Upcoming Reverse Raffle offers chance to win $10K

Wilson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates will hold its bi-annual Reverse Raffle on July 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wilson County Expo Center in Lebanon.

Two Fat Men Catering will serve dinner at 5:30 p.m., and the drawing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Three hundred tickets will be sold for $100 each. Each ticket will admit two people for dinner. Tickets will be drawn until the last 10 tickets remaining. Those remaining 10 ticket holders will have the option to split the $10,000 grand prize and take home $1,000 each. If one person doesn’t agree to split, drawing continues, and so on. If the drawing gets to one ticket remaining, the ticketholder will win $10,000.

Anyone who would like to have a ticket delivered, contact Cathey Sweeney at 615-443-2002, or tickets may be bought at the CASA office at 111 Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon.

Staff Reports

State Fair names award in honor of Hale Moss

Hale Moss

The Tennessee State Fair’s Distinguished Service Award, presented annually at a special ceremony during the fair’s 10-day run in Nashville, will be named in honor of the late Charles Hale Moss, of Mt. Juliet.

Moss died in April at age 68.

Members of the Tennessee State Fair Association board of directors approved the motion to name the award in honor of Moss at its May meeting, citing his many contributions to the State Fair, agriculture and his leadership role in reviving the Wilson County Fair into becoming one of the South’s best county fairs.

John Rose, TSFA board chairman, said the board’s decision to name the distinguished service award after Moss was “appropriate and fitting because of Hale’s lifelong commitment to agriculture in Tennessee, his volunteer work with the State Fair as well as his tireless efforts in leading the development of his home county fair [the Wilson County Fair] into arguably one of the nation’s best county fairs.”

Moss, who served as president of the Wilson County Fair for every year since 1979 except one, was instrumental in seeing the fair’s quality and achievements recognized locally and on a national stage and led the fair to astonishing attendance records that in recent years have soared above the 500,000 mark, attracting visitors from multiple states all of Tennessee’s 95 counties.

Moss, who was inducted into the Wilson County Agricultural Hall of Fame in April, taught agriculture at Lebanon High School for four years, and then in 1973 entered the family’s business in Mt. Juliet, which primarily sold feed, fertilizer and other agricultural products. He and family members, including his wife, Brenda, later transitioned the business into Moss’ Florist and Garden Center.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and an active leader in 4-H and FFA, Moss served as beef cattle superintendent of the Tennessee State Fair Advisory Board from 1977 to 2005.

The State Fair Distinguished Service Award is presented each year during the fair to the person or people who make significant contributions to help develop and maintain the traditions of the Tennessee State Fair.

The Tennessee State Fair is a 10-day annual event held on the state fairgrounds in Nashville. For more than 150 years, the State Fair has showcased the accomplishments of the citizens of Tennessee and brought family friendly entertainment for all to enjoy. This year’s theme is “Tennessee Proud.”

The fair will open Sept. 8, run for 10 days, and close Sept. 17. For more information about the Tennessee State Fair, including how to become a sponsor, visit tnstatefair.org.

Staff Reports

Southern Smoke a success in first year

The inaugural Southern Smoke Barbecue Championship, held Saturday by the Rotary Clubs in Wilson County at the Expo Center, was a success, according to Kevin Etheridge, president of the Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club.

“Wow, what a great weekend,” Etheridge said in his weekly address to members of the Mt. Juliet Rotary Club.

The Mt. Juliet Breakfast Rotary Club took the lead on the project, which served as a fundraiser for the Rotary clubs in the county. Volunteers from each club participated in the event.

“I believe it will be an event that could become a longtime standard here in Wilson County,” Etheridge said.

The event saw 19 top-level barbecue teams compete for $12,000 in cash prizes, as well as the distinction of winning the inaugural Wilson County competition. The Kansas City Barbecue Society officially sanctioned the event.

Wilson County residents were welcome to visit the event, which had no admission fee, and take part in the many festivities on-hand, in addition to the central competition. Among the activities were a zip line, rock climbing wall, bounce houses and vendors onsite.

Winners in the barbecue championship were named in several categories, as well as an overall grand champion, awarded to the team Sweet Smoke Barbecue, and a reserve champion, awarded to the team High on the Hawg. Among the categories in which awards were presented were best chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket.

On Friday, the evening before the event, a special five-star dinner dance event was held at the Expo Center, featuring the Exotics and celebrity chef John Coon.

“The Friday evening event was spectacular,” Etheridge said. “I enjoyed hearing from pit master John Coon as he served us barbecue from the whole hog.” 

The Southern Smoke Barbecue Championship was held in conjunction with the 39th annual F-100 Supernationals, which is the largest all-Ford product show in the country.

For more information, visit southernsmokebbqtn.com.

By Jake Old


Theme announced for Wilson County Fair

Submitted to The Democrat
Randy Randall, chairman of Wilson County Fair stained glass competition, builds a new stained glass display for the new Expo Center where competitive exhibits will be found during the upcoming Wilson County Fair.

Wilson County Fair officials announced the theme for the 2017 fair will be “Here comes the fun.”

The fair will be Aug. 18-26 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Middle Tennessee Ford Dealers will be the title sponsor of the 2017 fair. There will be nine days full of family fun, carnival rides and entertainment.

The fair board chooses a different agriculture commodity each year to give the fair an extra way to promote agriculture and educate the public about the importance of agriculture and farming. This year, it will be the “Year of the Sunflower.” All of the fair’s exhibits and activities will showcase the best of Wilson County and to remind about the importance of farmers.

The new Wilson County Expo Center will be in use for the first time for all the many pageants, God and Country Celebration and exhibits to include quilting, caning, baking, fine arts, photography, stained glass, school exhibits and fruits and vegetables. Visitors will be able to enjoy the climate control and restroom facilities it provides.

The Oak Ridge Boys will perform Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and Jason Crabb will perform Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Concerts will be included with the price of admission to the fair.

A once-in-a-lifetime event will be Aug. 21 at 1:28 p.m. when the solar eclipse will take place. About 10,000 solar eclipse glasses will be provided at the admission gates as long as supplies last. The fair will open gates at 10 a.m. with carnival rides operating, fair food and exhibits open. The carnival will offer the “best seats in the house” for anyone who would like to ride the Ferris wheel during the solar eclipse.  Interested individuals must sign up with a mobile number to receive the winning call. The solar eclipse will start around 11:59 a.m. with the totality at 1:28 p.m. An emcee will direct the activities and provide information about the eclipse, directing everyone when it will be safe to take off their glasses.

Great Giveaway sponsors are currently sought for tickets to be distributed at the sponsors’ places of business for a lucky winner to pick from one of seven choices of a car, truck or tractor Aug. 22. Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor may call 615-443-2626.

Lebanon Publishing Co. is currently selling ads for the fair catalog. Anyone interested may call Cathy Wair at 615-444-3952, ext. 22 or email cwair@lebanonpublishing.com.

For more information, visit wilsoncountyfair.net or call 615-443-2626.

Staff Reports

Worley apprehended at Friendship Christian

It’s all in good fun as police accuse singer of stealing cupcakes

Lebanon police Cpl. P.J. Hardy handcuffs country music star and Mt. Juliet resident Darryl Worley on Friday outside the school. Hardy jokingly apprehended Worley after students accused Worley of stealing cupcakes early Friday morning as a part of the school’s annual final Fun Lab.

Sugar Thief
Lebanon police Cpl. P.J. Hardy handcuffs country music star and Mt. Juliet resident Darryl Worley on Friday outside the school. Hardy jokingly apprehended Worley after students accused Worley of stealing cupcakes early Friday morning as a part of the school’s annual final Fun Lab.

Lebanon police officers apprehended country music star and Mt. Juliet resident Darryl Worley on Friday at Friendship Christian School on suspicions of theft of sugary substances after the school’s students presented their case. 

Worley said he “would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids,” after Lebanon Cpl. PJ Hardy handcuffed the star after fifth- and sixth-grade students presented their case aimed at Worley for theft of cupcakes.

At the end of each school year, fifth- and sixth-grade students at the school combine for their final Fun Lab. This year’s theme was, “CSI: Case of the Missing Cupcakes.” The friendly educational exercise featured someone who “stole” the students’ cupcakes, and it was up to them to find the culprit.

Worley served as this year’s celebrity thief and was one of several suspects that included faculty members Greg Armstrong, Terri Rice and Terri Seagraves; the Chick-Fil-A cow; bus driver Gary Strickland; Santa Claus; and the Friendship Christian Commander mascot.

Volunteers set the “crime scene” in the school’s Fun Lab classroom and students split into teams at 9 a.m. and started their investigation.

Students were assigned the roles of team leader, detective, data recorder, photographer and more. Each group had one witness and two suspects they were allowed to interview.

Two groups correctly identified Worley as the cupcake thief, with icing on his boots as one major indicator. Even with principal Veronica “the Hammer” Bender as his legal representation, Hardy handcuffed Worley for the crime.

Students used a variety of science and forensic skills to identify their suspects, as well as other tools, including Siri on an iPhone, which helped one group determine if cows have black hair. 

Xavier Smith
Friendship Christian students are assigned the roles of team leader, detective, data recorder, photographer and more. Each group had one witness and two suspects they were allowed to interview.

Friendship students in Kindergarten through sixth grade attend the Fun Lab twice a month. Using a platform called Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, students conduct different experiments and tasks in a fun, hands-on environment.

The Fun Lab operates on volunteers and donations.

Encore Theatre to present stage reading of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Encore Theatre cast members rehearse for the upcoming production of ‘Meet Me in St. Louis.’

Encore Theatre Co. will present a stage reading of “Meet Me in St. Louis,” a Lux Radio Theatre show based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film released in 1944.

The show was presented for the first time Dec. 2, 1946. The movie was based on the novel of the same name by Sally Benson. The title refers to the World’s Fair in 1904 in St. Louis.

There will be two performances only, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at ticketsnashville.com or at the door.

The show will feature Hannah Laws, Makensie Smith, Claire York, Jeff Lay, Linda Patrick, Andrew Smith, Perry Poston, Logan Richardson, Christian Begnaud, Karley Zielke, Cindi Begnaud, Laneese Cosby, Fernando Ochoa and Holly Smith.

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

Wilson County welcomes ‘Toast’ wine festival

Wilson County welcomed A Toast to Tennessee Wine Festival for the first time Saturday, and event organizers said the event went better than expected.

Saturday marked the 14th year for the event, which is held by the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president Mark Hinesley said the venue change to the Wilson County Expo Center from Nashville Shores made a big difference.

“We loved it. The customers loved the climate control and the wonderful staff. They were extremely accommodating,” said Hinesley, who said more than 2,000 people made their way to the event based on early estimates.

“The folks of Wilson County showed up in droves. It overwhelmed all of our resources. We had a tremendous crowd,” he said.

Wineries included Amber Falls Winery & Cellars, Arrington Vineyards, Beachaven Winery, Beans Creek Winery, Cade’s Cove Cellars, Cellar 53 Winery & Vineyards, DelMonaco Winery, Goodwater Vineyards, Grinder’s Switch Winery, Highland Manor, Hillside Winery, Holly Ridge Winery, Keg Springs Winery, Mill Bridge Winery, Mountain Valley Winery, Natchez Hills Winery, Northfield Vineyard, Paris Winery, Pickers Creek Winery, Seven Springs Winery, Sugarland Cellars Winery, Sumner Crest Winery and Wyile Cider.

“We had some great wineries, and the venue could not have been any better. It’s definitely something we can all be proud of,” Hinesley said.

Hinesley said the event saw dozens of people from outside of Wilson County. He said all of the group’s hotel packages sold out, and about 100 people rode the Music City Star to the event.

The proceeds from the train ride will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  

“Some folks thought it would cause some incidents similar to other events that have been held out there in the past with alcohol, but we had zero incidents,” Hinesley said.

Hinesley said the group is looking forward to the 15th anniversary of the event next year, which will take place the last Saturday in April.

By Xavier Smith


Comedians entertain during Stand Up for Veterans event

Jake Old • Mt. Juliet News
Comedian Shawn Reynolds tells a joke during the Stand Up for Veterans comedy dinner and fundraiser event Thursday in Mt. Juliet.

A lineup of four clean, family friendly comedians entertained the dozens of guests at the Stand Up for Veterans comedy dinner fundraiser event Thursday evening at Life Assembly Church in Mt. Juliet.

Headlined by comedian Jonnie W., the bill also included comedians Brian Bates, Shawn Reynolds and Ed Wiley.

The event benefitted Battle Flag Ranch, which works to provide therapy and respite in a safe environment to battle-weary veterans and their families to come away with tools to re-engage in life.

This year is the third year the event was held, and Jonnie W. also served as the headlining comedic entertainment at last year’s event. He was so popular among guests, he was asked to return for this year’s event.

Comedians joked about topics ranging from family and home life to church awkward situations. Jonnie W. used his musical talents in his comedy routine to create a unique blend of entertainment.

Attendees were treated to a barbeque dinner catered by Mission Barbecue in Nashville prior to the start of the comedy performances.

In total, 88 tickets were sold for the event in advance, according to Battle Flag Ranch founder Jason Henry. Those who did not buy tickets in advance could pay at the door.

Although ticket sales benefited the organization, additional donations for Battle Flag Ranch were accepted and encouraged. T-shirts were also sold at the door for $20 each as another way to raise funds for the organization.

Battle Flag Ranch is a nonprofit that provides free short-term respite and high-impact retreats for healing that integrates evidence-based therapies with a safe and peaceful space to improve physical, emotional, spiritual and economic well-being for the nation’s combat veterans and their families.

The organization provides professional counseling and equine therapy to combat struggling marriages among veterans. Equine therapy has proven to be one of the most effective therapy modalities for combat veterans.

Henry said he hopes the community can see the value in the cause Battle Flag Ranch supports.

“We hope it’s something people can really get behind and support,” Henry said.

Henry is a combat veteran who started the organization with his wife after returning home from deployment.

For more information about Battle Flag Ranch, visit battleflagranch.com.

By Jake Old


Mt. Juliet vies to win $20K in park contest

During Earth Month in April, the National Recreation and Park Association is collaborating with the Walt Disney Co., including Disney Citizenship, Disney-ABC Television Group and ESPN, to revitalize parks across the U.S.

The city that receives the most nominations will receive a $20,000 grant to improve a local park.

“Local parks make Mt. Juliet a better place to live and shape so many of our lives,” said Mt. Juliet parks director Rocky Lee. “Parks are essential to our city’s health and wellbeing. They provide safe places to be active and enjoy nature, and they help preserve the environment and bring people together. That’s why from April 1-30, Mt. Juliet residents will have the opportunity to nominate our city to receive $20,000 in grant funding to make improvements at a local park.”

To nominate Mt. Juliet for the honor, visit nrpa.org/beinspired. At the end of April, the city with the most nominations will receive grant funding. Everyone who nominates a city will be entered into a drawing for a tablet outfitted for the outdoors.

“We are always searching for new ways to provide access for citizens to play in M.J. This grant could go a long way in helping us maintain that focus,” Lee said.

“Supporting local parks is essential to the health and vitality of communities everywhere,” said Lori Robertson, NRPA Director of Conservation. “That’s why we are proud to collaborate with The Walt Disney Company to help fund critical park improvement projects in communities in need. We encourage everyone to join us in giving back to the places that shape so much of our lives by voting in this year’s Meet Me at the Park campaign.”

During April, a public service announcement to support the Meet Me at the Park campaign will be shared with audiences across Disney, including ABC Television Network, ABC-owned and affiliate stations, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, the ABC app and other digital platforms. The PSA will also be available to view on the voting site at nrpa.org/beinspired. Additionally, Radio Disney will support the campaign with an on-air radio spot.

During Earth Month, Mt. Juliet can show what parks mean to the community by nominating the city. Friends can be encouraged to nominate Mt. Juliet by taking a selfie in a favorite park and using the hashtags #MeetMeAtThePark, #Parkies and #BeInspired.

Mt. Juliet aspires to always be a signature city in the Middle Tennessee region. Employing the characteristics of its traditional Southern hospitality as a foundation, Mt. Juliet will utilize the ever-increasing resources afforded it through the influx of people and businesses to create an ideal community featuring a wholesome and well-rounded lifestyle. Mt. Juliet will develop an environment where planned growth does not forsake the values and comfort of a close-knit community where providing for the needs of people is the priority. Mt. Juliet will establish a core business district to encourage vibrant economic growth and stability. Mt. Juliet will shape its government to be responsive to citizen concerns and to provide safety for our citizens as we strive to cultivate education, recreation and cultural opportunities.

The Mt. Juliet Parks and Recreation Department works to create and provide recreational activities and facilities, as well as leisure and community services necessary to promote public well being and quality of life for the citizens of Mt. Juliet. It strives to build and promote a sense of hometown spirit based on its belief in family, fitness and fun. For more information, visit mjparksandrec.org.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of nearly 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space.

Staff Reports

Children’s author plans autism presentation

April is Autism Awareness Month, and Mt. Juliet children’s author D.G. Driver recently released a new book for anyone looking to learn more about autism.

She will speak about autism and read from her book, “No One Needed to Know,” on April 8 at 2 p.m. at the Linebaugh Library in Murfreesboro.

“No One Needed to Know” is a story about an 11-year-old girl who learns to deal with the pressures and responsibilities that come with having an older autistic brother. The book is targeted toward readers 8-13 years old, and is based loosely on Driver’s personal experiences growing up with an autistic older brother.

“I always enjoyed playing make-believe with my brother and hanging out with him at the park,” Driver said. “When I turned 12, I stopped wanting to play that way anymore, and he, at 16, still did. That’s when I began to understand how different my brother was from the other kids his age.”

Driver decided to write a book to which other children who are siblings of autism or other challenges might relate.

In “No One Needed to Know,” Heidi sees her brother bullied by children in the neighborhood. She worries that if her friends find out about him, she will get bullied, too. So, the book is also about how to handle bullying.

Driver said she was bullied in sixth grade but not about her brother. Still, she used her memories of that hard time to create the tough scenes in the novel, and she also used some of her experiences as a teacher in special education for scenes toward the end.

Courtney Morgan, a literacy coordinator with United Way, was an early reader of the novel.

“Heidi is one of the more convincing 11-year-old characters that I have read in recent times,” Morgan said. “She is smart, passionate, caring, athletic and yet still has the flaws that make her a convincing, well-rounded character. Throughout the story, Heidi has many struggles that readers can relate to as she is grappling to understand life, especially her brother, who isn’t quite like every other 16-year-old… “Consequently, as you read through the scenes of this book, you can feel the love, confusion and cringe-worthy moments that come along with self discovery and a preteen’s introduction to the encroaching awareness of other’s opinions.”

Driver is a multi-award-winning author of young adult and middle-grade novels. She likes to write about diverse characters dealing with social and environmental issues. She has written articles for Autism Society of East Tennessee, Geek Club Books and Multicultural Children’s Book Day, among others, and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She has lived in Mt. Juliet for nine years.

In addition to writing, she is the lead teacher of the infant classroom at a child development center in Nashville that helps special needs children alongside their typically developing peers. She is also a performer and will be in a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” alongside her husband, with Center Stage Theater Co. in May in Lebanon.

Staff Reports

Evening with the Arts brings Nashville songwriters to Mt. Juliet

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s Evening with the Arts: Writers in the Round featured several notable Nashville songwriters perform at the school Feb. 25.

Billed as a night with Darryl Worley and friends, the event featured performances by Worley, Kenny Beard, Andy Griggs, Mark Narmore and Lauren Kleeberg, winner of the school’s songwriting competition.

Worley has been a songwriter in the country music industry for more than 15 years. His hits include “Awful, Beautiful Life,” “Have You Forgotten” and “I Miss My Friend.”

Beard has been a prominent songwriter in Nashville since the 1990s, with many songs garnering critical acclaim.

Griggs has performed in country and bluegrass groups, and has performed music in Nashville for more than 20 years.

Narmore has had a songwriting career spanning more than 25 years. He has had songs recorded by many notable musicians, including Josh Turner, John Michael Montgomery, Shenandoah, Blackhawk, Terry Clark and Craig Morgan.

Kleeberg is a sixth grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. The school organized a songwriting and poetry competition leading up to the Evening with the Arts event to showcase the bright, young artists at the school. Kleeberg was named the winner a few weeks before the event, and she performed her original song, “And If Only They Knew,” during the event.

The event served as a fundraiser for the fine arts program at the school, and also featured a silent auction that was held that featured many one-of-a-kind items.

The Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Fine Arts Booster Club will use proceeds from the event to replace outdated theatrical curtains and lighting needed to support the fine arts students at the school.

For more information about the annual event, visit mjca.org/fine-arts.

Traditional country artist Ross Key dies

Staff Reports

Traditional country music entertainer and musician Ross Key sustained fatal injuries Monday while working on a roof in Mt. Juliet. He was 54.

Paramedics took Key to Tri-City Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, where was unresponsive upon arrival due head trauma. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Ross is well known in Wilson County, Nashville and beyond for his staunch support of traditional country and held several shows each year in Lebanon, which drew performers from around the world. Best known for his annual Spring Fling festival, a 12-hour music festival, featuring stars such as Ron Williams, Allen Karl, Bobby Lewis, Bobby G. Rice and many more, the festival won its first international award in 2013 for “Best Country Music Festival” from the Independent Country Music Association.

Key went on to earn two commendations from the state and Gov. Bill Haslam for his support of veterans and one for his contributions to traditional country music, both awarded in 2015. Ross held a Virginia State Dobro Championship and recently won an international Fan’s Choice award in 2016 for “Best Country Music Band” in the United Kingdom.

“He was an advocate for the traditional country music sound in Nashville. He and his wife, Brenda, were front and center to volunteer time and talent for so many charitable events, as well as continuously advocating for traditional country music,” said Sebrina Horstmeyer. “He was a refreshing traditional sound in his own right through his original songs, many awesome events showcasing traditional country music talent and was a treasured friend to all who knew him.”

Key was the CEO and founder of the Traditional Country Network, which supported and promoted the traditional country music genre, assisting songwriters and singers of traditional country music.

“Ross wasn’t the kind of guy who said, ‘if you need anything let me know,’ and then when you needed something, find an excuse not to lend you a hand. He was one of the few who has proven his actions and words were the same – at least to me,” said Clint Burgess.

Ross leaves behind his wife, Brenda, of Nashville; his mother, Myra Key, of Punta Gorda, Fla.; a brother, Edward G. Key, of Smith Mountain Lake, Va.; and a son, David Garland Key, of Madison Heights, Va.

He was preceded in death by his father, Edward Garland Key; and a brother, Steven D. Key.

A GoFundMe memorial account was established at gofundme.com/6wpx9-ross-key-memorial-fund.

All-Sing gives school choirs single voice

By Jake Old


The Wilson County All-Sing event Thursday evening saw choirs from five local high schools perform a variety of songs.

The Wilson Central High School Chamber Choir, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Concert Choir, Mt. Juliet High School Vocal Ensemble, Watertown High School Concert Choir, Lebanon High School Mixed Choir, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Singular Sensations Show Choir, Wilson Central High School Women’s Chorale, Wilson Central High School Aca-Flockas and All-County Mass Choir performed during the event.

Dozens of people packed into Victory Baptist Church on Thursday to watch the performances of local students. Four performances made up the first portion of the program, with six performances following a brief intermission. 

The event, which is run by the Mt. Juliet Noon Rotary Club, raised money for Rotary’s service efforts in the community, and a portion of every ticket sold went to the high schools. Tickets were $10 each, and All-Sing shirts were also sold for $12.

Wilson Central’s Chamber Choir started the first portion of the show with two songs, “Sing Me To Heaven” and “Jabula Jesu.”

Next, the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Concert Choir performed “Sing We and Chant It” and “Stairs Behind the Sky.”

Mt. Juliet High School’s Vocal Ensemble performed “Carnavalito” and “Blessing in the Leaving,” followed by Watertown High School’s Concert Choir performing “Sure On This Shining Night,” “Dies Irae” and “A New Day Has Dawned,” leading into the intermission.

The second half of the event was kicked off by Lebanon High School’s Mixed Choir performing “I Shall Not Live in Vain” and “Clap Your Hands and Sing.”

Then, the Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Singular Sensations Show Choir performed “You Can’t Stop the Beat;” Wilson Central High School’s Aca-Flockas performed “Cups;” and Mt. Juliet High School’s Vocal Ensemble performed singing valentines.

The show concluded with the All-County Mass Choir performing “Shut De Do.”

Choir directors at each school are Ben Channell at Lebanon High School, Kimberly Overstreet at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, Sandy Elliot at Mt. Juliet High School, Scott Corley at Watertown High School and Lynn Morin at Wilson Central High School.

Youth Leadership brings back Heroes canned food drive

Bobby Reynolds • 
Mt. Juliet News • File
Children throughout Wilson County will get the chance to meet their heroes at two upcoming events sponsored by Youth Leadership Wilson. Hungry for Heroes seeks to collect food for Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District’s backpack programs.

The 2017 Youth Leadership Wilson class will bring back two events aimed to help those in need throughout Wilson County.

The group will continue a service project started by the 2016 class and hold two Hungry for Heroes canned food drives for Wilson County students Saturday at Castle Heights Elementary School and Feb. 25 at West Elementary School. Both events will be from 9-11 a.m. in the school cafeterias.

Youth Leadership members will dress as movie characters and heroes, and children will have the opportunity to meet their favorite characters and learn what makes them unique heroes.

Admission is one canned food item per person.

Dorie Mitchell, Leadership Wilson director, said all food from the Mt. Juliet event will go toward the Wilson County Schools backpack program and food received in Lebanon would go to the Lebanon Special School District backpack program.

“It’s a really fun day for everybody. Each child gets a goodie bag when they come in, and there’s an autograph book for them to get their favorite character’s autograph and pictures made,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said parents and guardians would need to bring their own cameras or smartphones for the event.

“I think we donated around 1,000 cans last year, and we would love to double that this year. I think we can help a lot of people,” she said.

Staff Reports

Encore Theatre Co. to present ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News Some members of the cast of Encore Theatre’s production of ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ are (from left) Jeff Lay, Jeff McCann, Marty Bollin, Fernando Ochoa, Karen Yates, Corinne Cook and Brian McKay.

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Some members of the cast of Encore Theatre’s production of ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ are (from left) Jeff Lay, Jeff McCann, Marty Bollin, Fernando Ochoa, Karen Yates, Corinne Cook and Brian McKay.

Cover pictureStep back in time as Encore Theatre will present the Lux Radio Theatre 1949 production of “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” from the screenplay by Sidney Sheldon.

Two shows only are planned for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to show time.

The staged reading is a comedy about a womanizing bachelor who is ordered to date the teenage daughter of a beautiful judge.

The cast includes Jeff McCann, Sarah McKay, Corinne Cook, Brian McKay, Jeff Lay, Ron Tatlock, Andrew Smith, Marty Bollin, Fernando Ochoa, Laneese Cosby, Kirk Cunningham and Karen Yates.

Special desserts will be offered at each show in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Responsible adults may bring their own alcoholic beverages.

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

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

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet Christian sixth grader wins songwriting, poetry competition

Lauren Kleeberg 2017

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News Lauren Kleeberg, a sixth grader at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy was the winner of a recent songwriting and poetry competition at the school. Kleeberg will perform her original song, ‘And If Only They Knew,’ during the Evening with the Arts on Feb. 24 at the school.

Local songwriters are preparing a special night of entertainment in Wilson County, and it will be particularly special for one Mt. Juliet Christian Academy sixth grader. 

The Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Fine Arts Booster Club will play host to local songwriters Darryl Worley and Friends for an Evening with the Arts, an annual fundraising event at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. This year’s event, ‘An Evening with the Arts: Writers in the Round’ is scheduled for Feb. 24. 

Sensing an opportunity to provide Mt. Juliet Christian students with significant experience, event coordinators created a songwriting and poetry competition in conjunction with the Writers in the Round event. The competition was designed to showcase the bright, young artists at the school.   

“The songwriters Darryl Worley has lined up for the Evening with the Arts: Writers in the Round event are a stellar crew of talent,” said program chairperson Dorinda Biggs. “Since these writers have such a heart for fine arts education in our community, I knew this would be a wonderful opportunity for one of our MJCA students to showcase their own writing abilities. The songwriting and poetry competition idea was formed out of a heart to allow our students the experience of preparing, performing and being evaluated by a panel of judges in an audition that would lead to one winner performing live with these professional writers. This type of audition helps to prepare and launch our fine arts students into the real world where their creative works will be scrutinized by the music industry and community. It only makes each contestant stronger for having taken the risk. We are so proud of each student who took this exciting opportunity to try out. They were brave, and they were excellent.”

The winner was 12-year-old Lauren Kleeberg, a sixth grader at Mt. Juliet Christian.  Kleeberg will perform her original song, “And If Only They Knew,” during the event.

“The fine arts are being cut in schools all over the country,” said Beth Davis, Mt. Juliet Christian fine arts department director. “We believe it is vital to give our students the opportunity to learn, create and develop their expressive talents for the purpose of being united. Hearing Lauren’s amazing, well-written song that is relevant to the struggles teens face is an inspiration and a thrill to be a part of. I expect great things from our fine arts students here at MJCA because they are so very talented.”

An Evening with the Arts:  Writers in the Round 2017 is an evening of music that will include songs and stories from Worley and other well-known Nashville songwriters. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a silent auction. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased in advance at the school or online at mjca.org/fine-arts.

The Mt. Juliet Christian Academy Fine Arts Booster Club will use proceeds from the event to replace outdated theatrical curtains and lighting needed to support the fine arts students at the school. Mt. Juliet Christian has a thriving fine arts program that prepares students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade in the elementary music, band, choral, drama and visual arts.

Worley has scored nearly 20 hit singles and three chart-topping hits with the self-penned  “Awful, Beautiful Life” and the poignant “Have You Forgotten,” which spent seven weeks at No. 1, as well as “I Miss My Friend,” which came to him via a songwriter friends in Nashville. He also recognized the importance of giving back every opportunity that he can through his annual charities that has funded organizations such as the Darryl Worley Cancer Treatment Center in Savannah.

“We’ve managed to do a lot by the grace of God over the past 15 years,” said Worley. “We’re having the biggest years of fundraising now just because we’ve learned how to do it. It’s just a very positive thing that we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Next up on the charitable future for the singer-songwriter is breaking ground on a wellness center geared toward assisting youth battling abuse of drugs and alcohol.

“It’s a labor intensive job, but it is a labor of love when you have a chance to really see how it affects human beings,” he said. “We’ve saved lives, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet event connects new people

What started as a search to meet other single people in Mt. Juliet has evolved into a social event aimed at singles, couples and those looking to meet new people.

The social event, dubbed Village Social, took place Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Jonathan’s Grille in Providence Marketplace.

Cecelia Bora, of Mt. Juliet, said the event started after a fake post in the Hip Mt. Juliet Facebook group that was started by a person claiming to seek single men in Mt. Juliet. She said the post was deleted after it was discovered the profile was fake, but the seed was already planted.

Bora said the post featured several married people offering suggestions, which eventually evolved to the tagging of single people to the post.

“That’s when people started tagging their single friends into the conversation and it was hilarious because people had no idea what they were being tagged into. It just made the conversation even funnier,” said Bora, who said plans for a meet up grew from the initial interest in the deleted post.

“What’s interesting to me is there are so many people here who don’t go out and don’t know people and are afraid to go out and meet other people, so they just stay at home and go on Facebook from their phone, but they never really do face-to-face conversations and engage,” she said.

Bora, who moved to Tennessee from Chicago 10 years ago, said the event would benefit those who have had a difficult time finding friends in the area, regardless of relationship status.

“I’m a full-time single parent, so I don’t have a lot of free time and a lot of people are in my situation where you just don’t have a lot of time to go out and meet people because free time is very limited,” she said.

Bora said difficulties arise with married friends because of the obligations that come with marriage and raising a family, but also highlighted the difficulties of people in relationships and married finding new friends.

“It’s not just about meeting single people, it’s about meeting people that you can hang out with and finding friends,” she said.

Bora said some people utilize Facebook and online dating apps and sites to find relationships and meet new people, but said she feel that wave is declining.

“Online dating, I think, has failed many people and has been a disappointment. I think people are looking for other ways to meet people,” she said.

“True relationships are built on face-to-face time and not the time we spend on social media.”

By Xavier Smith


Wilson County Fair shows continued success with awards

Some people use a planner to keep track of days and events happening throughout the year, but Wilson County residents organize their lives by means of the Wilson County Fair.

The Wilson County Fair is a staple in the community and state. It is a nationally recognized fair and continues to excel year after year. Not only does it set the calendars of the citizens of Wilson County, but it seems as though the whole world stops during fair time.

It is a week dedicated to fellowship and fun. With a focus on families, the Wilson County Fair provides a safe, enjoyable environment to gather with friends and family. It is a week dedicated to highlighting accomplishments throughout our community, and not just our community as a whole.

“Our fair does a fantastic job at showing all that Wilson County has to offer but the Wilson County Fair also makes it a priority to give individuals of every lifestyle and background a chance to shine,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “The Wilson County Fair is also a week to celebrate agriculture in our community and throughout the world. Our fair’s main objective is to highlight the importance of agriculture in Wilson County.”

Though the 2016 Wilson County Fair has come and gone, but the success of this year’s fair continues. Each year, the Wilson County Fair attends the International Association of Fairs and Expositions contest program. This year’s contest had more than 1,468 entries judged by more than 50 industry experts. The Wilson County Fair received a total of 18 awards, including:

Agriculture Awards

• first place in agriculture programs promotional video for the Junior goat show video.

• second place in any other agriculture program or exhibit for the watermelon patch.

• third place in agriculture program area beautification for landscaping improvements.

• third place in non-fair-related agriculture event or program for the spring garden festival.

Competitive Awards

• first place in use of a single theme throughout all divisions for “We Want You at the Wilson County Fair” and the featured agricultural commodity for watermelons.

• first place in unique contest for the fair commemorative print contest.

• first place in competitive exhibit display photo series for the kids’ power tractor races.

• first place in general display photo single for the flower “bed” photo.

• second place in competitive exhibit display method and/or prop for the new rose show display.

• second place in create it on the spot contest for the watermelon carving for adults and watermelon head decorating
for youth.

• second place in participatory contest for watermelon gumball blowing.

• second place in new or unique contest to attract competitive exhibitors for the gaited mule show.

• second place in general display photo series for the broom-making demonstration.

Communication Awards

• second place in promotional or advertising poster.

• second place in unique advertising specialties, merchandise and souvenirs.

Sponsorship Awards

• first place for sponsorship innovation.

• first place for first-time sponsorship.

• second place for sponsorship.

• best of division for innovation in sponsorship.

“We are so proud of the accomplishments of our fair. However, none of these accomplishments would have been possible without the hard work of the Wilson County Fair Board and all of the volunteers that work continuously to make our fair the best of the best,” Hutto said. “So many people work year after year to provide the best fair experience possible and there is no way to thank each and every person enough for their contribution. Here at the county mayor’s office, we would like to say congratulations to Wilson County Promotions and the Wilson County Fair on another job well done.”

Staff Reports

Encore Theatre to offer its first play of 2017

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News The cast of ‘The Senator Wore Pantyhose’ (from left) includes Michael Rex, Linda Patrick, Fernando Ochoa, Jeff Lay, Lanie Shannon, Sarah Parker McKay, Jared Dalton, (seated, from left) Corinne Cook, Tony Shannon and Laneese Cosby. Not pictured is Hope McKay.

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The cast of ‘The Senator Wore Pantyhose’ (from left) includes Michael Rex, Linda Patrick, Fernando Ochoa, Jeff Lay, Lanie Shannon, Sarah Parker McKay, Jared Dalton, (seated, from left) Corinne Cook, Tony Shannon and Laneese Cosby. Not pictured is Hope McKay.

Encore Theatre Co. announced “The Senator Wore Pantyhose” by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Millmore will be the opening play for 2017.

Directed by Holly Smith with James Bealor as executive director, the outrageous farce will open Friday and runs weekends through Jan. 29. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday afternoon matinees will begin at 2:30 p.m.. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to show time.

Fed up with political and religious scandals? This comedy revolves around the failing presidential campaign of “honest” Gabby Sandalson, a regular guy whose integrity has all but crippled his bid for the White House. His sleazy campaign manager trumps up an implausible sex scandal to garner votes, a scheme that gloriously backfires.

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

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

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet filmmaker to premiere new movie


Jim O’Rear, a Mt. Juliet resident and longtime worker in the entertainment industry, will premiere his newest movie, “Nightblade,” in a special showing Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at Full Moon Cineplex at 3445 Lebanon Pike in Hermitage.

“Nightblade,” is a 1980s-style police thriller produced and directed by O’Rear with his business partner, Scott Tepperman, that features Hollywood faces acting alongside homegrown talent.

The movie aims to capture the feel, style and fun of the 1980s police dramas and television shows such as “Miami Vice” and “Magnum P.I.”

“It’s definitely inspired by the ’80s, but it doesn’t take place in the ’80s,” O’Rear said.

“It’s a typical whodunit you might see in something like ‘Miami Vice.’”

“Nightblade” was filmed in Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and surrounding Nashville areas. Filming took place over an eight-day period, 16-18 hours each day.

“With most of our movies, we set aside 10 days, and we did that for this movie,” O’Rear said. “Everything went so smoothly that we just needed eight days.”

Among the actors featured in the movie are Todd Bridges from “Diff’rent Strokes,” Robert LaSardo from “CSI: Miami,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Death Race” and Betsy Rue from “How I Met Your Mother,” “My Bloody Valentine” and “True Blood.”

O’Rear has worked in the Hollywood entertainment industry for more than 30 years as an actor, stuntman, screenwriter, director, make-up artist and producer.

He got his start in the business after becoming one of the youngest people to be accepted in the American Society of Magicians.

“I went on tour with Harry Blackstone Jr. and worked several other magicians,” O’Rear said.

A producer asked O’Rear if he would be interested in acting in a commercial. At first, O’Rear resisted.

“I told him, ‘I’m not an actor, that’s not what I do,’” O’Rear said. “He said, ‘no, when you’re on stage doing magic, that’s what you’re doing; you’re acting.’ After a week or two of him begging me and my agent and my parents, I said OK, I’ll do the stupid commercial, and that’s how I got into the acting side of things.

He would later go on to work in a variety of different jobs in the entertainment industry.

“Really, I just wanted to be able to work,” O’Rear said. “Whenever someone would call and ask if I could do something, I’d say yes, and I just learned a little bit of everything.”

Normally known for his work in horror and science fiction films, O’Rear has decided to branch out and offer his fans a different experience with Nightblade.

“We’re still giving the fans a horror element with Nightblade,” said O’Rear, “because at its core, the story focuses on tracking a serial killer, but we’re hoping to expand beyond blood and guts and let the story elements and performances drive this one.”

The theatrical premiere of “Nightblade” is open to the public, and will be held Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Full Moon Cineplex. Tickets are $5 and are available at the theater.

The audience will be able to watch the film for the first time with members of the cast and crew, who will be in attendance.

A question-and-answer segment with the cast and crew will be held after the screening for anyone interested in behind-the-scenes stories or filmmaking advice. 

“I do about 15-20 convention appearances throughout the year at different comic cons, and I’m asked to do filmmaking panels … I go there to share with people who want to learn, because not too many people in the industry who like to share their secrets. I don’t mind. I think there’s room for everyone,” O’Rear said. 

By Jake Old