WCSO offers scam warning

Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore warned Wilson County residents Thursday about scammers who call on behalf of law enforcement and first responders.

According to Moore, the department has gotten several complaints regarding scammers who solicit people for money as a fundraiser for law enforcement and first responders.

Moore offered five tips to people who may consider donating money over the phone. The first tip was the organization should be able to provide written information to describe what donations will support.

“Just because an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police or firefighters doesn’t mean contributions will be used locally or for public safety,” said Moore.

Secondly, Moore encouraged people to ask fundraisers for identification.

“Many states require paid fundraisers to identify themselves as such and to name the organization for which they’re soliciting,” he said.

Next, he said to ask the organization how the contribution would be used.

“Ask what percentage of your contribution will go to the fire or police organization, department or program,” said Moore. “Also, ask if your contribution will be used locally.”

Moore then encouraged people to call the organization or the local police or fire department to verify a fundraiser’s claim that it’s collecting on behalf of the organization.

Lastly, Moore suggested people should be wary if a fundraiser suggests they would receive special treatment for donating.

“No legitimate fundraiser would guarantee that you won’t be stopped for speeding if you have a police organization’s decal in your car window,” he said.

By Jacob Smith


Police to be looking for speeders

Mt. Juliet police chief James Hambrick and Capt. Tyler Chandler announced Friday the Springtime Slowdown, a neighborhood traffic safety initiative.

The initiative involves more heavy presence from Mt. Juliet officers in neighborhoods and areas where they receive a lot of complaints about unsafe driving. 

“We care about our citizens and those that visit the city of Mt. Juliet,” said Hambrick. “We want to protect and keep our citizens and visitors safe, and certainly our officer and employees safe as well. So, we have to do something. One of the main things and goals that I’ve had for the last several years now has been to reduce the number of crashes that we have in the Mt. Juliet area.”

Chandler said in his experience, the number one complaint to the Department was about speeding.

“We’re not really getting complaints about crime,” he said. “It’s about motorists speeding through neighborhoods, running stop signs through neighborhoods and/or school zones as well.”

Chandler went on to explain that police presence in neighborhoods can help make roads safer as drivers are more likely to follow road laws when they see a police presence. When presence alone isn’t enough, however, citations have to be issued.

“It’s about changing behavior,” said Hambrick. “It’s not about generating any type of revenue, that’s not what we’re about. We’re about safety and we want to make sure that we answer the complaints that we have, that we address the complaints, and that people see us in those areas where we’re getting complaints.”

By Jacob Smith


Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center talks partnership

Jacob Smith • Lebanon Democrat
Board member Nancy Britt says the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center would like to discuss partnering with the city on a new facility.

Nancy Britt, a board member with the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center, discussed the center’s potential partnership with the city in building a new facility.

According to Britt, the whole process started in 2016 when Beverly Elliott, a Mt. Juliet resident, bought 10 acres of property on Clemmons Road and donated it to the city.

Elliott had two conditions for the property. The first was that the city build a park named Ethan Daniel Page Park. Page was 5 years old when he died in 2013, and Elliott was a friend of the family. Her second condition was that the 10 acres stay in the hands of the city.

“Over the last several months, apparently there’s been conversation among the city commissioners that they would build soccer fields on that 10-acre park,” said Britt. “Also, move the salt shed that’s behind Sellars Funeral Home, they want to move that salt shed to the corner of the park.”

A few weeks ago, when the center interviewed for a new executive director, one of the interview candidates was impressed with the number of people in the center.

“It happened to be on a Thursday afternoon when we had the music jam going on,” said Britt. “So, the room is packed with musicians and singers and audience. It’s a weekly affair, and she happened to be here, and so I took her out there. She walked out there, and she said, ‘Oh my, this is wonderful. They’re having so much fun.”

The candidate, who was hired, was Sonja Robinson, sister of Mt. Juliet Commissioner Ray Justice. Robinson, who also serves as a Wilson County commissioner, called her brother and asked if the city could do anything to help the center get some more space.

“So Ray Justice called Brian Abston, who’s another city commissioner, and together they decided that maybe the senior center could build on the front part of that 10-acre property,” said Britt. “The soccer fields and the salt shed’s in the back. So they came up with this idea.”

The Mt. Juliet City Commission discussed the proposal at its meeting Feb. 26 and passed a preliminary proposal unanimously. The next step is for City Manager Kenny Martin to draw up a contract between the city and the senior center to find out how much money would need to be raised to build a new facility.
“I could not be prouder of our elected body for their sincere and genuine desire to partner with the Mt. Juliet Senior Citizens Center,” said Martin. “The land in question is perfectly situated and will make a great location for the center’s future home. The city has a long and wonderful relationship with the center, and it does our hearts good to see them prosper, grow and do well. We love our seniors and wish to applaud them for who they are and all they do for us and our great community.”

Britt shared Martin’s excitement for the new center.

“We’re just thrilled,” she said. “We just feel like the city is, you know, they’re excited. We’re excited. Now, we don’t know. We haven’t seen the contract. I’m sure it will have some conditions on it, like they’re not going to give us 20 years to raise this money, you know. So, that’s our next step. We’re waiting to see that.”

By Jacob Smith


School safety initiative planned

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Wilson County Schools and the Lebanon Special School District announced plans Tuesday to enhance school safety throughout the district. 

In the wake of recent school shootings in Kentucky and Florida, the numbers of student threats have spiked both locally and nationally. Officials said while few of those threats have been deemed credible, local agencies felt it was important to establish a more comprehensive reporting system for complaints.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office has created a “Concerned Citizens Report,” along with a specialized database to help track and manage all future incident reports. Any time a report is entered into the system, a text message and email will automatically be sent to a school resource officer supervisor for review.

Wilson County is one of a few counties in the state to have at least one school resource officer in each public school, including multiple officers at high schools.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said the centralized database will not only provide for more thorough record keeping of each case, but will also prevent incidents of suspected violence from slipping through the cracks.

“In the past, some parents have been filing complaints at the school level, while others have been contacting law enforcement directly. Both are fine, but with the number of complaints that we’re seeing, it’s really important to have solid, timely record keeping, particularly in those cases where we believe something has occurred, but don’t have sufficient evidence to file criminal charges,” Bryan said. “Also, a periodic security assessment of each school is vital for ensuring that our students and staff have the safest environment possible.”

The department will also launch a school safety committee, comprised of teachers, parents, Youth Services staff and members from the District Attorney’s office. The group will meet quarterly to address specific concerns from the community and identify new safety initiatives.

“School resource officers already play a vital role in all of our schools, and these new measures will only enhance that,” Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said. “The reality is there are limits on what our school administrators are capable of investigating. That’s why it’s so important that law enforcement be directly involved whenever there’s even a suspicion that a student could pose a serious threat.”

To report a threat or suspicious activity, you can go to wcso95.org/schooltip, which will be sent directly to law enforcement. Filling out the form is considered an official report to law enforcement, therefore any intentional false information reported will be considered a violation of state law and may result in being charged with a crime.

Staff Reports

Community Calendar and the People’s Agenda

Community Calendar

POLICY: Items for the Community Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of nonprofit events, community club and government meetings. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

March 14

WSM Road Show

6 p.m.

The free WSM Road Show musical talent competition will be Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon. The winner will play the Grand Ole Opry on the same night as Alan Jackson. For details on the competition, visit wsmonline.com.

March 15

Human Trafficking in Tennessee Panel Discussion

5 p.m.

The public is invited to a panel discussion on “Human Trafficking in Tennessee,” sponsored by Cumberland University’s criminal justice department, Thursday, March 15 at 5 p.m. in Labry Hall room 130. Representatives from End Slavery Tennessee, Magdalene House-Thistle Farms and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will discuss the causes, current state and successful means of combating human trafficking. Marjorie Quin, Cumberland’s criminal justice program director, will moderate the discussion.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 meeting

6 p.m.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 in Lebanon will meet Thursday, March 15 at 6 p.m. and on the third Thursday of each month in the Veterans Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. Any veteran who has been awarded a campaign medal or combat medal for any hostility is eligible for membership, verified by the veterans’ DD 214 Form. Presently, Post 5015 is having success in rebuilding its post and becoming active in district and local events. It is not a Lebanon post, but a countywide post. To learn more, contact Post Commander John Marshall at jtmarshall2@icloud.com; Senior Vice Commander Ken Kackley at hkenkjr@aol.com or Junior Vice Commander Harold W. Weist at grnmarine@tds.net.

Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club

7 p.m.

The Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club will meet Thursday, March 15 and each third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Fiddlers Grove Train Museum at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. This is an all-scale model railroad club. During the meeting, everyone will share their knowledge and introduce the hobby to folks new to the interest. The Train Museum has an extensive O-gauge layout and a small HO-scale layout with plans to expand the HO track. The club is open to anyone interested in model train railroads. For more information, contact Ron Selliers at trainslayer53@gmail.com.

Beer and Hymns

7:30 p.m.

Beer and Hymns will return Thursday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon. Tickets are $11 each. Black Abbey Brewing Co. will have beer for sale. For tickets and more information, visit beerhymns.com.

March 16

Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber St. Patrick’s Day Open House

2 p.m.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Open House will be Friday, March 16 from 2-4 p.m. at the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce office at 149 Public Square in Lebanon. Light refreshments will be served.

“California Suite” Comedy Theater at Vol State

7:30 p.m.

The classic Neil Simon comedy, “California Suite,” by the Volunteer State Community College theater program as part of the spring 2018 visual and performing arts series will be Friday, March 16, Saturday, March 17, Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. Admission is a suggested $5 donation, which is used to fund student scholarships. For more information, call 615-230-3200 or visit volstate.edu/art.

March 17

Southern Pygmy Goat Club Spring Show

8 a.m.

The Southern Pygmy Goat Club will present its spring pygmy goat show Saturday, March 17 in the Livestock Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. There will be no admission fee for visitors. There will be exhibitors from several states. The day will consist of two shows, which are sanctioned by the National Pygmy Goat Association. The NPGA licensed judges will be Karen Crawford of Graham, of Washington and Kevin Kress, of Glen Ellen, California. At about 1 p.m., there will be a “Parade of Pygmies” as a part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

“California Suite” Comedy Theater at Vol State

7:30 p.m.

The classic Neil Simon comedy, “California Suite,” by the Volunteer State Community College theater program as part of the spring 2018 visual and performing arts series will be Saturday, March 17, Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. Admission is a suggested $5 donation, which is used to fund student scholarships. For more information, call 615-230-3200 or visit volstate.edu/art.

March 18

Blood Drive

9 a.m.

An American Red Cross blood drive will be Sunday, March 18 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Celebration Lutheran Church at 3425 N. Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet. Food will be served. To make an appointment to donate blood, download the free Red Cross blood donor app, visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS.

Wilson County Board of Education Administration and Training Complex Dedication

2 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will dedicate its administration and training complex Sunday, March 18 from 2-4 p.m. at the former Lebanon High School at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon. For more information, contact Jennifer Johnson at 615-453-7294 or jenniferjohnson@wcschools.com.

“California Suite” Comedy Theater at Vol State

2:30 p.m.

The classic Neil Simon comedy, “California Suite,” by the Volunteer State Community College theater program as part of the spring 2018 visual and performing arts series will be Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. and Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. Admission is a suggested $5 donation, which is used to fund student scholarships. For more information, call 615-230-3200 or visit volstate.edu/art.

March 19

Blood Drive


An American Red Cross blood drive will be Monday, March 19 from noon until 4 p.m. at the East-West Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. To make an appointment to donate blood, download the free Red Cross blood donor app, visit redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS.

March 21

Mt. Juliet Chamber Connection Luncheon

11:15 a.m.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon will be Wednesday, March 21 from 11:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Rutland Place. Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty will present his State of the City address. Early registration is $18 by March 20 at noon and $23 for late registration. To register, visit mjchamber.org.

The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Government Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of government meetings and government-related events. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

March 16

Wilson County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting

9 a.m.

The Wilson County Board of Zoning Appeals will meet Friday, March 16 at 9 a.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

Wilson County Planning Commission meeting

11 a.m.

The Wilson County Planning Commission will meet Friday, March 16 at 11 a.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

March 19

Wilson County Commission meeting

7 p.m.

The Wilson County Commission will meet Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

March 26

Mt. Juliet City Commission meeting

6:30 p.m.

The Mt. Juliet City Commission will meet Monday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road. A public hearing will be at 6:15 p.m.

March 29

Wilson County Board of Education work session

5 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet in a work session Thursday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at the new central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon.

– Staff Reports

City offers update on Music City Star issues

Mt. Juliet City Commissioner Ray Justice gave an update to citizens Friday regarding the ongoing situation with the Regional Transit Authority board regarding issues surrounding the city’s Music City Star commuter train service.

The Regional Transit Authority created an ad hoc committee in October to determine the most viable and appropriate course of action to take against the city regarding its financial neglect of the Music City Star service.

According to the group, Mt. Juliet has not paid its annual budgeted $30,000 Music City Star operating contribution since 2014. The city’s $30,000 budgeted for Music City Star operation is about $25,000 less than Lebanon and $20,000 less than Wilson County.

The ad hoc committee was created to determine the most viable and appropriate course of action to take against the city regarding its financial neglect of the Music City Star service.

The committee met with Mt. Juliet officials in November, and each site presented their issues and potential solutions. The group, which included Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty, City Manager Kenny Martin, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and RTA board members, worked on an agreement to the issue.

“We have sent the revised version of a memorandum of understanding to the RTA, and that memorandum will be heard next Tuesday, and hopefully it will be signed. We sent them $30,000, and hopefully we can get additional parking over here,” Justice said.

The Regional Transit Authority board discussed a memorandum of understanding with the city last month, which included:

• Annual payments by Mt. Juliet for Music City Star service.

• A parking lot expansion to address current parking shortages, with parking expansion to be constructed at the RTA’s expense and the design of the parking expansion will be done in a manner that anticipates the possible widening of East Division Street by the city at some point in the future.

• Incorporation of a small park and city center such as a monument or fountains, including a pedestrian trail connecting the station to Mt. Juliet Road, as an incidental use of the overall site into the corner of the parcel at East Division Street and Mt. Juliet Road to be constructed at city’s expense.

• Coordination with Mt. Juliet and possible developers of a site not owned by the RTA to the north of the Nashville and Eastern Rail Authority right of way to include examination of possible approaches to better connect users to the rail station and rail service.

• Commitment to work together to finalize any design and construction plans, including those that require the review and approval of other parties such as the NERA, Federal Transit Administration and others.

By Xavier Smith



The Wilson County Commission continued its probe Thursday into the estimated $110 million cost of a new proposed high school in Mt. Juliet.

“There’s been a lot of discussion over the past several months about the fact we’re going to have to build a new school. There’s been a lot of discussion of the new school that’s being built in Maury County,” said Commissioner Jeff Joines, noting some commissioners visited Maury County to get more information.

“The cost of that school compared to the school that we’re talking about building is just a long way apart, so I thought it’d be a good idea to get the guy who is building it, which is Steve Hewlett, to come up here and explain to us about how that school compares to the school we’re trying to build,” he said.

Hewlett and Jamie Spencer with Hewlett Spencer discussed the cost of the Maury County school and the Mt. Juliet high school price tag. Maury County’s Central High School opened earlier this year, which cost $47 million to build.

The group was also tapped to build an elementary and middle school in the county, estimated to cost $65 million for both.

Spencer said one of the reasons the company is able to build schools at a lower cost than other companies is the group’s procedures, which include a guaranteed maximum price system, which features no change orders or more money than originally asked.

“Once you approve that guarantee maximum price, that job cannot come in over that. If it does, it’s on us,” said Spencer, who said the process counters the hard-bid construction manager process that is widely used in school construction.

“It’s usually always driven by an architect. The government is at risk on all the cost overruns. If something runs wrong, you’re on the line. There’s no incentive to save taxpayers money and based solely on the more you spend, the more they make,” he said.

Commissioner Bobby Franklin said he observed the process firsthand when Hewlett Spencer worked on Mt. Juliet schools, noting the group did heavy planning at the beginning of the project. Spencer elaborated on the process.

“If we’re going to put together a guaranteed maximum price and put our name on the line for it, we’ve got to sit around this table for a pretty good long while to make sure that the architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors and everybody is working on the plans at once really hard in the beginning. Because we’re giving a guaranteed maximum price, we’ve got to do our homework,” he said.

Wilson County finance director Aaron Maynard asked about the negatives of the group’s process.

“What I’m concerned about your model is, if you’re going to get 20 percent of whatever you save me, how does that not incentivize you to use subpar materials since you only have four years to worry about it anyways?” Maynard asked.

“Every job that we’ve done, there’s an independent inspector that comes alongside with your architect to make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for and that we’re not cutting,” said Hewlett.

Wilson County Board of Education chairman Larry Tomlinson asked about the estimated cost per square feet for the Maury County projects, noting the district estimated $200 per square foot for the proposed Mt. Juliet high school.

“We’re building two schools for them now – an elementary and middle – and we’ve budgeted $225 per square foot when we were planning the schools. Bids come in, actually, this week, so we’ll know where we’re at now,” Spencer said.

“So, you’re saying now that it could be as much as $217?” Tomlinson asked.

“At prices right now, absolutely, 100 percent,” Spencer said.

Hewlett considered the cost comparisons between the Central High School and proposed Mt. Juliet high school “apples to oranges” due to the omission or inclusion of furniture, fixtures and equipment, sporting facilities and other unequal factors.

Maynard said last year it would cost an additional 12-18 cents on the property tax rate to fund a new high school in Mt. Juliet, unless a new funding source is found.

Board eyes testing athletes

The Wilson County Board of Education took the first step last week in establishing a random drug test program for high school student athletes and participants in extracurricular activities.

The group approved a policy change on first reading that would establish a committee to develop random drug test procedures for high school athletes and participants in extracurricular activities, which would be reviewed by the district’s attorney before final approval from the board.

Chuck Whitlock, Wilson County Schools health services supervisor, said the district has discussed a random drug test policy for about two years and was born from concerns from high school administrators.

“We’ve not seen a significant uptick in drug use or possession on campus, but there is concern for the safety of our kids outside of school,” Whitlock said. “The national opioid crisis is highlighted in the news almost daily, and the sad truth is that Tennessee is one of the worst states in the nation regarding opioid use.”

Whitlock noted opioid deaths in Tennessee have more than doubled in the last five years, but said the policy is not strictly about opioids.

“Beyond opioids, the other usual suspects in the world of illicit drugs can still be found in our communities,” he said.

Whitlock said the district and high school administrators are determined to help three kinds of students: students that don’t use or would never use illicit drugs; students that may be on the fence regarding illicit drug use; and students who have initiated illicit drug use.

No student who tests positive under the random drug test program would be suspended or expelled from school solely as the result of a positive test.

The district would like to have random drug testing policy and procedures in place prior to the 2018-2019 school year, but there remains a chance it would not be in place, according to Whitlock.

“The policy must pass the second reading and then the committee has the supporting procedures to develop. Once the procedures are developed, our attorney needs to time to review and then the board needs to approve,” Whitlock said. “There’s a lot to do and a small window.”

By Xavier Smith


Schools to step up traffic detail

Tighter enforcement planned after eighth-grader struck by vehicle Monday

Traffic concerns among parents of Wilson County Schools students came to a head last Tuesday when an eighth-grade girl at West Wilson Middle School was hit by a car in the parking lot during dismissal. Spokesperson Jennifer Johnson addressed those concerns Monday.

Johnson said the issue occurred because the school had gotten lax in enforcing pick up procedures. She said some parents were parking in the parking lot and having their children walk to the car rather than waiting in the pick up line, which she admitted can take around 20 minutes.

“People were just getting complacent,” she said. “You wouldn’t think allowing one little issue like that would become a problem, but it did.”

Johnson said the solution to the problem is simply to enforce the pick-up procedures and not allow parent to skip the line when picking up their children.

She also said a crossing guard had been added to ensure that students who have to walk across the street are safe.

Zone 4 Wilson County School Board member Linda Armistead said the school board hasn’t discussed any policy changes since the problem is more procedural.

“Our safety director and the school principals make decisions concerning traffic patterns and student safety,” she said. “The incident at WWMS was cause for concern and initiated a response to reconsider the two line pickups. It may not be as convenient for parents, but hopefully it will create a safer pickup for students.”

An ambulance took the West Wilson student to TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage with minor injuries.

By Jacob Smith


Tennessee lawmakers seek to close autopsy reports, findings

The House Health Subcommittee approved a bill last Wednesday that would make autopsy investigation reports and findings conducted by the state and county medical examiners confidential.

Speaking to the subcommittee, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan, medical examiner for Knox and Anderson counties, said having the findings of forensic autopsies available to the public is difficult for family members and sometimes means that familial conditions, such as dementia, could become public.

The bill seeks to make confidential “the records of the results of investigation, of post-mortem examinations, of the findings of autopsies and toxicological laboratory examinations, including certified reports of the toxicological laboratory examinations performed by the testing laboratory.”

Mileusnic-Polchan, who also is current chair of the Tennessee medical examiner advisory council, said the case that started her quest to close the records related to the death of a 5-day-old baby who had a herpes infection passed along from the mother.

The mother, she said, had a second chance in her life and “knowing that she, in her own words, ‘killed the baby,’” was devastating, along with knowing that her own herpes condition would be available for the public to know.

State Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, said the bill was brought to him by Mileusnic-Polchan. State Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, who is the medical examiner for Lewis County, is the Senate sponsor.

Mileusnic-Polchin was joined Wednesday by John Lott with the Knox County Regional Forensics Center and state Chief Medical Examiner Julia Goodin, who also testified to the House Health Subcommittee in favor of the bill.

Lott said the proposed change would mean the autopsy results and findings would only be released “to those who need them for official purposes.”

State law allows a county medical examiner to perform an autopsy “on the body of any person in a case involving a homicide, suspected homicide, a suicide, a violent, unnatural or suspicious death, an unexpected apparent natural death in an adult, sudden unexpected infant and child deaths, deaths believed to represent a threat to public health or safety and executed prisoners.”

Under the proposed bill change, the results of the government autopsies in all those situations would be confidential.

The original bill required the commissioner of health to provide a report on suggested changes to the “Post-Mortem Act.” But the bill was only a “caption” bill, meaning the real language would be added later as an amendment.

In introducing the amendment to the bill, Smith said that the proposal would close the information because it could hurt living relatives by having medical history public.

Not everything in forensics autopsy records done by the government are public now. The current law states that “[m]edical records of deceased persons, law enforcement investigative reports, and photographs, video and other images of deceased persons shall not be public records.”

But to Mileusnic-Polchan, that is not enough.

She said the forensics autopsies done under the state law for public health and public safety reasons should be treated the same as a hospital autopsies – as privileged information.

She also said brutal homicides, suicides and death of elderly, including cases of abuse and neglect, as painful enough for families without having that information “out there.”

She specifically mentioned the death of a young couple in Knoxville about a decade ago that was very brutal. She noted how hard it was for the family to endure the criminal trials in which how they died became public. “Why does it need to be out there in the public?” she asked.

Goodin, the state medical examiner, told the subcommittee that she supported the bill. “An autopsy is a medical procedure and therefore is a medical record, and I agree with this bill.”

By Debra Fisher

Tennessee Coalition for Open Government

Lynn sponsors resolution that supports Trump’s border wall

NASHVILLE – State Rep. Susan Lynn said she took action to ensure the residents of her community and citizens in cities and towns across Tennessee remain safe.

Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet and her Republican colleagues passed a joint House resolution Monday evening that expresses strong support for President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a security border wall. It also urges members of Congress to immediately take action to fund the wall’s construction. Trump’s border wall is expected to cost $21.6 billion to complete.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. currently spends about $116 billion on illegal immigration. Additionally, the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated the cost of illegal immigration on Tennessee taxpayers alone in 2017 was $793 million.

Lynn said she’s prioritized the safety and well being of her residents throughout her time serving as a member of the General Assembly.

“I firmly support President Trump’s plan to strengthen security along our nation’s borders,” said Lynn. “For too long, the Obama administration looked the other way and allowed illegal immigrants to pour into our country where they drained our local and national economies, while also threatening our safety. It is time for that to end. This border wall will enhance the safety of our citizens and also guarantee that those who are seeking refuge here illegally no longer have that opportunity.”

In 2017, Lynn led the charge to defeat a controversial ordinance proposed by members of the Metro Nashville City Council that would have turned Nashville into a sanctuary city. Dubbed the “Nashville Together” bill, the ordinance was never considered for a vote. It received opposition from Lynn and more than 60 members of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus.

Lynn serves as chair of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee. She is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resources, House Finance Ways and Means and House Ethics Committee, as well as the Joint Fiscal Review Committee. She lives in Mt. Juliet and represents House District 57, which includes Wilson County.

Staff Reports

‘Armed teachers’ bill passes first test

A bill that would allow some Tennessee teachers to carry a concealed firearm in schools passed its first hurdle Wednesday.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved the measure, sponsored by Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, and Sen. Joey Hensley, R–Hohenwald, which was met with both opposition and support since its introduction.

The duo originally introduced the bill to give teachers and school employees in Wayne and Pickett counties additional options for voluntary firearms training. However, Byrd said he decided to expand the legislation to include all Tennessee counties after it received support from educators.

Wayne and Pickett counties are among some Tennessee counties that do not have school resource officers or share school resource officers among different schools. In Wilson County, each public school has at least one school resource officer, while high schools have multiple officers.

The legislation would allow counties and school boards to adopt policy that allows the director of schools, in consultation with the principal of each school, to authorize and select employees on a voluntary basis to carry a concealed handgun within and on the grounds of their respective schools. One employee would be allowed to carry per every 75 students in the school.

The selected employees must reach certain requirements, including completion of more than 40 hours of peace officers standards and training commission-approved handgun instruction and 16 hours of continuing instruction a year.

District directors would be required to notify law enforcement agencies of who the selected employees are, and those individuals would be required to wear identifiable insignia at sporting events. The legislation would also allow school boards and directors the ability to revoke an employee’s ability to carry a concealed handgun.

Wilson County Commissioner Terry Ashe, Tennessee Sheriff’s Association executive director and former Wilson County sheriff, spoke against the measure Wednesday. Ashe helped start Wilson County’s school resource officer program in 1994.

“I had the political will of a community that was willing to fund it,” said Ashe, who said he believed the preferred measure for school safety should be school resource officers.

Ashe said his opposition to the legislation is due to the liability training agencies such as police departments would have if there’s a “failure to train” incident. Russell Marty, legislative liaison for Gov. Bill Haslam, shared the same sentiment.

“From a philosophical perspective, the governor’s office believes that, based on some similar concerns that have been raised, teachers in counties with proper school resource officers in place, that the teacher’s proper role is not to be protecting the student and that’s the role of the school resource officers,” Marty said.

Ashe said there about 900 school resource officers in the state, which accounts for about 40 percent coverage of schools, mainly due to the lack of school resource officers at many state elementary schools.

Ashe said school resource officers receive about 580 hours of training before they step foot inside of a school building.

“Our Tennessee SROs are well trained, well thought of and well respected in their community,” he said.

Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan discussed school resource officers during Monday’s Wilson County Commission meeting.

“I just want so say one thing. I sit in those meetings, and I feel fortunate, because this body, several years ago when Commissioner Ashe served as sheriff, took the responsibility to put SROs in these schools. I can sit in those meetings and say my county did the right thing. They’re asking us how did we do it,” Bryan said. “We’ve got a safe school system. We’ve got trained officers. We’ve got the right people in the schools, and I feel comfortable with our school system and safety.”

“When I put an SRO officer in a school, the first thing I asked him is why he wants to be there, and if he didn’t want to be there for caring for the children and serving the public in that capacity, I never put nobody in a school. That was my standard,” Ashe said.

The measure is on schedule to be heard Tuesday by the full House Civil Justice Committee.

School safety survey

Professional Educators of Tennessee officials announced Thursday it’s conducting a 10-question survey regarding the level of safety measures in state schools.

The survey is currently open online and will end March 9.

“Tennessee public schools are entrusted with the responsibility of educating the citizens of tomorrow,” said J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. “A safe and secure environment is a requirement for effective teaching and learning. Educator and student safety is a priority for Professional Educators of Tennessee. We believe school management and planning in regards for student and educators must be a constant process and priority for all policymakers. Tennessee citizens think for themselves. Educators think for themselves, with an authentic voice that advocates for students entrusted in their care.

“We invite active and retired educators to take this brief survey and share your opinion on school safety in order that we can share with state leaders and the media. By conducting the survey, Professional Educators of Tennessee can assist and help educate legislators in understanding how teachers feel on the growing concern of school safety. Because we have the direct input of educators, Professional Educators of Tennessee advocacy efforts carry significant weight with legislators.”

The survey for educators may be found at surveymonkey.com/r/tnsafety.

By Xavier Smith


No injuries in school bus accident

A Wilson County school bus was rear ended last Wednesday afternoon on Nonaville Road near the Lebanon Road intersection.

According to Mt.Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler, the accident happened at about 3 p.m., and no injuries were reported.

The bus was only carrying three people at the time of the accident.

By Jacob Smith


Firefighters battle brush fire

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
Mt. Juliet firefighters fight a brush fire Friday afternoon at 3491 E. Division St. near the city limits in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet firefighters fought a brush fire Friday afternoon at 3491 E. Division St. near the city limits in Mt. Juliet.

Firefighters arrived at about 5 p.m. after a caller told dispatchers the fire was spreading.

Mt. Juliet fire Chief Jamie Luffman was first to arrive and told dispatch the two firefighter crews en route could handle the fire.

Reports indicate firefighter Joe Agent extinguished the fire nearly by himself. Afterwards, firefighters saturated the perimeter to prevent the fire from spreading.

The cause remained unknown.

Luffman continued to stress the importance of residents getting a burn permit before burning. The fire started and spread about 24 hours following heavy rain.

Staff Reports

Local police, firefighters mourn loss of Lebanon police officer

Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos
The casket of Lebanon police officer Joseph Bowen is carried by officers with the Lebanon Police Department from Fairview Church to Salem Cemetery in Liberty, where his body was buried with full police honors. A police procession through Wilson County followed the funeral service.

The funeral for Lebanon police Officer Joseph Bowen was held Monday afternoon at Fairview Church with full police honors.

Members from each first response team in Wilson County were in attendance.

A police procession through Wilson County followed the funeral service to Liberty, where Bowen’s body was buried with full police honors.

Several other organizations continued to offer thoughts and prayers to Bowen’s family, as well as the Lebanon Police Department.

“Today, we joined fellow officers to celebrate the life of Officer Bowen, and it was evident that he was an outstanding man to his family and friends, and an outstanding police officer to his community,” said Mt. Juliet police Chief James Hambrick. “Our department was honored to provide assistance through our Honor Guard team, who assisted during the services. We continue to pray for Bowen’s family and the Lebanon Police Department, and we hope for comfort and strength for them during this time.”

“Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the Bowen family and the Lebanon Police Department,” said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan. “His service to this community as a public servant will never be forgotten. Officer Bowen was well respected by his peers for the way he genuinely treated people and left behind a legacy for others to follow.”

“Rest in peace Officer Joe Bowen,” said Wilson County Emergency Management Agency Director Joey Cooper. “WEMA continues to pray for the Bowen and Lebanon Police Department family.”

Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice talked about the impact Bowen had on his community.

“Joe was a great public servant, but more importantly an amazing family man and father,” he said. “This tragedy can only be described as impactful, as it will touch the lives of many, just as Joe had touched so many lives with his kindness.”

Bowen died Thursday when his truck ran off Highway 70, into an embankment and into Smith Fork Creek. He had left the Lebanon Police Department around 6 a.m. following an overnight shift. He was driving to his home in DeKalb County.

Bowen was 28 years old. He was a five-year veteran with Lebanon police and had 10 years of law enforcement experience. He was married and had two children, a son and a daughter.

When Bowen’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Nashville, Mt. Juliet police officers and firefighters lined Interstate 40 overpasses in Mt. Juliet to pay their respects. The police department also lit its headquarters blue Thursday night in honor of Bowen. The building remained lit until interment Monday.

“We were honored to pay tribute and respect to Lebanon Police Department Officer Bowen as he passed through Mt. Juliet on Interstate 40 [Thursday],” said Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

A memorial fund for Bowen’s family was set up that may be accessed at youcaring.com/kimberlybowen-1116709.

By Jacob Smith 


Schools to unveil safety initiatives

Wilson County Schools, in conjunction with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, will look to take several steps in the near future to further insure safety at county schools.

Wilson County is one of a few counties in the state to have at least one school resource officer in each public school, including multiple officers at high schools. Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan discussed the officers during Monday’s Wilson County Commission meeting.

“I just want so say one thing. I sit in those meetings, and I feel fortunate, because this body, several years ago when Commissioner [Terry] Ashe served as sheriff, took the responsibility to put SROs in these schools. I can sit in those meetings and say my county did the right thing. They’re asking us how did we do it,” Bryan said. “We’ve got a safe school system. We’ve got trained officers. We’ve got the right people in the schools, and I feel comfortable with our school system and safety.”

Even with the assurance from school and law enforcement leaders, the two entities have teamed to review and discuss additional steps and changes to further improve school safety.

“Not only does [Steve Spencer, director of safety and emergency management] take it seriously, but he’s one who wants to make sure to keep pushing us to make sure we’re practiced and knowledgeable and know the plans and what to do in the event something happens,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright.

Wright said the district and law enforcement officials would unveil plan, guidelines and other information related to school safety next week. She discussed the potential of the plans during Thursday’s Wilson County Board of Education work session.

“Something that’s really been evident that we’ve learned from Broward County, [Florida] is everyone points fingers to everyone else about all the red flags. Well, many of those red flags involved minors where little could be done, but there are some things we could put into place with people working together and sharing information,” Wright said.

Wright highlighted several tools the district currently uses to monitor potential threats, including Social Sentinel, which allows the district to screen all public social media for potential threats. She also said additional monitoring takes place at the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

“They have been a great partner in giving us guidance, because there are things they can do that we can’t do when dealing with minors,” she said.

Some of the initiatives included renovations to some school entrances, as well as a committee dedicated to safety.

“The board will be a part of what we’re having and setting up. It’s more than an advisory group. It’s one that’s going to be meeting on a regular basis,” said Wright, who said group would discuss safety procedures, including school design.

Wright said the district would work during the summer to remodel entrances at six of the district’s older schools to improve the safety of the entrances.

She also discussed feedback she’s received about the district’s reluctance to post its safety plans and procedures, which she said was because it could also be seen by those would want to harm students.

“There are times where there’s information we can’t share, but don’t think we’re not addressing it,” Wright said.

By Xavier Smith


Meeting outlines 109 construction plans

Tennessee Department of Transportation and State Route 109 construction team members met with residents Monday to discuss details of the highway’s construction project, expected to be complete in 2020.

The State Route 109 project is one of 10 Wilson County road projects funded through the IMPROVE Act, which the legislature passed last year. Upgrades to the road are set from Highway 70 north to Dry Fork Creek area and from north of Dry Fork Creek to the Sumner County line.

The department awarded the $50 million project to Vulcan Materials last month. Upgrades will include additional lanes, shoulders and dedicated turning lanes.

TDOT project supervisor Adam Vance outlined several aspects of the project to residents during the meeting, including expected lane shifts, road closures and safety measures, including a 10 mph speed limit reduction during construction.

Nearly a dozen portable message signs, three cameras and seven portable radar detection devices will be used during construction, which will be able to alert drivers about changing road conditions and delays.

Vance said the traffic control and safety measures would be lifted from 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6 p.m., as well as during holidays, special events and holiday weekends.

Construction will start at Academy Road with a new interchange and then go south from the Cumberland River bridge.

“Part of TDOT’s motto is work with us, so we ask that everybody please practice safe driving out here and be aware. We’re out here trying to get this ironed out to benefit everybody. We’re reducing the speed limit and we’ve tried to initiate this Smart Work Zone and everything because we want this to be a safe project and we want everybody to get home safe at night,” Vance said. “I know it gets frustrating being stuck in traffic, but if you could, just please pay attention as you come through here.”

Pressure from State Route 109 travelers and corridors on TDOT to improve the heavily traveled stretch of road has increased in recent years with the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization conducting a series of public workshops starting in 2014 to gather information and address concerns.

About 23,880 vehicles travel State Route 109 daily, and that number is expected to rise to about 44,890 by 2038. The roadway sees about 2,150 vehicles during peak hours, while truck traffic makes up nine percent of the roadway traffic.

Many local economic leaders said widening State Route 109 could lead to increased industrial and commercial growth along the corridor, while also reducing travel time on the road.

By Xavier Smith


Mel Brown talks career, retirement

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet High School principal Mel Brown smiles in front of several awards and recognition the school received since he became principal.

Mt. Juliet High School principal Mel Brown is set to retire June 30, and he reflected Tuesday on his path through education and his plans for retirement.

Brown’s 45-year career features numerous roles, resulting in several personal and school awards and recognition.

First block: Early life and education

Brown said his path to education was not unexpected coming from a family of educators and school directors.

“My dad, Carmon Brown, was my high school principal. He died young. He became the director of schools. He died in office, and my mother, Frankie, finished out his time in office. She was one of the first female directors of schools in the state of Tennessee,” said Brown, who said his children and grandchildren have also focused on careers in education.

“Of course, all of this time, you’re being told not to go into education, and the next thing you know, you’re in education. My brother is retired director of schools in the state of Tennessee. I had a great-uncle who was a director of schools,” he said.

Brown graduated Celina High School, followed by a year at Castle Heights Military Academy before he attended Lipscomb University on a baseball scholarship. He received a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and an educational specialist degree from Tennessee State University.

What did you learn from that year at Castle Heights?

“Self-discipline,” said Brown, who said he learned he had to quickly gather knowledge and behave to succeed and receive awards, such as a visit to the movie theatre on Sunday nights.

“You met a lot of guys you’d never have met otherwise, because at that time, they came from all over the world. It was a good experience,” he said.

When did you decide to get into education?

“It was probably sophomore year in college. You take a class that kind of piques your interest, and I think we need to find our niche. I think in finding that, you just build on it. I loved playing sports. I thought I wanted to coach, and I did. I loved the classroom.”

Second block: From educator to principal

Brown started his education career at Two Rivers High School in 1966. In 1972, he moved to McGavock High School, where he also served as assistant football coach and head baseball coach, after several Metro Nashville schools closed.

As head baseball coach, he amassed 582 wins, three Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association state championships, three TSSAA state runner-ups, seven “coach of the year” honors and averaged 29 wins per season. The McGavock High School baseball field is named “Mel Brown Field” in his honor.

He was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 1999. He is also a member of the Clay County High School, Lipscomb and Tennessee baseball halls of fame.

Brown served as assistant principal at Hillsboro High School from 1992-96 and Lebanon High School during the 2003-2004 school year before he was appointed principal at Mt. Juliet High School.

What did you take from your experience at McGavock?

“It was an open zone. You come together with folks who have never been together. You’re going to have a lot of learning that needs to take place. I ended up as faculty advisor to student activities. I started out as an American history teacher, but it became apparent that we needed to learn how to live with each other. This was at a time when we needed to understand each other,” he said.

What do you think of your success as the baseball coach?

“We had 136 seniors put up with me all the way through their four years. Of that 136, 127 signed college scholarships. The 128th went to the University of Tennessee to play football, 129th went to Lipscomb University to play basketball and 131st through 135th went and got scholarships for being statisticians, scorekeepers, announcers or managers,” Brown said. “I’m proud of that. I’ve always been very proud of that, because opportunity after all is the name of the game, from my standpoint. I’ve tried to carry that through as a principal.”

Third block: Mt. Juliet High School principal

Brown is regarded as one of the state’s best high school principals. During his tenure, Mt. Juliet High School received state recognition and championships in athletics and the fine arts.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education named Mt. Juliet the No. 1 academic school in the state. Brown followed up the recognition with several Reward School recognitions by the Tennessee Department of Education, as well as a “principal of the year” award by the Tennessee Association of Secondary School Principals.

How has coaching mentality carried over to principal?

“Anytime you’re working, you’re building a team. You work with your teachers, staff members, assistant principals, support team and students to build working relationships. I don’t need for you to take someone out for supper, but in a professional learning community, we need to hear each other’s thoughts and not turn off a good idea because I don’t agree with something,” Brown said.

What’s the most memorable award you’ve received?

“They’ve all been important. I don’t know. It’s very humbling,” he said.

Does winning awards and getting recognition become normal?

“No. It’s humbling, I tell you,” Brown said. “It’ll bring you to your knees. You just say, ‘praise the Lord.’”

Is it bigger than education for you?

“Yes. I want our student to be leaders. I tell them that. I expect them to be leaders. When they walk out of Mt. Juliet High School, I expect them to be able to voice their thoughts – whatever it is. Whether I agree or not is not the point. Lead in a positive way to help our fellow man, not send us right or left to a point where we can’t survive,” he said.

Troy Allen talks about his principal

Mt. Juliet boys’ basketball coach Troy Allen became familiar with Brown when his David Lipscomb High School baseball teams faced Brown’s McGavock teams. Brown was an assistant principal at Hillsboro when Allen broke into teaching before hiring him at Mt. Juliet in 2005. Allen said he was upset upon hearing he news of the impending retirement of a mentor.

“I can’t say enough good about him the way he’s treated me at both jobs … at Hillsboro, which was a culture shock,” Allen said Sunday. “He helped me grow as a teacher and coach. He helped me grow up and become a man.”

“He calls after every one of my games on my way home. It’s never anything bad, always positive. I know that’s not going to happen anymore. He is the best principal I could ever imagine having.”

Mt. Juliet athletics have excelled across the board and Brown’s background as a hall-of-fame coach had much to do with that.

“He knows what it takes to be a coach,” Allen said. “When you’re working at it like we do, 95 percent of the issues that have come up with me have been squelched before I have to deal with them.

“He knows people he believes in and trusts. He lets them do their jobs and expects them to do their jobs. When he interviews a coach he knows what a coach is because he was one.”

But his interests in a school aren’t limited to academics.

“When he became a principal, he still had a team, it’s just bigger, but it’s still a team,” Allen said. “When the band wins a competition, he’s just as proud as when we win the district. Everybody feels it. Nobody fells shortchanged.

“What he’s done to Mt. Juliet academically is amazing… He’s not afraid to take a chance on what other people aren’t doing.”

Fourth block: Life after education

“I’ve always said, ‘if I could get to my back porch.’ That’s kind of my enjoyable place. They ask if I’m going to travel, what I’ll do and so on. I don’t know, but I know one thing, if I get all my ‘honey do’ jobs done, and I get to the back porch, I’m going to have a good day. I’m really just waiting for what the Lord’s got for me out there,” Brown said.

What made now the right time to retire?

“I think all of us, there’ll come a time in your life when it’s time to make a decision,” Brown said. “We have grandchildren, and I want to see them do their things. We have a great-grandchild on the way.”

Brown said his wife, Carroll, has been his biggest supporter. He said he informed Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright of his intentions last year.

“I’ve always enjoyed it, wherever I’ve been. You hope you’re making a difference in life. I’ve always tried to be a servant leader. I think that’s what the good Lord wants us to do.”

What would you tell the person who will eventually take your place?

“I would say you’re coming into a supportive community, a supportive district and a growing community, which changes your clientele, as far as backgrounds. They’ll have to be themselves,” Brown said. “Be up for the challenge. Do your school. Be a principal. Be a leader.”

Democrat sports editor Andy Reed contributed to this report.

By Xavier Smith


Carfi announces repeat run for state Senate District 17 seat

Mary Alice Carfi

Wilson County attorney and Democrat Mary Alice Carfi announced Tuesday she will run for the state Senate seat she narrowly lost during a special election in 2017.

In the two-and-a-half month-special election, Carfi came within 307 votes, or 2.6 percent, of defeating her Republican opponent in a solidly red district that consists of Cannon, Clay, DeKalb, Macon, Smith and Wilson counties.

“We came incredibly close to winning the District 17 seat in the special election last year,” Carfi said. “Because many volunteers put in a lot of hard work, we won three of the six counties in the district and lost Wilson by only 79 votes.

“Since the special election Dec. 19, people throughout District 17 have encouraged me to run again. People who weren’t able to volunteer in the special election are already stepping forward to do so in 2018. I can feel how excited and hopeful my fellow Tennesseans are for a chance to make their voices heard.

“I am running because it is time to take our state back. It’s time to focus on the issues that matter. It’s time to show our children that by giving others an opportunity to improve their education, their jobs and their health care, we make our state a better place to live.

As an attorney in a solo practice in Mt. Juliet, Carfi said she can relate to the issues that affect the small business owners throughout District 17.

“People are ready for our government to do something different. Our current senator is continuing down the same path he took in the House of Representatives. It is time for a change,” she said.

“We need representation that will make the lives of our citizens better by working to expand Medicaid, advocating for a wage that allows workers to provide for their families and demanding equal pay for equal work for women.”

Carfi said she believes in creating real jobs for Tennessee workers with wages that can sustain their families. She believes in letting teachers teach and students learn. “And I believe that no one should have to decide between feeding their family and paying for their prescriptions,” she said.

“I am running because I care about the people of our state. It is our state legislators’ job to pass laws that improve our state. My representatives haven’t been focusing on the things that matter. When hospitals are closing, and people can’t afford medical care, it doesn’t matter which bathroom a person uses.”

As a general practice attorney, Carfi said she often works with people who have differing opinions.

“It’s my job to bring these people together; to help them compromise when and where it’s necessary, so that a positive result can be agreed upon by all parties,” she said. “It’s time for some common sense in Tennessee’s Senate, and I ask for your support and your vote so I can bring this to our legislative body.”

Carfi grew up in Smith County, the daughter of Don and Phyllis Eckel, of Gordonsville. She is the granddaughter of the late Pete and Evelyn Watts, who owned Watts Angus Farm. Pete Watts was a well-known building contractor in Middle Tennessee and owner of Watts Construction Co.

She has one daughter, Alexia, 9, and is a member of the Carthage United Methodist Church, where she sings in the choir. She and her husband, Jamie, are both members of the Bert Coble Singers in Lebanon. She also serves on the Bert Coble Singers Leadership Team.

Carfi is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and the 15th Judicial District Bar Association. She is a graduate of Smith County High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Middle Tennessee State University. She received her law degree from Nashville School of Law. She was chosen as the best attorney in Mt. Juliet in 2018 and 2016.

For more information about Carfi and her campaign, visit electmaryalice.com and follow her on social media accounts on Facebook, ElectMaryAlice; Twitter @ElectMaryAlice; and Instagram, @ElectMaryAlice. Emails may be sent to info@maryalicecarfi.com or call 615-547-8046.

Staff Reports

Teen charged with threats

Joseph Taylor

An 18-year-old man was charged Sunday night after he a threat in person to two people about Mt. Juliet High School.

Joseph Taylor, of Old Hickory, apparently approached two people Sunday afternoon and warned them not to go to school Monday because he had just bought a new gun. During the conversation, the people noticed that Taylor had some type of gun around his neck. Following the conversation, Mt. Juliet police were notified, and officers opened an investigation.

During the investigation, Mt. Juliet police called school resource officers to ensure they were aware of the incident. The department’s communications center also received calls from concerned parents, who somehow learned of the threat.

Wilson County sheriff’s detectives found Taylor, and a paintball gun was recovered. Taylor was charged with criminal attempt to commit aggravated assault and booked in at the Wilson County Jail. Detectives do not believe Taylor had any real intent to harm students or staff. He is not a student at Mt. Juliet High School.

Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler said threats toward any school would not be tolerated, even if they are meant to be a joke, and threats would be investigated completely.

“In addition, we want thank those who had the courage to bring the statements to our attention,” Chandler said.