Christmas parades to start soon in Wilson County

Several Christmas parades are set to take place in Wilson County over the next few weeks, including parades in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown and Possumtown.

The Watertown Christmas Parade is Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Entrants into the parade will gather at 1 p.m. at the Round Lick Baptist Church, and a judging of floats/entries will be held before the parade officially starts at 2 p.m.

The parade will proceed down Main Street and end at Optix Watertown on East Main Street. A worst Christmas sweater contest and open business tour will follow the parade.

For more information about the Watertown parade, contact Pam Wiggins at 615-237-9700, Jim Amero at 615-237-1777 or the Watertown Chamber at 615-237-0270.

The 2016 Lebanon Christmas Parade, presented by the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce, is Sunday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m.

This year’s theme is “A Toyland Christmas.” The parade goes through the downtown square and down West Main Street. Special annual ornaments are available. For more information, call the chamber at 615-444-5503.

The theme for this year’s Mt. Juliet Christmas Parade is “A Pokemon Christmas,” and the grand marshal is Pikachu, a Pokemon character.

The parade will take place Saturday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. This year’s route begins at First Baptist Church of Mt. Juliet and then goes northbound on North Mt. Juliet Road to Charlie Daniels Parkway. Mt. Juliet Road will be closed beginning at 10:45 a.m.

Team Magic half marathon and 5k races will begin alongside the Mt. Juliet Christmas Parade, and runners are encouraged to dress in holiday-related apparel. For more information about these races, visit For more information about the Mt. Juliet parade, contact the parks and recreation department at 615-758-6522.

The Possumtown Christmas Parade will be Sunday, Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. in front of Friendship Christian School. Roger McKinney will be the grand marshal.

Possomtown Outreach will accept donations of items to take to families in need in and around Sneedville in Hancock County.

Anyone who needs assistance with a donation may call Wilson County Commissioner Jerry McFarland at 615-330-8474. Monetary donations may be mailed to Possomtown Outreach, P.O. Box 26, Lebanon, TN, 37088.

By Jake Old

Multiple departments respond to morning house fire

Photo courtesy of Wilson Emergency Management Agency Wilson Emergency Management Agency firefighters try to contain a house fire Friday morning on Cedar Creek Village Road.

Photo courtesy of Wilson Emergency Management Agency
Wilson Emergency Management Agency firefighters try to contain a house fire Friday morning on Cedar Creek Village Road.

Fire and rescue crews from multiple departments responded to a house fire Friday just before 8 a.m. on Cedar Creek Village Road near Mt. Juliet in Wilson County.

The house was deemed a total loss. No injuries were reported. 

Neighbors noticed the fire and tried to alert the residents, who were unaware of the fire, but escaped unharmed.

Smoke alarms in the house activated after the residents were alerted. According to a report from the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency, there was a moderate amount of smoke inside the house when the alarms were activated.

Upon arrival, WEMA crews saw heavy fire conditions, with the fire already venting out of the roof. A request for mutual aid was placed with the Mt. Juliet Fire Department, which was quickly met.

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies assisted with scene access control and traffic. Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. workers responded with a crew to remove power from the house.

American Red Cross volunteers responded to the scene and offered temporary housing and specific needs. Wilson County Emergency Services Rehab Association responded to the scene to provide refreshments.

All residents in Tennessee have the ability to receive smoke alarms from their local fire department. The only requirement is that the fire department must come and install them.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office provide the alarms for local fire departments to install.

Staff Reports

A-Plus mends more than metal

Colleen Creamer • Mt. Juliet News Jonathan Schmitt, owner of A-Plus Automotive Repair in Mt. Juliet, recently gave a car to Rachel Utter. It’s one of three his shop has given away with 11 more planned for the future.

Colleen Creamer • Mt. Juliet News
Jonathan Schmitt, owner of A-Plus Automotive Repair in Mt. Juliet, recently gave a car to Rachel Utter. It’s one of three his shop has given away with 11 more planned for the future.

When Jonathan Schmitt, owner of A-Plus Automotive Repair in Mt. Juliet, found out a local woman had her car break down and was unable to make it to and from her job, he got involved.

It wasn’t in the form of a trip or two. It was in the form of a free car.

“This started a couple of years ago; I read a story about a lady who had posted on Facebook that she had spent all of the money she had on her car at a local shop and that it still didn’t work and that she couldn’t go back and forth to work, so we reached out to her,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt offered Rachel Utter a few good deals on engines without charging her for labor. He also had a few other ideas up his sleeve when he called her.

“At one point I was talking to him and he said, ‘Are you sitting down? We just bought you a car.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He is a phenomenal guy, what he does for the community.”

Utter said she would often just sleep in her car instead of driving to and from home; it just didn’t seem worth the effort to drive home.

“I was working two jobs, and I was working eight hours at each job at the time,” Utter said. “The car is still working great.”

That was in March of last year. This year, Schmitt received more than 3,000 “nominations” concerning families who are in need of a car. He has given away three cars already, and he and his team plan to deliver 11 more at the shop’s grand re-opening Sept. 17 at their new location.

He credits his employees who really “put their shoulders” into the projects, working overtime and on weekends and holidays to make the magic happen.

“They are the true backbone to completing and thoroughly inspecting the vehicles to ensure they are all in the best operating condition for these families,” said Schmitt who also delivers food to stranded families when they are locked in due to winter weather.

Schmitt was born and raised in New York, but moved to California when he was 17. He and wife, Jessica Schmitt, moved with their four children to Mt. Juliet in 2008.

“Here’s what we do. We get a lot of people who come here who can’t afford a lot,” Schmitt said. “We will chip in, or we will buy it for them. I am not a rich man. Most people are not, but we do our best. My wife and I and our family, we do pretty well. We do pretty much everything we can to help out other people.”

Schmitt said when he had back surgery, the community rallied just as he had done for it.

“It seems like the entire community chipped and brought dinners to our house. Either you love me or you hate me,” he said.

A-Plus Automotive Repair recently moved into a larger facility at 11969 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet.

Utter said meeting Schmitt was more kismet than coincidental.

“A lot of people will message him that they know of people who can get out because of weather, and he will get food to them,” she said. “I think that is when I first started hearing about Jonathan. I started following him when the bad storm hit at the beginning of 2015.

“One of the things that Jonathan does is he sees the good in most people. He watches long enough, and he knows who is going to do good in this world.”

Visit the shop’s Facebook page at to learn more.

Local realtors send aid to flood victims in Louisiana

One local real estate agency has used the 2010 Nashville flood as motivation to help victims of the recent Baton Rouge, La., flooding in a continuing effort to help the region.

“I received a call from Louisiana that knew a lot of Keller Williams people in the Baton Rouge office and said that our office in Baton Rouge had been flooded,” said Wendy Dyes with the Keller Williams Mt. Juliet office.

Dyes said the call came from the Prairieville, La., office, which is right outside of Baton Rouge.

The floods have killed more than a dozen residents, and state officials have estimated more than 60,000 homes were damaged and more than 100,000 people have registered for aid.

“They had rented storage space in order to be able to help flood victims and families and called to see if there was anything our office could do. They had told me that even the convenient stores and all of the grocery stores were out of food, and they were in need of food and immediate supplies.”

Dyes said the company has a program called KW Cares, which supports Keller Williams associates and their families as they deal with hardship.

“Right now, all of those efforts are going toward the flood victims in Louisiana,” she said.

In two days, the company raised about $5,200 through various vendors and real estate agents and the Mt. Juliet Walmart gave the group a 10-percent discount for items.

“We were able to buy two pallets of water, non-perishable food, baby formula, hygiene products, pillows, gas cans, hammers, batteries and more,” said Dyes, who said a loaded U-Haul took the items from Nashville to Prairieville last weekend.

She also said the 2010 Nashville flood helped paint a picture of the need that many families have in wake of the floods.

“Nashville was affected in 2010 with the flood, and we understand the importance of immediate support. They have over 40,000 homes that are flooded and the cries of support that we received from our office is that they’re in desperate need of basic human needs,” she said.

“I feel like the least we could do is help our fellow real estate agents in their time of need and give them what they need to be able to rebuild their lives. She cried whenever we told them we were sending support,” she said.

Dyes said the Mt. Juliet Keller Williams office is still accepting donations for flood relief efforts at the office at 2033 N. Mt. Juliet Road, Suite 100.

By Xavier Smith

Sales tax holiday begins July 29

The Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday is set for the weekend of July 29-31 after lawmakers pushed up the date of the annual sales tax-free event.

Lawmakers moved retail event up one weekend earlier than previous years. The tax-free event will now be the last weekend in July, rather than the first weekend in August to help districts that begin school the first week in August.

Wilson County and Lebanon Special School District students go back to school Aug. 1.

Under the new law, Tennessee’s annual sales tax holiday will be held beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and end at 11:59 p.m. the following Sunday night. This year, the sales tax holiday begins July 29 at 12:01 a.m. and ends July 31 at 11:59 p.m.

“We hope Tennessee shoppers will take advantage of the tax relief offered by this year’s sales tax holiday,” Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts said. As in prior years, consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on clothing, school and art supplies that cost $100 or less per item and computers that cost $1,500 or less.  

Sales tax exempt items include:

Clothing $100 or less

• General apparel that costs $100 or less per item, including shirts, pants, jackets, socks, shoes, dresses, etc.

• Items that are normally sold together, such as shoes, cannot be split up to stay beneath the $100 threshold.

School supplies

• School and art supplies with a purchase price of $100 or less per item, such as binders, books, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens, pencils and rulers.

• Items that are normally sold together cannot be split up to stay beneath the $100 threshold.


• Computers with a purchase price of $1,500 or less, which includes laptops and tablets.

Items sold for business or trade are still taxable. Other taxable items include: computer parts, such as keyboards and monitors, when not sold with a computer; storage media, like flash drives and compact disks; individually purchased software; video game consoles; computer printer and supplies; electronic readers and cellphones.

Merchants who sell eligible items such as clothing, school and school art supplies, and computers must participate in the sales tax holiday.

Qualified items sold to purchasers by mail, telephone, e-mail or online will qualify for the sales tax exemption if the customer orders and pays for the item and the retailer accepts the order during the holiday period for immediate shipment, even if delivery is made after the exemption period.

However, if the order and payment were made before the holiday, even if the item was delivered during the holiday, it would not qualify for the exemption.

If a customer buys an eligible item during the sales tax holiday and later exchanges it for the same item in a different size or color, tax is not to be charged even if the exchange is made after the sales tax holiday.

If a customer buys an eligible item during the sales tax holiday and returns the item after the tax holiday period for credit on the purchase of a different item, sales tax applies to the sale of the newly purchased item, even if it would have been eligible for the exemption during the sales tax holiday.

If a customer buys an eligible item before the holiday period, but returns the item during the sales tax holiday period and receives credit on the purchase of a different item of eligible property, no sales tax is due on the sale of the new item.

For more information, visit

By Xavier Smith

Moore to lead centralized dispatch effort

Wilson County 911 director Karen Moore will lead the various county emergency service agencies’ push to a consolidated dispatch location after a vote of support Monday by the 911 Board.

Moore said Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan and other emergency service leaders suggested Moore lead the effort after a roundtable discussion last week. Mt. Juliet police Lt. Tyler Chandler attended Monday’s meeting and commented on Moore’s appointment.

“I think she’ll do a great job heading this effort,” said Chandler, who also commented on last week’s meeting. “It was the best conversation we’ve ever had county-wide at the meeting last week. We know we can all come together as a county to improve things.”

Moore called the roundtable discussion a “dream team” meeting due to the cooperation of all departments. She said conversation about equipment highlighted the group’s selflessness in altering the county’s call routing procedures.

“They all realized we needed to have one CAD system if we do get this consolidation or colocation. It’s going to take a lot of work, but what’s really neat is they all realized we wanted to do it and it needed to be done,” she said. “Nobody got mad, and nobody got their feelings hurt. It was just good conversation the entire time.”

Moore said the city of Lebanon presented potential land options, with a focus on the State Route 109 area. She said more details would be discussed next month. She also used a recent emergency as an example for the need for call routing procedure changes.

Moore said the group is slated to visit Williamson County’s new centralized dispatch location next month to receive more information about a potential switch.

“We actually had a suicide caller that hung up on us the other day. Our call takers were busy contacting a cellphone company trying to get a ping on the cellphone. We had no idea that [Lebanon Police Department] was actually able to make contact with the lady,” she said.

“When we were able to get the pinging of the cellphone, they already had the lady. She finally gave up her address. But we called over there and interrupted Lebanon from this lady because we weren’t in the same room, and we weren’t able to say, ‘Hey. Have you got this woman back yet?’ Just being in the same room could make a huge difference.”

Last week’s meeting was the latest among the various county emergency service leaders after scrutiny grew in April to the way emergency calls are handled in the county when 10-year-old boy accidently shot himself while home alone with his 11-year-old brother, according to Lebanon police.

The older brother called 911, which was answered by a Wilson County 911 dispatcher who asked the boy a few questions and transferred the call to a Lebanon police dispatcher. Typically, any call pertaining to a shooting is routed to Lebanon dispatch.

The Lebanon police dispatcher asked the boy similar questions before hanging up on the child before officers and other emergency responders arrived. County emergency service leaders met following the incident to discuss potential changes.

Lebanon police Chief Mike Justice highlighted the group’s discussion on the potential for a centralized dispatch in the county from last week.

“We’re in the absolute initial stages of initial stages. I, 100-percent, believe it would save some time and improve communication, as well as potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxpayers,” Justice said in April.

The county has debated the appropriateness of direct routing for several years, which ultimately led to former Wilson County 911 director J.R. Kelley’s resignation in April.

“The simple fact is, in Wilson County, the method chosen by the 911 Board to process 911 calls for the past 25 years, actually delays emergency response time. Of the 100 911 districts in the state, [Wilson County Emergency Communication District] remains the only district where all 911 calls must be transferred,” Kelley, who favored direct routing, said in his resignation letter.

By Xavier Smith

Wine sales ‘steady’ after Friday’s opening

Residents in Wilson County were finally able to buy wine in grocery stores Friday after it voted for the move more than a year ago. Kroger and Publix grocery store spokesmen said sales Friday were good as of noon.

Residents in Wilson County were finally able to buy wine in grocery stores Friday after it voted for the move more than a year ago. Kroger and Publix grocery store spokesmen said sales Friday were good as of noon.

Wine sales in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet grocery were “steady” as of mid-day Friday.

Both Kroger and Publix grocery stores spokesmen said the sales were good so far.
Those stores were among the 459 licensed retail food stores across Tennessee allowed to sell wine.

“The public has been very excited about selling wine in our stores,” said Kroger spokesman Melissa Eads. “They’re also excited that this day is finally here, and there were some people who were at the stores at 8 a.m. to be one of the first to purchase the wine.”
Publix spokesman Brenda Reid said she didn’t have any actual numbers, but sales “have been steady at all of our stores this morning.”

The roll out of “wine in grocery stores,” also called WIGS, represented a milestone in the alcoholic beverage history of Tennessee.

“The ABC cooperated with corporate executives, small business owners, legislators, industry representatives, and various state agencies to effectively implement a dramatic change in the law”, said Commissioner Mary McDaniel. “As a commission, we remain committed to fostering a business-friendly environment that enforces the state’s law in a responsible manner and in a spirit of fairness and equity”.

As of Friday morning, all applicants that submitted the necessary paperwork held a license to begin selling wine. ABC agents completed 578 site inspections by the end of business Wednesday, and staff completed reviews of 578 applications.

Remaining applications, which were generally submitted in late May or mid-June, generally require proof of responsible vendor training for clerks and at least one designated manager before a license may be issued. ABC staff continued to consult with stores without a license to ensure all the requirements are completed.

Unlike beer, wine sales have to follow the same rules and hours as liquor stores.

“Licensed retail food stores in the state are authorized to sell wine July 1 and July 2; however, under state law, the sale of wine is prohibited on Sunday and the Fourth of July [or other national holidays],” said Clay Byrd, ABC executive director. “We want to encourage the public to be safe this weekend and to ask the industry to be diligent in fulfilling the detailed provisions of the new law.”

Walmart stores in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet also started wine sales Friday. Other grocery stores in Lebanon such as Al’s Foodland and Sav-a-Lot will not sell wine in their stores.

No sales on Sunday or Monday

By Angie Mayes

Record seven choices announced for Wilson County Fair’s Great Giveaway

Submitted to The Democrat Pictured (from left) are Billy Mullinax with Rockie Williams Premier Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep; Ryan Tracy with Absolute Kubota; Rick Stewart with the Wilson County Fair; Ronnie Kelly with Bates Ford; Terry Johnson with Wilson County Hyundai; Laney Lawrence with Bates Equipment; Hoover Sutherland with Wilson County Chevrolet, Buick, GMC; and Keith Harrison, chairman of the Wilson County Fair giveway committee.

Submitted to The Democrat
Pictured (from left) are Billy Mullinax with Rockie Williams Premier Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep; Ryan Tracy with Absolute Kubota; Rick Stewart with the Wilson County Fair; Ronnie Kelly with Bates Ford; Terry Johnson with Wilson County Hyundai; Laney Lawrence with Bates Equipment; Hoover Sutherland with Wilson County Chevrolet, Buick, GMC; and Keith Harrison, chairman of the Wilson County Fair giveway committee.

Wilson County Fair officials announced prizes involved in the 2016 Wilson County Fair Great Giveaway.

Fair goers will have the chance to win $1,000 five nights of the fair. On Aug. 23, one lucky winner will choose between a record seven different prizes.

“We are very excited about the 2016 offering for the fair”, says Keith Harrison, chairman of the fair’s Great Giveaway committee. “Fair goers will have the opportunity to choose between a selection of cars, a truck and tractors. Someone is going to drive away with one of these spectacular choices.”

The Great Giveaway lineup will include a Chevrolet Cruze from Wilson County Motors; a Dodge Ram 1500 truck from Rockie Williams Premier Dodge; a Ford Fusion from Bates Ford; a Hyundai Veloster from Wilson County Hyundai; a John Deere 5045E tractor, canopy and loader from Tri-Green Equipment; a Mahindra 4540 tractor with loader from Tony Bates Equipment; and a Kubota MX5200 DT 4WD with canopy and loader from Absolute Kubota.

“These local dealerships are offering outstanding choices and record seven options for the 2016 Wilson County Fair,” said Harrison.

“We have great support from our sponsors for the 2016 Great Giveaway. Eighty-one local businesses made the commitment to sponsor the annual event. We are pleased by our local businesses stepping up to the plate to be part of the Great Giveaway. These organizations want to be part of something successful like the fair and the Great Giveaway. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community. We owe a great deal of gratitude to these sponsors for making this possible again in 2016.”

Tickets will be available at these 81 businesses beginning in early July. The vehicles and tractors will be displayed at these businesses until fair time in August.  A complete listing of the 81 sponsors will appear in local newspaper advertising, on the fair website at or by contacting the Wilson County Fair Office at 615-443-2626.

“Our Great Giveaway committee has taken the theme of ‘We Want You at the 2016 Wilson County Fair’ very seriously,” said Hale Moss, president of Wilson County Promotions, sponsor of the Wilson County Fair. “When one looks over the list of giveaway sponsors, the amount of cash to be given away and the seven choices for the Tuesday night Great Giveaway, this committee has put together another great venue for fair goers in 2016. We hope that many folks from Wilson and our surrounding counties will take part in our fair.”

Senior citizens network campaigns for elder abuse month


The Wilson County Senior Citizens Awareness Network is about to reach the end of its Elder Abuse Awareness Month campaign, but SCAN personnel said awareness should remain high.

“Elder abuse is present in Wilson County. We know from statistics and research that it is one of the most unreported crimes simply because of the target groups that it happens to,” said SCAN director Debbie Paré.

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations started the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2006.

Paré said Wilson County’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month was birthed from that day after a conversation with Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan.

“I talked to Sheriff Bryan said let’s kick off a campaign. Our goal in that was, first and foremost, education to help identify these individuals and raise awareness. We knew we had to educate the public to what it looked like,” she said.

“Our next step was to tell them what to do about it. Also, we had to remind them that not unlike child abuse, elder abuse is required by law to be reported. We are a mandatory reporting state. Elder abuse falls under that. People are not tasked with proving it, just reporting it.”

Sgt. Don Witherspoon, SCAN liaison, said many people don’t know the different types of elder abuse, which includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological and, most commonly, financial.

“We see this a lot where someone – family member, friend or someone declaring themselves as family – goes and gets a piece of paper that says they that power of attorney over this elder. Then, they start financially abusing them. They take money out of their account and use it for their own use instead of for the elder,” Witherspoon said.

Elders throughout the country lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“No one can get power of attorney unless that elder gives that person power of attorney. The other way is if a person goes before a judge and the judge rules that elder is incompetent to handle affairs, then the judge can appoint someone,” Witherspoon said.

He said some cases include multiple types of abuses. One case included an elderly woman who was removed from an assisted living facility by her family in order for them to gain access to her monthly income.

The family limited her meals to one a day, limited her mobility by taking her walker and took away her television, as well as physically abused the woman.

In conjunction with the home health nurse and SCAN, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office was able to get the woman back into the assisted living facility.

Paré said the example highlights the ability of SCAN to work with law enforcement since they work in close conjunction. Wilson County is one of five of Tennessee’s 95 counties with a SCAN program. The program has been in existence for 16 years in Wilson County.

SCAN volunteers make home visits to check on the safety and security of elders enrolled in the program. SCAN officers make personal contact, provide home security surveys, crime prevention information and information related to local social and community services.

“What we got coming with the baby boomers that are reaching the age of retirements is what we call a tsunami of seniors. It’s a good term to use because it’s accurate. So, it’s not something that’s going to get better and escalate, unless, through education, we slow it up,” Witherspoon said.

“It can just simply be a concern. Bring it to us, so we can get it to the right people,” Paré said. “Just because our campaign ends, don’t let our awareness drop off. Still be vigilant about what is happening around us, because there are people professionally situated to help. You can very well save a life.”

People 65 years and older numbered 46.2 million in 2014. They represented 14.5 percent of Americans, about one in every seven people. By 2060, there will be an estimated 98 million elderly people, which is expected to be 21.7 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By Xavier Smith

Wine on its way to stores in Wilson County

Walmart is stocked and ready for customers to add wine to their grocery shopping lists, beginning July 1.

Walmart received 120 retail food store wine licenses Thursday from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. This will allow Walmart customers to buy their favorite wine at 104 Walmart locations, including those in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, and 16 Sam’s Clubs throughout the state.

Walmart store associates have built a full wine selection and stocked store shelves in preparation. Walmart customers will find a full variety of wines, including favorites like Barefoot, Woodbridge, J. Lohr, Kendall-Jackson and more.

“Our customers tell us they are very excited for the one-stop convenience of purchasing wine at Walmart when they shop for groceries,” said Anne Hatfield, Walmart spokesperson. “Walmart looks forward to helping our customers save time by not having to make a second stop somewhere else to purchase wine.”

Coming soon in select Tennessee markets, customers will also be able to purchase wine with their groceries and have it all delivered to their car through the Walmart grocery pickup service. The free service, available at the Mt. Juliet location, enables customers to order groceries online and pick them up at their local Walmart store without even leaving their cars.

Walmart encouraged customers to share any recommendations for wines they would like to see sold.

Other grocery stores in Wilson County that will begin selling wine July 1 include Kroger and Publix stores in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. Other grocery stores in Lebanon such as Al’s Foodland and Sav-a-Lot will not sell wine in their stores.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission announced Monday it delivered, in less than one week, retail food store licenses to more than half of grocery stores in the state applying to sell wine by July 1.

With less than two weeks to go, the ABC has also issued conditional “letters of approval” to nearly 80 percent of grocery store applicants.  Stores holding a conditional “letter of approval” are authorized to accept delivery and stock wine.  Grocery stores without a letter of approval are either missing required documentation or were submitted closer to the upcoming rollout.

State legislators and industry representatives in previous weeks had expressed concern about the rollout of wine in grocery stores given the unexpected departure of the previous executive director just three months before the new law takes effect.

However, as of last week, the commission had received 499 applications, sent 398 letters of approval and delivered 279 retail food store licenses.

That means 70 percent of grocery stores holding a letter of approval have received a license in hand as of Monday, which is issued, effective and post-dated to the date of July 1. The stores will be authorized to sell wine July 1, effective 8 a.m.  The ABC expects to deliver additional licenses to the remaining qualified stores in the next two weeks.

“We are so pleased that we have completed all the necessary requirements of the application process and will have all 72 of our eligible stores licensed and ready to sell wine on July 1,” said Melissa Eads, Kroger Nashville division spokesperson. “We are thankful to the ABC and the Tennessee legislature for their leadership in bringing wine to retail food stores in Tennessee. Wine has been one of the most requested items in our stores for years, so we know our customers are looking forward to this, as well.”

On May 24, the commissioners of the ABC appointed Clayton Byrd to serve as its executive director.

“The staff at the ABC is working tirelessly to process applications, communicate with applicants, conduct site inspections and verify statutory compliance with documentation.” Byrd said. “I’m committed to the success of this rollout, and I’m proud of our team. This commission will continue to work diligently with the industry and in a business friendly manner to ensure continued success.”

Wilson County Fair Board selects theme for 2016

Staff Reports

The Wilson County Fair Board selected “We Want You at the 2016 Wilson County Fair” as the theme of this year’s fair, which will open Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. and run through Aug. 27.

Wilson County Fair Board president Hale Moss said the play on the old “I Want You for the U.S. Army” poster was selected as a nod to this year’s election season.

“We were brainstorming about something that was all inclusive,” said Moss. “It’s also an election year, and we wanted to do something that had a patriotic overtone to it and encourage people to be patriotic and proud of our country and all of the things we enjoy.”

The original “I Want You for the U.S. Army” poster was the most famous of 46 designs the late artist James Montgomery Flagg did for the government during World War I. The portrait of Uncle Sam was originally published as the cover of the July 6, 1916, issue of “Leslie’s Weekly,” with the title “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?”

As the U.S. entered World War I in 1917 and 1918, more than 4 million copies were printed. Because of its overwhelming popularity, the image was later adapted for use in World War II.

Presented by the Middle Tennessee Ford Dealers, the cover of the 2016 Wilson County Fair Book, which will be out in mid-July, pays homage to the fair’s roots in agriculture, as well as to the entertainment and rides.

Moss said fair organizers are planning for 2016 to be a great Fair.

“Even with the Expo Center construction, which we’re all very proud of, we look forward to the addition of the Expo Center in 2017,” Moss said. “There are lots of plans being made to make coming to the fair as convenient as possible, and we ask everyone to work with us. We want everyone to know we appreciate their patience as we work on the egress and ingress for parking.

“’We want You at the 2016 Wilson County Fair,’ along with your family and friends. We’re working hard to make the largest fair in the state of Tennessee the best one ever, and we hope you’ll join us.”

For more information on the fair, visit

Wilson County Fair to celebrate ‘Year of the Watermelon’



Staff Reports

They are eaten, naturally, but their seeds can also be spit, they can be rolled, and pickles, ice cream and wine can be made from them.

They are watermelons, of course.

Each year, the Wilson County Fair selects an agriculture commodity to highlight. In 2015, Wilson County Fair BoardpPresident Hale Moss said the selection of the commodity came from the Youth Fair Board and is “Year of the Watermelon” for 2016.

“They thought it would be fun, because there’s so many activities that young people can enjoy around the watermelon,” Moss said. “We’re planning to have contests for watermelon eating, seed-spitting, watermelon carving, decorating and rolling, where fair goers can participate by seeing who can roll a watermelon the fastest over a 10-yard stretch.”

Visit the fair website at for more information and to find out how to register for these fun activities.

Additionally, Moss said there would be a watermelon pickle and ice cream competition, and “hopefully, someone will make some watermelon wine for the homemade wine contest or watermelon preserves or watermelon ice cream, in addition to a possible carving competition.

While there aren’t many watermelon growers on a large scale in Tennessee, Moss said there are some here in Tennessee and large producers in Georgia and Alabama.

“We plan to get information about the economic impact these watermelon farms have on their areas to share, as well,” Moss said.

The Wilson County Fair will be Aug. 19-27 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Reading Rangers Story Trail debuts at Long Hunter State Park





Staff Reports

The Reading Rangers Story Trail had its grand opening at Long Hunter State Park on Saturday as the public got its first look at the innovative program.

Activities included a trail dedication and ribbon cutting, guided tours, animal crafts, stories, games, face painting, live animals and a visit with Tennessee State Parks’ mascot Ramble Raccoon.

In addition, the Friends of Long Hunter welcomed visitors at their booth, and representatives from Imagination Library were on hand to register children with Wilson County Books from Birth.

TThe debut of the Reading Ranger Story Trail was a great opportunity for the Imagination Library in Wilson County to network with a Tennessee state park to blend the great outdoors and reading,T said Wilson Books from Birth director Peggy Simpson, who helped cut the ribbon on the trail.  This reading trail is a real coup for Wilson County as it is the first one in a Tennessee park. The hike along the ¼-mile trail is a great family activity not only to take in the surroundings, but also to learn about the animals in the forest.-

The Reading Rangers Story Trail – in conjunction with Wilson County Library’s Mt. Juliet branch – combines outdoor exercise and Marianne Berkes’ children’s book, “Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek.” Children are able to enjoy the engaging artwork by Jill Dubin as each sign reveals the story of baby animals and their parents.

Located in Area 2 beside the Couchville Lake parking lot, the story trail is an easy 1/4-mile wooded path and is accessible daily during regular park hours from 7 a.m. until sunset through Oct. 31. The trail can be accessed via the main park entrance at 2910 Hobson Pike in Hermitage.

For more information, contact the Long Hunter State Park office at 615-885-2422.

Fallen Soldiers searches for service dog recipient


The Fallen Soldiers March is currently seeks a Middle Tennessee veteran to gift its first mobility and posttraumatic stress disorder service dog later this year.

“We are trying to identify Middle Tennessee veterans to gift our first service dog, Glory, on Sept. 17 at the Wilson County Veterans Plaza,” said Fallen Soldiers March president Jim Retzke.

The Fallen Soldiers March raises funds to provide service dogs for wounded veterans. The highly trained service dogs go through rigorous screening process and several years of intense training before they are qualified as a service dog.

Courtesy of Facebook Lebanon VFW Post 5051 senior vice commander Ken Kackley and Service Dogs of Florida trainer Ken Lyons smile with Glory earlier this year. The Fallen Soldiers March is currently looking for a wounded veteran to pair with Glory.

Courtesy of Facebook
Lebanon VFW Post 5051 senior vice commander Ken Kackley and Service Dogs of Florida trainer Ken Lyons smile with Glory earlier this year. The Fallen Soldiers March is currently looking for a wounded veteran to pair with Glory.

The group’s advisory panel consists of men and women with a variety of backgrounds, including medical and military, who are tasked with making the best decision in pairing the service dog with a wounded veteran.

For Glory, all applicants must live in Middle Tennessee and must agree to remain in Middle Tennessee for the first year to complete all initial training and any follow-up training necessary, according to Retzke. All candidates will be screened for a variety of criteria, including felony convictions and any type of dog/animal abuse or cruelty.

“Many people confuse therapy and service dogs,” Retzke said. “Service dogs go through much more extensive training than therapy dogs.”

He said the organization would love to provide service dogs for thousands more wounded veterans, which typically costs $15,000-$30,000 to train. Retzke also said it typically takes about four months of analyzing and testing to spot a worthy dog.

Retzke said other ways people could help include spreading the message that the organization will use 100 percent of its proceeds on service dogs and finding and helping the group secure corporate sponsors.

To find the service dog application and more information, visit

By Xavier Smith

Mt. Juliet Kroger plans expansion

Angie Mayes The Kroger at Providence MarketPlace in Mt. Juliet plans to expand both its store size and offerings in the near future.

Angie Mayes
The Kroger at Providence MarketPlace in Mt. Juliet plans to expand both its store size and offerings in the near future.

By Angie Mayes

The Kroger grocery store in Mt. Juliet will soon expand its size and offerings.

According to Melissa Eads with Kroger, the store at 401 S. Mt. Juliet Road at Providence MarketPlace will expand an additional 22,260 square feet. The total square footage will be about 90,000 square feet when completed, she said.

Work is supposed to begin in August or September, and construction should be completed by next summer, Eads said.

Kroger officials are in the planning stage what will be offered at the expanded store, but Eads said the pharmacy would be moved to the end of the building, and there would be a double drive-thru lane added for pharmacy customers.

The online shopping and pick-up service, ClickList, is already a service offered by the store, Eads said. The pick-up location may move, but she wasn’t certain where.

“We’ll tell you more as we get into it,” she said. “[We’re expanding because] the Providence area and Mt. Juliet continues to grow, and we need to grow along with that. We’re excited to offer our customers a larger place to shop and more items to choose from.”

Eads said the store should remain open during the construction work.

“It’s going to be business as usual,” she said. “I don’t see us having to close.”

Larry Woody’s Outdoors Notebook & Calendar

Contaminated fish: Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation last week met to address concerns about contaminated fish in one area of Kentucky Lake.

The agency issued a “precautionary advisory” for crappie and bass caught in the Springville Bottom area. The public is are advised to limit or avoid entirely consumption of fish from that area.

No details have yet been provided about what kind of contaminates are involved, where they came from, or how the department plans to deal with the contamination.

More concerns: The contaminated fish worry comes on the heels of a meeting with Wildlife Resources Agency officials to discuss a decline in the crappie population in Kentucky Lake.

Once considered one of the nation’s top crappie fisheries, Kentucky Lake in recent years has been in decline. One theory is that the lake’s fame has led to over-fishing — anglers come from as far away as California to fish for crappie — and among the proposals is a reduction in the daily limit from 30 to 20 crappie.

A similar situation is taking place on Percy Priest and Old Hickory Lakes, where many fishermen report a major decline in crappie catches.

Like Kentucky Lake, both Priest and Old Hickory have a 30-fish daily limit, and there is concern that too many keeper-sized crappie are being taken from the lakes by a relatively-small number of fishermen.

Fishermen are invited to express their comments to the TWRA’s Fisheries Department.

State park activities: Tennessee’s numerous state parks offer a wide range of summer activities, from short hiking trips to overnight camping, boating and educational wildlife excursions.

Each state park has its own web site with details about activities. Many, such as hiking, wildlife-watching are free, while others involve a fee and may require reservations.

Fishing Guide available: Information about fishing rules, regulations and license requirements is available in the Tennessee Fishing Guide, available for free at most outdoors outlets.

One newly-added license that was inadvertently omitted from the Fishing Guide is a Senior License that covers most fishing in public waters. It can be purchased on-line or at TWRA license dealers.

Hunting seasons: Groundhogs, beaver, coyotes, armadillos and skunks can be hunted year-round in Tennessee. See the Tennessee Hunting Guide or visit for details on hunting seasons and regulations.

The 2016-17 traditional hunting seasons open with squirrels in late August and doves in early September.



June 27: WMA quota hunt deadline

Aug: squirrel season opens

Sept.: dove season opens

Sept: deer archery season opens

PHOTOS WELCOME: Share your favorite outdoors photos with readers of The Mt. Juliet News by e-mailing them to

Mt. Juliet Commission OKs lower property tax

By Xavier Smith

The Mt. Juliet City Commission agreed Monday to lower the property tax rate for citizens after most saw an increase in property appraisals this year.

“This is establishing our rate at the certified rate that the state has assessed based on new appraisals. Essentially, we are reducing the tax rate in the city of Mt. Juliet from 20 cents to 16 1/2,” Mayor Ed Hagerty said.

“I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about reappraisals of property and called it a tax increase. This is just the state offsetting the gains as an average,” Commissioner James Maness said.

John Rossmaier, Mt. Juliet finance director, said the city collected $1.6 million in property taxes last fiscal year, which is dedicated to providing fire protection for residents and includes salaries, equipment, fire house maintenance and operating expenses.

“We’re not cutting funding to the fire department in any way, either. It’s designed to bring in the same revenue,” Maness said.

Maness said citizens should expect to pay about the same as previous years.

“Any figures I’ve done, it’s very minimal one way or the other, so on average, it’s about the same,” Commissioner Brian Abston said.

Rossmaier said the last property tax increase in Mt. Juliet came in 2011, when it was established for the first time this millennium at 20 cents per $100.

The Lebanon City Council approved a property tax increase for citizens last week when it approved its annual budget.

“For the entire city of Lebanon, the average for the residential customer is going to be $3.50 a month. That’s an average,” said Springer, who said the increase equals about $40 a year. Springer said the yearly average increase for commercial properties would be about $70.

Springer said the city collected $5.7 million in property taxes last year with the last increase coming in 2012. He said each cent in property tax represents about $86,000 in revenue for the city.

The Wilson County Budget Committee also discussed the possibility of a property tax increase for all Wilson County residents last week.

Commissioner Annette Stafford said in order to pay for proposed employee salary increases, the most important items on the needs list and a new school – plus another school the Wilson County Board of Education has discussed – a tax increase is needed.

“I’m just throwing numbers out there, but it would take 5-7 cents just for schools alone,” she said. “We won’t recommend anything until we see what the school needs are. I’m not putting my neck on the railroad tracks just yet.”

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said the tax increase is not due to the reappraisal, and the county has an increase about every five years.

“We had one in 2001, 2006 and then 2010 or 2011,” he said.

“If we raise it just to raise it without anything specific it’s going for, it’s a hard pill to swallow,” he said.  “It just happens that this is at the time of a reappraisal. The two don’t necessarily go together.”

Average hourly wage Tennesseans earn on the rise

Staff Reports

NASHVILLE – Statistics released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development show the average hourly wage earned by Tennesseans in May increased from the same time period in 2015.

The finding is part of the TDLWD Labor Market Information Unit’s recent annual occupational wage and employment survey.

“We are pleased to report that the average wage for all occupations in Tennessee increased $0.30 per hour from $19.55 to $19.85 hourly,” said Commissioner Burns Phillips.

The increase in the state’s average hourly wage represents a yearly income of $41,296. The latest wage and employment estimates show average hourly wages ranging from $9.60 in food preparation and serving occupations to $44.85 in legal occupations.

Tennessee’s largest occupational group consists of office and administrative support with more than 460,000 employees who make an average hourly wage of $16.10. Sales and related occupations have the next highest percentage of total employment in Tennessee with 278,610 positions and an annual mean wage of $34,406, or $16.55 per hour. The state’s transportation and material moving occupations had 272,860 in total employment and hourly wages averaging $15.40.

Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations are two of the fastest growing occupations in Tennessee, and statistics show the fields have more than 180,000 workers who earn an average hourly wage of $31.75.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics worked with the TDLWD Labor Market Information Unit to produce these wage statistics.

Occupational employment and wage data are available for more than 800 occupations statewide and 14 sub-state areas. More detailed employment numbers and occupational wages may be found at the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s website.

Comptroller’s guide helps explain new federal education law

Staff Reports

The state comptroller’s office of research and education accountability created a new online guide that makes it easier to understand the new federal K-12 education law that replaced 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act.

The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states and local governments more flexibility and control over K-12 education policy. ESSA was passed by Congress and signed by the president in December 2015.

The comptroller’s guide combines infographics, charts and embedded illustrations into one easy-to-navigate webpage. The guide also helps explain ESSATs impact on upcoming changes to Tennessee education policy during the next few years.

The guide breaks the new law into six categories, including teachers, testing, accountability, intervention, funding and innovation.

An education law timeline, which looks back at milestones in education law at the federal level and in Tennessee between 1965 and 2015, is included in the comptroller’s online guide. A future timeline is available, as well, with key dates listed for ESSAss implementation in Tennessee through the 2017-18 school year.

Find the online guide on the comptroller’s website at

Passing storm leaves damage


By Jared Felkins

A line of severe thunderstorms left a path of damage last Wednesday afternoon as it passed through Wilson County.

The storm that reached Mt. Juliet at about 4:30 p.m. and moved east across Wilson County included straight-line winds that gusted to between 50-60 mph, toppling trees, power lines and causing other more significant damage.

Sam Houston Elementary School, which was in the process of getting a new roof, received straight-line wind damage from the storm. Lebanon Director of Schools Scott Benson said the storm undid much of the work on the roof above the kindergarten-second-grade classrooms and hallway.

Bobby Reynolds Straight-line winds from a severe thunderstorm that moved through Wilson County last Wednesday afternoon toppled a tree across Central Pike in Mt. Juliet.

Bobby Reynolds
Straight-line winds from a severe thunderstorm that moved through Wilson County last Wednesday afternoon toppled a tree across Central Pike in Mt. Juliet.

“It could have been much worse than it was, but it did do some damage,” Benson said.

The storm scattered roofing debris throughout the school campus, and some of the classrooms were damaged. Benson said luckily, little water damage was discovered inside the school.

He said several teachers, principals and community members turned out after the storm passed to start the clean-up process Wednesday evening. The roofing company’s insurance company, as well as the school district’s insurance company, planned to assess the damage Thursday, Benson said.

Similarly, straight-line winds blew the roof off the new Lebanon Animal Control building at Public Service headquarters on Sparta Pike. The building awaited final inspection from the state before it could house animals.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Sam Herron said the storm brought with it heavy downpours with the strong winds, but only lasted for a short time.

“The band of storms that came through, swept across all of Middle Tennessee,” Herron said. “There were a lot of trees down, and a lot of power outages.”

Herron said NWS received a report of a tree that fell on a car parked at a home in Lebanon. Lebanon Public Service reported clearing nearly two-dozen roadways of fallen trees, utility lines and other debris.

In Mt. Juliet, police reported two significant downed trees across roads. Winds toppled a tree across West Division Street in the 3000 block and another that partially blocked Greenhill Road near Willoughby Station Boulevard.

As of 5:29 p.m., all streets in Mt. Juliet were cleared.

No injuries were reported as a result of Wednesday’s thunderstorm.