Mt. Juliet celebrates 40 years in business
The local train station was named after a beloved Mt. Juliet icon and Interim City Manager Kenneth Martin was ranked top of four final candidates for the permanent city manager position Monday night.
N.C. Hibbett was the center of attention at a special open house celebration acknowledging Mt. Juliet as a city for 40 years. It was standing room only with a celebratory atmosphere with several former mayors in attendance. Along with Hibbett, Mt. Juliet's first mayor who served from March 15, 1973 to March 17, 1975, his wife Jenny Bess, fourth mayor; Luther Lenning, eighth mayor; Linda Elam, twelfth mayor and current Mayor Ed Hagerty were on hand.
Hagerty saluted Hibbett and called him a "father figure."
"When I was young and new in to town Mr. Hibbett came to us and was kind and generous," said Hagerty. "He guided us. Years later this means the world to me."
People talked of Hibbett's love of trains, which made it so fitting the train station in the heart of his home town now bears his name.
Commissioner Ted Floyd also lauded Hibbett. He remembered when he saw Hibbett driving a bit erratically and he pulled him over. Floyd is a former Mt. Juliet Police Chief.
"I stopped you on two occasions and it ended up you driving with your knees while eating an ice-cream cone," said Floyd while the crowed laughed.
He noted that Hibbett was one to go to for advice and that "we love you."
"It's an honor to talk to you tonight," he remarked.
Newly minted Commissioner James Mannes told him it was an honor to serve on the same board Hibbett once sat on. Commissioner Art Giles talked of hearing of Hibbett's wonderful reputation and told the former mayor and town historian his family is a great reflection of him.
"We go way back," said Commissioner Jim Bradshaw. "...thanks for making Mt. Juliet what it is today."
Former Mayor Linda Elam turned to address Hibbett.
"You told me not to call you mister," she said. "I was to call you colonel. You are the first family of Mt. Juliet. God speed!"
Hibbett is "the measure of a man," said State Sen. Mae Beavers. "....we so appreciate you."
Hibbett was visibly touched be the salutations.
"If my grandfather knew about this he would be happy tonight," said Hibbett. "He was a railroader. When he left Mt. Juliet they tore up the tracks. The railroad has been a part of my life. When I hear the train whistle blow I go back and back. I do love trains. My basement room is filled up with trains and the city of Mt. Juliet. ....thank you, I appreciate it. I was born in this town."
Beavers and Elam presented a proclamation recognizing Mt. Juliet's 40 years.
Debra Martin also was recognized for being the top Teacher of the Year. She was also given a proclamation.
Martin top on city manager list
In other business city commissioners reviewed the final names for the city manager position and ranked them by points. Interim City Manager Kenneth Martin ranked top at 48 points; then Tony McCue from Orange City, Fla. at 30 points; Butch Sanders at 29 points from McDonough, Ga.; and Tony Massey at 28 points from Albany, Ga.
Floyd noted that if Martin was top should they just appoint him without the expense of continuing the interview process. However, it was decided since an outside agency interviewed these gentleman already, they would go ahead and listen to the interviews and then on June 25 decide if they want to bring anyone else in for a final interview.
The normally cool and collected city Public Works Director Marlin Keel got a little hot Monday night in regard to positions being shuffled or eliminated from his department related to the recent sexting scandal. Originally two positions, assistant public works director and project manager, were defunded. Then Keel wrote a letter, according to Hagerty, asking both positions be added back. However, Martin wrote a letter with the idea that the chief building inspector position held by Dwayne Hicks be moved to assistant public works director and then hiring a part time person in public works, but under the management of the city manger. And, then for Hicks' position be filled internally, so the net gain would only be a part time person.
Keel was angry.
"Nobody consulted me," he said.
He said he should have been consulted if his personnel were going to be manipulated.
"I'd appreciate the courtesy of someone telling me," he said. "It's not right that I was not copied the letter."
There was a bit of confusion, but it appears no official business took place regarding this item.
Commissioners again deferred the budget.
Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org