Unemployment rate drops in all Tennessee counties

Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced Thursday unemployment rates decreased last month in all 95 counties and significantly dropped in many rural counties, which often have the highest unemployment rates in the state.

The county figures were released one week after the state posted an August statewide unemployment rate of 3.3 percent – the lowest in recorded history.

“To see a decrease in each and every county across Tennessee is quite an accomplishment and a sign of our state’s financial strength,” Haslam said. “Our historic low unemployment rate is a reflection of Tennessee’s policies – we’re a low tax state that encourages business investment, and we don’t have a lot of debt, which allows businesses to thrive and create jobs.”

This is the third time in 2017 in which county unemployment rates decreased statewide. The rates also dropped in all 95 counties in February and April.

“What’s most impressive is how much the unemployment rate has dropped in our rural areas – several counties have seen a nearly three percent decrease over the last 12 months,” Phillips said.

Wilson County’s unemployment rate in August was 2.9, a 0.4 percent decrease from July and June. In August 2016, the county’s unemployment rate was 4 percent.

Davidson and Williamson counties boasted the lowest unemployment rates with 2.7 percent, followed by Wilson, Rutherford, Sevier and Sumner counties with 2.9 percent unemployment rates.

Wilson County’s rate in August represented 2,000 unemployed workers compared to a 69,350-person workforce and does not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits.

Lebanon’s rate for August decreased to 3.3 percent, a 0.4 percent drop from July. The city’s rate represented 470 unemployed workers compared to a 14,470-person labor force. 

Mt. Juliet’s rate for August landed at 2.8 percent, a 0.2 percent decrease from July. The rate represented 480 unemployed workers compared to a 17,280-person work force.

The unemployment rate for Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, decreased to 2.9 percent, a 0.4 percent drop from July. The rate represented 28,840 unemployed workers compared to a just more than one million-person workforce.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for August shrunk 0.1 percent from July and landed at 3.3 percent. The statewide rate represented 103,300 jobless workers compared to a 3.15-million-person workforce.

The national unemployment rate for August was 4.4 percent, a 0.1 percent increase from July. The national rate represents more than 7.1 million unemployed workers compared to a workforce of about 160 million people.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Southern Bank of Tennessee breaks ground on new main office in Mt. Juliet

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Officials broke ground recently on Southern Bank of Tennessee’s new main office in Mt. Juliet. The project is expected to be complete by next fall.

Mt. Juliet-based Southern Bank of Tennessee celebrated the groundbreaking of its new main office recently. 

The 24,000-square-feet office building will be built at the corner of Rutland Road and North Mt. Juliet Road. Uniquely, Southern Bank of Tennessee is the only local community bank headquartered in Mt. Juliet, and the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce awarded it the 2016 business of the year. 

“We’re truly thankful to be headquartered in such wonderful community, and we appreciate the cooperation we’ve received from local officials throughout the entire planning and design process,” said Southern Bank CEO David Major. “We continue to believe Mt. Juliet has a lot of potential in the future, and this building will hopefully showcase where we are going as a bank and a community.”

Southern Bank also has offices in Lebanon, Smyrna and Clinton. Southern Bank has focused on delivering a community bank with an accessible management team, relatable staff and a dedication to supporting the community. It specializes in business and consumer banking and also has a dedicated mortgage team at its current location at 1499 N. Mt. Juliet Road.

Additionally, Edwards Porter Mattes Wealth Management anticipates a move into the new building, rounding out a full complement of financial services, all available in one location. Edwards Porter Mattes Wealth Management is a local financial advisory firm at 1400 N. Mt. Juliet Road. It offers a wide range of products and services, including retirement planning, investments and insurance. 

Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2018.    

The Hall Group based in Lebanon designed the project. The site will feature a landscaped public plaza at the setting of the former farmhouse in honor of the site’s history. Guests will enter the building through Mt Juliet’s first revolving door entry.  Once inside, customers will be welcomed by a host of amenities such as a two-story customer lobby and lounge filled with northern light, offering a coffee bar, WiFi and charging stations.

“We are excited to deliver value to our client through sustainable evocative user-centric architecture,” said architect Jeff Hall. “Excellence in design is not only a responsibility to our clients and the Mt Juliet community, it has also allowed us to use the programmatic opportunities of this project to put Southern Bank of Tennessee on the map.”

The balance of the lower floor will be filled with glass front offices, biometric accessed lock boxes, conference rooms, training areas, mortgage services, loan officers, executive suite and support spaces. 

On the second floor, accessed by both a grand staircase and elevator, guests will be able to discover the outdoor roof garden, boardroom, break room, investments, insurance, finance and loan departments.

Sustainable features include LED solar sensing lighting, ultra-low flow plumbing fixtures, recycle stations and materials usage, low VOC and locally sourced materials, hi-efficiency elevator, revolving entry door, roof garden, daylighting and views, electrical tinting argon filled glazing, highly reflective roofing, bicycle storage and locker room, city-multi HVAC design and more.

Staff Reports

Two Tennessee State Fair champion hams sell for $9,500

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Following the FFA Ham Breakfast at the Tennessee State Fair, TSFA chairman John Rose, Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton, president for Tennessee Farm Bureau Jeff Aiken, CEO and president for Farm Credit Mid-America Bill Johnson, FFA state president Julia Knaggs, and CEO for F&M Bank and ham auctioneer Sammy Stuard (seated) gathered for a photo marking the event with representatives of both Farm Credit Mid-America and the Tennessee Farm Bureau.

Two prize-winning country hams, including one from Mt. Juliet, were sold at auction Monday for $9,500 at the third annual Future Farmers of America-sponsored Ham Breakfast at the Tennessee State Fair.

The state’s seven announced gubernatorial candidates got much of the attention at the $30-per-plate event attended by an audience of about 600 community, business and political leaders.

For the first time since announcing, all seven candidates, including five Republicans and two Democrats, appeared on stage together to answer questions from FFA members on topics that included agriculture, education and the economy.

Each candidate was given the opportunity to make an opening statement, answer questions presented by FFA members and make closing comments.

Republican candidates attending included former state Sen. Mae Beavers, House Speaker Beth Harwell, 6th District Congresswoman Diane Black, former state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Nashville businessman Bill Lee. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh were the two announced Democrats in attendance.

Farm Credit Mid-America bought the first State Fair champion ham auctioned, a trim-style ham placed in the fair’s annual ham competition by Kody Kimbrough, of Pulaski, for $5,000, while the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, out bid others to buy the second ham, a packing-house trim-style ham cured by Scott Dabbs, of Mt. Juliet, for $4,500.

Both champion hams came from family curing operations with a tradition of winning the country ham competition at the Tennessee State Fair.

Kimbrough is the grandson of Betsa and David Bolden, of Lynnville, champion ham winners last year. Dabbs is the son-in-law of Ed Rice Jr., owner of Rice Country Hams in Mt. Juliet. Rice and his late father have won the State Fair ham competition multiple times in the past several decades.

Proceeds from the sale of the hams and from tickets sold for the breakfast will be contributed to the FFA Foundation to help fund a number of programs that serve the organization’s youth membership, according to event organizer Chelsea Rose, Tennessee FFA Foundation executive director.

John Rose, who chairs the Tennessee State Fair Association board, a volunteer nonprofit organization responsible for producing the State Fair annually, said the FFA breakfast provides a “unique opportunity to showcase our state’s most talented youth to many of the state’s most prominent business and community leaders and, in the case of this year’s event, our next governor.”

“We are so pleased to help support the Future Farmers of America with the ham breakfast, and we are particularly proud of what the FFA and its members contribute to our state and nation,” Rose said.

The Tennessee State Fair, held annually in Nashville at the Nashville Fairgrounds on Wedgewood Avenue, opened Sept. 8 for a 10-day run and closed Sunday. For more information about the State Fair, visit tnstatefair.org.

Staff Reports

Batch and Bushel Farmers Market officially opens

Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
The Batch and Bushel Farmers Market held its grand opening Thursday where local vendors sold their products to the community.

The Batch and Bushel Farmers Market had its grand opening Thursday afternoon at the Wilson County Expo Center in Lebanon.

Vendors from across Wilson County set up booths to sell their food and crafts.

The weekly Batch and Bushel Farmers Market is a new event to the Wilson County Expo Center. A showcase was held in January to introduce Wilson County residents to local self-sustaining products and services.

“Every major community has a successful farmers market, and there’s no reason, with such agricultural history, that the county can’t support one,” said Wilson County Expo Center marketing director Charity Toombs.

The market will be held each Thursday until Oct. 19 from 4-7 p.m.

“We were hoping that this would answer every question for families,” said Toombs. “They can come and shop local; they can grab something to eat. There’s some activities for the kids, and at the same time, they’re shaking the hands of the farmers and getting to know local businesses.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Vol State representatives talk mechatronics at Mt. Juliet chamber

Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Tim Dean with Volunteer State Community College speaks to the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce on Friday morning about the school’s mechatronics program.

Representatives with Volunteer State Community College spoke Friday morning at the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce’s community development meeting about the school’s mechatronics program.

Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State, spoke about the college’s wishes to build a campus in Wilson County.

“We’re continuing our quest for a location for Vol State in Wilson County,” said Faulkner. “Mt. Juliet was our preference to start with, but the state architect and state building commission says we need to broaden our search area, so we’ll be looking at all of Wilson County for a possible location.”

Faulkner then introduced Tim Dean from the mechatronics department at the college’s Cookeville campus.

According to Dean, the program was started to meet a need within the state for manufacturing positions.

Mechatronics is the blending of engineering fields, including mechanical, controls, electronic and computer engineering, to automate manufacturing, distribution and complex services through multiple industries.

Local manufacturers and industries hire graduates of the program to repair and maintain robotics and computer-aided equipment.

“It’s a lot of stuff that has to be done in industry,” said Dean. “All kinds of stuff. Anywhere you run into automation, this is what we’re dealing with.”

The program uses a work-based learning course to make sure students are ready for the workforce. With the course, the students work for local manufacturers, doing the job they would do as a full-time employee.

“The goal for work-based learning is to put students, before they finish the program, in industry with someone who’s willing to be a mentor for them,” said Dean. “This is almost a no risk for the industry. We’re not telling you that you have to employ them for the entire semester. We’re hoping you do. We’re hoping it works out, but you’re the driver in that.”

According to Dean, the students in the mechatronics program had a lot of success finding jobs with local companies like Nissan and Old Navy.

“Most of the times that I’ve dealt with any type of internship program like that, the student ends up getting a full-time job with the company,” said Dean. “We often can’t place students fast enough.”

At the end of the presentation, Faulkner talked briefly again about the plans to come to Wilson County.

“We are actively seeking a location in Wilson County,” said Faulkner. “Our timeline is as soon as we can.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Courtney’s reopens after brief closure

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
A sign on the door signaled Courtney’s Restaurant closed last Wednesday.

Courtney’s Restaurant and Catering is back open after it unexpectedly closed last Wednesday.

Owner Tom Courtney said the closure happened because the acting general manager was having some personal problems and decided to walk out. The manager put a sign on the window that said, “Effective immediately we are closed. Until further notice…”

Courtney didn’t find out about the incident until Thursday because he was in the Wilson County Jail for contempt of court.

Judge John Gwin held Courtney in contempt for being argumentative at a divorce hearing.

“Fighting over a man’s family can really put a damper on things,” said Courtney. “John Gwin is one of the fairest men on earth, though, and if there’s a man who cares more about kids, I’d be hard pressed to find him.”

He had also had previous charges, many of which were dropped except for a DUI in June.

“I’ve had a drinking problem in the past, and now with the divorce, I slipped up,” said Courtney. “We all make mistakes sometimes.”

Despite the brief closing of the restaurant, the staff and community all showed up when it reopened Thursday morning.

“I showed up, and all my staff was there ready to go,” said Courtney. “The community really turned out; it’s brought tears to me eye. Dewey Lineberry and Chuck Grover are two friends of mine who really helped out with everything going on. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Courtney said despite the current rough patch, he has no plans to close Courtney’s anytime soon.

“This divorce has been painful, but that doesn’t mean I’m closing my doors,” said Courtney.

T.J.’s Pizza was not affected by the incident and is no longer owned by Courtney. Local business owners Jennifer Kreusch and John Lockman are the current owners of the restaurant after they bought it from Courtney.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

County unemployment rate goes unchanged

 

Wilson was one of 31 counties in the state that did not see a change in its unemployment rate from June to July, as the rate decreased in 40 and increased in 24 counties, according to data released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

 “The summer months typically have higher county unemployment rates because they are not adjusted for seasonal workers,” said TDLWD Commissioner Burns Phillips. “It is a positive sign that nearly three-quarters of the counties across the state saw their unemployment rates decrease or remain the same as they were in June.”

Wilson County’s unemployment rate in July was 3.3 percent, the same as June and up from 2.2 percent in May. In July 2016, the county’s unemployment rate was 4 percent.

Wilson County had the third-lowest unemployment rate behind Davidson and Williamson counties with 3.1 percent unemployment rates.

Sumner, Cheatham, Sevier and Rutherford counties also shared a 3.3 percent unemployment rate.

Wilson County’s rate in July represented 2,270 unemployed workers compared to a 69,640-person workforce and does not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits.

Lebanon’s rate for July decreased to 3.7 percent, a decrease of 0.2 percent from June. The city’s rate represented 540 unemployed workers compared to a 14,550-person labor force. 

Mt. Juliet’s rate for July landed at 3 percent, a 0.2 percent decrease from June. The rate represented 520 unemployed workers compared to a 17,330-person work force.

The Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, remained at 3.3 percent. The rate represented 32,900 unemployed workers compared to a just more than 1 million-person workforce.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for July shrunk 0.2 percent from June and landed at 3.4 percent. The statewide rate represented 108,100 jobless workers compared to a 3.14-million-person workforce.

The national unemployment rate for July was 4.3 percent, a 0.1 percent increase from June. The national rate represents more than 6.9 million unemployed workers compared to a workforce of about 160 million people.

NYNY Pizza moves in at Lebanon Premium Outlets

NYNY Pizza officially moved in at the food court Monday at Lebanon Premium Outlets.

The center’s newest food court addition features classic pizza parlor staples, including their signature pizzas, garlic knots, calzones and stromboli, all made fresh daily. Locally owned and operated, NYNY Pizza brings its premium, homemade offerings to Lebanon Premium Outlets. It will be open during regular mall hours.

For more information on Lebanon Premium Outlets retailers, visit premiumoutlets.com/outlet/lebanon-outlet-marketplace.

Staff Reports

New BioLife Shire opens

In an effort to better serve patients who rely on the lifesaving therapies developed from donated human plasma, BioLife Shire, formally known as BioLife Plasma Services, opened a plasma collection center at 540 Pleasant Grove Road in Mt. Juliet.

A subsidiary of Shire, BioLife Shire is an industry leader in operating high-quality plasma donation centers throughout the U.S. The plasma collected at BioLife is processed into a variety of life-saving therapeutics, including treatment for patients with hemophilia and immune disorders and for use as blood volume replacement and tissue sealing.

“BioLife Shire is pleased to add a BioLife center to the Mt. Juliet community, and we appreciate the support of residents who donate their plasma that is used in life-saving therapies for patients,” said Mary Gideon, center manager.

An open house was held Aug. 9 at the new center’s site. The new facility is about 15,000 square feet and features a free supervised playroom, along with free wireless internet. BioLife will employ between 30-60 employees at the new location.

Plasma is the yellow liquid portion of whole blood that can be easily replaced by the body. It makes up about 55 percent of whole blood and consists primarily of water and proteins that help the body control bleeding and infection. A donor’s blood is collected into an automated device that separates the plasma from the other whole blood components, including red and white blood cells and platelets.

While the plasma is collected, the other blood components are pumped into a reservoir and then later returned to the donor. Each donation procedure uses sterile and disposable collection materials. The body quickly replaces the plasma removed during the donation process. Therefore, healthy individuals can donate as often as twice in a seven-day period, with at least one day between donations.

To help protect the safety of the donor and the recipients of the therapies processed from their plasma, prospective donors must first pass a medical examination and complete a medical history survey. Donors are compensated for their time and commitment to the program. For more information on the donation process and to find additional centers, visit biolifeplasma.com.

Staff Reports

Fair held to inform Mt. Juliet seniors on health issues

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Senior citizens and vendors mingle during the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center Senior Health Fair on Thursday at the center. Seniors received free information about several different services offered throughout the community.

The Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center continued its mission to help local seniors Thursday as the group held its biennial Senior Health Fair.

“The purpose of the health fair is to have different vendors come and explain to our seniors the different services that are available in this community,” said Mt. Juliet senior center director Tanya Graham.

Vendors received information about home health, elder law, physical health and other aspects of a senior’s life.

“It’s just a pressure-free environment where you can come and get information, take it home, absorb it and if you need to reach back out, you have those contacts,” Graham said.

Graham said everyday occurrences, such as phone scams, create difficulties for seniors to dissect authentic information and businesses. The health fair creates an environment that allows seniors to get information from trusted vendors at a trusted location, Graham said.

“This actually opens it up to where those discussions and contacts can happen, and there’s not a scare of going to someone you don’t know,” Graham said.

The fair can also allow serious discussions to start among loved ones.

“A lot of them have family that’s here and they rely on family to take care of those needs. Sometimes, things kind of get overlooked in the day-to-day life. Sometimes, they’ve delayed planning or find themselves in a situation where it’s at the point they need to start to consider assisted living or a nursing home, and they’ve got a spouse that’s not quire ready for that phase,” Graham said. 

Graham said the fair is designed to continue the group’s mission to help local seniors.

For more information, visit mjseniorcenter.org.

Saint Thomas opens new Mt. Juliet location

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Dr. Greg James, Saint Thomas Health chief clinical officer, addresses the crowd during Tuesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony and open house at the new Saint Thomas facility in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet is home to a new Saint Thomas Health center after a ribbon cutting and open house ceremony last Tuesday at the facility.

The full-service center at the corner of Providence Trail and Belinda Parkway is the latest Saint Thomas Medical Partners facility and will offer primary care, family medicine, breast surgery, cardiology, imaging services, integrative medicine, lab services, neurological services, pulmonary, sleep medicine and more.

“We are re-thinking our identity from being experts at taking care of patients in their emergency situations when they’re sick to coming to patients and taking care of you to keep you well,” said Fahad Tahir, Saint Thomas Medical Partners president and CEO. “This center is a manifestation of that commitment and that dream – this idea that we’re going to create a destination in the community that’s close to home and allows patients to take care of their total health.”

Tahir said he experienced heavy traffic on his way to Mt. Juliet for a meeting about a possible facility in the area in the early stages of the process. When he arrived, he described his difficulty with traffic, which local representatives used to highlight the need for a closer facility.

“Immediately, Mt. Juliet went up the list in terms of the priority communities where we needed to expand our presence,” Tahir said.

Same-day and walk-in appointments are available through the center’s express care. Patients can sign up for the service online.

The Mt. Juliet Saint Thomas center hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Saint Thomas Medical Partners is one of the region’s largest physician-led medical groups in Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky with more than 550 providers and 39 specialties, covering 32 counties with 99 locations.

For more information, visit saintthomasdoctors.com/mtjuliet.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Economic group talks Superspeedway

The Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board executive committee discussed the future of the Nashville Superspeedway during Thursday’s monthly meeting.

G.C. Hixson, Wilson County JECDB director, said he and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto continue to hold meetings with Panattoni Development representatives about the property.

Hixson also highlighted Project Runway, which involves a Nashville developer that submitted a proposal for a project that would require a minimum of 150 acres. The project would serve clients expanding southeastern ground markets.

Hixson said other options have surfaced for the former NASCAR venue, and he expects something to happen for the property.

“It appears to be moving forward, and I think that’s a good move,” Hixson said.

Panattoni, an international commercial real estate development company that specializes in industrial, office and build-to-suit projects, bought the Superspeedway last year from Dover Motorsports for $27.5 million.

Panattoni has not announced its plans for the land or Superspeedway, which opened in 2001 and held four major races a year during its peak, including two NASCAR Nationwide Series races and two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. 

Hixson also gave an update on the group’s stakeholder survey, which he said is still in development. 

Hixson said the goal of the survey, which will be 20-35 or more questions, is to foster an open communication among the governing bodies in the county concerned with economic development.

The group will create the survey, which addresses present operations, programs and the agency’s purpose. Hixson said the survey would be distributed to municipalities and county leaders, along with other economic development stakeholders.

The group will then organize survey results and general comments into a working document it will share with the various groups during work sessions. The results from the survey will be combined with feedback during work sessions to create a summary document that could serve as a blueprint for an updated strategic plan for the group.

By Xavier Smith

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Encore to present ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
In “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” a humanoid alien visitor named Klaatu comes to earth, accompanied by a powerful 8-foot-tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.

Encore Theatre Co. plans to bring the staged radio drama theatre production of classic, “The Day the Earth Stood Still, directed by Don Breedwell.

Performance dates will be Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A staged reading, fashioned after the 1954 Lux Radio production, will feature live sound effects, along with historical trivia woven through the storyline.

The phrase, “Klaatu barada nikto,” has appeared repeatedly in fiction and in popular cultures and is one of the most memorable lines of the story for all science-fiction fans. Edmund H. North wrote the screenplay, based on the 1940 science-fiction short story, “Farewell to the Master,” by Harry Bates.

In “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” a humanoid alien visitor named Klaatu comes to earth, accompanied by a powerful 8-foot-tall robot, Gort, to deliver an important message that will affect the entire human race.

In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Tickets are on sale for $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 60 and older and $10 for children 12 and younger. Visit encore-theatre-company.org, ticketsnashville.com or call 615-598-8950.

Encore Theatre Co. is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of Highway 109, in Mt. Juliet. Encore is a nonprofit community theater that has served Wilson County and surrounding areas since 2006.

Staff Reports

Nashville Eastern Railroad donates to St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Nashville Eastern Railroad recently donated nearly $1,500 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Pictured (back row, from left) are Eric Beyer with Regional Transportation Alliance; Craig Wade with NERR; Terry Bebout with NERR; Amanda Clelland with RTA; (front row, from left) Courtney McMahon with St. Jude; and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto.

The Music City Star heated up the rails April 29 with two separate events.

Riders enjoyed round trips to both the St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Nashville Marathon in the morning, sponsored by Famous Footwear, followed by A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival, sponsored by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce in the afternoon.

The Nashville Eastern Railroad pledged to donate $5 per rider. Between the two events, 296 riders boarded the train, and $1,480 was donated to the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a result.

“We are honored to have been a part of both events,” said Bill Drunsic with NERR. “When we learned the sponsors were donating ticket sales to St. Jude, we wanted to do our part, as well. We appreciate all the hard work of the county mayor’s office, [Regional Transportation Alliance], St. Jude, Famous Footwear, Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce and everyone involved in the promotion of these events. The MCS was proud to transport folks to and from these events.”

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said, “The Nashville Eastern Railroad does an outstanding job with the Music City Star, day in and day out. Their commitment to impeccable transit service is without measure. If you’ve never experienced a ride on the train, I encourage you do so. You can avoid parking fees and traffic, and it’s just a great ride to and from Nashville.”

Staff Reports

‘Vision Source’ glasses recalled from local eye care center

Precision Eye Care in Mt. Juliet has issued a recall for eclipse glasses sold from the shop, the group announced on social media.

The business said the recall only applies to the Vision Source eclipse glasses sold last week. Precision staff contacted patients who bought the glasses and said a few glasses purchased by non-patients are still unaccounted.

“If you have this kind only from our office, please return them to us for a full refund and a free replacement from American Paper Optics,” the Facebook post said.

NASA officials and the American Astronomical Society verified five manufacturers making solar eclipse glasses that meet all glasses standards – American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium – AstroSolar Silver and Gold film only, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17.

NASA outlined four guidelines for any solar eclipse glasses. They must:

• have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard.

• have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product.

• not to be used if they are older than three years or have scratched or wrinkled lenses.

• not made using homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses – not even very dark ones – because they are not safe for looking directly at the sun.

Wilson County will be the center of the national craze Aug. 21 as many parts of the county fall within a few seconds of the maximum amount of totality, or darkness during the solar eclipse. Totality is expected to start around 1:28 p.m.

For more information, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. 

By Xavier Smith 

xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Providence Marketplace to welcome new restaurant Burgerim

Lease negotiations were completed with a new restaurant concept, Burgerim, which is currently under construction outside Belk’s west entrance next to Kirkland’s at Providence Marketplace in Mt. Juliet.

Burgerim is a casual burger operator that specializes in gourmet mini burgers, custom tailored to satisfy any taste. Patrons can choose from a twin, trio or party pack of 2.8-ounce mini burgers with variety in patty flavors, buns, toppings and sauces. Burgerim also offers sandwiches, salads, wings and options for special dietary needs like vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Burgerim into the Marketplace,” said David Heydasch, general manager. “Following the successful introduction of Francesca’s earlier this spring, plus the full remodel of Bath and Body Works in May and the grand re-opening of Fantastic Sam’s Cut and Color later this month, Providence Marketplace continues to re-invent itself as the retail destination of choice for shoppers in Wilson, northern Rutherford and eastern Davidson counties.”

The Burgerim location at Providence Marketplace will be the second in Tennessee and the company’s eastern-most location in the U.S. The company is expanding rapidly, with existing locations in California and Texas and franchised units currently under development from Florida to Connecticut.

Providence Marketplace is the largest open-air shopping center in Middle Tennessee and the largest center between Nashville and Knoxville, with about 830,000 square feet of retail space. The center serves a six-county trade area and features Belk, JC Penney, Kroger and Target, plus national restaurants and specialty shops and a 14-screen Regal Cinema.

Staff Reports

Wilson County BEST Award nominations open

Nominations are now accepted for the fifth annual Businesses Empowering Students and Teachers Awards.

The North Central P-16 Council sponsors the contest. The council is made up of area secondary school educators, higher education leaders and business people and led by Volunteer State Community College. The goal of P-16 is to promote the relationship between education and the value of work, develop a highly trained workforce and create a culture of lifelong learning by positively impacting student success through awareness, advocacy and action.

The BEST Award celebrates the accomplishments of community leaders and supporters, business owners and entrepreneurs. It honors those who share knowledge and expertise, advocate and foster student success in prekindergarten through postsecondary education. The council will award five BEST Awards annually, one in each of the counties served by the North Central P-16 Council.  Public and private businesses or individuals who work for an employer in Macon, Robertson, Sumner, Trousdale and Wilson counties may be nominated or may self-nominate. The recipients of the BEST Awards will be recognized at the October North Central P-16 Council meeting.

The nomination deadline is Aug. 15. To nominate an individual, visit volstate.edu/P16BestAward. For a printed copy of the nomination sheet, call 615-230-3355.

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet chamber donates to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce presents a $1,000 check to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital from proceeds from the Music City Star’s participation in A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival. Pictured (from left) are Eric Beyer with Regional Transportation Authority; Courtney McMahon with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Mark Hinesley, director of the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce; Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto; and Amanda Clelland with RTA.

A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival made its way back to Wilson County for 2017 and helped out the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital along the way.

Festivalgoers from across the state made their way to the Wilson County Expo Center, many of them by way of the Music City Star. Sponsored by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, train tickets for the April 29 event were $12 and donated back to the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We were thrilled to bring the festival back to Wilson County this year,” said Mark Hinesley, director of the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce. “Then, when we were given the opportunity to sponsor the Music City Star, we were even more excited. The icing on the cake was the opportunity to donate the train ticket sales back to St. Jude. Given our involvement in the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway, donating this money just made sense. I appreciate the hard work of the county mayor’s office and the folks at [Regional Transportation Authority] and St. Jude to make this train event possible. We are very excited for next year.”

The chamber made a $1,000 donation.

“Every year we look forward to the marathon train event,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “We when learned the wine festival was coming back to Wilson County on the same day, we all jumped at the chance to do an additional train event and raise even more money for St. Jude. The teamwork and partnership of all the involved parties has just been tremendous, and we look forward to future events like this one. Thank you to Mark Hinesley and the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce for your hard work and willingness to give back to the kids of St. Jude, and thank you to St. Jude, RTA and [Nashville and Eastern Railroad Corp.] for all your hard work throughout this process.”

Staff Reports

Shop tax free in Tennessee during last weekend in July

NASHVILLE – Tennessee retailers will not collect sales tax on more than 150 different items during the 12th annual sales tax holiday.
From July 28-30, shoppers can save nearly 10 percent on clothing, school supplies and computers, as students prepare for the back-to-school season. State and local taxes will not be collected on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.
State Department of Revenue officials remind people the weekend of savings is not exclusive to students or Tennesseans. Anyone who wants to shop in Tennessee during the last weekend of July will be eligible to save on sales tax.
“The sales tax holiday for back-to-school items is another way to put more money back in the pockets of Tennesseans. We encourage Tennesseans to take advantage of this tax break as they prepare their children for the upcoming school year,” said Gov. Bill Haslam.
Legislators passed a new law in 2016 that moved the sales tax holiday a weekend earlier than it was in the past. The sales tax holiday is now the last weekend in July, instead of the first weekend in August. This year, the sales tax holiday begins July 28 at 12:01 a.m. and ends July 30 at 11:59 p.m.
“We want to remind Tennesseans about this important opportunity for savings. It’s available to everyone and only happens one weekend a year,” said Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano.
For more information about the sales tax holiday, including a complete list of tax-exempt items and frequently asked questions, visit tntaxholiday.com.
The Department of Revenue is responsible for administering state tax laws, motor vehicle title and registration laws and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The department collects about 87 percent of total state revenue. During the 2016 fiscal year, it collected $13.5 billion in state taxes and fees and more than $2.6 billion in taxes and fees for local governments. To learn more about the department, visit tn.gov/revenue.

Staff Reports

Wilson County bakers should get ready for the fair

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Wilson County Fair baking contest will begin taking entries Aug. 17 from 3-6 p.m. at the Expo Center. Closed judging will begin at 6 p.m. at the Expo Center.

All Wilson County bakers, it’s time to get those recipes ready to enter the Wilson County Fair baking contest.

The Wilson County Fair baking contest will begin taking entries Aug. 17 from 3-6 p.m. at the Expo Center. Closed judging will begin at 6 p.m. 

“We are excited this year to be featured in the new Expo Center,” said Debbie Stephens, baking contest chairman. “It will be sad leaving the East-West Building, where we have had our exhibits for many years.  We look forward to seeing everyone this year in a new venue. “

This year’s winners will be displayed in the baking shop. Entrants must be at least 19 years old or older. In the past, six categories were available, including quick breads, yeast breads, cookies, pies, cakes and candy. There will first-, second- and third-place money and ribbons in each lot.  There will be a grand champion awarded in each category. The grand champions will receive a ribbon and special gift.

“We are proud to announce something new this year,” Stephens said. “On Saturday, Aug. 19, there will be a Cornbread Challenge.” 

All entries must be received between 11 a.m. and noon. Open judging will begin at noon. Prizes will be $100 for first, $75 for second and $50 for third. 

“We appreciate Shenandoah Mills sponsoring this event,” Stephens said. “This is not just cornbread, but a creation made with cornbread mixture in the dish. Examples would be fiesta bakes, chicken pot pie, all varieties of stuffing, corn pudding, all varieties of casseroles, tamale pie, etc.  We encourage everyone to come up with your own original recipe.”

All information regarding the baking contest may be found at wilsoncountyfair.net; visit competitions/food/baking and cornbread challenge.

Staff Reports