Tennessee’s governor from 1986 until 1994 was Ned Ray McWherter, a native of Dresden.
McWherter was proud of some of the things that he was able to accomplish, but he is most proud of a proposal that dramatically increased the amount of money that the state was spending in education, especially in rural parts of the state. If you are going to a school in a sparsely populated part of the state, you can thank Governor McWherter for the fact that there aren’t as many students in your class as there would have been before his Basic Education Program passed in 1991.
McWherter was a big man who often made fun of himself. The day after he was elected governor the first time, he said: “I know state government. The day after the election I will be able to eat a vanilla wafer, drink a cup of coffee, and go to work.” Vanilla wafers thus became the symbol of his administration.
Speaking of food, the Weakley County community of Gleason is known as “Tater Town” in honor of the fact that sweet potatoes were once the city’s top agricultural export. Every year this legacy is celebrated at a festival called the Tater Town Special. If you have a family recipe that contains sweet potatoes, you ought to enter the event’s bakeoff.
Here is a photo of the Weakley County Courthouse.