Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto praised the work of county officials and employees, highlighted county successes and discussed future goals during his 2017 State of the County on Wednesday at the Lebanon Golf and County Club.
Hutto discussed some of the county’s accomplishments and bright spots, which included the Wilson County and Lebanon Special school districts, the financial work of the Wilson County Commission and the county’s improved bond rating of AA-positive, up from the AA-positive outlook.
Wilson County is one of six counties in the state with the
AA-positive rating, joining Knox, Shelby, Montgomery, Rutherford and Sumner counties. Only two counties – Williamson and Hamilton – have a AAA bond rating, which allows more flexibility in bond procedures and debt settlement.
Hutto also highlighted goals the county reached last year. The county received a level 4 Insurance Services Office rating for fire protection, passed a pay plan for county employees to help with retention, finished a teacher pay plan for educators and increased the size of the Wilson County school board, which paved the way for the first African-American member in Johnie Payton.
Hutto also praised the Wilson County Road Commission, which had a record year in 2016, which allowed the county to have all roads paved and eliminated gravel or tar and chip roads.
The mayor also discussed economic development projects taking place throughout the county, the Nashville Superspeedway, transportation and increased emergency service protection in the county, as well as cities.
Hutto also discussed several goals for the county for the future, which included a better job of communicating to all citizens about government; finding a way to reduce the tax rate; continuing to work with Tennessee Department of Transportation on several road projects; and a local government summit for all county and city governing bodies.
“It just to bring our council and our local government together,” Hutto said. “We just want to talk and make sure we’re all headed in the same direction and we’re all planning. Maybe it would be good to come up with a motto or vision for our county.”
Hutto said he believed county and city officials are on the same page currently, but the summit would allow them to only strengthen that relationship.
Hutto presented attendees with several different facts and figures about Wilson County in the hour, but ended his presentation on a more personal note. Hutto dedicated the last portion of his speech to two women who he said were special to him and just celebrated their 90th birthday – Fay Timbs and Martha Vaden.
Timbs is a former longtime Lebanon High School administrative assistant and attendance monitor. Hutto said Vaden helped him while in college at Middle Tennessee State University by allowing him to substitute teach to make money.
“What I noticed about them is all the people who came to see them on their birthday. I thought about all of this stuff we’ve talked about today, it’s important – we have to live here – but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Hutto said. These ladies, although I don’t know how much money they had, they were rich because of the people who came to see them.”
Hutto challenged the attendees to reach out to people around them – coworkers, people at the gym and neighbors.
“Check your people out beside you. Check on them physically. Check on them emotionally and check on them spiritually, because this is not the end of the story, and I hope you know that,” Hutto said.
By Xavier Smith