Category Archives: NEWS

Masks are now required in Lauderdale COunty

Lauderdale County Mayor Maurice Gaines issued a Declaration of Public Health last night requiring masks to be worn in Lauderdale County.

Gaines said he made the decision after consulting with local mayors and Lauderdale County Superintendent Shawn Kimble.

Children under age 12 and those with health issues that make wearing a mask difficult are exempt from the requirement. People in churches also do not have to wear them unless required by their church. People outside do not have to wear them unless they are in a location in which social distancing cannot be maintained.

Anyone in a public facilities, especially government facilities, are required to wear masks, unless they have the health issues that are mentioned in Gaines’ order.

TSSAA’s decision is no decision

Football coaches around the state, including coaches in Lauderdale County, anxiously awaited today’s special called TSSAA meeting to find out what the organization decided about the upcoming football season.

The TSSAA’s decision was to not make a decision. Saying they needed to hear more from the Governor’s legal counsel, the organization said…well, nothing. Officials did say they the legal counselors are well aware of the TSSAA sports calendar. At least they still have their sense of humor.

Letter to the editor from Lt. Col., USAF Ret. lorenzo pugh

Editor’s Note: This letter was submitted by Lt. Col. USAF Ret. Lorenzo Pugh. It is published with his permission.

Over the years, each time an unarmed African American is murdered at the hands of policemen, we – my wife, Dorris and I — have mostly just talked with each other, and close acquaintances, hoping these incidents would end; hoping the conditions and elements which causes them would change.  Sadly, neither has happened.  I feel a need to express my perception on these matters to you, my friends, family and comrades, who know me better than anyone else.  My apologies in advance, if this offends anyone, or their societal beliefs. 

We often hear, “ these people don’t complain about shootings in their own neighborhoods or homes, and this occurs daily.  So why are they complaining about the much fewer encounters with police”, or “why don’t they stop killing each other first”? 

In the past, I had trouble finding the words that I believe, would be persuasive as to why these police encounters are so much more painful and devastating for African Americans.  Focus for a few seconds on the daily violence in many African American communities, especially in larger cities.  It is like having a heavy weight on each shoulder, which are both physically and mentally draining.  Many try to get away, or lift the heavy weights off, and a few succeed.  Our fellow citizens who live in these communities, hope that one day, somehow, their limited efforts  will result in a better life for themselves; that they will be able to get decent jobs, save money, educate their kids and improve their communities, or move to a nicer one.  They cannot go to the police because laws require that you identify the bad guys in person.  The bad guys will then, either kill or torture whomever identifies them.  Most likely, the bad guys will get away with the crimes of drugs, extortion, gang shootings, rape, etc. or, be back on the streets in a year or two.  Also, friends of gang members are still in the neighborhood and will come after anyone who they believe, “rats on them or their friends”, even if the accused is convicted, put behind bars and sentenced for  multiple years. 

But the other underlying reasons are that the people they would have to trust for help – the police —  are also killing these desperate people in their communities; not as often, but, their bad acts, and their great probability of getting away with little or no punishment,  multiplies the pain and devastation, because these acts take away the littlehope remaining that justice for people in their communities even exist.   So, trust is already destroyed.  Take away their hope, which is also part  of their reasons to live, and you will reduce their productivity, decrease their creativity and lessens their efforts to improve  communities and make them decent places to live.  I believe much of America/USA has missed out on the vast potential of these communities for the last 150 years, maybe more, and I often imagine what this country would be like if the South had taken an all-inclusive position after the civil war.  Perhaps no KKK; no Rosewood or Tulsa episodes; no Watts burning and 1968 riots!  A higher productivity and GDP!  Less stress and a healthier society!  Just Imagine!!!

Most of you know me, but you know little of my struggle to escape the life of a poor sharecropper’s  child growing up on a small dirt farm in West Tennessee.  There was lots of love from parents, especially my mom, and love and discipline from the entire community – a wonderful thing in those days that was valuable in keeping us on the “straight and narrow”.

  You would be surprised to learn that at the age of 16, I was kicked by a young police officer, blindsided, while sitting in a chair taking my driver’s license test – for wearing a baseball hat.  No, he did not ask me to remove the hat;  he just walked up and kicked me.  I raised  halfway up out of the chair, before looking to see who had kicked me, ready to do battle; he  stepped back about two feet and put his hand on his gun.  There was about a 10 second timeframe as we both stared at each other.   I was deciding if I could get to him before he could finish his draw.  The lady administering the test , sitting across the table behind the young officer, was in near panic mode, shaking her head and lipping “no, no, no”.  I asked twice, “Why did you kick me”?  He replied each time, “take your hat off”, both of us tense and wondering what would happen next.  I sat back down and removed my hat, not because I didn’t think I could get to him before  he got his gun out, but because there were 5 or 6 other older officers on the other side of the room, and they all had guns too.   

About a year later, at the home of a classmate who lived in another community, a guy out of the blue – African American – pointed a double barrel shotgun at me from about 10 feet away.  He thought, untruthfully, that I was there to see his girl, — and said, “you better start running”.  I was pretty fast, but knew I could not outrun his shotgun, so I walked towards him, arms out, explaining why I was there.  There were obstacles in college, going thru USAF Pilot Training School, and during 21 years in the military, but each obstacle was a challenge I had to meet, and conquer if I wanted to achieve my goals – to make a better life for me and my family.  

The two incidents cited above occurred in 1959 and 60, fifty nine and sixty years ago.  Things have changed – for the worse – both from the police, and in the communities.  Now the police  shoot first, then tell a different story to the investigators, or choke you to death; the gangs and thugs just shoot you and ride away. The people in these communities cannot solve these problems by themselves.  If they could, they would have already.  It will take all of the country to fix this.  I am onboard to support as much as I think will help.  I hope some of you will also help, even if it’s just lending an understanding ear, to try and understand why they need help.  If you agree, send emails to friends, to local, state and national elected officials and ask them to help fix these problems. 

Lastly, a few people have hijacked the peaceful protesters and are committing looting, violence and destruction.  They do it every time, but please try and separate these bad acts from the purpose of the protests.  Looking at the protests and the looting, burning and destructions as all one big lawless act is akin to putting another heavy load onthe shoulders of already overburdened people.  They cannot stop the killings, drugs, gangs and crime in their neighborhoods; they cannot stop the police from killing unarmed black men and boys, and they cannot stop the violent people from joining their peaceful protests.  They need help from the rest of the country for all of these things.  They also need our understanding of their plight; their cries for help! And to help light a fire under our political representatives to fix these problems.  Then and only then can these communities grow, and contribute to society to their full potential.

Thanks for your time in reading this.  I see or read about these murders and they are painful to me and my wife, because we both know, “ but for the grace of God, loving parents and influence from our family and community, we would be ………….”.   

Most respectfully submitted,

Lorenzo Pugh

Lt. Col., USAF Ret.

Kimble announces graduation plans

Lauderdale County Schools Superintendent sent out a press release detailing upcoming graduation plans.

Lauderdale County Schools Graduation Notice – April 29, 2020

Lauderdale County Schools has been working with state and local officials while planning for the upcoming high school graduation ceremonies.  It is our goal to provide the Class of 2020 with the best possible experience during these difficult times.  After consulting with local officials and the TN Department of Education, the decision has been made to have a traditional commencement ceremony while making necessary adjustments to limit exposure.  Although our schools will provide an “in-person” experience, it will be necessary to make adjustments to normal procedures and protocol for all participants.  Specific procedures will be communicated in the weeks leading up to the event.

Commencement Ceremonies have been scheduled as follows

 Ripley High School – May 18 (Back up date for weather, May 21)

o   Ripley High will be holding two ceremonies in order to accommodate social distancing requirements for attendees

§  1st ceremony begins at 5:00pm – Students A-I (please do not arrive before 4:15pm)

§  2nd ceremony begins at 8:00pm – Students J-Z (please do not arrive before 7:15pm)

     Halls High School – May 19 @ 7:00pm – please do not arrive prior to 6:15pm (Back up date for weather, May 22)

In order to maintain proper social distancing during these events, schools will be following guidance set forth by the TN Department of Education to insure the safety and health of our students and their families.  Each graduate will be provided tickets and protective face masks for up to 4 guests.  Only 4 guests per graduate will be allowed due to seating availability after applying social distancing standards.  For those unable to attend, a live, online broadcast will be made available for the public.  The video broadcast of ceremonies will also be recorded and posted online.

Students are not required to participate in the commencement ceremony and may elect to receive their diploma at another time.  School officials will set up a controlled environment where students can get a picture made in their cap and gown receiving their diploma.  Any student who does not wish to participate in regular graduation ceremonies should contact their principal or guidance counselor before May 12 to schedule an appointment.

Over the next couple of weeks, district and school officials will be communicating additional, detailed instructions for students and their guests.  Please remember that it is important for everyone’s well-being to follow the procedures that are set for participation at each school.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these uncertain times.  Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

COVID-19 Testing

The Lauderdale County Health Department has issued a press release regarding COVID-19 testing.

The Lauderdale County Health Department has established COVID-19 assessment sites for county residents meeting pre-screening and pre-registration requirements.  

Lauderdale County’s COVID-19 assessment site is:

Lauderdale County Health Department

500 Highway 51 S, Ripley, TN 38063

Testing Hours: 1:30 -3:30 p.m. Monday – Friday

Lauderdale County residents who have concerns they may have symptoms of COVID-19 can contact their local health department for consultation, and for pre-screening and pre-registration procedures for potential assessment.  

Lauderdale County residents can call 731-635-4228, between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, for information on pre-screening and pre-registration.

Lauderdale County Health Department staff members will conduct pre-screenings and pre-registrations for individuals with symptoms by phone, then direct those identified for assessment to a site where they will undergo nasal swab collection for testing for COVID-19. Test results may be available within 72 hours, depending on the volume of tests that the testing lab receives.

Lauderdale County Health Department staff members cannot perform pre-screenings and pre-registrations at assessment sites, and those who are ill should first contact their primary care providers.

Additional information about Tennessee’s assessment sites is available for each county on the Tennessee Department of Health website at    

Most people, particularly those with mild or no symptoms, do not need assessment for COVID-19.  

Those in high-risk categories, including contacts of confirmed cases; people in occupations with exposure to large numbers of contacts; health care workers; nursing home residents; severely immunocompromised patients; critically ill patients; pregnant women and people who have COVID-19 symptoms, are prioritized for testing.  

There are many things Lauderdale County residents can do to reduce the impact of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub) for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing;
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue;
  • Clean and disinfect objects (e.g., cell phone, computer) and high touch surfaces regularly; and,
  • Practice social/physical distancing from others, be safer at home.

All Tennesseans, especially those in high-risk populations, should take the following actions to reduce the possibility of getting sick with COVID-19:  

  • Keep space (at least 6’) between yourself and others;
  • Limit your time in public to essential needs only, such as grocery trips, medical care, pharmacy needs or emergencies; 
  • When you are in public, avoid crowds as much as possible, and keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often;
  • Avoid non-essential travel, especially on airlines and cruise ships; and,
  • Stay home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed.

TDH has additional information available at  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated information and guidance available online at

Voice staying open; hours are odd

The Lauderdale Voice will be open to the public during normal business hours, although “normal” is relative due to the situation with the Coronavirus.

“Many of our friends know that I work part-time in the evenings at Walmart,” said Jay Heath, Publisher of The Lauderdale Voice. “Because of that, our hours have been a little inconsistent for a while. But, we are here, as often as we can be, and ready to serve the public at this crucial time.”

Heath said, going forward, The Voice will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., although there will likely be times that the office will be closed for short periods on those days when he is out of the office. The Voice will be open on Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., while hours for Thursdays and Fridays will be limited. Heath encouraged residents to call him if they need to stop by to make sure he will be there. There is also a dropbox outside the front door of the office where news and advertising items can be left.

Foster’s future focused on family

What does former Ripley High School football star Ramon Foster plan on doing after announcing his retirement from the Pittsburgh Steelers? Find out about his plans in this week’s issue of The Lauderdale Voice. Foster’s focus in the future will be on spending time with his family after he made the difficult decision to retire on Monday.

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