Signs, signs, everywhere are signs…missing

It’s a common sight during an election year to see thousands of political signs throughout Wilson County, but many become casualties in an ongoing battle to get candidates’ names out there.

For both new and seasoned candidates alike, the reality of missing signs during a campaign continues to create problems – among them cost, supply and demand, those victims of cities  sign ordinances, theft, vandalism and other issues.

For businessman Tim Leeper, owner of Leeper Roofing, his venture into political support this year resulted in one of his signs stolen. He placed a political sign near his Mt. Juliet office on Lebanon Road in front of Tractor Supply close to the Davidson County line.

“There were three signs that were right next to it, and those signs remain,” Leeper said. “It’s frustrating because we want to support the candidate who will do the best job for the county. In this case, it was the mayor.

“I placed it to the side, so it would be visible. It’s pretty frustrating that people would stoop to that level to steal someone’s sign. I know it’s something that happens quite a bit, but it’s never happened to me.”

The sign Leeper said was stolen was in support of Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, who seeks his third term as mayor. Hutto said it’s par for the course – but it shouldn’t be.

“I think that No. 1, we have a lot of people putting out signs,” Hutto said. “It takes a lot of time to put them in the ground and get them in the right place, and when they are taken down, it’s tough.

“The second part of that, when your opponents’ sign is missing, you automatically get blamed for it. Knowing all the hard work that goes into it, you wouldn’t want your signs taken down, so you wouldn’t want your opponent’s signs taken down.

“A sign is a whole lot more than just a sign, you might say. I would hope no one’s sign gets gone.”

Hutto said he and his team of volunteers try to keep a watch out for missing signs and replace them when they go missing.

Hutto’s challenger in the mayor’s race is former state Sen. Mae Beavers. She took to Facebook recently to express her feelings about the 10-15 signs she’s noticed went missing in the past three weeks or so.

“We are missing a lot of signs in Lebanon, even big ones,” Beavers said on Facebook. “I will give a reward to anyone who gives us information leading to the arrest of the persons responsible. Play fair and run on the issues.”

Beavers said each sign costs $25 and more for larger ones. She said she’s seen signs missing from yards, along roadsides, etc. She said her husband, Jerry, also say several signs scattered along the interstate after the state mowed the right-of-way recently.

“I’ve been in this long enough to see all kinds of people do things like this,” Beavers said. “This has been going on for about three weeks now. It happens all the time, but it doesn’t make it easy, because candidates have a lot of money invested in signs…We’ve lost a lot of money on signs. I don’t want to speculate on who might be doing it.”

In the past two months, only one police report was filed in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and with the sheriff’s office. According to Lebanon police Sgt. P.J. Hardy, the sign was in support of Aaron Shane, a candidate who challenged state Rep. Susan Lynn for the District 57 House seat in the Republican primary. The sign was reported stolen at the intersection of Lebanon Road and State Route 109. Shane didn’t respond to The Democrat’s request for comment.

Melani Stephens owns Absolute Auto Repair at the intersection and often supports candidates by allowing them to post signs near her business.

“Usually, candidates will call me and ask to put their signs up here,” Stephens said. “If there’s a sign there from a candidate we don’t support, I’ll call them and ask them to remove their signs. I’ll give you ample opportunity to remove them, and then I’ll take them down and keep them so they can come pick them up within a reasonable amount of time.”

However, Stephens said she wasn’t responsible for Shane’s missing sign and indicated it likely was stolen from another corner of the intersection.

Lynn, who Shane challenged for House in the primary, said missing signs are something candidates come to expect during an election year.

“I think that the city of Mt. Juliet has taken a few, but that was because people just didn’t know [about the sign ordinance], but I don’t know of any that were taken out of anyone’s yard,” Lynn said. “You just have to factor in a certain amount of collateral damage, and signs are a part of it.”

Some political signs fall victim to city sign ordinances.

“They’re just prohibited in city rights-of-way, but during election season, in order to avoid charges of political favoritism or discrimination, I usually advise codes to take a very liberal position on enforcement,” said Lebanon city attorney Andy Wright. “If they’re causing any kind of issue or there’s a complaint or if there’s just too many of them in one place, then they’ll be removed.”

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin also shared a Cliff’s Notes version of his city’s sign ordinance.

“Temporary signs in general are permitted on residential and commercial lots,” Martin said. “For safety and other reasons, we prefer that no signs be placed in the rights of way. This allows for our maintenance and utility crews to perform daily duties like mowing and utility work. It also helps reduce sightline issues often created by multiple signs being placed in the rights of way or on corners and intersections where motorists enter the main roads.”

Matt Mock, a newcomer to the Wilson County political scene this year, challenged incumbent Bill Robinson for the Wilson County Board of Education seat in Zone 2. Mock was a recent victim of missing political signs, and he also took to Facebook to express his displeasure.

This week, Mock pledged to sit in his vehicle at various locations where his signs went missing for two to three hours each day to look for anything suspicious.

Mock said Tuesday he had about four signs left before he would have to order more.

“I had 18 signs on Trousdale Ferry and down Highway 70; every one of my signs are gone,” Mock said. “Several of them in Tuckers Crossroads are gone.

“One of my signs was taken out of a sheriff’s deputy’s yard. I’m upset in the fact that someone has stolen from me. But I’m more concerned about someone’s safety.

“I honestly hope that one of the people in the other political camps would stoop to that level. I’m not going to speculate who I think it might be.”

Mock said the cost to replace the missing signs comes from his own pocket.

“I’m funding my own campaign, even though people have offered to buy me new signs. I don’t want to owe anyone anything if I am elected,” he said.

Robinson, who Mock challenged along with David Burks, said he was disgusted with the idea anyone would steal any candidate’s sign.

“There is no way I want anyone to bother anything of anyone else’s. I would never support that. That’s about as simple as I can put it,” Robinson said.

Burks couldn’t be reached for comment. 

Former Wilson County Property Assessor Jack Pratt, who decided four years ago not to seek re-election, summed up the missing sign conundrum for all candidates.

“The sign-stealing deal is an election-year given,” he said. “It’s just part of it.”

By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

Kenny Martin: Smiling, laughing good for your health

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Do you remember the old song “When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you?” If you have, then you know it’s true. If you haven’t tried this, try it.

Try walking into any business or workplace while smiling the whole time you’re in the place. As you continue to smile, watch the faces of other people around you. They will all begin to smile, as well. And if you really want other people to smile, and maybe even laugh, try going around with an exaggerated smile on your face.

As humans we just can’t help smiling when others are smiling. Don’t get me wrong. There will be some who are having a bad day who may not be able to smile because of a serious situation going on in their lives, but they will appreciate that you tried to help them smile.

Studies prove people are much healthier when they smile often. When you smile, natural chemical endorphins are released in the body. And what’s really cool is we sometimes put on a fake smile, and the brain doesn’t know the difference.

Here’s how it works. When you smile, you use muscles in your face that trigger or trick your brain into producing endorphins. These endorphins then travel through your body and make you feel better. It’s sort of a free vitamin H pick me up. Cool, huh? And by the way, H is the chemical sign for happy.

We all know that life gives us lots of reason to frown. Frowning actually creates as many wrinkles as smiling without the fun. So you tell me which one is the best for you from a vanity standpoint.

For example, you need help and don’t know who to turn to, who are you more likely to ask for help? Another example is you enter a retail store to do some shopping and two sales people approach you and one is smiling and the other is frowning. Which one are you most likely to ask for help? The answer is clear, because a smiling person will always seem more helpful, sympathetic, sincere, knowledgeable and healthy.

Life is much too short to spend any more time than necessary frowning or sad. The whole point of this article is to help you be more healthy and happy. Because when you are happy more people around you are happy. And when this happens, life is better for everyone. When you are happy at home, you are more likely to be happy while driving, while out and about or while at work.

You see, there isn’t much of anything wrong with smiling other than making frowning people jealous. We all strive to be happy and healthy. Smiling is the first step in that process. So please smile every chance you get and live happier and healthier for life. Smiling is indeed good for your health.

And by the way, laughing is a great way to build muscle, especially in the stomach area. Think about it. Every time you laugh, certain parts of your body tighten. The more you laugh, the more you tighten. You now have a whole new set of exercises to perform that include nothing more than smiling and laughing all while improving both internal and external health and fitness. Who ever thought exercise could be so much fun?

Keep on smiling and laughing for good health and happiness.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

From Kuwait to Nashville: A tale of two snapshots

Bobby Reynolds • Lebanon Democrat
Master Sgt. Jerry Speraw took two pictures with Darryl Worley, one from 2004 in Kuwait and another at this year’s CMA Fest.

In 2004, Master Sgt. Jerry Speraw was a military police officer stationed at the Kuwait City International Airport, where all planes that landed in Iraq had to stop before they proceeded.

While stationed there, Speraw met all kinds of people, including celebrities, who came through for the United Service Organization tour. Speraw remembered meeting people like John Elway, Robin Williams and Wayne Newton while he was there, but one visit from Darryl Worley and Mark Wills stood out to him.

“They were sitting in our holding area, and someone said, ‘Hey, there’s country singers here,’” said Speraw. “So, I went in there to see who it was, and we ended up talking for about an hour.”

While the two were there, Speraw got a picture standing between them with his M-16 rifle.

When Worley and Wills came back through Kuwait on their way home, Speraw said they talked some more, and he even gave his tactical vest to Wills.

“It was pretty cool, because we were just talking about hunting and stuff,” said Speraw.

Through the years, Speraw said he kept in touch with the two via Facebook. He retired from the military in 2015 after 21 years of service. He had planned to go see Wills at an event in Las Vegas, where he currently lives, this summer, but didn’t know he’d attend the CMA Fest in Nashville where Worley, who lives in Mt. Juliet, would perform.

“My girlfriend surprised me and got us tickets for my 45th birthday to go to Nashville for the CMAs,” said Speraw. “So, as we’re looking through all the event staff and everything as far as who’s playing where, I saw Darryl Worley, and I was like, ‘Oh, I really want to see Darryl Worley that day.’”

The two went to the performance, and afterward an event photographer was walking around talking to the attendees. Speraw pulled up the picture from 2004, which was still on his phone.

“I said, ‘Hey, can you go ask him if I can get an update picture, because this one is kind of old,’” said Speraw. “So, he went over and talked to Darryl for a minute, and then Darryl came over and shook my hand, and we talked for a couple minutes and everything, and he took another picture with me and my girlfriend, so it was pretty cool.”

When Speraw showed Worley the picture from 2004, Worley said he remembered when it was taken in Kuwait.

“Him and Mark Wills were both down-to-earth people,” said Speraw. “It was just a cool experience.”

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Bowfishermen clean up their act

Larry Woody

The popularity of bowfishing exploded so fast, and bowfishermen proved so skilled and successful, that in recent years it has created problems around some area boat ramps and docks.

Only rough fish can be taken by bowfishing, and since they are generally deemed inedible, piles of them were sometimes dumped out at the ramp and left to rot.

In warm months the stench, flies and flocks of flapping buzzards became so bad that some public ramps and docks – including those at Wilson County’s Misty Cove – were virtually unusable.

Some dead fish were also dumped at the Long Hunter Park launch ramp last spring. It wasn’t as bad as the Misty Cove mess, but bad enough. On one trip I discovered a dozen arrow-pierced carp strewn around the dock and parking lot. I smelled them before I saw them.

A flock of buzzards was working on clean-up detail. It wasn’t a pleasant way to start a day on the lake.

Awhile back while doing research for a magazine story about bowfishing, I interviewed an official with the Bowfishing Association of America, Jeff Nieball of Fayetteville, and he said he is aware of the concerns and working to address them.

Jeff said his association constantly reminds members about the importance of cleaning up after themselves, and is convinced that most of them do it. He said notices are posted on the association’s website and social media outlets, reminding bowfishemen not to dump their catches in public areas.

Fish that have been arrowed obviously can’t be released, and since the rough fish killed by bowfishermen are not considered fit for human consumption (although that could change), what can be done with a boat-load of carp, drum, gar and buffalo, some weighing as much as 80 pounds?

Jeff says he dumps his catch in the deepest part of the lake or in the river channel, where it is cleaned up by turtles and other scavengers.

To keep the mass of dead fish from floating on the surface and drifting up to shore, he sinks them by puncturing the air bladders.

Frank Fiss, chief of fisheries for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, agrees that’s the best way to dispose of them. Fiss says there is no specific TWRA regulation prohibiting dumping dead rough fish; the only restriction is whatever local anti-littering or public sanitation ordinances might be in place.

He says complaints should be presented to local officials rather than the TWRA.

Fiss is aware of the problem with dead fish being dumped at public ramps and docks, and says the Agency may have to deal with the issue at some point. But he, like Nieball, believes the vast majority of bowfishermen are ethical and conscientious, and will self-police the problem.

Meanwhile, there is another potential solution to the disposal problem: instead of dumping them, eat them.

There is a commercial market for trash fish, but it is extremely limited. The TWRA is working to expand it, and also suggests sampling such dishes as carp cakes and baked buffalo. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

It beats leaving them for the buzzards.

Larry Woody is Mt. Juliet News’ outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com.

Kenny Martin: Character counts, and it stands out

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Character is defined as a quality or trait that distinguishes an individual from others or a distinctive quality or trait. In other words, it’s a way of saying you have good moral and ethical beliefs.

Far too many people are placed in a positive light because of looks, money, stature and power. It begs the question, what really makes a person a good person? Are you a good person if you sing well, dance well or work hard? That only means you’re good at something. You’re probably asking, “OK, what does it take to be a good person?” It takes quite a few things to classify as a good person. You need faith, integrity, honor, dignity and good character.

Take a moment and think of someone with these qualities. As the old saying goes, they stick out like sore thumbs. They stand out, because they’re unique and dedicated as a good person. They go above and beyond on a regular basis for the good of their community, country and mankind.

It’s easy to be a thug, criminal, thief, liar, cheat or backstabber. But it’s tough to a good person. You’ll have people punishing you for speaking up for Christianity, pride for your country and looking out for your neighbor, while those who preach hatred and discontent go almost without an ounce of notice or resistance.

We have to convince our children, family, friends and fellow citizens of the importance of good character. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good person. It doesn’t mean you’re a nerd if you don’t cuss, drink or do drugs. And it definitely doesn’t make you cheesy for believing in God. That only makes you stronger. But those who don’t have the same moral and ethical beliefs will do all they can to discredit your lifestyle.

In closing, don’t ever be ashamed of being just a plain good person with high moral and ethical beliefs. Right will always be right, and wrong will always be wrong.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Bowfishermen cleaning up their act

TWRA fisheries director Frank Fiss holds a mounted Asian carp. The Agency is trying to halt the spread of the invasive species.

The popularity of bowfishing exploded so fast, and bowfishermen proved so skilled and successful, that in recent years it has created problems around some area boat ramps and docks.

Only rough fish can be taken by bowfishing, and since they are generally deemed inedible, piles of them were sometimes dumped out at the ramp and left to rot.

In warm months the stench, flies and flocks of flapping buzzards became so bad that some public ramps and docks – including those at Wilson County’s Misty Cove – were virtually unusable.

Some dead fish were also dumped at the Long Hunter Park launch ramp last spring. It wasn’t as bad as the Misty Cove mess, but bad enough. On one trip I discovered a dozen arrow-pierced carp strewn around the dock and parking lot. I smelled them before I saw them.

A flock of buzzards was working on clean-up detail. It wasn’t a pleasant way to start a day on the lake.

Awhile back while doing research for a magazine story about bowfishing, I interviewed an official with the Bowfishing Association of America, Jeff Nieball of Fayetteville, and he said he is aware of the concerns and working to address them.

Jeff said his association constantly reminds members about the importance of cleaning up after themselves, and is convinced that most of them do it. He said notices are posted on the association’s website and social media outlets, reminding bowfishemen not to dump their catches in public areas.

Fish that have been arrowed obviously can’t be released, and since the rough fish killed by bowfishermen are not considered fit for human consumption (although that could change), what can be done with a boat-load of carp, drum, gar and buffalo, some weighing as much as 80 pounds?

Jeff says he dumps his catch in the deepest part of the lake or in the river channel, where it is cleaned up by turtles and other scavengers. To keep the mass of dead fish from floating on the surface and drifting up to shore, he sinks them by puncturing the air bladders.

Frank Fiss, Chief of Fisheries for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, agrees that’s the best way to dispose of them. Fiss says there is no specific TWRA regulation prohibiting dumping dead rough fish; the only restriction is whatever local anti-littering or public sanitation ordinances might be in place.

He says complaints should be presented to local officials rather than the TWRA.

Fiss is aware of the problem with dead fish being dumped at public ramps and docks, and says the Agency may have to deal with the issue at some point. But he, like Nieball, believes the vast majority of bowfishermen are ethical and conscientious, and will self-police the problem.

Meanwhile, there is another potential solution to the disposal problem: instead of dumping them, eat them.

There is a commercial market for trash fish, but it is extremely limited. The TWRA is working to expand it, and also suggests sampling such dishes as carp cakes and baked buffalo. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a try.

It beats leaving them for the buzzards.

Larry Woody is The Mt. Juliet News’ outdoors writer. Email him at larrywoody@gmail.com. 

Kenny Martin: Serenity can be found in prayer, the Bible

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Does anyone remember the old commercial that made it seem that if you took a bath or soaked in this special soap you could be taken away from all your problems and worries?

If I remember correctly, the product was called Calgon, and according the product promoter, if you bathed or soaked in it, you could be taken away to a place of serenity. The catch phrase was, “Calgon take me away.” Well, as a small boy, I can remember thinking this product could do just that. Sort of like the York Peppermint Patty’s commercial, huh?

Well, life isn’t quite that simple. We can’t just simply turn to a product for serenity and peace of mind. Although, it is true to a certain extent these products can give you temporary relaxation and temporary satisfaction, they probably can’t give you serenity. It’s also true that the only true serenity comes in the form of prayer and the Bible.

One of my best friends reminded me recently of the Serenity Prayer as a way to soothe my worries and keep my priorities in place. The Serenity Prayer reads, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. How true.

Man-made products do have a way of helping us in our day-to-day lives. However, the only true serenity comes in the form of prayer and the Bible. So when things aren’t going so well in your life, and you are feeling a little down, pick up the best book in the world, the Bible, and find all the answers to your prayers and serenity.

It’s the one book that will always be on the bestseller list. It’s also the book that has the answer to all your questions.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Wilson County Schools offers program for young adults

Photo courtesy of Lisa Dickson
A past participant takes part in Wilson County Schools’ YouthLinks program, which helps young adults 18-24 years old find career opportunities.

A lesser-known program in Wilson County Schools exists specifically to assist young adults to find a career path.

The program, YouthLinks, has been a part of the school system for 18 years and has reached thousands of students in that time. The program is the result of a partnership between the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Wilson County Schools. It’s funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

It began as a during-school program that only operated in the summer. YouthLinks was created when the decision was made it should be a year-round program.

It also originally served students 14-21 years old, and now it reaches students 18-24 years old.

“About two years ago, they decided that they felt like our funds would be better used once they graduated high school,” said program director Lisa Dickson. “So, what they did was took our funds and kind of moved them, so when a young person graduates from high school, we can pick them up and carry them forward.”

What the program offers to young adults is to get them put on some kind of career path, whether that means attending a college or trade school or simply getting work experience in a field in which they’re interested.

“Everyone who enrolls in our program, they want them to leave with something better,” said Dickson. “If you come to us, we want you to get some kind of certification or if you want to get an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.”

Dickson said a big part of the program is to help the young people achieve meaningful, career-related employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency.

“They want it to be something that they can grow with career-wise,” said Dickson. “You can go out here and you can go to a fast-food place, but is that something you can do for the rest of your life, or is that something that you want to do for the rest of your life? So we try to get them into things that are driven by the business industry.”

To qualify for the program, a young adult has to meet certain guidelines.

“Basically, they have to have some sort of barrier,” said Dickson. “Now that barrier could be they don’t have transportation, they have asthma, they are in foster care. Maybe they have a hearing difficulty. You have to have a barrier. If they have taken the ACT multiple times but can’t advance or meet the minimum requirements of a university, we can take them on that. So, it’s really open on the barriers.”

Once someone is in the program, the employees will help with a variety of things, including filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, getting into school and helping out with some things financially.

“They may call and say, ‘my tires are bald,’ and we help them with those kind of support services,” said Dickson. “There are a lot of things that we can do in our program, but we can’t pay speeding tickets or fines or any kind of criminal activity.”

Dickson and her team has worked with thousands of students over the years, including Brooke Coleman, a former Tennessee College of Applied Technology student and work-based learning student who currently works as a supervisor at System Integrations in Lebanon.

“They helped be get into Tennessee College of Applied Technology, they took care of my books,” said Coleman. “They were kind of like the family I needed through the whole thing. I ended up leaving, and I really needed a job, and they actually didn’t give up on me. They got me into a work experience program, which was kind of like an internship, but they were paying me to go to work at System Integrations for three to four months, which I got hired on there from it. So, they helped me find that opportunity to find where I’m working at today.”

For people considering the program, Coleman said it provided some needed guidance for her following high school.

“They guided me through it to where I wasn’t alone and just trying to figure it out on my own, and, you know, they just helped me get to where I needed to go pretty quickly, so I could be on my feet and take care of myself without anybody helping me,” said Coleman.

Dickson said the workers with the program develop a personal relationship with everyone in the program. She still keeps in touch with a lot of the previous participants in the program.

“We really do care about what they do, where they go, their families, their kids,” said Dickson. “I mean, we’re in some of their weddings. We’re doing a wedding for one of ours in September who said, ‘will you come and help us?’ So, we’re helping her in her wedding. One of our case managers is actually the matron of honor in her wedding.”

For more information about the program, contact the YouthLinks staff at 615-444-3282.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Kenny Martin: Do you remember when?

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Do you remember when you were a little boy or a little girl? Do you remember when the most important part of your day was catching lightning bugs?

You remember, you’d get a Mason jar out, punch a bunch of holes in the metal lid, put a little grass in the bottom and head for the backyard. You’d run from one side of the yard to the other chasing the elusive lightning bugs. When the night was over, you’d place that jar beside your bed, turn out the lights and stare at the jar. You were amazed as the jar lit up every time a lightning bug flashed its colorful light. It was neat to enjoy something so sweet, innocent and carefree.

Then you’d fall off to sleep, dirty feet and all, without a care in the world. The next morning, you’d awake to find a stinky jar of wilted grass and fizzed-out lightning bugs sitting beside your bed. Life was carefree. You’d simply toss out the lightning bugs and move onto something else. Do you remember?

Think of a time when all you wanted was one of those, I believe they called them Suzie Bake Ovens, a G.I. Joe, a Tonka truck, a little red wagon, a Barbie Doll or a Daisy BB gun. Or when playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek and building a sheet tent was fun. We even thought dodge ball was fun, except when we got hit in the face. Do you remember?

It’s sad being a child doesn’t last longer. As an adult, I find myself reminiscing and missing the things I did as a child. And to be quite honest, I’d be afraid to do half the stuff I did as a child.

You know, like riding a balloon tire bike without any brakes, climbing a tree to the highest point or peddling my bike past the meanest dog on the block. Behind every adult today stands the somewhat weathered face of a yesterday child. A yesterday child is someone who has grown up on the outside as time – years and the elements have managed to age their exterior – but remains the same person they were when they were 10 but without the nerve and too much pride.

As an adult, you need to remember how to have fun. Most of us are so stressed with the day-to-day stresses of life that we can’t even manage, or don’t remember, how to have fun.

The moral of this story is that you as an adult must let your hair down and remember what is what like when you were a child. To see a grown man or woman laughing and screaming like a little child may seem strange at times to most of us, but in reality, it’s good for the heart and soul to just remember how to have innocent fun.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Teachers deserve few words of thanks

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

wanted to take a moment to thank all of our wonderful teachers for yet another great year and the wonderful work they do. Many times, we don’t say thank you enough to our wonderful teachers or we wait until after the end of the school year to do so.

Be it teaching at home, in a daycare or in the school system, our teachers do a wonderful job of teaching children. Teaching children can, at times, go without much notice or fan fair. However, I felt compelled to say thank you for all the hard work performed by teachers.

Teaching children is a calling that requires lots of love, heartache, patience and understanding. Teachers become close to and attached to the children they teach. They know when the children are happy, and they know when the children are sad.

They also carry the burden and heartache of the children who are hurting. These are the children who may not have slept the night before because of domestic situations in the home, the children who didn’t have breakfast before coming to school because of monetary reasons or the child who doesn’t live in a household filled with love and happiness.

For the most part, children appear the same on the outside. They appear to be happy, healthy children. When in reality, many are hurting on the inside and just begging for help. Unfortunately, many children aren’t sure who to turn to for help. But, luckily, we have great teachers who take on the huge responsibility of guiding not only happy children, but those suffering, as well. Teachers get to know their children well beyond names, addresses and telephone numbers. They get to know every little thing about the children they teach.

In this day and time, teaching is a harder profession than it ever has been, which is why I am so thankful to our teachers. I can’t imagine how hard your jobs are, but please know you are appreciated immensely.

To my friends and neighbors, please help me in thanking and honoring our wonderful teachers and school staff. Please know we honor and appreciate the wonderful work you do and respect you for everything you do.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Beware these summer heat dangers

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

In an effort to keep the wonderful people we serve safe, happy and healthy, I would like to remind our motoring community about a few of the bad habits I see while traveling our roadways.

Beware these summer heat dangers

With summer just around the corner and the recent deaths of unattended children, the elderly and pets in vehicles across the state and country, there is no time like the present to remind everyone of the importance of not leaving any child, senior citizen or pet unattended in an automobile.

Temperatures inside an automobile can reach temperatures up to 140 degrees in a matter of minutes. As you can tell from recent news stories and countless tragedies across the country, these tragedies just don’t happen to irresponsible parents. These tragedies can happen to anyone. Even caregivers and parents with the best of intentions can fall victim to these tragedies. With our busy and hectic lives, this can happen much easier than most truly realize.

It also never a good idea to leave pets, the elderly or children in unattended vehicles even when the vehicle is running and air conditioning operating. Assuming the air conditioning will continue to work while they are left unattended in an automobile is a dangerous practice that should never be attempted. The elderly, children and pets are prone to become overcome by rising temperatures inside closed automobiles and are oftentimes unable to seek help when needed. Unfortunately, the end result can be heat stroke or even death. Not to mention leaving pets, the elderly and children in cars while running has created many accidents, injuries and even deaths through the years because of cars that are put in gear intentionally or unintentionally.

I know that most of you are saying, “I would never dream of doing such a thing or taking such a chance.” However, statistics show that each and every year, far too many chances or oversights happen, which serious injury and death to not only humans, but pets, as well. Even with the automobiles windows down, temperatures can reach 125 degrees within 20 minutes.

Other dangers with summer heat and bright sunlight are sunburn, accidental burns and dehydration. Items within an automobile such as vinyl interior parts, metal interior parts and even leather can absorb the heat and sunlight, causing instant burns to unprotected body parts upon contact. Placing a car cover, window shades and even towels across prone areas of your automobile can prevent such tragedies from happening.

Sunburn can be avoided by covering exposed parts of the body with clothing, shade or sun blocking lotions. Dehydration can be avoided by drinking lots of liquids, especially water, regularly.

Thirst is one indicator of dehydration, but it is not an early warning sign. By the time you feel thirsty, you might already be dehydrated. Other symptoms of dehydration include but are not limited to:

• feeling dizzy.

• having a dry or sticky mouth.

• producing less sweat.

• pale cold skin.

• disorientation.

• nausea and lightheadedness.

And please don’t be fooled by cooler temperatures in the 70s and 80s. It doesn’t have to be in the 90-100-degree range to cause serious injury or death.

We must also do all we can to check in on the shut-ins, sick and elderly who live alone. These individuals can become overburdened with rising medical and utility costs often finding themselves without air conditioning. Making a decision when pills are piling up on what to cut from the budget can be tough when it comes to air conditioning in the middle of one of the hottest summers in recent memory.

Think about it, what would you cut first? Would it be replacing or repairing the air conditioning, buying food, paying the house note, medical, water, phone, electric or other bills? We can’t overlook these fine people. Please keep them in your thoughts.

In closing, I know these seem like silly commonsense reminders. However, preventing and eliminating further suffering, injuries and deaths can never be overrated or overstated.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Multitasking, driving don’t mix, so don’t do it

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

In an effort to keep the wonderful people we serve safe, happy and healthy, I would like to remind our motoring community about a few of the bad habits I see while traveling our roadways.

I’m hoping this column will help drivers and make them more aware of the unnecessary chances we sometimes take as drivers. 

We’ve all seen drivers talking on cellphones, making notes, reading, eating, changing clothes, shaving, putting on makeup, rolling or combing their hair and so on. And keep in mind, these are things we do as drivers while actually operating motor vehicles on the roadways and highways. Lots of these things are done in heavy traffic situations at high speeds, while others are done in low-speed caution areas like, school zones and construction areas.

With that in mind, and I don’t want to sound as if I’m preaching, but wouldn’t it be much safer to wait until you reach a stop sign or stop light, or simply wait until you’re stopped to attempt these activities? I know we’ve done it thousands of times and gotten way with it.

And I know we think we’re good at it, but accidents happen everyday because of people who thought they were good at something. I think this is like a lot of things we do. We’ve done it for so long, we begin to think certain things will never happen to us. It’s the, “oh, that always happens to the other guy” mentality.

As we all know, the human mind can only translate a certain amount of information in a given time. Trying to do three things at once while operating a motor vehicle is a dangerous practice. Therefore, I am asking that all motorists please try and do better at simply driving. Our fast-paced lifestyles and lack of time put us in situations where we’re forced to take chances at times in futile attempts at making up time. And I personally believe your life isn’t worth risking over making up time.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it scares me to think that a driver may be reading, making notes or just simply not paying attention while operating a motor vehicle beside, behind or in front of me. I think driving is a serious business that requires one’s full attention. I also think your life is too valuable to lose over drinking or drugged drivers and speeding and non-attentive drivers. Many a wonderful person has been taken from us because of accidents that didn’t have to happen. Some accidents aren’t actually accidents. They are events caused by people in a hurry, not paying attention and inebriated drivers.

In closing, please help yourself and others by paying more attention and slowing down. We like having you around and simply don’t want anything to happen to you.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Walkers, joggers, bicyclists should be visible

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

With Mt. Juliet’s rapid growth and warmer weather comes an even greater need for all citizens to use various safety measures while traveling and using our roadways. For example, with the increasing Mt. Juliet population, there will definitely be an increase in vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic and an even greater need to share the roadways safely.

Daily concern calls are received about both vehicular and pedestrian safety and the need for more citizen awareness. Citizens regularly report concerns about pedestrians walking, jogging or riding bikes, along the roadways and streets. Concerned citizens often report near misses with citizen’s walking at night along the roadway in dark and less-than-reflective clothing.

Many concerned citizen’s ask if a law could possibly be passed that would require walkers, runners, joggers and/or bike riders to wear reflective clothing at night and highly visible clothing during the day light hours. Citizens regularly suggest that biking, walking, jogging, running, skating and blading individuals be required to use lights and flashlights at night for proper illumination and visibility.

We always explain it is unlikely that a law would be passed but that we are always willing to pass along important safety information to help not only our motoring public but our walking, jogging, running, blading, skating and active community, as well.

Therefore, I would like to urge any citizen using the roadways for walking, jogging, running, skating, blading or riding bikes to please wear proper safety equipment when in or near the roadways.

Below are just a few tips to keep you and your family safe and visible when walking, jogging, running, or bicycling. I would also encourage our motoring public to use caution, as well, when traveling the roadways with our active citizens. We must share the roads at all times safely.

• Walkers, joggers and runners are encouraged to use flashlights and wear highly reflective and visible clothing at all times.

• Bicyclists are encouraged to wear proper safety equipment, as well, including helmet, gloves, eye protection and highly reflective and visible materials on both the clothing and bicycle.

• If walking, jogging or running with your pets, don’t forget to include them in your safety plan, as well. They won’t need a helmet, but they will need to have highly visible and reflective markings. Most pet stores carry reflective collars and vests for pets.

• If you have a cellphone, carry it in case of an emergency.

• Other safety materials include reflective armbands, vests and ankle straps just to name a few.

As you can imagine, these are only a few safety measures that you can use to make yourself safe while walking, jogging or riding a bike in or near the roadway. Our roadways are becoming busier everyday and we must do all that we can to make sure that we are safe and visible at all times.

The sooner a motorist spots you while driving down the roadway the sooner the motorist can process the needed information in order to make a safe maneuver around you.

Far too many pedestrians are struck and either seriously injured or killed because a motorist didn’t see them until it was too late. We must do all that we can to prepare and protect ourselves. So please be safe and visible out there. 

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Getting an F isn’t always bad

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

In school, we always hated or feared getting an F on a paper, report, project or most importantly a report card. As a result you might not have been a big fan of the letter F. But an F isn’t always bad.

For example, without the letter F we wouldn’t be able to spell words such as future, fun, fast, festive, festival, fair, first, food, fuel, flight and football.

All words we really like. But the more I think about the letter F, the more I think about faith, family and friends. Without those three words the rest of the letters that begin with the letter F really wouldn’t mean near as much.

In other words, we should always embrace and keep faith, family and friends in our lives. Unless we take time to realize what life is all about and it’s many blessings, it will be difficult to truly enjoy and appreciate it to the fullest. 

Another wonderfully important word that starts with F is forgiveness. As human beings, we are not perfect, and are flawed in various ways. As a result, we sometimes don’t get things just right, perfect or as we hoped for or planned.

I now truly understand how precious the letter F can be. Without it, we would be hard pressed to understand just how blessed we are to have faith, family and friends in our lives. So, please live life to the fullest by embracing and enjoying your friends and family.

Sometimes doing so may require a little faith and forgiveness.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: How to save money and have more fun

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

get daily questions from folks who want ideas on how to save money in today’s economy. When I get asked that question, the first thing I usually say is the best way to save money is to spend or waste less.

At least that seems to be what works best for me. But I think of myself as conservative, while others think of me as cheap. And that’s OK. I’ve been cheap, I mean conservative, all of my life, so I’m sort of used to it now.

Another way to save money is to use less electricity. For example, I usually set my thermostat to 75 degrees or higher during the day and no lower than 74 degrees at night. I agree. It isn’t as cold as I would really like for it to be, but it could always be a lot hotter. Think about it, if your air conditioner goes out all together, 74 will seem like wintertime. I also converted most of the bulbs in my house to energy-efficient bulbs. It has been said that switching one regular bulb to an energy efficient bulb can save up to $30 per year.

I also close the blinds to my house during the day during the summer months and open them during the winter months. This allows the sun to heat your house in the winter, and the closed blinds keep it cooler during the summer. During cooler summer months, I turn the air conditioner off entirely and open the windows.

Here are some more money-saving ideas:

• Don’t leave water running when you shave or brush your teeth.

• Turn water heater temperature back.

• Take cooler showers to save on energy. It’s actually even better for your skin.

• Leave and use less lamps or lights during night hours while home.

• Remember to turn lights off when a room is not in use.

• Unplug rarely used electronic devices.

• Clean air filters regularly.

• Seal all gaps around windows and doors.

• Drink water while dining out instead of sodas or tea.

• Turn off the television and play board games or read.

• Clip coupons.

• Haggle for better deals. It’s always no unless you ask.

• Shave your head to make you more aerodynamic – just kidding.

• Keep oil and air filters changed and tire pressure checked.

• Take extra stuff out of the trunk of the car. More weight burns more fuel.

• Keep the car clean and waxed.

• Keep windows up on the interstate and down within the city to avoid using the air conditioner.

• Spend your money in your own community to avoid longer drive times and taking your sales tax money to another community. This saves us all money in the long haul.

• Don’t waste any of your 86,400 seconds per day. Time is money.

As you can tell, I could go on and on about saving money. What you save today by becoming more efficient and wise, you can use to dine out, go to the movies and have more fun with your family and friends. So please look at saving money on other stuff as a great way to pay for a date night, a movie and new car or whatever you want. Wasting less is a great way to save and do more, all while helping out the environment.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Consider a teen driving contract

Kenny Martin

With all the recent tragic fatal accidents that involve teens across the country, I thought it would be a good time to remind all parents about teen driving contracts.

As we all know, when a teenager first learns to drive, it can be a parent’s worst nightmare or blessing. All parents worry constantly about their teenage drivers, especially the first time they turn them loose on their own.

That’s why you, the parent, may want to try a new concept. The concept is called teen driver contracts. This is a signed agreement between the new teen driver and the parents or guardians. The contract will hopefully make the process easier and more comfortable for all in-volved parties.

The contract states the obligations and responsibilities the teen or young driver will abide by and honor or risk losing their driving privileges. The contract holds the teen or young driver accountable for his or her actions and cuts down on time-consuming debates about not knowing and “if you’d only told me” excuses.

You may think to yourself, I don’t need a driving contract. Your teen may even tell you that other parents don’t have contracts with their teens, but you need to stick to your guns. A driving contract could save your child’s life or the lives of others. Young drivers need to understand the seriousness of driving and the possible consequences for violating the rules.

For example:

• automobile accidents are the leading cause of death in young people.

• teenagers are less experienced, more impulsive, have less developed judgment and are much greater risk of getting involved in car wrecks.

• young drivers have overly casual attitudes about driving or worse, an attitude of driving as an entitled right, as opposed to an earned privilege.

• all parents wish to do everything they can to protect their children. But parents sometimes fail to take teenage driving as seriously as they should. Others recognize the seriousness of the problem but do not address it systematically and firmly.

• parents often resort to lecturing and to vague statements such as “You can drive when you show us you are responsible.” They often are not sure what rules they should establish, how to enforce them and how to communicate them clearly.

A teen driving contract lets the young driver know that you take driving very seriously and that driving is a serious matter. It also prevents unclear rules, confusion about rules and gives parents a way to clarify their thoughts about driving and get them down on paper. The contract also helps with enforcement of the rules. Teenagers’ cloudy and vague memories about initial rules put in place are quickly diminished when a signed and agreed upon contract is brought to the table. It also lets the young driver know the seriousness of signing a binding contract.

In closing, for parents or guardians interested in receiving a teen driving contract, contact Sharon at City Hall at 615-773-6204. The contracts are free of charge.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Don’t judge a book by its cover

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

There is an old saying, which states “don’t judge a book by its cover.” How true.

Just because everything looks fine on the outside doesn’t mean it’s good on the inside. For example, A human being can be smiling on the outside but crying on the inside.

Many a child starts out his or her day appearing fine on the outside, but on the inside, they’re in turmoil, agony and pain. They come from picture-perfect families, by all accounts, are the perfect example of the complete and happy family when in reality the family is suffering and on the verge of collapse.

As human beings, we must do all we can to assist those hurting children and families. We must look for the little warning signs and cries for help.

It’s not about being a busy body or minding ones on business. It’s about helping fellow human beings. As we all know, owning up to ones failures, shortcomings and problems aren’t easy.

That’s why we must get involved. Getting involved doesn’t have to be painful or difficult and can prove to be rewarding. Getting involved can be nothing more than a simple phone call to offer assistance in any form, especially prayer.

Some things that go on behind closed doors are illegal like domestic violence, child abuse and so on, which may at times require police investigation. Many a person’s life was changed for the better because someone got involved or advised the appropriate authorities with a simple phone call.

It is sad to think at this moment somewhere someone is hurting and crying out for help behind closed doors or on the inside but can’t mange to ask for help on the outside. Some even have evil intentions that we may not even notice.

The tragic stories we hear about on a daily basis are preventable. If you are someone or you know someone who is hurting and in need of help, don’t hesitate. Please call on a friend or your local law enforcement agency for help.

Life is too short to be unhappy, and life is too fragile to not report wrongdoing or suspicious behavior.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: On the many blessings of healthy living

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

As humans, we sometimes take for granted healthy living or realizing how truly blessed we are to have our health. Normally, only after we’ve lost something we had before, like good health, do most of us realize the many blessings that come with good health.

For example, the gift of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and so on are often taken for granted if you still posses those abilities. But imagine for just one moment losing any ability you currently posses, like the ability to see or pick something up.

Try closing your eyes and walking around or picking up something without using your hands. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Now imagine losing those abilities forever. Only those born with debilities or those who have lost abilities truly understand the difficulties with becoming unhealthy or debilitated.

Each morning we awake feeling well and healthy should be considered a blessing daily. Our health is not any more guaranteed than tomorrow. Nothing is guaranteed. That’s why we must awake each and every day appreciating our health and life itself. We must also pray for those who are hospitalized or currently ill.

A friend of mine dealing with a serious health setback reminded me of just how fragile health and life are. His health setback reminded me of the many important things I sometimes take for granted each and every day.

A simple cold can make you feel miserable for days and maybe weeks, but cancer therapy, including radiation treatments and chemotherapy can make you sick and miserable for days, weeks, months, years and even the rest of your life. When you put simple illnesses into perspective with life-altering and changing medical events, you can now see the blessings of good health.

Many families this moment are enduring months and months of medical treatments for a family member or loved one suffering from a serious medical illness or debilitating health problem. I can assure you that they would love nothing more than to see their loved one healthy.

As we all know, life can be tough and distracting, but we must strive to stay focused and keep a positive attitude. A positive attitude has a way of keeping you happy and healthy. There are many blessings we take for granted that others will never, ever know.

In closing, please pray for those in need, those suffering from illnesses and those with medical setbacks and their families.   

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: Know suicide prevention and intervention

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

Suicide knows no boundaries. There is no typical suicide victim. It happens to young and old, rich and poor. Many people, at some point in their lives, think or talk about suicide, but come to realize the crisis is temporary and death is permanent.

People in crisis sometimes perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel their life is out of control.

Research suggests the majority of people who attempt suicide literally do something to let others know their intentions before they act. These warning signs consist of personal behaviors, verbal and non-verbal communications and include, but are not limited, to:

• changes in personality such as sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive and apathetic.

• changes in behavior such as can’t concentrate on school, work or routine tasks.

• changes in sleep pattern such as bedridden, constant fatigue, insomnia and frequent nightmares.

• changes in eating habits such as loss of appetite and weight or overeating.

• loss of interest in friends, hobbies or other activities previously enjoyed.

• anxiety about money, personal health and other illnesses, either real or imagined.

• fear of losing control, going crazy or harming self or others.

• feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem.

• feelings of overwhelming guilt, shame, self-hatred and no hope for the future.

• drug- and alcohol-related problems or abuse.

• loss of religious or spiritual faith or in other personal beliefs or philosophies.

• the giving away of prized possessions.

• previous suicide attempts.

• talks about committing suicide.

• talks about putting together a will.

Most depression contains some element of grief and/or recent losses tied to death, divorce, separation, broken relationships, personal status, etc. Watch for statements like “nobody cares,” “everyone will be better off without me” and “I wish I were dead.” Mental and emotional illnesses such as bi-polar disorder are often tied to suicidal feelings.

Most people can be helped to get through their moment of crisis if they have someone who will spend time with them and take them seriously and help them talk about their thoughts and feelings. If you are someone or someone you know is going through tough times and are depressed or contemplating suicide, there are programs and places available to help. Please remember, you’ve got a friend.

For further assistance please contact your local law enforcement agency, the 24-hour Crisis Center at 244-7444 or the Hope Line at 800-SUICIDE.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.

Kenny Martin: What to do with those 86,400 seconds

Kenny Martin
City Manager
Mt. Juliet

As you awake each and every day do you have a routine or plan for your day? Most of us sort of go through the motions each and every day, Monday through Friday, without really truly thinking about it. We seem to become programmed to our routines.

Let me explain. Most people work a Monday-through-Friday job. Your routine, more than likely, sounds something like this. You awake in the morning and either exercise, shower, set out your clothes you will wear for the day, eat breakfast at home, in the car or at work.

After your first four hours of work, you take a lunch break for either 30 minutes or an hour. Sometimes you take more, but we won’t tell. You then work another four hours or more before you leave work. You either stop to pick up the children or they are now driving. You then either pickup dinner, or you go home and cook.

After dinner or supper, you help with homework, do homework or do chores before finally getting in some television or relaxation time, hopefully. At the end of the night, you get ready for bed, go to bed and finally awake from bed to do it all over again.

When Friday and the weekend arrive, you feel somewhat rejuvenated but wonder what you will do for the weekend. Not sure what there is to do, you settle on dinner and a movie. Saturday arrives, and again you find yourself wondering what to do. More than likely you will settle on dinner and another movie. Sunday arrives and you go to church. After church, you have lunch before returning home for the remainder of the day to rest up for a new workweek.

This may not sound exactly like your life, but for the most part, our days can feel as though they are turning into a routine or carbon copy of the day you had the day before, and so on. We sometimes feel as though we are just going through the motions and wonder what life is really all about.

Life will never be easy. There are peaks and valleys in life that everyone goes through. Life is a gift that should be enjoyed. There are some who even wish the weekdays away in order to get to the weekend sooner.

Think about it. There are 365 days in a year, 12 months in a year, 52 weeks in a year, seven days in a week, 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute and 86,400 seconds in a day. What are you going to do with your 86,400 seconds today and tomorrow?

Life is not dull. Life is not routine. Life is not guaranteed. We all have one life to live, and as each second passes, we lose yet another precious moment of life that we can never get back. Please remember the seconds pass quickly, so please enjoy each and every one of your 86,400 seconds each and every day with those you love, those you cherish and those who love and cherish you.

Life is much too precious to waste, so please live life to the fullest for it is never dull, routine, boring, meaningless or guaranteed.

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.