Recycling matters!

We are blessed in Lawrence County to have residents who embrace recycling and all it means for the Earth . . . and our schools.

Storage buildings in place at every public and private school are open around the clock to receive recyclables from the community. Solid Waste Department staff make regular rounds to collect the cardboard, plastic and paper  deposited in them, and the collections are weighed and tallied each year.


A competition between the schools rewards winners and participants with funds from the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Litter Grant.  County Executive T.R. Williams spent a large part of the day Wednesday, April 20 delivering checks and his personal thanks to every Lawrence County school.

Sacred Heart Loretto collected the most recyclables over the past year and received $2,000. Its total was an impressive 122,560 pounds, or 61.28 tons. The parochial school always does well in the local competition, and has also won statewide recycling contests sponsored by Eastman Kodak.

SACRED HEART LORETTO Principal Tina Neese with County Executive T.R. Williams.
County Executive T.R. Williams with SOUTH LAWRENCE ELEMENTARY Assistant Principal Tammy Smith.

South Lawrence Elementary came in second with a collection of 49.34 tons and won $1,500. Leoma Elementary rounded out a trio of southern Lawrence County winners with 48.22 tons and $1,000 in winnings. Ingram Sowell Elementary placed fourth with 39.61 tons and earned $750. New Prospect Elementary finished fifth with 36.55 tons to win $500.

County Executive T.R. Williams with, left to right, LEOMA ELEMENTARY bookkeeper Angela Cox and principal Kathy Burns.
County Executive T.R. Williams with, left to right, LEOMA ELEMENTARY bookkeeper Angela Cox and principal Kathy Burns.

All other schools received $200 each for their participation. Their collections were:

Lawrenceburg Sacred Heart, 34.25 tons

David Crockett Elementary, 31.05 tons

Summertown Elementary, 27.70 tons

Lawrence County High, 27.31 tons

Ethridge Elementary, 26.91 tons

Summertown High, 24.17 tons

Loretto High, 22.34 tons

E.O. Coffman Middle School, 22.16 tons

Lawrenceburg Public, 21.01 tons, and

Bill Egly Seventh Day Adventist School, 1,120 pounds.

Altogether, these Lawrence County schools’ recycling collections totaled 472.46 tons. That’s not only good for the environment, but saves space in our landfill, which extends its life and saves taxpayer dollars. Recyclables are separated by type and sold, which of course generates funds.

Next time you start to throw away that plastic bottle, box or book, remember that you can use it to help your favorite school. Collect recyclables in the yellow bags that are available at the Solid Waste facility and take them to recycling collection centers at any Lawrence County School, at any time.

County Executive T.R. Williams and Administrative Assistant Carla Williams add newspaper to a recycling program bag.
County Executive T.R. Williams and Administrative Assistant Carla Williams add newspaper to a recycling program bag.




It’s a spring thing

We are blessed in Lawrence County with the arrival of another beautiful spring.

A North Military Avenue lawn is clothed in spring blossoms.
A North Military Avenue lawn is clothed in spring blossoms.

Winter officially ended March 20, but continues to produce a few frosty nights. That’s why gardeners should wait until April 15 to set out tender plants. It’s the “frost date” for this region, which means a killing frost could occur until then. If you can wait a bit longer, the annual Lawrence County Master Gardeners’ Plant sale is set for Saturday, April 30 at the Extension Service on Buffalo Road.IMG_0600

IMG_0593Mother Nature operates on her own calendar, though, so tender shoots and flowers of every kind are bursting out everywhere. From the new, filmy green in our woods to the tulips and daffodils in our lawns, we see her warm-weather work everywhere.IMG_0626

An early Easter ushers in the switch to spring fashions (including white shoes) this Sunday, March 27.  Dogwood blossoms will be making their appearance then, because their branches are heavy with budding promise.IMG_0543

Photos can capture small pieces of spring, but fail to do it justice. The artist David Hockney explains it well: “I had always planned to make a large painting of the early spring, when the first leaves are at the bottom of the trees, and they seem to float in space in a wonderful way. But the arrival of spring can’t be done in one picture.”

At David Crockett State Park




Lawrence County Public Library, Chapter 3

We are blessed in Lawrence County to have two points of access to a great selection of books, magazines, DVDs, audio books, and research materials.

The Loretto branch library offers the same services and materials as the main branch in Lawrenceburg, but on a smaller scale, says Loretto librarian Judy Henkel.

The statue at the front of the Loretto Library was donated by the Loretto Lift-Up Committee.

That’s a perfect way to describe the cozy atmosphere you’ll find at the corner of South Main and Commerce Streets, directly across from M.H. Weathers Park. From the sculpture of two children reading near the front door, the message is warm and clear: book lovers will find a home here.

An impressive children’s collection, adult fiction and nonfiction, a good selection of audiobooks and DVDS are all housed at the branch that was established in 1989 to serve residents of southern Lawrence County. Two computers with internet access are available for public use.

Library patrons have access to two computers and the internet.

Lawrence County’s libraries also operate their own inter-library loan program. You can check for an item’s availability at either library or your home computer – just go to and type the name of the title you want. You’ll get results that show where the item “lives,” Loretto or Lawrenceburg. If the book you want is in Lawrenceburg and you won’t be there soon, it will be delivered to Loretto in just a few days. The same library card can be used at either location.

Remember that the public library is now in the midst of its biannual used book sale, which offers fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, DVDs, audio books, puzzles, vintage books and magazines at great prices. The sale continues through March 5 during regular library hours, and the last day is “bag day,” when you can buy a bag full of items for just $5.

It’s definitely worth the drive from south Lawrence County to the Lawrenceburg sale, but visitors to the Loretto library will find a smaller ongoing sale in its foyer. Hardbacks and paperbacks fill tables to the right and left of the entrance, and can be part of your own library for the bargain price of $1.00 and 50 cents, respectively.

50-cent paperbacks await new homes at the Loretto Library’s ongoing sale.


Sharing the love

We are blessed in Lawrence County with a library where book lovers share their interests and help our youngest residents discover the joy of reading.

Any child under age five can get a free book each month from the Imagination Library. Library Director Teresa Newton says more and more Amish parents are signing their children up for the program as well.

The Friends of the Library group sponsors the “Books for Babies” program that provides a bag of goodies to every newborn at the local hospital. It includes a first book, a handbook for parents about why reading is so important, and suggested titles for children of every age.

An application for the Imagination Library is also tucked inside that bag, making it easy for parents to sign up for the program that delivers a free, age-appropriate book each month to all Tennessee children under age five. If you know a child who isn’t participating, you can get an application at the library any time. The Lawrence County Education Foundation partners with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide those books to local children.

To support this and other projects for library patrons (including a subscription to, the Friends of the Library holds a two-week book sale each spring and fall. The spring event is coming up quickly, set for Saturday, February 20 through Saturday, March 5.

In addition to hardback, paperback, fiction and nonfiction books, the sale offers magazines (only 10 cents apiece!), DVDs, CDs, audiobooks, puzzles, children’s books and a small collection of vintage books. You can make space for new acquisitions by donating items you no longer need – simply drop them by the Library any time.

A portion of the items on sale at last fall’s Friends of the Library book sale. The spring sale is set for February 20 through March 5.

If you enjoy reading you might also like taking part in the Library’s Last Thursday Book Discussion Group, which gathers at Noon on – you guessed it – the last Thursday of each month. Library Director Teresa Newton has about 15 copies of each month’s read on hand for checkout, so you won’t have to worry about finding one. In the spotlight for February is One Mountain Away by Emilie Richards.

Eleven internet-connected computers are available for public use at the Lawrenceburg branch of the library. Eight are for general use and limited to 30 minutes if demand exists. Two, with no time limits, are set aside for job searches and resume development. Another computer in the Lawrence County Room is available for genealogical research. The Friends of the Library funds a subscription to that can be accessed free of charge from that computer.

Weekly Toddler Time is another tool that helps develop a love of reading. Any child age 18 months to three years can attend, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Sessions, held at noon each Thursday, involve reading and interactive play.

The Lawrence County Library will celebrate its 75th anniversary in April. It’s come a long way from 1941, when it was located in rooms above Lawrenceburg’s first City Hall, near downtown on East Gaines Street. In addition to the main branch, there’s a location in Loretto that will be the focus of our next blog post.

The Library offers issues of Lawrence Countys newspapers, the Florence, Alabama Times Daily, Columbias Daily Herald, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. General- and special-interest magazines are available. Back issues of magazines can be checked out for a month at a time.


TOP PHOTO – from the Lawrence County Public Library’s summer reading program, from its Facebook page.

Stock up at the Library

We are blessed in Lawrence County with a library that offers a great collection of items for checkout and a range of services that continues to grow.

Classics and new releases in fiction and non-fiction are part of the Librarys growing collection of audio books. If you havent listened to a good book lately, give it a try. Nothing helps a commute more!
Classics and new releases in fiction and non-fiction are part of the Library’s growing collection of audio books. If you haven’t listened to a good book lately, give it a try. Nothing makes a commute more pleasant!

Are you ready for more wintry weather? You will be if the Library is part of your provision plan – books, DVDs, videos, audio books, and magazines will make hibernation more enjoyable.

If you are new to the library, a staff member can direct you to your favorite genre, or to one of four search stations so you can do a computer-aided search for a particular item. The newest non-fiction and fiction books are displayed in separate cases for easy access. To learn if the collection includes a specific title before you go, search the online catalog at

Four computers are available to search the library's collection.
Four computers are available to search the library’s collection.

A (free) library card is all that’s required to borrow almost anything in the Library’s collection. It also entitles you to request books that aren’t available here – an interlibrary loan program can borrow it for you from another area library, free of charge.

A library card also lets you access the Regional Ebook & Audiobook Download System, R.E.A.D.S., where you can download ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and a growing collection of movies. Simply go to, choose the Lawrence County Public Library, and use the numbers underneath the barcode on your library card as the identification number.



A few videos, including lots of children’s favorites, and a growing number of DVDs, are available to check out for a week at a time.


A section of reference books and local history/genealogy books are not available for checkout so they can be used at any time by residents and visitors. A room is set aside for researchers, with books, local records and a computer that has a subscription to, free for use courtesy of the Friends of the Library.

Speaking of friends, you can look up yours in the library’s collection of local high school annuals. A complete set of LCHS annuals, except the most recent, are available, many from Loretto High School and a few from Summertown. If you have one you’re willing to donate, please contact the library.

Children can browse through a section of books all their own at the Library. Toddler Time, an interactive program for children 18 mos.-3 years, is offered regularly.


To do that, call 931-762-4627 for the Lawrenceburg branch, or 931-853-7323 for the Loretto branch.

Hours at the main branch at 519 East Gaines Street, Lawrenceburg are Monday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Loretto branch is located at 102 South Main Street in Loretto. Hours are Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 6 p.m., Fridays 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To learn more about the Loretto branch and services both libraries offer, look for a new Blessed in Lawrence County post coming very soon!IMG_0030

Helping Hands III

We are blessed in Lawrence County because nineteen years ago, Patricia Olive Hill and her daughter, Sandi Mashburn, started the Santa for Seniors campaign out of their concern for local senior citizens.

That Christmas season they delivered packages containing food, personal care and household items to 17 local seniors.

1916804_963185947053495_3711291890589578422_nThis year, 590 senior citizens received those basic goods plus items based on their specific needs. Sandi, who has carried on the Santa for Seniors program in memory of her mother, works hard to fill special requests for items like walkers, shower chairs, diabetic foods, clothing, pet food, large print books and heaters.

12243519_963185977053492_7740216450378940553_nCollections begin at Thanksgiving. Many local businesses, churches, individuals and clubs have embraced the drive and give hundreds of items, and cash for shopping,  to fill those needs.

Gift bags are assembled at the WLX studio building in Lawrenceburg. A team of volunteers fill brown paper bags for the recipients and personally deliver many of them.

12341095_10153289447326636_8775881171271557969_nTo learn more about the Spirit of Santa, visit its Facebook page.

photos by Amber Staggs and Ben Luna

Helping Hands II

We are blessed in Lawrence County by the Spirit of Santa, a 26-year-old program that helps all Lawrence County children have a wonderful Christmas.

The Lawrenceburg Parks & Recreation Department coordinates the effort that will this year provide gifts of clothing and toys to more than 800 children across the county.  The number of recipients changes each year, and has risen to over 1,000.

Children greet Santa at his arrival (by train) in Lawrenceburg.

Two days of free breakfast events kick off Spirit of Santa fundraising each year. Residents drop off donations of toys, clothing, and cash – this year more than $17,000 in monetary donations alone.

The Mars Hill Baptist Choir was just one group who entertained at the Spirit of Santa breakfast.

Recipient names are submitted by the Department of Human Services, schools and churches. Children and families are asked for clothing sizes and wish lists, and then the wonderful work of shopping begins. Each child receives clothing and toys, which are packaged for families to pick up at the Parks & Recreation office the week of Christmas.

For more information about the Spirit of Santa, call 762-4231.

Top photo: Bicycles donated to the Spirit of Santa by Lawrenceburg Utilities System and its employees.

Photos by Howard ‘HoJo’ Johnston, the Lawrence County Advocate

Helping hands

We are blessed in Lawrence County with organizations that help people in need and generous residents who support them.

God’s Storehouse has evolved from a small food pantry off the Lawrenceburg Square to an agency that provides food and clothing to hundreds every month and limited assistance with utility bills.

Donated food items wait to be packaged at God’s Storehouse food bank.

Between 500 and 600 boxes filled with a variety of food items are given out each month, feeding an estimated 1,200 residents. People in need can also choose items from the clothing bank, which serves about 500 a month.

Donations come from churches, civic groups, businesses and individuals, says Board Chairman Rickey Wade. Some provide regular support and others just one-time gifts, but it all works together to help Lawrence County residents.

There are many ways to assist. God’s Storehouse at 425 Frank Street accepts non-perishable food items, personal hygiene and household products like soap, toothpaste and toilet paper. New and gently used adult and children’s clothes are also accepted there for the clothing bank.

Board Chairman Rev. Rickey Wade at the God’s Storehouse clothing bank.

Another way to help is by giving clothes, household items, furniture and small appliances to the Community Thrift Store, where merchandise is sold and proceeds used to support the work of God’s Storehouse. So yet another way to advance the work of the agency is to shop for bargains at the Columbia Avenue Thrift Store.

Cash donations are accepted and appreciated. Some food must be purchased to help fill up food boxes; most is bought at a discount from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Some clothing, like underwear and socks, are also purchased for the clothing bank. Customers of Lawrenceburg Utilities System can choose to have their bills rounded up to the next dollar and the difference given to God’s Storehouse.

No matter how donations arrive, they all help Lawrence Countians. Manager Pam Clayton is one of just a few paid employees – most work is performed by volunteers. The unpaid board of directors includes Chairman Rickey Wade, Vice Chairman Mike Hunt, Secretary Allyssa Fox, Treasurer Carol Cramer, members Bobby Alford, Delano Benefield, Dr. Norman Henderson, and Alice Quillen. Lawrenceburg Mayor Keith Durham and Lawrence County Executive T.R. Williams are ex-officio members of the board.

Volunteer Regina Kemper takes information from a potential God’s Storehouse recipient. Shown at top are volunteers Carol Belew and Marla Roberts.

For more information about God’s Storehouse, visit or call 766-1265. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays. The Community Thrift Store is located at 115 North Columbia Avenue in Lawrenceburg. Hours to shop or donate items are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

photos by Nancy Brewer


Living history in Appleton

photo by Tom Hill

We are blessed in Lawrence County with opportunities to step into the past at Appleton’s Big Red Store.

One such opportunity occurs this Saturday, December 5, when the owners who refurbished the long-shuttered country store host their annual Christmas event. Doors open, with free admission, at 8 a.m.

brs 2

Bob and Linda Boyd live in a historic home next to the Big Red Store and grew tired of watching the deterioration of the landmark that was closed in the mid-1950s. They along with Alvin and Jackie Fick bought it in 2006 and have restored it as a living museum and a tribute to the community it served.

photo from Lawrence County History Trivia

The Big Red Store was hailed as “the largest country store in the South” when it opened in 1902. Appleton is located in southeast Lawrence County, just north of the Alabama state line. Its cotton gins served farmers in Giles and Lawrence counties and North Alabama, and the three-story store was a testimony to the community’s prosperity.

photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill
brs 3

Customers could buy everything they needed at the Big Red Store. It offered groceries, clothing, hardware, chickens, and wooden caskets.  A tailor, milliner and undertaker plied their trades there; a soda fountain, post office, and drug store were housed under its roof. The local Masonic Lodge even held meetings on its third floor.

Filling the wooden shelves and cabinets today are examples of the items that were sold there, including one child-sized wooden casket. Visitors can also look at old store receipts and scrapbooks full of photos and other memorabilia from the store.

photo from Darrell and Dana Wiley Ball

Visitors this Saturday can attend an 11 a.m. memorial for Union and Confederate soldiers who died at the nearby Battle of Sugar Creek.  The skirmish occurred December 26, 1864, and was the last Civil War battle that took place in Tennessee. Re-enactors will be on hand to recreate the battle after 1 p.m.

Vendors will offer handmade goods for sale at the December 5 event, and steaming bowls of chicken stew and chili will be available. Santa is even scheduled to make an appearance from noon to 1 p.m.

photo by Tom Hill


photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill

Another highlight is music. Talented pickers fill the store and lawn with traditional, toe-tapping sounds; buck dancers and cloggers circle ‘round to join in the fun.  The Boyds and Ficks open the store one Saturday at the start of the Christmas season, and on the Fourth of July. Appleton had a traditional Independence Day celebration for many years that included a community baseball game.

photo by Tom Hill
photo by Tom Hill

The Big Red Store is part of the Appalachian Quilt Block Trail and has been featured on Tennessee Crossroads – watch it at https://www.youtubecom/watch?v=t8csA8uvfUk.
To reach the Big Red Store, turn onto Highway 98 (Rabbit Trail Road) from US. 43 in Leoma. Travel about 12 miles south, turn left on Appleton Road, and travel about 4.5 miles.

Homegrown talent

We are blessed in Lawrence County with a wealth of musical talent.

Events year-round feature homegrown vocal and instrumental abilities. No weekend goes by without a singing at a local church, a bluegrass-country-gospel performance hosted by the Tennessee Valley Jamboree, and/or a concert at the historic Crockett Theatre.

Lawrence County musicians are featured performers at The Summertown Bluegrass Reunion, a festival dedicated to that genre held twice a year.  The Kellys (see more about them below) open each evening performance of the James D. Vaughan quartet festival, which brings the top gospel groups in the country here each July.

Every local church has members who share their gifts only with their lucky congregations.  Most people know at least one shade tree musician who’s willing to gather for an informal jam session anytime, anywhere.  Lawrence County is also home to musicians who have found success far outside our borders.

One recent concert featured local musicians of every type. Band Together II is an annual concert for our three county high school bands, held at the acoustically-perfect Crockett Theatre.

Young musicians who will benefit from the event crowded onstage to kick off the show. They then made way for others who got their start with the Loretto, Summertown, or Lawrence County High School Bands.

TAYLOR CHEATWOOD currently plays with the Huntsville, Alabama-based Emily Joseph Band.

Taylor Cheatwood, for instance, is an LCHS alumnus whose gift for the saxophone ( emerged during his high school years.  He, along with talented local siblings Will Pettus (keyboard) and Lorie Pettus Jones (flute) launched a tribute to Billy Joel that also featured 17-year-old vocalist Jonathan Dewar.




Joining them onstage was The Jeff Quillen Band, named for its excellent rock guitarist/lead singer. The group included bass guitarist Johnny Marston, who has been making music with area bands for decades.  John Marston II is a regular member of the band on drums and vocals; versatile Steve Walker is a vocalist who plays guitar, keyboard, and harmonica.


Stepping out of their usual roles, high school band directors Darrell Boston (Loretto), George Thompson (Summertown) and Aaron Evins (Lawrence County High) helped form a brass section that thrilled their cheering students.

From left: Taylor Cheatwood; Coffman Middle School band teacher Lane Toney; LCHS Band Director Aaron Evins; a Nashville musician who wrote arrangements for the brass section; SHS Band Director George Thompson and LHS Band Director Darrell Boston.

The Kellys rounded out the evening with a touch of Southern Gospel, a nod to Lawrence County’s historical connection to that genre.  The group was formed in 1959 by two brothers and their wives, and is led now by Jon Kelly, who joined in at age 5. Paul Walters sings tenor for The Kellys but tackled lower notes for his spine-tingling rendition of Elvis’s American Trilogy.


Your next best opportunity to see the most local talent on display will be Monday, December 7, when the Lawrence County Oratorio Society opens the holiday season with Christmas Pops. The 7:30 p.m. show is free, but tickets are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis this Saturday, November 21 at the Crockett Theatre box office. The window opens at 10 a.m. to offer a maximum of four tickets to each person as long as they last.

Photos by Howard (HoJo) Johnston, the Lawrence County Advocate