Former Wilson County Mayor Bob Dedman dies

Lifelong Lebanon resident and former Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman died Thursday at home. He was 85.

Dedman served as Wilson County mayor for 12 years, from 1998 until he retired and current Mayor Randall Hutto became mayor in 2012. Before he was sworn in as mayor, Dedman served on the Lebanon City Council and as property assessor for three terms.

Dedman’s accomplishments are many, and those in the community remember him fondly.

“When I think of Bob Dedman, I think of a true champion and leader, whether it be in sports, politics or in life. He was always someone who listened to the people and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right. My thoughts and prayers are with his family,” former Wilson County Property Assessor Jack Pratt said.

Before Dedman was a politician, he was an athlete. He played on several championship football teams, including for Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Kentucky. When Dedman played for Lebanon High School from 1951-53, the Blue Devils football team was undefeated.

“Mayor Dedman was a great statesman in my mind in that he never lost an election. He really ran the county with ease. He got things done, not only as property assessor but also as county mayor for 12 years. He was a great man and a great mentor for me when I first thought about becoming a mayor,” said Hutto.

Statton Bone, who met Dedman at Lebanon High School in 1952, said he always made time for everyone. Dedman graduated from Lebanon in 1953.

“He did many, many good things for Lebanon and Wilson County over the years. He served in several different areas. He was very supportive of the Nashville Superspeedway back in its day and the development along I-840. He was a good public servant,” Bone said.

Dedman began his political career in 1972. He served as Lebanon’s first purchasing agent, worked for the secretary of state in 1978 and was then elected to the Lebanon City Council. During his time on the council, Pratt said he was influential to bring ward districts to Lebanon. He served as Senate sergeant-at-arms for the 100th Tennessee General Assembly.

“Bob was a great man. He was awfully good to me. I served as ag director when he was the county mayor. He was a good guy, a good leader. The county lost a good man. My sympathy goes out to his family,” Larry Tomlinson said.

Funeral services for Dedman were Monday at 1 p.m. at Sellars Funeral Home in Lebanon. Visitation was Sunday from 4-8 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. until the service at the funeral home. 

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. 

Mt. Juliet students excel in German

Mt. Juliet High School students Nicole Saul, Albert Hylmar and Addison Reiter were awarded gold medals and special recognition on the presidential honor roll for outstanding performance on the 2019 National German Exam for High School Students.

Saul and Hylmar received the award they scored in the 94th percentile on the level 1 National German Exam sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German. Reiter received the award after scoring in the 90th percentile on the level 1 National German Exam. 

Nearly 24,900 students participated in the exam this year nationwide. In Tennessee, 173 students competed on the level 1 exam, and 141 students competed on the level 2 exam. The National German Exam, in its 59th year, rewards students through an extensive prize program and provide a means of comparing students in all regions of the United States.

“The outstanding performance of these German students in our national competition brings honor to their school, their district and their German program,” said Susanne Rinner, associate professor of German at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and AATG president. “The AATG salutes their tremendous accomplishment and the great work their teachers do.”

Saul, Hylmar and Reiter are students in Janine Zahuczky’s German class at Mt. Juliet High School. Five other students were awarded certificates in the category of achievement, which signified a score of 50 percent in the nation or higher. Jude DeWald at 70 percent, Avery Clarkston at 61 percent, Rosemary Meads at 57 percent, Savannah Lowery at 55 percent and John Zimmerman at 50 percent outperformed half of the students in the U.S. in reading and listening comprehension. They also demonstrated mastery in identifying main ideas, supporting details and German vocabulary.

In addition, 11 Mt. Juliet High School students were inducted into the National German Honor Society recently. The students were Emily Austin, Collin Clark, DeWald, Brianna Hamilton, Hylmar, Jaxon Latta, Lowery, Matthew Niven, Reiter, Saul and Zimmerman. 

Students also participated in the Tennessee German Competition at Vanderbilt University, promoted German at the Mt. Juliet Elementary School multicultural night, spoke to eighth-grade students at Mt. Juliet High School’s parent night to encourage middle school students to take German. 

Teacher Janine Zahuczky said she was proud of all her students’ efforts to study world languages and broaden their horizons in different cultures.

Founded in 1926, the AATG represents German teachers at all levels of instruction. The AATG is dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the teaching of language, literature and culture of the German-speaking countries.

Wilson school board honors retirees

By Angie Mayes

Mt. Juliet News Correspondent

Thirty-seven Wilson County Schools employees who plan to retire were honored with a reception and presentation last Monday night prior to the Wilson County Board of Education meeting.

Among them was Esther Hockett, who worked for the district for 58 years and will retire at the end of the school year as a library media specialist at Mt. Juliet High School.

From 1963-69, Hockett was a teacher and librarian and a guidance counselor at Wilson County High School. At the time, she taught civics, 10th-grade English, health to girls, science, world history and government to seniors.

She said when she retires, she plans to “read, write, complete Bible studies, missionary projects, love and take care of my family, visit loved ones and see more of the world.”

She plans to continue to live in Mt. Juliet. 

Hockett said she decided to retire when she began “receiving answers to prayers. I have been praying to God for several years, and it’s time. Fifty years has seemed just like a very few days on this beautiful journey. Knowing that, I have been truly blessed and loved down through the years.”

She said she “will miss all of our current darling teachers, administrators, staff members and those who are not here, as well. Many of our current teachers are former students. I am so thankful to see them doing an excellent job. It has been a joy to work with each. God truly blesses.”

David Wright retired after 50 years as a bus driver. He was named state bus driver of the Year in 2017. Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said, “When it comes to Lebanon High School, he is always willing to drive.”

Transportation director Jerry Barlow said, “[David Wright’s] blood does run blue.”

David Wright did retire in November due to health conditions, he said.

“I was sick and had to retire,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to give up, but I had to.”

Linda Highers and Patti Smith also plan to retire. Highers said she retired in December and was with the system for 31-and-a-half years.

“I was hired to teach third grade, but then taught kindergarten to third grade,” said Highers, who taught at Watertown Elementary School. “I loved teaching and was a math teacher, as well as an art teacher.”

Smith also taught at Watertown Elementary School and said she has worked for the school system for 30 years. She was hired as a fifth-grade teacher, but then taught third through sixth grades. Smith taught language, reading and social studies.

Janet Spruill and Cindy Willis also plan to retire.

Spruill, who taught at Southside Elementary School, will retire after 41-and-a-half years. She taught first grade and said she will miss teaching.

“I enjoy working with the children,” she said.

Willis, who is a librarian at Lakeview Elementary School, will retire after 29 years with the school system. Twenty of those years were at Lakeview, she said.

“I will miss the kids, but I won’t set my alarm [after she retires],” Willis said. “I will also go at a slower pace.”

Bus driver Charles Lanius plans to retire after 12 years. He said he loved working as a driver.

Math and STEM teacher David Haines plans to retire after 19 years with the school system as 24 years as a teacher. He taught at Mt. Juliet High School.

“I will miss the kids,” he said, echoing many of his fellow retirees.

Others who plan to retire this year are Robert Agee, Tony Batey, Margie Blair, Charles Bowman, Steven Carter, Anita Christian, Cindy Climer, Barbara Coffee, Walter Crawley, Susan Davis, Kelly Eagar, Violet Elliots, Tracy Fialkowski, Samuel Figgins, Kathy Gallager, Cynthia Givens-Harris, Rebecca Ann Laveck, Bridgete Lewis, Barbara Marks, Debra Martin, Robin Morthel, Ann Nored,, Joan Priebel, Donna Robertson, Lorii Sharp, Rick Sink, Linda Gayle Smith, Mary Wheeler and Jerry Williams.

Central Tennessee Soccer seeks new place to play

By Angie Mayes

Mt. Juliet News Correspondent

The Central Tennessee Soccer league seeks for new fields, so league play cannot be interrupted when it starts in August.

Its last game of the season will be Saturday on its current fields at 700 Sullivan Bend Road in Mt. Juliet. As soon as the games are done, team members and leaders will pack their items and take them to storage.

The league was at the Sullivan Bend property for eight years, according to Johnny Davis, director of coaches for Central Tennessee Soccer.

“We always knew [the property] was going to be sold at some point, but just didn’t know when,” Davis said. “We were notified right before Easter that we had 30 days to vacate the property.”

About 700 players are in the league each year, which has two seasons, one in the spring and one in the fall. The one in the spring runs March through May, and the fall league runs from August through October. There are about 350 players during each season, Davis said. Currently, there are 30 teams in the league. Players range from 4-18 years old.

“We would love to stay in Mt. Juliet, but we also want to keep our league alive, so we would be open to other options,” he said. “Most of us live in Mt. Juliet and most of our kids live in Mt. Juliet.

“I’m confident we will find land, even though it might not be as much as we would like. We have asked our current families to reach out to everyone they know. We have done some door knocking. We have posted on Facebook. We did a news story on [a Nashville television station] last week. I personally met with Kenny Martin, the Mt. Juliet city manager, and he is trying to help me find some options for fields. 

The league can make 8 acres “work, but would prefer around 15 acres,” Davis said. “On 15 acres, we could put about 12 different size soccer fields. With 8 acres, we would be able to do around six to eight fields.”  

In 2018, the league started what they called the Foundation Program, which allows all the kids in U6 and U8 to play for free or for a donation. 

“We did this, because we wanted every child to have the chance to be introduced to the great game of soccer without having to worry about financial obligations that might limit them from playing,” he said. “For a lot of us involved with the league, these kids have become like family. For me, my son is almost 8 and has been playing in the league for four years now. I have several kids who have played with me for three-plus years. We have several people who have been volunteering with our league for years without having kids involved in the league anymore, because they love these kids and the game of soccer.

“After Saturday’s games, we will start at 2 p.m., packing up the goals to transport them to a storage location. Any help with that would be appreciated.”

To contact Davis, call him at 615-354-3957.

Justice offers city funding options

By Angie Mayes

Mt. Juliet News Correspondent

Mt. Juliet Commissioner Ray Justice gave an optional city funding presentation to a proposed property tax increase Friday at a Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Justice told the crowd of various options to fund the fire department and help fund infrastructure needs.

The original proposal from city staff was a property tax increase to a total of 59 cents, which would be broken down to 39 cents specifically given to fire department needs and 20 cents directed to infrastructure projects.

“In 2011, Wilson County passed a resolution that stated Wilson County would not cover the fire services for the city of Mt. Juliet above what they were currently providing,” Justice said in his presentation. “Any enhancement to the city of Mt. Juliet’s fire coverage by the city itself would result in the city having to take over all fire services. The funding of this project would fall to the city taxpayers to fund. Our taxpayers had to have fire service. It had to be funded.”

He said the tax rate for the city of Mt. Juliet was not lowered, although the service was no longer provided.

It was lowered from 20 cents to 16 cents in the past due to reappraisal of properties, according to Mayor Bill Hagerty in a Mt. Juliet City Commission meeting a few months ago.

“The current property tax funds the Mt. Juliet Fire Department,” Justice said in the presentation. “[We have the] lowest city property tax rate in Wilson County. [The] proposed city property tax rate increases to 59 cents or 39 cents would still be lowest city tax in Wilson County.”

The current property tax on a $150,000 home is $62 per year. On a $300,000 home, it is $125. On a $500,000 home, it is $208.

“The current budget deficit for [the fire department for] fiscal year 2018-2019 is $450,000,” he said. “[For the] 2019-2020 projected [fire department] budget deficit at the .1664-cent property tax rate is $565,000. [The] majority of property tax revenue is received between December and February. Depleting reserves creates cash flow problems from July to November. [The] current plan for construction and operational cost of additional fire station is why we are having these discussions.”

To build a proposed fire hall on the north side of the city near the new Green Hill High School, the cost is estimated to be $4.138 million, while operating costs would be just less than $2 million.

Justice said there are additional needs for the fire department. An increase of funding would help the department “close existing budget deficit [of $565,000], add staffing for at least one ladder company [at 12 personnel with four per shift]; critical need based on increasing number of multi-story facilities, including assisted living complexes; staffing could be phased in over time.”

Also, the city would need to replace self-contained breathing apparatus and turnout gear, replace the Center City fire station behind city hall and replace squad 103 and engine 104 in 2023. The need to add staffing for a dedicated shift commander of three personnel with one per shift, and replace compressor and radios, Justice said in the presentation.

Justice said under the first option, which was previously proposed, the city would raise taxes. To fully fund the current operation, it would levy a 23.5-cent tax increase. To fund the operations of the north station, the cost would be an additional 11 cents. To cover the additional needs for the north station, and then the City Center station would cost 4.25 cents, for a total of 39 cents.

The increase for a $150,000 home would be $84, which would bring the total to $146. For a 300,000 home, the cost would be an additional $168, which would bring the total to $293 and for a $500,000 home, the increase would be an additional $280 to $488.

A second option would be to increase the tax rate to 59 cents. That would increase the tax rate for $150,000 from $159 to $221. For a $300,000 home, the increase would be $318 to $443. For a $500,000 home, the increase would be $530 to $738.

Other options include a sales tax increase from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent, which would generate an estimated $555,000 annually. That would require a public referendum to pass or fail the measure. Last year, Wilson County proposed an increase by referendum, but voters rejected it by about 2,000 votes.

There could be general fund transfers to cover deficit. The general fund supports all other city departments and includes current transfers to state street aid fund, debt service fund, and capital projects fund, Justice said.

Impact fees are also an option, Justice said.

“Impact fees for infrastructure are very common for cities and counties,” he said. “Justification studies are underway to determine actual cost of growth. [We can use] per-capita costs of growth. Williamson County recently was allowed to implement and take advantage of [an] impact fee by the courts.”

The newest option is to use half of the hotel-motel tax that guests pay in their bill and is collected by the hotel or motel. The funds were originally dedicated to parks capital improvements, Justice said.

“[It is] now bringing in about $800,000 per year,” Justice said in his presentation. “A cap of $400,000 would continue to be dedicated to capital parks projects. The remaining $400,000 would be directed to the fire department to help offset the current deficit.”

Fees for infrastructure are about $1.8 million.

“TDOT has announced four projects being placed in the three-year plan for Mt. Juliet-west Wilson County, all as a result of the IMPROVE Act,” he said.

That includes an interchange at Central Pike, right-of-way acquisition on Lebanon Road and right-of-way acquisition on South Mt. Juliet Road, from Central Pike to Providence Drive, according to the presentation.

“The total cost for road and greenway projects between 2020 and 2024 is estimated to be $37,841,438,” Justice said.

The city projects nearly $17.1 million would come from state and federal grants, the presentation said. City funds for the projects are estimated to be nearly $19 million that would be spent in the next four years, according to the presentation.

For a project, the estimated costs, which would affect road projects are $75,000 for turn lanes, $180,000 for a red-light addition, $300,000 for a road widening and $70,000 for sidewalks along peripheral roadways, for a total of $625,000, Justice said. The per-home impact fee would be $2,500 and with the increase, would be used to help pay for infrastructure projects.

Wilson County recognizes May as ALS Awareness Month

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto signed a proclamation last Wednesday that designated May as ALS Awareness Month in Wilson County.

Several citizens, community leaders and family members who were affected by ALS, including Bryan Galentine and Ashley Vickers, joined Hutto at a ceremonial proclamation signing at the Wilson County Courthouse.

The proclamation calls for county residents to help raise awareness about ALS, raise funds for research and reach out to those suffering. Blue is the ALS awareness color, and residents are encouraged to wear blue throughout the month to show their support.

“If we don’t recognize it, and if we don’t continue to raise funds to defeat it, then we’re going backwards. So that is our motive here today, to do this and to get other people involved. I had a chance to be a part of the ice bucket challenge back during the summer [to help the Vickers family raise money for ALS awareness], and we want to do more of these things to kind of help support and to also raise funds to find a cure for this disease,” said Hutto, before he ended the event with a group prayer.

ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and affects at least 16,000 people in the United States at any time, with about 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the ALS Association. More information about ALS, its symptoms and research for a cure may be found at alsa.org.

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.

Crowds gather for National Day of Prayer despite storm

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

Hundreds of people gathered at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet last Wednesday evening for the Everyone’s Wilson National Day of Prayer Gathering, where faithful Christians prayed and celebrated with music, community and food trucks.

Storms rolled in about halfway through the event that drove some to shelter, but the rain didn’t stop the crowd from its mission to celebrate unity between the different churches.

One of the attendees was David Barnard, of Mt. Juliet, who said the event was successful despite the weather, because it brought people together regardless of color or denominations.

“This event was important to me, because this was the first step in combing the churches, combining the colors, combining the Christians and showing the world that Mt. Juliet can be a beacon against racism, against hunger and for God,” Barnard said. “I came here without expectations, but it was beautiful to see even with the rain, even with the bad conditions, people stayed, people praised, and people enjoyed themselves. What the beautiful thing to me was that you didn’t see clusters of black people and clusters of white people and clusters of one church and clusters of another church. You saw everybody blended together and mingled together, and that’s the way it should be.”

More information about Everyone’s Wilson may be found at everyoneswilson.org.

Cameron named CASA volunteer of the year

Chris Cameron, of Mt. Juliet, was named Wilson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates’ advocate of the year for his dedication to the program and to the children who come to the attention of CASA through the court system.

Wilson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates has recruited and trained volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children for the past 31 years.

Annually, an award is given to one exceptional volunteer advocate, one who goes above and beyond and one who challenges and pushes the envelope. 

Cameron has served as a volunteer advocate for six years, and during this time, he was an advocate for 12 children and donated several hours of his time, along with countless miles, to the organization. 

“Wilson County CASA depends on volunteers like Chris to fulfill the role of a court advocate for children who are navigating the court system as a result of being abused or neglected,” said Cathey Sweeney, executive director of Wilson County CASA. “Children come to the attention of the Department of Children’s Services as a result of reported abuse or neglect, then are routed through the court system where a CASA volunteer may then be assigned to advocate for the child. Volunteer advocates remain on the child’s case for the duration that they are before the court.”

Other award recipients included:

• Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner received the community champion award.

• Lee Roy Campbell received the spirit award. 

• David Chamberlain received the heart of CASA award.

• Jenni Bond received the extraordinary service award.

• Lee Campbell received the pinnacle award. 

• Brittany Ash was named rookie of the year. 

• staff program director Diana Haines was presented with a 10-year service award.

Wilson County CASA currently has 85 volunteers, but more are needed. Contact the CASA office at 615-443-2002 or visit wilsoncountycasa.org to find out how to become involved or to make a financial contribution so someone else can be trained.   The next training session is scheduled to begin in June.

Bloodhounds find need in Wilson County, pioneer rescue database

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

About four years ago, the search for a missing Alzheimer’s patient spurred Wilson County Emergency Management Agency firefighter and paramedic Anthony Nettles to turn to a tried-and-tested asset to find missing people, bloodhounds.

Nettles started an all-volunteer organization called Wilson County K-9 Search and Rescue, which is dedicated to assist first responders in search and rescue throughout the county.

Otis the hound was the first of Nettles’ pack soon after he realized the need and chance to help save lives. He started his training with experienced dog trainers from the Scientific Working Group on Dog and Orthogonal detector Guidelines.

The team has two full-grown bloodhounds named Otis and Dossi, one German Shepard named Harley and recently welcomed bloodhound puppies, Penny and Gumbo.

“My wife and I started training with them, and it took about two years to get Otis certified and comfortable to where we knew that if it was my kid that we were looking for, that I had no doubt that this dog was going to go out and find them,” Nettles said. “After that, we picked up Dossi from a shelter in Alabama, and we started training her. She’s our human-remains dog. She does cadaver work on land and water.”

The dogs are trained in “man-trailing,” which means the dog follows someone’s scent, while tracking is following footstep to footstep in thunderstorms, snow, across asphalt and rivers, wherever the scent leads them.

“We train at least 24 hours a month and four or five hours each weekend, but that’s just the big training,” Nettles said. “We also do little trainings at home. We have someone go hide in the woods, things like that, so we’ve probably got about 6,000 hours in Otis right now, and Dossi has about 2,000.”

Nettles said the bloodhounds have the ability to smell 1,000 times that of humans, something that makes them especially good at tracking.

“When you walk into a house, and you smell beef stew, he walks into the house and he smells the oregano; he smells the salt; he smells the carrot, all different, and he processes it down. And that’s what makes them great scent-discrimination dogs,” Nettles said. “They’re amazing animals.”

Nettles also said each dog has their own unique command to start, which for Otis is, “Find ‘em,” and for Gumbo is “rougarou,” a reference to Nettles’ Louisiana upbringing.

Wilson County K-9 Search and Rescue’s newest member to the four-person team is Barron Grant, who also works for WEMA.

“I’ve been wanting to get on the team for a while,” Grant said. “Search and rescue has always been a passion for me, always had a love for dogs and animals, and I also work as a firefighter and paramedic for the county, as well, and being able do both is just icing on the cake. I get to do my two loves in this life, and it’s awesome.”

It’s clear for Nettles and Grant, the bond goes beyond owner and pet to the level of an almost spiritual connection. It’s a professionalism that transcends species and requires an understanding their work can help save lives or facilitate healing in the toughest of times.

“We work out heart out. We don’t charge anything for the service. It’s free, and we’re all volunteers. You could blindfold me, and I’d trust Otis with my life, like he trusts me,” Nettles said. “Just working out there, knowing that we’re fixing to go to work, he starts singing and jumping up and down. He loves to do this. Most dogs are driven by food, like Penny here. She’s a hungry little girl, so we treat her. But Otis, he’s gotten such a love for what he does that all he wants is daddy to tell him that he’s a good boy, and we have a little party at the end.”

That party includes lots of pets and a high-pitched praise of the dog’s efforts, something Nettles insists helps to communicate the good work to the copper hound.

Nettles said, while the dogs are able to track people long into their lives, they plan to keep the dogs working for about 10 years before passing the baton – or in this case the dog bone – onto the next generation of hounds.

“Our average is about nine to 10 years, and then we start training the next group and, like I said, we lucked up with Gumbo and Penny, so this will put Otis at right about five or six years. That way, Gumbo and Penny will be about 2 when we get ready to certify them. That way, they’re ready to go, and we can start looking for the next ones,” Nettles said. “You always want to keep enough ammunition to fight the war.”

Nettles said securing a total of six members would be optimal for their group who looks toward an organized future of working in Wilson County, which would include zoning off the county for faster response times. But what he’s most excited about is his development of Wilson County K-9 Search and Rescue’s newest effort, a voluntary database of people with autism and Alzheimer’s who may be most at risk of becoming a missing person.

The program, called Project Safe Autistic Alzheimers Return Assistance, is the first of its kind in Wilson County and as far as Nettles knows, may be the first of its kind in the world to help save precious time and lives in a missing persons case.

“We’ve got 35, 45, maybe even 50 questions that we have to ask to get adequate information so that we can do a search,” Nettles said. “It’s very time consuming and, if you can imagine, if you had a son with autism that walked off, you’re going to be frantic. You’re not going to understand why I’m standing there asking you so many questions when I’ve got a dog right there that could be at work. So I got with [WEMA] director Joey Cooper and [Wilson County] Mayor Hutto, and we’ve developed a link on Wilson County’s website, which should be operational soon, and it has all the questions there, and in your leisure time, you can answer the questions, so that if your child wanders off, you call 911 as usual and tell the dispatcher that you enrolled in Project SAARA, and this is the number that they gave me.”

Nettles said the dispatchers would then send the identification number to the search-and-rescue group, which would save about two hours of vital search time to find someone who may be missing.

“It also tells you how to develop a scent article that you can keep at home. That way, we won’t have to come in and take your toothbrush, your hairbrush, your clothes or pillowcase and shove it up a dog’s nose,” Nettles said. 

Nettles said developing a scent article is as simple as having a person wipe themselves with a gauze pad, and have them place that in a sealed reusable plastic bag, double bag the gauze in another plastic bag and place those in a sealed manila envelope with a recent photo of the person who might go missing. Nettles said the Project SAARA identification number should be written on the envelope, and the envelope can be stored in the freezer without the scent expiring.

More information about Wilson County K-9 Search and Rescue may be found at facebook.com/Wilson-County-K9-Search-and-Rescue.

Wilson Central choir closes out year with songs, tears

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

The Wilson Central High School choir held its spring choral concert last Tuesday night, which marked the final performance for 10 seniors.

Senior Christina Bailey, who was recognized as most dedicated, shared tears and hugs with her classmates after the performance. Bailey said her four-year commitment to the choir paid off in friendships and priceless memories to carry with her as she prepares for college.

“From day one, Mrs. Morin has been like a mom to me, somebody that I can always talk to, and the choir itself has always been a big dysfunctional family in a way,” Bailey said. “Without them, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to stand here tonight and feel as proud as I do.”

Wilson Central’s director of choral activities Lynn Morin said the group of choral students was especially important to her as they became more like family than simply students.

“Every year we finish our year in a traditional way. We sing traditional songs, and every time it just kind of signifies the end of four years for our kids but the other kids also connect with it because of the beauty of the text, the beauty of the music, and they’re very comfortable with it because they sing it every year,” Morin said. “This year’s senior class, as I said, was extremely special to me. I came into this job and didn’t know a soul moving to this area and these kids were literally my family from day one. They accepted me from day one, and they have stuck with me, and they just have my heart.”

While it’s over for some, the most significant moment still lies in wait for 18 students who will board a plane early Thursday morning for a historic performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, where they will perform with Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was a focus of the chamber choir who has worked for months to prepare and perfect its performance and raise funds to travel for the Sunday performance.

Morin said it was all possible because of the support for the arts throughout the community, Wilson County Schools and especially from the community and administration at Wilson Central.

“There are a lot of people here in Wilson County who love the arts, and it’s evident at all of our concerts, and I can just say thank you to those who do support the arts,” Morin said. “Sometimes these kids feel like they’re in the background, but on a night like tonight, they weren’t. They were in the spotlight.”

Prom raises safety concerns

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

Hundreds of Mt. Juliet High School students packed the front lawn of the school Friday to watch a gruesome mock crash that shut down Golden Bear Parkway with the hopes to show them the sad realities that can result from distracted or impaired driving.

Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler said the annual event is meant to get the attention of students and hopefully bring a little awareness to dangers on the roadway.

“A lot of students are going to be driving to downtown Nashville, and what we just want to impress is driving safely. This demonstration [Friday] gives them a good, visible image of what could happen if they were driving unsafe. So if they’re texting, if they’re driving while impaired, stuff like this, this crash that we see today can easily happen,” Chandler said.

“We’ve received a lot of feedback from students and parents and teachers and, of course, the administration here at the school just thanking us every year for doing it. They reach out to us every year wanting us to come out and do this, and we make sure to always make it happen. Really, it’s something that generates conversation amongst the students, teachers and parents, and hopefully with that, they’ll keep it in the backs of their heads that, ‘hey, I need to drive safe. If I don’t, something bad might happen.’ What we want is to keep people safe on our roadways. We don’t want them to end up in a crash.”

Along with Mt. Juliet police, first responders from the Wilson Emergency Management Agency and Mt. Juliet firefighters took part in the demonstration, which ended with a Vanderbilt Medical Center LifeFlight helicopter that landed in front of the school. Hamblen’s Wrecker Service provided the two cars used in the mock crash.

Health science teacher Kim Brown helped to outfit students from her EMS class with bleeding lacerations, protruding ribs, burns and more as they played the roles of injured and dead students in the mock crash. Chocolate syrup, corn syrup, makeup kits and Q-tips were some of the tools used to bring realism to a scenario she hoped would be both eye opening and educational.

“Students will research wounds, and they have talked about it and then make them, and when it comes to the actual mock crash, I give them two das to prep for it,” Brown said.

“It’s been a really fun experience, and hopefully it helps out everyone to see the dangers of drinking and driving or distracted driving on prom night, because it’s supposed to be a fun night, but everyone needs to be safe at the same time,” said senior Bailey Wheeler. She helped apply wounds to her fellow students like junior Joshua Hoover whose face was donned with road rash, a laceration and a left eye that hung from its socket.

While the preparation and application of the fake wounds is fun for the students involved, for some people, especially the occasional parent who stopped by for the demonstration, the scene could be a bit jarring.

One of those parents was Todd White, whose daughter, Maggie White, is a junior. Maggie White played one of the dead students in the demonstration. Her father said that it was his first time to see a demonstration like this, but he hoped it helped get the message across, especially as his daughter will be one of the students who makes her way to Nashville on Saturday night.

“It’s actually kind of creepy to be honest with you. My wife was kind of scared to see it, because she’s going to be put in a body bag,” Todd White said. “We try and talk about drinking and driving, to never be on your phone, texting and driving and the radio is a big thing for me, to not have it blaring too loud.”

Mt. Juliet High School’s prom will take place Saturday night at the Music City Center. It was a decision principal Leigh Anne Rainey said was based on the desire from both parents and students to have the prom in a more unique and special location than at the school.

This weekend also marks the arrival of historic numbers of people for the NFL Draft, which has congested streets, hotels and parking lots throughout the greater Nashville area.

Both Rainey and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, which provides school resource officers for the school, took all of it into account.

“We have hired SRO officers each year for the safety of our students,” Rainey said. “The Music City Center does a wonderful job of also providing security and a secure location for our students. There are normally concerts and other activities downtown during the MJHS prom, but the draft has caused us to use more consideration and helping to provide transportation and parking options with the help of our PTSO that we have not ever done in the past.  Transportation and parking has never been addressed in the past, and this will be our fourth year to hold prom at MCC.”

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore said while the additional SROs will help with safety, both students and parents should exercise responsible planning and caution while traveling to and from prom.

“Since Nashville will have many things going on that night, we urge all parents and students to make themselves aware of the high volume of people who will be in the city. Allow for ample time to arrive to the prom, don’t be distracted while driving and do not get behind the wheel if you are under the influence,” Moore said. “One of the biggest concerns with any prom that we have is the number of accidents that happen while drinking and driving on prom night. We want to wish all of the students a safe and memorable night, but we urge everyone to be responsible while doing so.”

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.

‘A Grand Celebration’ planned for the fair

The Wilson County Fair Board selected “A Grand Celebration” as the theme for the 2019 Wilson County Fair, which will open Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. and continue through Aug. 24.

“Our theme focuses on the many milestone celebrations happening in our Wilson County community in 2019,” said Wilson County Fair Board president Randall Clemons.

Clemons said some of the milestones include Wilson County Promotions celebrating 40 years of producing the Wilson County Fair, the city of Lebanon celebrating 200 years and Wilson County celebrating 220 years. Several other businesses such as Cracker Barrel, Demos’, Wilson County Farmers’ Co-op and The Lebanon Democrat, to name a few, each celebrate significant milestones in 2019.

Each day of the fair will be a different celebration to create an overall grand celebration during the nine-day fair.

Agricultural fairs are a tradition in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture was formed in 1854 to promote agriculture through fairs and expositions and continues to support fairs held across the state. Nearly 3 million people visit Tennessee agricultural fairs each year.

As the largest county fair in Tennessee, the Wilson County Fair maintains a focus on fun, entertainment and agriculture experiences for all fairgoers. Clemons said the agriculture commodity focus for 2019 will be the “Year of Wool.” 

“Our fair’s roots and existence remain as an agriculture fair,” Clemons said. “Agriculture feeds us, clothes us and shelters us, and we use a different commodity each year to educate, as well as bring attention to, the importance of agriculture in all of our lives.”

There will be more than 150 events planned during the nine-day fair, and volunteers are making plans to tie the theme in to the many exhibits and competitions during the fair.   

The 2019 Wilson County Fair will again be presented by Middle Tennessee Ford Dealers. The cover of the 2019 Wilson County Fair premium catalog, which will be distributed in mid-July, encompasses both the theme and the agriculture commodity while depicting all aspects of fair events and activities.

Clemons said fair organizers plan for this year to be a great fair. There are lots of plans made to make coming to the fair “a great place for family fun and entertainment.”

“We want ewe at the 2019 Wilson County Fair, along with your family and friends,” Clemons said. “We’re working hard to make this year’s fair the best one ever.”

For more information about the fair, visit wilsoncountyfair.net.

Bella’s Battle includes Vandy athletes as warriors

By Quinten Brasher

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The definition of the word brave is having strength to face danger, fear or difficulty.

It’s a characteristic not bestowed on someone lightly. It’s reserved only for those who walked through the fire and felt the heat, but pressed on and came out stronger on the other side. Bella Hollis is brave.

The Mt. Juliet 13 year old was dealt a tough hand in October. A cancerous tumor was found in her spine that spread to her brain. On Halloween, when most children got cavities from candy, Hollis had emergency brain shunt surgery at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. This was followed by seven weeks of proton therapy radiation and chemotherapy in Knoxville. It was one hit after another.

“After Christmas and after she had finished her radiation, I was like ‘OK, what can we do that can be fun and lift us up?’” said her mother, Rachel Corvi.

Enter Emily Mathewson and the Vanderbilt women’s lacrosse team.

The Commodores registered for the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation that pairs sports teams with children in their community afflicted by cancer; a form of “adoption.”

That was two years ago.

“Freshman year I registered our team with Friends of Jaclyn — and we got put on standby to kind of wait until kids in the area also signed up. Two years of waiting,” said Mathewson.

Mathewson, now a junior at Vanderbilt University, waited patiently to hear back from the foundation.

Then the stars aligned perfectly.

“I got an email saying that Bella was getting treatment at Vandy Children and asked if we wanted to adopt her,” said Mathewson. “Obviously we said yes.”

Hollis had a few reservations about an adoption by a sports team.

“I was afraid they weren’t going to be very…peppy, I guess,” she said.

Hollis and the team were paired together Jan. 24, just four days before Hollis’ birthday.

The team decided their first meeting with Hollis would be a huge birthday party.

When Hollis and her family arrived at Vanderbilt, they had no idea just how much their lives would change.

The Commodores formed a run-through tunnel as Hollis, who was still going through physical therapy, made her way under the spirit-finger roof with her walker. She was given a team jersey, Vandy hats, her own locker in the team locker room and “a whole bunch of cards.” Hollis and her new adoptive family ate cake, played games and made black-and-gold bracelets, which neither Hollis nor the team has taken off since.

Had the story ended there, it would still be a nice one; but that wasn’t the case.

Since the adoption, Hollis and the Commodores have become closer than anyone expected. She’s attended some of their games and even appeared on the scoreboard screen. Even after they threw her a big birthday party, a few members of the team drove to her home in Mt. Juliet for Hollis’ party for her family. When Hollis gets treatment at the hospital, five or six Commodores at a time visit her. They talk about their day, watch funny videos, take silly pictures or talk about Hollis’ favorite hats. Her all-time favorite is a tiara. Everyone smiles, especially Hollis.

“They’re not that much older than me, but they’ve got cars and everything, so it’s definitely different than having my normal group of friends,” said Bella.

At the foot of Hollis’ bed sat Mathewson, who gave all of her attention to her brave adoptive sister.

As the relationship between Hollis and the team grew, so did the relationship between the team and her family. Members of the team want to do anything they can to give Hollis’ family relief and even offered to give her siblings a ride from Mt. Juliet to Nashville to see her.

Hollis and the Vanderbilt women’s lacrosse team were a match made in heaven. The relationship they’ve built with last long after Hollis is cancer-free and walks out of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for the last time.

Hollis went through the fire and felt the heat but has never waivered, and when she comes out on the other side, not only will she be stronger than ever, she’ll have a family of strong women beside her.

Learn more about Hollis on Facebook at Bella’s Battle.

City leaders present tax increase plan

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

About 25 citizens and 10 city leaders met Thursday night at the Mt. Juliet Police Department to present a proposed tax increase plan.

The proposed increase, which would bring the tax to 59 cents for every $100 of assessed property. The increase, like others, would be on all land, homes and businesses in the Mt. Juliet city limits.

Thirty-nine cents of the proposed rate would be earmarked and specifically used for the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet. Among the items it would pay for would be a fully equipped and manned fire station on the north side of the city.

Currently, the station in the center of the city behind City Hall, responds to the north side. The response time is more than nine minutes versus the response times for the central and south districts, which have stations in the area.

The other 20 cents would be used for infrastructure improvements and other costs.

After a 25-minute presentation, members of the public, as well as the city commission, talked about their ideas of an increase. No citizen in the room appeared to be for the increase, but some spoke to just get more information.

The current property tax rate is 16.64 cents. When the property tax was first levied, it was 20 cents, but due to reassessment of property two years ago, it was lowered so residents and business owners would not have to pay more.

On a $150,000 home, residents pay $62 per year. For a $300,000 home, the owners pay $125 per year. For a $500,000 home, they pay $208 per year.

Within the presentation, city finance director Dana Swinea laid out the proposal in a multi-page PowerPoint program. Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman and assistant public works director Andy Barlow also spoke about fire and transportation needs, respectively.

According to the presentation, the fire department’s budget is in a deficit of $450,000. Next year’s projected budget at the current tax rate, the deficit would increase to $565,000. The tax bills are mailed Oct. 1, and the majority of tax revenues come in between December and February.

The deficits are paid by the general fund, but Swinea said when that happens, there is less money for other departments. The current general fund balance is about $1.8 million, she said.

The location for a new fire hall scheduled for the north side isn’t finalized. There is a building pad that was created next to the new Green Hill High School, but it isn’t platted yet, so there is no option for the city to build the station on that land, according to City Manager Kenny Martin. He is also looking for other land, specifically a parcel, which could be donated to the city, he said.

Estimated costs for the new station are nearly $4.14 million, which would include construction, equipment and furnishings, fire apparatus equipment, radios, turnout gear and uniforms. That would be a one-time cost. The annual expenses, which would include payroll, maintenance, fuel, tires and other items come to nearly $1.2 million, Swinea said.

The recommended property tax rate to fund the fire department only would be 39 cents. Included in that number is 23.75 cents to fully fund the current operation, 11 cents to fund the operations of the north station, and then the center station itself would be 4.25 cents.

If the proposed 39-cent property tax increase is approved, owners of a $150,000 home would pay $84 more for a total of $146. For a $300,000 home, the payment would be $168 more for a total of $293. For a $500,000 home, the tax rate would be $280 more for a total of $488.

The Insurance Services Office rates fire departments by response times, hydrants, etc. Currently the city’s rating is a public protection rating of 5. Luffman said currently, the cost of insurance for a $150,000 home is $732. With a new station, insurance premiums could go from the $732 for a ISO of 5, to $600 for a ISO of 4 and $468 for the department’s goal of a ISO of 3. The rates depend on the age of the home and other factor, he said.

Mayor Ed Hagerty said he hasn’t seen a decrease in his rates when the ISO went from 6-7 to 5. He said he doubts there would be a decrease in insurance rates.

The additional 20 cents would be allocated for infrastructure projects. The city has a number of projects underway, including Lebanon Road widening, Old Lebanon Dirt Road widening, the Mt. Juliet Road bridge widening over Interstate 40, the new Central Pike interchange and Central Pike widening.

Some of the projects are mostly covered by grants, but the city will still have to pay its share of the project, based on grant rules. Although the presentation said the projects would cost $194 million with the city to pay $40 million, Barlow said he believed the cost would be much more.

With the full 59 cents approved, property tax rates for a $150,000 home would be an additional $159 for a total of $221 per year. For a $300,000 home, the rate would be an additional $318 a year for a total of $443. For a $500,000 home, the rate would be $530 more for a total of $738.

There are other potential funding sources such as holding a referendum for the citizens to vote on a sales tax increase from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent. Wilson County recently held a referendum to do just that, and it was defeated.

The city could transfer money from the general fund. That fund supports all of the other city departments and includes current transfers to the state street aid fund, debt service fund and capital projects fund.

During the town hall meeting, there was heated discussion between Hagerty and Vice Mayor James Maness, Commissioner Ray Justice and Commissioner Brian Abston.

Justice said in 2011, the Wilson County Commission voted to basically force Mt. Juliet to start its own department, eliminating the use of the Wilson Emergency Management Agency covering fire protection within the city.

However, Justice said, the citizens still pay a tax within the county property tax rate for WEMA.

Hagerty said it’s is the same with other departments such as the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

“But the sheriff’s office has a jail and gives us the school resource officers,” Justice said.

Maness created a spreadsheet seven years ago that outlined estimated costs for the fire department during a five-year period.

Hagerty said many of the estimates were not accurate, and the revenues and expenses were higher than anticipated.

Abston said Hagerty shouldn’t blame Maness for his plan.

“He referenced equipment that was bought used, not leased like we do,” Abston said. “[Hagerty] voted for it, and we agreed to lease them at $300,000 a year.”

Abston said it was “not right to keep the level of service to the city. If we do nothing and the city has to lay off firefighters, [that would be a problem] if something were to catch on fire.”

Hagerty said, if the 39 cents rate were to go into effect, “you would be overtaxing the people, because we don’t even own the land for a future station. I’m not ready to put that burden on the people.”

After the meeting, Hagerty handed out a single-page flyer.

“This is not a revenue problem. There is a spending problem,” Hagerty’s flyer said. “The proposed property tax increase is from 16 cents to 59 cents, a proposed increase of almost four times. When created, it was promised that the new fire department would be a group of firefighters, that it would not become a bureaucracy like so many other government agencies.”

Hagerty said the spreadsheet prepared by Maness seven years ago, gave estimates of the revenue and expenses of the new department for the next five years.

“On the revenue side, we received tax revenue for the first year of $1.3 million, as predicted,” Hagerty said. “This year, it was nearly $2 million, an increase in funding of 42 percent in only five years. This was actually far above, far better than, the vice mayor’s projections. On the expense side, the department spent $2.6 million last year, rather than the projected $1.3 million as predicted by the vice mayor.”

Hagerty also said the department spent $1.9 million on payroll alone.

“If you take $1.9 million divided by 24 paid positions it equals $80,000 per person,” he said in the flyer. “That includes benefits, workman’s comp and more, which factors in a 41 percent add-on to salaries.”

He said the differences in firefighter ratings gave way to the various salaries throughout the department. Not everyone received $80,000. A firefighter 1’s salary tops out at $37,509, not including benefits. An engineer tops out at $51,813, not including benefits.

He also said the fire department bought four brand new fire trucks, “one at $800,000 is largely unused.” They also bought two “fully outfitted pickup trucks for part-time employees. The department has 11 vehicles and only eight people on duty at a time. [There is also] expensive equipment unused in a closet and now out of date.”

Hagerty’s solutions were to reduce spending and increase the sales tax that is paid by everyone, through a referendum.

A second town hall meeting will take place May 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Mt. Juliet City Hall, and Martin hopes more of the public will give their opinions.

Commissioners will vote on the 2019-20 budget in two meetings scheduled for May 13 and June 10.

Carafem weighs options after Mt. Juliet OKs zoning ordinance

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Carafem, a women’s health care clinic in Mt. Juliet, is weighing its options after the city approved a zoning change to move surgical abortion clinics from commercial activities zoning to industrial zones in March and April.

Carafem moved to Mt. Juliet to be close to Nashville and serve Middle Tennessee patients who needed health care or wanted an abortion. At the time, carafem planned to provide surgical and medicated abortions. After the city’s vote, it only provided the abortion pill, which could be given to patients up to 10 weeks pregnant.

“We are obviously disappointed that the city has decided to exercise its zoning authority for the political purpose of targeting abortion providers and specifically carafem, said Melissa Grant, chief operating officer with carafem. “We are considering a variety of options in moving forward and remain committed to our serving our mission in Tennessee.”

In March, Grant said, “carafem opened a reproductive health care and family planning center in [Mt. Juliet] 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.”

Among other things, the ordinance, which passed on first reading in March, said, “[surgical abortion clinics] shall be located within 1,000 feet [measured property line to property line] of any church, public or private school ground, college campus, public park or recreation facility, public library, child care facilities or a lot zoned residentially or devoted primarily to residential use.”

Also allowed in the industrial zone are scrap operations; warehousing goods, transport and storage; wholesale sales; waste disposal services, manufacturing and automotive parking.

The clinic moved to Mt. Juliet and opened without securing the appropriate permits to become an actual business, according to Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty.

After the March meeting, Hagerty said, “What we did tonight is we amended the zoning ordinance. That’s something that municipal governments do from time to time. We amended the zoning ordinance to what you heard me read into the record with all of the changes being proposed to be changed in our zoning ordinance and we did that by unanimous vote.”

Hagerty said the business that prompted the zoning change, carafem, opened without the city’s knowledge.

“They’ve made no application to the city of any sort, so I don’t know [about the clinic],” he said at the time. “I have read that stuff in different media publications, but I have no first-hand knowledge because they have made not application to the city, so I don’t even know what business you’re referring to, nor what zone class they apply that they would like to apply to be in. They have not applied for any inspection or any application of any sort.”

Hagerty said not applying for permits was “not normal. They would do that in advance. For example, just so you know what zoning means, if you live in a subdivision and one of your neighbors wants to open up a gas station, they can’t do that. That would infringe on your rights as a property owner. We have zoning in our city and every city, so that uses are proper. All we did tonight is what we do time to time, is change and modify the zoning ordinance.”

Before the March vote, District 4 Commissioner Brian Abston said, “I was disgusted to hear they plan to open in my district and my town. I realize they have rights, but my constituents and I don’t want it here. I am pro-life so I will take any action possible within the law to make sure it’s not here.”

Carafem chief operating officer Melissa Grant said the Nashville area, specifically Mt. Juliet, was selected as the location for the nonprofit’s fourth abortion clinic after an increase in the number of women who traveled to its Atlanta clinic for services. Grant said about 5 percent of the women who seek abortions at the Atlanta clinic come from the Nashville area.

When asked about local opposition to the clinic, Grant said carafem is concerned with support of women’s rights over their own health.

“Carafem health supports a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her personal health care. Studies of abortion services worldwide found that abortion-related deaths are rare in countries where the procedure is legal, accessible and performed early in pregnancy by skilled providers. Carafem encourages women to make health decisions together with their family and their physician that are based on medically accurate information. Carafem staff is available 24-7 to answer questions and provide information about the safety and availability of abortion care with carafem. Carafem provides safe, quality medical care that follows all applicable state and local laws,” Grant said.

As abortion is a politically charged topic that has a history of violence against clinics and doctors, Mt. Juliet police stepped up security in the area in March. It was an effort Capt. Tyler Chandler said would ensure safety for everyone.

“Once we were made aware of the heightened activity surrounding the clinic’s location in our city, which we learned from a news article, we educated our staff, placed a surveillance camera tower nearby and instructed officers to provide extra patrol. Our department has a duty to remain neutral and ensure everyone is safe,” Chandler said at the time.

Ministers and others have protested outside of the building that houses the clinic. They have used bullhorns to protest, but city officials asked them to turn them down so they wouldn’t disturb hotel guests and business employees nearby, according to Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin.

In March, Hagerty said he does not know if the clinic will sue the city regarding the rezoning ordinance.

“I have no idea,” Hagerty said. “That’s an issue they’ll have to take up.”

Martindale nominated for adult Governor’s Volunteer Stars award

Mary Martindale was nominated for adult Wilson County Governor’s Volunteer Stars award, and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto honored her recently.

Martindale received three separate nominations, including one from Cynthia Sharp, who nominated Martindale for the honor for the volunteer work she does at Rutland Elementary School.

“Mary is a person who constantly looks for new ways to help in whatever situation she finds herself in,” Sharp said. “She quickly began to find more and more ways to contribute to the students and teachers at Rutland. 

“In Rutland’s two libraries, Mary comes at least two to three days a week to shelve books. But she also helps classes take reading tests and helps both students and teachers find books. She has been my most reliable volunteer at our book fairs, helping raise money to fund our library. Not only that, but she donates her own money to students who don’t have quite enough to buy the book they want. In addition, she is my go-to volunteer for all of our reading promotion events in the library.

“People have told Mary that she should sign up as a substitute teacher and get paid, since she is always at school. But, she says she wants to give back, and that is why she is doing all she does. When Mary isn’t volunteering at Rutland, you’ll find her volunteering at the Nashville Zoo, the Animal Rescue Corps Emergency Shelter in Lebanon or at the women’s group at Del Webb in Mt. Juliet.

“I have never worked with such a dedicated and passionate volunteer. She loves our students. She teaches, organizes, encourages, finds resources, gives gifts and does whatever needs to be done to benefit both the students and teachers at Rutland.  Students and teachers alike know they are believed in by Mary Martindale.”

Sandi Gaddes said, “Mary volunteers three to five days a week, donating not only hours of her time but purchasing and donating items for school, teachers, office or students. She tirelessly helps anywhere she is asked and needed and does whatever is asked of her with a smile on her face. She even makes lesson plans to help with special education students and takes working with them seriously. Her exuberance, selflessness and smile are infectious, and she truly has a giving spirit.”

Jennifer Boyles said, “In addition to the time she spends in my classroom, Mary also works with a second-grade teacher running one of her small guided reading groups. She spends countless hours planning the lessons herself. Mary simply loves to work with children, support teachers and does so with energy, kindness and love for all of us at Rutland.”

Hutto said, “Congratulations Mary. Thank you so much for everything that you do for the students and teachers of Rutland Elementary School. You are an inspiration to everyone. Keep up the great work.”

Each year, in conjunction with the Governor’s Volunteer Stars award program, one youth and one adult in each of Tennessee’s participating counties are selected to attend the governor’s banquet and be honored for their volunteer work.

In Wilson County, all nominees are recognized. For 2018, 10 nominations of six youth and four adults were received.

“We were fortunate enough to have Wilson Bank & Trust sponsor our award plaques again this year,” Hutto said. “They also sponsored a ticket to the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce annual awards banquet, where our nominees and winners were honored for their volunteer work.”

Ninth-annual Honor Band shows off skills

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

The Wilson County Band Director’s Association presented the ninth-annual Wilson County Honor Band concert April 4 at Lebanon High School.

Middle and high school students from across the county came together to perform with guest conductors Atticus Hensley and Stephen Rhodes.

Hensley is the band director for both East Middle School and West Middle School in Tullahoma, while Rhodes recently retired from Lipscomb University, where he served as professor of music and director of instrumental studies for 40 years.

Each honor band featured more than 100 student musicians in music programs at Carroll-Oakland School, Lebanon High School, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, Mt. Juliet High School, Mt. Juliet Middle School, Southside School, Walter J. Baird Middle School, Watertown High School, Watertown Middle School, West Wilson Middle School, Wilson Central High School and Winfree Bryant Middle School.

Lebanon High School band director Ben Channell said the Honor Band is a great opportunity for student musicians to get a different perspective and philosophy to perform with each guest conductor.

“They only met for the first time as a group this morning at 8:30 a.m., so this is cool,” Channell said. “For the high school students, especially, it’s really cool for them to get that direction from a college guy [Rhodes.] It’s completely different from us high school people, so it’s just that different perspective, and obviously there’s high-quality teaching that’s going on in both groups.”

The performance was originally scheduled for February but was rescheduled after historic rainfall and flooding struck the county.