‘The Voice’ semifinals pairs Chloe Kohanski with Noah Mac


Tyler Golden • NBC
Noah Mac and Chloe Kohanski sing a duet of ‘Wicked Games’ for Monday’s live performance of ‘The Voice’ semifinals.

As NBC’s “The Voice” makes its way toward the final round next week, Mt. Juliet native Chloe Kohanski electrified the audience with a duet performance of “Wicked Games” with Noah Mac, as well as her solo performace of “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Kohanski said the duet performance was meant to be as much of a visual experience as an auditory one. Red lights lit up the stage with Kohanski’s red dress and Mac’s familiar striped shirt as the duo brought cheers from the audience.

“To take what I do and merge it with someone I respect as an artist is just a great opportunity,” Mac said.

For Kohanski’s solo performance, she said she wanted to make her identity as an artist clear.

She said when she started on her journey through “The Voice,” she didn’t even know she was good and wanted to convey that with the Foreigner song.

Her big hair and sparkly black dress conveyed a reminiscence from the time the original song was created.

Four people will be eliminated from the show this week, and the four artists with the most audience votes will move on to the final round next week.

Cast votes for Kohanski by visiting nbc.com/voicevote, use the hastag #ChloeNoahDuet, buy her song or duet on iTunes, stream her song or duet on Apple Music or download and vote through the Voice app.

The results from this week’s voting will air Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBC, channel 4.

Parades kick off Christmas Season

Mt. Juliet holiday event visits galaxy far, far away

George Page • Mt. Juliet News
Star Wars characters ride in the Christmas parade Saturday in Mt. Juliet. The theme for this year’s parade was ‘Christmas in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.’

Wilson County and surrounding areas showed its Christmas spirit to kick off the holiday season as each city held its annual Christmas parade.

The Mt. Juliet Christmas parade Saturday featured Princess Leah as its grand marshal and the theme “Christmas in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”

Parade participants showed their enthusiasm for the theme as Princess Leah, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Stormtrooper costumes covered the ceremonies.

Two Rivers Ford, Daybreak Riding and Girl Scout Troop 670 took home awards for their parade floats.

The annual TDS Mt. Juliet Holiday Half Marathon and 5K run preceded the parade and featured dozens of participants, many covered in Christmas attire and ornaments.

The Watertown Christmas parade continued its traditional route down Main Street on Saturday and showcased plenty of Purple Tiger pride as the Watertown Marching Band set the tone for the parade.

The parade also featured the Watertown youth cheerleaders, Girls Scout Troop 924, Watertown High School athletes and students, local businesses and churches and local and state government representatives.

The Possumtown Christmas parade Sunday continued to celebrate the holiday in the community as several floats highlighted the area’s pride.

The parade also served as an opportunity for the community to help families in need in and around Sneedville in Hancock County, which has the lowest median income per household of any county in Tennessee.

A tractor-trailer was parked in downtown Possumtown across from Friendship Christian School for donations, which will still be accepted until Dec. 19.

The delivery caravan will leave Dec. 20, and deliveries to the families will be made Dec. 21 in cooperation with the Hancock County Rescue Squad.

Items needed this year include non-perishable food, winter coats and sanitary items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Jerry McFarland at 615-330-8474.

The Lebanon Christmas parade returned Dec. 3 with the theme “Christmas Movies Come to Life.” Participants brought their favorite Christmas movies to life.

Float themes included “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and more.

Country music star and actress Irlene Mandrell served as the Lebanon Christmas parade’s grand marshal.

For a recap of all Wilson County Christmas parades and the Alexandria Christmas parade, including photos and live video coverage, visit lebanondemocrat.com.

Encore Theatre to bring humor for the holidays

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The cast of Encore Theatre Co.’s upcoming production of ‘A Good Old-Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas’ includes (standing, from left) Andrew Smith, Joe Noe, Kailyn McKay, Abbie Phillips, Dee Rogers, (seated, from left) Tony Shannon, Sarah McKay, Lanie Shannon and David Owens.

Encore Theatre Co. will wrap up its 2017 season with “A Good Old-Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas” by Kris Bauske. 

A comedy for the entire family, the play will be directed by James Bealor. The show will run weekends from Dec. 8-17. Friday and Saturday performances will start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m. The theatre will open 30 minutes before show time.

The story asks the questions, What if the three wise men weren’t really all that wise? What if they were just three ordinary guys, avoiding conflicts at home, who happened upon the greatest story ever told?

Set the entire story in modern-day America, sprinkle in a little redneck humor and it’s “A Good Old Fashioned Redneck Country Christmas.” Bill, Dave and Jimmy have had it with their women. Even though it’s Christmas Eve and tradition dictates they should be home drinking hot cocoa and singing carols, the boys decide to hightail it into the mountains for a little hunting and a lot of beer.

The protest does nothing to improve the mood of the women back in town. Lou runs Lou’s Diner. She and Bill have tried unsuccessfully to have a baby. Barbie Jo, Lou’s head waitress, is married to Dave, and they have children, but Dave’s not interested in family this year. Darlene, the most beautiful girl in three counties, is dating Jimmy, but while she’s ready to settle down, Jimmy can’t stand the idea of “commitment.” It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get these redneck families back together. Thank God one just came to town.

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

Encore Theatre Co. is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of Highway 109 in Holmes Crossing in Mt. Juliet.

About to begin its 11th year, Encore Theatre Co. is a nonprofit community theater that serves Wilson County and surrounding areas.

Staff Reports

Wilson Central High School dance team sweeps awards at Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships

Photo courtesy of Maura Ammenheuser
The Wilson Central High School dance team won two titles at the Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships on Saturday at the Sevierville Convention Center. The team includes seniors Anita Baluch, Emily Buckner, Logan Carter, Carly Ebersberger, Marissa Hawks, Aubrie King, Kylie Michael, Emily Molino, Zoe Rahmani, Maddie Spradley; juniors, Erika Cervantes, Taylor Powers, Francesca Rodriquez; sophomores Kathleen Ammenheuser, Ella Burgess, Ashton Hamblen, Madison Hill, Madison Treutel; freshmen Kayla Cox, Riley Gilstrap, Bailey Rollins, Lillia Roning and Mia Stover. The team is coached by Katie Stricklin with Nicole Belsante and Courtney Weeks.

The Wilson Central High School dance team won two titles at the Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships on Saturday at the Sevierville Convention Center.

Competing against other varsity high school dance teams from across the Southeast, the Wildcats won the hip-hop competition and the jazz competition.

“It’s the first time that Wilson Central has ever won both competitions at the Smoky Mountain Christmas Championships,” said Wildcats’ coach Katie Stricklin. “I could not be more proud of these girls.”

The Wildcats, who dance at home high school football and basketball games, also won an award for the best choreography for the varsity hip-hop division.

The Smoky Mountain championships are part of the Universal Dance Association competitions.

There are still two more competitions remaining, JAMfest in Nashville on Feb. 3 and the national JAMFest Dance Super Nationals on Feb. 10-11 in St. Louis.

The team includes seniors Anita Baluch, Emily Buckner, Logan Carter, Carly Ebersberger, Marissa Hawks, Aubrie King, Kylie Michael, Emily Molino, Zoe Rahmani, Maddie Spradley; juniors, Erika Cervantes, Taylor Powers, Francesca Rodriquez; sophomores Kathleen Ammenheuser, Ella Burgess, Ashton Hamblen, Madison Hill, Madison Treutel; freshmen Kayla Cox, Riley Gilstrap, Bailey Rollins, Lillia Roning and Mia Stover.

Stricklin coaches the team with Nicole Belsante and Courtney Weeks.

Staff Reports

Kohanski ranks No. 1 on The Voice iTunes Charts

Mt. Juliet native shares her inspiration on NBC talent show

Photo courtesy of Trae Patton • NBC
Mt. Juliet’s Chloe Kohanski sings ‘Call Me’ by Blondie during the top 10 elimination episode of The Voice on Monday night on NBC. Kohanski called the song her biggest inspiration.

After ranking No. 1 on the iTunes charts last week, Chloe Kohanski sang once again for audience votes to keep her spot on NBC’s “The Voice.” 

Contestants were instructed to choose songs from their biggest inspirations. Kohanski sang “Call Me” by Blondie.

After her live performance, coach Blake Shelton said, “There’s not much left to say after that. I don’t even need to sell it.” 

Originally from Mt. Juliet, Kohanski said she tried out for the show to expand her horizons beyond Nashville.

“I played everywhere pretty much in Nashville like the End and Exit/In and the Basement, the East Room, kind of all over the place, but I never really left Nashville,” Kohanski said.

After she graduated from Donelson Christian Academy in 2012, she spent a year at Cumberland University in Lebanon with a double major in English and music before she dropped out to focus on her music. While playing in a local band, Kohanski worked at Billy Goat coffee shop in Mt. Juliet, Starbucks in Mt. Juliet and Starbucks in Lebanon.

“I just didn’t really want to go to school and just wanted to be able to pursue music. I worked a couple of different jobs, just whatever I could do to pay my bills so I could keep playing music,” Kohanski said.

She said her appearance on The Voice gave her more confidence in her musical ability, and now with the final round of eliminations heating up, she feels like she’s earned her place on country music star Blake Shelton’s team.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Kohanski said. “Blake is really fun and really down to earth and cool. He encourages me to be myself and just really get into my creative process. He’s a true fan of my voice, and that is just really awesome.”

Kohanski’s performance of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler ranked No. 1 on the show’s iTunes charts, and she was America’s top pick to stay on the show during the latest round of eliminations. Shelton even mentioned on the show Monday that Kohanski brings some steep competition.

“Everyone here has their own opinion about who is the frontrunner in this competition,” Shelton said after her performance. “I tell you, Chloe just set the bar.”

As far as life on the show goes, Kohanski said most of her time is taken up by practicing her next song, filming for the next show and recording. 

“I definitely didn’t expect to make it this far in the show. I honestly didn’t expect to make it past the blind auditions,” Kohanski said. “I feel so humbled. I’ve really developed my artistry here.”

She said she feels her biggest competition is herself, and the other competitors she sees as friends on the same journey.

Her favorite moment so far on the show was her performance of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Fans chose the song through tweets to her, and she said worked hard to express her artistic identity.

“I put a lot of time and effort into the visual and the vocals and just every aspect of the performance,” Kohanski said.

As the live performance rounds of The Voice continue, the fate of the competitors rests in the hands of the audience, which means anyone who wants for Kohanski to win should vote for her. Participants can cast up to 10 votes on nbc.com, buy Kohanski’s song on iTunes, stream the song on Apple Music 10 times for one vote and download The Voice app to vote.

Each week, the bottom three competitors Tuesday night have a chance to stay on the show with the Twitter instant save. Singers with the lowest number of votes go home until only one remains to win the grand prize, a record deal.

Watch for Kohanski’s next performance on The Voice on Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on NBC. In Wilson County, the channel is WSMV Channel 4 out of Nashville.

Encore Theatre Co. to hold open auditions for first show of 2018

Encore Theatre Co. will hold open auditions for the comedy, “Jeeves in Bloom,” adapted by Margaret Raether and directed by Barbara Hartman.

Auditions will be Dec. 3-4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m., and performance dates will be Jan 19-21 and Jan. 26-28.

Auditions will be at the theater at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of Highway 109 in Mt. Juliet and will consist of cold readings from the script. Resume and headshots will be helpful and appreciated, but not required.

Roles will be available for two women and five men. The playing ages for the characters are flexible. The show takes place in Worcestershire, England. Therefore, English accents are necessary except for the role of Anatole, who is French, so a passable French accent is required.

Characters will include:

• Bertram “Bertie” Wilberfore Wooster – the hapless hero. He’s endowed with a handsome fortune and a limited brain.

• Jeeves – Bertie’s valet and, in Bertie’s words, “one of the wonders of the world.”

• Dahlia Travers – Bertie’s aunt and a fearless soul. She alone, among Bertie’s gaggle of aunts, appears rather fond of Bertie, despite referring to him as “young blot” and “idiot nephew.” She publishes Milady’s Boudoir, a women’s newspaper.

• Thomas Portarlington Travers – Dahlia’s husband. Tends to become apoplectic on the subject of taxes, but is kept in tranquil spirits by the superb meals dished up by his chef, Anatole.

• Augustus “Gussie” Fink-Nottle – a teetotaler bachelor pal of Bertie’s who has, “a face like a fish,” according to Bertie. Gussie wears horn-rimmed spectacles and is a noted newt fancier.

• Madeline Basset – a pretty girl, as Bertie says, “in a droopy, saucer-eyed way.” Her conversation tends to revolve around elves, gnomes, flowers and small furry creatures.

• Anatole – highly skilled, highly temperamental French chef employed by Dahlia Travers. He’s often referred to as “God’s gift to the gastric juices.” He speaks limited English and threatens violence at the least hint of culinary criticism.

The peaceful English countryside may never be the same after Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet, Jeeves, pay a visit. What starts as a plan to pair tongue-tied, amphibian-loving Augustus Fink-Nottle and fanciful, poetry-loving Madeline Basset quickly goes awry. Soon, Bertie is fending off Madeline’s amorous advances, reluctantly participating in an attempted burglary and fleeing attacks from a homicidal French chef. With the stakes this high, the solution must lie with the one and only Jeeves.

Now in its 11th year, Encore Theatre Co. is a nonprofit community theater that serves Wilson County and surrounding areas.

Staff Reports

Young dancers from Wilson County chosen to perform in Nashville Ballet’s Nashville’s Nutcracker

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Dancers (back row, from left) Myah Patterson, Payton Engelhardt, Jordyn Jones, (front row, from left) Stephanie Williams, Gabriela Miller, Ava Elizabeth Crook and Makayla Trego are among 12 dancers Nashville Ballet selected from Wilson County to perform in the youth cast for Nashville’s Nutcracker: Celebrating 10 Years.

NASHVILLE – Nashville Ballet selected 12 dancers from Wilson County to perform in the youth cast for Nashville’s Nutcracker: Celebrating 10 Years from Saturday through Dec. 23 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Jackson Hall.

This year’s youth cast marks the organization’s largest to date, with 296 dancers from School of Nashville Ballet and the community at large performing alongside Nashville Ballet and the Nashville Symphony in the local holiday favorite.

Nashville’s Nutcracker will feature young dancers from Wilson County:

• Mariana Campos, daughter of Rocio Campos, as a lamb.

• Ava Elizabeth Crook, daughter of Kelley and Scott Crook, as a baby mouse.

• Olivia Dugdale, daughter of Angela Wilsdorf, as a medium mouse.

• Payton Engelhardt, daughter of Emily and Tony Nowicki, as a Native American soldier.

• Jordyn Jones, daguther of Joi Hamilton Jones and Gregory Jones, as a garden fairy.

• Jaymie Loidolt, daughter of Colleen and Russ Loidolt, as a bon bon.

• Myah Patterson, daughter of Vickie Patterson, as a garden fairy.

• Makayla Trego, daughter of Misty Trego and Andy Johnson, as a cavalry member.

• Embree Unick, daughter of Jessica Nyce and Chris Unick, as a party girl.

• Elianah Vanderschoot, daughter of Serenity and Matthew Vanderschoot, as a bon bon.

• Rosa Villagran, daughter of Olga Cordon, as a garden fairy.

• Stephanie Williams, daughter of Brigitte and Artis Williams, as a cavalry member.

This year’s Nashville’s Nutcracker youth cast members were selected from community-wide open auditions. Members of the youth cast come from 14 counties throughout Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, including Cheatham, Christian, Davidson, Decatur, DeKalb, Hopkins, Humphreys, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson. They will perform alongside all 54 members of Nashville Ballet’s professional dance company and second company and 60 members of the Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony performing Tchaikovsky’s celebrated score.

“We’ve had more than 1,000 young dancers in the Nashville’s Nutcracker youth cast since the production’s debut 10 years ago,” said Nashville Ballet artistic director and CEO Paul Vasterling. “The size of the youth cast has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, so this year we’re debuting a brand-new role, the dancing bear cavalry, which allows us to welcome even more young dancers on stage.”

In addition to the debut of the new youth cast role, Nashville Ballet will celebrate 10 years of Nashville’s Nutcracker with more all-new elements – including snow falling on the audience during the iconic snow scene. Nashville Ballet premiered the Nutcracker in 1989, but the production was reinvented as Nashville’s Nutcracker in 2008 with a unique concept incorporating Nashville’s vibrant past along with new choreography, sets, costumes and on-stage magic tricks. Since then, Vasterling’s original spin on the classic has cemented its place as one of Music City’s most beloved holiday traditions.

Beginning at the 1897 Centennial Exposition in Nashville, Clara and her Uncle Drosselmeyer meet a colorful cast of characters from faraway lands. When Uncle Drosselmeyer gifts Clara with a wooden Nutcracker on Christmas Eve, the toy magically transforms to life as a handsome prince and leads her through a remarkable adventure. Clara visits everyone from the Snow Queen to the Sugar Plum Fairy, including the spellbinding characters she met at the Exposition. When Clara finally returns home, the audience is left to decide if it was all just a dream – or not.

Nashville’s Nutcracker is presented by 21c Museum Hotel Nashville, Google Fiber and R.J. Young. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased in person at the TPAC box office in downtown Nashville, by phone at 615-782-4040 or at nashvilleballet.com. A complete performance schedule and more information can be found at nashvilleballet.com/nashvilles-nutcracker-2017.

Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the second company, NB2 – a pre-professional training company – provide more than 70,000 arts experiences to adults and children annually through season performances and its community engagement programming. Curriculum-based community engagement programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries and public elementary, middle and high schools across the state. School of Nashville Ballet brings world-class dance instruction to students 2-70 years old.

Nashville Ballet receives public funding from Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Contributions from local, regional and national institutional funders and community partners, as well as hundreds of generous individuals, provide ongoing support of Nashville Ballet’s mission-critical programs.

Staff Reports

Award-winning soccer coach from England starts Mt. Juliet Soccer Club

James Picken

It’s no secret the sport of soccer is starting to grow in Middle Tennessee.

With the recent announcement of a professional soccer club potentially coming to Nashville, as well as the record-breaking attendance Nashville saw when it held a European professional game, it seems Middle Tennesseans are more interested in the sport than previously thought.

Now, Mt. Juliet will be getting a soccer club coached by an award-winning soccer coach from England.

Scottish-born James Picken followed his son, Daniel, to Wilson County from England when Daniel signed to play for the soccer team at Cumberland University.

Picken had coached his son ever since Daniel first started playing soccer at 6 years old. Now he wants to use his experience as a coach to benefit and grow the local soccer community.

“I’ve always wanted to develop players and play the right way,” said Picken. “We want to teach them how to play positions, how to pass the ball, how to defend and give them a broader outlook than everyone chases a ball.”

In England, Picken coached two youth teams to their league championships, the Rebel Wanderers and the Ladybridge Lions. The Wanderers won their league, and the Lions finished runner-up.

Picken himself won coach of the year in 2011-2012 for leading the Lions to the championship game.

With Mt. Juliet Soccer Club, Picken wants to start with children 3-5 years old and teach them fundamentals first. Eventually, he plans to work with older players, as well.

“I think they can retain it,” said Picken. “They’ll remember as a little kid, you know you remember stuff from when you were a kid, so if we get them into the positions, we can go forward.”

According to Picken, he would eventually like to get a league for children going in Mt. Juliet on Saturdays. He said if there isn’t already a league, he may try to start one.

“I would like indoor and outdoor facilities in Mt. Juliet and incorporate Lebanon and the local area, but that’s looking toward the future,” said Picken. “I’d like [local] players to go play for the United States and to Europe and play in Europe, because I’ve got the experience. I know what it’s like.”

The club won’t have tryouts, rather they will do free trials for young children to see how they like it.

“People sign up for these things and the kids don’t like it,” said Picken. “We want to really make it enthusiastic and enjoyable for them. It also lets me know what to adapt, because I need to adapt a little bit to the American children, because I’ve never coached them.”

The free trials began Saturday at 4 p.m. at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet and will continue at the same time every week until Christmas.

Picken emphasized even in the trial sessions, he will teach the children the fundamentals of the sport.

“When people are playing soccer sometimes, they’re coached just to kick the ball away,” said Picken. “We would not coach that. We keep possession of the ball. It’s like playing basketball and throwing it to the opposition. What would happen? Would you win any games?”

For more information on the Mt. Juliet Soccer Club or the free trials at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet, call Picken at 615-603-0785.

By Jacob Smith


Books-A-Million to welcome iconic fiddle player Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels

Grammy award-winning musician Charlie Daniels will sign copies of his newly released memoir, “Never Look at the Empty Seats,” on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Books-A-Million at 401 S. Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet.

Guests will have book signing and giveaway opportunities.

Few artists have left a more indelible mark on America’s musical landscape than Daniels. In his official memoir, “Never Look at the Empty Seats” from Thomas Nelson Publishing, fans will learn about his rise from a post-Depression era childhood to becoming a Grammy award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee by focusing on the positives in life.

Spanning a career of nearly 60 years, Daniels shares inside stories, reflections, rare personal photographs, plus lessons learned and sage advice to those seeking a career in the music business.

Daniels is best known for his contributions to country, bluegrass and Southern rock music. As a multi-instrumentalist, lyricist and singer, Daniels’ won his first Grammy in 1979 for best country vocal performance by duo or group for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The award-winning music enthusiast was later inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. Daniels currently lives in Mt. Juliet. For more information about Daniels, visit charliedaniels.com.

To attend the event, guests are required to purchase an Eventbrite ticket at charliedanielstnbam.eventbrite.com, which will include a copy of “Never Look at the Empty Seats.” Daniels will give away a fiddle to one attendee during the event at random, and the first 10 people in line will also receive a Charlie Daniels Band 45th anniversary T-shirt. Winners must be present to claim the prizes.

Staff Reports

Kohansky pushes through ‘The Voice’ playoffs to top 12

Mt. Juliet native makes top three on Team Blake to remain on TV show

Chloe Kohanski

Mt. Juliet native Chloe Kohanski made the top three of Team Blake during Monday night’s airing of NBC’s ‘The Voice,’ securing her a spot in the live performance portion of the show.

Formerly on Team Miley, Kohanski was given the opportunity to pick between Jennifer Hudson and Blake Shelton during the knockout rounds after Miley Cyrus chose Ashland Craft to stay on her team. Kohanski chose to go to Shelton’s team after both Hudson and Shelton went for the steal.

During the playoffs, Kohanski sang “Time After Time” by Cindi Lauper for her playoffs performance.

“You gave us just enough of that signature Chloe sound throughout the performance,” Shelton said.

Of the six members remaining on Shelton’s team, Kohanski was one of three chosen to go on to the next round.

During the live performance portion of ‘The Voice,’ it is not up to the judges to eliminate competitors, but instead a vote goes to the audience.

‘The Voice’ has won four Emmys for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. Watch out for Kohanski’s next performance on ‘The Voice’ Mondays and Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on NBC.

Fallen Soldiers March to end at Wilson County Veterans Plaza

The ninth-annual 32-mile Fallen Soldiers March will start at 5:30 a.m. at Legislative Plaza in Nashville and end at the Wilson County Veterans Plaza and Museum in Lebanon.

The event will be Nov. 11 in honor of Veteran’s Day.

The Fallen Soldiers March is a fundraiser for the Fallen Soldier Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that uses donation to provide service dogs to wounded veterans.

At the end of this year’s march, Fallen Soldier Memorial Fund representatives will present a service dog at 5 p.m. at the Veterans Plaza to a Wilson County veteran to honor his service and sacrifices.

To participate in the march, a minimum of $100 in donations must be raised. The person who raises the most money will receive a special gift from FSM board director and retired Lebanon fire Lt. Chip Vanatta.

Everyone marching the entire 32 miles will receive a specially designed commemoration pin when they complete the walk.

To register, contact Vanatta at 615-289-6609 or Jim Rentze 615-892-9060, or visit fallensoldiersmarch.com.

By Jacob Smith 


Plans unveiled for Wilson County Veterans Day parade, ceremony

Bill Moss

Organizers announced the schedule Tuesday for Saturday’s Wilson County Veterans Day parade and ceremony in Lebanon.

The Veterans Day parade will begin at 10:15 a.m. from the Lebanon-Wilson County Public Library at the corner of West Main Street and South Hatton Street and will proceed on West Main Street, through the Lebanon Square, onto East Main Street and end at the Wilson County Veterans Plaza. Lineup for the parade will begin at 9 a.m.

“We now have more than 35 entries enthusiastically participating in the parade and expect a great turnout for both the parade and ceremony,” said coordinator Don Fox.

Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland will be the parade grand marshal.

The Veterans Day ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the Wilson County Veterans Plaza next to the Wilson County Courthouse. The ceremony will begin with a welcome from Terry Yates with the Vietnam Veterans of America. Retired Lt. Col. Jim Henderson will be the master of ceremonies.

John Marshall with the Veterans of Foreign Wars will lead the invocation before the posting of the colors by members of the American Legion Post 281. Lewis Hightower with the American Legion will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Bob Haley will recognize Gold Star Mothers. The ceremony will also include laying of wreaths by commanders of the various veterans organizations, and end with a 21-gun salute with David Arnold on drums and Larry Squires playing Taps.

Retired Capt. Bill Moss will be the guest speaker. Moss’ military career started when he enlisted in the Army Reserve in October 1970. He went to basic training, jump school and parachute rigger school the following spring.

In the early 1980s, Moss received a direct commission as a second lieutenant. He became commander of the 861st Quartermaster Co., which was deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm. While deployed, he took 60 members to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey in support of Operation Provide Comfort, where his unit, in conjunction with a multi-national force, air dropped more than 2,000 tons of aerial containers to feed Kurds in northern Iraq.

Moss retired from the Army Reserve in 1996, having served 22 years with 20 on jump status.

Moss has worked for Wilson County Schools since 1986 as an assistant principal, superintendent of schools, Wilson County Vocational Center principal and supervisor of career technical education. He was selected as CTE director of the year by his peers and administrator of the year by SKILLS USA, a state youth organization.

Moss said he contributes his success in life to the leadership skills he developed with his experiences in the military.

Staff Reports

Encore to present ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ hold auditions

Encore Theatre Co. will bring its next production, “The Wind in the Willows” to the stage beginning Oct. 27.

Written by John Morely and based on the book by Kenneth Grahame, the family show will run weekends through Nov. 5. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2:30 p.m. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to show time.

“While working with 22 kids with ages ranging from 3 to 17 may provide some challenges, Encore is pleased to present the multiple talents of acting and movement these boys and girls are bringing to the stage,” said director James Bealor. “The entire family will enjoy this playful and comedic presentation of ‘Wind in the Willows.’”

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

Encore Theatre Co. will also hold auditions for the last show of the year, “Good Old Fashioned, Redneck Country Christmas,” written by Kristine Bauske and directed by Bealor.

Auditions will be Saturday from 5-7 p.m. and Sunday from 6-8 p.m. at the theater at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of Highway 109, in Holmes Crossing in Mt. Juliet.

Performance dates will be weekends from Dec. 8-17.

Auditions will be cold readings from the script.

Roles will be available for five men from teenagers to 55 years old or older and four women from teenagers to 40-something year olds. Visit encore-theatre-company.org for more specific story and character details.

The play considers the premise, what if the three wise men weren’t really all that wise? What if they were just three ordinary guys, avoiding conflicts at home, who happened upon the greatest story ever told?

Encore Theatre Co., currently in the 11th year, is a nonprofit community theater that serves Wilson County and surrounding areas.

Staff Reports

Art pieces celebrate unity in Mt. Juliet

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
The unity tree at Mt. Juliet City Hall uses license plates to depict different places people have moved from to settle in Mt. Juliet. City Manager Kenny Martin started the unity tree project to celebrate the influx of citizens moving to Mt. Juliet from all over the country and beyond.

Mt. Juliet has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and City Manager Kenny Martin decided something should celebrate the influx of visitors and the many more to come.

Martin created four unity trees, which are placed throughout Mt. Juliet at Mt. Juliet City Hall, Weston Drive near Bond Memorial Chapel, Walgreen’s on Lebanon Road and North Mt. Juliet Road near Wilson Bank & Trust.

The unity trees feature license plates from various states placed on each side of the wooden structure.

“I got the vision and idea after watching our city and community prosper and grow in so many ways,” Martin said. “In years past, the majority of people who lived in Mt. Juliet were from Mt. Juliet or Tennessee, whereas today, we have citizens who have moved here from all over the country and beyond.”

Martin said he feels the influx of citizens to Mt. Juliet is a blessing to the city.

“Knowing that many of the people who have moved here still hold their home states and countries close to their hearts, I thought the idea of creating these art pieces might be a neat way of showing all citizens that we are a community that welcomes people for all over the country and beyond,” said Martin, who hopes the trees serve as a reminder of their home.

“I call these art pieces unity trees, because we are a welcoming melting pot society, city, community built upon true family values and people from all over the country and beyond,” he said. “No matter where you are from, grew up or previously lived, you are welcome here, loved here and are family. So, when you see these poorly crafted art pieces, please know what they mean to me, us and to anyone moving to or visiting Mt. Juliet.”

Martin said he believes every piece of art should have a meaning and purpose and hopes the unity trees will send a message that “we are all one big extended family.”

By Xavier Smith


Hambrick appears on Huckabee talk show to talk race relations

James Hambrick

Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick appeared on the “Huckabee Show” last weekend to discuss police and racial relations in America.

The “Huckabee Show” debuted on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on Oct. 7 and features former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as he interviews guests in a late night show setting.

“This program is a place where we talk to newsmakers and celebrities in a civil and respectful manner, as well as introduce America to some not-so-famous people whose stories remind us that the greatness of our nation is about the people who love God, raise their families and serve their neighbors,” Huckabee said.

Hambrick was Huckabee’s second featured guest on the show after former Three Dog Night lead vocalist Chuck Negron appeared previously. He said show producers learned about him through the internet and asked him to appear on the show to discuss policing and race relations in America.

“It’s not about James Hambrick. I represent Mt. Juliet. I represent Wilson County, so to have that honor of being on the show is good for Wilson County as a whole. It’s an honor,” Hambrick said.

Prior to the show, Hambrick said he didn’t know exactly what Huckabee would ask him, but he believes two things will cure the ills of police and race relations in the country.

“Love and respect for humanity and for your fellow man. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk here lately about how we have to understand one another. Whether that’s partially true, I don’t think that’s where the ultimate goal should be. I think our ultimate goal should be love and respect, because I can understand you and still not love and respect you,” Hambrick said.

Hambrick became an ordained minister in 1994 and said there’s one goal for his appearance on Huckabee’s show.

“My ultimate thing is to make Christ known. It’s about understanding who we are and being real and knowing we have things that are trying to divide races. Only Christ can bring that total healing back,” he said. “I tell people all the time, just because I’m a pastor, I don’t go around these hallways just preaching all day. I try to live my life and be an example and reflection of Christ.”

The show aired Saturday at 7 p.m. on TBN. For more information, visit tbn.org/huckabee.

By Xavier Smith


Mt. Juliet Hot Air Balloon Fest draws hundreds

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Neil and Shelly Sharpe enjoy the walk-through balloon Saturday night during the inaugural Mt. Juliet Hot Air Balloon Fest.

Goodlettsville residents Jeff and Ashley Smith had more than 1,500 people attend their wedding Saturday night at Charlie Daniels Park.

The couple wed on a secured hot air balloon during a balloon glow at the inaugural Mt. Juliet Hot Air Balloon Fest.

Parking was scarce at the park as people from across Middle Tennessee came to Mt. Juliet to celebrate the event.

Food trucks and vendors, craft vendors, a children’s area and live music added to the excitement, according to Matt Lowney, organizer of the Mt. Juliet event. So far this year, organizers have presented three shows and have one more planned for Nov. 4 in Gallatin.

There were three balloons set up in the football field at the park, and hundreds made their spot on the east side of the field to experience the glow up close.

Balloon pilot Logan Bedford, who owns Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures, not only treated the public to the balloon glow, but he also offered a balloon walk-through exhibit, where people were welcomed into a balloon to get a glimpse of what the experience is like.

“We’re trying to bring balloon events back to Middle Tennessee,” Bedford said.

At the entrance to the walk-through point, Chris Empey, who works with Bedford, greeted people.

“This is for people to get up close to the balloon,” said Empey. “A lot of people have never seen a balloon before. It’s simply nylon with a silicone coating. The bottom part is made out of Nomex, which is fire-proof.”

Neil and Shelly Sharpe came to the park to experience the festival and the inside of a balloon.

“We came out here to see the balloons for the first time,” Neil Sharpe said. “It’s really cool to see everybody participating.”

He said he had never been in a balloon before, but it was definitely on his bucket list.

At dusk, the balloons lifted, and the pilots manned the fire to keep the balloons standing up. The Smiths were married in Bedford’s balloon, as the basket tossed a bit in the wind. Because of the weather, the balloon pilots did not offer tethered rides.

“We were going to get married [Sunday] at 2,000 feet in the air, but it’s windy tomorrow, so we can’t fly,” Jeff Smith said. “So, we came out to get married tonight.”

Why a balloon?

“It was the idea that excited us,” he said.

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Joy Center reaches fundraising goal, makes plans to visit theme park

Photo courtesy of Facebook
Members of the Joy Center will take a trip to Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio after they raised enough funds to cover the trip. Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first theme park designed with special needs individuals in mind.

The Joy Center will take its long-awaited trip to a theme park next week after it reached its goal in fundraising.

The Joy Center is a nonprofit organization that works to help individuals with special needs. 

The group will leave Thursday for Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio.

Morgan’s Wonderland is the world’s first theme park designed with special needs individuals in mind.

One of the caregivers for the organization saw the theme park on a website, and they began raising funds to make the trip in February.

“All of the rides there are built to be totally inclusive,” said Joy Center volunteer Melissa Henley. “So nobody will have to miss out on anything.”

The organization set a goal of $15,000 for the trip, which would take care of the bus there, as well as lodging.

Money was raised through yard sales, selling handcrafted kits at the trading post and performing challenges for donations.

“I personally faced one of my fears in raising money for the trip,” said Henley. “I’m terrified of snakes, but I promised that if we reached $100, I would touch one, $500, and I would hold one. And If we reached $1,000, which we didn’t, we reached about $780, I would let someone put a snake on me. So I just had to hold a snake.”

The Joy Center raised more than its $15,000 goal through its various fundraisers.

The extra money raised will go toward covering food and other extra costs on the trip. According to Henley, any money left over after the trip will be put toward the organization’s building fund.

The group currently meets at Silver Springs Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., but it has outgrown the space.

By Jacob Smith


Hot air balloon festival heads to Mt. Juliet

Balloons, music and more are headed to eastern Wilson County next week, as Mt. Juliet will hold the first Music City Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The event will take place Oct. 14 from 4-7:30 p.m. at Charlie Daniels Park and will include live music, a children’s zone, food trucks, craft vendors and a hot air balloon glow at dusk.

The musical lineup includes Time Carroll, Brian Ritchey, Sara Syms and Flat River Band.

The event will be an evening glow, which means the hot air balloons do not launch during the event. Outside food, tents and dogs will not be allowed to enter the event.

Tickets are only available online at mtjuliethotairballoonfestival.com. Early-bird tickets, which are $12, will be available until Saturday. Regular tickets are $15 after Saturday and $20 at the event. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.

The first 200 children will receive a free light-up toy.

By Xavier Smith


Encore Theatre Co. to present ‘Trio of Radio Comedies’

Encore Theatre Co. invites the community to spend some time listening to the radio.

Encore will present “A Trio of Radio Comedies” on Oct. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. at the Mt. Juliet theatre.

The show will feature three of America’s most popular radio episodes of Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, along with a fall episode of Ozzie and Harriet. Audiences should expect to laugh at the quick wit and classic comedy provided by the wonderful duos of a great generation of radio and television.

“Encore’s radio series have been dramas or musicals until we decided to explore the half-hour radio shows,” said director Don Breedwell. “We all need a chance to laugh, so we added the comedies of the old-time radio era to provide everyone with comedy from some of the greatest comedians.”

Breedwell said the episodes are cast by actors of all ages with wonderful voice characteristics. There will be live sound effects, and the soundtracks are as close to the originals as possible.

Tickets will be $10 each and payable by cash only at the door. Reservations may be made by calling 615-598-8950, but no online sales will be available for the addition to Encore’s 2017 season.

Encore Theatre Co. at 6978 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet is a nonprofit community theater founded to stimulate, promote, teach and develop interest in the dramatic arts and to bring all aspects of the dramatic arts to Wilson County and surrounding communities.

Staff Reports

Local rescue farm holds first songwriting workshop

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Hickory Hill Farm, a rescue farm that also provides programs for adults and children, held a unique songwriting workshop for children at a Mt. Juliet foster farm last weekend.

Hickory Hill Farm, a rescue farm that also provides programs for adults and children, held a unique songwriting workshop for children at a Mt. Juliet foster farm last weekend.

Musicians Leah Burey, Charlie Murphey and Kata Rhe Crutcher joined children at Hickory Hill Farm for the Saturday-morning workshop to assist children with discovering and developing their songwriting skills. Hickory Hill Farm assistant director Jenna Gibbons discussed the importance of music and expressing one’s emotions with the group.

“Our morning on the farm was something truly special. These wonderful artists gave the children the opportunity to express themselves and create a beautiful piece about something important to them. We were blessed with amazing musicians, dedicated volunteers, great children, and it was a morning that I was honored to be a part of,” Gibbons said.

She shared the influence of the rescued animals at Hickory Hill and how their stories could even influence their writing, too.

The artists kicked off the morning by sharing their stories, advice and original songs with the group. Everyone then gathered around a campfire next a pasture full of rescued and personally owned horses to put their ideas to paper.

“Always write something that you know and believe in. If it doesn’t make you cry, if it doesn’t make you laugh, if it doesn’t make you feel the strongest version of any emotion, don’t do it,” Burkey said.

Each child worked with the artists to come up with his or her own song before it was the children’s time to shine on stage with the songs they wrote.

To wrap up the day, children got to spend time meeting the rescue horses on the foster farm before grabbing photos with the artists and their goodie bags.

“Addison was in heaven – playing her music in a beautiful barn, writing a song around a campfire, with horses and friends,” said Misha Deem, mother of a participant in the workshop.

Staff Reports