Young racer Chase not ‘kidding’ around

Young Mt. Juliet racer Chase Johnson has been impressive in his first season of driving stock cars.

Chase Johnson, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, says he knows what goes through the minds of some observers when they see him climbing into his stock car at Fairgrounds Speedway:

“They think I’m a kid in a driver’s suit.”

But it doesn’t take skeptics long to realize that the kid’s not kidding.

In this first season of driving full-bodied stock cars, Chase has come close to winning all three races he has run.

Racing against some seasoned veterans in the rugged Pro Mod division, Chase finished third in his first race and second in his second race.

In his third race he was leading with three laps to go when he was spun out by another driver, snatching away what would have been the biggest victory in his fledging racing career.

“It was really disappointing, and it made me mad,” Chase says. “But that’s part of racing. I’m going to win one before the season is over.”

“He’s doing great,” says his father Andy, a former Fairgrounds champion. “He works hard at it and he’s a fast learner. He’s a good little racer.”

Chase started racing quarter-midgets at age eight on the Music City Quarter-Midget track in Hermitage, where he continues to race when not involved with his Fairgrounds efforts. He won 32 races and three championships in three quarter-midget divisions last season, and is currently leading the standings in all three divisions this year.

Making the change from quarter-midgets to full-bodied stock cars is not difficult, Chase says.

“I did a lot of practicing in the Pro Mod car before the season, and I feel comfortable in it,” he says. “It hasn’t been a big adjustment. I thought that driving bigger, faster cars would be exciting, and it has been.”

Chase says he feels accepted by the older drivers.

“They’re all pretty nice to me around the track before the race,” he says, “and when the race starts they race me like anybody else, like I’m just another driver.”

As though his racing schedule is not crowded enough, Chase plans to run a Pro Mod event at Huntsville (Ala.) later this summer.

“I’m looking forward to it,” says. “It’ll be exciting to race on a different track against different drivers.”

Like all racers, Chase realizes his sponsors are vital to keeping him on the track, and he makes sure to tick them off in his media interviews: Universal Kia, Barrett’s Garage, Action Homes, Lynch Tree Service, Matt’s Transmissions, Skyline Manufacturing, Parker Brothers Windows and Hale’s Mobile Home Parts.

Then he double-checks his list.

“I don’t want to leave anybody out, because they’ve all been good to me,” he says.

Andy, one of the area’s top drivers during his heyday, sees a racing reflection of himself in his young son.

“He’s eat up with it,” Andy says. “He’s like me when I was his age — I couldn’t get enough of it. Once racing gets in your blood it’s hard to get it out.”

Andy ran a couple of races last year at the Fairgrounds, then sold his car and equipment to Lebanon’s Scott Fetcho for use by his son Dylan. After a couple of past semi-retirements he says he is now officially retired from driving and will devote his time to assisting his son.

Andy admits he misses the completion, but says, “I get a bigger thrill out of seeing Chase win than I did when I won.”

Fans can follow Chase’s exploits on Facebook at chasejohnsonmotorsports.


Fairgrounds schedule: Fairgrounds Speedway will hold a “Throwback & Past Champions Night” Saturday, June 24, honoring some of the past greats who have raced there over the past half-century. The full schedule, along with ticket information, is posted on the track’s website.


Rim running: Highland Rim Speedway races every Saturday night. The schedule and point standings, involving a number of local drivers, are posted on the track’s website.

By Larry Woody


Kenny Martin: Do you know the dangers of bullying?

Did you know that bullying is one of the biggest concerns of young people today? Bullying is a serious problem with 8-out-of-10 children bullied at some point in their childhood.

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Bullying happens at school, at home, on the streets and on every level of social media. A lot of young people don’t even realize they are making other people’s lives miserable. They think they are just joking in making fun of or bullying someone. The truth is it hurts to be bullied and can change someone’s life forever. Bullying has even led to self-harming, suicide and murder. 

Bullying happens when someone picks on someone and makes their life miserable for no real reason but meanness. Bullying can come in many forms from kicking, smacking, tripping, making fun of, threatening or sending out false messages and rumors about a person through the internet and so on.

People have been bullied because of their size, accent, weight, color of their skin, stance on certain issues, interests or just because they are the new kid on the block or at school. Bullies are often insecure and pick on others to make themselves feel more important and powerful.

The sad thing is what a bully doesn’t see. Their bullying can lead to low self-esteem, suicide, revenge and even assault or murder. These are all things that can be avoided.

If you are someone you know is being bullied, there is help. If you’re bullied, you should tell someone. It’s very important to get other people involved and to ask for advice or help.

If you are bullied, it can feel like the whole world is against you, and you are on your own. Not true. The worst thing to do is to sit back and accept it. It won’t get any better unless you do something about it. If you are the victim of bullying at school you should contact your teacher, the principal or the guidance counselor for help. If the bullying happens on the streets or away from home, you can contact your parents or the police.

And if the bullying takes place at home, you need to advise your parents. Bullying is also a problem with adults. Most child bullies simply grow up to be adult bullies. The only thing that changes is the age of the people they bully.

Bullying is not just a child’s game, and it’s a horrible practice that ruins lives no matter what age and causes scars that can last a lifetime. Bullying also isn’t just committed in person these days. It’s now done via social media and other forms and is totally unacceptable.

In closing, please know help, support, love, kindness and advice are out there. Don’t accept or participate in bullying. 

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Hats reign this week at rodeo

As thousands of visitors make their way through the Wilson County James E. Ward Ag Center this week for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo, there’s one thing visible in every direction – a cowboy hat.

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Billy Treadwell with Heads or Tails Hats works on a custom cowboy hat Monday at the Wilson County Expo Center during the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. The group will likely make nearly 1,000 hats during the six-day event.

“The hat is the most recognized piece of apparel in the world. You can go to any country in the world and they recognize the cowboy hat. But, they are not just for fashion. They are for protection from the elements,” said Rick Phemister, owner of Heads or Tails Hats, based in Haskell, Texas.

Phemister started Heads or Tails Hats in 1980 as a full service western store before closing in 2003 and focusing on trade shows starting in 2006. He said he switched the focus solely to hats due the popularity of the apparel.

Phemister said cowboy hats were important to rodeo competitors and anyone involved in agriculture because they maintain heat in winter, while protecting people from the summer’s harsh elements.

“We learned that caps will not protect you from the sun. All it will do is keep the sun out of your eyes,” Phemister said.

Heads or Tails Hats specializes in custom hats made from flat brimmed and rounded hats, allowing options for customers. The group steams the hat to soften the material for shaping to the customer’s desired shape.

“That’s been our thing – making you a one of a kind custom hat,” Phemister said. “We’re all individuals, so everybody thinks they have to have something different. Straw hats in the last five years have just exploded with all kinds of different patterns, colors and designs.”

Phemister said some styles have made a return from previous generations, but there are still differences among age groups.

“The solid black from the 70s and 80s has come back in style because the kids thinks it’s retro because it was popular before they were born. They go all the way from black to rainbow and anything in between,” he said. “These kids are wearing different shapes than the 60-70 year old men. Even in their age groups, there are five or six different styles. They don’t all wear the same thing.”

Phemister said the group made an appearance at a Houston-area rodeo and sold about 1,500 hats. He said he expects to sell close to 1,000 during this week’s rodeo.

“With the area and country that some of these people are from, they don’t have western stores. They don’t have places they can buy hats. So when they come to events like this, they can buy shirts, jeans, saddle – whatever they need. Some don’t have source for that where they live. The trade show is just as important as the competition for some of these folks,” Phemister said.

By Xavier Smith

Auditions announced for Encore radio drama

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Gort is a large robot that accompanies Klaatu to earth in Edmund North’s ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’.

Encore Theatre Co. officials announced an audition call for its staged radio drama theatre production of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” on June 25-26 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. 

“If you like to perform but can’t devote the time to extensive rehearsals or have difficulty remembering all the lines, then these radio dramas are for you, “ said James Bealor, Encore creative director.

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 sci-fi 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-feet-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 United States National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Performance dates will be Aug. 11-12 at 7:30 p.m. and directed by Don Breedwell. Live sound effects, along with historical trivia, will be woven through the storyline. Anyone interested in lights and sound should also apply at either the auditions or email the director directly.

About two-dozen roles will be available, some with two lines or fewer. Auditions will consist of a cold reading from the script. An actor can play more than one role with voice variation. The rehearsal schedule will be based upon cast availability after July 10.

Visit for a complete cast breakdown and additional audition details. For specific inquiries, contact Breedwell at

Staff Reports

Kenny Martin: Do you know the art of staying positive?

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

With all the major issues we face as human beings, you would think that some people would have better things to complain about. We’ve got human beings starving to death, dying in car crashes and suffering major illnesses, while others live blessed lives but can’t seem to do anything but complain.

They just simply can’t get past complaining long enough to see their many blessings.

We would all be better served if we truly began to count our many blessings. For example, simply waking up healthy is a major victory and blessing. There are many people who awake each and every day to chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions and other medical conditions, which require surgeries and major hospital stays, but still manage to think positive and be happy. They turn negatives into positives. Complaining usually accomplishes nothing but further despair and gloom.

Nothing is more frustrating or irritating than to hear someone complain about nothing. These are the things we as humans refer to as hill of beans issues. You know, the complaints that don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Life is challenging and life is tough, but complaining won’t solve anything. We need more people thinking positive and talking positive. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to ignore facts and reality about life and its heartaches and hardships. Life is life and it’s not perfect, but it is what we’re given and we must make the most of it.

Sitting around complaining won’t solve anything. Sitting around complaining will only bring others down with you. Therefore, I encourage all human beings to think positive to be positive. Medical studies further show that those who think positive are healthier, happier and more successful. Not to mention more fun to be around.

Here’s a list of a few famous positive quotes:

• “One person can make a difference and every person should try,” — John F. Kennedy.

• “Often our attitude is the only difference between our success and failure,” — Abraham Lincoln.

• “Happiness is not something you find, but rather something you create,” — Anonymous.

• “Our attitude determines our approach to life,” — John C. Maxwell.

In closing, life is so much more enjoyable when shared with laughs, smiles and happy people. So keep your chin up, a smile on your face and keep reaching for the stars and beyond.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Olympic Day celebration set

Universal Gymnastics to feature Olympic bobsledder

Photo by Joe Rimkus • Miami Herald • TNS
USA’s team No. 2 members Brian Shimer, Mike Kohn, Doug Sharp and Dan Steele begin a run during the 2002 Winter Olympics four-man bobsleigh competition at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. Sharp will be at Universal Athletics on Saturday.

Universal Gymnastics in Mt. Juliet will celebrate Olympic Day with a variety of activities Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the gym.

There will be an open gym to promote gymnastics, dance and urban movement as well as a full-scale American Ninja Warrior-style course.

American Olympic bobsled team champion Doug Sharp will be at the event. Sharp won bronze in the Winter Olympic Games in 2002.

Representatives from the Mt. Juliet Police Department and Fire Department of Mt. Juliet will also be there.

Booth space in the parking lot is available, and all proceeds will be donated to Wilson County Special Olympics.

Universal Gymnastics is at 5003 Market Place in Mt. Juliet.

For more information, call 615-758-4791 or visit

Schools plan classes on day of solar eclipse

Teachers already planning for rare event in Wilson County

Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District officials have made plans to hold classes Aug. 21, when the area is expected to be the center of a national frenzy with a total solar eclipse.

“We will be in school that day, but it will be a learning experience. It will be a day planned around that, because there’s so much you can do with the eclipse looking at literature, math and science. We’ve already ordered 19,000 pieces of special glasses,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright.

Lebanon Director of Schools Scott Benson said he’s had conversations with Wilson County Schools officials, along with Wilson Emergency Management Agency officials, and schools will be open for the eclipse. Benson said he had a meeting with principals this week, and some schools already started preparing for the event.

“We are going to take advantage of the great learning opportunity that comes with the eclipse,” Benson said.

NASA ambassador Theo Wellington addressed the solar eclipse with the Wilson County Commission earlier this year and said in August, the state will see its first total solar eclipse since 1869.

“If they’re home with families, that should be a wonderful thing, and I hope the schools will please bless all the absences. But if they don’t have a place to be, at school is going to be the best place for them to be where they can have a guided, safe experience,” said Wellington, who told the story of a teenager in India who rejected instructions and chose to stare at the eclipse.

“The doctor told him he had a cute little crescent-shaped scar on the back of his retina. Your retina does not have any pain receptors. You don’t know when you’re doing it damage. That will be the subject of many safety talks,” she said.

Wellington said half of the U.S. population is within a one day’s drive to the total solar eclipse path, which means areas along the path, such as Wilson County, will experience an influx of visitors.

Wellington said the total eclipse path is important, because it’s the path in which a total eclipse is visible. Other areas will only experience a partial eclipse, which doesn’t bring darkness.

“It’s a nationwide event. Everybody will see part of the sun covered up that day, but only those in the 70-mile wide path get to see the total eclipse,” said Wellington, who said the eclipse causes a night and day difference.

Wellington said the maximum amount of time the total eclipse can be viewed is two minutes and 40 seconds.

“The Wilson County [Fairgrounds] is only two seconds off the longest time,” she said.

By Xavier Smith

Two local women join forces

Mothers get together to help raise awareness for disease

Two ladies, both mothers, each face daily challenges but in different ways.

Maria Griego and Jessica Sanders, Mt. Juliet High School and Middle Tennessee State University graduates, have more in common than where they went to school. Their families united after Sanders and her husband, Jeremy, had their firstborn child born with arthrogryposis.

The Sanders live in Lebanon where they have since they had a set of twins, one of whom also has the condition. Griego shares in having arthrogryposis herself since birth. She is married to Levi Griego, and they live in Fairview with their two children.

Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is a rare orthopedic condition that happens statistically in every one in 3,000 live births. Rather than a diagnosis, it’s more of a description of low-muscle tone and stiff joints from birth. There are multiple forms of arthrogryposis, and its cause is largely unknown. The level of assistance with daily living varies by the individual. Some require assistance by walking with leg braces and walkers. Others need wheelchairs to increase mobility. Most individuals grow into successful, contributing members of a community.

Three years ago, Maria Griego and Jessica Sanders started a gathering in Charlie Daniels Park where families affected by AMC come together each spring for a picnic.

“It’s a blessing to be in the company of people who are facing similar challenges and celebrating milestones while meeting new faces each year,” Jessica Sanders said. “There have been adults and children who have never met anyone else with arthrogryposis. That alone, is the reason we do it each year. Community makes the unknown less scary.”

On June 30, Maria Griego and Jessica Sanders will come together again for a common purpose. To bring awareness to the orthopedic condition known as arthrogryposis, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s office approved lighting of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge blue in Nashville to honor those with arthrogryposis. Gov. Bill Haslam also declared June 30 as Arthrogryposis Awareness Day in Tennessee.

“Each person brings different strengths and weaknesses to the table,” Maria Griego said. “All people are valuable. Many people with arthrogryposis can do many things; it just might be in a different way.”

To learn more, visit for further support, resources and information.

Staff Reports

Joines family continues rodeo involvement

Jeff Joines instrumental in bringing junior high rodeo to Wilson

Photo courtesy of Jeff Joines
Audrey Joines competes in a New Mexico rodeo competition. The Joines family has competed in rodeo competitions with the National High School Rodeo Association for two generations. The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will be June 18-24 in Wilson County for the second year at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Wilson County is home to several families involved with the National High School Rodeo Association, including the Joines family from Gladeville who has two generations of competitors and hopes for the tradition to continue.

The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will be June 18-24 in Wilson County, the second time ever for the National High School Rodeo Association to bring its annual event east of the Mississippi River. It is also the second time the event will be held at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Current grandparents Jeff and Debbie Joines began allowing their children to compete in National High School Rodeo Association events in 2003. Their children, Audrey and Cole Joines, continued competing until they both graduated high school in 2011.

“We told our kids, ‘this stuff is really expensive, so if we’re going to do this as a family, you’re going to practice hard, you’re going to try hard and you’re going to give 110 percent when you go out there,’” said Debbie Joines.

Audrey Joines, now mother of her own rodeo protégé, competed in all the girl’s events as a junior high and high school competitor. In 2007, she finished in the top 8 in Tennessee in four different events, qualifying her for the National High School Rodeo finals in each.

Cole Joines competed in barrel racing and team roping. In 2009, he qualified for the National High School Rodeo finals in team roping.

Audrey and Cole Joines both continued competing in local professional events after graduating from high school.

Audrey now has a 2-year-old son, Jackson Joines, who works leadline shows with his pony.

Leadline is a youth rodeo event where young children sit on their horses with the reins in hand while an adult or older child leads the horse with a rope.

“His mother is teaching him how to rope, too,” said Debbie Joines. “They were working on it the other day in the backyard. So we have a lot of plans for him if that’s what he wants to do.”

Jeff Joines was instrumental in bringing the National Junior High Rodeo Finals to Wilson County. He used his experience working in past rodeos as a selling point to get the event to come to Wilson County.

In 2015, he presented his idea to bring the rodeo to the James E. Ward Agricultural Center to the National High School Rodeo Association.

“He knew a lot of people in the association just from our previous years being there,” said Debbie Joines. “Jeff knew the capacity of the Ward center, so basically he went to the association in Dallas and gave them a presentation detailing what we had available here.”

Debbie Joines encourages anyone interested to come out to the event and check it out.

“People are going to be blown away by the talent of these young people. Many of them have been throwing a rope on a horse since they were little-bitty guys, and I think that’s the most amazing thing,” said Debbie Joines.

The opening ceremony for the National Junior High Rodeo Finals will be Sunday at 7 p.m. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit

By Jacob Smith

First career victory special for Hale

Photo courtesy of Larry Woody
Wilson County racer William Hale makes his first visit to Victory Circle at Highland Rim Speedway.

They say you never forget your first one:

First kiss.

First pay check.

First race victory.

“I guess that’s true,” says young Mt. Juliet racer William Hale, who last month won his first career major-division race at Highland Rim Speedway.

“Although, to tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I won the race I was so busy looking my rear-view mirror (at the second-place driver) that it was over before I knew it. We had a short victory celebration, then started getting ready for the next one. I’ve always heard that drivers are so busy they don’t have time to celebrate until the season is over, and I can see why.”

Hale captured his inaugural win after starting on the pole and leading 50 of the 75 laps, including the most important one – the last one.

That first taste of victory made him hungry for more.

“It was a great confidence-builder,” says Hale, whose race cars are maintained by his grandfather Alan out of their Mt. Juliet team headquarters.

“Even though the win came on the little track at Highland Rim, it was a great feeling to get it,” William says. “Now I’d like to win one on the big track at the Fairgrounds.”

Hale is in second place in the championship standings in Highland Rim’s premier Late Model division. Over the decades several young racers got their start at the historic Ridgetop track, and Hale hopes to continue the trend.

In addition to racing at the Rim and Fairgrounds, Hale plans to run some events at Huntsville (Ala.) Speedway this summer, and will enter this winter’s Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla., one of the nation’s premier short-track events.

“We’ve got several things planned and I’m looking forward to them,” Hale says.

Hale has been fascinated by race cars for as long as he can remember.

“When his was just two or three he liked to watch me change the oil and work on the cars,” says his grandfather.

Alan, a mechanic for some of the top area drivers in the 1980’s, started taking his grandson to the track about the time he started walking.

“I remember watching races at the Fairgrounds with my grandfather when I was about three years old,” William says. “I thought it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. One night Dale Earnhardt’s car was on display, and it made a big impression on me. Dale was my hero back then, and I always thought I’d like to be like him some day.”

Two people who have inspired William this season are his grandfather and Willie Allen. Allen is an active Fairgrounds driver who competed successfully in the NASCAR truck series and now assists young racers like William.

“William is very focused and a fast learner,” Allen says. “He takes his racing seriously, and is a pleasure to work with.”

Allen adds with a chuckle: “I tell him that the only way to get better as a driver is to learn from your mistakes, and I’ve made so many over the years that hopefully I can teach him how to avoid them.”

As for the assistance of his grandfather, William says:

“I wouldn’t be able to race without him. He’s been there for me ever since I was a little kid and I owe everything to him. I always said that when I started winning, I’d be winning for both of us.”

Superspeedway update: NASCAR has announced its 2018 schedules for its three touring series and, as expected, Nashville Superspeedway is not included. That means the Gladeville track is probably destined to continue to sit idle next year, despite reports that a prospective new owner has expressed interest in the facility.

By Larry Woody


Do you know what makes a good father?

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

A father is someone who will be there for his child, a man who will teach his child right from wrong, love from hate and responsibility. A father will also teach leadership, sportsmanship, compassion and teamwork. A father can’t claim the title of a father unless he is truly involved in his child’s life.

Any man can participate in the making of a child, however, only a real father can claim the status and title of a father. To those that are somewhat lacking in the father department, there is no time like the present to start being a true father to your child. To those who are lacking, you really don’t know what you are missing. You’re missing being called daddy, pops, dad and father. You’re missing out on first words, first steps and first discoveries.

If, for some reason, you chose because of personal reasons not to be involved in your child’s life, for the best interests of the child, then I applaud you for making the right and best choice for your child. If you chose not to get involved in your child’s life because you didn’t want to burden or trouble yourself with taking responsibility for your actions, then shame on you. Please take these statements to heart and get involved in your child’s life. Be a father; be a positive role model in your child’s life. Imagine the pride, joy and excitement of watching your child grow, flourish and blossom.

Being a father isn’t something you just throw away. Being a father is an honor given by God. Don’t waste the ultimate gift. Don’t wait another day at being the father you know you should be. Children don’t ask to be born. That is why they deserve your love and support. Be there to wipe the tears from their eyes when they scrape their knees or hurt. Be there to share in happy times, as well as sad times. Your child needs you.

To all good dads, pops, daddy’s and fathers, happy Father’s Day. You guys are great, should be proud and should never forget the awesome gift being a father is. Please never ever forget how precious and important being a father is in your child’s life. They need and depend on you. 

Kenny Martin is city manager of Mt. Juliet.

Group dives in to new restaurant concept

Former Nashville Jam Co. has new look, dining experience

Sinclaire Sparkman • Lebanon Democrat
Bobby Hansen (left) and Michael Paul sit under the Dive In sign inside the lakeside restaurant. The new owners plan to update the concept and launch a new brand for the former Nashville Jam Co. location.

Formerly known as the Nashville Jam Co., new owners of the restaurant with a view of Old Hickory Lake have some big dreams for the future.

Dive In restaurant offers some new spin on the Nashville Jam Co.’s brunch menu, while adding its own lakeside flair with help from Nashville chef Bobby Hansen. New owner Michael Paul and his partner Matthew Wilson met while doing work with Paul’s nonprofit, On Target for Veterans. For more information about the nonprofit supporting disabled veterans, visit

Wilson saw that the previous owners, Gary and Cortney Baron, had put the Nashville Jam Co. restaurant location up for sale and helped to assemble the four-person partnership that would create the Dive In concept.

“The previous owner, Gary [Baron], was into making jams, and decided he wanted to focus his attention on just making the jams,” Paul said. “So we’ve come in. We think it’s a great location. Our chef came from downtown Nashville and is adding flair to the menu to make it more of a Nashville foodie experience.”

The Dive In menu includes plenty of breakfast staples like biscuits and gravy, grits and omelet choices, while also offering some unique options like the Bronut, a biscuit dish that involves Nutella, pancake batter, bananas, a deep fryer and caramel sauce. There’s also breakfast tacos, hot chicken biscuits and, of course, a fried green tomato wrap.

Lunch options are also available like the old favorite BLT burger with a fried green tomato and pimento cheese standing in for the ordinary.

“We’re really excited,” Hansen said. “We’re adding our own spin to the lake vibe in the hopes of creating a festive, lake and country spot.”

The restaurant also serves mimosas, wine and beer, but Paul said the usual brunch crowd is mostly interested in the mimosas.

All four partners are local to the Old Hickory area, and when they bought the restaurant at the end of April, the hope was for the restaurant to create the experience they can only currently find near Nashville.

“We came with the idea that we live here but there’s no place that really gives us the foodie experience,” Paul said. “We really want to try and make this a family place where people can come hang out. It’s kind of trial and error right now.”

The partners have already updated the location with a back parking lot, more tables inside and structural upgrades like central heating and air. Paul said they eventually want to put in some outside seating, maybe a beer garden and a place to smoke their own pulled pork. Paul is also working with a paddleboard instructor to hopefully have some paddleboarding classes on Old Hickory Lake in the near future.

“We’re still working on a few things, and the bigger that we get, there’s more to consider,” Paul said. “We want to have a good family environment where people can come get food and spend time together.”

Paul said sunsets seen from the restaurant are particularly breathtaking, and hopes restaurant patrons will soon be able to kick back and enjoy a lakeside sunset with the new upgrades planned to take place at Dive In.

By Sinclaire Sparkman

Stumb speaks of service at annual Memorial Day ceremony

Veterans gather to pay tribute to fallen Armed Forces comrades

Jacob Smith Mt. Juliet News
Veterans from all different service branches gathered Monday to honor past and present military members in honor of Memorial Day.

Wilson County’s annual Memorial Day ceremony kicked off a day of remembrance Monday morning at the Wilson County Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Veterans from each branch of service came to the ceremony to honor past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cumberland University president Paul Stumb was the featured speaker at this year’s ceremony. Stumb served in the Navy and Naval Reserves for more than 25 years as a cryptology officer.

Retired Lt. Col. Jim Henderson served as master of ceremonies. Henderson led attendants in a moment of silence before introducing Bob Haley for the welcome address. Haley is commander of American Legion Post 15.

Haley led the posting of the colors ,as well as the Pledge of Allegiance and posting of service flags. He also introduced McKenzie Williams from Tuckers Crossroads School who sang the national anthem.

Haley then took a member to honor the Gold Star Mothers in attendance. American Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of the country.

Stumb then took the podium and told a story of former director of the CIA and retired Gen. David Petraeus. Petraeus served more than 37 years in the Army and was part of the Central Intelligence Agency until his retirement in 2012.

Stumb quoted Petraeus in telling a story of the day Petraeus found out that he was accepted to West Point Military Academy.

“[That day], two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: ‘David you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military; you should go to college instead.’ I could easily write a theme defending West Point and the military as I did that day, explaining that the U.S. Military Academy is an elite institution. That it’s actually statistically much harder to enlist in the military than it is to get into college. That serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men and women should at least consider for a host of reasons. But I won’t. What I will say is that when a 16-year-old kid is told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future, then there’s a dangerous disconnect in America. Entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing,” Stumb said of Petraeus.

Stumb went on to address a drop in number of citizens who have served the country since World War II.

“In World War II, 11.2 percent of the nation served for four years,” said Stumb. “During the Vietnam era, 4.3 percent of our nation served in 12 years. Since 2001, the last 16 years, only 0.45 percent, less than one half of 1 percent, of our population has served.”

Stumb concluded his speech with a thank you to those who served in the past, as well as those who are currently serving.

“Thank you to the 11.2 percent, and to the 4.3 percent, and thanks to the 0.45 percent who continue to serve our nation today and who are prepared to join the thousands of others who have given their lives so that we might enjoy the freedoms that we do today,” said Stumb.

After the speech, the ceremony concluded with the laying of wreaths, a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”

By: Jacob Smith

City honors Run for the Wall participants

More than 500 veterans ride motorcycles to Washington

Photo courtesy of Facebook
Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman and his department’s firefighters set up on the Beckwith Road overpass at Interstate 40 to honor participants in Run For the Wall, a group of more than 500 veterans who ride motorcycles from California to Washington, D.C.

Mt. Juliet firefighters, police officers and citizens gathered to honor members of Run For the Wall on May 22.

Ride For the Wall consists of more than 500 veterans who ride motorcycles from California to Washington, D.C. to honor veterans killed while serving, as well as promote awareness to those missing in action.

A post was set up on the Beckwith Road overpass at Interstate 40, the route used by the motorcyclists. All those who came out waved to the veterans as they rode past.

Run For the Wall was started in 1989 by James Gregory and Bill Evans, two Vietnam veterans who traveled across American on motorcycles.

There’s a small charge for those who participate in the run, plus they pay their own expenses such as lodging. Organizations and people met along the way often offer support in the form of donations or free meals.

The trip is a 10-day ride from Ontario, Calif. to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the ride officially ends.

During the journey across the country, the group makes stops at memorials, veterans’ hospitals and schools.

Participants range in age from 8 to 80, and include fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers; veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan; active duty military; supporters; friends and family.

For more information about Run For the Wall, visit

Staff Reports

Beavers to run for governor

She plans to hold event Saturday to make official announcement

Mae Beavers

State Sen. Mae Beavers plans to announce her run for Tennessee governor Saturday after she debated the idea earlier this year.

Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, will formally announce her bid Saturday at 1 p.m. at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Juliet, according to a release.

“Over the past several weeks, it has become increasingly clear that conservatives in Tennessee are looking for bold leadership that will not shrink from standing up and speaking up on the key issues facing our state,” Beavers said in a statement. “President Donald J. Trump is taking the lead in Washington to ‘drain the swamp’ there, but we have our own swamp in Tennessee, and I intend to do the same thing in the Volunteer State.”

Beavers identified terrorism and abortion as her top priorities.

“The terrorist threat from radical Islam not only impacts other countries or major cities in our own country – that threat is also targeted at our communities and our families in Tennessee, and I intend to make security a centerpiece of my campaign,” Beavers said.

She said she intends to focus on campaign promises after the election if she is voted in as governor.

“As governor, I will make sure that Tennessee focuses on protecting children before they are born and then providing them a safe and secure environment to grow up in after they are born,” said Beavers, who said the security extends to “making sure that men don’t go into the bathrooms and locker rooms of little girls.”

Beavers said she intends to focus on Tennessee taxpayers, which would include a full effort to repeal the recently approved gas tax portion of Gov. Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act.

“I didn’t lead the fight against a state income tax and spend the last several decades in public office working against tax increases in order to have a Republican majority legislature impose a tax increase on fuel while we have a $2 billion surplus,” she said.

Beavers served as chair of the Tennessee Republican delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year.

Beavers said in February the idea to run for governor emerged after several phone calls and comments from supporters, many of whom she spoke with at the Wilson County Republican Party Convention.

Beavers sponsored several bills during the latest legislative session that drew both support and criticism.

The Wilson County Republican Party Executive Committee expressed support for Beavers and fellow legislator Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, and their Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act and “Bathroom Bill” legislation. Both bills failed this year.

She was elected to the state Senate in 2002 and represents Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson counties. 

Beavers will face Congresswoman Diane Black, Randy Boyd, Sen. Mark Green, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Bill Lee and Sen. Mark Norris in the Republican primary.

By: Xavier Smith

Shepard trial set for November

Ex-Wilson Central coach’s case granted continuance previous six times

Michael Shepard

A criminal trial date was set May 23 in the case of Michael Shepard, a former teacher and softball coach at Wilson Central High School who was charged last summer with statutory rape.

The trial is scheduled for Nov. 15-17, with motions set for July 11.

Shepard, 36, previously pleaded not guilty to two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure.

A continuance was granted in Shepard’s case the previous six times he was scheduled to appear before Judge Brody Kane in Wilson County criminal court.

Shepard was arrested at his home in July 2016. The Wilson County Board of Education accepted resignation during a July 2016 special called meeting, which was held to bring charges against Shepard for termination since he was a tenured teacher at the school.

Shepard was relieved of his coaching duties after he became the center of an investigation.

According to Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan, the criminal investigation also involved a student at the school, but the details weren’t released.

Shepard taught algebra and geometry at Wilson Central from 2009-2016. His first season as head coach of the softball team was 2010.

The Lady Wildcats had a state championship appearance in 2014 and won the Class AAA state championship in 2015 with Shepard as head coach.

By: Jake Old

Circle P Ranch plans second take of Mt. Juliet Senior Center fundraiser

Circle P Ranch and Rufus Page will play host to an exclusive fundraising event, “Dinner at the Ranch,” on June 3 at 5 p.m. at the ranch.

The fundraising event was originally scheduled for May 20, but due to potential weather-related concerns, it was rescheduled.

Guest will enjoy Circle P Ranch and the activities planned for the evening. The menu will consist of prime rib, sides and homemade desserts all served on elegantly decorated tables in the wooded setting.

Proceeds from the event will go toward a new home for the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center. A nonprofit organization, the center is a gathering place for adults 55 and older to enjoy recreational, education and social activities. It serves as a place for seniors to socialize, gain education, make new friends and avoid loneliness in their golden years.

Throughout the grounds of the 70-acre Circle P Ranch, sculptures and artwork by distinguished artist Steven Allen Boggs, as well as the Fine Art Guild of the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center, will be displayed for sale with a portion of the sales to be donated to the center. Dedication bricks to be used in center’s new building will be sold for $50 each. The grand finale will be an auction for the exclusive right to name the new center.

Tickets for “Dinner at the Ranch” are on sale for $100 each. The deadline for tickets is June 1. Contact Patricia at 615-549-0026 or the center at 615-758-9114 to reserve a seat for the event.

Staff Reports

Do you know how to master life and happiness?

I recently had the opportunity to meet with two of our finest residents who I have known for many years for some wonderful lunch and fellowship. During this time of fellowship, I learned just how little I actually knew about them.

During our fellowship, I learned that they have been married for 56 years and met when they were just teenagers and have three grown daughters. Now in their 70s, it was precious to see how still in love they were and how much they truly cared about one an-other, their family, their community and their country.

What made the time so precious was their story. For example, I learned about their work careers, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I even learned about various business, personal and professional accomplishments that, quite honestly, were impressive.

But what moved me the most was from where one of the two had come.

As they continued to tell me about family and other things, I kept thinking about something the husband had said earlier in our fellowship and conversation. He had told me he grew up in foster homes and when he turned 18 that he was timed out. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I asked, and he told me when you turn 18, you time out as a foster child. For him, that meant you are now on your own. At the conclusion of our fellowship, I was so moved and impressed with the story of these two precious human beings that I decided to write this column in hopes that it would help in some small way.

The story behind this column is that we never know what others have endured, are enduring, have accomplished or have overcome. Unfortunately, most of us never get to truly know people we think we really know, which is unfortunate and even sad to some degree. As such, maybe we as a society would be well served to get to know one another much better.

Hopefully this would help us understand and accept one another better, be it a family member, friend, acquaintance or complete stranger.

Understanding as human beings that we all endure, accomplish and go through many of the same things in life could help us all better understand we aren’t really that much different after all. By getting to know, respect and understand one another better, I truly believe this could be beneficial to everyone since we are all human beings.

To my two precious friends, thanks for unknowingly moving and motivating me in such a powerful way. Let’s all do our part to make our community, our country and our world better. Let’s respect, understand and get to know one another better for we might just realize we aren’t really that much different after all.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

St. Jude Dream Home tours kick off in city

A ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday marked the beginning of open house tours of the latest St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house in Mt. Juliet’s Jackson Hills subdivision.

Open tours for the home at 107 Vanner Road will start May 20 and end June 18, with tours available Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway in Middle Tennessee and the first year a Dream Home was built in Mt. Juliet. The $450,000 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house features four bedrooms and four bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a spa master bath, custom playroom and designer trim details throughout.

In addition to the house, other prizes available include a CMA Awards package, including two lower-level tickets to the 51st annual CMA Awards, a luxurious one-night stay and a full styling session with a celebrity stylist, courtesy of Country Music Association, Hotel Indigo and the Showroom Nashville; a 2017 Ford Escape, courtesy of Two Rivers Ford; and many more prizes.

Winners of the 2017 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway and additional prizes will be drawn June 25 live on WZTV Fox 17.

Signature Homes will build the home. Kris Keown with Signature Homes said it wouldn’t be possible without the dozens of volunteers and vendors. 

The St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway tickets can be reserved at Two Rivers Ford in Mt. Juliet, by calling 800-746-6713 or online at 

By Xavier Smith

Do you know about child and teen safety measures?

I would like to take a moment to remind all parents of the importance of using good child and teen safety measures and making children and teens aware of stranger danger and predators.

As many of us have seen many times from news shows, predators are constantly on the prowl. They use everything from toys to the internet to lure innocent and trusting children and teens. To think any person would harm or attempt to harm a child absolutely outrages me. As human beings and parents, we have enough to worry about without having to worry about some sick individual harming our children. Mt. Juliet is a wonderful place to live, shop and raise a family, but unfortunately, predators know no boundaries when it comes committing their evil acts.

With that in mind, did you know that every day, 2,300 children are reported missing in the United States? The hard work of dedicated people and technology resources can bring back as many as 90 percent of these children. The question is what happens to the other 10 percent?

A missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare. Statistics show in 1990, there were more than 650,000 missing persons reported to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. In 1994, there were 954,896 reports, an increase of more than 43 percent. The FBI estimates out of all the entries, 85-90 percent were children. Applying to the 85 percent estimate there were at least 812,000 missing child reports filed or 2,225 children reported missing in the United States every day in 1994. That is why it is so important to take all preventive measures available to assure that this parent’s worst nightmare never happens.

Helpful tips for protecting your child include:

• Don’t let your child wear clothing with his or her name on it except for sporting events where parents and guardians are present. Allowing your child to wear his or her team jersey with their name on it while out playing could give a predator an opportunity at gaining your child’s trust. A child will tend to pay attention or acknowledge someone calling out their first name and assume that the person knows them. Using last names on jerseys is a much safer practice than first names.

• Videotape and take pictures of your child two or three times per year, including profile shots, do not leave children unattended while shopping, visiting with friends or unattended in automobiles.

• You also want to watch your teen’s use of the internet and other teen computer sites. Predators are known for luring children and teens with any and all measures, including cellphone and texting.

We should also know the whereabouts of our children at all times. Children should know the importance of advising their parents and guardians where they will be and where they are going, contact phone numbers and addresses. Children should also have emergency contact information on them at all times with as much information about them as possible, including address, phone numbers and parent’s names. We must be aware of our surroundings at all times and use extreme caution in all areas. We must be on guard even in public places. The days of predators only attacking and abducting in dark alleys and in the dark of night are long over. Today’s evil and sick predators are bold criminals who act upon impulse knowing no time frames, no boundaries and no mercy for their victims. That’s why we must use any and all preventive measures when preparing and protecting our children. No time spent on this most paramount of issues is a waste of time or troubling when it comes to our children. We must also do all we can to alert our teens as well. Although they may not feel like children any longer, they will always be our children, and they still lack the necessary tools and experience to know what to look for in a predator.

My heart cries out for the many parents suffering the unknown whereabouts of their child. We all know children are God’s greatest gift, a treasure sent from Heaven above, and we must do all we can to protect them. 

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.