Windtree Pines development denied by city commission

The Mt. Juliet City Commission denied preliminary plans for a residential development at the site of the Windtree Pines Golf Course during Monday’s commission meeting.

The plans, which were considered in the second reading Monday after the first reading was approved in April, included 351 single-family homes on about 184 acres.

In April, commissioners debated at length about putting in a roundabout on Nonaville Road. City engineer Andy Barlow recommended the roundabout.

The roundabout was a cause for concern among commissioners again Monday, as there was some worry that many traveling through the area will haul boats and trailers through the roundabout. Commissioners also had general traffic concerns.

Ray Justice, who is the commissioner for the district where the proposed development is located, was strongly opposed to the roundabout.

Mayor Ed Hagerty, Justice and Brian Abston voted against the preliminary plans.

In April, commissioners agreed to allow developer Danny Hale to voluntarily contribute an additional $1,250 per lot to go toward additional improvements in the area, rather than the normally recommended amount of $2,500 per lot. Hale would have also been responsible for putting in sidewalks going to Lebanon Road.

In the preliminary plans, the existing amenities center would have remained, and a community swimming pool would have been built. The site also would have dedicated green space that would include an existing lake.

According to Hale, if the project were approved, it would take 10 years before it was completed.

If the developer wishes to attempt to move forward with a modified version of the project, it will need to go before the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission and, if approved, may then be reconsidered by the city commission.

By Jake Old

Windtree Pines development denied by city commission

The Mt. Juliet City Commission denied preliminary plans for a residential development at the site of the Windtree Pines Golf Course during Monday’s commission meeting.

The plans, which were considered in the second reading Monday after the first reading was approved in April, included 351 single-family homes on about 184 acres.

In April, commissioners debated at length about putting in a roundabout on Nonaville Road. City engineer Andy Barlow recommended the roundabout.

The roundabout was a cause for concern among commissioners again Monday, as there was some worry that many traveling through the area will haul boats and trailers through the roundabout. Commissioners also had general traffic concerns.

Ray Justice, who is the commissioner for the district where the proposed development is located, was strongly opposed to the roundabout.

Mayor Ed Hagerty, Justice and Brian Abston voted against the preliminary plans.

In April, commissioners agreed to allow developer Danny Hale to voluntarily contribute an additional $1,250 per lot to go toward additional improvements in the area, rather than the normally recommended amount of $2,500 per lot. Hale would have also been responsible for putting in sidewalks going to Lebanon Road.

In the preliminary plans, the existing amenities center would have remained, and a community swimming pool would have been built. The site also would have dedicated green space that would include an existing lake.

According to Hale, if the project were approved, it would take 10 years before it was completed.

If the developer wishes to attempt to move forward with a modified version of the project, it will need to go before the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission and, if approved, may then be reconsidered by the city commission.

By Jake Old

Wilson Bank & Trust celebrates 30 years by giving back

Wilson Bank & Trust, known as Middle Tennessee’s Community Bank, is marking its 30th year in business by donating $30,000 to charities in the communities it serves.

Additionally, each of the bank’s branches and other work group divisions will give at least 30 hours of volunteer time to charities it selects.

The celebration kicked off last month with a caravan tour of executives from Wilson Bank & Trust to area branch locations. Offices also started presenting a $1,000 check to each of their selected nonprofits.

“When we first opened our doors in 1987, we could not have imagined the day when we would celebrate 30 years of serving our community,” said CEO Randall Clemons. “Our customers are the people who brought us to this day. They have placed their trust in us and we, in turn, have worked every day to exceed their expectations. This donation we are making back to the community is our way of saying thank you to all those who have brought Wilson Bank & Trust to this very proud moment.”

Clemons was one of a group of Lebanon business leaders who founded Wilson Bank & Trust in 1987 after recognizing the need for a locally based financial institution. On Feb. 1, 1987, the first share of stock was sold, and Clemons was hired as the bank’s first employee. The first location was in a small, two-bedroom home near downtown Lebanon.

Now, 30 years later, the bank has grown to 26 full-service branch locations in eight Middle Tennessee counties with more than 105,000 customers. Most recently, the bank announced its expansion into Williamson County, and it will open its first branch in downtown Nashville on West End Avenue in the summer.

Wilson Bank & Trust remains an independent, hometown bank owned by thousands of stockholders who gather each year in Lebanon for a picnic with employees. And despite its expansion, Wilson Bank & Trust has stayed true to its core value of community service, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in area schools, charities, sports leagues and county celebrations and fairs.

“We are honored to serve Middle Tennessee and are proud to work with such a dedicated team of employees, several who have been with us for all of our 30 years,” said Clemons. “We would not be where we are without their continued dedication, not just to our business, but also to the communities we serve. The best part of this anniversary is being able to celebrate with them.”

One of the top banks in the South in stability, products, technology, growth and earnings, Wilson Bank & Trust currently operates 26 full-service offices in eight Middle Tennessee counties, offering a full range of financial products that include secondary market mortgage loans and online banking services.

Staff Reports

Denning shares video tips with chamber

Xavier Smith Mt. Juliet News
Liz Denning, owner of Gamma Blast Studios, discusses questions businesses need to ask before shooting video content Friday during the latest Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce Business Boost. Denning shared her seven-step method to video marketing with the group.

Mt. Juliet small business owners learned strategies for video marketing Friday during the latest installment of the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce’s Business Boost series.

“Any business that needs to communicate emotions or legitimize themselves should be using video,” said Liz Denning, owner of Gamma Blast Studios.

Gamma Blast Studios specializes in visual storytelling and digital marketing with clients such as Nissan, HGTV and the Nashville Predators. Denning also writes the video blog,

Denning said with current technology, any person or company could be its own movie studio and publish content. She said businesses – small and large – are intimidated by the perceived difficulty of creating video content.

She shared her seven-step strategy with the group, noting several steps take place before a recording device is used.

“There are a lot of people who start doing video, and they don’t do any sort of planning at all,” Denning said.

She said businesses should create a content plan or strategy before filming and ask basic questions about the intended audience and their desires, as well as the desired end result.

“In our world, content is a business asset. The reason you’re creating content for your business is to get more business. It’s not just because it’s fluffy and nice. There’s an end goal and measurement around that,” she said.

Denning said the plans should have clear targets and calls to action from consumers.

“It’s surprising to me that a lot of people create content, and then they don’t tell people what they want them to do with it,” she said.

Entertainment was also a main talking point for Denning, who said the content should capture the audience.

“You have to entertain or give something to people that’s interesting to them so they continue to watch. It’s not that you have to be the latest viral video entertainer. You don’t; but there has to be some likeability there. You have to entertain people a little bit, and it has to be culturally relevant,” she said.

For more information, follow Denning on Twitter @GammaLiz.

The Business Boost is the chamber’s bi-monthly series of informative and interactive small business education sessions led by some of the area’s top professionals.

The next session will take place July 28 and feature Tim Shaver with Sandler Sales Institute. Shaver will discuss time management for professionals. To register for the event, visit and click on chamber events.

By: Xavier Smith

Keller Williams services Wilson County

Mt. Juliet Keller Williams associates spent Thursday giving back to Wilson County as part of the company’s Renew, Energize and Donate Day.

Introduced in 2009, RED Day is Keller Williams Realty’s annual day of service. Each year on the second Thursday in May, associates celebrate the birthday of Keller Williams’ board vice chairman Mo Anderson by spending the day away from their businesses serving worthy organizations and causes in their communities. 

The group held a free pancake breakfast for Wilson County veterans Thursday morning at the Army National Guard Armory. The group partnered with the Wilson

County Veteran’s Services Office, American Legion of Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, Lebanon’s Vietnam Veterans of America, Veteran of Foreign Wars of America and Courtney’s Restaurant for the event.

Residents were also invited and donated non-perishable food items. The group, along with the Second Harvest Food Bank and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, distributed the canned goods Thursday afternoon to veterans and seniors served through the Senior Citizens Awareness Network of Wilson County.

Keller Williams associates also worked Thursday afternoon to improve the Next Step Resource Center’s first transitional home on Castle Heights Avenue. The group painted several areas of the home, as well as worked on the home’s garden area.

Keller Williams RED Day projects are chosen by each individual market center based on a need they see within its community.

Xavier Smith
Mt. Juliet Keller Williams associates work on playground equipment Thursday at the Next Step Resource Center transitional home

By Xavier Smith

Wilson economic leaders to RECon for business

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board will have a booth to attract potential business and provide information about Wilson County, Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown at the annual RECon later this month in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – This month, thousands of public officials will gather to meet with more than 37,000 attendees at the largest retail real estate event in the world to seek out potential private partners and development opportunities for their communities.

In an effort to promote additional economic development, enhance the local tax base and create new jobs, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board assistant director Tammy Stokes will travel to Las Vegas to attend RECon, the annual global conference sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers. 

The four-day event will feature educational sessions on retail and economic development issues, engaging keynotes and a myriad of networking and dealmaking opportunities.  Last year, RECon’s more than one million square feet of exhibiting space expanded to include 25 professional development workshops with world-class speakers and high–level courses, the Technology Lab, providing a firsthand look at the future of real estate and technology along with a professional development day – providing further ground to bolster ICSC’s estimate that about 50 percent of all industry deals are conceived of or consummated at RECon.

“ICSC’s RECon is an opportunity like no other if you are trying to create or encourage any type of retail real estate development in your community,” Stokes said. “In just four days, we will be able to meet and build relationships with the leading shopping center developers, owners and retailers who may not have otherwise been aware of the economic development opportunities in our community.”

In addition to the public officials who attend the event, nearly 100 cities, economic development agencies and other public sector groups will exhibit at this year’s convention. Public sector groups began exhibiting at the event in 1982 as a way to increase awareness about the development opportunities in their communities.

The Joint Economic and Community Development Board’s booth will feature information about Wilson County and its municipalities of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown. During the convention, members from Wilson County and its three cities plan to meet with shopping center owners, developers and retailers and highlight why Wilson County is the place to be, Stokes said.

ICSC serves the global retail real estate industry. It provides its 70,000-plus member network in more than 100 countries with resources, connections and industry insights, and actively works to shape public policy. For more information about ICSC, visit

Staff Reports

Student describes Commerce Farms’ impact

By Xavier Smith

Wilson Central High School students, staff, parents and administrators are working on a possible solution to keep an access point to a large industrial development off the school’s only access road.

Wilson Central student Preston George, the school’s student school board representative, updated the Wilson County school board Monday on talks between school officials, school board and school district representatives and developers on the issue.

The Commerce Farms distribution center will be 652,00 square feet and feature 116 truck docks, two drive-in doors and a parking lot for 84 trailers and 257 cars. The access point on Wildcat Way would be available to about 60 employees.

“The largest concern we have as a school is they’re putting an entrance on Wildcat Way. This is an issue because we already have traffic issues because that light at [State Route 109] is the only access point for students, faculty and staff to get into the building,” George said.

The Wildcat Way access point would be about 50 yards from the traffic light.

George said based on conversations with personnel with the Lebanon Planning Department, state law allows the development to feature an access road on Wildcat Way because the property backs up to a city or county road.

George said, however, the group has sought other alternatives to alleviate potential congestion and reduce safety hazards.

He said one of those options included extending Wildcat Way through property adjacent to Connect Church, which currently sits at the end of Wildcat Way. George said that plan was likely not feasible due to grading costs due to hills on the property.

However, George said the parties also discussed taking any excess rock from blasting and use it as a road that would access Wilson Central near its baseball field, which could be used during games and other events.

George also discussed the project’s traffic impact study, which showed the peak access times for employees would be between 6:30-8:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.

“Those p.m. hours are not necessarily going to affect us unless we have a basketball or football game. Our primary concern is the morning peak hours,” George said.

George said the Lebanon Planning Department has tried to improve traffic and safety issues on Wildcat Way, but has not been able to find a feasible option.

“We’re working together to find common ground where we all three can benefit,” George said.

Wilson County Board of Education member Tom Sottek has been involved in the conversations and said although one access point will likely be on Wildcat Way, the primary entrance would be through Franklin Road.

“They also have the option to go the other entrance, as well. The expectation is, more than likely, they will adjust,” Sottek said.

Chamber updates businesses

By Xavier Smith

Mt. Juliet and Wilson County leaders discussed several aspects of business and development Friday during the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce development meeting.

Dennis Buchanan, Mt. Juliet public affairs director, Mt. Juliet commissioners Brian Abston and Ray Justice, Rep. Susan Lynn, Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development director G.C. Hixson and Wilson County Tourism Director Jenny Bennett updated business leaders on developments and trends.

“We’re meeting every day with several people who are wanting to come to Mt. Juliet. Our biggest problem is finding locations,” Buchanan said.

“We are seeing some issue with some brick-and-mortar buildings because the e-commerce is making a difference right now. Amazon is busting at the seams. People might go look at what they want to order online, but they don’t buy it in the store. We’re starting to see that, and to be honest, I’m worried about that.”

Hixson said Buchanan described a new trend called last-minute distribution, which means consumers order online and pick up at stores, or purchase at stores and have items delivered to their homes.

“What I see is some of your big boxes becoming less retail sales but more of that last-minute distribution – Uber drivers delivering things, drones someday possibly,” Hixson said. “We see some of those trends going on.”

Justice and Abston discussed business in Mt. Juliet, including HH Gregg, which recently announced it filed for bankruptcy and would close its Providence store.

“It’s such a great location, and I know a lot of people are already looking at that, so somebody will probably go in that real quick,” said Abston, who said he was told Gander Mountain and J.C. Penney would remain open despite recent reports of financial troubles.

“Like a lot of the places in the Providence area, they’re some of the top performing in the country, so those two are safe for now,” he said.

Justice said he is working with city and state officials to bring more sidewalks to the north side of town. He said he has inquired about the possibility of including the sidewalks with state projects.

Bennett introduced herself to the crowd and described her purpose as tourism director, which she became earlier this year. She previously worked for Cracker Barrel’s home office and has lived Wilson County resident for 15 years.

She said she sees the potential for tourism growth in Wilson County, especially with its proximity to Nashville and major highways.

“I just feel like the sky is the limit. We have a lot of opportunity here. I have some big audacious goals and plans, and I’m excited for the future. I feel like we have a lot to offer, and I can’t wait to tell our guests all about it,” Bennett said.

Mt. Juliet’s Providence Marketplace sells for $114 million

Providence Marketplace in Mt. Juliet recently sold for $114.7 million, but city leaders expect little changes to the dominant shopping center.

Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust recently acquired the 830,000-square-foot shopping center and will look to build on the property’s positive aspects and potential growth in the area.

Providence Marketplace features Target, Kroger, T.J. Maxx/Home Goods, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less and Regal Cinema, as well as 127,000 square feet of restaurants, service uses and specialty retailers.

Ramco-Gershenson officials said they believed the potential future growth in the area would “provide the catalyst to expand and densify the shopping center,” according to a release from the company.

The acquisition makes Providence the Michigan-based company’s first shopping center in the Nashville area, which aligns with the group’s self-described long-term goal of investing in regional dominant centers in large trade areas that are part of high-growth areas.

The company also reported the Providence trade area is expected to grow by 12 percent in the next five years, while the Nashville area is projected to grow by 9.5 percent.

Mt. Juliet led the way with the highest amount of sales tax collections among Wilson County cities with $2.49 million collected in January, an increase of about $800,000 compared to December and $140,000 more than the same time as a year ago. Collections typically run a month behind, so January’s revenues reflect holiday spending from December. Mt. Juliet took the lead in collections in January after unseating Lebanon, which held the top position for several years.

The company reported Providence Marketplace is 98 percent leased.

Mt. Juliet Commissioner Brian Abston, who represents the area, said the acquisition would have minimal impact on residents and shoppers.

“I believe it will be business as usual,” Abston said. “I think as far as the vendors there and in regards to the city, I don’t think it has any change or effect.”

Abston said based on meetings, he believed Ramco-Gershenson would actually make some enhancements to the property.

“I think they’re looking to make some enhancements to the facility and do some nice things that make the area more attractive to everybody,” he said.

As of Dec. 31, Ramco-Gershenson owned interests in and managed 65 shopping centers and two joint ventures, and held a 94.4 percent lease rate on those properties.

For more information, visit

By Xavier Smith

Burger Republic to open this week

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News Burger Republic, which opens Thursday, is the newest addition to Providence Station.

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Burger Republic, which opens Thursday, is the newest addition to Providence Station.

Commercial Realty Services, a Mt. Juliet-based developer, announced Burger Republic will open this week in its Providence Station development at 1982 Providence Pkwy. in Mt. Juliet.

Construction was completed Monday, and the restaurant will be open to the public Thursday.

Providence Station is Mt. Juliet’s first mixed-use development with about 45,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and commercial office space with a modern urban design. Providence Station is expected to bring crowds to the Mt. Juliet area.

“We are thrilled to bring a great locally owned and operated neighborhood restaurant to Mt. Juliet,” said Ken Powers, founder and owner of CRS. “Burger Republic is a great example of the type of unique tenants we hope to attract through the Providence Station development.”

Burger Republic has a 4,000-square-feet corner storefront on the first-floor level of the first phase of Providence Station. This is the third location for Burger Republic, which was founded in Nashville and is only available in the Nashville area. The original, hometown concept is best known for its gourmet burgers, American craft beer selection and handspun milkshakes available spiked and non-alcoholic.

Other retail tenants in Providence Station include Three Dog Bakery and Bank of Tennessee. There is about 8,400 square feet of office space available to rent on the second floor, able to accommodate tenants from larger companies to single office units. The second phase of Providence Station will begin development in the fall.

Burger Republic was created to provide the best-tasting burgers and beverages at an affordable price. To make the perfect burger, Burger Republic starts with 100-percent fresh certified Angus beef that is hand-formed into a patty and cooked to order on a flattop grill to sear in the flavor. The beef is ground using a combination of cuts, brisket, chuck and short rib. Local and regional products play a key role in the line-up to further the “better burger” experience, such as Benton’s bacon and Charpier’s brioche buns.

For non-beef eaters, other sandwich possibilities include an all-natural ground turkey burger, an Ahi tuna burger, all-natural chicken breast fillet and a savory vegetarian patty made in-house with red beans. Burgers and sandwiches are paired with a hearty side. Selections include crisp tater tots, French fries, homemade chips and creamy mac and cheese topped with Benton’s bacon. Lighter options include mixed salad greens and vegetable of the day. Several entrée salads round out the menu.

Beverages receive special treatment at Burger Republic, which offers 30 rotating craft beers on tap from America’s best brewers, as well as more than 25 milkshakes – handspun in both spiked and non-alcoholic concoctions.

The first Burger Republic opened May 23, 2012 in the Lenox Village Town Center development, just off Nolensville Road in southern Davidson County. The second location opened Jan. 23, 2014 in the Pine Street Flats building in the Gulch area of downtown Nashville.

Burger Republic is the 2014 and 2015 winner of Nashville’s Battle of the Burger competition, earning a spot in at the World Food Championships. In 2014, Burger Republic placed fifth overall in the burger category of the WFC.

To learn more about Burger Republic, visit

Staff Reports

Industrial Tube & Steel opens new location in Mt. Juliet


KENT, Ohio – Industrial Tube & Steel Corp., a leader in the metalworking industry, kicked off operations at a 40,000-square-feet metal servicing facility in Mt. Juliet.

The new location allows ITS to service businesses in Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama.

ITS specializes in supplying custom-cut metals, structural and mechanical tubing and continuous cast iron bar, plate and tube to machine shops, fabricators, OEMs and other manufacturers. The family owned and operated business has served the Midwest for more than 60 years.

Richard B. Siess, company president, said he believes businesses in the expanded service areas will see a significant benefit from working with ITS locally.

“We are known for providing quick turnaround on non-standard sizes, and this location will allow us to offer the same unique service to new clients,” said Siess. “The industries we serve often operate on tight margins, so they don’t like to order a lot of stock to keep on hand. That means our ability to offer fast turnarounds and our extensive stock are very valuable to them.”

ITS has experienced steady growth in the last several years, moving from an older facility in Akron, Ohio, to a new 115,000-square-foot headquarters in Kent, Ohio in 2009. In 2013, they expanded to a new 80,000-square-foot facility in West Chester, Ohio, to better serve the Cincinnati/Dayton market. The company also regularly invests in high-tech machinery and new equipment to improve and expand its capabilities, recently adding a Nishijimax CNC cold saw for production cutting, a HE&M saw capable of cutting up to 26 inches in diameter, a new Amada billet/plate saw for cutting large blocks of continuous cast iron and several deburring machines.

ITS has already started investing in new equipment for the Mt. Juliet location, adding two saws with cutting capabilities up to 22 inches in diameter.

“We are a tight-knit family business,” said Damon Gaynor, vice president of sales. “So building personal relationships with our customers is very important to us. We like to get to know them and to understand their needs and their challenges. It is exciting to see how they take our raw material and turn it into their own unique product, so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to learn from a whole new base of customers.”

For more information about Industrial Tube & Steel Corp., visit

Staff Reports

Development group updates projects in Wilson County

At newly elected Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash’s first Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board executive committee meeting, committee members brought him up to speed on several new and existing projects across the county.

“We’re glad to have Mayor Ash here with us and look forward to working with you for many years,” said Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings, an executive committee member.

JECDB executive director G.C. Hixson said the office’s pace had slowed lately but should pick up soon.

“It’s slowed down a bit this month as far as prospects, but that gives us a chance to catch up and clean up a bit,” Hixson said.

One new project, however, would be a big boost if it located in Wilson County, committee members said. The project, dubbed “Project Renewal,” would involve a headquarters building to house 700 employees with expansion ability of up to 1,000 at the same facility. The company estimates about a $58 million investment and seeks workforce skills, proximity to a good commercial airport, training resources, incentive support and lower long-term costs versus its current site. Other soft factors would include the ability to attract and retain a professional staff.

Hixson said the project would mean several white-collar jobs, which was attractive to the committee.

“That’s like a new Cracker Barrel coming to town,” he said.

Hixson said Project Renewal is in the early stages of its search and was likely looking at several areas across the U.S.

The committee also discussed an existing project, which is the proposed Sparta Pike Industrial Park.

The Lebanon City Council approved rezoning for the potential industrial park on second reading in December.

The property between Cainsville Road and Sparta Pike and south of Interstate 40 has Tennessee Valley Authority lines running through it and railroad tracks beside it, which city officials have called a prime location for advanced manufacturing jobs.

The two pieces of property, owned by the Shaffer and Edwards families, equals about 330 acres, and the industrial park would be a Lebanon-Wilson County joint venture. The park would alleviate some growth issues with securing land for potential developments.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said he recommended an extension to buy the land until the end of February.

“The end of February isn’t going to be enough time,” said board attorney Bob Rochelle. “At some point, the city and county need to put forth some issuance of debt to buy the property.”

Committee members said the site would become one of only four rail service sites in the state.

“Every month, we’ve got people who say they want a rail service site,” Jennings said. “At some point, we thought this was the greatest thing, and it has since slowed to a snail’s pace. I think this is a great project for the eastern end of the county. We’ve had a lot of good things happen in the central and western parts of the county. This is really important to the eastern part of the county.”

Hutto said he planned to email Wilson County commissioners Thursday to bring them up to speed on the project to try and move it along.

Caleb Thorne, a JECDB board member, said his company was working on grading and cost analysis on the site. Rochelle said the city and county needed to come together quickly to put up money to buy the site and then apply for state grants to offset the cost.

Committee members said another extension was likely in order to buy the property, but they hoped to have a better timeline on the project when they meet in February.

By Jared Felkins

Economic injury disaster loans available in Wilson County due to drought

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced recently federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations in Wilson County and across Tennessee as a result of the drought that started Oct. 4.

This disaster declaration includes Anderson, Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Campbell, Cannon, Cheatham, Chester, Claiborne, Clay, Cocke, Coffee, Cumberland, Davidson, Decatur, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Giles, Grainger, Greene, Grundy, Hamblen, Hancock, Hardin, Hawkins, Henderson, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Loudon, Macon, Marshall, Maury, McMinn, McNairy, Monroe, Montgomery, Moore, Morgan, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Roane, Robertson, Rutherford, Scott, Sequatchie, Sevier, Smith, Stewart, Sullivan, Sumner, Trousdale, Unicoi, Union, Van Buren, Warren, Washington, Wayne, White, Williamson and Wilson counties.

“When the secretary of agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to eligible entities affected by the same disaster,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s field operations center east in Atlanta.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s economic injury disaster loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Applicants may apply online using electronic loan application via SBA’s secure website at

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or by sending an email to Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website at gov/disaster. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than Aug. 15.

Staff Reports

Wilson jobless rate shrinks in October

Wilson County’s unemployment rate decreased slightly from September to October and remained lower than the unemployment rate from the same time a year ago.

According to figures released recently by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, October’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent, a 0.2 percent decrease from September and a 0.3 percent decrease from the same time last year.

Rates decreased in 80 counties, increased in seven and remained the same in eight counties in October. Wilson County remained the fifth lowest in the state behind Williamson, Davidson, Rutherford and Moore counties, respectively. 

Lake County had the highest jobless rate with 8 percent. 

Wilson County’s rate in September represented 2,610 unemployed workers compared to a 66,980-person workforce and does not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits.

Lebanon’s rate for October decreased 0.3 percent from September to 4.8 percent. The city’s rate represented 670 unemployed workers, compared to a 14,050-person labor force. 

Mt. Juliet’s rate for October also decreased 0.2 percent from August to 3.7 percent. The rate represented 590 unemployed workers compared to a 15,970-person labor force. 

By Xavier Smith

Culver’s arrives in Mt. Juliet

Submitted to The Democrat Culver’s of Mt. Juliet officially opened its doors to the public Monday at 10:30 a.m. at 35 Old Pleasant Grove Road.

Submitted to The Democrat
Culver’s of Mt. Juliet officially opened its doors to the public Monday at 10:30 a.m. at 35 Old Pleasant Grove Road.

Culver’s of Mt. Juliet officially opened its doors Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Known for its famous butter burger and creamy frozen custard, the restaurant serves fast casual food cooked-to-order. The restaurant is at 35 Old Pleasant Grove Road. Hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day with the exception of a few holidays.

“We’re thrilled to bring handcrafted, high-quality meals and desserts to the community of Mt. Juliet,” said franchise owner and operator Eric Johnson. “We think it’s a wonderful area, and we are excited to become a contributing and active member of the community. General manager Autumn Holder and the restaurant team are looking forward to introducing Culver’s to Mt. Juliet.”

Johnson is no stranger to Culver’s. After coaching college football his entire life, Culver’s was an exciting change for Johnson, his wife, Patsy, their twin daughters, Jamie and Sydney, and their son, Robert. Two years ago, Johnson and his partners, Jarratt Bell and Ray Render, a native of Mt. Juliet, opened Culver’s of Hendersonville. In March, they also became owners of Culver’s of Franklin.

Johnson is a former Vanderbilt University football player and coach at the University of Iowa. He left the sports scene in early 2014 to be a partner in the Culver’s franchise.

Culver’s signature sandwich and guest-favorite, the butter burger, is made with 100 percent fresh U.S. beef made cooked-to-order and topped with a lightly buttered and toasted bun.

Culver’s fresh frozen custard gets its legendary creamy decadence from high-quality, fresh Wisconsin dairies from which every batch is crafted throughout the day. In addition to making their own creations, guests can customize their desserts with more than 30 mix-ins and toppings. Every day Culver’s offers three flavors of frozen custard, vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day.

The restaurant also features many other choices, including real Wisconsin cheese curds, fresh garden salads, as well as chicken and fish sandwiches and dinners. Children’s meals are also available.

“Culver’s was founded on the idea of providing excellent service and high-quality food made with the best ingredients,” said Johnson. “The outstanding people who serve our guests behind the counter have helped us earn our reputation, and we’re excited to have team members from the surrounding Mt. Juliet community as part of our team.”

The 4,300-square-foot restaurant seats around 100 people. The location has an outside patio area to hold the large expected capacity of consumers.

Staff Reports

County grapples with agritourism

The Wilson County Planning Department has found itself in recent months trying to make decisions based on loose state language that could create the same classification for Bonnaroo, a pumpkin patch and a distillery.

Agritourism, which has created an issue with Wilson County Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, came to the state’s legal forefront in 2013 as the Shore v. Maple Lane Farms case reached the state’s Supreme Court. The case involved the appropriate use of about 225 acres of farmland in Blount County.

Robert Schmidt and his family acquired the land in 1980s and began to offer public attractions on the farm to increase revenue. Between 2006 and 2008, these attractions – a multi-week festival, pumpkin patch, hayrides, antique shows, corn mazes and more – accounted for about 75 percent of the total revenue of Maple Lane Farms, according to court documents.

The activities eventually included helicopter rides and music festivals. After a neighbor’s initial letter of concern in 2007, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that a majority the farms’ activities did not fall under agriculture entertainment.

In response, the state legislature passed Public Chapter No. 581 that said entertainment activities must be secondary to farm activities and other language.

The state defines agritourism activity as any activity carried out on a farm or ranch, eligible for greenbelt classification that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities or natural activities and attractions.

Wilson County Planning Director Tom Brashear said the problem is definitions are too vague and open for interpretation.

“The problem is that agriculture is defined about four different ways, depending on where you look in the State Code Annotated,” said Brashear, who said a combination of those definitions still doesn’t clearly define agriculture.

“Where it’s started to cause problems in Wilson County is they have a definition that says entertainment shall be considered partial to agriculture and has to be secondary to, but they don’t tell us how we determine what is secondary to the agriculture operation.”

Brashear said the most logical means of determining primary and secondary income streams would be an invasion of privacy. He said the state’s broad definitions have opened the opportunity for someone to violate county zoning ordinances such as dwelling under the guise of agriculture.

“At the end of the day, I’m not, at a personal or professional level, out to get anybody who’s truly farming or out to stop anybody from making money the best way they know how as a farmer,” said Brashear. “What I am very much concerned about is people who may decide that they’re going to fall under the guise of this farming protection just so they can do what they want in spite of our local zoning.”

Brashear pointed to two Board of Zoning Appeals-Planning Commission cases in the last two months, one of which, he believes, highlights the complication in the state’s language and law regarding agritourism. He said the other, along with additional cases, was easier to determine intent.

By Xavier Smith

City tightens checks for wine sales

The Mt. Juliet City Commission on Monday passed on first reading a resolution that clarified the language that allows wine to be sold in grocery stores per state law, which went into effect July 1.

The commission previously cited specific concerns about the state’s language on convenience stores’ eligibility to sell wine, something with which they said they were not comfortable.

Commissioners agreed both Mapco and Aldi were in agreement with the law that allows merchants to sell wine whose taxable sales on food items, excluding gas, were at least 20 percent of total sales.

At Monday’s meeting, city attorney Gino Marchetti said one of the requirements was a criminal background check, but where that background check was to be applied was nearly too complex to be viable because corporations and limited liability corporations are sometimes under the umbrella of other corporations or LLCs.

“So, you can never drill down to find out who the directors are and how many directors there are, so what this amendment does is to provide that the background check be made on the managing partner, managing member, CEO and the person who is actually on site operating the business,” Marchetti said.

District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice said the complexity of who ran what seemed “like a shell game.”

In other business, commissioners also passed a resolution that would open the city up to receive donations for the Ethan Danial Page Memorial Park. Ethan Page, 5, died in a car accident in June 2013 in Mt. Juliet.

City Manager Kenny Martin said an anonymous donor previously donated the land for the park.

“We have a very sweet resident here in Mt. Juliet who was approached about two years ago about donating a piece of land to add on to our city parks system,” said Martin. “This kind individual donated 10 acres of land over off Clemmons Road.”

The property connects with E. Division Street near Mt. Juliet Road.

Martin said the person donating the land “showed up” at City Hall last week to donate $25,000 in seed money to get the park started.

“It just shows you that there are some very generous philanthropic people in our community, and in this particular case, she wished to remain anonymous,” Martin said. “This is absolutely awesome.”

By Colleen Creamer

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Local organization provides education, information, grants, funding for cancer research

Joanne Padgett

Joanne Padgett

Joanne Padgett lost her husband to esophageal cancer in March, and her personal loss has become her professional mission – to help fight all forms of cancer and to spread the message of hope to those affected by the disease.

To that end, Padgett, of Hermitage, formed Cancer’s Journey, an organization created to provide education, information, grant programs and help fund cancer research.

Padgett will hold a masquerade ball Oct. 22 to launch the organization. The event will be from 6:30-11 p.m. at the Mitchell House at 106 N. Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon. Eighty-five percent of the proceeds from the event will support individuals and families who cannot afford their cancer treatment and cancer research grants, and 15 percent will be allocated to administrative costs of Cancer’s Journey.

Tickets can be purchased through for $20 per person, $35 per couple and $120 for a table of eight. The event will include buffet-style dining and a performance by the Vamperettes. Padgett is an author of vampire-themed books.

She is also a cancer survivor.

“We want to create an online community where cancer fighters can learn about various forms of cancer and find the support and encouragement that they need in their fight,” Padgett said. “Our website and organization will be less clinical and more organic. We want to help people while also supporting other cancer-focused organizations, like St. Jude, Sarah Cannon and the American Cancer Society – in finding cures for all forms of cancer.

“Our vision is to spread knowledge on cancer prevention and treatment, garner enough research funding to find cures for all forms of cancer and ensure that no family or individuals are left behind due to financial constraints for the treatment that they need in their fight.”

To understand Padgett’s persistence to form and make the organization a success, someone has to understand the love story that started the journey. The story of her and her late husband, Raymond, is one for the books.

On a brisk morning in New York City, Joanne was walking down Fifth Avenue, as usual, rushing to work when Raymond literally knocked her down. She got up, brushed off, a little irritated and continued on to work. Two days later, Raymond sent her 11 pink roses. She decided to meet him for dinner that evening, and when she arrived, there he stood with a single white rose. 

Raymond said, “The first 11 pink roses were to apologize for knocking you down, but this white rose is with the hope that I can win your heart.” 

Their love story continued. He asked her to marry him for three years. She finally said yes. They were married in three separate ceremonies and were polar opposites – they complimented one another, and it just worked.

The esophageal cancer that cost her husband his life was not well publicized. Padgett feels strongly that if she and her husband had known his preliminary minor symptoms were indications of something bigger, they could have had a fighting chance to beat the disease.

“The symptoms can often seem acute but, according to, 50 percent of cancer cases are preventable with the knowledge that we have today,” she said.

“I am also a cancer survivor. Early detection saved my life, and I hope that it can save yours, too, or the life of your loved one.”

Anyone with comments or questions may connect with Padgett via Facebook, Twitter or on the organization’s website at

Staff Reports

Courtyard hotel opens in city’s mixed-use development

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News The new Courtyard by Marriott Mt. Juliet officially started accepting reservations Oct. 2 with a grand opening slated for Nov. 17.

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The new Courtyard by Marriott Mt. Juliet officially started accepting reservations Oct. 2 with a grand opening slated for Nov. 17.

Commercial Realty Services, a Mt. Juliet-based developer, announced the opening of Courtyard by Marriott Mt. Juliet in its mixed-used development off South Mt. Juliet Road at Providence Station.

“We are beyond excited to see the hotel open up this month as the Providence Station development continues to take shape in becoming a truly great mixed-use project for Mt. Juliet,” said Will Tyner, CRS development partner.

Courtyard officially started accepting reservations Oct. 2, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for Nov. 17.

Featuring an innovative lobby space, as well as Courtyard’s latest contemporary room design, the new hotel provides flexibility and choices that allow guests to optimize and elevate their travel experience.

Located at 1980 Providence Pkwy., the 96-room hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise, owned by Providence Hospitality LLC and managed by Sigma Management LLC in Nashville. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the Courtyard Mt. Juliet offers guests convenient access to downtown Nashville, the Providence Marketplace and the Nashville International Airport.

“We are thrilled to have opened our brand new hotel in Wilson County, offering upscale service and facilities to both business and leisure travelers,” said Shelly Cieslak, Courtyard Mt. Juliet general manager. “Guests will love our on-site restaurant with full bar and Starbucks, as well as our gorgeous outdoor courtyard oasis, complete with waterfalls and a fire pit. Our expansive ballroom is the largest hotel event space in the county, and is perfect for social and corporate events. We are looking forward to partnering with Providence Station to provide a wide variety of services and amenities to local residents and out-of-town guests.”

Providence Station is Mt. Juliet’s first development project designed with a focus on the fusion of urban design with suburban development. Modern architecture, lighting and other elements, along with a focus on using greater density and mixed uses, bring increased energy and activity to the development.

CRS has started construction on the 45,000 square foot project that will incorporate two “mixed-use” buildings feature office suites on the second floors, with retail and restaurant spaces on the first. As previously announced, Bank of Tennessee, Three Dog Bakery and Burger Republic will be the tenants of the first building that will be completed this year.

“We have always envisioned Providence Station as a unique development that would create an exciting mixed-use environment that would attract people and we are well on our way to achieving that goal,” said Ken Powers, CRS president.

Commercial Realty Services is a real estate development company. To learn more about Commercial Realty Services, visit or contact Tyner at or 615-339-5559.

For more information about the Courtyard by Marriott Mt. Juliet, contact Cieslak at or 615-432-4070.

Staff Reports

Chamber to bring signature event back to Wilson County

Submitted to The Democrat Pictured (from left) are Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Roger Tyo with TDS Telecom, Anita Spicer with the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, David Gerkin with Edwards Porter Group, Brandon Edwards with Edwards Porter Group and Wilson County Expo Center marketing director Charity Toombs.

Submitted to The Democrat
Pictured (from left) are Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Roger Tyo with TDS Telecom, Anita Spicer with the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, David Gerkin with Edwards Porter Group, Brandon Edwards with Edwards Porter Group and Wilson County Expo Center marketing director Charity Toombs.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce announced the return of the 14th annual A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival to Wilson County.

Due to lack of space in Wilson County, which would allow alcohol to be served, the signature fundraiser has been held outside the county at Nashville Shores for several years. 

“We are so excited to host the Wine Festival at the Expo. This is huge for the Expo and Wilson County on many different fronts,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “This will be the first time in many years that the Wine Festival has come to our county, proving that Wilson County is the place to be. I would like to thank [chamber president] Mark Hinesley personally for his leadership and guidance in this project.”

The festival is unique in that it celebrates Tennessee agritourism and is supported by Pick Tennessee Products and the Tennessee Farm Wine Growers Association. With more than 25 Tennessee wineries, more than 40 local artisans and specialty food vendors, plus wine and food experience seminars, the popular event has grown each year with expected attendance in 2017 of more than 4,000 attendees. The 14th A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival will be April 29 from noon until 6 p.m.

“The Exposition Center is honored to host the upcoming Wine Festival,” said Expo Center marketing director Charity Toombs. “This signature event is key to our community, and we are excited to be a part.”

Mt. Juliet chamber representatives are excited about new plans being developed for the 14th annual wine festival.

“Moving to the Expo Center provides us with a great opportunity to expand and rebrand! Even with our tremendous success in the last 13 years, this change of venue will allow us to make it even better. Festivalgoers will be pleased with the changes we’re planning for the 2017 festival, such as adding a beer tasting area and a row of popular food trucks just outside. The sky is the limit at our new location,” said Hinesley.   

“We would especially like to thank our two returning title sponsors, Edwards Porter Group and TDS Telecom. We couldn’t pull this festival together without their generous support, and we look forward to a continued partnership in 2017. Be sure to check out over the next few months for an updated list of vendors and sponsors, as well as announcements about other exciting changes and enhancements. Plus, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for ticket discounts and promotions.”

Staff Reports