From COVID-19 refusing to release its grip to historic flooding and local school boards making rounds in the national news, there was plenty to talk about in Williamson County in 2021.
Here are just some of the most-read topics from the year, compiled by Williamson Herald staff.
COVID-19 pandemic continues
The COVID-19 vaccine helped Williamson County’s case numbers and hospitalizations drastically drop through the mid part of the year, but the pandemic is still very much impacting life in the community.
According to data maintained by the Tennessee Department of Health, new cases in the county dropped from 357 on Jan. 7 to as few as two over a couple of days in June. However, due in some part to increasingly contagious variants, there was a sharp rise again in September to as many as 358 new cases on Sept. 10, and there’s been another rise lately, going from just 23 new cases on Nov. 6 to 241 on Dec. 22.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 saw a similar curve. The most inpatients reported by Williamson Medical Center, 54, came on Sept. 9. In its update released on Dec. 22, the hospital reported nine COVID-positive hospitalizations — seven were unvaccinated, and four were labeled “critically ill.”
School board confrontation
With rising COVID-19 case counts in Williamson County at the start of the fall semester, both Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District instituted mask mandates for all individuals on school campuses.
The mandates created tension at local school board meetings with pro- and anti-mask groups protesting, and Gov. Bill Lee got involved with a contentious executive order signed in August that allowed students to opt out of school mask mandates. That order was blocked in three Tennessee counties, including Williamson, by U.S. District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw due to an ongoing lawsuit.
Both Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District voted in November to end their mask mandates again.
Masks weren’t the only items that caused discourse at local school board meetings this year, either.
In July, local parent group Moms for Liberty submitted a letter of grievance to Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn concerning part of the English curriculum used by Williamson County Schools that they viewed was in violation of a new state law, known to many as the “anti-critical-race-theory law.”
The complaint was rejected by the Tennessee Department of Education in November.
Mother Nature struck Williamson County again in 2021 with historic flooding in March that dumped between 4-8 inches of rain in 24-48 hours, the highest volume falling in Brentwood.
According to Williamson County’s Emergency Management Agency, evacuations occurred at over a dozen homes along Harpeth River Drive, Old Harding Road and Del Rio Pike and in Meadowgreen Acres in Franklin.
Mark Richards, a meteorologist with Nashville’s National Weather Service bureau, …….