In the first year of its existence, The Butterfly Foundation gave grants totaling about three thousand dollars to local families who had children with life-threatening conditions to help with the financial costs of travel and hospital stays. Founder Dean Stegall said, “I thought that this was as good as it could get.” Little did she and the Stegall family know the impact the Foundation begun in memory of Ryleigh Meree Stegall would have not only in Wayne County but also on families in the surrounding counties. As of September 1, 2022, the Foundation reached the landmark amount of $1,000,845 being raised and used to assist the families of 370 children. The Butterfly Foundation said that they could not help the families they serve without tremendous support through monetary donations, volunteering hours to help with their projects, and prayers for them and the families they serve from their loyal supporters.
Old Timers’ Day 2022 in Collinwood on Saturday, September 3, 2022, brought big crowds, featuring more vendors and shoppers than ever before. James & Sherline Morris were Grand Marshals for the annual Old Timer’s Day Parade, and activities in Ralph Hughes Park provided entertainment for the rest of the day. It was a wonderful day of community togetherness, and the weather was great.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation presented Wayne County Solid Waste Director Robert Hayes and Assistant Director Lindsay Ross the prestigious 2022 Government Recycler of the Year award at the 2022 Tennessee Recycling and Environmental Conference. The Wayne County Solid Waste/Recycling facility employees work diligently every day, processing and baling recyclable material, then selling the commodity to bring much needed revenue for Wayne County. Director Robert Hayes stated, “The employees at Wayne County Solid Waste/Recycling do an excellent job of delivering the highest quality of recyclable material to the market. But none of this could have been accomplished without the residents and businesses of the county providing us with the material to process.”
Sergeant David Brown, originally of Clifton, was honored in a full military honors ceremony on Saturday, September 10th, 2022. The ceremony was held to dedicate the Clifton Riverfront Park in honor of Sgt. Brown. Per Sgt. Brown’s family’s sworn account, David Brown was born in a tent at the Ross Creek Inlet on the Tennessee River, which is located within the Clifton Riverfront Park. In his early years, David Brown attended Frank Hughes School in Clifton and was known throughout northern Wayne and Hardin County. Known as the “Barefoot Soldier from Tennessee,” Sgt. Brown had already served proudly in the Vietnam War, and the day he was supposed to fly home, he volunteered to stay and ended up saving the lives of most of Lima Company’s Marines. Sgt. Brown was mortally wounded in the attack after inflicting devastating casualties upon the assaulting enemy force. The late Sgt. David Brown has been recommended by many for the Congressional Medal of Honor.
On Saturday, September 10, 2022, the Clifton Rotary Club hosted the 40th annual Horseshoe Bend Festival at the new stage in Clifton, across from the City Park. Crowds enjoyed a day packed with fun while enjoying a view of the beautiful Tennessee river. Activities included craft vendors, hot air balloon rides, face painting, bouncy houses, Star Wars characters, a variety of food vendors, and amazing entertainment.
The Wayne County Cross Country Team, made up of students from WCHS, WMS, CHS, and CMS, was very busy during fall 2022, competing in several running meets. Although Cross Country has not yet reached the popularity level of some of the other school sports in Wayne County, our Cross Country team is made up of some great Wayne County students and will hopefully continue to grow in participation in coming seasons.
The 2022 Pumpkin Harvest Festival, which was held on the square once again as it was years ago, was a big success on Saturday, September 17. Vendors and businesses were set up all around the square to peddle their wares, including all kinds of delicious food, seasonal crafts, and of course, pumpkins! There was a classic car exhibition, a bouncy house for the kiddos, and even an opportunity to adopt a pet.
The Frank Hughes High School Golf Team finished out the month of September 2022 by ranking fifth out of seven schools in the district. It was a great season for the team!
When White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in 2020 that living with the coronavirus was going to be our new normal, he meant it. “We’re not going to eradicate the virus from the face of the Earth,” said Fauci. “I don’t believe we’re even going to eliminate it from this country to the tune of getting zero cases.” Dr. Fauci’s words seemed to ring true as we continued to face many COVID cases in 2022. In October 2022, updated COVID booster shots became available at the Wayne County Health Department (WCHD). “Vaccination remains the best protection we have against COVID-19,” said WCHD Director Devin Ezell. “Anyone eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including the updated booster dose, should do so.”
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle Groups from Wayne County hosted their annual Fields of Faith event on Sunday, October 2, 2022, at Pat Brewer Stadium in Collinwood. The event was once again a big success, bringing blessings to all who attended.
The Waynesboro Middle School Wildcats faced off against the Collinwood Middle School Trojans on Thursday, October 6, 2022. The Wildcats defeated the Trojans by a score of 26-8, putting the Wildcats into the Conference Championship on Thursday, October 13, 2022. The Wildcats were defeated in the championship game by the Summertown Eagles, falling by a score of 38-6. All of our Wayne County football teams enjoyed great seasons in 2022!
A residential fire at 104 Mink Branch Acres Drive in Waynesboro rendered the structure a total loss on Tuesday, October 18, 2022. The source of the fire was classified as unintentional, but the home was unfortunately declared a total loss. The smoke detector in the home was marked as inoperable due to old batteries.
On Monday, October 24, 2022, a Wayne Medical Center ambulance transporting a patient from the hospital in Waynesboro to Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia was involved in a serious traffic accident, drawing attention, prayers, and concern for the occupants. The wreck occurred on the U.S. Highway 43 bypass near Oakland Parkway. One or more occupants of the ambulance reportedly sustained injuries. Those injured are continuing to recover from their injuries.
Harlen Ray Daniel, age 84, of Collinwood, died tragically on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, following an automobile accident that may have been the result of a medical emergency. Mr. Daniel was traveling southbound on Highway 13 inside the Collinwood city limits near the Collinwood Apartments when witnesses observed that he suddenly veered across the center line, striking a vehicle driven by Tyler Durham before exiting the roadway and coming to a rest next to a light pole. Emergency personnel performed CPR on Mr. Daniel until an ambulance arrived on the scene and transported Mr. Daniel to Wayne Medical Center, where they pronounced that he was deceased. Both the driver and passenger of the other vehicle were treated at area medical facilities.
Waynesboro, Collinwood, and Clifton all enjoyed Halloween activities for the kids! Clifton’s Trunk-or-Treat was first, held on Saturday, October 29, 2022. Lots of cute and spooky kids came out to participate in the festivities. Collinwood and Waynesboro both held activities on Monday, October 31, 2022. Waynesboro’s 1st Annual Spooktacular was a big success with trunk-or-treating and storefront trick-or-treating. Collinwood held a Community Halloween, offering vendor booths and trunk-or-treating. Halloween was really a spooky and fun success in Wayne County in 2022!
U.S. Congressman Mark Green made a stop in Wayne County on Wednesday, November 2, and conducted a town hall-style meeting at the Wayne County Administrative Building with local leaders, business people, veterans, and other constituents in the district. Congressman Green told the audience that the greatest challenge facing Americans today is the divide in our country. He said that Americans are too busy hating one another over political disagreements, and that relationships between the political parties must be built in order to put our country back together. Congressman Green took questions from the audience after his initial remarks, with veterans in attendance asking about the current pharmacy issues. Congressman Green said, “This decision (for thousands of independent and community pharmacies to leave the Tricare pharmacy network) directly impacts veterans from coast to coast, but it hurts rural Tennesseans especially hard. My constituents in Wayne County are now forced to travel upwards of sixty miles—often across state lines—to access their prescriptions at other pharmacies. This is detrimental to elderly veterans and those who do not have access to transportation. This matter deserves urgency from the Pentagon—our veterans cannot wait.”
The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce held their annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday, November 3, 2022, at the Waynesboro Church of Christ gymnasium building. The theme for this year’s event was “Yellowstone,” in honor of the tremendously popular television show of the same name. Attendees came dressed in their best western attire, and everyone had a great time! Among the honors was the Memorial Recognition Award, presented to the family of the late Lloyd Howell in his honor. Mr. Howell was among the original organizers of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and became the first official President of the Chamber.
A wildfire broke out in the area of the Silver Pines Mobile Home Park in Waynesboro on Friday, November 4, 2022, advancing from the area of Elgie Dugger Road in a northern direction toward the park. Driven by strong southerly winds, the fire placed one residence behind the mobile home park in peril before TN Forestry bulldozers were able to quickly construct containment lines around the fire. The residents of the home were evacuated in an abundance of caution as the fire neared the home. No residents of the mobile home park were evacuated. Fire officials continue to encourage anyone who lives in a forested or semi-forested area to use this wildfire as an example of the importance of clearing and cleaning debris such as leaves and fallen brush away from residences often.
Wayne County voters turned out in moderate numbers on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, to cast their votes in the County, State, & Federal Election. Incumbent Governor of Tennessee Bill Lee was voted to be our Tennessee Governor for the next four years. Republican Kip Capley won the 71st District seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives, filling the seat of retiring Representative David “Coach” Byrd. U.S. Representative Mark Green was able to hold onto his seat in the United States Congress. Two seats on the Collinwood City Commission were filled by Shaundale Hanback and Kimberly McFall. The three seats on the ballot for the Clifton City Commission were filled by Jeff Letson, Michael Francis, and Tammy Prince.
The annual Veterans Day Ceremony honoring Wayne County’s own beloved veterans was held at the Collinwood High School gymnasium on Friday, November 11, 2022. The Collinwood American Legion Post 254 hosted the event, which included recognition of veterans by their branches of service. Collinwood High School students presented the first part of the program, followed by Collinwood Elementary School’s presentation. Collinwood Middle School then provided lunch for the veterans following the program. Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day,” proclaimed by President Wilson in 1919. The day eventually became “Veterans Day” after legislation passed in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The importance of Veterans Day continues to be a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Discussion concerning the fate of Wayne Medical Center (WMC) began in earnest during the month of November 2022. A special session of the Wayne County Commission was called on November 15, and many doctors, nurses, and other personnel that work at Wayne Medical Center (for Maury Regional) were in the audience, along with various city officials from Waynesboro, Collinwood, and Clifton. Officials from Maury Regional, along with the Wold Engineering Firm, explained the current deficiencies of the 60-year-old building, and CEO of Wayne Medical Center, Tyler Taylor, explained the options that would ensure Maury Regional’s continuation of ownership of the facility’s operations. In order to keep and even improve Medicare reimbursement for services at the facility, Mr. Taylor said that the construction of a new hospital in the geographical center of the county would bring the status of the hospital up to “Emergency Access.” This status would give the hospital the ability to both continue and improve the services offered while increasing Medicare reimbursement. Discussion has continued since then at meetings of the county Budget Committee, and it seems that some are in favor of the construction of a new facility at the Wayne County Industrial Park, while others would like to see the current facility renovated.
The Christmas spirit jumped into high gear after Thanksgiving, and the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce kicked off the county’s festivities with the annual Festival of Trees at the Wayne County Administrative Building. Local businesses, organizations, and churches decorated gorgeous Christmas trees for the public to view and enjoy. The Wonderland of Trees at the Wayne County Welcome Center in Collinwood, sponsored by the Collinwood Beautification Board, turned the Welcome Center into a Christmas wonderland, with trees decorated by local businesses, organizations, and churches as well.
December brought plenty of Christmas festivities in the traditional but ever-improving way. The first parade of the season was Waynesboro’s Rotary Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 3, 2023. The rain left town just in time for all the activities to begin, and after the sun went down, the night sky was lit by all the beautiful floats and vehicles. Clifton’s Stroll Through Christmas was next, taking place on Saturday, December 10. Main Street was beautifully decorated once again, with Christmas lights and candles illuminating the historic facades. Collinwood held their first ever nighttime parade on Saturday, December 10. The event was a big success, with all the floats and decorations sparkling and shining in a whole new way.
The dedicated volunteers for the Angel Tree program in Wayne County organized another hugely successful event in 2022. Program Director Amy Van Fleet said that almost 500 children in Wayne County were blessed with a full Christmas, thanks to the Angel Tree! “This is what it is all about,” said Van Fleet as she looked around at the many presents ready to go to local children. “This would not be possible without our shoppers, donations, people taking our Angels, and supporting our fundraisers,” Van Fleet continued. “Think of all the smiles on Christmas morning!”
The days leading up to Christmas brought freezing temperatures to Wayne County, with actual temperatures dropping down into the single digits and wind chill factors below zero beginning on the day before Christmas Eve. Despite everyone’s best efforts, many experienced frozen and burst water pipes. The City of Waynesboro Maintenance Department reported that they had worked on four major water line breaks as of Monday, December 26. The former Lincoln Brass building, which is now owned by the City of Waynesboro, experienced flooding when a sprinkler head broke and water sprayed uncontained for several hours before it was discovered. Boyd Cottages Assisted Living was not spared the difficulty of frozen and burst pipes when on Sunday, Christmas Day, Boyd Cottages Director Gina Skelton got a phone call telling her that pipes were frozen and burst at the facility. Employees of Boyd Cottages, along with many awesome volunteers, worked hard throughout the day to get the mess cleaned up and making sure the residents were safe. Ms. Skelton said that many people brought bottled water to the facility, which was greatly appreciated as well. Both cold and hot water were restored to the facility by Friday, December 30, but many of the residents had to go home with family members until the water was fixed. The cold temperatures also forced TVEC to have “rolling blackouts” on Christmas Eve, where power was shut off for 15 minutes at a time in order to provide relief to TVA’s overworked power grid.
Temperatures were thankfully back up to normal when the new year rolled in. Wayne Countians celebrated the beginning of 2023 as they reflected on the past year of 2022. Political mayhem, crime, natural disasters, and other bad news will most surely continue to dominate the news in 2023. However, one thing that we still have, even if we don’t realize it, or even if it is just a tiny sliver, is hope. Hope for a better year, hope for our children and grandchildren, and hope for a future that brings good health, prosperity, and perhaps most of all, love for one another.
The Wayne County News wishes everyone a Happy New Year in 2023!