For many years, Henry, Tennessee was a thriving small town with a negative unemployment rate. This small town, just short of 300 households, had a work force of approximately 900 employed in the various factories, saw mills, stores, banks, restaurants, and school all located inside the city limits. With this in mind, the governing body for the city started looking for ways to bring more residential areas and growth to the town.
In 1996, approximately 2 miles of new water lines were added for another company to be able to come to Henry. Universal Coatings, came to Henry in the spring of that year. These water lines were paid for with a CDBG grant with little cost to the town.
In 1997, new water lines and a second water tower, as well as a new Flowtronic pump system were also added. This was done with a CDBG grant signed by Champion Homes. This factory was already located in Henry and was planning an expansion by adding a second shift and more jobs to its already 200 plus workforce. This was also done without much cost to the town.
It seemed like all hopes for this small town was coming together. There was just one hold back: a 78% failure rate in the waste-water disposal. So in 2001, after a study by the state health department, the City Board voted unanimously to install a city sewer system. This was to be financed with a grant and government loan to the town. At this point, the loan was a very affordable and necessary venture. However, after four years of redesign, change of engineers and contractors, and many mistakes and bad advice, the system was finally ready to come in although at a much higher rate. Still this was considered a doable and necessary project, without breaking the citizens and the businesses in the city. At this point, there was a meter user count of approximately 300.
Then came the downhill slide. In December of 2003, Mark 1 Plastics moved its total operation to Lebanon, TN, taking approximately 200 jobs with it. By 2004, the Coastal Lumber Company had also closed, as well as another small mill. Replogle Lumber was able to pick up part of this operation and saved some of the jobs. Still, Henry did sustain another job loss.
Not long after, in or about, November 2007, Dana Corporation, located in Paris, TN, sold off part of its operation and that in turn, caused the closing of the DMP Company in Henry. This was one of their major suppliers. Henry again lost about 40 jobs.
This continued with a domino effect and the loss of Paris Machinery and People’s Telephone Office. As if this wasn’t enough of a loss, on February 8th, 2008, Champion Homes, our last large employer with a workforce of approximately 260, caught fire (believed to be electrical) and burned to the ground. Champion Homes did not resume production in Henry, but instead in Dresden, TN. With all but a few jobs left in town, Commercial Bank, regrettably, could not see any feasible way to remain open in their Henry branch. The one large restaurant also had to close down.
In 2006, the State of Tennessee changed the TCA accounting practices on depreciation for small municipalities to include all municipalities, to cover the depreciation cost for all intersurface utilities. Until this time, any town with less than 600 households was not held in the red on their books for not financially covering this line item. Now what was supposed to be very affordable utilities for Henry has a depreciation price tag of $93,000 per year for 30 years. Thus, the rate hike to each resident was necessary to cover the cost. With a drop of nearly 100 residents in 12 years, this means that 4 months of all water bills go to depreciation alone. Each household bill is approximately $110 per month average.