County receives its new bond rating

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County’s bond rating remains at a strong AA+, Wilson County finance director Aaron Maynard told the newly seated Wilson County Commission on Sept. 17 at its meeting. 

Standard and Poor’s looked at the county when they began the recent bond sale and determined they are “very strong,” in relationship to their debt service and general fund, Maynard said.

There are only six counties in Tennessee with AA+ bond ratings. That is the second highest rating possible, Maynard said. Only two counties – Williamson and Hamilton – have a higher rating at AAA+.

“We’ve taken great strides to remain AA+,” Maynard said. “When I first came here, we have an ending general fund balance of $100,000. Now it’s at $10 million and is stable. We pay off our debit on time and have strong reserves. Standard and Poor’s recognized that and reaffirmed our bond rating.”

The only voting business the commission had Monday was when it passed a resolution to request unclaimed funds from the state. The funds are then put into the general debt fund, according to Maynard.

Maynard told the commission he was tasked by Hutto to prepare a Powerpoint presentation to detail the need for, and benefits of, a countywide sales tax increase referendum. The referendum would be on the Nov. 6 ballot and would, if passed, increase the county’s sales tax from 9.25 percent to the state maximum of 9.75 percent. The funding would strictly be used for education purposes such as education debt services or new schools.

The alternative to the sales tax referendum is a property tax increase, Maynard said. That does not have to be approved by the public’s vote. 

Maynard and Hutto said they would be available for presentations to various groups, businesses and other interested parties. The county may also send out mailers and hire an independent public relations firm to help spread the word about the need for the half-cent sales tax increase.

New commissioners, who met for the first time since the Aug. 2 election, took no time to elect committee members.

Hutto was elected the commission’s chairperson, and Commissioner Wendell Marlowe was chosen as commission chairperson pro-tem.

Four members were elected to the Budget Committee. Annette Stafford, Gary Keith, William Glover and Marlowe were chosen by paper ballot. Also chosen by paper ballot were members of the Finance Committee. Diane Weathers, Bobby Franklin, John Gentry and Dan Walker were elected.

Sue Vanatta, Terry Ashe, Gary Keith, John Gentry and Jerry McFarland were chosen by commissioners to serve on the Insurance Committee. Hutto appointed residents Nancy Andrews and Chris McAteer, along with Marlowe, Sonja Robinson and McFarland, to serve on the Animal Control Committee.

The Ethics Committee will consist of Terry Ashe, Cyndi Bannach, Chris Dowell, Mike Kurtz and citizen Earl Ray. Diane Weathers was appointed to the Planning Commission.

The road commissioner for Zone 2 will be Chad Barnard, and Robinson will be the road commissioner for Zone 4.

Don Chambers was reappointed to the Water and Wastewater Board, while John Lavender was reappointed as a parks and recreation advisory board member.

Twenty-five commissioners and their families will help build a Habitat for Humanity home Oct. 13 in Wilson County. Their work will take place during the one day, Hutto said.

‘True greenway’ suggested for subdivision

By Angie Mayes

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Mt. Juliet Planning Commission members meet Thursday night to discuss several plans for new developments in the city.

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Lynwood Station, connected greenway from Charlie Daniels Park to a new subdivision in Mt. Juliet, was a key point at the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission meeting Thursday night.

Commissioner Art Giles said while he appreciates a trail going through the subdivision and eventually ending at the Music City Star train station, he would like to see a greenway more aligned with a true greenway other than a path.

“I’d like to see the [10-foot] path turned in to a true greenway,” Giles said. “We need the connected paths or greenways, but we need to come up with a solution to put an actual, true greenway in the project.”

He suggested moving the border fence on the project to the property line and putting a true greenway path between the fence and the buffer made of the existing trees, which are mostly cedar trees. That way, a 10-foot greenway and a 10-foot buffer of the trees could be included, Giles said.

“If we look at coming up with another idea, which includes bringing a greenway near Clemmons Road, we can have a 6-foot sidewalk on the other side,” Giles said. “My vision is that the greenway be run all the way up Clemmons to the Woodridge subdivision bridge. If a sidewalk is built in Woodridge to the bridge, then residents of both subdivisions will be able to utilize the greenway.”

He said a true greenway would help the city with multi-modal grants in the future.

“But, if the greenway is put in by the developer,” it will be faster than getting a grant,” Giles said.

The property at 325 Clemons Road, will consist of single-family homes and townhouses. The plan came before the commission in April and May, and the commission asked for a reduction in the number of structures.

Commission chair Luke Winchester said he would be concerned for the safety of the residents since the greenway plans do not include lighting or patrols by police.

Giles said Charlie Daniels Park and the greenways in the city close at 10 p.m., but there are a number of people who are on the paths at midnight.

“I wouldn’t do it,” he said.

Winchester was concerned about getting to people in case of an emergency.

“Because the greenway would be between the fence and the trees, the emergency services personnel could not get to it easily,” Winchester said. “There needs to be some sort of entrance to the trail [throughout the greenway].” 

The commissioners will require traffic-calming measures throughout the subdivision, Winchester said. 

The commission voted to give the project a favorable recommendation to the Mt. Juliet City Commission. 

Also, on the agenda, the commission approved a renovation at Chick-fil-A on Mt. Juliet Road, which plans to add a second drive-thru lane at the restaurant.

Sales tax increase placed on November ballot

By Angie Mayes

Special to the Democrat

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Thirty-five-year military officer Rita Wilson, a Wilson County resident, explains what the Pledge of Allegiance means. She broke down the words and explained what each section meant for Wilson County commissioners Monday night at their meeting.

To raise funds for educational projects, Wilson County placed a sales tax increase in the form of a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot. 

It will be on the ballot for voters to decide instead of the Wilson County Commission’s consideration of a property tax increase, according to county finance director Aaron Maynard.

If voters approve it, the sales tax would increase from 9.25 percent to the state maximum of 9.75 percent. The .50 percent equals a half-cent increase, Maynard said.

“On $100, the increase would be 50 cents,” Maynard said. “By law, the sales tax increase has to go on a referendum. Half of the amount raised in sales tax has to go to education. It depends on where the sale took place. The state gets 7.50 percent of the money. The cities and the counties get 2.25 percent, depending on where the sale takes place.”

For example, if the sale is in Mt. Juliet, the city gets the money. If the sale is in the county, Wilson County gets the sales tax money.

In most recent statistics available, Lebanon received $11 million in sales tax revenues per month, while Mt. Juliet had $10.3 million in sales tax revenues, Maynard said.

In addition to Wilson County Schools, Lebanon Special School District gets money from the sales tax referendum, as well, he said. 

“It is based on the average daily attendance,” Maynard said. “This year, they received $886,000 that didn’t come to the county.”

The county received $5.2 million from the sales tax coffers during the previous fiscal year.

Maynard said the “driving force behind the sales tax referendum is infrastructure. We can manage operating co

sts through growth. That could be hiring teachers, deputies and paramedics. It’s hard to manage through population.”

In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated there were 113,993 people in Wilson County. In 2017, the estimate was 136,442. That’s the approximate number of people the census bureau had originally estimated would be in the county in 2019.

“Over the past seven years, we added 22,449 people,” Maynard said. “We’re expected to add 21,389 in the next six years. In 2023, we are expected to have 157,930 people. The census bureau does come in on the low side, so we could have more.”

Maynard said the only option other than a sales tax increase, is to raise the property tax, which will hurt homeowners and businesses.

“The sales tax option affects everyone who spends money in Wilson County,” Maynard said. “It will be spent by residents who shop here, tourists or even people who just drive through and stop.”

Maynard said 49 of the 95 counties in Tennessee already have their sales tax rate at 9.75 percent and 11 counties are at 9.5 percent. 

“That means that more than 63 percent of the counties in Tennessee have a rate of 9.5 percent or higher,” he said. “Williamson County just raised theirs to 9.75 percent. Rutherford County is at 9.75 percent. Montgomery County is at 9.5 percent, and Sumner County is at 9.25 percent.”

Maynard said the county supports school renovations and construction. In the past few years, Wilson County Schools expanded Carroll-Oakland School, Gladeville Elementary School, Rutland Elementary School, Southside School, Tuckers Crossroads School, Watertown Elementary School, West Elementary School and West Wilson Middle School. Lebanon High School and Watertown High School were built within the past seven years. Gladeville Middle School is scheduled to open next fall. The new Green Hill High School is expected to be ready to open in two years.

Maynard said a property tax hike does not go before the citizens. The state allows a county to raise its rate by commission vote.

He admitted there were three referendums to increase the sales tax since 1994, and all three failed. He hopes it will be different this year.

“We’ve been asked by property owners why we increase the property tax,” Maynard said. “We don’t want to penalize the property owners, but that’s what we will have to do if this doesn’t pass. This is our bottom line. Hopefully people will turn out to vote for this. This is an opportunity for people to choose what kind of tax they want.”

Ex-commissioner files ethics complaint

By Angie Mayes

Frank Bush

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Wilson County Ethics Committee received an official misconduct ethics complaint against Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and county attorney Mike Jennings regarding funding of the new high school.

The complaint, filed by former commissioner Frank Bush, alleges that the two subverted rule 17, which states all resolutions must appear before the appropriate committees before they are submitted to the full commission.

Bush said the complaint “stands on its own” and alleges Hutto and Jennings approved the resolution be considered and voted on by the full commission, without it coming before the education or budget committees.

“The mayor, with the advice of the county attorney, chose to ignore what I believe to be a clear interpretation of rule 17,” Bush said. “This is the largest financial transaction in Wilson County’s history. If that is what the commission wanted, then they needed to do it properly. It might have been delayed a month, but it should have been considered by the committees.”

Jennings said Wednesday in an email he disagreed with Bush.

“This ethics complaint is totally unfounded,” Jennings said. “It is filed by a former county commissioner who was unsuccessful in his battle to stop construction of the new high school. The vote to proceed was 18-6. Neither Mayor Hutto nor I did anything unethical. We followed the rules of order. Mr. Bush was unsuccessful.” 

Hutto agreed with Jennings. 

“The question was from the floor, that Chairman Bush said that we didn’t follow rule, and the paperwork had not gone through committee,” Hutto said. “I asked [Jennings] his opinion.”

Hutto said Jennings told him the issue had been through the committees and discussed for a year.

“The resolution itself was the loan document,” Hutto said. “The real resolution [was about the] building [of] the school and how you’re going to fund it. The third resolution was to approve the [bond] document. Those two relate to the third one. That’s why [Jennings] said it had been sent through committee.”

Hutto said rule 17 exists “for [issues such as if] someone who says they want to buy three pickup trucks, and the issue had not been through committee for discussion.”

Bush said without the paper resolution before the committee’s members, it would be impossible to render a decision.

“First of all, we deal in documents,” he said. “Because the resolution was never presented to any committee, they were never able to properly discuss the issue. They never were able to consider the points that some of us were making [about the cost of the school].”

Bush said if Budget Committee chair Mike Justice was presented with the document, “and he chose to pass it on, then that’s OK,” Bush said. “It was not done that way. There have been any number of cases that the county mayor and county attorney have sent back to committee.”

Former Commissioner Jeff Joines said the Education Committee, which is one of the committees the information was submitted to, did see paperwork about the school and the cost. He said the Education Committee did consider it and passed it, along with a favorable resolution, to the Budget Committee. 

Joines said resolutions do not come to committees. Rather, information is given to the commissioners, and they recommend or don’t recommend a project based on that information.

Education Committee chair Annette Stafford said in an email Wednesday she wants Commissioner Terry Ashe to recuse himself from the complaint.
The email was sent to commissioners, school board officials, school administrators and the media.

“I strongly [request] that Commissioner Terry Ashe recuse himself entirely from this ethics complaint due to the fact, that Commissioner Ashe [has] voted against this resolution in the past, as this is a conflict of interest or lack of impartial opinion based on his votes he made in the past,” Stafford said. 

“If Chairman Ashe [does] not see that he should recuse himself, I would like my request to be forwarded directly to District Attorney Tommy Thompson for his review and opinion, to see if any ethic violations had occurred during the August 2018 county commission meeting regarding the funding of the new high school.”

Bush said he disagreed with the way the funding measure for the new Green Hill High School in Mt. Juliet was presented to the commission. The approved bid for the cost of the project was $107 million, and Bush said he believes the school could be built for less than $80 million. He pointed out recently built schools were constructed for less than $80 million.

According to the Wilson County Schools website, Lebanon High School was built for $47 million, “but that project began in 2010, during a severe economic downturn, when construction costs were at rock bottom,” the site said.

Watertown High School cost $38 million, “but that project was bid in 2012, and the school is approximately half the size of the one being considered in Mt. Juliet,” the site said.

None of the commissioners on the Budget Committee were available for comment. Hutto also sits on the committee.

Complaint against mayor dismissed

By Angie Mayes

Ed Hagerty

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Tennessee Ethics Commission dismissed an ethics complaint against Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty filed by his 2016 mayoral election competitor, Jim Bradshaw.
Bradshaw, who lost the election, 7,000-5,621, filed the complaint April 6 that alleged Hagerty, violated the conflict of interest disclosure statutes for six years.

The complaint said Hagerty has rental property, which resulted in more income than Hagerty listed on his financial disclosure statements. He was required by state law to report any private income greater than $1,000.

Hagerty owns 10 rental properties, which Bradshaw alleged could generate possible rental income, according to the complaint. In Hagerty’s disclosure, he reported income from his wife’s job was the only income the family had.

Hagerty, in response to the complaint, submitted disclosure reports from 2013-2018 to the attorney general. On April 20, he submitted an amended financial disclosure statement that listed the rental properties.

On April 26, the complaint was forwarded to the Tennessee attorney general to conduct a preliminary investigation. The attorney general’s investigation was purely a fact-finding mission and did not determine an outcome for recommendation as to whether there was a violation of the rule.

Assistant Attorney General Anna Waller interviewed Bradshaw on May 9, 2018. 

“Bradshaw stated that, prior to the 2016 election, he learned from a few constituents that Ed Hagerty owned investment rental properties, which he did not disclose, as sources of income on his statements,” according to the paperwork associated with the investigation.

“Bradshaw stated that he did not want to initially disclose the information but decided to file the complaint after he learned that Hagerty had not disclosed the sources of income on his 2018 statement.”

Waller interviewed Hagerty on May 11. During the interview, he affirmed he did have rental properties in Mt. Juliet and Sevier County. He listed the nine residences, plus an additional one in Sevier County. In addition to those properties, Hagerty owns his home in Mt. Juliet.

Hagerty appeared before the attorney general on April 20, 2018 and stated that he did not list the rental properties, “he did not disclose the rental income on the statements because he did not earn substantial income on the properties during 2013-2018, after factoring in expenses associated with taxes and upkeep of the properties,” the report stated.

According to the report by the attorney general, “Hagerty stated that he uses money received as rental income to pay for taxes, upkeep, and maintenance of the investment properties. Mr. Hagerty stated that these costs include carpet replacement, interior painting, HV AC repairs, roof repairs, plumbing repairs, and other expenses when tenants vacate. He further stated that some of his rental properties have been vacant at times between 2013 and 2018.”

The complaint was then forwarded to the Department of Ethics and Finance on July 12. That board met July 25, and the case was dismissed. The information from the Tennessee Election Commission stated that Bradshaw had the right to “seek reconsideration of this order and/or judicial review.”
Bradshaw would have 60 days – until Sept. 23 – to request a judicial review, according to the Tennessee Election Commission. He said he will not file a grievance because, “I would have to pay [Hagerty’s] attorney fees. This has been a lot of pressure on me and has taken a lot of time.”

Bradshaw said he is not mad about the results.

“I am very disappointed with the result,” he said. “The commission, except for one person who was not there, voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint.”

He said despite what some people may say, he’s not upset about losing the race. In fact, he said he has run three times, against Hagerty, fire Chief Jamie Luffman and Linda Elam.

“I’m not upset, and this is nothing against Ed, but I think he should follow the same rules as everyone else. If he had omitted the information one year, that would be something. But he left it out from 2013 to 2018. That’s more than just a mistake.”
Bradshaw is running for District 4 city commissioner this year. Because he lost the other races, he said “I’m used to losing. There are 6,000 registered voters in District 4. There are also a lot of things to vote for, so I’m hoping more people will come out and vote.”

Hagerty said, “the decision speaks for itself” and had no further comment.

City approves new high school measures

By Angie Mayes

Angie Mayes • Mt. Juliet News
Melba Checote-Eads with the Trail of Tears commemorative event and Valeria Braun with Grace Methodist Churc, hold the city’s proclamation regarding the Trail of Tears commemorative walk.

Special to the Democrat

Green Hill High School, the planned newest high school in Wilson County, is one step closer to construction, thanks to two votes by the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners last Monday night.

The school will be on about 1.84 acres in Mt. Juliet. For Mt. Juliet to provide services to the school, the land first had to annexed into the city. The measure went without input from citizens and was approved unanimously.

Next, commissioners voted to provide a plan of services for the school. The plan of services includes police and fire protection, as well as road and other infrastructure services to the property. That item, also without pubic comment, was approved unanimously.

Grant money from the Metropolitan Planning Organization for alternative transportation projects such as bike paths and sidewalks was awarded to the city. The MPO is a multi-county organization that manages local transportation requests and recommends money to be given to communities by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The grant was for $811,812. The city will add an additional $202,953 to the mix for the more than $1 million project. The entire widening project will begin at the Mt. Juliet Road Interstate 40 eastbound onramp and will extend to Parkwood Drive to create two new lanes that will go northbound over I-40. The grant is specifically for bike lanes and sidewalks.

Another grant for the Mt. Juliet Intelligent Transportation System will give the city about $2.3 million with no city match required. The project is designed to allow traffic signals along the Mt. Juliet Road corridor from Central Pike to City Hall to be synchronized to allow travelers to make it through all of the lights without stopping, Mayor Ed Hagerty said.

A grant to extend the Lebanon Road sidewalks project from North Mt. Juliet Road to Park Glen Drive was also approved. This is the second part of the project. The grant, for $140,000 with a $35,000 match from the city, will pay for a sidewalk along one side of Park Glen Drive to connect with an existing sidewalk in Park Glen subdivision. Pedestrian traffic signals the length of the project will also be incorporated.

The commissioners also approved the International Residential Code, the International Fire Code and the International Building Code updates to include in their various building codes. The measure will take effect Jan. 1. 

“That will give the businesses and developers who have questions time to contact us,” Hagerty said. 

The code affects all structures whose plans have not yet been approved. Those current structures and those on commissioner-approved building plans and plats will not be affected.

The commissioners also delayed approval of a list of grants to nonprofits that affect Mt. Juliet residents. Hagerty said he wanted to hear from four new applicants about what they do and what their plans for the money would be. The measure will be discussed at the commission’s Sept. 24 meeting.

Members of the city’s ethics committee were approved. Darryl Blankenship, Harry Jester, Rick Rodriguez, Sam English and Matt Smith were named to the commission. The mayor and commissioners each nominated a person for the commission.

Hagerty also read a proclamation about the Trail of Tears Memorial Day, which is in conjunction with the 15th annual Commemorative “Trail of Tears” Walk on Sept. 15 at Grace United Methodist Church at 3085 Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet.

The Commemorative “Trail of Tears” Walk recognizes the hardships suffered by the five civilized tribes who were removed from the Southeast, including the Cherokee, Muscogee or Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole.

They were the tribes of the Southeast who were forced to remove to Oklahoma Indian Territory after the passage of the Indian Removal Act 1830. The forced Indian removal became known as the “Trail of Tears.” 

Also announced at the meeting was the 37th-annual Pow-Wow, which will take place Sept. 22-23 at Mundy Park in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet project in running for statewide award

Staff Reports

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
A project completed in Mt. Juliet at the Beckwith north distribution center by S&ME, Inc., is among those under consideration in the 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards competition, presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee.

A project completed in Mt. Juliet at the Beckwith north distribution center by S&ME, Inc., is among those under consideration in the 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards competition, presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Tennessee. 

The award is one of the highest honors an engineering firm can receive and is considered the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry.”

Panattoni, Inc. contracted S&ME, Inc. to provide permitting, design and construction period support services for the restoration of about 800 feet of an unnamed tributary to Cedar Creek. Property owners had mowed the grass to the water’s edge and installed a driveway culvert crossing. No other vegetation was present near the bedrock-lined channel. These combined conditions created a stream channel that was over-widened and lacked habitat diversity. Also, wetlands adjacent to the stream reach needed to be avoided during construction. 

To address the challenges, S&ME used square Bio-D block coir blocks anchored to the bedrock with wooden stakes installed in holes drilled into the rock. The approach avoided wetland impacts, enabled channel restoration to appropriate dimensions, and stabilized the banks using soil behind the Bio-D block for a cost-effective project. 

Construction was completed in August 2017.  The restoration of the unnamed tributary to Cedar Creek helps to improve water quality to provide improved physical habitat for aquatic organisms and eventually provide shading of the stream to avoid elevated temperatures during the summer as the streamside vegetation matures. This streamside trees and shrubs will also provide a source of nutrients for aquatic macro-invertebrates from leaf fall into the stream.  

Project entries from across the state are up for consideration. The winners of the 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards will be announced during an awards gala at the Omni Hotel in Nashville on the evening of Oct. 26, where ACEC Tennessee will also celebrate its 50th anniversary. Additional information about the awards can be found at In 2017, the TDOT Diverging Diamond Interchange at State Route 66 exit 407 project, completed by engineering firm Gresham, Smith and Partners, won the top prize.

Founded in 1968, ACEC Tennessee is a statewide organization that represents more than 100 Tennessee engineering firms. ACEC Tennessee has chapters in Nashville, East Tennessee, Southeast Tennessee and Memphis. The organization works to advance the business environment.

Moss sworn in as circuit court clerk

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Judge Barry Tatum swore in Wilson County Circuit Court Clerk Debbie Moss recently with her husband, Charles Moss, by her side to begin her second four-year term as clerk. Moss was unopposed in the Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election.

Judge Barry Tatum swore in Wilson County Circuit Court Clerk Debbie Moss recently with her husband, Charles Moss, by her side to begin her second four-year term as clerk. Moss was unopposed in the Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election.  

Kenny Martin: A toolbox filled with some of life’s lessons

As humans, we’re all supposed to be good to one another.

Kenny Martin

Kenny Martin

As we all know, life is short and can seem even shorter when a large part of it is spent complaining about nothing. The hectic stresses of life can make some days seem somewhat miserable and unbearable, but when you put things into perspective,

you suddenly realize your day and life could be so very different.

There are things we do in our lifetime because of personal gain, personal satisfaction or just because we have to. But the things we do for others because we yearn or want to do always seem to bring us as humans the most joy. 

In other words, there are sincere and genuine things we do in our lives that make us feel better and teach us lessons about life in a positive way, all while becoming blessed in the process and wanting and expecting nothing in return. We do it because it’s what we want to do, and it’s the right thing to do.

There are teachable and learnable life lesson opportunities each and every day if we all just look and listen for what’s really important. And that’s the lessons of life. 

Spending time looking out for one another and becoming kinder to one another surely can’t or couldn’t hurt. I’ve always had a hard time being mean to someone I love or someone who was nice to me. It’s a whole lot easier to act nice and considerate when the process goes both ways. Plus, it’s simply the right thing to do and makes you feel better when you do it.

In closing, please be on the lookout for those positive life lessons.   

Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet. 

Wilson County Schools report successes in wake of growth

By Matt Masters

The Wilson County Board of Education held its September work session and meeting Thursday where they reported record numbers for achievements in English, mathematics and science.

Director of Schools Donna Wright said the district as a whole ranked Level 5, the highest-ranking possible, in the recent TN Ready assessement, a feat that has never happened in the past. 

Wright presented information and a slideshow that reported 76 percent of schools were at Level 3 or higher with 43 percent of schools at Level 5. 

In science, Wilson County ranked in the top 10 for science achievement and improvement. In English-language arts, Wilson County exceeded the state achievement average with third through fifth grades ranked in the top 10 for achievement, and in math, Wilson County exceeded the state achievement average. 

Wright praised the district’s teachers, administrators and staff for their efforts to continue to improve education for all students.

“We are all making steady gains, and it’s all taking place in the classroom,” Wright said. “Our kids are definitely benefiting.”

Wright also said about one third of the schools in the district will be recognized as reward schools Sept. 21. She said the schools hit goals based on both achievement and growth, with more details to be provided about the recognition in the coming days.

Providence United Methodist Church recently donated $10,000 to Wilson County Schools, with $500 going to each school to address delinquent lunch accounts, which ensures students who are not able to pay for lunch are still able to eat.

Wright said Angel McCloud, an attorney with expertise in special education, was hired as deputy director of special education, a new position created and included in the current budget to ensure the system properly handles special education challenges. 

Wright said in October, candidates would be interviewed for positions at the new Gladeville Middle School, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall gave a presentation to the board to show projections of the increase in students with rezoning suggestions for middle schools to accommodate the influx of students. Hall said it was only suggestions based on student population growth and that he will give updates to the board throughout the year to keep everyone up to date with growth.

Hall also said construction continues at the new Gladeville Middle School, which is currently getting a new roof, and it will open in 2019.

Ben Baker with CareHere, a Nashville-based employee health care provider, gave an annual report on the state of Wilson County School employees’ health. Baker said Wilson County Schools showed the greatest amount of savings of any school district that works with CareHere. He said using Wilson County Schools as a model of how to get the best out of health care for employees and reported strong numbers of employees doing preventative screenings. CareHere has worked with Wilson County Schools for 10 years.

County attorney Mike Jennings gave his report and called a 10-minute recess to speak in private with the board to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken as Jennings was only giving information to the board in the closed meeting. Jennings pointed out while he is able to have discussions about litigations in private with the board, any actions or votes must be made in public.

Recommendations from Wright to have surplus cubicles given to Wilson County government passed unanimously. 

Approval of a the school facilities use procedures, along with another line item, was delayed until October’s meeting to give board members more time to research the issue. The facilities use procedures refer to the discussion to require at least one school system employee present when a non-school group uses a facility.

The board unanimously approved to retain Melissa Lynn as a member of the Wilson County Education Association Sick Bank and approved the fixed asset missing inventory list.

The board also unanimously approved naming the Mt. Juliet Middle School football field after NASA astronaut and former student Barry E. Wilmore, along with approving the textbook adoption committee recommendations for new science textbooks. 

A motion for Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris to submit an application to the Tennessee School Boards Association Convention School of the Year Awards for the central office was passed unanimously.

The first reading of the attendance during postsecondary school visits board policy was passed unanimously. The policy allows for college visits and tours to be counted as excused absences.

Upon final reading, approval of a board policy for personal, professional and bereavement leave and a policy for sick leave was passed unanimously.

The board voted to re-elect Larry Tomlinson as board chair with a 5-1 vote and to elect Linda Armistead as vice-chair with a 5-1 vote. Board member Wayne McNeese was the no vote on both.

The board also voted to re-nominate Bill Robinson as the Tennessee School Board Association – Tennessee Legislative Network member and Linda Armistead as the Federal Relations Network member both with a 6-1 vote with both Robinson and Armistead abstaining from their respective votes.

Board members Kimberly McGee and Tom Sottek were both elected and voted in as the two sick leave bank committee members, which passed 5-2.

McNeese, Sottek and Chad Karl were all nominated by Larry Tomlinson to serve as ethics committee members where they all were voted in to the role with a 5-2 vote.

Wright recognized all Wilson County principals with plaques to commemorate their Level 5 rankings.

The board recognized new student-school board members who represented their schools with a progress report on activities and happenings at the high schools.

Third graders from Elzie D. Patton performed space-themed songs for the school board, complete with aliens and astronauts.

Business leaders hear changes to wine, beer, alcohol laws

By Matt Masters

Tucker Herndon, a partner with Burr and Forman law firm, spoke at the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce connection luncheon Aug. 15 at Rutland Place to inform business leaders of the changes to sales of wine, beer and liquor, especially regarding wine sales in grocery stores.

Herndon was instrumental in the wine in grocery stores legislation that went into effect in 2016. He said it was the biggest change in the legislation of alcohol since the end of prohibition.

Herndon educated the audience of more than 50 people about the steps to implement and the results of the legislation that was popular for many Tennesseans in a presentation called, “A Journey into Wine Inside Grocery Stores Law.”

The “Red, White and Food” campaign needed 10 percent of registered voters in each jurisdiction to get the referendum off the ground, which made its way to the legislature March 30, 2017. The bill passed, and by June 20, 2016, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission received 499 WIGS applications that resulted in 398 letters of approval and 279 licenses granted.

“We’re realizing that things in the ’50s and ’60s are not how people today view or vote in today’s arena, and based upon that, I think that people are more susceptible to understand that as long as we do it in a responsible approach, that we should provide all of the citizens of the state of Tennessee to different goods,” Herndon said. “It’s not limited to just alcoholic beverages. Whatever industry we’re talking about – having the ability to provide them access and unfettered access to a degree.”

Herndon said precautions and restrictions were placed on the sale of wine in grocery stores to help both communities and business owners provide alcoholic beverages responsibly.

Some of the restrictions included the requirement of managers and clerks to have training to limit sales to retailers whose food sales equal at least 20 percent of total sales, which means gas stations are excluded from selling wine.

Wine must also have a minimum 20 percent markup in grocery stores, which was done to appease liquor stores, which had no competition in wine sells before July 2016.

In contrast, local laws govern beer, and the Alcohol Beverage Control board controls liquor sales in the state.

Wine will first be sold in grocery stores on Sundays, beginning Jan. 6, 2019 at 10 a.m., but consumers will not be able to buy wine on Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter.

Herndon also talked about a new change to how alcohol might be gotten – deliveries at homes – legally. Herndon said it wouldn’t be long before companies like Amazon take advantage of the desires of their customers and the laws that allow people and companies to shop for customers.

Herndon said new rules were also put in place for package stores, including no liquor store to be within 1,500 feet of another. Mt. Juliet allows only one store per 8,000 people – currently there are three package stores in Mt. Juliet. No new licenses will be granted until 2021, and the rules were put in place to retain completion and survival of liquor store businesses as completion has increased from wine in grocery stores.

Herndon also spoke about other changes that are outside of WIGS but to the changes in culture around alcohol.

Herndon said so-called “open carry laws” allow patrons to go between adjacent restaurants and bars with open container drinks as long as patrons do not use public walkways to do so. This is currently restricted to beer, and vendors must use branded cups. Herndon also said the implementation of vertical licenses for minors helps bars, restaurants and stores from serving alcohol to minors.

Another change Herndon touched on were the alcoholic beverage trial programs that are implemented at Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University to allow alcohol to be sold on game days.

Finally, Herndon said the Tennessee ABC board implemented a program in January called the Regulatory Licensing and Permitting System, which upgraded the process to get licensed to sell alcohol.

County opposes racism in resolution

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County commissioners approved a resolution Aug. 20 that voiced their opposition to racism that stemmed from a racially charged comment made by incoming District 1 Commissioner Robert Fields, but 10 commissioners abstained.

The vote count on the resolution showed 14 voted yes, zero voted no, and there were 10 abstentions.

Commissioners who voted yes were Becky Siever, Adam Bannach, Jerry McFarland, Kenny Reich, Terry Scruggs, Sara Patton, Jeff Joines, Mike Justice, Gary Keith, Terry Muncher, William Glover, Annette Stafford, Sonja Robinson and Wendell Marlowe.

Commissioners who abstained were Bobby Franklin, Chad Barnard, Frank Bush, Terry Ashe, Diane Weathers, Sue Vanatta, Joy Bishop, Dan Walker, John Gentry and Jim Emberton.

Following the Aug. 2 election, the District 1 race between Fields and opponent Tim Roehler was tied at 526 votes each. The next day, Fields posted a comment on Facebook, which he claimed was the answer to a question, that said Roehler “kept quiet” he was in an interracial marriage and had two interracial children.

The comment caused an uproar from some commissioners who denounced the comments and called it racist.

Before Monday’s resolution was passed, Franklin said he would like to defer the measure until Fields was sworn into office.

“I’d like to defer this until the person takes his seat,” he said. “I would rather wait until he’s here and do this to his face and let him respond to it. There’s no need that we have to declare we’re not racist because a private citizen said that. Once he takes office, that’s another thing, but I’m not going to do it behind his back.”

Joines, a cosponsor of the resolution, said there was no reason to delay the vote because “there’s no one mentioned in this resolution. This simply says we don’t support racism and racist remarks.”

Siever, whose District 1 seat Fields will assume, said the comment was “appalling to the people of my district, and I’ve received many, many calls about this situation. It’s important that we as a body do not condone any such behavior. I urge the county commission to vote unanimously to our opposition to any such comments.”

Patton, who authored the resolution, said the vote was to let the public know “that we don’t condone racism whatsoever.”

Stafford, an African-American woman, said, “We need to vote yes and stand up strong as a county. We have a lot of diversity in this county, and we need to let the people know it doesn’t matter what race, creed, color, gender, religion or any of that should matter. I would hope and pray that we give some kind of confidence in this county that we don’t condone racism at all.”

Justice said, “the saddest thing of all is that this body cannot remove this man from office.”

Bishop said, “I’m thinking this is something we might not even need. We don’t need to be throwing stones, and it seems to me that our actions may speak louder than our words in this resolution. I don’t feel comfortable voting for or against this. I wish it had been pulled from the packet.”

The commission voted not to defer the resolution, and it passed on a 14-0 vote.

Because the comments were made prior to Fields sworn in as commissioner and because he was a private citizen at the time, nothing can be done to him once he is sworn in, according to county attorney Mike Jennings.

3 races in November municipal elections

By Jared Felkins

A rather light turnout produced three contested races among six seats up for grabs in the Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown municipal elections that will also appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Qualifying ended Thursday at noon for the city elections. The municipal elections will include Lebanon City Council races in Ward 3, Ward 4 and Ward 6; Mt. Juliet City Commission races in District 2 and District 4; and three at-large aldermen to serve on the Watertown City Council.

Camille Burdine and Zabrina Seay qualified and will face off for Lebanon’s Ward 3 seat left open when Councilor Rob Cesternino didn’t seek re-election. In Ward 4, incumbent Councilor Chris Crowell qualified and will run unopposed. In Ward 6, Jeni Lind Brinkman and Jon Kodi will face one another for the seat left open when Councilor Rick Bell didn’t seek re-election.

In Lebanon, Conner Vastola qualified for the Cartmell Scholarship for this year. Created by a private act in 1911 in the state legislature and, according to the terms of the will of the late William M. Cartmell, candidates for the scholarship must be Lebanon residents and only those eligible to vote in Lebanon elections may vote for the scholarship recipient.

Every regular city election, the Cartmell Scholarship is offered. Before, in the 1920s until the early 1980s, all council people were elected at-large, so every two years, there were citywide elections, and the scholarship was on the ballot. In the 1980s, the city was split into wards, so there were citywide elections every four years with the mayoral election. The trustees of Vanderbilt said the intent of Cartmell’s will was that he wanted it on every election. In 2008, the city amended its charter to put the scholarship on every general election ballot every two years.

In Mt. Juliet’s District 2, incumbent Commissioner James Maness qualified and will run unopposed. In District 4, both incumbent Commissioner Brian Abston and former Commissioner Jim Bradshaw qualified and plan to run for the seat.

In Watertown, incumbent aldermen Kristie Bayse Cantrell, Katie Smith and Brandon Howard qualified for the three at-large seats to fill.

The Nov. 6 general and city elections will also determine who will be the state’s new governor, fill District 57 and District 46 seats in the state House and pick a state senator for District 17 in Wilson County. Also on the ballot, voters will determine who will replace Diane Black in the U.S. House’s Sixth District and Bob Corker in the U.S. Senate.

Businessman Bill Lee won the Republican nomination, while former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean won the Democratic nomination, in the Aug. 2 primaries and will face one another for governor.

In House District 46, Republican state Rep. Clark Boyd and Democrat challenger Mark Cagle will square off in the Nov. 6 general election. Republican state Rep. Susan Lynn will face Democrat challenger Jordan Cole for the District 57 House seat in November. Both unopposed in their respective primaries, Republican incumbent state Sen. Mark Pody will rematch with Democrat challenger Mary Alice Carfi for the District 17 state Senate seat. Pody won by 308 votes in a special election last year to fill the then-vacant seat.

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and Democrat former Gov. Phil Bredesen seek to replace Corker in the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 6 election.

In the race for U.S. Congress Sixth District, Republican John Rose will face Democrat Dawn Barlow in the Nov. 6 election to replace Black.

The withdrawal deadline is Aug. 23 at noon for qualified candidates to back out of their respective city races. The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 8. Absentee ballots may be requested between Aug. 8 and Oct. 30. Early voting will be Oct. 17 through Nov. 1.

Commission OKs new development

By Angie Mayes

Special to The Democrat

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners on Monday narrowly passed an ordinance to rezone and adopt the Mountain Brook Place property, which will be the home of Mountain Brook Place, a senior living community at Old Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road.

The measure was up for a first reading. The final reading will be at the Sept. 10 commissioners’ meeting.

The community will feature a three-story structure with 106 bedrooms and 18 independent units known as villas on the 7.89-acre site.

The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Ray Justice and Brian Abston voting against the measure.

Justice said he was unhappy with some of the comments made by a partner in the development company who allegedly called the staff “idiots” and “demeaned the city commissioners. We hold you to the standards we have in Mt. Juliet, and you and your people lack credibility.”

Abston said while the residents rarely have the police called on them, they are people who are a demand on other emergency services such as fire and ambulance services.

“They are a burden on our emergency system who frequent these facilities weekly,” he said. “It creates a demand for additional staff.”

Mayor Ed Hagerty said he had nothing but positive things to say about the facility. He said there is a demand for senior living housing.

“Most of the facilities in town are full,” he said. “It’s a three-story but looks like a two-story because one of the stories is below grade.”

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles said he had heard only comments from people “who were upset that it didn’t pass the last time.”

Hagarty said, “I believe it is my responsibility to get facilities like this here. A lot of people who live here don’t want to leave Mt. Juliet. If the center is here, it is home.”

Two issues on the agenda regarding the adoption of the land for the proposed Green Hill High School and a plan of services for the area were deferred until Sept 10. Commissioners had questions for Wilson County Schools Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall, who was unable to attend the meeting due to his attendance at a school board meeting.

Prior to the commission meeting, the commissioners held a workshop to discuss the renovation of Old Lebanon Dirt Road.

WSP, an engineering consultant firm in Nashville, presented its plan for the road project. Mt. Juliet engineer Andy Barlow helped with the presentation.

The road is 3.5 miles and extends from Mt. Juliet Road to the Wilson-Davidson counties line. Public meetings revealed numerous comments about what could or should be done with the road.

From protection of a historic wall west of Jackson Trail and turn lanes at various intersections, to sidewalks and bike paths and speeding, were among the concerns by citizens, according to a PowerPoint presentation. In addition to the rock wall, there is a cemetery, which has to be planned around.

WSP offered three options for the road, one with two lanes and an additional turn lane, with sidewalks and bike paths on each side. That project, known as Section 1, is expected to cost nearly $17.7 million.

WSP’s presentation said improved traffic flow, the plan with the safest of the three presented and the fact that there are walking areas on both sides of the road, were plusses for the project. The cons were it is the most expensive, would have major property impacts, could encourage speeders and could only be done in short segments due to budget commitments.

Section 2, which has a sidewalk on one side of the south side of the road, could cost about $16.1 million. Improved traffic flow, increased safety due to the center lane and a multi-use path along one side of the road were the comments under the pros. Cons included the project was at moderate cost and would have moderate property impacts. It could encourage a higher rate of speed along the roadway. Also, bikers and walkers would have to share a path, according to the presentation.

The third section was the least safe of the three, according to the PowerPoint presentation from the company. The cost is nearly $14.7 million.

It had the lowest cost and would allow more of the road to be improved at once. There would be turn lanes only at certain intersections and a multi-use path would be located on the south side. The items, which were noted as cons, were although the least safe, it would still be an improvement compared the roadway as it stands today. Also, pedestrians and cyclists would have to share a 10-foot path. That was information from the PowerPoint presentation.

The city has about $4 million set aside for funding the road, according to City Manager Kenny Martin, who said the rest of the funding for the project would be set aside “by the elected body, but often times general monies are set aside or bonds.”

Before the roadway could be built, the city would have to buy right of way from 140 property owners. That could take a year, according to WSP. Final plans could take six months. When that is completed, the projects would be sent out to bid. Construction could begin two years after the city begins right-of-way purchases. It could take up to two more years to complete the first section, according to Barlow.

There is no estimate on right-of-way purchase total, and it would be up to the commissioners to decide which section to approve. In comparison, Golden Bear Parkway was built for about $20 million, Barlow said.

Barlow said the logical breakdown of improvement segments would be Mt Juliet Road to Kelsey Glen Drive first; Kelsey Glen Drive to Chandler Road second; and Chandler Road to the Wilson-Davidson counties line.

“We think that doing the Mt. Juliet Road to Kelsey Glen is the most important one to start with because they contributed money [for the road improvements], and we would complete our commitment to Kelsey Glen [community].”

Commissioner to introduce ordinance to clean up properties

By Angie Mayes

Special to the Democrat

To clean up the unincorporated areas of Wilson County, District 20 Commissioner Annette Stafford plans to propose an ordinance, which outlines rules and regulations about what can be kept and what will become illegal on properties under 5.01 acres.

The ordinance, which is based on one in effect in Davidson County, said all areas under the 5.01-acre limit will be cleaned up, and no trash, junk, junk cars or other items will be allowed to pile up or remain on the land.

Stafford said she chose to propose the ordinance because of her constituents.

“Several of my constituents have contacted me, complaining about yards which needed to be cleaned up,” she said. “That includes cars that have been abandoned, cars that have been wrecked, houses that have caught fire and not been knocked down, houses which have been started but the work was never completed and things like that.”

The ordinance defines what is prohibited, what will be suppressed and what is prevented and regulated. That includes all “acts, practices, conduct, businesses, occupations, callings, trades, uses of property and all other things whatsoever detrimental, or liable to be detrimental, to the health, morals, comfort, safety, convenience or welfare of the inhabitants of the municipality, and exercise general police powers; and prescribes limits within which business occupations and practices liable to be nuisances or detrimental to the health, morals, security or general welfare of the people may lawfully be established, conducted or maintained.”

The Davidson County ordinance includes, “all property areas are to be maintained in a safe, clean and sanitary condition. Premises are to be kept free of an accumulation of trash, junk, junk cars and debris. No inoperable and/or unlicensed vehicles are allowed, and all motor vehicles must be parked on a hard surface [such as] concrete, asphalt or gravel.”

The ordinance from Davidson County also mentions the restriction of tractor-trailers on property, but Stafford said the rule she intends is for the abandoned trailer, not the semi-tractor itself. That applies to single- or two-family residences.

Illegal dumping is also included in the ordinance. That is defined as “the disposal of waste, trash, junk, furniture, tires, construction materials or debris, etc., in unauthorized or undesignated areas, which is prohibited. Illegal dumping is commonly found in uninhabited or otherwise deserted areas, vacant lots, along roadways, in alleys and at construction sites.”

Inoperable and unlicensed vehicles would also not be permitted. The verbiage of the ordinance is “except as may be otherwise permitted by the zoning code, inoperable, unlicensed or unregistered motor vehicles cannot be openly parked, kept or stored on any premises. Such vehicles must be stored in a garage or other structure designed for that purpose. An open carport will not satisfy this requirement.”

Garages for vehicle repair will also not be allowed, if the repair is more than a minor fix.

“Only minor repairs of motor vehicles can be done on residential property,” the Davidson County ordinance said. “The repairs must be to vehicles owned by either the owner-occupant or their tenant. Major repairs that require dismantling the vehicles major components are prohibited. Repair or stripping of vehicles by individuals engaged in an auto repair business in a residential zone district is prohibited.”

The proposed ordinance also said, “vehicles may not be abandoned or stored on public property. Abandoned vehicles on public property are defined by state and local law as vehicles which are ‘more than four years old’ and remain unattended on the public right of way for 10 days; or vehicles in an ‘obvious state of disrepair,’ which remain unattended on the public right of way for at least three days.”

Signs for home businesses would not be allowed and only one non-resident employee is allowed to work on the premises, the ordinance said.

Stafford said her constituents not only complain about the look of the yards, but also the possibility of snakes and rodents in the area.

Stafford said the ordinance is still in its infancy, but she plans to discuss it with the county mayor, her constituents and others at a meeting, separate from a commission meeting. Before it’s passed, the ordinance will need to be approved by the Wilson County Planning Committee, Wilson County Planning Commission and then the full commission.

She said that the possibility of properties grandfathered into the new law is an option, but it hasn’t yet been discussed.

The proposed ordinance is expected to be brought up at the Aug. 20 commission meeting.

Kenny Martin: Wonder what goes on behind closed doors?

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind some closed doors? Think about it. How many times have you heard about a tragedy or conspiracy that was going on behind closed doors that no one knew about or knew about it but didn’t want to get involved? The Las Vegas massacre is but one example of why we must never judge a book by its cover.

There is an old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” How true is that? Just because everything looks fine on the outside doesn’t mean that it’s good on the inside. For example, a person can smile on the outside but cry on the inside. Many a child starts out their day and appears fine on the outside, but on the inside they’re in turmoil, agony and pain. They come from picture-perfect families that 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 humans, 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 becoming a busy body or minding ones on business. It’s about helping fellow humans. As we all know, owning up to ones failures, shortcomings and problems isn’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 has been 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 or someone you know is hurting and are 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. 

New Mt. Juliet planner sees smart growth as goal

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet has a new city planning director, and she’s no stranger to the city.

Jennifer Stewart has been with the city for 18 years for which 16 were in the planning department, according to City Manager Kenny Martin.

“Her first two years were with the Mt. Juliet police communications center, and Ms. Stewart was serving as the lead dispatcher for our police department the day Sgt. Jerry Mundy and Deputy John Musice were killed.”

Martin said Stewart most recently served as interim planning director.

“She is most talented and bright and has overseen and supervised the planning department on many previous occasions for many months at a time and up until just [last week] was serving as the interim planner in addition to her deputy planner and zoning administrator roles,” Martin said. “She was basically wearing three hats. Unlike past city planners, Ms. Stewart will be the first city planner to also serve as the zoning administrator in addition to her city planner role.

“Initially Ms. Stewart did not desire the planner role, but after much support, thought and prayer with family and friends, she decided to make her wishes known. Quite honestly I could not be more happy and excited. I/we are so very proud or happy for Ms. Stewart. She was born and raised in Mt. Juliet and loves everything about our great city.”

Stewart said, “My reluctance stemmed from several items, one being the fact that I actually enjoyed my previous position. Also, I consider myself a worker bee and prefer to work more behind the scenes. Lastly, this position is a huge responsibility, and I feared it will take away from family time. I will be required to attend more nightly meetings, so I wanted to be on the same page with them and secure their support.

Stewart said she has “love for this city. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have so much pride in this town, and I am a homegrown Mt. Juliet girl through and through. I have lived here my entire life, and I have seen many changes. I have seen Mt. Juliet Road go from two lanes to five, and seen Providence go from a field of trees to what it is today, I have seen new schools built to accommodate our growth, our police department go from a handful of officers to the force we have today, and we even have our own fire department.”
She said while she has “acted as interim planner on several occasions throughout my time at the city and through the personal growth, those opportunities have provided and the confidence that our city manager, board of commissioners and planning commission have in me, I thought now was a great time to advance my career here at the city.”

Stewart said the “planner for such a fast-growing community is a huge responsibility, and I am so excited to serve my community in this capacity.  My goal is to make our city better today than yesterday. Growth isn’t often appreciated in small towns. I still consider Mt. Juliet a small town, but it’s here, and I have full confidence in the development team we have forged with public works, engineering, building codes and others to ensure that development is done so in a manner which is top notch. Maintaining that level of service to our community is a top priority.

“Another priority top on my list is development along our newly opened Golden Bear Gateway. It isn’t often you get to start with a clean slate. That is a sensitive, yet critical, area of town, and my goal is to ensure any development that might occur in that area is done so in a positive manner.”

Martin said, “She is a true success story on how hard work, diligence, integrity and learning every nuance for every position she has served with the city from top to bottom can make dreams come true. As a result, she has achieved so much during her many years of dedicated service with the city.”

Stewart replaces Donald Anthony, who was with the city for two weeks before he decided “he was not the right fit,” Martin said.

Mt. Juliet plans to make upgrades

By Matt Masters

The city of Mt. Juliet plans to install communications between traffic signals and to upgrade equipment at existing signals that stretch from Central Pike to Division Street on Mt. Juliet Road, thanks to a new grant.

The upgrade will enable better signal-to-signal communications, which means signal timing, coordination and information could be more activity reviewed and adjusted.

Mt. Juliet was previously awarded $1.5 million in state and federal funds for the roadway portion of a plan to widen the Mt. Juliet Road bridge over Interstate 40, with the city committed to cover the remainder of the funds needed.

The project aims to create a bike lane and sidewalk to increase roadway capacity, while adding non-motorized infrastructure to the city. According to Deputy Public Works Director Andy Barlow, the project should start in 2019 and is expected to be complete within the year.

Sidewalks will be added on Lebanon Road from Nonaville Road to Mt. Juliet Road, with phase two of the plan to continue the sidewalk section from Mt. Juliet Road to Park Glen.

According to Barlow, the grant fund for the second phase of construction wasn’t yet awarded to the city, but the city will soon begin to seek the remaining grant money for the project. The sidewalk project has a less clear construction time frame while the city secures construction funds, but it’s expected to be complete between 2021 and 2022.

The same time frame exists for the traffic signals, but city officials hope to have them completed soon.

Bryan re-elected as sheriff

By Matt Masters

Wilson County voters re-elected Robert Bryan as sheriff for the next four years in the Aug. 2 election.

Bryan, who has served in the role of Wilson County sheriff since 2012, has served Wilson County for 29 years in various law enforcement roles. He beat challenger and Mt. Juliet City Commissioner Ray Justice with 19,863 votes compared to Justice’s 8,750.

Around 200-300 people were estimated to have attended Bryan’s watch party at the National Guard Armory in Lebanon, while Justice held his watch party at the Holiday Inn Express at Providence in Mt. Juliet.

“It’s humbling whenever you get the support that was showed tonight, and I just want to take this time to thank everyone who came out and supported me,” Bryan said. “My family, all my friends and just the citizens of Wilson County for showing their support for me tonight – it’s just humbling.”

When asked what his plan was in the next term as sheriff, Bryan said he wants to find ways to successfully tackle the growth in Wilson County.

“The main thing we’re facing right now is all the growth in the county,” Bryan said. “Everything in the county is being impacted by growth, so that’s the No. 1 goal is to try and stay out in front of that and come up with a plan to carry us into the future.”

Although Justice lost the race, he had nothing but support to show for his competitor.

“Well, obviously it didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” Justice said. “But we ran as clean and as upfront and honest a race as we could possibly run, and I’m very proud of the way we handled it – and when I say ‘we,’ I mean myself and Robert Bryan. I’m proud of him, as well.

“I’m going to continue to be the city commissioner for my district in Mt. Juliet and do everything in my power to make my district and Mt. Juliet the best place in the state of Tennessee to live.”


Voters selected their next register of deeds on Election Day and elected Jackie Murphy to the position.

Murphy, a lifelong resident of Wilson County who currently works in the register of deeds office under retiring John “Bev” Spickard, won 17,821 votes compared to Justin Davis’ 9,973 votes.

About 50 people filled the Partee House in Lebanon to show support and celebrate Murphy’s victory, where she addressed the crowd of supporters.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has backed me, helped me, supported me through this journey. I have never went through such a journey in my life,” Murphy said. “We pulled it off, folks, we pulled it off.”

Davis had a near equal turnout to his watch party at the Lebanon Golf and Country Club, where he expressed his gratitude for his supporters.

“I’m thankful for everybody who supported me and all the wonderful people I’ve met in the county,” Davis said. “There’s so many wonderful people in this county, and I really appreciate everybody for helping me out. And all the other candidates running for office gave me a whole other perspective on people putting themselves out there and running for office and public service, so I see it all in a whole new light now, because it’s hard work.”

Incumbent Jim Major won re-election against challenger Al Partee Jr. for Wilson County trustee.

Major garnered 23,477 votes compared to Partee Jr.’s 4,134 votes.

Major, a lifelong resident of Wilson County has served as Wilson County’s trustee since 2006.
Neither candidate could be reached for comment.

The election results are unofficial until the results are certified Wednesday.

Hutto wins third term as Wilson mayor

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Incumbent Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto soundly won his bid for re-election Aug. 2.

Hutto defeated challenger Mae Beavers, 20,186 to 9,554 to win his third term as mayor.

“The credit for this win is the great people who came together and were able to make a strong campaign,” Hutto said. “It’s not Randall Hutto. That’s for sure. The credit goes to my team.”

Hutto said he plans to keep working with the Wilson County Commission on projects that make Wilson County what it is.

“I’ve been blessed to work with two great county commissions and plan to keep making Wilson County one of the top counties in Tennessee,” he said.

Four years ago, the race for Wilson County mayor was uncontested and drew 18,250 votes. The last contested mayoral race in Wilson County, between Don Fox, Hutto and Phillip Warren in 2010, drew 22,595 votes.

In Thursday’s Wilson County General Election, voters cast 29,803 ballots in the mayoral race.

Beavers did not return calls for comment.

The results of the race are unofficial until the Wilson County Election Commission certifies the election Wednesday.