democrat James Mackler to contest for the DNC primary on August 2, 2018. Bredesen retained the honor fo being the last Democrat to win a statewide office in Tennessee.

Rumors indicating Bredesen could enter the race have been heard since the beginning of November. This was in contradiction to an earlier proclamation from Bredesen himself stating that he would not run. In an email to supporters sent out two hours after news of Bredesen’s candidacy, the Mackler campaign requested contributions to a “rapid response fund.” The email touted Mackler’s military as a contrast to Bredesen as “a career politician who only serves special interests.”

Whichever of the Democrats that emerges from the primary will continue to face an uphill battle as they will have to face the Republican primary winner in what has proven to be a red leaning constituency in the last few elections for state and federal seats. None of Bredesen top campaign members have formally been announced, but many prominent democrats have expressed support for his candidacy.

MCHS men struggle against visiting Rhea County


The Marion County Warriors basketball team returned home Tuesday night after having pulled a victory at CSAS Monday night. Unfortunately, the fate of the hardwood would not favor them as they dropped a matchup to the Rhea County Golden Eagles. With the final score panning out at 72-54, the Warriors were left to appreciate that the defeat was far more palatable than the almost 40 point defeat Rhea handed them when the Warriors visited them earlier in the season

The Golden Eagles would have four players post double digits compared to the Warriors’ Kane Hale standing in the double digits with 21 points. The Warriors team would post another disappointing showing at the free throw line going eight for nineteen. Warrior Toney Sampson would be closed out of the lane early, he would post two three pointers in the first half. However, the Golden Eagles would put MCHS in a pretty deep deficit by halftime with a 47-22 lead.

Hale would emerge in the third as a man on a mission drawing contact and finding himself at the foul line for four shots only able to convert twenty five percent. However, he would post ten points in the quarter and with help from Sampson, Nicq Ivory and Jace Williamson would outscore the Eagles 21-14 in the quarter.

Unfortunately, just as the Warriors starting finding their groove, the damage was already done. The Eagles would hang even with the Warriors in the fourth quarter with each team posting eleven points. So the Warriors are left knowing they have the ability to compete with the Eagles outscoring them 33-25 in the second half, but it proved to be too little too late to overcome the first half deficit. The Warriors will take on Bledsoe County at home on Friday night, December 8 with the women starting off at 6:00 pm central.

Whitwell receives THRIVE 2055/Lynhurst grant


The city of Whitwell received a grant from the Lynhurst Foundation Tuesday morning at a luncheon in Chattanooga. The award was the result of a meeting city officials had with the foundation just last week.

The city is targeting using the grant as seed money towards hosting an annual coal miners heritage festival. The coal industry was integral to both Whitwell and Marion County’s economic development in the top and middle parts of the 20th century.

Be sure and check out the December 12 Jasper Journal for more details on the grant and the plans the city envisions.

JES students shine…with impeccable hair…in Hairspray Jr.

Raising the bar...from behind bars. Many members of the cast of the JES Hairspray Jr. production "doing time" for doing the right thing.
Aubrey Lynn (left) and Cameron Smallwood (right) complemented each other on stage striking the perfect balance of “friend” and “coconspirator.”

Jasper Elementary School music teacher Wesley Brewer has notoriously exceeded expectations for what a “elementary school” performance should look like. Co-directing with Heather Thompson, Brewer has set the bar once again with the school’s presentation of Hairspray Jr. 

Whereas the audience of these types of programs are primed to exhibit more grace than amazement, the cast really turned them around. Easing into the first piece, one generally expects “the one with the chops” to open and carry the rest of the cast through the different numbers. To take nothing away from Aubrey Lynn, who played the lead character, but one found themselves waiting for the other shoe

Kelsea Holland played antagonist Amber Von Tussel with just an ounce of bile less than leaving the audience disliking her character. Nobody could argue her performance was top tier.

to drop in the talent scale…it never does. Through Brett Webb as the cheesy dance show host and Kelsea Holland as the antagonist to Cameron Smallwood who absolutely nailed her role as the lead’s greatest encourager and comic timing, the audience kept finding another talent of note.

“Blessed are the peacemakers…” Lennon Kilgore (in plaid) takes a relatively minor character and really put him on the map portraying Wilbur Turnblad.



Speaking as one who, frankly, was planning on taking a few perfunctory photographs and quietly make my departure, the performance had me engaged from the beginning to the end. My only regret was watching the the last night and not being able to encourage others to go see it.

Daughter and Mom relationships are always a mixed a bag…unless being played by Aubrey Lynn and Bailey Wilson. Wait, they really do look like sisters.
Londyn Sanders proves big things come from little packages as she knocks the portrayal of Inez Stubbs out of the park. Makes the audience forget they’re sitting in an elementary school program.


Pirates getting fired up for gridiron battle with Tigers

Pirates cheerleaders leading the charge to stoke the flames of fandom.

Captivating the emotion that has swept the city all week, Pirates fans came out to “fire up the base” with a community bonfire in anticipation of South Pittsburg High School’s impending contest with the cross county rival, Whitwell High School Tigers. The battle dictates which team will move forward to the semifinals for Division IA.

The two met in the regular season with a single touchdown dividing the winner from the less fortunate. The Pirates’ defense played a pivotal role in getting them the victory for that matchup. With each roster nursing one injury a piece, this rematch, with the highest of stakes in play, will be a battle for the ages.

The Pirate Nation gather…with the advantage of staying PLENTY warm.
The SPHS band helped stir up the Pirate Pride fervor.
What may have started as a modest flicker….

Warriors continue their state championship quest

Jacob Saylors (#8) gains some of his 200-plus yards against Trousdale.

When the Warriors were sitting on a record of 3-5 after being declared the heir apparent in preseason polls for a shot at the state championship, many had decided it was a lost cause. Thanks to their win in the second round of the state playoffs, the Warriors of Marion County High School now sit at a 7-5 record and a ticket to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

Sampson bursts through the line.

Warrior running back Jacob Saylors played the game like he had something to prove. He succeeded with the added benefit of carrying the dreams of the Purple Nation fans on his back. With over 230 yards on 22 carries, Saylors took on the vast majority of the ground game for the Warriors. Brett Nelson would post a respectable 80 yards running and Seth McClain and Jax Rollins would also gain positive yardage for the Tribe.

Kane Hale would followup Saylors’ initial score at the 10:03 mark in the first with a reception and an inspired run after. Hale would literally drag the defender into the end zone with him in order to post the score that helped the Warriors take a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets would come back with a touchdown of their own but failed to execute the point after thanks to an MCHS block, which left the Warrior lead 14-6. Saylors would glide in for another touchdown before the halftime break to go up 20-6.

One constant throughout the game was the Jackets

Seth McClain (#30) earns some hard fought yards up the middle against the Yellow Jackets.

dominated in a statistic you don’t want to lead in: turnovers. With six Jacket turnovers, the Warriors would’ve had to work pretty hard to have lost the game. The Warrior defense had some remarkable plays scattered throughout the game. Brett Nelson and Jacob Saylors would, in addtion to their offensive merit during the matchup, would also both take an interception from the Jacket offense. The Warriors together posted 410 total offensive compared to the Jackets’ 305 yards.

Isaiah Sampson earns rushing yardage.

Warriors quarterback, Isaiah Sampson would once again post yard of his own at 40 yards including a rushing TD. As the Warriors look forward to their quarterfinals matchup against division foe Tyner Academy (who defeated Watertown 33-22 in order to face the Warriors) The 37-28 loss the Warriors suffered at the hands of the Rams of Tyner Academy can serve as the catalyst for avenging the the loss or the albatross that forces mental mistakes by the Warriors.

The Warriors now a boast a more experienced secondary which serve them well against Tyner who has a quarterback that is prone to run. In their first matchup, the Warriors played to prevent the pass and left 6-7 yards on the table a number of times that Tyner got through the line. Today, that would be very different as the defense has had the opportunity to read the offense better and close those lanes faster.

The proof is in the pudding… or on the scoreboard.
Man on mission. Saylors looking for a hole.