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MoCo Government News
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Clarksville, TN 37040

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The Eagle has Landed at Patriots Park

August 15, 2022 - MoCo Gov.

Public art is dedicated as a tribute to the 101st Airborne Division

Montgomery County, TN — On the morning of August 13, members of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell Command Staff, Montgomery County, City of Clarksville, business sponsors, and representatives from the County Public Art Ad hoc Committee gathered to honor the 101st Airborne Division with the reveal of the Tip of the Spear statue.

Created by artist Mark Aeling and his team in Clearwater, Florida, the sculpture is made of 10,000 pounds of surgical-grade stainless steel. Base included, the Tip of the Spear is an impressive 27-foot symbol of the strength and resilience of the 101st. 

The Fort Campbell Honor Guard posted and retired the flags during the reveal ceremony. Director of Marketing for Roxy Theatre Donald Groves sang the National Anthem and City of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts offered the prayer. Comments were made by Artist Mark Aeling, Chief of Staff of the 101st Airborne Division Col. Jared Bordwell, and Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett. The event was emceed by Clarksville Now Reporter Lee Erwin. 

A project to honor Fort Campbell soldiers has been more than 10 years in the making. It began with Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett’s vision in 2012, while working in the private sector, to bring artwork near Fort Campbell that would be a lasting tribute to the men and women who served there. He shared his idea with friend Kem Hintom who was in Leadership Middle TN with him at the time and was also involved in the Wings of Liberty Museum project. Their original vision was 3-D laser steel artwork that looked like soldiers. 

“I actually have a picture dated February 2012 of me and my good friend Jeff Truitt, who’s out here today, at this location looking at the vision. That was a long time ago, but good things take time. A group that bought into that vision back in 2012 and 2013. They included Dex Imaging, James Corlew Chevrolet, Planters Bank, Valerie Hunter-Kelly, the City of Clarksville, Jenkins & Wynne, Montgomery County, F&M Bank, Clarksville Pediatric Dentistry, US Bank, The Settlement Day Care, Clarksville Rotary Club, Wyatt Johnson, Inc., Gannett Foundation (Leaf-Chronicle), Legends Bank, Cumberland Bank & Trust, and Campbell Crossing. We raised $100,000, and that money sat there for a long time. We weren’t where we needed to be yet and did not know exactly what we wanted to build, and along came this idea to run for County Mayor, so that kind of sidetracked the project, but the dream never died. It was something I could always see as I drove up and down 41A to honor and recognize the service of the men and women at Fort Campbell,” said Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett.

Shortly after he was elected, Mayor Durrett and then Chief of Staff Jeff Truitt requested and received approval from the County Commission to create a public art fund. They put a public art ad hoc committee in place in 2017. Based on Mayor Durrett’s idea to include art near Fort Campbell to pay tribute to the men and women who served, the committee conducted a nationwide search and received over 80 submissions. The Tip of the Spear, by artist Mark Aeling, was selected, and the County entered into a contract with Aeling to construct and install the sculpture in late 2020.

Aeling, a self-proclaimed Army brat, is a 3D sculptor who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and has earned multiple awards for excellence in the visual arts. His artwork can be seen around the Florida Bay Area and throughout the United States. In 2012, he was the only American whose work was chosen to show at the Stone Sculpture Triennial in Takamatsu, Japan.

“When I was selected as a finalist and did some research into the area, I was incredibly relieved to discover the connection to the 101st Airborne Division and the Screaming Eagles because I am a lover of birds and particularly wings because the magic of nature is pretty spectacular. As an artist, you try to find a thread to connect what you’re interested in with the interest of the commissioning body. To discover the relationship with Fort Campbell and the history of the 101st Airborne, it was a no-brainer which direction I wanted to go. To date, this is one of my favorite pieces,” remarked Aeling.

“Thank you for allowing us to participate as we recognize this incredible piece of art and join in this momentous occasion as we dedicate Mark Aeling’s Tip of the Spear to the homage of the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division. Without the unwavering support of our community leaders, our division mission would truly not be possible. This breathtaking artwork expands the Tip of the Spear phrase beyond the operational construct of the military. It is a trailblazing endeavor that spanned a decade of planning and development, a vision that embodies the voice and spirit of the community and the strength and courage of the 101st Airborne Division soldiers for over eight decades. Because of the vision of Mayor Durrett and his team, today, standing proudly at the gates of Fort Campbell stands the Tip of the Spear, greeting veterans, community, friends, and visitors from across the globe. This sculpture represents not only this community’s commitment to the men and women of the division but the resolve and dedication of community leaders to see this incredible vision through,” said Colonel Bordwell.

Mayor Durrett provided closing comments, “My family has a long history with Fort Campbell. My grandmother lived not even a quarter mile from this site, where she could go outside at night, walk all around her house, and not see a single light in any direction. Now to know that right across the street, you have the strongest, most lethal fighting force anywhere in the world is pretty special. We selected Mark almost a year and a half ago and were in constant contact with him throughout the project. Then all of a sudden, I get this email from Mark that says we’d like to come up and set it in August. I was like, whoa, I didn’t realize that was going to happen so quickly. But this is the great part about Clarksville, Montgomery County. When we found out Mark was ready to come to install the art, Chris Fielder with TTL laid it all out, but we didn’t have anybody to do anything more, so I reached out to a couple of friends and said, we’ve got this great big statue that we’re going to put up to honor Fort Campbell, and their response was what do I need to do. They all just jumped right in and didn’t ask any questions. I’ve lived here all my life and don’t want to live anywhere else. When you have something like this happen, and you make a phone call to a friend, and your friend says, hey, I’m all in without knowing what the consequences are, that’s what makes this community so great.”

Mayor Durrett offered special thanks to Josh Dennis with Dennis Concrete, Rex and Kendra Hawkins with Hawkins Homes, Phillip Hagewood with Moore Construction, Lance Morgan with Morgan Contractors, and Jeff Burkhart with Screaming Eagle Concrete. He shared his gratitude for David Smith, who took the time and effort to survey the property for the project at the beginning and work with TDOT for approval. Mayor Durrett also thanked the County Facilities and Maintenance Team for their hard work preparing the site.

“Clarksville, Montgomery County is a great place to live. It is my hope and my dream that this will be an everlasting legacy and monument to those who have served at Fort Campbell, those who are currently serving, and those who will serve,” added Mayor Durrett. 

The sculpture is located at 3176 Patriots Park, Fort Campbell Blvd., between Gates 2 and 3. To view the ceremony, visit the Montgomery County, Tennessee Facebook Page.

County Hosts Naming Ceremony for New Park

August 01, 2022 - MoCo Gov.

Montgomery County, TN — Neighbors, family, friends, and others in the community gathered this morning to be part of a naming ceremony for Montgomery County’s newest park at 865 Gracey Avenue. The park was officially named today in honor of Reverend James Brigham of Greater St. James Baptist Church, a long-time community supporter, and neighborhood advocate. 

The driving force behind the park and its naming have been District 5 County Commissioner Rashidah Leverett, who has been championing a park in the area for several years. Her belief is that this park is a step to help bring the community together in the place where she has lived for 23 years, raised her son, and now represents as a local legislator.

Director of Parks and Recreation Sally Burchett shared that along with the expertise of the County Engineering Department, the project is expected to be complete by summer 2023. 

“We are excited to put our stamp on this pocket park and make it a special place for people to enjoy. The park and improvements will be paid from funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and will include an improved basketball court, a walking route, and exercise equipment,” said Burchett.

Mayor Jim Durrett thanked Commissioner Leverett for her dedication to the people in her district and thanked Pastor Brigham and his wife for the work in their community. 
“Commissioner Leverett’s desire to work on behalf of the constituents of District 5 is to be commended! Because of her hard work, this project is going to become a reality,” stated Mayor Durrett.

Commissioner Leverett thanked everyone for coming out in support of the park and naming it after Pastor Brigham. 

“I know I’ve been pestering everyone for a long time to make this happen. I want to share my appreciation to the former County Parks Director and former Chief of Staff for helping me to get this project started. Now thanks to our new parks director, chief of staff and engineering team for working to see this project through,” said Leverett.

Pastor Brigham wrapped up the ceremony with an emotional statement of gratitude and said, “I never thought I’d see a day like this. I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul.”

To stay up to date on the progress of the park, follow the Montgomery County, Tennessee and Montgomery County TN Parks and Recreation social media pages.

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Caption 1: Pictured from left to right are Pastor James Brigham, wife Minnie Brigham, and founding Greater St. James Baptist Church Members.


Caption 2: 

Pictured from left to right are County Engineer Hunter Staggs, Sally Burchett, Rashidah Leverett, Pastor James Brigham, Minnie Brigham and 

Public Safety Training Complex Officially Opens

July 27, 2022 - MoCo Gov.

Montgomery County, TN — Following yesterday afternoon’s downpour, a group of approximately 60 people gathered to celebrate the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Complex (PSCT)'s formal opening at 2275 Dotsonville Road. The official name of the complex is Sheriff Billy R. Smith Public Safety Complex in honor of former Sheriff Billy Smith, who served as Sheriff of Montgomery County for 20 years and who passed away in May 2017. The 326-acre location was also the family farm of Billy Smith, born and raised on the site.

Among those who joined the celebration were PSTC Department Heads, Elected Officials, the Smith Family, neighbors and other representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, County Emergency Management Agency and County Emergency Medical Services.

Mayor Jim Durrett opened by welcoming everyone to the site and thanked the Sheriff’s Office for having the vision and the County Engineering Department for sharing their expertise to help bring MCSO’s vision to life. He also thanked the Smith Family for working with the County through the process.

“This is an important step forward in public safety for our growing County,” said Mayor Durrett.

Emergency Medical Services Director Chief William Webb followed Mayor Durrett, expressing his gratitude for the complex and the ability to conduct training and certifications at the site.

Yesterday’s ceremony was also done to celebrate the completion of Phase I of the PSCT, including a firearms training facility, improved road network, security and utilities and a small arms outdoor range.

 Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson said, “I think everything just worked out here to be on this site for a reason. Several people were looking at the property once it was listed. Tom had made a promise to Billy that this land would not be developed, so when I shared our plans, it was a win.”

At the time of purchase in June 2017, the farm already included two residential structures, a refurbished barn, a 7,000 square-foot hanger, an FAA-registered 2,400-foot runway, a 6,000-foot garage, and pole barns, springs and creeks, which allowed MCSO to start training right away.

 “Our vision is for all public safety. That includes fire, EMS, EMA, and we can bring our sister counties right in here with our county and get on the same page with training. I’m grateful that our team, the county commission and the Mayor all shared the same vision of what this complex could do for our community,” added Fuson.

“Elaine Smith, the wife of former Sheriff Smith, said, “Billy would be so honored to have the complex named after him. He did not want a subdivision to replace the farm. The complex is the perfect way to honor his wish. I am grateful to have my family here with me. Billy was a great husband and father to our children. He worshipped his grandchildren, and they worshipped him. This is a good day.”

Phase II will include a USPCA canine training course and a fire tower building. The fire tower is part of the 2022-23 County budget. Public safety professionals are required to maintain certifications in their areas of expertise. The development of the PSCT will allow Montgomery County safety professionals to certify on-site rather than travel to other communities for certifications.


Caption PSCT 3: Pictured from left to right from the Smith Family is granddaughter Megan Goder, grandson Matthew Goder, son-in-law David Goder, daughter Wendy (Smith) Weis, Elaine Smith, daughter Lesa (Smith) Goder and son-in-law Joe Weis.

Park Naming Ceremony on Gracey Avenue

July 25, 2022 - MoCo Gov.

What:     Park Naming Ceremony 

Why:       To Honor Community Advocate James Brigham

When:     10 a.m. Monday, August 1, 2022

Where:    865 Gracey Ave. Clarksville, TN 37040

Who:       Montgomery County Mayor and Commissioners, Montgomery County Parks and Recreation, Brigham Family, Friends and Neighbors

Montgomery County Trustee Kimberly Wiggins Named Middle Tennessee Trustee of the Year

July 13, 2022 - MoCo Gov.

Last Edited: July 13, 2022 @ 4:50 pm

 Montgomery County, Tenn – In May of 2022, Montgomery County Trustee Kimberly Wiggins was named Middle Tennessee Trustee of the Year at the Tennessee County Trustees Association (TCTA) Conference.  

The 2022 TCTA Conference was held in Obion County, Tennessee, and hosted by TCTA President Marci Floyd, Weakley County Trustee. The TCTA is made up of all 95 counties in the state. This yearly event is five days long and includes business and committee meetings, continuing education sessions and more.  

Annually, the Trustees in attendance select a Trustee of the Year for the West, Middle, and East Grand Divisions. Wiggins was selected by her Middle Tennessee Trustee peers as the Middle Tennessee Trustee of the Year. “I cannot think of a more deserving honor for the admirable service Trustee Wiggins has provided to our local and statewide community so diligently since taking office. She is a leader and mentor who strives to continually serve well” said Marci Floyd, TCTA President. Currently, she currently serves as the Middle Tennessee Trustee Association (MTTA) President and TCTA Audit Committee Chairwoman.   

Montgomery County Trustee Kimberly Wiggins stated, “I am humbled by such an honor. The Trustees welcomed me with open arms when I took office and the least I can do is serve to the best of my ability in return.” 

Wiggins was elected Montgomery County Trustee in August 2018. This year, she has qualified as an unopposed Independent Candidate for re-election. The State Primary & County General Election will take place on August 4, 2022.