At the community gathering of Thanksgiving, Pleasant Hill Mayor Lisa Patrick said, “This tornado landed in the middle of a church with a glass side, an assisted living facility, a school across the street, a nursing home down the street, a memory care place and a wellness center. No one was seriously injured or killed. We were truly blessed. It was a miracle.”
Mayor Patrick recognized the numerous agencies that helped ensure everyone was safe and began the cleanup process. Those included the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, fire department, EMS, EMA, Pleasant Hill School bus drivers, educators, staff and administrators, the town maintenance crew, the Uplands Village maintenance crew, and Volunteer Energy Cooperative. “We got a lot of responses from so many people that helped us,” she said. “They cleared everything out of this whole area, so we are so truly thankful to everyone. The remaining repairs will take some time, but it’s something the community is committed to.”
As COVID-19 positivity rates surge in Cumberland County, the town council is assessing interest in a “Drive-Through Vaccination Event” in Pleasant Hill. Based on the number of interested parties and their reported time restrictions (working folks, after 5 p.m., only Saturdays, etc.), a future date and time will then be assigned to accommodate the majority. In conjunction with the county health department, the Pfizer vaccine would be dispensed in the parking lot across from the Pleasant Hill Community House. Call town hall, 931-277-3813, for date and time. Eligibility in Tennessee is now 16 years of age and over. You don’t have to live in Pleasant Hill. There is no cost for the vaccine and no need to make an appointment for the initial drive-through. A second vaccine date will be scheduled for you.
The April town council meeting took place virtually. Ground readiness has been completed for the Beecher Seegraves Veterans’ Memorial Park and final steps will take place depending on the weather. Spring brush pickup throughout the town will be conducted the last two Tuesdays in April — April 20 and 27. All flowers (artificial or real) will be cleared from both Pleasant Hill cemeteries the first week in May. If you have arrangements on a gravesite you wish to preserve, remove them before they are disposed of. The five streets scheduled for paving will occur depending on the weather. They are Rankhorn, Canyon View, Cottage, Holly, and North Sycamore. For exact date call town hall or check for notices at the post office, Linda’s and the town hall front door.
The council discussed policy regarding response to weather emergencies. Mayor Patrick reported on an incident when the maintenance men were out plowing at 2 a.m. and the truck slipped off the side of the pavement. No tow truck companies would respond and the men risked their personal safety for hours in sleeting/freezing weather trying to free the truck. Cumberland County had already suspended plowing and the public was asked to stay off the roads. With concern for the staff’s safety, a resolution was passed that they would not be summoned to work between midnight and 5 a.m. during really bad weather. It was noted that the town emergency siren was not activated as the tornado that touched down in Pleasant Hill came without warning from any weather service. Approval was given to the Town Clerk Kellie Dodson to attend the State Recorder Conference for training in June. In other business, discussion involved obtaining a generator to make town hall a safe place during electrical outages, constructing a salt box, water department not needing town land for their drive-through, Verizon Wireless changes, and town charter moving to state legislature for approval.
Without any warning a tornado touched down in Pleasant Hill about 3:15 p.m. on April 8 just as the students were loading onto the school buses to return home. Anthony Justice, a School Resource Officer at Pleasant Hill Elementary, said that he was directing traffic when he heard something and turned around and saw the tornado. Cross-country runners were also in the parking lot ready to practice. He managed to get them and many of the children back into the school where staff directed them to their safe places. Others rode out the storm on the buses as the drivers instructed them to get down. Some bus windows were broken and the school sustained some damage. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries. Schools were closed on Friday, April 9, but open on Monday, April 12. Last week the faculty and staff at Stone Elementary School wore green and gold (Hornets’ colors) in support of their Pleasant Hill colleagues. The county cross country race took place as scheduled on April 12.
Principal Tammy Knipp reported, “Pleasant Hill Elementary School is grateful for the community response and support during the recent tornado that damaged our neighbors as well as parts of our school. Since then, clean-up, repair and replacements have begun on roofing, siding, widows, air units, fencing, playground equipment and more. Most importantly, our teachers and students are enjoying teaching, learning, and the fellowship with their fellow Hornets. All displaced classrooms have been relocated within the school. Facility clean up has been completed. Central Services and the CCS Board of Education will work through CCS procedures to finish all needed repairs. As you can see, we are blessed with all the immediate attention and resources not only from our Director of Schools, Dr. Maxwell, our CCS Board of Education, CCS finance and maintenance departments, but our local disaster relief, first responders, Pleasant Hill mayor’s office, and maintenance department and many more community partners! Together we are all PHS Strong!”