Whitman to visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage for 119th Spring Outing

HERMITAGE –Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush and former governor of New Jersey, will be the keynote speaker at the Andrew Jackson Foundation’s 119th annual Spring Outing on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Hermitage.

Whitman is president of the Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. She led the EPA from January 2001 until June 2003 and before that served as New Jersey’s first woman governor from 1994 to 2001. As governor, Whitman earned praise for her commitment to preserve a record amount of New Jersey land as permanent green space. She is the author of New York Times bestseller “It’s My Party Too.”

A Nashville tradition that began in the early days of the Ladies’ Hermitage Association as a picnic on the mansion’s lawn, Spring Outing has evolved into one of the major events held at the Hermitage and regularly features nationally known speakers who present on a variety of topics, including politics and history.

Past speakers include former first lady Laura Bush, NPR’s Mara Liasson, longtime White House correspondent Ann Compton, former Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam and former Tennessee House speaker Beth Harwell.

“More than any other event, Spring Outing celebrates the legacy of the Ladies’ Hermitage Association, the determination of its founders and their collective foresight in preserving the home of Andrew Jackson for future generations, including ours,” said Spring Outing co-chair Nancy Deaton.

“We are their daughters in many ways, and I think the connection becomes clear when you listen to Christine speak. We’re thrilled she is joining us,” said Spring Outing co-chair Mimi DeCamp.

The Ladies’ Hermitage Association, currently known as the Andrew Jackson Foundation, is one of the oldest women’s organizations and historic preservation organizations in the country, established 130 years ago, in 1889, after the passing of Andrew Jackson’s daughter-in-law, Sarah Yorke Jackson.

The 119th Spring Outing will be Wednesday at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage with a patrons party at 10:30 a.m. in the mansion, followed by the main program at 11 a.m. on the lawn. More than 500 guests are expected to attend the event, with thanks to the volunteer leadership of DeCamp and Deaton. All proceeds will benefit the Andrew Jackson Foundation’s many projects, programs and events, designed to elevate national awareness of the seventh president and his home at the Hermitage. Spring Outing is an invitation-only event. To receive an invitation, call 615-889-2941, ext. 213.

Deaton is a native of Nashville and a graduate of Hollins University. She and her husband, Mark, moved to Nashville 28 years ago after they lived in Charlottesville, Virginia and Indianapolis. They have three children and enjoy outdoor activities together. Deaton has been an active volunteer, serving on the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville board and advisory committee since chairing the event. She is an active member of the Garden Club of Nashville, West End United Methodist Church and the Junior League of Nashville and has enjoyed involvement with the Family Center, Ensworth School and Cheekwood.

DeCamp is a native Nashvillian. After graduating from Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Virginia, she married her husband, Bill, and returned to Nashville, where she joined her mother in the real estate business and has enjoyed a 30-year career as a realtor. She is an active member of St. George’s Episcopal Church, and her volunteer opportunities have included the St. George’s Kindergarten Board, Cheekwood, the Antiques and Garden Show, the Family Center and Ensworth School. She and Bill have two sons, Will and Rob.

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage: Home of the People’s President is one of the largest, most well-preserved and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Opened to the public in 1889, the Hermitage is one of America’s first presidential museums. The Hermitage is currently a 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark with more than 20 historic buildings, including Jackson’s mansion and tomb, restored slave cabins, a church and gardens. In recent years, new interpretive initiatives and educational programs such as the history of slavery have enhanced the experience of nearly 230,000 annual visitors. For more information, visit thehermitage.com.

Community Calendar and The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Community Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of nonprofit events, community club and government meetings. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

May 15

Wilson County Hiring Event

9 a.m.

A Wilson County hiring event will be Wednesday, May 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Wilson County Civic League at 321 E. Market St. in Lebanon. Employers will include FedEx, American Wonder Porcelain, 202 Census Bureau, Walmart in Mt. Juliet, Leviton, Nissan, Demos’ Restaurant, LSI Landscape Services, O’Reilly Distribution Center, Bojangles, National Guard, Geodis, Ceva Logistics, Abacus Staffing, Crown Services, Under Armour and Cameron Search and Staffing. For more information, contact Sarah Buckles at sarah.buckles@tn.gov or 615-494-4278.

Mt. Juliet Chamber Connect Luncheon

11:15 a.m.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce’s chamber connect luncheon will be Wednesday, May 15 from 11:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Rutland Place. The guest speaker will be Pastor Jacob Armstrong with Providence Church. Save a seat at mjchamber.org.

Lebanon Senior Citizens Center Health Fair

12:30 p.m.

The Lebanon Senior Citizens Center will hold a health fair Wednesday, May 15 from 12:30-2 p.m. at the center. More than 30 vendors will be featured.

May 16

Kindergarten Night at W.A. Wright Elementary School

4 p.m.

Kindergarten Night will be Thursday, May 16 from 4-6:30 p.m. at W.A. Wright Elementary School. The event will provide an opportunity for parents and students to meet some of the teachers and staff and learn more about what to expect for the upcoming school year.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 meeting

6 p.m.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 in Lebanon will meet Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. and the third Thursday of each month in the Veterans Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. Any veteran who has been awarded a campaign medal or combat medal for any hostility is eligible for membership, verified by the veterans’ DD 214 Form. Presently, Post 5015 is having success in rebuilding its post and becoming active in district and local events. It is not a Lebanon post, but a countywide post. To learn more, contact Post Commander John Marshall at jtmarshall2@icloud.com; Senior Vice Commander Ken Kackley at hkenkjr@aol.com or Junior Vice Commander Harold W. Weist at grnmarine@tds.net.

Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club

7 p.m.

The Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club will meet Thursday, May 16 and each third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Fiddlers Grove Train Museum at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. This is an all-scale model railroad club. During the meeting, everyone will share their knowledge and introduce the hobby to folks new to the interest. The Train Museum has an extensive O-gauge layout and a small HO-scale layout with plans to expand the HO track. The club is open to anyone interested in model train railroads. For more information, contact Ron Selliers at trainslayer53@gmail.com.

Celebrate Recovery

7 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step recovery support group for overcoming hurts, hang-ups and habits, meets each Thursday from 7-9:30 p.m. at Fairview Church at 1660 Leeville Pike in Lebanon. For more information, call ministry leader Tony Jones at 615-972-6151.

May 17

Tennessee State University National Alumni Association Mid-South Regional Conference

8 a.m.

The Tennessee State University National Alumni Association Mid-South Regional Conference will be Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at Pickett-Rucker United Methodist Church at 633 Glover St. in Lebanon and at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon. For more information, call Virgleen Seay at 615-598-6937.

May 18

Think Green, Think Clean Challenge

8 a.m.

The 11th-annual Think Green, Think Clean Youth Litter Challenge will be Saturday, May 18 with teams to clean up at their schools at 8 a.m., and a celebration from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. The celebration will feature door prizes, games, food and the presentation of prize money to winning schools.

Ali’s Rae of Hope 5K Walk and Run

8 a.m.

Ali’s Rae of Hope 5K Walk and Run will be Saturday, May 18 at 8 a.m. at the Mill at 300 N. Maple St. in Lebanon. Check-in starts are 7 a.m. Early registration is $25 before May 11, and late registration will be $35. Participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite fairytale character. To register, visit runsignup.com/Race/TN/Lebanon/AlisRaeofHope5k. To learn more about the mission, visit alisraeofhope.org or facebook.com/aliraes5k or call 615-881-2509.

Antique Tractor, Antique Truck and Gas Engine Show

8 a.m.

Wilson County Antique Power Association will hold its 28th-annual Antique Tractor, Antique Truck and Gas Engine Show on Saturday, May 18 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. Gates will open at 8 a.m. Admission is free; however, a donation will be accepted. There will be no fee charged for exhibitors. For more information, call 615-444-6944 or 615-449-5002.

Special Needs Vacation Bible School

9 a.m.

Yee Haw, a special needs vacation Bible school, will be Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Journey Church at 212A Leeville Pike in Lebanon for 3 year olds through fifth graders. Registration and more information is available at the Journey Church’s children’s ministry Facebook page under announcements. The registration deadline is May 17. Email laurie@tjclive.com for more information. 

Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church Barbecue Fundraiser

9 a.m.

Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church will hold its annual barbecue fundraiser Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the church at 522 Castle Heights Ave. at the corner of Leeville Pike in Lebanon. Whole smoked butts will be $40, and pulled pork will be $8 per pound. To place pre-orders, call 615-444-7453, and leave a message if no one answers.

Dream Riders Benefit Motorcycle Ride

9:45 a.m.

The third-annual Dream Riders Benefit Motorcycle Ride will be Saturday, May 18 at 9:45 a.m. at Blue Moon Barbecue at 711 Park Ave. in Lebanon. The police-escorted 30-mile ride will be $20 per driver and $5 per rider, and all proceeds will benefit Empower Me. Live music will be featured when riders return. Online registration is available at empowermecenter.com, or for more information or to register, contact Beth Goolesby at 615-202-5388 or bethgoolesby@empowermecenter.com.

Free Groceries Giveaway

3 p.m.

A free groceries giveaway will be Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Life Church at 3688 State Route 109, across the street from Dollar General, in Lebanon. It will be open to everyone, and the groceries will be given away as long as they last. Visit lifechurchfamily.com for more information.

Good Wheel Cruisers Saturday Night Cruise-In

4:30 p.m.

The Good Wheel Cruisers will hold its Saturday night cruise-in Saturday, May 18 from 4:30-9:30 p.m. and each Saturday evening through Oct. 20 at the Lebanon Outlet Mall in the marketplace area at 1 Outlet Village Drive in Lebanon. A 50-50 raffle will be featured. For more information, visit facebook.com/groups/552023871629171.

Daddy-Daughter Princess Ball

5:30 p.m.

The Daddy-Daughter Princess Ball, sponsored by Chick-fil-A in Lebanon, will be Saturday, May 18 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Mill in Lebanon.

Centerstage Theatre Co. presents “Our Town”

7:30 p.m.

Centerstage Theatre Co. will present “Our Town,” on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Winfree Bryant Middle School in the auditorium. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $13 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at Iddy and Oscar’s on the Lebanon Square, at brownpapertickets.com or at the door.

May 19

The Fessenden House Raise the Roof

2 p.m.

One of Lebanon’s smallest museums, the Fessenden House, which dates to 1852, needs a new roof. The History Associates of Wilson County and the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will hold an open house May 19 from 2-5 p.m. and ask for $20 donations per person to raise a roof for the structure at 236 W. Main St. between Cox’s Gifts and Sun Trust Bank. The $20 admission fee is tax deductible and will include a one-year membership to Friends of the Fessenden House. Children 12 and younger will be admitted for free. Refreshments will be provided. Checks should be made History Associates of Wilson County. For more information, call Judy Sullivan at 615-484-0770.

The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Government Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of government meetings and government-related events. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

May 16

Wilson County Ag Management Committee meeting

5 p.m.

The Wilson County Ag Management Committee will meet Thursday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in the Gentry Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Wilson County Health and Welfare Committee meeting

6 p.m.

The Wilson County Health and Welfare Committee will meet Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 20

Wilson County Commission meeting

7 p.m.

The Wilson County Commission will meet Monday, May 20 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 21

Wilson County Development and Tourism Committee meeting

5:30 p.m.

The Wilson County Development and Tourism Committee will meet Tuesday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 30

Wilson County Board of Education work session

5 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet in a work session Thursday, May 30 at 5 p.m. at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon.

June 3

Wilson County Board of Education meeting

6 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet Monday, June 3 at 6 p.m. at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon.

– Staff Reports

Antique tractor, antique truck, gas engine show upcoming

Wilson County Antique Power Association will hold its 28th-annual Antique Tractor, Truck and Gas Engine Show on Saturday at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.                                         

Gates will open at 8 a.m.

The entrance to the show will be at the Fiddlers Grove entrance, which is about a quarter mile east of the main entrance between the main entrance and Peyton Road.

The show will feature exhibits of antique tractors, gas engines, antique trucks, farm implements, corn meal grinding and blacksmithing. Many activities for all ages are scheduled throughout the day. Children’s activities will include a needle in the haystack contest and a kiddie tractor pull for 8-12 year olds. There will also be a parade of power, which will allow owners to parade their equipment through the Fiddlers Grove area. A skillet-throw contest will be held for the ladies. 

The Wilson County Antique Power Association was organized in 1991 and is a nonprofit organization. The primary function is to promote the collection, restoration, improvement and display of antique agriculture equipment. Anyone with those interests is welcome to join the club.

Admission is free; however, a donation will be accepted. There will be no fee charged for exhibitors.

For more information about the show, call 615-444-6944 or 615-449-5002. 

New Leash on Life sells land to continue expansion

Thanks to a recent land sale on State Route 109, New Leash on Life looks to use the proceeds can be used to improve and expand the programs provided for the community to help pets and their owners.

Capital Real Estate Services owner DeAnna Dodd and broker Claude Maynard handled the sale of the property on State Route 109.

“One of the reasons New Leash on Life chose to work with Capital Realty is because they have a give back goal as a part of their business model,” said New Leash on Life executive director Angela Chapman. “True to their mission with the land sale, Capital Real Estate gave our program expansion dream a head start by donating $4,500 to our programs.”

The first phase of the expansion was the Joy Clinic, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, which was made possible by Joy Bishop and an equipment grant from the ASPCA. 

The spay and neuter program currently fixes more than 3,000 dogs and cats annually.

Chapman said the next phase of the expansion will be to add indoor and outdoor runs for the dogs and a visiting area for potential adopters to spend time with available dogs. The build phase would be behind the current shelter, along with an enrichment space for the dogs.

“Once that phase is done, we can look at reworking the current shelter space to better accommodate the needs of animals in our care,” Chapman said. “The land sale is a great start toward this expansion, and with continued community support, we look forward to making this dream a reality.”

Lantern Lane Farm welcomes crowd

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

Lantern Lane Farm, which provides counseling services to both children and adults, held its largest annual fundraiser to date April 25.

More than 100 guests packed the Tuckers Gap Event Center to raise money for counseling services that have helped people in Wilson County since 2004.

Ralph Cook and his wife, Joni Cook, started Lantern Lane Farm in 2004 in Mt. Juliet after Cook chose to face his own personal challenges through therapy. Cook, a music educator who was active in his church, returned to school where he earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Trevecca Nazarene University.

The Cooks created Lantern Lane Farm, which became a nonprofit in 2008, with the goal to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for all of their patients with a focus on Christ-like care, while it uses the unique human-animal connection to facilitate healing and openness through the care of horses on the farm.

Cook said the community support was overwhelming and humbling, but he’s looking to an even brighter and stronger future with continued growth and expansion, which will include a continued effort to provide counseling services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

“Thinking back over the 15 years of how we started with just the four of us and now being able to see this number of people here who believe in what we do, it’s so exciting,” Cook said. “We never thought that we would be here today. I think it has grown beyond what we could have ever imagined, and that’s because this is what God wanted for this community.”

In addition to dinner provided by Papa Turney’s Old Fashioned Barbecue, live music and a silent auction were featured during the fundraiser.

March unemployment rates continue to stay low

NASHVILLE – Eighty of Tennessee’s 95 counties, including Wilson County, recorded an unemployment rate in March that was lower compared to the same time last year, according to newly released data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Also, in the year-to-year comparison, the rates in nine counties held steady, while six counties had increases.

By comparison to statistics from February, 69 counties, including Wilson, experienced a slight uptick in unemployment, while rates decreased in 17 counties and remained the same in nine Tennessee counties.

Wilson County’s rate of 2.7 percent, which was 0.2 percent higher compared to February’s revised rate, rose one spot to sixth lowest in the state behind Williamson, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner and Cheatham counties, respectively.

Wilson County’s rate in March represented 2,050 unemployed workers compared to a 74,450-person workforce and did not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits. Compared to the same time last year, the jobless rate was a 0.1-percent decrease.

Lebanon’s rate for March increased 0.2 percent to 3.1 percent compared to February and decreased 0.2 percent compared to a year ago. The city’s rate represented 490 unemployed workers, compared to a 15,840-person labor force.

Mt. Juliet’s rate for March was 2.8 percent, a 0.2-percent increase compared to February’s revised rate. It was a 0.1-percent increase compared to a year ago. The rate represented 540 unemployed workers compared to an 19,590-person labor force.

The March rate for the Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, increased 0.2 percent from February to land at 2.6 percent and was 0.2 percent lower than a year ago. The rate represented 28,040 unemployed workers compared to a nearly 1.1-million-person labor force.

Williamson County has the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.4 percent, which was a 0.3 percent increase from February but was 0.1 percent lower than the same time last year.

Davidson and Rutherford counties followed with a March rate of 2.5 percent. The latest statistics represented a 0.2 percent increase for both counties, but the current rates still best their March 2018 numbers.

Clay County had the state’s highest unemployment rate in March at 6.0 percent, up 0.7 percent from the previous month. The latest rate was also up 0.8 percent from March 2018.

Statewide, unemployment remained at a historic low in Tennessee. The March seasonally adjusted rate of 3.2 percent was unchanged from February when unemployment reached an all-time low in the state.

Across the nation, unemployment in March also remained the same as February at 3.8 percent.

County unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted, while the state and national rates use the seasonal adjustment to eliminate outside influences on the statistics.

Leadership Wilson alumni hear about current projects

By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

About 300 Leadership Wilson alumni who represented each class since the first in 1994 turned out last Wednesday to hear about the current class’ projects, honor a Lebanon engineer and generally catch up with classmates to support the nonprofit organization during the group’s annual luncheon at Tuckers Gap Event Center in Lebanon.

Leadership Wilson serves to identify, train and motivate individual citizens in community leadership. Leadership Wilson is a nonprofit community leadership organization that serves the community and educates leaders in Wilson County. Each year, about 30 participants from the business, education, civic, religious and government communities of Wilson County are provided a comprehensive leadership training opportunity through experiential learning, daylong seminars, group discussions, field trips and retreats, which creates a forum to exchange ideas and discuss areas of interest. Each class presents the opportunity to understand and analyze a particularly important segment of the county, including government, health care and social services, agriculture, business and industry, public safety, education and quality of life.

At the luncheon, Leadership Wilson director emeritus Lucy Lee presented the commitment to leadership award to Rob Porter, an engineer and founding member of Civil Site Design.

“This person is still active in the community,” Lee said. “This person is still active in Leadership Wilson.

“He’s been here for 40 years, and let me just drop some names of things he’s been involved in building – Opryland Hotel, Providence in Mt. Juliet and there’s this little stadium where a lot of stuff is going on this weekend called Nissan Stadium…Opry Mills and the Five Oaks community in Lebanon – just a few small projects.”

Porter, a member of Leadership Wilson’s class of 2002, has served on the Mt. Juliet Little League board of directors, Leadership Wilson board of directors, a past president of the Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club, was a Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce chairman’s award recipient, a Wilson County Community Foundation board member, United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland board of directors member, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board member and a member of the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the class of 2019 then showcased their projects either underway or in the works.

The team of Heather Schreader, Scott Walters, Britney Wilkerson, Emily Gannon, Becky Smith and Ryan Morris discussed the iGuardian project. The iGuardian program is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and presents programs within schools about the dangers of internet and social media use among children. An iGuardian event sponsored by Leadership Wilson will be Aug. 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Lebanon High School.

The team of Ryan Bennett, Ben Collier, Richard Felts, Sheridan Henson, Cale Mitchell and Clint Teasley presented a project on adult recreation. The group organized the revitalization and fundraising for Hobbs Field in Lebanon to be used for recreation adult-league softball. The group created a nonprofit organization and also raised funds for Empower Me and the Wilson County Senior Citizens Action Network.

The WilCo Sparks of Kindness team was made up of David Block, Diana Cavender, Karen Moore, Bonnie Ryan, Lanee Young and Betty Williams. The group solicited the help of Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings to proclaim May 8 as Kindness Day in Wilson County. Throughout the day, the group will stuff busses at Don Fox Community Park in Lebanon and the Providence Kroger in Mt. Juliet to collect food for Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District’s backpack programs. Through May 7, donations may be dropped off at CedarStone Bank and Wilson Bank & Trust’s main office in Lebanon and North Mt. Juliet Road office in Mt. Juliet. The group also had Be Kind license plates made that are for sale for $20 each to further raise funds for the backpack programs.

The Pick TN team was made up of Brianna Burden, Phillip Lacy, Julie Miller Wilson, Tom Walsh, Jay Morris and Kyle Heckman. Pick TN offers free guitar lessons for children, and free guitars for those who stick with the program with eight or more lessons.

The Music and Memories team consisted of Shea Hutsenpiller, Myro Kuzmyn, Scott McCrae, Christine New and Jennifer Hamblen. The team created the Music and Memories concert for senior citizens, which was Tuesday at Tuckers Gap Event Center in Lebanon. The event attracted about 200 senior citizens and raised about $18,500 for the Wilson County SCAN program. The money will allow SCAN to double the number of seniors it serves throughout Wilson County.

More information about each project is included in a video that accompanies this story at lebanondemocrat.com and at The Democrat’s YouTube channel. 

Kenny Martin: It pays to buy Wilson County first

As with any community, the importance of its citizens spending their hard-earned tax dollars locally is vitally important to the community’s economy and its citizens.

With Wilson County’s rapid growth and new businesses literally opening daily, we’re starting to see an even greater need to spend our tax dollars locally.

For example, Wilson County businesses depend upon our tax dollars for survival. They make huge investments in our local community in an attempt to provide a service or convenience and desperately need and deserve our support. Our schools, businesses, roads and many other services depend on the local economy for survival.

When a business sets up shop in Wilson County, its goal is to provide services and conveniences to local citizens. In return, the local economy gets a boost from the additional revenue generated locally, and a trickle-down effect happens. Without local businesses providing these much-needed services, citizens are forced to call on vendors in other cities and towns.

As a result, these vendors have to drive and ship their merchandise further and that cost is passed on to the customer. Unfortunately, money spent in other cities and counties benefits the other community and not ours.

Therefore, I would like for each citizen to make every effort possible to spend your tax dollars locally and not via the internet or in another county.

I totally understand Wilson County doesn’t currently, nor will it ever be able to offer every available service or convenience, but I would like for everyone to please patronize the businesses and services we have first before going outside of Wilson County or shopping the internet.

In other words, if we have a business that offers something we need, we should make every effort to patronize that business and not a business outside our community or the internet. What is spent here benefits here; what is spent elsewhere benefits that community.

For example, if you know that you need gasoline, try and plan your gas purchases locally; if you need groceries, buy them locally, and so on. The more we spend locally, the better off our community will be.

In a nutshell, if you can buy it at home and support our local businesses, then please do so. Current businesses, services and products not currently in Wilson County are much more likely to locate here if they see our citizens support and patronize their local businesses. Our community and its businesses depend upon your support and patronage.

In closing, please buy and shop locally. It’s money well spent and will benefit our community and all of us.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Rooms to Go seeks move to Wilson County

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A Rooms to Go furniture store warehouse and retail outlet store could be coming to Wilson County.

Rooms to Go officials proposed opening the two businesses in a current building at the intersection of Interstate 840 and Couchville Pike.

There are still a number of steps to take before the decision to move into an existing warehouse is finalized. One of the steps includes buying the building.

Rooms to Go vice president Peter Weitzner said the company is excited to begin business in Wilson County as a retail outlet. Across the 10 states where Rooms-To-Go operates, there are 19 outlet stores.

The issue of lighting and a variance of the main sign height to 50 feet came up last Wednesday morning at the Wilson County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

County planning director Tom Brashear said, “[Rooms to Go representatives] have worked with us on every step, and we are excited to see them come to Wilson County.”

Rooms to Go received tax abatements through the county’s payment in-lieu-of taxes program. The issue was discussed at various meetings, including the county’s budget committee.

When the purchase of the 900,000-square-feet building is finalized and other steps are met, Weitzner said the outlet store and warehouse should be open by the end of the year. The retail outlet plans to hire about 240 people in both the store and the warehouse. Weitzner said the retail store would encompass 40,000 square feet of the building.

There are three Rooms to Go retail stores and two Rooms to Go for Kids stores in the Nashville area, Weitzner said. There are also stores in Knoxville and Chattanooga. There are no other outlet stores in Tennessee.

“We think people will pass us [on Interstate 840] and see us, and when they want to make a purchase, they’ll come to us,” Weitzner said.

Another issue approved at the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting was a variance for Chase Lyle to open a home business for firearms sales.

Lyle said the sales would mainly be internet sales, and the weapons would usually go from the manufacturer to the buyer. He would have some items delivered to his home.

Lyle said he wanted to start the business to allow friends, as well as military and police officers, to have the chance to buy weapons through him. He said all sales would have to be approved on a state and federal level before they could buy a gun.

Three neighbors spoke out against the variance and said safety was a main concern.

According to the variance, Lyle would not be able to clean, show or shoot a gun outside the home.

Lyle said that would not happen, and the business would only take up about 8.5 percent of his home’s size.

Other items in the variance included Lyle cannot have a store front or advertise on a sign outside of his home.

He said he would sell specialty weapons such as those for sports shooting.

Wilson becomes fastest-growing county in state

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County may well be the fastest-growing county in the state, according to new data estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data, which was released this month, showed Wilson County was the fastest growing county in 2018. It added 4,085 residents during the year. That is a 3.4 percent increase in population and propelled the county to be the 57th fastest growing in the country.

Other Tennessee counties that showed quick growth included Montgomery County, which grew by 3 percent; Rutherford County, which grew by 2.6 percent; and Williamson County, which also grew by 2.6 percent.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto didn’t dispute the numbers.

“There are three things concentrate on from our office, education, public safety and quality of life,” Hutto said. “Two of those reasons were why we are at the top. They are education and quality of life. I do feel good about that. That’s been our concentration on what we’ve been trying to do.

“Quality of people who live here is the No. 1 asset why people move here. There’s no question that the centrality of our location is important to people. We’re a rock’s throw away from Nashville. Our motto is miles from ordinary. We have the best of all worlds here. You can live in a fast-paced city or the county. They can do it here.”

All four counties were also among the fastest-growing counties in the country in the last eight years. Compared to 2010 census data, Williamson ranked 25th in the nation with 26.4 percent growth, Rutherford ranked 38th with 23.7 percent, Wilson at 39th with 23.3 percent and Montgomery at 68th with 19.5 percent, the report said.

Since the last federal census in 2010, Wilson County was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to have grown by 26,552 people through 2018. The latest estimate showed Wilson County had 140,625 residents in the county.

Mt. Juliet remained the largest city in the county with 34,726 estimated people living in the city limits. The city is the 22nd largest in Tennessee.

The Census Bureau estimated Lebanon had 32,226 residents in it, which made it it the 24th largest city in Tennessee.

Watertown was estimated by the Census Bureau to claim 1,530 residents. It was the 194th city in the state.

Tennessee has 95 counties and 346 municipalities, known as “cities” or “towns.” According to the 2010 census bureau, just more than 56 percent of the state’s population lives in municipalities.

Counties with the largest numeric growth were all in the South and West, with counties in Texas taking four out of the top 10 spots, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.

WilCo Sparks of Kindness to Stuff the Bus

The Leadership Wilson Kindness Team plans to begin its second phase of the kindness mission, Stuff the Bus.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings recently declared May 8 as Kindness Day throughout Wilson County, and WilCo Sparks of Kindness reached more than 11,000 people and had more than 4,000 post engagements since that time. 

Wilson County residents will continue to spark kindness with donations of food items for the summer backpack programs. 

“There are hundreds of students who face food insecurity and hunger in the summer when they do not have access to school meals. This program provides food that the students can eat with little to no prep,” said Betty Williams, a Leadership Wilson member. The Stuff The Bus program is designed to gather food and distribute it to qualified students who attend Lebanon Special School District and Wilson County Schools.”

CedarStone Bank’s Lebanon and Mt Juliet locations are drop-off points for food items to Stuff the Bus during Kindness Day on May 8. 

“We are so excited to be a part of this great kindness revolution in Wilson County,” said Bob McDonald, president of CedarStone Bank. “What better way to be kind than to make sure our students have access to food this summer. We look forward to seeing our community rise up once again to demonstrate great kindness.”

Foods items needed include pop-top ravioli and spaghetti, individual macaroni and cheese bowls and packets, beef jerky, cheese and crackers, chips, individual cookie packets, breakfast bars, Pop Tarts, fruit snacks, juice bars or similar items. 

“These are items we have found work best for our students,” Williams said. “Both school systems want to make sure children have food for the summer. Help us meet our goal. Prior to May 8, take your donation to CedarStone Bank. If you want to be part of the big celebration day, bring your food items to Don Fox Park on May 8, where we will literally stuff the bus.”

To join the kindness revolution, visit WilCo Sparks of Kindness on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

LifeWay to close all 170 stores across the US this year

By Mike Pare

Chattanooga Times Free Press

NASHVILLE (TNS) – Nashville-based publisher LifeWay Christian Resources, the largest Christian retail chain in America, plans to close all its 170 brick-and-mortar stores across the country this year.

In Wilson County, the Mt. Juliet store at Providence will close by year’s end, according to LifeWay.

LifeWay acting president and CEO Brad Waggoner said last Wednesday the entity is moving into a new era with a strategic digital focus that will prepare it for the future and allow it to better serve customers.

“LifeWay is fortunate to have a robust publishing, events and church services business,” he said. “Our retail strategy for the future will be a greater focus on digital channels, which are experiencing strong growth.”

Bob Munce, president of the Christian Retail Association in Largo, Florida, said the planned closing of all of LifeWay’s stores “comes as a bit of of a shock in the industry.”

“I didn’t know it was as tough as it was for them,” he said. “They’re wonderful stores. Everybody wished this didn’t happen and they’d stay in business.”

In January, LifeWay announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales. LifeWay said last week the Hamilton Place store would close for the last time May 31.

“While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” Waggoner said.

He said the decision to close its local stores is a difficult one.

“LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honored to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbors,” Waggoner said.

The timing of store closings will vary depending on local circumstances. But, LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of the year.

Munce said many Christian bookstores and retailers are impacted by online sales just as secular businesses have been with the growth of Amazon and other e-commerce book sellers.

“All brick-and-mortar retail is under pressure,” he said, adding there’s not a decline in the interest in Christian publications and literature. “It’s a change in the way people buy things.”

Munce said the chains seemed to have struggled more than the independent retailers.

He said he’s optimistic Christian bookstores will rebound, as such retailers expand their offerings to inspirational gifts and other items. He said Bible sales at such stores are doing “extremely well.”

“It has gotten stronger rather than weaker,” Munce said, as buyers seek out expert advice to find the right Bible for them.

Lifeway, in operation since 1891, offers a comprehensive selection of Bibles, books, Scripture reference tools, Bible studies, children’s products, Christian music and movies, gifts and church supplies.

“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years, and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future,” Waggoner said. LifeWay distributes resources in 164 nations and licenses resources in more than 60 languages.

As part of the organization’s strategy, LifeWay has introduced a number of digital resources including online Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events and online training opportunities.

In one month, LifeWay said it interacts with five times as many people through its digital environments as it does through LifeWay stores.

Encore Theatre to present ‘Bedtime Stories’

The Encore Theatre Co. production of “Bedtime Stories (As Told by Our Dad)(Who Messed Them Up)” by Ed Monk will take the stage this weekend.

Directed by Erica Jo Lloyd, the show will open Friday and runs weekends through April 14. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees will start at 2:30 p.m. Doors will open 30 minutes before show time.

It’s dad’s turn to tell his three rambunctious children their bedtime stories, but when he gets fuzzy on the details, the classics get creative. A prince with a snoring problem spices up “The Princess and The Pea,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” cries dinosaur instead, and “Rumpelstiltskin” helps turn all that pesky gold into straw. The fairy tales may be well known but not the way dad tells them.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for youth and seniors. For tickets, visit ticketsnashville.com. To reserve seats and pay at the door, call 615-598-8950.

Encore Theatre Co. is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of State Rout 109, in Mt. Juliet. For information on auditions and upcoming productions, visit encore-theatre-company.org.

“Bedtime Stories” is produced by a special arrangement with Playscripts Inc.

Mt. Juliet chamber hears about autonomous vehicles, traffic

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce held its March chamber connection luncheon last Wednesday at Rutland Place, where Dan Work, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering and computer science and the institute for software integrated systems at Vanderbilt University, spoke about the future of autonomous vehicles and traffic.

Work’s presentation entitled “Autonomous Vehicles: The End of Traffic?” detailed the future adaptations and challenges that face the increased move toward vehicle automation.

“If it’s easy to travel, then we’re going to travel more,” Work told the crowd of more than 50 people.

While the idea of people each having their own autonomous vehicle to travel in seems like the next step in America transportation, Work said it will take more than just a few autonomous vehicles to help change traffic issues.

Work said a few autonomous vehicles on the road and those with adaptive cruise controls, which automatically slow down with traffic when cruise control is enabled, can help to elevate phantom traffic jams.

Work showed several videos of his work on analyzing traffic patterns. One of those videos was collaboration between Ford and Vanderbilt University that studied the effects of adaptive cruise control in reducing and eliminating phantom traffic jams.

“The thing that is most apparent to me is that the technologies that go into freight are the ones that are going to be the most beneficial up front – the stuff in the trucking world,” Work said. “Anything that you can do to reduce the labor or reduce the fuel costs of operating those vehicles is direct money that makes your system more profitable. You can offer more services and so on. It’s probably not as attractive. You’re not going to see it in the national news everyday, but it’s definitely where I think a lot of the smarter companies are betting on the technology development. Because the business proposition there is much more straight forward than convincing everybody in this room to basically buy a car that has an $80,000 sensor on top of it.”

Work also said he believes the best opportunity for autonomous vehicles in traffic reduction will be in the shipping industry with autonomous tractor-trailers.

Golden retriever calms patients at dental office

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A dental office in Mt. Juliet offers more than just procedures; it offers a golden retriever therapy dog that helps children and adults relax and get through the procedure without much stress.

Generations Dental Arts at 2031 N. Mt Juliet Road, Suite 100, in Mt Juliet, features Mack, a trained therapy dog to visit the patients on a regular basis.

Office coordinator Rebekah Glasmeier touted Mack and his benefits to the patients.

“Dr. Glasmeier and I have two children with autism,” she said. “A long time ago, I had seen that service dogs can help children with severe autism, especially those who run. I looked into it then and very quickly saw a price tag that I couldn’t afford. Most people have to fundraise for these dogs.”

As their son needed more therapy, the counselors were volunteers at a place called Retrieving Independence in Brentwood.

“They have service dogs that go through their program that the dogs go through,” she said. “It’s an 18-month program from birth. They’re bred into it. Their parents are both service dogs. At 13 weeks, they go into the prison system, and they work with prisoners one-on-one until they are 12 months old.”

While training, they come home on weekends and go with their volunteers to the communities.

“They’ll go to restaurants and sporting events, just to get them out there and used to people, while servicing at the same time,” she said.

After a year, the dogs go with their trainers into hospitals, Glesmeier said. That is when they decide which dogs will be bred and which would be service dogs, as well as which type of service dog they become. Once the dog graduates, potential owners come in and interact with the dogs to determine the right fit.

“Dogs match you with them,” she said. “You don’t get to match with the dog you want.”

She said her son’s therapist would bring the dogs in for therapy during counseling.

“I thought this is amazing,” she said. “All of the interaction between the kids, the counselors and the dogs were amazing.”

She said she started the process to get a dog for the dental office. Retrieving Independence had never had a dog go into a medical facility, Glasmeier said.

Mack’s original owner wasn’t happy with him because, although he was the ideal service dog, he was too loving, Glasmeier said. She said service dogs are usually not as loving.

When Mack was brought into the dental office, the trainers wanted to see how he would react. He wasn’t phased by the activity in the office, she said. He was calm and worked as a service dog. They even had some special needs patients come in, and Mack was calm and collected around them, as well.

“This came about because of our kids and having a need as a parent,” she said.

Glasmeier said, “every single patient who comes in here, young and old, the first words out of their mouth is, ‘Where’s Mack?’ He makes them smile; he makes them forget about where they are; he takes the unknown out of dentistry. Everyone fears dentistry a lot, because it’s the fear of the unknown.”

Mack often goes into the room with the patients and sits with them, no matter how long it takes, she said.

Glasmeier said, “Mack knows when a patient doesn’t like him. Mack knows when he’s not wanted. They’re taught to know when they’re not needed, wanted or tolerated. He will walk away.”

Carafem clinic gets permits to operate

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The carafem clinic, which is described as a women’s health clinic, received the necessary permits from the city of Mt. Juliet to operate at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

However, it will not be able to perform surgical abortions as it originally intended to do, according to Mt. Juliet planner Jennifer Hamblen.

The clinic opened March 1 and originally didn’t get the proper permits to open. The Mt. Juliet City Commission met in a special session March 4 and voted to restrict commercial zoning to not include surgical abortions. A surgical abortion clinic would have to be in an area zoned industrial, if it chose to operate in the city.

By state law, the proposed rezoning has to go before the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission, which it will do Thursday night. Then, the city commission would again have to approve the rezoning.

In the meantime, the clinic is open for women’s health procedures, excluding surgical abortions. Even though surgical abortions are not permitted in the zoning, abortions with a medical abortion pill can still be performed, according to state law.

“Mifeprex is the brand name for the drug referred to, and it is FDA approved for use in clinics but not dispensed in pharmacy. It’s been in use in the U.S. since 2000 with updated guidelines in 2016,” said Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson Elizabeth Hart.

The day of the city commission’s special-called meeting to rezone the clinic, a carafem spokesman said, “carafem opened a reproductive health care and family planning center in the Nashville metro area to provide safe, convenient and affordable health care options with a licensed, quality health provider to serve women in Tennessee. The health center offers early abortion care up to 10 weeks with the medical abortion pill, STI testing, a wide selection of birth control options such as IUDs, birth control implants, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills and emergency contraception.”

“With one-in-four women in the U.S. who will choose to have an abortion before the age of 45, carafem remains committed to ensuring that she has access to a safe, affordable medical care. We are proud to continue our mission to allow a woman to decide when and if she is ready to become a parent. Our doors remain open to serve clients in Mt. Juliet.”

Citizens and others opposed to abortion plan to peacefully protest this weekend, according to social media posts.

Protests are planned for Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. The information is on the Hip Mt. Juliet Against Abortion Facebook page. There are posts on the page from pro-life and pro-choice Wilson County residents, as well as people from other areas.

The protests will take place in the public areas in front of the Providence Pavilion building that houses carafem at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet planners vote to rezone surgical abortion clinics

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission on Thursday night approved a recommendation to the Mt. Juliet City Commission to rezone surgical abortion clinics from commercial to industrial.

The matter was placed on consent agenda at the planning meeting because that’s what happens with rezoning issues, according to city planner Jennifer Hamblen. The consent agenda is a grouping of various measures that are voted on in a single vote, rather than each item individually.

That matter pleased the sparse crowd, especially resident Bill Houston.

“At a clinic like that, two people go in and only one comes out,” he said. “This should not be in Mt. Juliet. It should be in Nashville, where most people would go to it.”

No one spoke for or against any item on the consent agenda when the time came for citizen comment.

By state law, the rezoning had to go before the city’s planning commission. Now that the planners approved it, the matter must once again go before the city commission.

In the meantime, the clinic is open for women’s health procedures, excluding surgical abortions. Even though surgical abortions are not permitted in the zoning, abortions with a medical abortion pill can still be performed, according to state law as found in Tennessee Code Annotated 39-15-201 and 39-15-202.

“Mifeprex is the brand name for the drug referred to and it is FDA approved for use in clinics but not dispensed in pharmacy. It’s been in use in the U.S. since 2000 with updated guidelines in 2016,” said Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson Elizabeth Hart.

A carafem spokesperson previously said, “[carafem] offers early abortion care up to 10 weeks with the medical abortion pill, STI testing, a wide selection of birth control options such as IUDs, birth control implants, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills and emergency contraception.”

Citizens and others opposed to abortions plan to peacefully protest this weekend, according to social media posts.

Protests are planned for Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. The information is on the Hip Mt. Juliet Against Abortion Facebook page. There are posts on the page from pro-life and pro-choice Wilson County residents and people from other areas.

The protest will take place in the public areas in front of the Providence Pavilion offices where the clinic opened in early March at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

City votes on road, land measures

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Mt. Juliet City Commission met in a special session Friday night to discuss annexation of property at 430 Clemmons Road into the city.

The commissioners had little discussion about the rezoning, which was done because the city previously made an offer for the property in question. If the city buys the property, the land will house a public works annex, which will allow for a variety of public works vehicles and utility structures, according to city public works director Jessica Gore. Among the structures will be sheds to house salt to be used on roads during winter months.

“Several years ago, we built some salt sheds on Industrial Drive, and those will be going away real soon,” said City Manager Kenny Martin. “Those serve our public works department with salt and other equipment. We’re making an offer on a piece of property, and time is of the essence. We moved it to today. We didn’t want to take a risk of not having a quorum on Monday and having to bump that out would actually mess me up with our planning commission.”

The measure was approved unanimously on first reading.

The commission also voted to annex 2.370 linear feet of Clemmons Road, and the right-of-way along the road. The annexation brought the land, which was an island in the county, into the city. The land was on the city’s urban growth boundary. The measure was approved unanimously on first reading.

Commissioner Ray Justice asked if all of Clemmons Road was included in the annexation.

Gore said it was not but would allow the city to “clean up from the city’s property back to Division [Street]. It keeps us from going in the city, out of the city, in the city, out of the city. This will also help with emergency services.”

Also, land, which is known as the Shevel property at 9846 Lebanon Road, was annexed into the city and rezoned from highway commercial to commercial town center. This will allow the property owner to open a real estate office on the property. A single structure will exist on the property. This rezoning was unanimously approved on first reading.

Commissioners voted to annex and create a plan of services for part of South Rutland Road and its right-of-way near 487 South Rutland Road into the city. They also voted to annex and create a plan of services for the intersection of Lebanon Road and North Green Hill Road, along with its right-of-way, into the city. The roads are both in the city’s urban growth boundary, and the measures both passed unanimously on final reading.

In addition, the commission voted to amend the current budget to increase paving costs. This will allow the city to built speed tables in various subdivisions, where speeding is a problem. Asphalt plants open this month, and the extra funding will allow the city to begin to install the speed tables in the current fiscal year, Martin said.

“This is another thing that we felt like was important,” Martin said. “Another reason for having a special meeting tonight. We’ve been meeting with [Gore] and [Andy Barlow, city engineer] about safety concerns. A lot of people are speeding motorists or folks going through people’s subdivisions. We decided to move up our timetable for installing what you’d call speed tables. Speed tables are elongated speed bumps.”

He said instead of stop signs, the city would install the speed tables to calm the traffic in the communities.

“We’re trying to expedite the process, which would have come in July. We’d be doing them at a much later time,” Martin said. “If we get those done sooner, we get ready for spring and summer. Those things are already in place and makes things safer for our community.”

New businesses headed to Mt. Juliet

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet’s growth is evident with new businesses scheduled to open in the near future.

Construction on the International House of Pancakes is about to end, and the restaurant is expected to open soon, according to planning director Jennifer Hamblen. The retail store, At Home, is also under construction and should open in the near future, she said.

“TriStar emergency room is slated to open [this] week, and Wash and Roll [a drive-through car wash] on Lebanon Road opened [Nov. 21],” she said. “Christian Brothers Auto Repair has submitted a site plan for December, and we have some exciting things lining up for submittal very soon.”

City Manager Kenny Martin said Mt. Juliet is excited about the new businesses, which will help fill holes in the city’s commercial areas.

“We proactively reach out to retailers across the country that our residents and visitors tell us they would like to see in Mt. Juliet,” Martin said. “We also encourage the importance of shopping locally daily.”

In addition to making connections with businesses in Tennessee in person and by email, Martin attends the annual International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas each May. He attends with Wilson County, Lebanon and Watertown as a joint Wilson County recruitment trip, he said.

He said, “Because of our low tax base, Mt. Juliet operates mainly off of sales tax revenue. Making Mt. Juliet an even more business-friendly environment not only encourages citizens and visitors to shop in Mt. Juliet, but also encourages businesses to come to Mt. Juliet.

Martin said shopping local “is most important to our mom-and-pop businesses and our corporate business, as well. Sales taxes help pay for our police, fire, parks, schools, public works, roads and so on. Revenue generated from sales taxes also helps us keep our property taxes low.

“Mt. Juliet has a property tax rate of $.016.5 cents. By comparison, Smyrna has a property tax rate of $.7007 per $100 of assessed value. LaVergne’s property tax rate is currently $0.71 per $100 of assessed value, and Hendersonville is $0.758 property tax per $100 of assessed value. Mt. Juliet, by far, has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state and with continued good sales tax revenue and being great stewards of the citizens’ resources, it is our plan to keep it that way.”

Businesses in Mt. Juliet help attract other businesses to come to the city, he said.

“Our businesses are our economic engines, and they are most helpful in helping our great city provide the wonderful services we provide,” Martin said. “This is most important in all communities, but with Mt. Juliet’s low property tax rate, the need for sales tax revenue is paramount. That is why shopping local is so vital for Mt. Juliet. Shopping local helps your community more than you know. When you shop in other communities, it supports that community and not your own, so please shop local by supporting Mt. Juliet and Wilson County businesses first.”

Jobless rate holds steady in Wilson

Staff Reports

NASHVILLE – The majority of Tennessee’s counties experienced a drop in unemployment, or their rates remained the same, according to the October statistics released Wednesday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Unemployment rates dropped in 26 Tennessee counties and remained the same in 36 counties when compared to September statistics. Thirty-three counties across the state experienced an increase in unemployment during October.

Wilson County ‘s rate of 3.1 percent, which held steady compared to September, remained the seventh lowest in the state behind Williamson, Davidson, Rutherford, Cheatham, Sumner and Sevier counties, respectively.

Wilson County’s rate in October represented 2,220 unemployed workers compared to a 72,090-person workforce and did not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits. Compared to the same time last year, the jobless rate was up 0.6 percent.

Lebanon’s rate for October remained flat at 3.6 percent compared to both September and August and was up 0.6 percent compared to a year ago. The city’s rate represented 540 unemployed workers, compared to a 15,130-person labor force.

Mt. Juliet’s rate for October was 3 percent and also remained flat compared to September’s revised rate and a 0.6 percent increase from a year ago. The rate represented 550 unemployed workers compared to an 18,400-person labor force.

The rate for the Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, decreased 0.1 percent from September to land at 2.9 percent in October but increased 0.4 percent from a year ago. The rate represented 30,510 unemployed workers compared to a nearly 1.04-million-person labor force.

Williamson County continued to have the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.7 percent.

Sales tax increase fails in close vote

A sales tax increase was close to approval in a referendum Nov. 6, but a difference of 2,225 votes showed the Wilson County sales tax will not increase from 9.25 to 9.75 percent.

Votes came in at 25,199 for and 27,424 against the sales tax increase in the unofficial tally.

The increase was intended to bolster funding for local schools and a proposed Wilson County Jail expansion and fill city coffers for upcoming expenses. Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said it was not to pay off any current debt, but a proactive step.

“This was a call to let the people decide how to pay for a future debt, not for a debt we have today,” Hutto said. “When the next debt rolls around, whether it be a jail or school or other expense, your options have just been narrowed. And we rely on now the adequate facilities tax, the property tax or possibly the wheel tax. The people have spoken, and now it’s down to three.”

Finance director Aaron Maynard said a wheel tax would be subject to referendum, as well.

“At the end of the day, we’re just happy that people had the chance to vote,” Maynard said. “This was about being proactive and trying to be out ahead. We don’t have a school on the table that’s not funded, and the next thing is the expansion of the jail.”

Of the current 9.25-percent sales tax rate, the state gets 7 percent, and Wilson County keeps 2.25 percent. The tax revenue is then split between educational services and the city in which the sale took place, per state law. 

For example, a business in a city collects and remits $1,000 in sales tax. The state would get about $757. The remaining $243 is split with half to educational services and the other half to the respective city.

During the last fiscal year, sales tax accounted for about 9 percent of the county’s revenues.

A half-cent sales tax increase would have generated an increase of about $11 million in additional revenue annually with $5.2 million granted to Wilson County and $5.8 million granted to the city in which the sale took place or the Lebanon Special School District.

With no increase in sales tax, the county will likely seek other methods to increase funding for school and jail construction.