Leadership Bedford adopts Shelbyville animal shelter

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Leadership Bedford class members Sarai Vargas, left, and Patricia Estrada climb into one of the fire trucks during the tour of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy.
Photo by Gina Warren

Heading into 2020, Leadership Bedford has been busy attending social functions, city and county meetings and working on its current Shelbyville Animal Control project.

In November, Shelbyville City Council approved for the 2020 Leadership Bedford class to provide landscaping, painting and various repairs to the animal control facility at 716 Industrial Parkway.

Leadership Bedford’s planning, since being given the green light by the City, has included doing such things as pressure washing, painting and repairing kennels and the office area, improving food storage and enhancing landscaping along with other facility improvements at SAC.

Leadership Bedford class members Sarai Vargas, left, and Patricia Estrada climb into one of the fire trucks during the tour of the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy.
Photo by Gina Warren

The class project will work in conjunction with the facility’s upcoming expansion.

Need for space

SAC officials had reported to City Council that there’s still a steady influx of stray dogs, so a need exists for more space to house the animals.

The adult leadership group met Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Hannah while recently touring Bedford County Emergency Management Agency.
Photo by Gina Warren

While the city is prepared to fund the new wing, the adult Leadership class is accepting donations from local businesses, industries and individuals who would like to support its efforts toward the “Bark for Bedford” campaign.

Those donating will be recognized for various levels of giving, including invitations to SAC’s open house and ribbon-cutting events and facility tour.

The class has voted for the names of supporters to also be included on a commemorative plaque, which will be displayed at the animal shelter. In addition, names of platinum sponsors — those donating $1,000 or more — will be engraved and affixed to new, outdoor benches where potential pet owners can visit with the animals prior to adoption.

Financial help

“So far, our adult class has raised over $10,000 and received several in-kind donations like services, building materials and gravel needed for renovations as well as food donations for the open house event,” said adult class member Joe Marchesoni, who represents United Communications.

Marchesoni said local businesses and individuals have been generous in supporting this effort to improve conditions at the SAC. He said it’s a big effort to make the city shelter an even better facility for the animals and visitors.

“We appreciate each and every donation received to assist in making this happen,” he said.

Persons wanting to donate to Leadership Bedford’s SAC improvement efforts may send checks to: Leadership Bedford 2019-2020 c/o Heritage South Community Credit Union, Attn: Sarai Vargas, treasurer, P.O. Box 1219, Shelbyville, TN 37162.

Field trips

In addition to their animal shelter work, Leadership Bedford adult and youth participants continue to learn about the community through leadership in public safety and education, according to adult class member and historian, Gina Warren, a Duck River Electric Membership Corp. employee.

In December, Bedford Leadership visited with those in the community who work in public safety, she said. The first day began with a visit with Shelbyville Police Chief Jan Phillips and Deputy Chief Brian Crews, Det. Lt. Charles Merlo and K-9 Officer Ramon Castillo at the Shelbyville Police Department where the class also met and observed “Ranger,” SPD’s K-9 drug interdiction officer.

“As a member of the Shelbyville Police Department for 28 years, it was still very informative for me to hear from those I work with,” said Carol Jean, adult Leadership participant and SPD detective. “I have a deeper appreciation for their professionalism and dedication to our community. They all did a great job, but Ranger stole the show!”

According to Warren, the class then visited Shelbyville and Bedford County Fire Departments, learning from firefighters how the agencies are structured. They also learned about the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy and how firefighters work through mutual aid agreements to assist each other as needed.

Public safety

Other stops during the day included Bedford County Emergency Management Agency, where director Scott Johnson presented their role in protecting citizens during emergencies. Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Hannah shared driver and personal safety tips with the class while highlighting his job duties.

The group toured Tennessee Fire Academy with Joey Edwards, who led them in exploring the facility’s trucks, equipment and simulators used for training.

Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing also joined the class for its tour, sharing his department’s successes and challenges as well as future goals for the county and its safety.

The last stop, according to Warren, was a visit to the E-911 Center on Union Street where Phillip Noel described their role in emergency services. The class observed dispatchers at work and learned how calls are quickly handled.


To complete all the requirements of Leadership Bedford, each participant attends class days but also must attend other activities relative to their community, Warren said. In addition to city and county government meetings, the class chooses from three options under legal and or law enforcement.

“After our focus on public safety, I decided to participate in a ride-along with the police department,” said Warren. “Riding on patrol with a member of the Shelbyville Police Department was both exciting and eye-opening as I witnessed first-hand what they deal with and what they risk keeping our hometown safe. I have a new appreciation of what our local law enforcement officers and their support staff do.”

January’s Bedford Leadership Day focused on the local education system with a visit to the Bedford County Schools Central Office, where they met schools superintendent Don Embry. During the tour, Embry introduced each department’s staff representative; he shared highlights of their responsibilities and current projects benefitting the teachers and students.

Warren said, “Embry stated that there are some 8,600 students in our 14 county schools, and they are served by 1,100 employees (600 teachers and 500 support staff), making the county school system the second largest employer in Bedford County.”


Marchesoni added how he was impressed with the professionalism and passion that Embry and school staff bring to the education table.

“He and his team embrace new challenges, like advancing technology, and find solutions that work best for the teachers, staff and students, and they have the expertise on staff to install and train others without having to outsource,” he advised.

The class learned about the responsibilities of school transportation and maintenance departments and how each has an important role in providing services to the schools and students.

As for school tours, Warren said the class visited Thomas Magnet, learning about its STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math); they also watched a demonstration of their STEAM Team’s robotic obstacle course.

“Our visit to Thomas Magnet, led by Principal Tracy Watson, taught us that we are ‘not smarter than a fifth grader’ as we learned how the school and its students are applying STEAM curriculum through its LEGO robotics program,” Marchesoni shared.

TCAT visit

On the next leg of their tour, the class was welcomed to Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Shelbyville by president Laura Monks. The Leadership Bedford members were allowed to tour and observe several TCAT classrooms, where they learned about the student work placement program.

“TCAT is a wonderful school that Shelbyville has to offer,” said adult class member Teresa Smith, representing Coldwell Banker, Segroves-Neese Realty. “Not all kids want to go to college, so TCAT is a terrific alternative for them, and these trades are in high demand. I didn’t realize how many different classes are offered there. I hope more will take advantage of the learning experiences offered here in our community.”

Leadership Bedford participants are learning this month about area industries and how each plays an important role in the local economy and community growth, Warren said.