Surefire Fireworks gears up for Fourth of July

Explosions, smoke and the smell of gunpowder will soon fill the air for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations throughout Wilson County.

To prepare for the annual event, tents are already popping up across Wilson County, and officially opened for business last Wednesday until July 5 for residents to fill all their most explosive desires.

Where do all those tents come from, though, and where do the tent operators get their supply? The answer, for some of them at least, is a 40-year-old Wilson County staple, Surefire Fireworks Wholesale and Retail.

Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Surefire Fireworks gears up for the busiest season of the year as fireworks season approaches, and tents across Wilson County opened last Wednesday.

The company sits up on a hill at 1946 Murfreesboro Road in Lebanon. According to employee Brendan Martel, the organization is able to sell fireworks year-round because the building is outside the city limits, but obviously, its biggest season is around July 4.

“Really, we start getting busy when the tents start to open in town,” said Martel. “People are seeing the visual in town of, ‘Oh, that’s right fireworks,’ and then some people remember we’re here, and they’ll come to us too, because we’re air conditioned.”

Martel said the local tents are really just an extension of the store itself to offer residents in Wilson County a more convenient way to get fireworks for the big holiday. The company also sells wholesale to privately owned firework businesses, but none locally.

“It’s a little bit of both up here; we do the retail and the wholesale,” said Martel. “We’ve just started doing [wholesale] the past couple of years, and we get people from all over the state who will purchase through us at wholesale prices.”

“There’s not any here in Lebanon, because we try to make people aware when they’re buying from us that we don’t want to compete against them. It’s a business relationship, so most of our people are from outside Wilson County.”

The big fireworks finale on sale this year is a 1,000-gram grand finale from Black Cat. A 500-gram show is actually the largest fireworks show allowed to be sold to non-professionals, but the 1,000-gram finale features two 500-gram displays designed to go off at the same time.

“You have to shoot them at the same time to get the full effect, back and forth, in them,” said Martel. “That’s the biggest thing we’ve got this year, and it’s brand new. We just picked Black Cat up again this year. They have some awesome grand finale stuff.”

The 1,000-gram finale can be picked up for July 4 at Surefire Fireworks Wholesale and Retail or at any of the fireworks tents that are supplied by the business across Wilson County.

By Jacob Smith

Hotel, tourism influx part of county’s growth

Wilson County tourism director Amy Nichols said the recent uptake in hotels, as well as tourism, in the county is a result of growth and the area’s proximity to Nashville.

With Fairfield Inn and Suites opening in April, My Place opening in December and more hotels scheduled to come, Nichols said it’s all part of the process of making Wilson County a more attractive place for tourists who may come to the area to visit Nashville.

“Nashville is just booming when it comes to tourism, so we’re obviously seeing the impacts here,” said Nichols. “Our whole strategy is that we want to build on that growth. We don’t want to ignore the fact that people are here because of Nashville.”

Nichols explained tourism only serves to benefit the county. When tourists come to Wilson County, they stay in Wilson County hotels, eat at Wilson County restaurants and shop in Wilson County shops, then they leave, and the county and local businesses benefit from the money spent here.

“That’s how we can put [the money] back into the schools,” said Nichols. “That’s money we don’t have to build infrastructure for, because these people are coming, they’re visiting and then they’re leaving, and that’s money we can then put into our police force, into our district. So that’s why it’s so important.”

According to Nichols, Wilson County has a unique opportunity to benefit from Nashville’s growth because of the proximity, as well as the dissimilarities between the two areas.

“Our whole thing is saying, ‘yeah, go to Nashville,’” said Nichols. “We want people to come, experience Nashville, Music City, honkytonks, etc. But, when you are vacationing in Tennessee, when you have that idea in your head, if you’re from Florida, if you’re from California, whatever, you’ve never been to Tennessee, so you book a trip to Nashville, but in your head there’s some imagery of Tennessee that Nashville doesn’t accomplish. You think of the country; you think of horseback riding; you think of being out on the lakes. You go to Nashville, and you’re in a city just like any other city. I want tourists to go to Nashville and experience it, but then I want to tack on to your vacation a few nights so that you can stay in Wilson County, because we offer those experiences in your head that are Tennessee.”

Nichols said she expects the growth to continue, in part, because of the Wilson County Expo Center and the events it offers.

“I mean, they’re booked for years,” said Nichols. “We have groups that come in and they want a tour, and they’re like, ‘is this date available?’ and it’s booked out. I feel like we haven’t seen the impact yet because it’s so new, because you book so far in advance. All of the people I’ve met with now are groups for 2019, so there’s definitely a gap between when you get something and when you start seeing the return.”

To people who don’t like or fear the growth Wilson County is experiencing, Nichols said the growth is already here, and it’s up to us whether we’ll adapt so it best benefits the city or just let it overwhelm us.

By Jacob Smith

Construction starts on TriStar emergency center

Xavier Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Heather Rohan, president and CEO of TriStar Health, speaks to the crowd Thursday during the company’s groundbreaking ceremony for a new emergency center in Mt. Juliet. The facility will be located on Beckwith Road, right off the eastbound exit of Interstate 40.

Construction officially kicked off Thursday for a new TriStar emergency medical center in Mt. Juliet as officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony.

The TriStar Mt. Juliet ER facility will be located on Beckwith Road, right off the eastbound exit of Interstate 40.

“I want to welcome all of you to Mt. Juliet who aren’t familiar with Mt. Juliet. It’s an exciting place. We are currently ranked No. 3 most family friendly city in the state. We’re No. 4 safest city in the state. In nine months – I’m going to declare it now – we’re going to be No. 1 best ER service in the state,” Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said.

“It’s hard to believe, but in approximately nine months, the property where we’re standing today will be transformed into a state-of-the-art emergency room. Once open, the TriStar Mt. Juliet Emergency Room will be a 24-hour, full-service facility, having approximately 9,000 square feet and featuring eight patient rooms,” TriStar Summit CEO Brian Marger said.

In 2014, when original certificate of need was requested for the facility, TriStar Summit emergency rooms saw about 55,000 patients, with 9,000 of those from the Mt. Juliet area, according to Marger.

“This project represents an approximate $11 million investment into the Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and surrounding areas of Wilson County.”

“We feel privileged to be able to serve the residents of this community. We’re very proud to be a part of this community,” said Heather Rohan, president and CEO of TriStar Health. “As a look at this corridor and the area around, the future is incredibly bright for Mt. Juliet, and we’re humbled and proud to be a part of it.”

By Xavier Smith

Houser headed to big four accounting firm

Alex Houser

NASHVILLE – Lauren Winters and Alex Houser followed different paths to Trevecca, but they’ll travel a similar one after graduation.

Houser, of Mt. Juliet, is a graduate of Mt. Juliet High School.

The seniors graduated May 5 and will both start jobs with one of the big four accounting firms in October, Winters at Ernst & Young and Houser at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“She and I didn’t really like each other at the beginning,” Houser said. “But now we’re friends. It’s two completely different stories with the same end result. I’m really proud of her.”

While both were Nashville-area residents – Winters from Joelton and Houser from Mt. Juliet – they didn’t really know each other until they arrived on campus. Winters came to play soccer, a decision she attributes heavily to former Trevecca women’s soccer coach Mark Foster.

“I just wanted to play soccer in college,” Winters said. “Mark Foster had been a coach for me in high school, and he had just become the head coach here at the time I came here and toured in August. I loved the campus. The pieces all just fell into place. I knew as soon as I got here that I was supposed to be here.”

Houser, on the other hand, had his heart set on playing baseball in college, but an injury ended that dream. He came to Trevecca to interview for the McClurkan scholarship and ended up talking with Allen Jinnette, associate professor of accounting, about Trevecca’s accounting program.

“I knew a few alumni who go to church with me, and they spoke highly of the program,” Houser said. “I had a long list of schools, and the only one that wasn’t crossed off the list was Trevecca.”

Because of Trevecca’s small class sizes, the two got to know each other right away. With the same major and concentration, Houser and Winters were in many of the same classes. Both started applying for internships after their sophomore year, and their parallel journey continued.

“They expose you pretty early on to the Big Four at most universities,” Winters said. “The accounting firms come to you and talk about their companies and internship opportunities. Sophomore year I started applying for internships, and I didn’t get the Big Four internships. It’s funny, Alex was the one who got them. They usually only select one from Trevecca, and he was the one.”

While Houser began interning for PwC, Winters took another route that included various kinds of accounting internships, including tax internships with HCA and other companies.

“I enjoyed it, but I knew I was missing something,” Winters said. “I knew that I was passionate about accounting and that my calling is in that, and I was confident in that. I just didn’t know where I needed to land in the accounting industry. I knew that I wanted to bring a light to the industry. I really prayed about that a lot and felt like God was like, ‘You just have to be you, and I’ll place you where you need to be.’”

Houser also had a few decisions to make. He had the opportunity to graduate a year early and was considering law school, but he wasn’t quite sure. Trevecca alumni and siblings Brady Plummer, chief information officer for the Parallon division of HCA and Houser’s Sunday School teacher, and Kelly King, an assurance partner at PwC, played a pivotal role in helping him make the decision.

“They showed me different routes [in public accounting],” Houser said. “My sophomore year, I asked Mrs. King to meet me for lunch, trying just to decide if I should go to law school or give public accounting a try. That’s kind of what got the ball rolling on me working toward getting in [at PwC} and understanding the industry.”

As junior year slipped into senior year, both Winters and Houser seemed to have separate paths set out for them. Houser started a four-month-long internship with PwC following his junior year and had a job offer. Winters had started applying to graduate schools and took the GMAT, though she wasn’t pleased with her score or sure that graduate school was what she wanted to do.

“While I was applying, I had this awful feeling that I was done with school,” she said. “I could not imagine another year of busting it out in grad school. I was over learning about this stuff. I wanted to be doing it. But I didn’t know what opportunities were out there.”

Around that time, Winters met with a former guest speaker from one of her accounting classes the previous semester. He worked in auditing with Ernst & Young in Nashville and came from a similar background, having graduated from a small Christian college in Chattanooga.

That coffee meeting was a turning point of sorts for Winters.

“He had a lot of experience, but he was also a Christian, so I just wanted his perspective on future opportunities,” Winters said. “He does auditing [at Ernst & Young], and I was like, ‘Well, I’m never doing auditing.’ But he started talking about it, about teams and teamwork, and that feeling you get when you’re done with the audit and you all feel like you’ve contributed something. That’s been soccer for me, and I’ve loved that. I think I need something like that to continue on in my life.”

So, Winters submitted her resume to Ernst & Young, where she’d never had an internship, and got an interview.

“I just loved it,” she said. “I felt really comfortable. When I left, they offered me the job on the spot.”

Winters was then faced with a decision. She’d been accepted to graduate school at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and offered a job at one of the Big Four accounting firms.

“I had two amazing opportunities before me, and I have no idea how to select which one is right,” she said. “It came down to that gut feeling that I was over school, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I am filled with so much peace and able to leave college refreshed and at peace about it.

“Most students don’t often get opportunities to go to the Big Four,” she continued. “It was all word-of-mouth and resume for me and then the interview. That shows that God was working it all into place.”

Both Winters and Houser will start their careers in October. Each will spend the next few months studying for and passing each of the four sections of the CPA exam. Houser successfully completed the first section during spring break.

Despite a few twists and turns along the way, both Houser and Winters said they are thankful for their Trevecca experience. They credit the small class sizes and individual attention from professors and mentors with their success.

“It’s almost every single year that we’re putting people into public accounting and large firms,” Houser said. “I was at a dinner last Tuesday night and Vanderbilt was represented and Belmont and Lipscomb, all the mid-state colleges and universities. And they can’t say that same thing. Our program-two of us are going into Big Four accounting. It speaks to the quality of the program and the work of the professors.”

Trevecca Nazarene University is a Christian university in the heart of Nashville focused on preparing students for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1901, Trevecca is committed to holistic education, encouraging students to grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Located about a mile from thriving downtown Nashville, Trevecca provides a liberal arts education while guiding students to find God’s calling on their lives through traditional undergraduate programs, continuing and graduate studies and online offerings. With students from 44 states and 22 countries, Trevecca offers 15 associate degrees, 83 undergraduate majors, 20 master’s programs and two doctoral programs, as well as specialist and certificate programs.

Staff Reports

Get egg-cited for chicken rentals


Sinclaire Sparkman • Mt. Juliet News
Rent the Chicken servicer RayLee Holladay shows off a coop built for two chickens recently at Fiddlers Grove. The hens inside lay eight to 14 eggs per week.

Seasonal chickens have made it to homes across Middle Tennessee courtesy of RayLee and Bubba Holladay, who offer egg-laying hens for a six-month rental.

A concept known as “yard to table” drives the philosophy behind Rent the Chicken, a business established in Pennsylvania in 2013. Phillip and Jenn Tompkins started service and now partner with more than 45 farms in the United States, including the Holladays’ farm in Lascassas.

The service allows customers to choose between the standard rental of two hens or deluxe rental of four hens, which will provide farm-fresh eggs regularly. Coops, feed, bedding, food and water dishes, guidebooks and support are provided.

“I keep around 60 [chickens] at my house,” said area Rent the Chicken servicer RayLee Holladay. “Right now, we have 39 babies getting ready for next season. It’s been amazing. It really just touches your heart when you see people love chickens and learn about chickens and where their food comes from.”

The Holladays started with Rent the Chicken three years ago. The first year was spent building from scratch, making coops and gathering supplies. Now they’re able to deliver chickens, coops and all within 50 miles of their farm. They deliver beyond 50 miles for an extra fee.   

“We raise them from babies, so they’re ridiculously friendly. They’re kind of like your dog or your cat. They’ll follow you around everywhere,” Holladay said.

Rent the Chicken coops are made to protect chickens from predators and provide easy access for humans.

“There’s an egg door on the side here, and in the back, there’s an access door just in case you don’t want to crawl in there to fix the food and water dishes if they fall over,” Holladay said.

If a chicken gets sick or dies, Rent the Chicken will replace the animal at no charge, unless neglect was involved.

“There’s wire all the way around [the coop], so the fox cannot get in, or the raccoon or the opossum, cannot get in there and get to the chickens. But, say, if you let them out and then go in the house and grab you a glass of tea, you’re not supervising them and they die, you have to pay a chicken fee of $25. If you just come out one day and the poor little thing is dead, we’ll replace it. Things happen. They’re wild animals,” Holladay said.

Only one chicken death has happened in her time with Rent the Chicken, so, she said, it is not all that common.

After the six-month chicken season is over and customers have enjoyed farm-fresh eggs, the hens are available for adoption.

“You can adopt just the chickens, or you can have the whole entire package, coop and all. At the end of the six months, or any time in between, if you chicken out, we’ll pick them up with no questions asked,” Holladay said. 

For more information, call Rent the Chicken at 724-305-0782 or visit

By Sinclaire Sparkman

Antique Car Show winners announced

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Wilson Bank & Trust employees congratulate the winners from the Antique Car Show Spring Meet on Sunday in Mt. Juliet after trophies were awarded.

A large crowd of spectators at Wilson Bank & Trust’s 23rd annual Antique Car Show Spring Meet on Sunday in Mt. Juliet perused 156 classic automobiles in 57 different classifications, and several auto owners took home awards for their entries.

Category winners at the car show included:

• Kenneth O’Saile – best of show in production for his 1970 Pontiac GTO.

• Henry Bullington – best of show in modified for his 1955 Chevy Belair.

• Bob O’Neal – president’s choice for his 1955 Chevy Belair.

• Terry Sague – ladies’ choice for his 1972 Chevy Nova.

• Darrell Yates – O’Reilly’s award for his 1968 Chevy C-10.

• Kevin Martyn – longest drive award for his trip from Indianapolis.

The event also featured music, food and children’s activities.

Staff Reports

American Wonder Porcelain employee receives donation

Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
American Wonder Porcelain employee Wade Sloan receives donations from members of the company, including a van from the president, who flew to Lebanon from China for the presentation.

An employee at American Wonder Porcelain received donations of money and food from coworkers Friday, including a van from the president of the company after his house was destroyed in an April 5 fire.

The employee, Wade Sloan, lost his house when it burned in the early morning.

According to Mt. Juliet fire Deputy Chief of Operations Chris Allen, firefighters arrived at the home to fine it heavily involved in fire. Mt. Juliet firefighters requested help from Wilson County Emergency Management Agency firefighters because the nearest fire hydrant was more than a mile away.

The six residents of the home, including Sloan, escaped safely by the time firefighters arrived.

After the fire was extinguished, Allen said the house was ruled a total loss.

“FDMJ asks everyone to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers as they deal with this loss,” said Allen.

On Friday, employees gathered together to present Sloan with money and food they raised, and the president of the company, Jianping Huang, flew to Lebanon from China to present Sloan with a Honda Odyssey.

“I hope you enjoy the new van, and stay with us, and we can get through everything,” said Jianping. “We hope every one of our employees can be happy and work happy here.”

Sloan thanked the employees and administrators before he took his new van for a test drive around the parking lot.

“Thank you so much,” said Sloan. “Y’all have all been so good to me. I’m so thankful.”

By Jacob Smith

The Big Payback attracts most nonprofits in its 5-year history

NASHVILLE – A record number of area nonprofits are preparing for the Big Payback’s fifth-annual 24-hour online giving day.

A total of 902 Middle Tennessee nonprofits – including schools and religious institutions – from 35 counties will participate in the Big Payback, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, on Wednesday, May 2.

The record total includes 115 organizations that represent 23 counties that will be participate in the Big Payback for the first time. Categories include human services, education, community improvement, arts and culture, youth development, animal welfare, health, housing and shelter and the environment.

Wilson County organizations that will participate in the Big Payback include the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center, Cedarcroft Home, Charis Health Center, Cumberland University, Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee, Empower Me Center, Encore Theatre Co., Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Wilson County, Fiddlers Grove Historical Village, Friends of Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Generations of Grace’s the Faith Store, Healing Broken Vessels, Historic Lebanon, Leadership Middle Tennessee, Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency, Mt Juliet Animal Shelter Volunteer Organization, Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center, New Leash on Life, Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, Prospect, Rest Stop Ministries, Scenic Tennessee, Sherry’s Run, Southern STARRS, the Joe Beretta Foundation, the Keith Edmonds Foundation, the Nathar Foundation, Tennessee Senior Olympics, United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland, Wilson Books from Birth, Wilson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Wilson County Civic League, Wilson County Community Foundation, Wilson County Community Help Center and Wilson County Salvation Army.

The Big Payback is a community-wide online giving day designed to give the public the opportunity to pay back the nonprofits. Starting May 2 at midnight, there will be 24 hours to make donations to a wide swath of participating local nonprofits at

In its first four events, the Big Payback has helped organizations raise more than $9.3 million in donations, as well as foster 18,806 first-time gifts, making possible awareness of and solutions to pressing needs in the community.

“The Big Payback’s slogan is ‘live here, give here’ and provides an easy and fun way for our community to show our local pride and give back,” said Ellen Lehman, president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

“Nonprofits do life-changing work every day across Middle Tennessee, and it’s important we recognize the positive impact they have in our own backyards by supporting their efforts. It’s hard to imagine where we’d be without them and their work.”

Gifts to nonprofits from the public will be boosted with additional financial prizes from sponsors of the Big Payback, and an online leaderboard will track donations in real time.

Donors will be able to search and select organizations based on location and focus area, Donors also can support multiple nonprofits and make gifts of any size with ease, from $10 and up.

Nonprofits and the general public also can participate in the Big Payback in person. Thanks to the Nashville Predators Foundation, Smashville Plaza in front of Bridgestone Arena will turn into the Big Payback GameDay Throwdown on May 2 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The Big Payback’s GameDay Throwndown gives participating nonprofits the chance to represent their causes while competing for additional prize money. Minute to win it games, corn hole and miniature golf stations, a costume contest, chalk drawing, and other activities are scheduled.

Live music will be provided by artist Charlie Worsham and Matt Walberg, with Mac Hardcastle as emcee. Several food trucks also will be on site, as well as radio and television stations, some broadcasting live.

The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit

Staff Reports

Chamber gets hiring, decision-making tips

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce received hiring and decision-making tips Wednesday during its monthly luncheon from James Fields, president of Concept Technology.

Fields shared several tips for hiring personnel, keying on his experience with his company, which grew from one to more than 50 employees in five years. Fields said employers should know their target number of hires, have potential employees display their ability to do the work, talk to potential employees for more than an hour and hold group interviews.

Fields also highlighted his company’s key decision-making model – the triangle.

“This is a model we use in all of our decision making – big and small,” Fields said. “Any time we make a change, we take it back to the triangle, which is balancing the needs of clients, the team and the business.”

Fields said in the world of technology, things constantly change and evolve, which requires constant use of the triangle.

“If we do something that is great for our clients, good for our team members and good for our business, then that’s like a win-win-win,” Fields said. “But, if one of those three corners of the triangle is getting a bad deal, then we’re probably not thinking about this right and probably going back to the drawing board.”

Fields also highlighted the inner triangle, which focuses on humility, curiosity and vulnerability of employees.

“If you think about the people you worked who were terrible teammates…they certainly don’t demonstrate these characteristics,” Fields said.

The meeting also featured an interactive portion that required members to highlight and share their best practices when it comes to hiring.

By Xavier Smith

Leeville Family Fun Day upcoming Saturday

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Leeville Family Fun Day will offer free activities for all ages April 28 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Wilson Bank & Trust’s Highway 109 office in Lebanon

Wilson Bank & Trust will hold its 11th annual Leeville Family Fun Day on April 28 at the bank’s office on Highway 109 North.

The festivities will include live music, vendor booths, free inflatables, a petting zoo, an emergency vehicle display and concessions from Hoite’s Barbecue and Kona Shaved Ice.

Local business sponsors helped make Family Fun Day possible. Gold sponsors this year include Manheim Nashville and Wilson Farms; silver sponsors include Advanced Propane, B.J.’s trailers, and Sleep-In and Suites; and bronze sponsors include, Active Life Chiropractic, Aqua Sports Marine, Big and Small Storage, Burdines, Coach’s Eastgate Grill, Nutrishop, Permobil, Remar Inc., Subway and Wendy’s.

Event hours will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., and admission will be free. All activities will take place at the bank at 440 Hwy. 109 N. in Lebanon.

Staff Reports

Floor signing party held for upcoming St. Jude Dream Home giveaway

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Honored St. Jude patient Matt signs the floor of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway house in Mt. Juliet last Wednesday. Baker Chiddister with Shaw Floors and Chris Carpenter with of Signature Homes honored Matt during the ceremony.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, along with Signature Homes, held a floor signing party last Wednesday for the 14th annual St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway in the Jackson Hills subdivision in Mt. Juliet.

Community members and volunteers gathered to write well wishes to the Dream Home winner before the floors are installed. Subcontractors and vendors, who contributed to the construction of this year’s home, estimated to value $450,000, were recognized for their commitment to St. Jude.

Supporters, sponsors and childhood cancer survivors gathered at the floor signing party, including Chris Carpenter with Signature Homes, Stacy Case and Erika Kurre with Fox 17, Gator Harrison with iHeartMedia, Paul Jolley with Two Rivers Ford and Kevin Sanders with Wilson Bank & Trust.

Special guests in attendance for the event included honored St. Jude patient Matt, and Baker Chiddister with Shaw Floors, which is a national sponsor of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway and supplies all flooring in St. Jude Dream Homes across the country.

“We have been doing the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway since 2011 as a company. It’s really grown into more than that for us,” Chiddister said. “I got to meet the honored patient last year, and it’s so inspiring to see what really comes out of doing these types of events. We are really excited to be a part of this.”

Residents have an opportunity to win the newly built home. A limited number of chances to win the St. Jude Dream Home and other prizes are on sale for $100 by calling 800-746-6713, visiting or at Two Rivers Ford in Mt. Juliet.

Free tours of the St. Jude Dream Home will be available starting May 19. Tickets reserved by April 20 will also be eligible to win an early bird prize, a trip for two to see the Zac Brown Band, including concert tickets, hotel and airfare courtesy of the BIG 98 and Warner Music Nashville, plus a $2,500 MasterCard, courtesy of Wilson Bank & Trust.

Staff Reports

Kenny Martin: Let’s win one for Wilson County

Kenny Martin

With e-commerce now a big part of our buying and purchasing processes, there is no better time than now to support your local businesses more than ever.

I know I seem like a broken record, but if we don’t support our local businesses, they can’t survive, and if they don’t survive, I think that is sad. Maybe it’s the current economy, my getting older and worrying more or just plain old love for my community.

I’m not quite sure what it is, but I sure have found myself thinking about it a lot lately for many good reasons. I personally think it’s because I care for and love my county, my country and the people who call it home. But that would sound boastful, egotistical and mushy, to say the least. And that’s OK; I love lots of stuff, and as my mom always said, “Say it loud and say it proud if you mean it.”

As I drive throughout our wonderful community, I keep thinking about the old Ronald Reagan movie, “The Gipper.” In the movie, there was a wonderful quote, “Win one for the Gipper.” As a point of personal pride, I’d like to win one for Wilson County and all of our residents.

Neighbors, I need your help and our county needs your help. With all that is going on with e-commerce, our national and state economy and the state of brick-and-mortar stores, the need to focus on our local economy and our brick-and-mortar businesses has never been more important. Small businesses are what drive our local economy and are the economic engines of our great country and county.

Small businesses provide sales tax revenue, convenient local services and goods and jobs, jobs, jobs to mention just a few benefits. When consumers shop on-line or patronize businesses outside their local county and communities, our local businesses suffer from a lack of or reduction in sales.

When sales volumes and patronage drops, so does the need to have employees working. When employees aren’t working they can’t make money to patronize other business or pay their bills and the vicious cycle continues and/or grows. And this does not even get into the funding that local sales brings to our schools and other city and county services

If we don’t shop locally by supporting our brick-and-mortar businesses, our tax dollars benefit other cities and counties and not ours. E-commerce is convenient, and I totally understand that and why it may be appealing. But what we lose today via e-commerce sales will have to be made up somewhere else down the road by other means.

If local businesses aren’t supported, they move to other communities or go out of business. When this happens, we lose more revenues from our community and the ability to attract new businesses to offset the ones we lost. The end result is we never catch up and only fall further and further behind, and I know none of us want that to happen.

I know times are changing as they always have, but e-commerce may change some things in such a way that we lose a lot about what we love about the shopping experience, as well. Sorry for such a gloomy column, but there is good news here.

The good news is that we can control what happens when it comes to keeping taxes low and raising local revenues. Supporting your local businesses by patronizing them first is to our local economy as what eating healthy, exercising, sleeping eight hours a day and taking vitamins is to your health.

Please support your local businesses even if it means waiting until you get back to Wilson County or not shopping online as often. Shopping outside Wilson County supports that community and only costs us in the long run, and shopping online doesn’t really help our community.

This is your county and your cities, so please take it personal. It’s like an investment in your future. Not supporting your local businesses is like depositing your paycheck in your neighbor’s bank account. It doesn’t really gain you any true benefit.

Call me selfish, but I like doing stuff that might benefit me and those who I care about. I care about you, our county, our local businesses and our children’s future. I want our children and the rest of us to have the most prosperous, faithful and friendly community in the world. We can have it and so much more if we support each other and our community with passion, enthusiasm and good old-fashioned good will, unity and teamwork.

We can’t control much of anything outside of Wilson County, but this is our house and our family, and we can make a difference in what happens here. Again, e-commerce is convenient, but if does not help our community like our businesses do. For example, e-commerce isn’t going to sponsor our local dance, basketball, baseball, football or soccer teams.

E-commerce isn’t going to build the ramp for the person in need, and e-commerce isn’t going to help the local family or families that lose everything in a fire, flood or national disaster.

Please help me support our local businesses today, tomorrow and every day going forward. They need us, and we need them, and only you can help make a difference that matters to Wilson County, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Watertown and all of our unincorporated parts of Wilson County.

We and they need your support now more than ever.

God bless the USA and God bless Wilson County and all those who call it home. Now, let’s go win one for Wilson County.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Photo courtesy of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Amanda Nuckoles, of Mt. Juliet, was announced Tuesday as a member of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s 2018 class of Dole Caregiver Fellows. Nuckoles, a mother of three, cares for her husband, who was wounded in 2007 as a soldier in Iraq.

Charis Health Center currently offers well-woman exams each Wednesday through Friday at the Mt. Juliet clinic and physical therapy each Tuesday at its satellite clinic at the Glade Church.

Charis expanded its hours in January to be open Monday through Friday at one of the two locations in Mt. Juliet and Gladeville.

“As our hours and services continue to expand to serve the growing number of our neighbors in the health care coverage gap, we are in need of medical and non-medical volunteers who want to have an impact on our community,” said Lea Rowe, executive director of Charis Health Center. “Anyone who has ever thought they might want to go on a medical mission trip can help us serve physical, mental and spiritual needs right here in our own backyard as we’re #BringingTheMissionHome.”

Charis Health Center is a nonprofit faith-based primary care clinic with no political affiliation. Its mission is to provide effective and affordable primary health care to the medically uninsured in Middle Tennessee.

Medical and non-medical volunteer opportunities are available, including:

• clinic operations for non-medical front office staff who greet patients, set appointments, answer phones and collect payments.

• clinic nursing for certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, nurses, phlebotomist, and nurse practitioners who perform patient intake, vitals, blood draws and work alongside the medical staff.

• board of directors for those unable to volunteer at a clinic, there are opportunities to serve on the board of directors, particularly individuals with a background in finance and accounting, marketing and business, as well as the medical profession.

For more information on becoming a Charis Health Center volunteer, call 615-773-5785.

Charis Health Center provides routine examinations, assessments and basic laboratory testing. There is a $25 copay for an office visit. A well-woman exam, including a free mammogram referral, is $40. Appointments are required. 

In Mt. Juliet, clinic hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. and well-women checkups, PAP smears and mammogram referrals are available Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

In Gladeville at the Glade Church, clinic hours are Tuesdays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.  

For more information about Charis Health Center, call 615-773-5785 or visit

Staff Reports

Rock Bottom Brewery donates to Veteran Hills Farms

Jacob Smith •  Mt. Juliet News
Rock Bottom Brewery in Nashville donates $10,000 to veteran Ray Russell’s project to create a farm for wounded veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rock Bottom Brewery in Nashville donated $10,000 to a local veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder with plans to start a farm for other disabled veterans with PTSD.

The brewery pledged in October to donate 25 cents for every Hoppy Tonk IPA sold, as well as 15 percent of the store’s sales Nov. 11, to Veterans Hill Farm.

Ray Russell, formerly of Mt. Juliet, who now lives in Gainesboro, founded Veterans Hill Farm and presented Rock Bottom Brewery brewmaster Tomas Mercado with a certificate of appreciation for their donation.

Russell started farm work as a way to keep himself occupied. Little did he know how much relief the work would give him.

“I just really busted my rear end and started getting the barn set up,” said Russell. “In that process, you know, every time I went down to feed the chickens they would all line up and come up to me, and I would interact with them. I haven’t been working since I was diagnosed. My late wife passed away four years ago and it really hit me with my PTSD. So, while I was working the farm and everything I saw how much it was helping me. I had been seeing a therapist but I hadn’t really been feeling good, and I noticed what the farm was doing for me, so I thought, I got to make other people feel the way I do.”

What Russell came up with was a project called Veterans Hill Farm, a 30-acre piece of land he’s currently in the process of converting into a refuge for veterans like himself who suffer from PTSD.

What Russell hopes will happen is that those who suffer can come work and live on the farm, where they will learn skills such as yoga, martial arts and cooking and hopefully find the same peace that Russell himself was able to find.

“We have a farm-fresh chef who wants to come over here and teach how to make farm-fresh food, healthy and easy,” said Russell. “That’s a big thing right there, because people don’t realize how much health issues are attributed to PTSD. There’s a ton of heart attacks involved with PTSD, because anything stress related, we get multiplied.”

According to Russell, the project is still in phase one of a three-phase plan. Russell estimates it will cost about $100,000 to finish clearing the land for the farm, which he hopes to raise by the end of 2018.

Once the land is cleared, Russell wants to build tiny houses to house the veterans who live on the farm. He estimates it will cost a total of $500,000 to complete the project, money he is hoping to raise by July 2019.

“The biggest thing right now is exposure,” said Russell. “We just got to get the word out there. I want this to be a national thing.”

According to Mercado, the brewery is currently working on a partnership with Veteran Hill Farms which will allow the brewery to sell beer year-round and dedicate a piece of the profits to the project.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Russell. “We’re very thankful to them for what they’re doing for us. I just want to get the word out there. People don’t realize how much help is needed for PTSD. Right now 22 of us are dying every day from suicide, and we only represent 1.3 percent of the population. We represent a higher percent of the population with suicide than any other group.”

More information about Veterans Hill Farm may be found at The GoFundMe page for the project is at, and Russell may be reached by email at

By Jacob Smith

Paws for a Cause 5K upcoming in Mt. Juliet

Registration for the Paws for a Cause 5K run or walk series opened this week.

The event will be March 3 at 10 a.m. at Charlie Daniels Park.

The Paws for a Cause 5K is a series that benefits local animal welfare shelters across the country. The money raised at the event in Mt. Juliet will go to New Leash on Life, a Wilson County animal shelter.

The event invites people to run or walk a 5K race with their pet.

“We ask that your dog, cat, ferret, iguana or other such pet be on leash and cats and dogs need to have proof of current rabies vaccine, per Tennessee state law,” said New Leash on Life executive director Angela Chapman. “A rabies tag, a rabies certificate or something from the veterinarian showing proof will suffice.”

Tito’s Handmade Vodka and its Vodka for Dog People program will sponsor the event.

“The event series brings communities together for a day of fun, all in support of our furry friends,” said Chapman. “The vision of the Vodka for Dog People is to unite with our friends, fans and partners to better the lives of pets and their families far and wide.”

The race will feature custom finishers medals, T-shirts, goodie bags, commemorative race bibs, awards and raffles and Flash Magnets will be on site to provide complimentary magnet photos from the race.

For participants 21 and older, there will also be an after party that will feature Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Registration through Feb. 24 costs $37; after that, it will increase to $42 until the registration deadline March 2 at 3 p.m. The entry fee includes a drink ticket from Tito’s Handmade Vodka for the after party.

For more information or to register for the event, visit

By Jacob Smith

The Hermitage receives famous Jackson equestrian statuette

Submitted to The Democrat
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage recently acquired a limited-edition 19th-century zinc statuette modeled from Clark Mills’ famed Andrew Jackson equestrian statue in front of the White House in Washington.

NASHVILLE – Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage recently acquired a limited-edition 19th-century zinc statuette modeled from Clark Mills’ famed Andrew Jackson equestrian statue in front of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Purchasing the prized collection object was part of a yearlong commemoration of Jackson’s 250th birthday.

The original 1853 equestrian statue is in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square. In addition to a replica at the Tennessee State Capitol, other full-size replicas are displayed in New Orleans’ Jackson Square and downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

“As a collecting institution, we are proud to house important historical artifacts that bring life and context to President Jackson. Clark Mills’ statue is the quintessential Andrew Jackson sculpture,” said Howard J. Kittell, president and CEO of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. “It represents Gen. Jackson as a valiant victor, who along with his troops, led a stunning defeat of the British army at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. We look forward to showcasing this statuette on-site for our visitors.”

The zinc statuette was one of 22 that were cast in the late 1850s. Of the 22 known statuettes, 18 are already owned by collecting institutions, with virtually no chance of their ever coming onto the market. The institutions include the New York Historical Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the White House, the Virginia Military Institute and the Tennessee State Museum. Of the remaining four, one was badly damaged, leaving only three as possible candidates for acquisition. It made the Andrew Jackson Foundation’s purchase even more significant.

The Hermitage’s acquisition of the piece was made possible by a contribution from Jackson National Life Insurance Co. in Jackson.

“At Jackson, we believe in supporting local nonprofits that provide opportunities for families to enrich their lives, and we support the Hermitage in its mission to provide quality historical and educational content,” said Emilio Pardo, chief marketing and communications officer at Jackson.

“We hope the Nashville community and visitors to The Hermitage will enjoy seeing the iconic Jackson equestrian statuette.”

The original Lafayette Square statue – along with its recasts and statuettes – features Gen. Jackson tipping his hat atop his horse. It is considered the first major bronze monument successfully cast in the United States. In addition, the statue is unusual in that the horse is rearing up and supported on its hind legs with both front legs raised. This is the first example of a self-supporting equestrian statue so posed. At the time of the statue’s creation, no other noted statue was successfully cast this way.

The original statue was commissioned by the Jackson Monument Committee in 1848 to commemorate Jackson’s distinguished military career. Mills, a self-taught sculptor, cast the statue in 1852, and it was dedicated in 1853.

On March 15 each year, the Hermitage pauses to remember the birthday and accomplishments of Jackson – the orphaned son of Irish immigrants who grew up to become a Tennessee pioneer, one of America’s foremost military heroes and political leaders and the seventh president of the United States. Jackson was born in South Carolina 250 years ago. While he spent his youth in the Carolinas, Tennessee was his adopted home. In 1804, Jackson bought the farm near Nashville that he would name the Hermitage and call home for the rest of his life. He was buried there in 1845.

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage: Home of the People’s President is one of the largest, most well-preserved and most visited presidential homes in the United States. Opened to the public in 1889, the Hermitage is one of America’s first presidential museums. The Hermitage is currently a 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark with 27 historic buildings, including Jackson’s mansion and tomb, restored slave cabins, a church and gardens. In recent years, new interpretive initiatives and educational programs such as archaeology and the history of slavery have enhanced the experience of 200,000-plus annual visitors. In 2015, the Hermitage launched Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm, a state-of-the-art exhibit that delves into the life of Andrew Jackson, including his military and presidential careers. For more information, visit

Staff Reports

Wilson jobless rate slightly increases

Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced Thursday unemployment rates in November remained low across the state and the vast majority of Tennessee counties continue to experience rates below 5 percent.

Davidson and Williamson counties tied for the lowest unemployment in the state with rates of 2.5 percent, a slight increase of 0.3 percentage points compared to October.

Eight of the 10 lowest county unemployment rates in November were in Middle Tennessee, with Knox and Sevier counties in East Tennessee rounding out the list. All counties in the top 10 had a rate below 3 percent and unemployment rates in 87 Tennessee counties remained under 5 percent in November.

“The economy remains strong in Tennessee, but we are not going to let up on our Drive to 55 to ensure our workforce is ready for the demands of employers in the years to come,” Haslam said. “And we’re keeping our focus on creating a business-friendly environment that will continue to attract jobs and make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Lauderdale County had the highest unemployment rate in November, at 5.5 percent, a 0.3 percentage point increase from the previous month. Rhea and Bledsoe counties both had rates of 5.4 percent, which represents a 0.1 percent increase for Rhea County and a 0.5 percent increase for Bledsoe County.

Wilson County’s unemployment rate in November was 2.7 percent, a 0.3 percent increase from October and a 1.1 percent decrease from the same time last year. Wilson County’s rate in November represented 1,880 unemployed workers compared to a 69,750-person workforce and does not include those who did not file with the labor department or no longer receive benefits.

Lebanon’s rate for November rose to 3.1 percent, a 0.2 percent increase from October. The city’s rate represented 460 unemployed workers compared to a 14,560-person labor force. 

Mt. Juliet’s rate for November landed at 2.6 percent, a 0.3 percent increase from October. The rate represented 450 unemployed workers compared to a 17,380-person work force.

The unemployment rate for Nashville-Murfreesboro metropolitan area, which includes Wilson County, remained at 2.3 percent in November. The rate represented 23,710 unemployed workers compared to a just more than 1 million-person workforce.

Tennessee’s statewide unemployment rate in November was 3.1 percent – 0.1 percent higher than October, but two percentage points lower than it was in November 2016.

The rate represented 98,400 unemployed workers compared to a 3.2 million-person workforce.

The national unemployment rate for November was 4.1 percent, unchanged from October. The national rate represents more than 6.6 million unemployed workers compared to a workforce of just more than 160 million people.

By Xavier Smith

New business booms in 2017

Several projects expected to finish during 2018

Wilson County welcomed several new businesses in 2017, along with the start of some projects expected to finish in 2018.

Mt. Juliet

Konnector Woodfire Grille opened in Mt. Juliet in October at the same location as a former popular restaurant with a similar name.

The restaurant, owned and operated by Konnector Restaurant Group, is at 3950 N. Mt. Juliet Road, which formerly housed Woodfire Grille.

Konnector Grille in Mt. Juliet offers Nashville hot chicken and Southern-style cuisine in a family dining environment. The restaurant includes a private dining room that guests can reserve for meetings and other occasions.

Other Mt. Juliet businesses include:

• Burgerism – Burgerism opened in November in Providence Marketplace. The restaurant replaced Which Wich in Providence.

• Ashley Furniture HomeStore – Ashley Furniture opened in November at 56 Belinda Parkway in the former H.H. Gregg building.

• Hobby Lobby – Hobby Lobby will occupy the former Gander Mountain building on Belinda Parkway in the Providence Marketplace area. The store is expected to open in 2018.

• Nothing Bundt Cakes – Nothing Bundt Cakes will occupy the former Ace Hardware Store on N. Mt. Juliet Road, according to Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin. The business is expected to open in 2018.


Lebanon’s business and entrepreneurial spirit culminated with the Cumberland Ignite Lab, a central meeting space for businesses and business owners to share information, learn and work with other owners and professionals. The venture is a partnership with Cumberland University, the city of Lebanon and Historic Lebanon to create a co-working and entrepreneur space in an underutilized Lebanon Square building.

“Our hope is to connect people, resources and information together and help turn ideas into a reality,” said Sarah Haston, Lebanon economic development director.

The center is at 104 E. Main St.

Other Lebanon businesses include:

• Bojangles – Bojangles opened in November at 906 S. Hartmann Drive.

• Dean’s Hot Chicken and Waffles – Dean’s opened in September on the Lebanon Square, bringing the Nashville hot chicken craze to Lebanon.

• Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Dickey’s opened in September at 115 S. Hartmann Drive and marks the Texas-based chain’s fifth location in Tennessee.

• NYNY Pizza – NYNY Pizza completed its move to the Lebanon Outlet Marketplace in September after 10 years in Mt. Juliet.

• Panera Bread – Panera opened in June at its South Cumberland Street location. The location offers a drive-thru.

By Xavier Smith

City manager talks 2017 success

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Martin looks to future growth in 2018

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin talked about his excitement for the coming year, as well as the success the city had in 2017.

According to Martin, the city featured more than 40 new businesses open in 2017, including Culver’s, Dairy Queen, Kona Ice, Krystal, Sports Clips and more.

Martin said there are already several businesses scheduled to open in 2018. Some of the businesses that will be breaking ground will be Hobby Lobby, Jason’s Deli, Nothing Bundt Cakes, I-Hop and a Honda dealership.

“In order to maintain this wonderful trend, we must do all we can to support all of our local businesses,” said Martin. “Not only does this show the current businesses that we care, but it also shows any potential new businesses that we, indeed, support our local businesses on every level. Doing so also keeps our local sales dollars local. The sales tax dollars then go to cover the costs of out police, fire, teachers and other much-needed public services, which, in turn, also helps keep our taxes low.”

“I wish to thank all of the many business owners that have invested in and supported our great community. The services and products you provide are a big part of what makes our community so wonderful, and for that we are most thankful and blessed.”

The Eastern Connector, which connects the Beckwith Road interchange with Lebanon Road and reduced traffic issues on Mt. Juliet Road, opened in July. The road, just less than three miles, connects Lebanon Road to the Beckwith Road interchange at I-40.

“This project has been going on for about 10 years or so and there’s a lot of people who played a role in this – citizens, state, county and local government and our elected officials. There’s not enough we can say to show our true appreciation,” Martin said at the time the connector opened.

“This is such an exciting day. The city of Mt. Juliet was incorporated in 1972, so for 45 years, there has been one way in and one way out. As of today, we’re doubling the capacity of Mt. Juliet Road with this road right here,” said Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty when the connector opened in July.

The road features four lanes and a grassy median, along with a bridge to go over the Nashville Eastern railroad, which carries the Music City Star, and East Division Street.

Crews worked on the roadway since 2015. More than 283,000 cubic yards were excavated, 119,000 tons of base stone was placed, 3,227 cubic yards of concrete was used and more than 52,500 tons of asphalt was rolled.

Mt. Juliet split the cost of the project with the Federal Highway Administration, with oversight from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Andy Barlow, Mt. Juliet deputy public works director, said he believes the city will have other north-south connectors in the future, but none as big or impactful as the Eastern Connector.

Mt. Juliet officials dedicated two of the city’s newest parks in November after citizens donated land and worked to bring the parks to fruition.

The city dedicated Eagle Park on West Division Street on Nov. 13. The park was an Eagle Scout project for John Forth with Troop 150. It’s a bicycle park aimed at increasing safety and awareness for young cyclists. Children can learn to ride a bike at the park, as well as the rules of the road.

State Rep. Susan Lynn had the idea to build a guardrail along the street next to the park after she saw how nervous parents were about its close proximity to cars.

“At the time, I had five grandchildren, ad we enjoyed bringing them to this new park,” said Lynn at the time. “It’s absolutely wonderful, and the children love it, but coming here, even the first time, you could feel that traffic was swift. Parents were sort of helicoptering around their children just because they could feel the swift traffic.”

Lynn proceeded to put in a budget amendment for $10,000 at the General Assembly and used the money to build the guardrail.

Mt. Julier Mayor Ed Hagerty praised the community for coming together to get the park built.

“This is probably the best example of a true public-private partnership,” said Hagerty. “We had a private party, the Eagle Scout John who was involved, we had the [Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee] involved, we had the state of Tennessee involved and we had the city involved. That is the best way to get projects accomplished.

Eagle Park is 100 yards long, 40 yards wide and in the shape of a figure eight as a mini-road course.

The Robinson Park dedication also took place Nov. 13 at the corner of Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road.

Bill and Phyllis Robinson with Robinson Properties donated 11 acres to the city to create the park. It features a half-mile wrap-around hiking trail and outdoor fitness equipment.

“I think parks are important, because sometimes you can just be going through a hard time in life, and you can just come to a park and walk around and think,” said Martin.

Girl Scouts with Troop 425 worked to turn the park into a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

The park offers homes to birds, bees, bats, ladybugs and butterflies.

“We hear a lot about how people want more parks and recreation areas,” said city Commissioner Brian Abston. “In the last three or four years, that’s the direction we’ve been going, and with these two parks today, we’re continuing to move in that direction.”

Martin said there are several city projects on schedule for 2018 he hopes will come to fruition. One such project is the addition of two new traffic signals at Highway 70 and Park Glen and Belinda Parkway and Providence Trail.

There are also plans to start a new city greenway along West Division Street and widen the bridge at Interstate 40 and Mt. Juliet Road.

“[These are] just a few of the projects we’d like to start and/or complete in 2018,” said Martin. “Happy New Year to all and [we wish] everyone a wonderful 2018.”

By Jacob Smith

IHOP, At Home coming to Mt. Juliet

Mt. Juliet will soon be home to IHOP and At Home, according to Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin, who announced the new businesses Friday.

IHOP, the multinational pancake house and diner-style table service restaurant, and At Home, a home décor chain, will be in the Paddocks at Mt. Juliet.

Martin announced last month Nothing Bundt Cakes and Hobby Lobby would also expand into Mt. Juliet.

Nothing Bundt Cakes will occupy the former Ace Hardware Store on North Mt. Juliet Road, according to Martin. Nothing Bundt Cakes, which specializes in hand-decorated cakes, has a few locations in Middle Tennessee, including Hendersonville, Murfreesboro and Nashville.

Hobby Lobby will go in the former Gander Mountain building on Belinda Parkway in the Providence Marketplace area. Ashley Furniture HomeStore recently opened in the former H.H. Gregg building, also on Belinda Parkway.

By Xavier Smith