Styles for Stories kicks off to provide free haircuts

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News Children can get free haircuts at Genesis Career College through the Styles for Stories program.

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Children can get free haircuts at Genesis Career College through the Styles for Stories program.

The Kiwanis Clubs of Mt. Juliet and Lebanon partnered with Genesis Career College to promote literacy and a lifelong love of reading through the Styles for Stories program.

Children can visit Genesis, read and receive a free haircut. The program is available Tuesday and each second Tuesday of the month from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Genesis Career College at 1505 Noah Court in Lebanon.

“Please let us know you’re coming, so we have enough stylists available,” said Holly Goodwin with Mt. Juliet Kiwanis Club.

To make an appointment, call or text 615-784-5665 or email

Mt. Juliet man receives kidney from Oklahoma

Photo courtesy of Claremore, Okla. Daily Progress Rogers County, Okla. sheriff’s Cpl. Paul Tucker prepares to give one of his kidneys to Greg Morton on July 29.

Photo courtesy of Claremore, Okla. Daily Progress
Rogers County, Okla. sheriff’s Cpl. Paul Tucker prepares to give one of his kidneys to Greg Morton on July 29.

(MCT) – A Mt. Juliet man successfully received a kidney last week from an Oklahoma sheriff’s deputy who was a stranger a year ago.

Rogers County, Okla. sheriff’s Cpl. Paul Tucker underwent surgery Tuesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville to give a kidney to Greg Morton. As of that evening, both men were recovering well, according to their families.

Morton was on dialysis close to nine hours each night after suffering renal failure in December 2012.

Tucker’s wife, Jennifer, said his surgery went well. Morton’s wife, Shannon, said in a text, “nerves are running rapid,” as Greg’s time for surgery approached.

Morton was taken to the operating room July 26 at about 10 a.m. to meet with the recipient team of doctors who prepared him to receive Tucker’s kidney.

Morton’s words to doctors before surgery, according to his wife, were “please don’t drop it.”

Both wives were given pagers to receive information in the waiting area during the surgeries.

Shannon Morton said doctors anticipate the transplanted organ will do well since the men were a “one in a million blood match.”

On Friday, Morton left the hospital following the successful surgery. He and Tucker will be roommates for a bit at Morton’s Mt. Juliet home while the two men continue to recover.

Morton was born in Oklahoma, later moving to Texas, then to Mt. Juliet, where he worked with various country music performers before he became ill. Tucker, originally from Louisiana, settled in Oklahoma, marrying and having three children.

Tucker previously said, “I believe God put me in this world to help people.”

On Tuesday, Tucker helped Morton get a, “new lease on life. Now, we are family,” Shannon Morton said.

When Marti Jenkins, of Claremore, Okla., heard a college friend was in need of a kidney, she wanted to help.

She told her husband, Coy Jenkins – a major with the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office – about their friend, Greg Morton, who was in dire need of a donor kidney. Morton had been in renal failure since December 2012.

“When I found out that Greg and I were of the same blood type, O negative, I decided to get tested. My wife and I flew to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville in 2013 so I could continue more testing,” Coy Jenkins said.

“Everything looked great,” he said.

But it wasn’t.

The doctors informed Coy that even after the extensive testing, he would not be able to donate his kidney. The artery to his kidney also had to be a perfect match, and wasn’t.

“I had my heart and mind set on helping Greg, and it seemed perfect, but God still had a plan,” he said.

Morton was told by his doctors that if he could not find a living donor, to not expect a transplant for at least five years.

Friends began reaching out to everyone. Marti Jenkins turned to Facebook.

“I posted multiple times about Greg and really did not get much of a response, and I could tell, after so many postings, the interest dwindled. You can only share so often that people begin to not pay attention to it.  I thought, ‘I am just going to share it again.’”

That’s when Paul Tucker sent Marti Jenkins a private message, “How can I help Greg?”

Tucker had never met Morton. “As far as I knew, he was from Tennessee. I had no idea he had ties to Oklahoma,” Tucker said.

Morton was born in Shawnee, Okla. and grew up in Chelsea, Okla. He planned on a career in animal science while attending Oklahoma State University, but he got involved in a small band as a sound engineer and began traveling with them.

He pursued his work, working with top country music performers like Jo Dee Messina, Lorrie Morgan, John Michael Montgomery and Martina McBride, all in the early ’90s.

Eventually, Morton decided to get off the road, adopted two children from Russia and found a job where he could be home every night.

Before the transplant, Morton was on a dialysis machine close to nine hours a night. “It’s a way of life for him,” his wife, Shannon Morton, previously said.

But life was beginning to change for all of them.

“Marti sent me a text that she thinks she found an exact match. She said it was a deputy that her husband works with. It is truly unbelievable that a person came out of the woodwork, that doesn’t even know Greg or I, to do this,” Shannon said.

Tucker said, “I believe God put me in this world to help people.” He began making calls and got in touch with Vanderbilt.

“They informed me after the tests that I was very compatible. I never once thought why I was doing this. The guy needed help and I was going to help him.”

But when Tucker’s daughter was admitted to the hospital with a rare condition, he had to re-focus.

“I got concerned with the ‘what ifs’ when I thought she might need a kidney later – but I was assured by the doctors that there is almost no chance of her condition causing problems to her kidneys,” Tucker said.

Although the incident raised questions for him, Tucker still insisted on donating his kidney.

“My wife and I prayed about it and thought that if we are ever faced with needing any organ that someone would do for us what we are doing for someone else. We put our faith in God,” Tucker said.

Tucker and Morton arranged to meet, despite the fact that donors normally remain anonymous.

“Paul Tucker is giving me the gift of life,” Morton said in October. “I will be able to go back to work and get back to life. I am not at 100 percent. The first thing I plan on doing, depending on the time of year, is travel – and if it is summertime, go swimming with my kids.”

Friends of Tucker’s have raised money to help offset costs associated with the surgery, including time off from work.

Those who wish to donate may do so by visiting

There is also an account set up for the Mortons to assist with medical expenses. It can be found at

By Diana Dickinson

Claremore, Okla. Daily Progress

Waitress turns heads on Facebook

A local waitress turned lemons into lemonade last week after a Mt. Juliet Red Robin customer asked for a new server because of how the waitress “represented herself.”

Photo courtesy of Facebook Ashley Chiarizzio (right) is pictured with fellow Red Robin server Paige Duke in a show of solidarity for blue-haired tattooed servers on Chiarizzio’s birthday Friday. A Facebook post by Chiarizzio last week went viral after a customer asked for another server due to Chiarizzio’s looks

Photo courtesy of Facebook
Ashley Chiarizzio (right) is pictured with fellow Red Robin server Paige Duke in a show of solidarity for blue-haired tattooed servers on Chiarizzio’s birthday Friday. A Facebook post by Chiarizzio last week went viral after a customer asked for another server due to Chiarizzio’s looks

The story, which went viral on Facebook, has netted a public relations coup for the burger chain and some celebrity status for Ashley Chiarizzio, 24, who sports a classic “hipster” look – blue hair and a few tattoos.

The incident, which happened July 16, first shocked the young server.

“I was honestly appalled,” Chiarizzio said. “I have never had somebody just look at me and decide, ‘no, you are not good enough.’”

Initially stunned, Chiarizzio said she had an emotional rebound.

“I just started crying because I didn’t know what else to do, and I am not really a sensitive person,” she said. “I was like holy cow you would think I wasn’t worthy of putting a burger in front of you.”

Since the posting on Chiarizzio’s Facebook page and the “Hip Mt. Juliet” Facebook page, the story received more than 2,200 likes, hundreds of shares and nearly 400 comments, the majority of which were supportive of the server. The eatery was also since flooded with supporters, some clients even sporting the same blue hair.

Last Friday on Chiarizzio’s 24th birthday, her co-workers decided to show some internal solidarity. Many sprayed their hair a shade of blue and put on temporary tattoos to serve their clients.

The restaurant’s manager, Sharlene Nanyn, said she has even fielded some calls from other states.

“A couple of fun things have happened because of this,” said Nanyn. “I got a call from a man from Florida who has never eaten at a Red Robin, but he saw the story online, and he was going to find the closest Red Robin to eat at because he thought it was great that a company supported their employees like that.”

Nanyn said her blue-haired server’s style was within the corporate guidelines for attire.

“Ashley’s appearance is in keeping with our guidelines and our dress code,” said Nanyn. “So that is not an issue. Corporate does have a non-discrimination policy also from a guest standpoint.”

Currently on vacation for a week, Chiarizzio said she is soaking up some time in the glow of her 15 minutes of fame.

“I get recognized literally everywhere I go now, so I’m like a little local celebrity out here,” she said. “I went into the Opry Mills Mall, and I got recognized at every store I walked into. That’s kind of cool.

On balance, it’s all good, she said.

“I have been a server for five years, and it’s never been a problem…I work for the best company. I had a rough hour with it, but I got past it, so the good has more than outweighed the bad.”

Just after the blow to her ego, Chiarizzio posted the following on her Facebook page.

“I pray God overlooks your judgment of me. I pray you learn acceptance and tolerance to things you didn’t grow up with, and I pray that you learn someone’s appearance does not affect their ability to work (especially to serve burgers and fries). You did, however, light a fire under my butt so now I’m sitting at home with an even brighter blue in my hair and planning out my next tattoo, all with you in mind. 🙂 I hope you had a great dinner and enjoyed your night out with your husband.”

Savannah’s Faith runs strong in the community


The first time Scott and Joann Marlow realized something might be wrong with their 4-year-old daughter, Savannah, was in October 2015.

“She was losing her balance a lot,” Joann Marlow said. “I remember saying, ‘I think she has been falling down a lot more often lately.’”

“Joann is a nurse, and also an incredible mom, so she has a keen eye for this kind of thing,” Scott Marlow said.

At the time, they did not think it was a huge issue. On the day after last Christmas, Scott Marlow noticed there were some other things amiss with his daughter.

“We were in Kentucky with Joann’s family, and as is typical, I was hanging out with all the other kids – I tend to become a big kid, playing with them,” Scott Marlow said.

“We were playing a game, running from one side of the room to the other, a tag game. I noticed Savannah was running straight, but her head was cocked to the right, and she was looking out of the corner of her eye.”

There were also other signs something was wrong. Savannah had headaches, though she had trouble describing them specifically.

“A 4-year-old doesn’t know what a headache is,” Joann Marlow said. “She would say ‘my headband hurts the back of my head.’ She didn’t have the words for it.”

The Marlows decided they needed to get Savannah to a specialist as soon as possible, but this was no easy task. Local ophthalmologists and optometrists were not immediately available.

They were able to see a local Lebanon optometrist the same afternoon they called, and the next day for the ophthalmologist in Nashville, who normally has a three-month wait.

“It truly was a miracle,” Joann Marlow said.

When Savannah saw the ophthalmologist, doctors determined Savannah needed an MRI. The doctor asked Joann if her husband would be with her when the results of an MRI were revealed.

“I didn’t know what the diagnosis would be, but I knew when he said that, it was something serious. I knew Scott needed to be there,” Joann Marlow said.

Savannah had a cancerous tumor that was 4 centimeters in diameter on the back of her brain in the cerebellum. She would go into surgery the next day to remove the tumor.

The name of the cancer is medulloblastoma. After surgery, many patients have side effects, including a change in their mood or losing the ability to move or eat. Savannah maintained a sunny disposition, though she did experience some of the other effects.

“She was cheerful, but she lost the ability to use her eyes well,” Scott Marlow said. “She could still see, but her eyes were droopy. She lost the ability to use her hands and feet, and she couldn’t hold her head up.”

After the surgery, Savannah would need to undergo proton radiation therapy. The children are educated through a home schooling program, and the family elected to go to Boston for Savannah’s treatment, due in part to the history associated with that city.

“There were only, I think, 12 centers in the U.S.,” Scott said. “One of the reasons we chose Boston was, we could go over to Bunker Hill and tell [the children] about Bunker Hill while we’re right there.”

While undergoing therapy in Boston, Savannah needed the support of her family, Joann Marlow said.

“Thankfully, by the grace of God, we were able to be there with her,” she said.

Savannah’s proton therapy in Boston lasted for several weeks. Upon returning to Middle Tennessee, Savannah soon had to start chemotherapy treatment. She will undergo that treatment until April 2017.

Scott Marlow said his goal for Savannah was for her to be able to walk on her own when she left Boston.

“On the day we left, she could just almost do it,” he said. “If you kind of hovered over her, ready to catch her if she started to fall, she could go maybe 10 steps on her own.”

Savannah’s condition has improved. From a medical perspective, Scott Marlow said, his daughter has about an 80-percent chance of survival. He and the family have faith, however, that she absolutely will make it through.

In January, Joann and Scott Marlow started a Facebook page, “Savannah’s Faith.” From there, they updated interested community members on Savannah’s health. They also sent and continue to send prayer requests.

“One thing I noticed is people ask for specific prayer requests,” Scott Marlow said. “They know that we need the prayers, that we want the prayers, but they want to know specifically what to pray about.”

They started updating the page with requests, such as asking community members to pray that Savannah would have an appetite, or that she would be able to walk.

Many of the posts use the tag “#butGod” and ask for people to pray at certain times in the day, including 7:28 both in the morning and evening, because Savannah’s birthday is July 28.

The tag “#butGod” comes from a Bible verse that is significant to the family, and Joann has a necklace with the words “but God” on it.

“Not once have we said ‘why, God, why us?” Scott Marlow said.

The name of the Facebook page “Savannah’s Faith” has two meanings, the faith in Savannah’s ability to recover, and her middle name, which is Faith. The page now has more than 3,000 “likes.”

“She says she’s the princess of Facebook,” Scott Marlow said. “She doesn’t even know what Facebook is, but she knows there are pictures of her on there, and that people always want to know how she’s doing.”

The Marlow family moved to Wilson County about three years ago, and Scott Marlow said he was amazed to see the community support that has gathered behind their family.

“To see how much everyone cares, it means so much to us,” he said.

The entire experience has helped the family grow in their religious faith, both parents said.

“I just want God to get glory,” Joann Marlow said. “This is awful. Cancer is a horrible thing, but if some good will come out of it, at the very least, we want God to receive glory.

“We’re trusting God will take care of us.”

Scott and Joann Marlow said they occasionally get questions from people in the community who want to make a financial contribution to help their situation.

“We appreciate the offers to help financially, but we are doing OK,” Joann Marlow said. “We’d rather others make contributions to the cancer organization of their choice, such as our local charity Sherry’s Run.”

Something they do want, and solicit on a regular basis?

“Prayers,” Scott Marlow said. “That’s all we ask for.”

By Jake Old

For whom are you running?

A Sherry’s Run team captains’ meeting will be July 19 from 4-6 p.m. at the Sherry’s Run office at 110 Babb Drive in Lebanon.

A Sherry’s Run team captains’ meeting will be July 19 from 4-6 p.m. at the Sherry’s Run office at 110 Babb Drive in Lebanon.

What makes Sherry’s Run different from every other 5K event? Heart.

So many of the people who participate in the unique grassroots event are there because they love someone who is battling or who has battled cancer. It’s most evident in the spirit of the teams. Without the teams, Sherry’s Run would not be what it is.

“I am so moved each year by the heart and enthusiasm from each of our teams. They participate because of someone special in their lives,” said Ashlee Chance, Sherry’s Run teams committee chair.

Chance’s team of volunteers is available to help make any team of runners or walkers more successful.

Anyone who thinks they might want to be a champion for hope this year may find out more at the first team captains’ meeting July 19 from 4-6 p.m. at the Sherry’s Run office at 110 Babb Drive in Lebanon.

For anyone who can’t make it, there will be three more opportunities Aug. 9, Aug. 23 and Sept. 6. Registration forms will be available for those who are unable to register online.

“We will also hand out posters and be available to answer any questions you might have about organizing your team,” Chance said.

Team meetings are open to anyone who is interested in forming a team for a company, family, church and friends or in honor or memory of a loved one.

Anyone unable to attend a team meeting may contact Chance at or 615-476-3844 and will mail the information.

“I can promise you that you will not regret the decision to become a champion for hope in your community,” Chance said. “Being part of a team changes you for the better.”

Teams may also be registered at Team members will be able to simply pick a team name from a dropdown menu. As soon as a team member registers, an email is sent to the team.

Green bows will be available at each meeting, to “paint your town green.”

“We will also have Sherry’s Run retail items available to purchase, so come ready to shop for Sherry’s Run,” Chance said.

In addition, Chance said the team T-shirt competition has become a favorite tradition at Sherry’s Run.

“Our T-shirt competition has been a highlight of this event for three years and is a great way to bring your team together,” she said. “Again, all teams will have an opportunity to showcase their creativity by creating a unique design on your team’s T-shirt and entering it in the team T-shirt contest. The T-shirts will be on display at the event site for everyone to see, and the winning team will be announced at the event. Remember, the winner is chosen based on donations made at the site, so be sure to remind your friends, family and co- workers to vote for your T-shirt.”

Visit for more information on team T-shirts.

There are so many fun and easy ways to get friends and family in on helping others. Several teams in the past have raised money through a variety of events such as bake sales, office decorating contests, turning school sporting events lime-green and Sherry’s Run T-shirt days.

“Be inspired by the creative ways supporters are raising money, or think of your own,” Chance said.

Some other ways to get involved in Sherry’s Run include attending the team kickoff meeting and register as a participant along with a team name, painting the town green with lime bows and checking out the teams section at for more information and fundraising ideas to share with the team.

Make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer the community. The 13th annual Sherry’s Run is scheduled for Sept. 10 at 8 a.m. at 623 W. Main St. in Lebanon.

Support allows Sherry’s Run to assist cancer patients 52 weeks a year with gas, groceries, utility bills, housing payments, prescription assistance, health insurance premiums, medical bills and colonoscopy assistance.

To learn more about Sherry’s Run, call 615-925-2592. To refer someone who might qualify for assistance, call 615-925-9932 or visit

Staff Reports

Controversial pastor ministers to gay woman

A Mt. Juliet pastor that has been the center of several controversial Facebook videos recently said he ministered to a gay woman at his church.

Greg Locke, pastor of Global Vision Baptist Church, who has been outspoken about homosexuality, among other things, said the woman came to his church after she was banned and not accepted in other churches. He said she approached him during an alter call.

“We pushed them to the side and I knelt right here and opened the word of God and showed that precious lady the power of the Gospel,” said Locke. “I led that precious gay woman to the Lord Jesus Christ. She wept and cried and I hugged her and I said, ‘I’ll be honored to baptize you. We’re going to get you in the church. We’re going to watch you grow and God’s going to radically transform your life.’”

Locke also discussed some of the backlash he has received for his opinionate videos, which have featured Islam teaching in schools, Starbucks, homosexuality, transgender bathroom bills and more. He said he receives attention in a negative light more times than positive.

“Yet, a gay lady comes to our church because she knows that we are truly a church where broken people find new meaning to life. Where’s all the media when we’re watching heroin addicts get delivered by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ?” Locke asked.

In April, Locke took aim at Target’s transgender bathroom stance after debates around the country rose about the issue.

“I asked, ‘can you please help me understand your new bathroom policy?’ To which, she shrugged her shoulders, and said, and I quote, ‘well, basically there’s been a new law passed and because of that law, it’s our policy that you can now use the restroom that you self identify with,’” Locke said.

“I’m well aware of the fact that many other individuals, as well as businesses by in large, will probably take the same route because they think they’re being politically correct. When, at the end of the day, they’re being ignorantly naïve,” Locke continued.

Last year, he posted a viral video claiming Wilson County Schools were indoctrinating Islam into students and identified teaching material and textbooks as the main tools.

However, Locke said the backlash and labels do not align with what is taking place in his church.

“Around the country, and even internationally, I’ve become known as the gay hating pastor and I find it interesting that just yesterday, I was able to lovingly and patiently show a gay individual that knew our church was going to accept her the love and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

By Xavier Smith

Battle Flag Ranch presents successful fundraiser

IMG_5226 IMG_5230

A fundraise for Battle Flag Ranch drew nearly 100 people to Mt. Juliet Thursday evening. Battle Flag Ranch is a 14-acre ranch located in Wilson County, which helps returning veterans and their families adjust to life as a couple and family again.

“Tonight we’re having three comedians come in and help raise money for Battle Flag Ranch, which is a short-term respite for veterans,” said organizer Jason Henry. “We offer marriage counseling to veterans when they come home from combat. We help them reconnect with their family and offer equine assistance counseling and we’ve found that that’s a better answer than the antidepressants and other things that people are put on.”

Henry said he’s spoken to people with the Army and with the National Guard, offering Battle Flag’s assistance in helping the families.

The land they lease for the ranch has a small cabin built in the 1800s that Henry calls “cozy.” They bring the horses to the ranch when they need them for equine therapy.

“The funds raised help with the day-to-day operations of the organization, plus we have a paid counselor,” Henry said. “It’s all free to the veterans, we pay for everything for them. We did ask for $150 deposit from them, but they get it back when they’re done.”

Matthew Ness said he was attending the event because he met Henry a few months ago and he was asked to be on the board of directors.

“Once I heard about his story and his family, as a veteran myself, I understood what he was talking about. I wanted to try and help out any way I can,” Ness said. “There’s a huge problem when veterans come back from battle. They’ve been separated for a year and that creates a lot of problems.

“The mission is to rekindle that love that they had when they first got married and try and balance that. There’s a high divorce rate among veterans and what Jason wants to do is make sure these couples who belonged together in the beginning stay together and build that relationship. It’s a great goal and I want to be a part of it.”

Steve Iles said he believes “it’s important to take care of our veterans and provide any kind of comfort and any kind of benefits we can do for them. I’m a veteran myself and I know what these men and women go through and I think it’s important that we take care of our veterans.”

Meredithh Fevold said she “loves the fact that they’re giving back to the veterans by keeping the family unit together. With PTSD and helping everyone in the family deal with what the soldiers come back with.”
Fevold said they have received grants for a stable and fencing, as well as one with a patio and fire pit.

“I think it’s important that people know about this place and their families as well,” Fevold said. “And for them to get help for themselves, their spouse, father, mother and others, (is important).”

Those attending the event were treated to the comedy of three people: Jonnie W., Bone Hampton and Nate Bargatze.

Any veteran and their spouse, or any community wanting more information.

By Angie Mayes

Winners selected in talent search

Angie Mayes Posing with winners of the Tony Bates Ford Talent Show are Capitol Theatre owner Bob Black, WSM radio general manager Chris Kulick, winner Ashley Briggs; WSM announcer Charlie Mattos, winner Corey Jackson, Clarie Ratcliff and Robin Roberts.

Angie Mayes
Posing with winners of the Tony Bates Ford Talent Show are Capitol Theatre owner Bob Black, WSM radio general manager Chris Kulick, winner Ashley Briggs; WSM announcer Charlie Mattos, winner Corey Jackson, Clarie Ratcliff and Robin Roberts.

The Tony Bates Ford Talent Search finals took place Saturday afternoon at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon.

Twelve artists began the day, and only two were left standing at the end. Mt. Juliet’s Ashley Briggs won the opportunity to open for Darryl Worley on July 9 at the Capitol Theatre, while Jonesboro, Ark.-native Cory Jackson will open for the legendary Oak Ridge Boys on Aug. 23 at the Wilson County Fair.

Ashley Briggs

Briggs is as comfortable in front of a crowd of a few hundred as she is performing for 21,000. She created her sounds by listening to great county artists such as Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and Loretta Lynn.

Over the past few years, Briggs, a Florida native, has been the opening act for Joe Bachman and the Tailgaters, the Brothers Osborne and Ashley Monroe. She has also performed the national anthem for the Florida Marlins Baseball Team; the Power Showcase; the Sony Open Tennis Tournament; NASCAR’s Ford Eco Boost 200, which counted more than 3 million television viewers; and numerous other events.

As a songwriter in her own right, Briggs has co-written with well-known industry pros and producers from Florida to Tennessee.  Her original inspirational song, “Fly,” was featured in an episode of Hallmark Channel’s TV show, Cedar Cove, and her original song, “Me and My Hair,” was featured on America’s Funniest Home Videos.  Ashley’s first music video “In the Shades” is on YouTube and Vimeo. She was voted South Florida Country Music’s favorite local female solo artist during a four-year period and debuted her eight original song album, Heads or Tails, in June 2015.

The now makes her home in Mt. Juliet.

For more information, visit

Winner Ashley Brigg

Winner Ashley Briggs

Cory Jackson

Cory Jackson has always dreamed of being a songwriter. In that dream, he would envision himself as a well-known singer and songwriter.

He began dreaming at age 12, when he first picked up a guitar. Through the encouragement of his grandfather, he continued playing during his teenage years.

Jackson released his first self-titled debut EP, Cory Jackson, in February 2015. The debut of his first EP brought about much success in 2015, which included him selected as a
top five contestant in a nationwide contest sponsored by the online job placement site Snag-A-Job.

Out of nearly 1,000 entries, his self-produced video of “Sun Kissed Lips” was chosen by judges as a top-five finalist to be advanced into the contest for the public to vote. In addition to that, he completed an advance round for the final season of American Idol.
Also a well-developed songwriter, Jackson wrote four of the five songs on his debut EP album, and will have three songs on which he has writing credits included on his upcoming EP, Let’s Get It Right, which was released this spring.

For more information, visit

Winner Corey Jackson

Winner Corey Jackson

There’s a rodeo at the Ag Center

Photo courtesy of National High School Rodeo Association A rodeo competitor holds tight to a bull during opening rounds of competition at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.

Photo courtesy of National High School Rodeo Association
A rodeo competitor holds tight to a bull during opening rounds of competition at the National Junior High Finals Rodeo.

By Angie Mayes

Special to the Democrat

The 2016 National Junior High Finals Rodeo kicked off Sunday evening and is underway at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

According to spokesman Gil Vigil, there are 1,049 participants from all 50 states, Canada and Australia.

With that number of participants comes moms, dads, brothers, sisters and other family members who have loaded the campground area and has filled local hotels and other campgrounds. There are 800 camping spots at the Ag Center.

Participants keep their horses on site at the Ag Center in more than 1,000 stalls, some of which are temporary, brought in just for the rodeo. Vigil said most people brought their own horses, even from Canada, Hawaii and Australia. Others from those areas were able to rent horses with appropriate skills for the competitions.

The top four in each state, Canadian province and Australia compete to be the winner in this year’s rodeo finals.

There are two types of events: those in the Timed Event Arena and those in the Rough Stock Arena. The timed events are: girl’s breakaway, boy’s breakaway, barrel racing, tied-down roping, ribbon roping, pole bending and team roping. In the rough stock section, there are events such as BB steer riding, girls goat tying, SB steer riding, chute dogging, boy’s goat tying and bull riding.

Local residents can be treated to all of those events, plus a 40,000-square-foot vendor tent, in which vendors sell items such as rodeo equipment, clothing, western items, animal-care supplies, farm items such as Hutchinson fencing and jewelry.

There are two rodeos per day, one at 9 a.m. and the other at 7 p.m. Different events take place during the two daily events. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.

There is also a large food vendor area, which sells everything from handmade lemonade and Mexican food to Cajun food and pizzas. Pizza delivery is also available to the participants.

The stalls are closed to the public because they are reserved for the participants and their animals.

In addition to the number of participants, KC Golf Carts has brought in 750 carts for participants and staff to ride. There are also handicapped-capable carts, which may be available to help those needing assistance getting to the arena.

There were 120 local volunteers who helped check in the participants and work the ticket booth. Others are on the grounds as needed.

The rodeo is in town until Saturday, and organizers invite the public to stop by the national event. This is the first time it is taking place east of the Mississippi. It will also return next year.

Mt. Juliet police remind residents of fireworks safety

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet police remind residents to be careful while discharging fireworks to avoid injuries and noise violations as Independence Day approaches.


“Fireworks can be a lot of fun and full of excitement, but they can be dangerous if they are not used safely,” said Mt. Juliet police spokesman Lt. Tyler Chandler. “It is imperative that fireworks be handled with care to avoid serious burns, eye damage and even life-threatening injuries. Premature denotation and misuse of fireworks are responsible for many burn injuries every year, which all could be avoided with proper and safe handling.  Safety should be everyone’s priority, and parents should always supervise juveniles who are using fireworks. The Mt. Juliet Police Department urges residents to be careful, follow safety precautions and abide by city ordinances during their holiday celebrations.”

In Mt. Juliet, it is unlawful to sell or use fireworks in the city limits except from Monday through July 5 and Dec. 10 through Jan. 2. During the holiday season, fireworks cannot be discharged or used between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. In addition, fireworks cannot be sold or given to any person under 18. It is permissible for juveniles to use fireworks only if a parent supervises the activity. Failure to comply with Mt. Juliet’s City code regulating fireworks could result in a $188 fine.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these common sense safety tips for using consumer fireworks in the hope that injuries can be greatly reduced:

• Parents and caretakers should always closely supervise juveniles if they are using fireworks.

• Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.

• Fireworks should only be used outdoors.

• Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.

• Know your fireworks. Read the caution label before igniting.

• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.

• Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.

• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.

• Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor garbage can.

• Avoid using homemade fireworks or illegal explosives. They can kill you.

• Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

And note these special safety tips, if using sparklers:

• Always remain standing while using sparklers.

• Never hold a child in your arms while using sparklers.

• Never hold, or light, more than one sparkler at a time.

• Never throw sparklers.

• Sparkler wire and stick remain hot long after the flame has gone out. Be sure to drop spent sparklers in a bucket of water.

• Teach children not to wave sparklers or run while holding sparklers.

“Enjoy your time with your friends and loved ones. Everyone at the Mt. Juliet Police Department wishes you a happy and safe Independence Day,” Chandler said.




Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System sponsors child in All-American Soapbox Derby

Staff Reports

Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System was the sponsor of a child who raced in the 14th annual First Energy All-American Soapbox Derby on June 18 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.

The driver of the VBHCS stock division racer was Hayden Underwood, of Cookeville and formerly of Mt. Juliet. Underwood piloted the car he and his parents, Joel and Amber Underwood, built together in the weeks leading up to the race.

The Cookeville Police Department, Cookeville Police Athletic League, Cookeville Kiwanis Club, city of Cookeville and Tennessee Tech University sponsored the gravity-powered event.

“This was a unique opportunity for Volunteer to become more involved in enriching the lives of the children in our communities,” said Nathan Miller, director of Volunteers’ Cumberland Mental Health Center in Lebanon.

Miller said the Cookeville race is one of only a handful in Tennessee and hopes more Wilson County agencies and businesses involved with children and Wilson County youth become involved in the activity.

Hayden Underwood sits in his soapbox derby car on the staging ramp about to begin another trip down the track against a competitor.

Hayden Underwood sits in his soapbox derby car on the staging ramp about to begin another trip down the track against a competitor.

The mission of the All-American Soapbox Derby program is to educate and inspire youth through fair and honest competition and mentorship. With a primary goal to advance family values, the AASBD provides an environment in which parents or mentors, work hands-on with racers to instill basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition and the perseverance to complete a project from start to finish.

The AASBD serves international youth, ages 7-18, and embraces diversity, facilitates lifelong friendships, teaches the application of math and science concepts and advocates the true spirit of teamwork and sportsmanship.

The director of the 2016 Cookeville AASBD race was Lt. Mitch Harrington with the Cookeville Police Department.

The All-American Soapbox Derby program is administered by the International Soap Box Derby, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization. To find out more about the All American Soapbox Derby and how to get involved, visit

Volunteer Behavioral Health Care System has provided prevention, treatment and recovery services for more than 40 years. VBHCS continues to be dedicated to the service of community members across Tennessee. For more information about the services of VBHCS, contact the agency’s customer service department at 877-567-6051 or visit


Volunteers needed for long-term care program

Staff Reports

The Mid-Cumberland Human Resource Agency’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program seeks volunteers in Wilson County to provide advocacy for residents in long-term care facilities.

The facilities include nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and homes for the elderly.

“There are more than 160 long-term care facilities in our 13 county district, and we rely very heavily on volunteers,” said Cindy Rudolph, volunteer administrative assistant with the District 5 long-term care program in Wilson County. “We need volunteers in Wilson County.”

Rudolph said Wilson County currently has three volunteers, and that includes her. The program works in Wilson and 12 other counties in Middle Tennessee and is a partner agency with the United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland.

The ombudsman staff consists of two district ombudsmen and an ombudsman assistant, along with 35 trained volunteers.

Trained, certified ombudsman volunteers pay regular visits to the facilities where they spend time with residents, monitor conditions, investigate complaints, educate regarding abuse and neglect and protect residents’ rights. The program offers mediation, complaint resolution and public education for residents and their families.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program is actively recruiting for volunteers in the Wilson County area. Volunteer applicants must pass a background check and attend 16 hours of in-house training. The next training session will be Aug. 9-10 in Nashville. Those interested in becoming a volunteer have until July 18 to contact the program by sending an email to or calling 615-850-3918.

Credit card skimmer found on gas pump in Mt. Juliet

Staff Reports

Credit Card Skimmer

MT. JULIET – A maintenance crew found an illegal credit card skimming device installed inside a gas pump Wednesday after the pump malfunctioned.

Detectives went to Daily’s Shell Gas Station at 88 N. Mt. Juliet Road to investigate the discovery of a skimming device. The device was discovered after the owner experienced an outage with pump No. 1 for about three days. The owner called a maintenance crew to repair the card reader, and they discovered the device installed inside the pump. Detectives immediately responded to collect evidence, and they worked leads in hopes of finding the source of the illegal activity.

Police encouraged Daily’s Shell Gas Station customers who used pump No. 1 between May 27 and June 1 to check their personal bank statements for signs of fraudulent activity. If any fraudulent charges are noticed, then individuals should file a police report with Mt. Juliet police and notify their financial institutions.

Police said filing a report could assist investigators to gain additional evidence of credit card fraud, which will help lead to the prosecution of those responsible for the skimmer.

Due to other credit card skimmers found recently in cities in Middle Tennessee, Mt. Juliet police’s criminal investigations division officers went out to all gas stations in March and April to proactively inspect the pumps and provide contact information to station owners. The proactive measure was essential to collect the credit card skimming device in Wednesday’s case, which police said is a key piece of evidence.

The public is encouraged to always check to see if the pump appears normal when using an outside card reader at a gas station. If the pump appears tampered with, cabinet door unsecured, and/or screen malfunctioning, the gas station’s management should be notified immediately.

Moore appointed Wilson County 911 director

By Xavier Smith

Karen Moore Wilson County 911The Wilson County 911 board voted Monday to remove the interim tag from Karen Moore’s title after she was appointed to the position in April.

Moore will replace J.R. Kelley, who resigned from the position in April. Moore, who became a full-time employee with Wilson County 911 in 1991, worked as a call taker until 18 years ago, although she said she would occasionally step away from the phone.

“I pride myself on kind of jumping in areas where, job description-wise, I wasn’t always supposed to, but I felt like I needed to in order to help us serve the community. I like software, computers and love people. I’ve been blessed,” Moore said earlier this year.

Testimonies from several Wilson County 911 employees during her interim appointment reaffirmed Moore’s statements, as many said she has gone beyond what was asked professionally and personally.

The group said they were excited to have Moore as director, even if on an interim basis, and one proposed to have the “interim” tag removed.

Moore’s appointment comes at a point when the Wilson County 911 and county emergency agencies are looking to make changes to current call processing and routing methods. The agencies held a meeting last month to discuss potential changes.

“A lot of positive things came out of it. A lot of things about tweaking some procedures that were put in place previously and some language adjustments,” she said.

To the board’s praises, Moore has also provided additional monthly information about the amount of calls the center receives, number of calls routed to other counties and time details of the calls.

Kelley, who held his position for seven years, resigned after he claimed local government officials repeatedly opposed changes to current call processing methods.

“The simple fact is, in Wilson County, the method chosen by the 911 Board to process 911 calls for the past 25 years, actually delays emergency response time. Of the one hundred 911 districts in the state, [Wilson County Emergency Communication District] remains the only district where all 911 calls must be transferred,” Kelley wrote in his resignation letter.


Vietnam veterans encouraged to join veteran’s group

Calling all Vietnam-era veterans.

There is a group in Wilson County especially for Vietnam-era veterans that helps with a number of issues.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004 in Lebanon is for those who served in the military during the Vietnam War from 1961-75. Veterans did not have to be in Vietnam, specifically, but they must have served at some period during the war. They must also have a DD214 and have received an honorable discharge.

Of the 3,100 Vietnam Veterans in Wilson County, only 128 belong to this group. That’s why they’re holding a membership drive breakfast June 18 from 8-10 a.m. at Ryan’s Restaurant. The breakfast is free, but veterans must bring a copy of their DD214 to the breakfast.

The group will also hold a four-corner fundraiser July 2 at Big Lots.

According to its website, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004 helps any Wilson County veteran in need.

It provides food or utility help, assists with stranded traveling veterans, helps take veterans to doctor and hospital appointments, sponsors post-traumatic stress disorder and Agent Orange town hall seminars, sponsors Castle Heights Elementary School, sponsors job fairs for veterans and provides honor guard duty to funerals when requested.

The motto of the group is “never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

For more information about the group, visit

Step Into Spring

If you are like me, you transition through the day and the pair of shoes we walked out the door with at 7 a.m. aren’t appropriate for the speech we have to give at 11, the lunch date we fit in at 1, the teacher conference at 3 and the business after hours event we must attend at 6.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have five perfect, updated, runway-look stylish shoes we can throw in the backseat and have on hand as we juggle through our various activities? Plus, the ultra stylish (not necessarily little black) dress to go with?

I’ve found a “got to have it”, neutral shirt-dress that can be dressed up or down throughout the day and evening with a style that can transition from casual, to business to sexy, depending on what shoes you wear. Believe me! It can be had at New York & Company and looks chic on all body types. Throw it on for any occasion and the shoes and accessories you choose will complete whatever look you want.

Since I found the perfect dress, it was time to find shoes to fit every occasion. It’s the gamut this spring for shoes, from exotic animal effects, color blocking, prints, perforation and masculine classics. It seems detail is the word this season in trending shoes. Slinky sandals,ankle straps, ballerina flats and pointy-toed pumps have walked the runways at the spring shows.

Here are my favorite spring finds and I would wear all (except perhaps the gladiator sandal) with my new shirt-dress. I’m especially fond of the aqua ankle strap! It’s so feminine. These are just a few suggestions, but I highly encourage the dress and then you can flavor it up in your style of shoes, depending on your agenda.

Beware credit card skimmers

Reports of victims of “credit card skimming” are on the rise in recent weeks, but many people don’t know what credit card skimming is or how to protect themselves.

According to Lt. Tyler Chandler with the Mt. Juliet Police Department, credit card skimming is where “a thief uses a device to steal credit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction.”

Such devices can be placed on ATMs and gas pumps or sometimes held in the hand of wait staff or store employees.

“The information of the card is simply scanned, stored and transferred to a different card,” said Chandler.

So how can a person protect themselves from the possibility of having a credit card skimmed, or stolen in other ways? The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to consumers:

• Don’t give your account number to anyone on the phone unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable.

• If you’ve never done business with them before, do an online search first for reviews or complaints.

• Carry your cards separately from your wallet. It can minimize your losses if someone steals your wallet or purse.

• Carry only the card you need for that outing. Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total.

• Save your receipts to compare with your statement.

For more tips, visit the FTC website at

Lynn named top conservative in Tennessee

The American Conservative Union, a grassroots conservative organization, announced Monday Rep. Susan Lynn was awarded the coveted ACU award for conservative excellence among the top conservatives in Tennessee.

“I’ve always fought for conservative values, and I have done so since first elected.” said Lynn. “I’m truly honored to have this award and recognition.”

The award, which is presented to members of the Tennessee General Assembly who scored between 90-100 percent on the ACU state legislative rating scorecard, is the organization’s highest and most revered honor available to lawmakers. Lynn’s score for 2015 was 100 percent. All ratings can be found at

Lynn is chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee.  She lives in Old Hickory and represents House District 57, which encompasses western and northern Wilson County. She can be reached at or 800-449-8366.