Local Stories


Bon Aqua-Lyles Utility District (BALUD) is working with Water Authority of Dickson County (WADC) to develop a plan for serving long-term needs of the area it serves.


The utility has room to grow, with use of about 750,000 gallons a day on its 1.3

Million gallons permit to draw from Piney River, said BALUD Manager Brad Barnes.


Another 1 million a day is available through an agreement with the Dickson utility; the neighboring system supplies about 5 percent of Bon Aqua-Lyles annual usage.

  But things are changing, Barnes said.  “We all know the growth is coming, residential and industrial,” the utility manager said. “We can really tell the growth.”


Barnes said new users are coming on across the system, which runs from Pinewood across to the Williamson and Dickson county lines, with more than 3,700 customers.


More specifically, Barnes said residential growth seems to be picking up from where it left off nearly a decade ago, though not in new subdivisions.  “There were a lot of vacant lots” in several residential developments from that time. “That’s where I can see it starting to fill up now.”


Meeting on July 20, the BALUD board agreed to jointly fund the long-term study. The analysis will include a hydraulic study, which will show how the system’s water flows through its 160 miles of line, identifying areas that need improvements.


Barnes said the study also will take into account anticipated industrial needs—including the so-called Thompson property, on Highway 100 near North Tidwell Road, being studied by the county industrial board for possible purchase.

  “We want to be able to meet the need,” Barnes said.


Meeting July 20, the three member Bon Aqua-Lyles board agreed to share the cost of the study, said board member Mike Capps; work on it will begin in August.


Barnes said the Dickson utility is doing a larger review of its entire system as it prepares to upgrade. The Water Authority of Dickson County also offers sewage treatment services, and has been meeting with Hickman county Officials on that subject regarding the possibility of expanding service in East Hickman area.


Source: Hickman County Times 


Local High School Career Advisors have been tracking 2017 graduates since diplomas were handed out in mid-May—checking on their compliance with admission and financial requirements, making sure they are getting what they need, figuring out what they don’t yet know or have.


Those extra steps are available through both local high schools due to a grant won last year. Career Advisors at both local high schools, whose three-year, state-funded mission is to help emerging graduates get to the next step.


“We let them know that we are available to help them,” said Hickman High School Career Advisor, Amanda Saunders.  At Hickman County High School, Saunders says she has a line on 104 of the 119 who graduated, through exit surveys in May and a statewide texting system that corresponds to a preferred method of communication for these young adults. Of the 104, 27 are ready to go to class, 55 are waiting only on financial aid to flow in and 10 must attend orientation. Only 2 are going directly into the workforce.   That leaves 19 that she hasn’t had contact with this summer. Actually, she says, that’s 13: one who she ran into one day at Sonic, and five others who did not need her assistance.


Career Advisor for East Hickman County High School, Rob Mitchell says he is tracking close to the same; of 131 new graduates, he’s contacted 106. Of those, 69 are ready for class, 19 have a little more to do and 18 are entering the workforce, through military, apprenticeship or entry level jobs.


For Mitchell, there are 25 graduates yet to be found. He’s been searching through parents and other contacts he’s had. It is not easy; some have already left home, and changing phones is not uncommon.


Both advisers say their overriding concern isn’t about enrollment in a university or enlistment in the military—it is whether a young man or young woman has a career path they know how to follow. Saunders and Mitchell can help establish that, but there has to be contact made.


“I’ve stayed late several nights,” said Mitchell, helping a student find some direction.


Without those discussions, skill certifications and diplomas may not materialize.


Recent data from Tennessee Promise about the combined Class of 2015 graduates here sheds some light on that:  Though 62 percent of graduates—163 out of 263—enrolled in some form of post-secondary education, only 100 of them were still there a year later. That is 61 percent, compared to the statewide average of 70 percent who made it to their second year. The other 63, or 39 percent, apparently dropped out.


Specific to Tennessee Promise 93 students from the combined Class of 2015 enrolled in the free aid program. A year later, only 52 remained, or 56 percent. The state average was 66 percent.


Saunders and Mitchell are dealing mainly with the most recent high school graduates, though it will be a little while to see if their effort will make a difference. Mitchell says the college adviser effort includes bringing the parents more directly into the career-planning discussion; he sent a letter to the Class of 2218 parents—the incoming seniors—in June.


“Even though they will never ask for it, they really need your support, encouragement and help,” he wrote; Saunders is preparing a similar letter.

  Saunders says the work with the new senior class will focus on FAFSA completion. Tennessee Promise enrollment and making applications to the schools they wish to be attending a year from now.


Saunders says a You-science.com assessment tool will help a student establish direction. Mitchell said juniors and seniors will take the ASVAB battery this coming year, including an interest assessment, to help narrow their interest.

  He is complimentary of a tool already in use here that will, with the Class of 2019, produce its first graduates; the freshman-level Career Orientation class, a nine-week immersion on possible careers, plus instruction on how to reach those possibilities and what is required to get there.


“That gets them started,” Mitchell said.

  For now, both college advisers are dialing phone, looking for students who have gotten away, helping those who need some additional support to find a career direction and how to get there.

  Both career advisors have offices in their respective high schools and are available for discussion during regular business hours.


Source: Hickman County Times


The Sam Davis Lodge of the Knights of Pythias has donated $1,000 to the Hickman County Imagination Library.  Check was presented by Rob Mitchell to the Hickman County Imagination Library chairman David Dansby. The contribution is an annual donation. 


Over 990 books a month are sent to preschoolers in Hickman County, the local program is an affiliate of the Governors Books from Birth Foundation.


If you are interested in making a contribution to the Hickman County Imagination Library or for more information about the program, contact David Dansby at the Hickman County Library 931-729-5130.


Source: Hickman County Times 


  Part blessing, part thank-you and part open house, a ceremony to mark the completion of construction on Saint Thomas Hickman Hospital’s new Behavioral Health Services clinic drew a proud crowd of supporters to the site last Wednesday morning.

  The $1.25-million facility—it opens on July 17, said manager Jennifer Harris—offers care, treatment and support for persons with behavioral and mental health issues. The need has been established through community assessments by the hospital, and a groundswell of support that produced donations of $160,000 during a fundraiser in the fall of 2015.

  “I know of no other examples in the state of communities that have come together like this,” said Jack Keller, the local hospital’s chief executive.

  Parent Saint Thomas Health, which is owned by Ascension, provided the bulk of the necessary funding. They form a financial umbrella over the Centerville hospital, nursing home, home health, clinic and now behavioral health complex—protecting its ability to operate in the face of diminished government support and charity care that has been as high as $3 million in a single year, with no one turned away.

  Keller said the local financial support is, to him, a model of support for local healthcare if it is to survive.

  “More and more of these endeavors will be required,” he said, in the face of dwindling federal reimbursement that, in Tennessee, still leaves 250,000 persons without insurance coverage. Discussions about healthcare in Congress, Keller said, “are just not getting us there.”

  A new local funding campaign is planned this fall, to raise funds for major medical equipment, again with Saint Thomas health expensed to supplement the community[‘s contributions by supplying most of the needed dollars.

  The newest Saint Thomas Hickman facility replaces and expands what had been the Senior Care mobile unit located behind the hospital. An addition to the doctor’s clinic, the Behavioral Health Services clinic includes five offices, a conference room and the Hickman charitable Pharmacy, which provides free medications to those in need.

  Harris said it is not yet up and running.

  The clinic itself brings together services that already are being provided in some form, including:

  The Senior Care program, offering support and help on an outpatient basis, including psychiatric care. Valerie Votaw, a licensed clinical social worker, and Harris oversee it.

  The Alzheimer’s Support Group, which meets monthly and is open to patients and those who care for them.

  Therapy and counseling behavioral and mental health issues. Votaw serves this program which began in September and sees patients from ages 5 and up. No referral is needed, Harris said.

  Psychiatric medication management, which also began last year with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Noell Dupont, who visits one day a week and may prescribe, though under supervision of a psychiatrist.

  New, Harris said, will be the Hickman Charitable Pharmacy; it must meet various government approvals before it can open; there is not a timetable, she said. Free medication comes from entities who participate by donating medicine that is nearing its expiration date and otherwise would be discarded.

  The ceremony included holy-water blessings of the building by Saint Thomas Health Spiritual Care Director Ward Carver; prayers for the clinic, its staff and the community.

  In her remarks, Harris traced the growing need for mental and behavioral health services back before 2000, to the old Family counseling and Mental Health Center, then the establishment of Senior Care and the growing number of mental-health cases being seen in emergency rooms.

  A spike in suicides, in 2003, gained local awareness, plus help from the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network in establishing a local task force; then training for teachers and community, plus depression screenings and an expansion of services for National Guardsmen who returned from the Gulf War and jail inmates.

  “We could no longer hope it would go away,” said Harris, who has chaired both the local and statewide suicide awareness groups.

  In addition, Centerstone—a regional provider—has seen its mobile crisis unit evolve into the same service provided by telemedicine, in the hospital, providing quicker response. Three Rivers Community in Lyles has been established, as has Reflections Counseling and other providers—and the suicide task force now deals with behavioral issues, as well.

“It’s been a very long journey,” said Kevin Campbell, the hospital nursing home administrator and the hospital’s director of support services.


Source: Hickman County Times 


While Hickman County’s unemployment rate is at a 44-year low, local jobs remain available—but applicants must have the right set of skills to qualify for them.


“We have a very good workforce in Hickman County, but we do not have a technically certified workforce,” says Rob Mitchell, who was jobs specialist here for several years before becoming East Hickman High’s college adviser.


Mitchell said last week that the 2.6 percent unemployment rate listed here in May is offset by 131 local jobs, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Some of those jobs are connected to organizations such as the Tennessee National Guard, but the majority are connected to private employer positions requiring post-secondary certification. Many are in the medical field and other at a technical level in industries.”


Those certifications are at the heart of two recent training programs; Tennessee Promise, for emerging high school students, and Tennessee Reconnect, for adults who want to complete a college-level degree or certification. The latter program is just now being rolled out here, through Columbia State; visit www.tnRecconect.gov to find out more.


“You can get a job,” says Jan McKeel, executive director of the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance. “It may not be the job you necessarily want, because you may be missing a skill.”  McKeel has been overseeing workforce development issues in this region for 26 years, and the need for training is a challenge in the eight counties she’s focused on—not just Hickman.  The Promise and Reconnect Programs are critical components to overcoming not only employer needs for skilled workers as well as making sure that incoming industries can fill their labor needs.   “This is something that we have to think about,” McKeel said. “You don’t ever want to be at the place where employers can’t get people hired.”  “We are in the type of economy now where it is life-long learning,” said McKeel. “I’m taking any type of training – TCAT, 4-year, industry certification. The time to get ready is before the jobs are there.”

Brenda Brock, executive director of the Hickman County Economic and Community Development Association, says part of her work is spending time with employers to help overcome such challenges.  “We will need to understand what skills our local employers need now and what they predict they will need in the future,” she says. “We need to bring partners to the table often, to address the workforce issue—our K-12 schools, TCAT’s, state college in this area and our industries are key to those discussions, as well as looking at and understanding the jobs and industries as a region.”  An effort to gather industrial employers together to discuss this in September is in the works. Brock said.


  “We need to understand the barriers for our high school graduates and our folks that work out of the county that want to need to learn new skills to stay employable or to advance in their employment, “Brock said.  Adults who want training are challenged by the time squeeze, especially when they already are working and raising families; child care and transportation are just two of those. Brock said local night classes are one approach. 


“Making sure we have internet so they can do their studies from wherever,” said McKeel.

Rising employment can help raise wages, making industries complete for workers. The trend more sharply defines the need for training.   “It’s one of those things we as a workforce board…..we push and push and push for folds to get additional skills,” the regional executive said.


Of course, a major part of Brock’s job is pursing potential new employers, so the skills issue is high on the list. The challenge is especially difficult in Hickman County, where as much as 80 percent of local workers commute out of Hickman for their work. Depending on the type of industry recruited, encouraging some of those folks to come home can strengthen the local economy.  “To lure any of our folks home to work, we will need to attract industries that pay at least $16 an hour.” Brock said. “Fifty percent of the 80 percent population that is driving outside are making $20 plus an hour.” Attracting new workers here, Brock says, also means new housing developments will be needed in East Hickman and Centerville, as well as apartment developments in Bon Aqua and Lyles.


“Multi-use development would be great in Bon Aqua to lure millennials here that want to live-work-play here,” she said. “This could be spurred on by positive talks of incorporation.”

  In the region, population growth has be sufficient to offset the demands on the workforce—allowing companies to establish and grow.


In Hickman County’s case, the number of unemployed persons is shrinking—280 in May, down from 490 a year ago—but the key, McKeel said, is whether the total available labor force continues to grow. Here? 10,890 persons in May, compared to 10,640 last July.   “To sustain the job growth, we have to have them moving into the area.” She said. “I think that’s one of the special things that is going on in Middle Tennessee.”


Members of the chamber’s Business-Education Council, which has been meeting for five years to better align the schools with career needs, holds its annual brainstorm event on August 1, 2017, at 8 am at East Hickman High School.


Source: Hickman County Times


Sole Supports, Inc., is a privately owned small business concern located in Lyles, TN, a historically underutilized business zone. The business was incorporated under the name of Sole Supports, Inc., in 1992, and it has been a thriving Hickman County business ever since.

Dr. GlaserDr. Edward Glaser started the business in his garage in Fairview, Tennessee, in the late 1980s where he and his partner made pairs of orthotics for individual patients by hand, one at a time. The business grew and eventually six employees worked in the garage location. From his garage, Dr. Glaser moved the operation into a re-purposed chicken coop in Bon Aqua, Tennessee, complete with a composting toilet in 1998. Four thousand square feet of the coop was re-purposed to house Sole Support's expanding operations.What Are Sole 'supports

Eventually, twenty-six employees worked at the chicken coop location in Bon Aqua. After only two years in the new Bon Aqua location, growth required another move. Dr. Glaser took out an SBA loan to help finance the expansion of the business. With the help of the local First Farmers and Merchants Bank as well as the Hickman County Industrial Development Board, Sole Supports was able to find a parcel of land and break ground on their new location on Highway 7 in Lyles, Tennessee. The original building was 15,000 square feet. The space has since been expanded with the addition of another 15,000 square feet of plant/warehouse space as well as a 5000 square feet of office space onto the front of the original structure and 4,000 square feet on the second floor that houses offices and a video studio complete with green screens that produces diagnosis education videos along with training videos for providers and their staffs.

 From its humble beginnings, Sole Supports, Inc. has grown to a $8 million dollar company and become the largest manufacturing employer in Hickman County, employing 100 people and doing business across the United States and the world. A large international distribution deal in the offing hopes to expand its reach even further. Sole Supports now produces approximately 6000 pairs of fully custom MASS Posture orthotics per month.


Accurate Energetic Systems produces high-quality explosive products used in demolition, construction, military, and other areas.

AES is a US-based independent small business for Load Assembly Pack, Melt-Pour and specialty High Explosive Pellets. AES can perform cradle to grave manufacturing of high explosive formulations, melt-pour, demolition products for the Defense and Aerospace and commercial markets. AES is situated on a 1300 acre site, with full laboratory and test range capability.


A wide variety of bulk explosives are processed at AES for Military and Commercial applications. All military bulk explosive products are processed to Mil-Spec standards. Commercial bulk explosives are custom made for specific applications in the Oil and Gas Industry. » Learn More


A testament of AES's technical diversity is best evaluated by the variety of products which are fabricated. These products include the Load Assembly & Pack and pressed fabricated explosives. The facility is equipped with state of the art equipment to manufacture LSC, conical shaped charges, pressed high explosive pellets/boosters, Defense and Aerospace specialty products, as well as Load Assembly & Pack of severance, breaching and destruct charges. » Learn More


Our capabilities extend to specialty explosives products including representative charges for IED testing, metal clad detonating cord, severance charges, destruct charges, seismic charges and innovative breaching charges.

AES is a US-based independent small business for Load Assembly Pack, Melt-Pour and specialty High Explosive Pellets. AES can perform cradle to grave manufacturing of high explosive formulations, melt-pour, demolition products for the Defense and Aerospace and commercial markets. AES is situated on a 1300 acre site, with full laboratory and test range capability.


The Town of Centerville has won a $310,650 state grant to make its 49-acre industrial property at Shipp’s Bend “shovel ready and attractive to industry prospects,” according to a May 9 announcement by Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd.

Mayor Gary Jacobs said the funding will allow creation of an access road from Atys Way, extension of a sewer line between the industrial property and the Agrana Fruit US station, and a reroute of Broome Lane for local residents. “I was very pleased,” he told aldermen last Tuesday. “The town is looking to improve our industrial base and the business base.”

Aldermen will be asked to contribute a 5 percent share -- or $16,350 -- to what will be a $327,000 project when the board meets on May 24.

The grant is part of the Select Tennessee Site Development program, a state initiative to encourage local governments to bring infrastructure for their available properties up the full preparation. The Shipp’s Bend site is not in the program yet, though Jacobs said this grant may make that a foregone conclusion. The mayor, who has submitted more than 70 documents toward that certification, and Vision Hickman Executive Director Brenda Pfeiffer presented the grant application to a panel of state economic officials last month.

Jacobs said Centerville was chosen for a share of $6 million in available funds; a total of $9 million was applied for by various communities. “This was competitive,” he told aldermen.


Business Education Council
July 26, 2016 Brainstorm Session
East Hickman High School

Five of us joined teachers and administrators at EHHS on July 26 for the third Brainstorm. Following here is a summary of areas covered.

 1. Review of school board's new five-year plan, which had added a career focus K-12. No specifics picked out of it for us to focus on at this point; we may be called on to respond. One guidance counselor, Beth Copley at Centerville elementary, is seeking info. from business people in the community about their jobs, even before school starts.

 2. Field trips: a familiar list will be pursued, including UT Martin (J. Turpin will connect with C. Deal); Saint Thomas Midtown (C. Pisane); Tennessee State (D. Bradley); CSCC/TCAT-H ( ); F-HU Dickson/Nashville State (); Nissan (T. Wilkes). A contact with GM in Spring Hill is being sought. other ideas welcome. Trying to do as many as we can during the fall semester. Vision Hickman is making funding available to defray some travel costs. Career-Technical instructors went to Northfield workforce Training Center after our meeting.

 3. Guest speakers: We will do better this year. Discussion focused on interview habits and "dressing for success" as Becky Cude put it; will attempt to get Theatre classes to present do's and don't of interviews, as was presented two years ago. Asked the Career Opportunities instructors to submit guest speaker needs for their classes.. We are shooting at the Focus Time/Eagle Time part of the high school day for these assemblies, which is about 1 p.m., for half an hour. Will work on a regular weekly schedule and report to you. If you know of a speaker, please let Jennifer T. or Don Q. know

 4. Supt. Michelle Gilbert was with us, pointing to the  2021 goal of an average composite ACT score of 21; we're in the 18s. this will require rigor and port. "I think the conversations in our high schools have already changed," she said.

5. Don Q. said additional dual enrollment opportunities are being sought, and a better connection with CSCC may be the way. Cindy Morgan said there are some simpler certifications, such as Microsoft word, that could be completed in high school; let's seek these out. Relationships will allow success to build here.

 6. Next meeting is Tuesday, August 16 at 345 at HCHS. Submissions of guest speakers or field trip destinations by then would be helpful.

 The following is a letter I wrote today -- in support of a grant project at EHHS -- that provides a good summary of the Business-Education Council's work. I offer it as a way to say "thanks" for your involvement in helping more of our students find their way toward careers.

July 29, 2016


Stacia Anglin, Counselor
East Hickman High School
7700 Highway 7
Lyles, TN


Dear Stacia,

 The Business-Education Council of the Hickman County Chamber of Commerce has worked alongside East Hickman High School for the last three years on a single effort: Devise and implement ways to help students find successful career paths and learn what it will take to get there.

 Our members – business people, retirees and citizens working with teachers and school administrators – have built a series of annual field trips that carry students to places like the University of Tennessee at Martin, Nissan at Smyrna and area Tennessee College of Applied Technology institutions to give them a first-hand look at the next steps that are available.

 We have coordinated visits by guest speakers from this community in a variety of fields, from law enforcement to banking, so juniors and seniors can get closer to real-world work opportunities. We have played our parts on mock job interview panels and continue to build job shadowing opportunities.

 We have become the sponsoring organization for the Tennessee Promise mentoring program in Hickman County. Through our connection with Nissan, we have encouraged development of a Mechatronics program that, this year for the first time, helped 10 EHHS students earn dual-enrollment credit.

 We have convinced the Board of Education to add a fifth high-school-level guidance counselor, who focuses on college and career; we have developed and won adoption of a K-12 guidance curriculum that encourages career awareness activities from the earliest level; we have pushed for inclusion of career awareness components in the school board’s five-year plan. We have encouraged ability and aptitude assessments beginning in the eighth grade, and have supported the establishment of a Career Opportunities course for high school freshmen that requires them to use technology to look into careers in which they are interested.

 This past year, we learned that the college-going rate in Hickman County – we have two high schools – jumped from the traditional 40-percent level, last measured for the 2014 graduates, to 62 percent for the Class of 2015. Only four other Tennessee counties showed greater improvement.

 The Business-Education Council has pushed for an awareness that success requires more than a high school diploma. Working with Advise TN can only enhance that effort, and we welcome its involvement in raising the level of success for our students as they emerge into adulthood.


Hickman County Business Education Council

Cc: Don Qualls, co-chair


The mission of the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation is to build a foundation for reading and learning through books for Tennessee's children. Our program sustains and strengthens Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in all 95 Tennessee counties, ensuring that new, age-appropriate books are mailed once a month to Tennessee's preschool children, at no cost to families and regardless of income.

Dear Hickman County Imagination Library,

Thank you so much for your dedication and service to making this mission a reality for the children of Tennessee. Because of your hard work and efforts in your community, we have been able to give the gift of books to hundreds of thousands of families across the state. This organization is successful and thriving because of you.

Since July 2015, Hickman County has:

  • Enrolled 285 new children
  • Increased your enrollment percentage from 50.32% to 55.80%
  • Delivered 9,623 total books

The work you are doing to maintain and grow in Hickman County is incredible. We are grateful to have you as a part of this team. 

For the fourth year in a row, Governor’s Books from Birth has been able to secure a grant from the Maddox Family Foundation. This year your county will be awarded $1,500. Congratulations!

Due to changes in the way we report outcomes to the Maddox Family Foundation, we will need your help collecting data throughout the year. Abby Robinson, the newest member of the Governor’s Books from Birth team, will be in touch later this week with details about the information we will need and questions to help guide those answers. Please know that both she and I are available and want to help you as you answer these questions and plan for the next year.

Don’t hesitate to let me know how we can be helpful. We are so thankful for you!

All the best,

Theresa Carl, President
Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation

A Partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
Tennessee Tower, 9th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243