Carafem weighs options after Mt. Juliet OKs zoning ordinance

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Carafem, a women’s health care clinic in Mt. Juliet, is weighing its options after the city approved a zoning change to move surgical abortion clinics from commercial activities zoning to industrial zones in March and April.

Carafem moved to Mt. Juliet to be close to Nashville and serve Middle Tennessee patients who needed health care or wanted an abortion. At the time, carafem planned to provide surgical and medicated abortions. After the city’s vote, it only provided the abortion pill, which could be given to patients up to 10 weeks pregnant.

“We are obviously disappointed that the city has decided to exercise its zoning authority for the political purpose of targeting abortion providers and specifically carafem, said Melissa Grant, chief operating officer with carafem. “We are considering a variety of options in moving forward and remain committed to our serving our mission in Tennessee.”

In March, Grant said, “carafem opened a reproductive health care and family planning center in [Mt. Juliet] to provide safe, convenient and affordable health care options with a licensed, quality health provider to serve women in Tennessee. The health center offers early abortion care up to 10 weeks with the medical abortion pill, STI testing, a wide selection of birth control options – such as IUDs, birth control implants, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills and emergency contraception.”

Among other things, the ordinance, which passed on first reading in March, said, “[surgical abortion clinics] shall be located within 1,000 feet [measured property line to property line] of any church, public or private school ground, college campus, public park or recreation facility, public library, child care facilities or a lot zoned residentially or devoted primarily to residential use.”

Also allowed in the industrial zone are scrap operations; warehousing goods, transport and storage; wholesale sales; waste disposal services, manufacturing and automotive parking.

The clinic moved to Mt. Juliet and opened without securing the appropriate permits to become an actual business, according to Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty.

After the March meeting, Hagerty said, “What we did tonight is we amended the zoning ordinance. That’s something that municipal governments do from time to time. We amended the zoning ordinance to what you heard me read into the record with all of the changes being proposed to be changed in our zoning ordinance and we did that by unanimous vote.”

Hagerty said the business that prompted the zoning change, carafem, opened without the city’s knowledge.

“They’ve made no application to the city of any sort, so I don’t know [about the clinic],” he said at the time. “I have read that stuff in different media publications, but I have no first-hand knowledge because they have made not application to the city, so I don’t even know what business you’re referring to, nor what zone class they apply that they would like to apply to be in. They have not applied for any inspection or any application of any sort.”

Hagerty said not applying for permits was “not normal. They would do that in advance. For example, just so you know what zoning means, if you live in a subdivision and one of your neighbors wants to open up a gas station, they can’t do that. That would infringe on your rights as a property owner. We have zoning in our city and every city, so that uses are proper. All we did tonight is what we do time to time, is change and modify the zoning ordinance.”

Before the March vote, District 4 Commissioner Brian Abston said, “I was disgusted to hear they plan to open in my district and my town. I realize they have rights, but my constituents and I don’t want it here. I am pro-life so I will take any action possible within the law to make sure it’s not here.”

Carafem chief operating officer Melissa Grant said the Nashville area, specifically Mt. Juliet, was selected as the location for the nonprofit’s fourth abortion clinic after an increase in the number of women who traveled to its Atlanta clinic for services. Grant said about 5 percent of the women who seek abortions at the Atlanta clinic come from the Nashville area.

When asked about local opposition to the clinic, Grant said carafem is concerned with support of women’s rights over their own health.

“Carafem health supports a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her personal health care. Studies of abortion services worldwide found that abortion-related deaths are rare in countries where the procedure is legal, accessible and performed early in pregnancy by skilled providers. Carafem encourages women to make health decisions together with their family and their physician that are based on medically accurate information. Carafem staff is available 24-7 to answer questions and provide information about the safety and availability of abortion care with carafem. Carafem provides safe, quality medical care that follows all applicable state and local laws,” Grant said.

As abortion is a politically charged topic that has a history of violence against clinics and doctors, Mt. Juliet police stepped up security in the area in March. It was an effort Capt. Tyler Chandler said would ensure safety for everyone.

“Once we were made aware of the heightened activity surrounding the clinic’s location in our city, which we learned from a news article, we educated our staff, placed a surveillance camera tower nearby and instructed officers to provide extra patrol. Our department has a duty to remain neutral and ensure everyone is safe,” Chandler said at the time.

Ministers and others have protested outside of the building that houses the clinic. They have used bullhorns to protest, but city officials asked them to turn them down so they wouldn’t disturb hotel guests and business employees nearby, according to Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin.

In March, Hagerty said he does not know if the clinic will sue the city regarding the rezoning ordinance.

“I have no idea,” Hagerty said. “That’s an issue they’ll have to take up.”

Fireworks show a go in Mt. Juliet after all

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A fireworks show will take place in Mt. Juliet this year after all, but the issue didn’t come without controversy.

Needam’s Nursey owner Tom Needham said his business hold a private fireworks show near Providence. He made the announcement at the Mt. Juliet City Commission meeting last Monday night.

“A couple of weeks ago, [City Manager Kenny Martin] canceled the fireworks show with no explanation,” Needham said. “Then, I started hearing Kenny’s explanation. No parking. No fall-out zone. No safety zone. I got to looking at my newspapers from last year and saw [the fireworks show] took place down at the south end of Providence.”

Last year, Martin said the event took place at the current AtHome property next to Academy Sports.

Needham said, “[It has] the very best parking. On June 22, 2018, [Martin] said, ‘I’m positive, we’ll have this great place for next year.’ When I started hearing that, I thought maybe these people who owned this private property canceled it and want’s nothing to do with us.”

Needham said he called Dale McCullough, a representative from Jones Brothers who owns land in the area who said he’d be glad to offer his property for the show. McCullough also said Martin did not call McCullough to ask if the city could use his property for the show.

“The next area was owned by the Boyle Group,” Needham said. “Now, the Boyle Group has been a very important part of our community. They have been good to our community.”

He said the person he called with the Boyle Group said they would agree to play host to the show on their land and added Martin didn’t call to ask about using the land this year.

“Me and my wife have put up our $10,000 in a GoFundMe account,” Needham said. “Anyone else who wants to contribute can go to my Facebook page and contribute.”

Needham said he called Commissioner Ray Justice last year, but Justice didn’t call him back.

Needham said the show, which will begin at 9 p.m., will take place on the Boyle Group property at the south end of Providence.

During commissioner’s comments, Justice said, “Kenny is my friend, and I’m extremely loyal to him. For Mr. Needham to come out here and then walk out afterwards, shows what kind of class he has. His comments were unfortunate. They were reckless, and he was completely misinforming the public when he got up there and spoke.

“This is something [Needham is] well known for. He has, over the years, claimed that he has provided the fireworks to the city when, in fact, we have voted for [them]. It has been in our budget, and we have paid $30,000 for the fireworks. If Mr. Needham has paid for those fireworks, I haven’t seen a receipt. He may very well have. I’m not saying he hasn’t.

“I just think his comments, his remarks and his attitude is a direct reflection on another reason why we do not need to be involved with Mr. Needham and his fireworks event. I think his comments and attitude cast a bad light on the city of Mt. Juliet. I’m extremely disappointed.”

Justice then praised Martin and said, “I really don’t appreciate somebody coming in here and jumping him like this.”

In other business, Commissioner Art Giles announced the fifth-annual Ride Mt. Juliet will be May 5 at the Music City Star train station at the corner of Division Street and North Mt. Juliet Road.

“This has been a fun thing for the last few years,” Giles said. “Kids chase a fire truck. The police are riding in it. Families ride. We go from the park to the police department, and we go down Woodridge and Golden Bear Parkway to Clemmons and Division and back [to the train station].”

The path is about 5.8 miles, Giles said, and the event “is a lot of fun. There are a lot of giveaways.”

Among those is a children’s Trek bicycle donated by Biker’s Choice. Children 12 and younger can register for a chance to win the bike, Giles said. This year, there will also be 50 helmets for the first 50 children who arrive, he said.

Budget panel OKs medical examiner’s rate hike

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

An increase in salary for the Wilson County medical examiner was a controversial issue for years, but the Wilson County Budget Committee brought it up again Thursday night.

State law mandates each county have at least one medical examiner, according to county finance director Aaron Maynard. The medical examiner is required to be a medical doctor.

“In 2017, we had 277 [fatalities,] and last year, we had 236,” said medical examiner Dr. Scott Giles. “It’s becoming harder and harder for myself and [co-worker Jacob Cook], who are the primary investigators at this time, to have time to set aside.”

He said he has a couple of investigators who are interested in helping, but they have jobs. Giles requested the amount per day for an investigator to be on a 24-hour call be raised to $200 a day. For a call that involved a death, they would not be paid extra, Giles said.

“[The $200 a day] comes out less than $10 an hour,” Giles said. “If the investigator gets one call or five, they’re paid the same. I think this is the most equitable way to go about it.”

The total additional funding was $50,000, Maynard said.

“We basically had a salary line for the county coroner which was incorrect because he’s really not on our payroll. We basically shuffled the other line items around to contracted services,” said Maynard.

The medical examiner’s office has not had an increase in budget in years, Maynard said.

“We’ve debated this three times,” he said. “Dr. Giles has brought three different proposals.

Autopsies have increased in cost, but there has been no increase in salary.”

Commissioner William Glover said the budget was increased each year.

“Unless we computed one-and-a-half percent when we did the budget, they haven’t had a budget increase,” Maynard said.

Giles said the amount hasn’t increased, but because the number of deaths has increased, the funding was increased.

“I just saw that three years ago. It went up quite a bit,” Glover said. “Two years ago and last year, it was adjusted.”

Maynard said the autopsy budget line item was increased because “We never had enough money for autopsies.

“I don’t recall us raising any of the lines when it comes to actual cost of the medical examiner,” Maynard said.

Giles said the funding started out at “$75 a body, and as the volume increased, we asked for $125 a body. It’s been that way for at least 10 or more years.”

Commissioner Kenny Reich said, “I know people who work at the hospital that don’t get that kind of money.”

The total cost would be $73,000, which would be $200 a day,for 365 days a year. If they were paid per death, they would get $125 per body.

“If we go to a four-fatality wreck on the interstate, that’s $500,” Giles said. “I have investigators who are interested, but they say, ‘I’m sitting at home and not getting paid. Why am I doing this?’ I want to add two more investigators.”

Glover said he believes, “We ought to look at the numbers and see what other counties are doing. We need you, but that’s a lot of money to add on.”

Giles said he does not charge to sign death certificates or cremation permits. Other medical examiners in other counties charge for that, he said.

The commissioners approved the request, but Glover voted against it.

Education Committee talks impact fees

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County Commissioner Lauren Breeze brought up educational impact fees to the Wilson County Education Committee on Thursday night at its meeting.

An educational impact fee is imposed on new buildings built to help pay for increased educational costs due to the impacts new residents make on the county’s school system.

She referenced an attempt Williamson County made to put educational impact fees into place and the lawsuit from builders that ensued. The suit ended last week with the court offering a summary judgement that said Williamson County had the right to impose the fees on new structures.

“As I understand it, [Williamson County] is going to wait, because it could potentially go to appeal,” she said. “But that opens the door to the idea of educational impact fees, which would, if we looked at this for Wilson County, allow growth to pay for growth.”

She said Williamson County hired an external firm to do a study on the issue. With the study, it allowed the county to set up the fee structure scale.

The money would allow Wilson County to pay for expenses it incurs due to growth-based new building. The school board approved a capital outlay plan for future projects of $678 million, according to Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall.

“This would be a revenue stream, so we could start doing some of that work,” she said. “And making sure we would stay on top of the population growth and be proactive, rather than reactive. I would like to be able to at least take a look at what our options are.”

Breeze said there are questions that need to be answered before the county attempts to impose an educational impact fee.

“We need to know whether Williamson County has an [adequate facilities tax], or just an educational impact fee,” she said. “We need to look at whether we can have an [adequate facilities tax] and an educational impact fee. If we could, then you could use the [adequate facilities tax] to fund other projects like fire stations, jails, court buildings and so on. The educational impact fee would just pay for schools.”

Commissioner Annette Stafford said, “It sounds great, but anytime you’re talking about adding an additional tax, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You can definitely throw it out there, and we can all talk about it, but the adequate facilities tax was supposed to be for part of that. When you start talking about adding another tax to the Wilson County people, you’ll have a different breed of folks coming out.”

Breeze said she understood, but the county needs to find a way to pay for growth.

“This would be a way,” she said. “It would be a one-time fee. It would be exactly like [the adequate facilities tax] when you build a new home, but it would be specifically for schools and deal with the school growth. We need to do some more study, but I’d at least like to investigate the idea.”

Stafford referred to the “drama and things we had with the [adequate facilities tax]. You don’t know the teeth we had to pull. It took a long time.”

Commissioner Bobby Franklin said Williamson County was raising impact fees “from the hot areas and devoting it to the whole school system. The law in Tennessee has always, in reference to adequate facilities taxes and impact fees, required that the impact fee be close to the actual impact. In other words, you can’t take impact fees out of Mt. Juliet and build a school in Watertown or Lebanon.”

County fixes two items in audit report

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The state comptroller of the treasury recently conducted an audit of Wilson County’s finances and budget for the prior fiscal year and found two minor accounting issues.

The state office performs the audit each year, according to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto.

“There were two findings this year,” Hutto said. “They have to do with the finance department. The first one was the finance department didn’t file a report on debt obligation with the comptroller’s office. Anytime you have debt, you have to let them know.”

The issue stems from a lease-purchase of school-related items. The total was $66,840, and the contract started in September 2017.

“After 45 days, the county must provide the information with the comptroller’s office,” Hutto said. “We didn’t consider it since we were paying it over three years. We didn’t consider it debt obligation. Once it was pointed out, we went back to the county commission, presented the information, and we took care of it.”

The second finding was that the finance department had accounting deficiencies, which stemmed from the prior year’s balances that were not cleared from the budgeting ledger.

“It looked like another payment,” Hutto said. “There was rural debt service that was $7,885, general fund that was $5,229 and highway public funds in the amount of $35,000. Those should have been cleared out. It looked like we had more money than we actually had.”

Hutto said the next step is to have the state auditors go before the Wilson County Audit Committee and explain the audit.

“We’ve already filed our letter of intent to correct,” Hutto said. “We have so many days to correct it, and we have to state how we corrected the findings. We’ve already briefed the commission at the last commission meeting. We’ll talk to them at a committee meeting after the audit committee hears the explanation.”

Hutto said with a $300 million budget, “the findings were small increments. But we don’t want any findings, and we’ll always continue to work toward that. The findings have been noted and corrected. We’ll do our best to not have any next year. [Finance director] Aaron Maynard and assistant finance director Sharon Lackey do a tremendous job of juggling the finances when we work day to day and live off tax receipts. They don’t always come in on time.”

Hutto said the county improved its bond rating to an AA+ and strive for an AAA bond rating.

“We passed a resolution to make sure the county’s fund balance does not go before $8 million unless there’s a two-thirds majority vote of the county commission,” he said. “That’s a good thing. We’ve made lots of strides in the different areas of the finance department. Our department heads and elected officials turn money back to the general fund each year. It’s about $2 million they turn back. We work hard at saving money and not spending everything we get.”

Liquor tax hearing scheduled

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Attorneys for Wilson County Schools and Mt. Juliet will face off in a hearing Nov. 14 in Wilson County chancery court regarding a lawsuit that involves liquor taxes the county said Mt. Juliet owes the school system.

Attorneys were scheduled to meet in court to set a date Wednesday but decided to forego that meeting and agreed to a hearing date themselves.

The issue goes back to 2014, when Wilson County Schools sued Mt. Juliet for a portion of the back-tax revenue to Wilson County Schools.

According to court filings from 2014, Wilson County Schools said it should receive the back funds and would then pay a portion of the money to Lebanon Special School District. The amount paid to both school systems is based on the daily average attendance, as recognized by the Tennessee Board of Education, according to court records.

When the school board sued Mt. Juliet in 2014 for the back taxes, Mt. Juliet cited state court rulings that went back to 1883 that said cities didn’t have to pay the taxes to county schools. The city alleged the school board had no authority to sue the city, but the Wilson County Commission, which is the governing body in the county, could sue for the funds.

The filing paperwork said the city is required by state law to collect 15 percent of all liquor-by-the-drink revenues. That money is supposed to be divided by 50 percent, according to suit paperwork. Fifty percent goes to the city and the other half goes to the schools.

Lebanon also didn’t pay its fair share to Wilson County Schools but eventually agreed to pay the back taxes during a 10-year period, according to court records.

The school board discovered the lack of payments in 2013, according to court records. Mt. Juliet paid part of what it owed, nearly $31,000, but still owed the school board nearly $450,000, court records said.

The payment amount was determined by the daily average attendance percentage of tax revenue collected, and the court said Mt. Juliet should pay the amount from the inception of the liquor-by-the-drink tax until June 30, 2013.

In a filing from 2014, Mt. Juliet attorneys said the county was not eligible to collect a portion of the tax revenues because liquor-by-the-drink statutes were not passed in the county, but rather in the cities. They said the liquor-by-the-drink taxes were not passed in the unincorporated county areas, therefore, the school board was not entitled to a portion of the tax revenues.

Mt. Juliet filed a motion to dismiss in 2015, but it was denied. In the motion, the city offered other lawsuits in the state it considered precedent where judges ruled in the defendant’s favor.

A 2018 judgment by Chancellor C.K. Smith denied Mt. Juliet’s motion for summary judgment, and Wilson County Schools was eligible to receive the money.

The amount of unremitted revenue was to be determined in a future evidentiary hearing, the order said.

In October, the Mt. Juliet City Commission agreed to offer a $325,000 settlement to the school board. The school board denied the offer at its November meeting.

City Manager Kenny Martin said the city is currently paying the necessary liquor-by-the-drink tax revenue to the school system.

County honors former Judge John Gwin

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A highlight of Monday night’s Wilson County Commission meeting was a proclamation to honor former Wilson County Judge John T. Gwin, who retired at the end of 2018.

In the proclamation, sponsored by commissioners Bobby Franklin and Justin Smith, Gwin’s background as a private family law attorney and position as Wilson County’s first family court judge was highlighted.

“For the past 10 years, he has capably and compassionately presided over Wilson County general sessions court Division III with domestic relations, probate, juvenile and mental health jurisdiction,” the proclamation said. “He also served with distinction as Mt. Juliet municipal judge for 15 years prior to being elected to the general sessions court.

“Firmly committed to giving back to his community, Judge Gwin embodies and personifies the term ‘public servant.’”

The full commission endorsed the proclamation, and a copy was given to Gwin and his wife, Pat.

The commission held a 30-minute meeting Monday. The meeting was short due to a lack of resolutions, as well as no old or new business to discuss.

In other business, commissioners voted to set the speed limit on Crossroads Drive from Saundersville Ferry Road to the dead end at 25 mph.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said he reappointed Larry Bowers to the LaGuardo Utility District board of commissioners. The appointment did not need to be voted on by the commission, but it was announced because the appointment needed to be noted in the meeting minutes, Hutto said.

Various committee reports were approved during the meeting, including the sheriff’s office report given by Deputy Chief Mike Owen; the schools report given by Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright; and the Wilson Emergency Management Agency report given by WEMA director Joey Cooper.

Carafem clinic gets permits to operate

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The carafem clinic, which is described as a women’s health clinic, received the necessary permits from the city of Mt. Juliet to operate at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

However, it will not be able to perform surgical abortions as it originally intended to do, according to Mt. Juliet planner Jennifer Hamblen.

The clinic opened March 1 and originally didn’t get the proper permits to open. The Mt. Juliet City Commission met in a special session March 4 and voted to restrict commercial zoning to not include surgical abortions. A surgical abortion clinic would have to be in an area zoned industrial, if it chose to operate in the city.

By state law, the proposed rezoning has to go before the Mt. Juliet Planning Commission, which it will do Thursday night. Then, the city commission would again have to approve the rezoning.

In the meantime, the clinic is open for women’s health procedures, excluding surgical abortions. Even though surgical abortions are not permitted in the zoning, abortions with a medical abortion pill can still be performed, according to state law.

“Mifeprex is the brand name for the drug referred to, and it is FDA approved for use in clinics but not dispensed in pharmacy. It’s been in use in the U.S. since 2000 with updated guidelines in 2016,” said Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson Elizabeth Hart.

The day of the city commission’s special-called meeting to rezone the clinic, a carafem spokesman said, “carafem opened a reproductive health care and family planning center in the Nashville metro area to provide safe, convenient and affordable health care options with a licensed, quality health provider to serve women in Tennessee. The health center offers early abortion care up to 10 weeks with the medical abortion pill, STI testing, a wide selection of birth control options such as IUDs, birth control implants, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills and emergency contraception.”

“With one-in-four women in the U.S. who will choose to have an abortion before the age of 45, carafem remains committed to ensuring that she has access to a safe, affordable medical care. We are proud to continue our mission to allow a woman to decide when and if she is ready to become a parent. Our doors remain open to serve clients in Mt. Juliet.”

Citizens and others opposed to abortion plan to peacefully protest this weekend, according to social media posts.

Protests are planned for Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. The information is on the Hip Mt. Juliet Against Abortion Facebook page. There are posts on the page from pro-life and pro-choice Wilson County residents, as well as people from other areas.

The protests will take place in the public areas in front of the Providence Pavilion building that houses carafem at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet planners vote to rezone surgical abortion clinics

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission on Thursday night approved a recommendation to the Mt. Juliet City Commission to rezone surgical abortion clinics from commercial to industrial.

The matter was placed on consent agenda at the planning meeting because that’s what happens with rezoning issues, according to city planner Jennifer Hamblen. The consent agenda is a grouping of various measures that are voted on in a single vote, rather than each item individually.

That matter pleased the sparse crowd, especially resident Bill Houston.

“At a clinic like that, two people go in and only one comes out,” he said. “This should not be in Mt. Juliet. It should be in Nashville, where most people would go to it.”

No one spoke for or against any item on the consent agenda when the time came for citizen comment.

By state law, the rezoning had to go before the city’s planning commission. Now that the planners approved it, the matter must once again go before the city commission.

In the meantime, the clinic is open for women’s health procedures, excluding surgical abortions. Even though surgical abortions are not permitted in the zoning, abortions with a medical abortion pill can still be performed, according to state law as found in Tennessee Code Annotated 39-15-201 and 39-15-202.

“Mifeprex is the brand name for the drug referred to and it is FDA approved for use in clinics but not dispensed in pharmacy. It’s been in use in the U.S. since 2000 with updated guidelines in 2016,” said Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson Elizabeth Hart.

A carafem spokesperson previously said, “[carafem] offers early abortion care up to 10 weeks with the medical abortion pill, STI testing, a wide selection of birth control options such as IUDs, birth control implants, Depo Provera shots, birth control pills and emergency contraception.”

Citizens and others opposed to abortions plan to peacefully protest this weekend, according to social media posts.

Protests are planned for Friday at 10 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. The information is on the Hip Mt. Juliet Against Abortion Facebook page. There are posts on the page from pro-life and pro-choice Wilson County residents and people from other areas.

The protest will take place in the public areas in front of the Providence Pavilion offices where the clinic opened in early March at 5002 Crossings Circle in Mt. Juliet.

City votes on road, land measures

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Mt. Juliet City Commission met in a special session Friday night to discuss annexation of property at 430 Clemmons Road into the city.

The commissioners had little discussion about the rezoning, which was done because the city previously made an offer for the property in question. If the city buys the property, the land will house a public works annex, which will allow for a variety of public works vehicles and utility structures, according to city public works director Jessica Gore. Among the structures will be sheds to house salt to be used on roads during winter months.

“Several years ago, we built some salt sheds on Industrial Drive, and those will be going away real soon,” said City Manager Kenny Martin. “Those serve our public works department with salt and other equipment. We’re making an offer on a piece of property, and time is of the essence. We moved it to today. We didn’t want to take a risk of not having a quorum on Monday and having to bump that out would actually mess me up with our planning commission.”

The measure was approved unanimously on first reading.

The commission also voted to annex 2.370 linear feet of Clemmons Road, and the right-of-way along the road. The annexation brought the land, which was an island in the county, into the city. The land was on the city’s urban growth boundary. The measure was approved unanimously on first reading.

Commissioner Ray Justice asked if all of Clemmons Road was included in the annexation.

Gore said it was not but would allow the city to “clean up from the city’s property back to Division [Street]. It keeps us from going in the city, out of the city, in the city, out of the city. This will also help with emergency services.”

Also, land, which is known as the Shevel property at 9846 Lebanon Road, was annexed into the city and rezoned from highway commercial to commercial town center. This will allow the property owner to open a real estate office on the property. A single structure will exist on the property. This rezoning was unanimously approved on first reading.

Commissioners voted to annex and create a plan of services for part of South Rutland Road and its right-of-way near 487 South Rutland Road into the city. They also voted to annex and create a plan of services for the intersection of Lebanon Road and North Green Hill Road, along with its right-of-way, into the city. The roads are both in the city’s urban growth boundary, and the measures both passed unanimously on final reading.

In addition, the commission voted to amend the current budget to increase paving costs. This will allow the city to built speed tables in various subdivisions, where speeding is a problem. Asphalt plants open this month, and the extra funding will allow the city to begin to install the speed tables in the current fiscal year, Martin said.

“This is another thing that we felt like was important,” Martin said. “Another reason for having a special meeting tonight. We’ve been meeting with [Gore] and [Andy Barlow, city engineer] about safety concerns. A lot of people are speeding motorists or folks going through people’s subdivisions. We decided to move up our timetable for installing what you’d call speed tables. Speed tables are elongated speed bumps.”

He said instead of stop signs, the city would install the speed tables to calm the traffic in the communities.

“We’re trying to expedite the process, which would have come in July. We’d be doing them at a much later time,” Martin said. “If we get those done sooner, we get ready for spring and summer. Those things are already in place and makes things safer for our community.”

Mt. Juliet breaks ground on new greenway

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

Mt. Juliet city and community leaders gathered Monday at Eagle Park to break ground on the Town Center Trail, Mt. Juliet’s new greenway project that will eventually connect Fourth Avenue to South Greenhill Road.

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said the project was a high priority for both the city and its citizens. It’s something Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty said will work as a transportation network between subdivisions.

“What we’re excited about is the citizens,” Martin said. “We’ve been listening to our citizens and what we’ve learned is they want things like this, they want places to teach their kids how to ride a bike, so we appreciate people for being patient with us and the hope is that eventually these greenways will connect not only throughout our city but also with Nashville and our surrounding cities like Lebanon and the county.”

The project is expected to be complete in summer 2020 and will feature a 1.67-mile-long trail from Fourth Avenue to South Greenhill Road. The 10-foot-wide asphalt and concrete trail will also have a new parking lot built near South Greenhill Road.

The project began in 2012 and will cost about $2.2 million. It will be funded, in part, through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which included some federal aid.

District 3 Commissioner Art Giles said resident have asked for a project like this for several years, and city officials are excited to be able to fulfill those wishes.

“From the first time that I took office, this has been one of the projects that people have asked me about continuously, and I get emails about, and we’ve done the best we could to help it come to fruition,” Giles said. “It’s a very exciting day when you think about what the future holds for people in Mt. Juliet, for kids and my grandkids, and it’s just real exciting to be able to get on a greenway and to go the way south and, hopefully, eventually, it will connect to the Cedar Creek Greenway, and people can go from Charlie Daniels Park all the way down here. It’s very, very exciting.”

Also in attendance were Mt. Juliet public works employees, who will lead the project, representatives from Adam’s Contracting, who will build the greenway, and members of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Motion filed in city’s liquor tax lawsuit

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County Schools attorney Mike Jennings told the school board last Monday night he filed a motion to set a hearing regarding the liquor tax money the city of Mt. Juliet owes the school system.

The school board and a court ruling say Mt. Juliet has to pay a portion of the back-tax revenue to Wilson County Schools.

According to court filings from 2014, Wilson County Schools said it should receive the back funds and would then pay a portion of that money to Lebanon Special School District. The amount paid to both school systems is based on the daily average attendance, as recognized by the Tennessee Board of Education, according to court records.

When the school board sued Mt. Juliet in 2014 for the back taxes, Mt. Juliet cited state court rulings that went back to 1883 that said cities didn’t have to pay the taxes to county schools. Mt. Juliet attorneys argued the school board had no authority to sue the city, but the Wilson County Commission, which is the governing body in the county, could sue for the funds.

The filing paperwork said the city is required by state law to collect 15 percent of all liquor-by-the-drink revenues. The money is supposed to be divided by 50 percent, according to suit paperwork. Fifty percent goes to the city and the other half goes to the schools.

Lebanon also didn’t pay its fair share to Wilson County Schools but eventually agreed to pay the back taxes during a 10-year period, according to court records.

The school board discovered the lack of payments in 2013, court records said. Mt. Juliet paid part of what it owed, nearly $31,000, but still owed Wilson County Schools nearly $450,000, court records said.

The payment amount was determined by the daily average attendance percentage of tax revenue collected, and the court said Mt. Juliet should pay the amount, from the inception of the liquor-by-the-drink tax until June 30, 2013.

In a filing from 2014, Mt. Juliet attorneys said the county was not eligible to collect a portion of the tax revenues because liquor-by-the-drink statutes were not passed in the county, but rather only in the cities. They said the liquor-by-the-drink were not passed in the unincorporated county areas, therefore the school board was not entitled to a portion of the tax revenue.

Mt. Juliet filed a motion to dismiss in 2015, but it was denied. In the motion, the city offered other lawsuits in the state it considered precedent that found in defendants’ favor.

A 2018 judgment by Chancellor C.K. Smith denied Mt. Juliet’s motion for summary judgment, and Wilson County Schools was eligible to receive the money.

The amount of unremitted revenue was to be determined in a future evidentiary hearing, the order said.

In October, the Mt. Juliet City Commission voted to offer a $325,000 settlement to the school board. The school board denied the offer at its November meeting.

Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said the city is currently paying the necessary liquor-by-the-drink tax revenue to the school systems.

Unless a date is named or an agreement reached before the hearing, the issue will be discussed March 27 at 9 a.m. in Wilson County chancery court.

Planners talk plats, annexations

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission met in 15-minute meeting Feb. 21 that touched on a number of projects, including work on a main roadway brought up by plans reviewer Neal Hall.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will soon begin a “safety project” on Old Lebanon Dirt Road between the Davidson-Wilson counties line and Mt. Juliet Road, said Hall. The project will include striping, signage and guardrail, and TDOT will completely fund and complete it.

The planning commission passed a consent agenda unanimously. It included two letters of credit to be reduced and six letters of credit to be released. Also, the consent agenda included the final plat review for Phase 18 of Tuscan Gardens on Pisano Street; Phase 3 of Heritage Hills on Oak Leaf Drive; Phase 5A of Kelsey Glen on Oxford Drive, and Phase 2A of Baird Farms on Providence Trail.

The planners also unanimously recommended to the Mt. Juliet City Commission an annexation of land known as the Shevel property at 9468 Lebanon Road; an approval of a plan of services for the property and a rezoning of the land from neighborhood commercial to commercial town center.

“This [property] is an island, located on Lebanon Road, near West Elementary [School],” said planning director Jennifer Hamblen. “The land use for this property is neighborhood commercial, and the request for rezoning is CTC, commercial town center, which falls within that land-use category. The applicant wishes to open a real estate office on that property.”

The planning commissioners also unanimously recommended to the city commission an annexation of land known as the Woodfuff property at 225 Clemmons Road; an approval of a plan of services for the property and a rezoning of the land to agriculture-residential district city zoning from Wilson County zoning, which is industrial zoning.

The city made an offer to buy the property, but there is another contract on the land, as well, Hamblen said.

“There is a condition listed within the actual ordinance that would make this annexation and rezone null and void should we not acquire the property,” she said. “So, I’m not sure if, after tonight, it will ever be heard again. But we wanted to keep it on the agenda, just in case the other contract backs out. I’m hoping we can acquire this property, because the intended use for the other contract is for mini-storage. Hopefully, we will acquire this piece of property and move our salt sheds over there.”

School board discusses how it follows policies

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet parent Kristi Dunn accused the Wilson County Board of Education of not following its policies and procedures at its January meeting Thursday night.

“Per the [Tennessee School Board Association] website, policies are guidelines adopted by the board to chart a course of action,” she said in a prepared statement. “They indicate what the board expects and may include why and how much. School board policies are official and legally binding only when approved in an official meeting of the board and written on the minutes.”

She gave the local school board examples of how she believed the board didn’t follow its own policies.

“On Oct. 23, 2018, we had a special-called board meeting requested by our high school principals to solidify a class ranking system and to adopt a grading system to put us in compliance with the state, according to Monty Wilson per The Lebanon Democrat,” she said. “This was not published on our school website in its usual place per board policy 1.402.

“It has come to my attention and others that the exam exemption policy was stricken from the record at the meeting. It also violated policy 1.402 in which the purpose of all special-called board meetings are to be stated. No longer is the exam exemption policy in the written student agenda, handbook or board policy 4.6 that we can find, or central office staff can find. It doesn’t exist.

“In the past few months, we have also ignored policy 1.8 pertaining to the school calendar. The board is to appoint a calendar committee, policy 3.210 the naming of a school. The board is to vote on the name of a school and did not vote on the name of the new middle school. Policy 1.108 ethics: We have an ethics committee that has yet to meet or name a chair or secretary.”

Concerning the exam exemption policy, Dunn said, “We say we are honoring the exam exemption policy, but with these policies having been ignored and no written record, how are parents to trust the board or the district? It is the job of the board to set policy and enforce policies, and if there is a policy you don’t like, then you vote to change it. You don’t ignore it or just don’t follow it or let others ignore it or not follow it. You have your students and parents sign a contract in the handbook at the beginning of the year that we will abide by your policies you have created. But, yet, you yourself don’t. Shouldn’t we expect the same from you?”

According to the Tennessee School Board Association, “When a policy is violated, the board must insist on consequences for the violator. The board can never turn its head and allow its policy to be violated. Certainly, the board must never violate its own policy. It may change or abolish the policy, but never violate it.”

It continues, “Like the law, it is mandatory, not optional that the school board policy be followed. Also like the law, school board policy does not enforce itself. It is imperative that the school board insist that the policies be followed and failure to follow policy results in consequences.”

Wilson County Schools is a member of the TSBA, according to Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson Currently, 126 of 141 school districts in Tennessee are members of the TSBA.

Board member Wayne McNeese brought up the issue at the end of the meeting.

He said the board has never appointed a school calendar committee to make up the official calendar for the 2019-2020 school year. However, a calendar for that year was presented to and approved by the board. In addition, the board also approved a calendar for the 2020-2021 school year, which McNeese said was against board policy.

“There are several things that we should have done on that policy that we did not,” he said, adding the calendar committee members are recommended by the director. “The first line says that, ‘no later than the end of each school year.’ That means we have to do this every year. We cannot, by board policy, do a two-year, three-year or four-year [calendar] in advance, as we have in the past.”

He said the board, “ought to go by policy or we do not, because we did not follow this policy, as far as a calendar committee. Some of the other things that we should have done in here, I want to make a motion that we abolish our current calendar for the 2019-2020 year, because we did not do it per board policy.”

The motion failed 5-2. Board members Linda Armistead, Chad Karl, Tom Sottek, Bill Robinson and Larry Tomlinson voted against it, and Kimberly McGee and McNeese voted for it.

Sottek said the ethics committee should meet to appoint a chair, vice chair and secretary. After discussion, the board decided to meet Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. before the next board meeting. He asked county attorney Mike Jennings what would constitute an ethics complaint that the board would discuss.

“The ethics committee is for someone who has committed an unethical act,” Jennings said, [such as], accepting a gift that is improper.”

Sottek said he wondered about how to examine the board not following policy.

“I guess I’m confused as the purpose of an ethics committee,” Sottek said, asking about following board policy. “I’m wondering if not following policy is something that we should discuss and then bring before the school board.

Jennings said, “You have no choice. You have to follow board policy. But that’s not typically what [is discussed by the ethics committee]. Typically, you think of something illegal or immoral. A difference of opinion is not something that you’ll discuss. It’s not something you use as a political tool.”

McNeese said he agreed with part of that.

“A difference of opinion has nothing to do with this,” McNeese said. “It’s pretty black and white as far as the calendar committee.”

Director of Schools Donna Wright admitted there was no calendar committee, but she said, “We had input from different [people] and had a public information meeting that was not well attended.”

Board chairman Larry Tomlinson said in the past, people on the calendar committee were asked why there is a committee “when [board members] don’t follow it anyway. I’ve always said, ‘I’m going to vote for the calendar the committee recommended,’ and I’ve always done it.

“If it says in the policy that it needs to be a one-year [policy], then that’s what we need to do. If we need to go back and change some policies, then that’s what we need to do.”

Jennings said as far as policy, “It’s got to be followed, and it’s up to the board members to call that out if the board is not following policy.”

McNeese agreed.

“That is correct, and I think it’s time we follow board policy,” he said. “I don’t mean to bring this before the ethics committee. If somebody stole some money, that’s what the ethics committee is for.”

He said he brought up the fact that the board didn’t follow policy when positions were filled.

“It’s up to the board to create positions,” McNeese said. “There is a financial implication to that.  We did nothing when I brought it up before, and I think it’s time that we abide by board policy or make a motion that we do away with all of these policies and start from scratch – one or the other. We’ve got to abide by board policy.”

Lynn named state House finance chair

NASHVILLE – Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada named state Rep. Susan Lynn chair of the House Finance Committee. 

Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, is the first woman in Tennessee history to lead the powerful committee comprised of 19 House members.

The committee is tasked with all measures that deal with the appropriation of state funds; the general appropriations bill; the deposit of public money; all measures that relate to taxes and the raising of revenue, bonds and bonding revenue, the issuance, payment or retirement of bonds, the evidences of indebtedness; congressional relations; and assessment and collection of property taxes.   

“Rep. Lynn is an incredibly talented legislator within our General Assembly, and I am grateful to her for her willingness to serve in this important leadership capacity,” said Casada, R-Thompson’s Station. “I believe her knowledge and experience will benefit the House Finance Committee and our entire legislative body.”

In her new role, Lynn also becomes a member of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Council on Pensions and Insurance and the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission. Additionally, Gov. Bill Haslam appointed her to the boards of Launch Tennessee and the state Workforce Development Board, and her peers appointed her to the Greater Nashville Regional Council. In December, then-House Speaker Beth Harwell also appointed Lynn to the Information Systems Council.

“I am incredibly honored that Speaker Casada has appointed me to serve as chairman of the distinguished House Finance Committee and has placed his faith in me in this way,” said Lynn. “Tennessee has been a national model for fiscal responsibility under conservative leadership. Because of our strategic investments and thoughtful financial decisions, cities and towns across our state are thriving. Together, we are committed to ensuring these successful trends in Tennessee continue.”

Lynn previously served as chair of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee during the 110th General Assembly. She lives in Mt. Juliet and represents most of Wilson County in the state House.

Community Calendar and The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Community Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of nonprofit events, community club and government meetings. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

Dec. 11

Lebanon Retirees meeting

9 a.m.

The city of Lebanon Retirees group will meet Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 9 a.m. at Shoney’s Restaurant at 814 S. Cumberland St. in Lebanon. The group is comprised of and limited to people who have retired from the city of Lebanon municipal government. The group meets each second Tuesday of the month from September through May.

Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281 meeting

6:30 p.m.

The Tyler Cates American Legion Post 281 will meet Tuesday, Dec. 11 and the second Tuesday of each month at Rutland Place at 435 N.W. Rutland Road in Mt. Juliet. Social time begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the meeting at 7 p.m. All veterans are invited to attend. An American Legion Auxiliary Unit is also part of the post. New members are welcome to join. Former members or transfers from other posts are also invited to join. For more information, contact Pat Unger, commander, at 615-210-6156.

Dec. 13

Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber Lunch and Learn

11:30 a.m.

The Lebanon-Wilson Count Chamber of Commerce will hold a lunch and learn Thursday, Dec. 13 at 11:30 a.m. at Five Oaks Golf and Country Club at 621 Five Oaks Blvd. in Lebanon. The guest speaker will be Angela Hubbard, director of economic and community development for the Greater Nashville Regional Council. Tickets are $20 per person. To RSVP, call 615-444-5503 or email tonya@lebanonwilsonchamber.com.

Wilson County Schools Teacher Meet and Greet

3:30 p.m.

Wilson County Schools will hold a teacher meet and greet for December teacher graduates and newly licensed Tennessee teachers Thursday, Dec. 13 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon. Participants are encouraged to come professionally dressed and bring copies of their resume. To RSVP, visit wcschools.com/hr.

Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon Stroke Support Group meeting

6 p.m.

The Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon Stroke Support Group will meet Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Tennova Rehab Center at McFarland at 500 Park Ave. in Lebanon in the McFarland conference room on the ground floor. The group promotes optimism, resilience, determination and independence. Members share experiences, exchange resources, socialize, gain knowledge, problem solve, give mutual support and empower. Light refreshments will be served. To reserve a spot, visit tennova.com and look under the events tab.

Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show

7 p.m.

The 31st-annual Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show will be Thursday, Dec. 13, Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in Baird Chapel at Cumberland University. Tickets are $40 per person. For more information, visit bertcoblesingers.com.

Celebrate Recovery

7 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step recovery support group for overcoming hurts, hang-ups and habits, meets each Thursday from 7-9:30 p.m. at Fairview Church at 1660 Leeville Pike in Lebanon. For more information, call ministry leader Tony Jones at 615-972-6151.

Dec. 14

Beer and Carols

6 p.m.

Beer and Carols will be Friday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon. For tickets, visit capitoltheatretn.com.

Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show

7 p.m.

The 31st-annual Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show will be Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in Baird Chapel at Cumberland University. Tickets are $40 per person. For more information, visit bertcoblesingers.com.

Journey to Bethlehem

7 p.m.

Journey to Bethlehem, a drive-through live nativity scene, will be Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 from 7-9 p.m. at Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the corner of Leeville Pike and Castle Heights Ave. For more information, call 615-444-7453.

Encore Theatre Co. presents “A Nice Family Christmas”

7:30 p.m.

Encore Theatre Co. will present the comedy, “A Nice Family Christmas,” on Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at the theater at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of State Route 109, in Holmes Crossing. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors 60 and older and are available at encore-theatre-company.org, ticketsnashville.com or call 615-598-8950 for reservations.

Dec. 15

Carroll-Oakland Eagles Nest Booster Club Pancake Breakfast with Santa

7 a.m.

The Carroll-Oakland Booster Club will hold a pancake-and-sausage breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 7-11 a.m. in the school cafeteria. It’s a fundraiser for Carroll-Oakland School sports. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children at the door. Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and may be purchased by emailing coeaglesbooster@gmail.com.

Watertown Christmas parade

2 p.m.

The Watertown Christmas parade will be Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. on Main Street in Watertown. The parade will begin at Round Lick Baptist Church and continue to the end of East Main Street.

Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show

7 p.m.

The 31st-annual Bert Coble Singers Christmas Dinner Show will be Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in Baird Chapel at Cumberland University. Tickets are $40 per person. For more information, visit bertcoblesingers.com.

 

The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Government Calendar may be submitted via email at editor@lebanondemocrat.com, in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of government meetings and government-related events. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

Dec. 17

Wilson County Law Enforcement Committee and Public Works Committee joint meeting

5:45 p.m.

The Wilson County Law Enforcement Committee and Public Works Committee will meet jointly Monday, Dec. 17 at 5:45 p.m. in conference room 1 at the Wilson County Courthouse.

Wilson County Commission meeting

7 p.m.

The Wilson County Commission will meet Monday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

Dec. 20

Mt. Juliet Planning Commission meeting

6:30 p.m.

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission will meet Thursday, Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road.

Jan. 10

Lebanon City Council work session

6 p.m.

The Lebanon City Council will meet in a work session Thursday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Town Meeting Hall at 200 N. Castle Heights Ave.

– Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet hires planner to help with workload

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet recently hired Jon Baughman to fill current planning director Jennifer Hamblen’s old deputy planner position.

“I kept the duties of the zoning administrator; therefore we needed to fill the deputy planner position,” Hamblen said.

Because of growth, there is enough work for two people, she said.

“We are growing so quickly, and get new plans in nearly every day. It is an extremely tough job to do alone. Right now, we are splitting plan reviews and taking the team approach on everything else. I am sure that will change in time when we both become more acclimated to our new roles.”

Baughman said, “I decided to apply because I like the vision the elected officials and staff have for the city. I think my skills and experience can help the city realize its goals.”

Baughman started work Oct. 8. He said his duties are “primarily, to review planning commission applications [such as site plans, subdivisions, rezoning and annexations], attend meetings as staff support to the planning commission and board of commissioners, research and write resolutions and ordinances and whatever else may arise.”

He said he enjoys the job.

“The first two months have been great, very comfortable,” Baughman said. “The most positive experiences so far have included interaction with the people who work for the city. Everybody has been great, and I like the good attitude and team mentality at the city.”

Baughman attended Cleveland State University in Cleveland, where he graduated with a master’s degree in planning in 2011. Previously, he worked for the Trumbull County Planning Commission in northeast Ohio and with the city of Spring Hill.

Hamblen said she is pleased Baughman joined the staff.

“Jon is a tremendous asset to have here at the city,” she said. “It has been a blessing to have him here, and he has taken the jump-right-in approach. He is doing such a good job, and I couldn’t be more proud to have him be part of our team.”

Mt. Juliet general store, museum officially opens

By Matt Masters

mmasters@lebanondemocrat.com

The Corley & Sons General Store and Mt. Juliet Museum officially opened Thursday with a ribbon cutting celebration.

The 24-hour museum is not easily missed as it features a bright red Texaco gas pump and telephone booth in front, next to City Hall on North Mt. Juliet Road. Inside, it features dozens of collectible items and memorabilia from days of yesteryear.

The items, which include vintage cameras, an antique Pepsi machine, Texaco signs and varieties of coffees, tobaccos and other products, are kept behind large display windows cases on either side. The outside is modeled after an old general store.

The museum is the work of longtime Mt. Juliet resident Fred Corley and Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin.

Corley has collected antiques and memorabilia for years, and in preparation for a move to Clarksville, he and his family decided their collection of history would best be used to welcome new Mt. Juliet residents and educate them on the history of the city with a look at the goods and wares that made up many small Southern towns.

Martin said the welcome center will tie generations of Mt. Juliet residents and visitors together through the history of the town.

“To know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you came from,” Martin said. “We’ve got to hang onto our history and our past instead of just forgetting about it, and Mt. Juliet and Wilson County in general is quickly growing. So this is just a way of bringing back [things] for those of us old enough to remember this like this and even the younger folks to learn how far technology has come.”

Corley said the new attraction gives his beloved collectables a new secure and climate-controlled home that will serve as a place to welcome new residents into a community that has both a history to remember and a future to forge with each new member.

“What I wanted to do was to keep the remainder of my collection in tact, so I contacted Kenny Martin, and I said, ‘If you will build a welcome and information center for the city somewhere, I will let you take my collection and use it for decoration,’” Corley said.

“What I want this museum to do is just to be an attraction for new people coming to Mt. Juliet, to be able to come to one place and find out, how do I get my car registered, who’s my city commissioner, what’s the current events, get a history of the city and the county and to see basically how they can be involved in Mt. Juliet. So this is just an attraction to invite newcomers, guests and people who are curious about Mt Juliet [and have] an avenue to stop by and find out and learn a little bit about our city and our county.”

I-40 exit planned for Central Pike

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet is on the list for a new interchange to be built by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

The interchange will be built at Central Pike and will help divert traffic off the closest interchange, which is at Mt. Juliet Road.

To get the interchange, city leaders had to petition with the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a group of leaders from counties in and around Davidson County. After consideration of the facts, the NAMPO sent a project recommendation to TDOT to build the interchange.

At its meeting Nov. 26, the Mt. Juliet City Commission voted on a resolution between the city and TDOT to support construction of the new interchange. The state conducts a study to see if the interchange is justified for construction, according to city engineer Andy Barlow.

“Currently the city is helping the project move along by committing funds for engineering and environmental work on the project,” Barlow said. “Projects that have some level of funding currently committed are one of the considerations for project selection by TDOT. There is no way of telling what the total amount will be right now. We have $2 million currently budgeted, but that number is just a guess on the city’s needs for contributions at this point.”

The city currently has 17 total city transportation projects in some stage of development currently, according to Barlow. Five are slated to begin construction in 2019. Six are pure roadway widening and improvement projects.

Among those are the Central Pike interchange and widening, an interchange connector roadway to Central Pike from Providence, Interstate 40 bridge widening, the widening of Highway 70 from Park Glen to Golden Bear Gateway, Golden Bear Gateway widening from Cedar Creek to Lebanon Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road widening and realignment.

All together, the total cost will be about $150 million, Barlow said. The road projects are funded a variety of ways, including taking money from the city’s general fund, state grants, loans and bonds or a mixture of the funding measures, said City manager Kenny Martin.

It will take an average of five years for the interchange to be built, but it could take longer, Martin said. To be considered for an interchange, Martin said the state and federal government have to approve the project.

Martin said the city is keeping up with the growth, “but like all quickly growing cities, we’d like to do even better.”

Barlow said three of the primary roads that are used in the city are state-maintained highways, Mt. Juliet Road, Lebanon Road and Central Pike. 

“The city of Mt. Juliet has had a great history of putting skin in the game for projects on state routes by paying for most or all of the preliminary costs on projects,” he said. “While we don’t technically own the roads, they are all integral to the success of the city. We see the cooperation of working with the state as beneficial to both parties due to timing and costs.

The widening of South Mt. Juliet Road over I-40 “will make a tremendous difference,” Martin said. The current plan for bid letting, or making the project available for companies to bid on the project, will take place in March and will depend on right-of-way acquisitions, Barlow said. He said work should start 60 days later.

“[The city] currently has $2.5 million [in the bank], but this may vary depending on bids,” Barlow said.

The city received just more than $2.3 million in grant money.

In addition to the bridge widening, traffic signals will also be coordinated from Central Pike to Division Street to allow improved traffic to flow, Martin said. The project is funded only by a grant, he said.

Abston re-elected to Mt. Juliet commission

Voters re-elected Brian Abston Jr. to the Mt. Juliet City Commission in District 4 in the Nov. 6 federal, state and municipal elections.

Abston secured 2,158 or 57.44 percent of the vote and defeated challenger Jim Bradshaw, who earned 41.92 percent of the vote or 1,575.

Abston has served in as commissioner since 2014 after he defeated Bradshaw that year, while Bradshaw has served multiple terms on the Mt. Juliet City Commission in the past.

“I’m just proud of the victory, and I’m looking forward to serving my constituents another four years in District 4.

Bradshaw could not be reached for comment.

In a non-contested Mt. Juliet commission race, incumbent James Maness will serve another term on the commission in District 2.

Planners discuss mailboxes, sidewalks

By Angie Mayes

Special to The Democrat

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission discussed two different issues in two subdivisions as its main topics discussed Thursday night at its meeting.

The first issue, which was on the consent agenda, concerned a cluster mailboxes the city currently requires of new developments, which will eliminate postal boxes at individual homes.

The development, known as Harrington Property on Central Pike, will have 140 mailboxes near the community’s amenity center. The mailboxes would be covered and located next to a small parking lot to be used for parking to get mail.

The Postal Service regulates the type of mailboxes, which can be used in the type of clusters discussed.

“This is our first forte into the mailbox kiosks,” said Commissioner Chuck Turner. “The city will be moving forward with mailbox kiosks, and I want to make sure we get this first one right. What I think we need to discuss as commissioners is how we want this thing to be configured. Will it be easier for the citizens to drive up and have a parking place where they can get out in inclement weather and get their mail? Will they have to get an umbrella to get their mail?”

He said although the kiosk is covered, residents would still have to park and get out of their cars to get the mail.

“I’m just wondering if there are other designs that would be favorable to the developer and the planning commission,” Turner said.

Joe Haddox with Civil Site Design Group represented the developer. He said he is amiable to work with the planning commission and admitted the mailboxes would be better if placed on the north side of the parking area, which is on the opposite side of the amenity center.

He said with the configuration, the mailbox kiosks would be better to connect to the main road, known as Road A. There are no driveways along Road A, he said.

There will be 115 homes in the subdivision and 140 mail slots, Haddox said.

At one point, Postal Service officials spoke to the planners and said they could also split the number of boxes into multiple kiosks throughout the property.

“Some developers can spread them out or have one separate location,” said planner Jennifer Hamblen.

Commissioner Art Giles said he was concerned about residents getting to the mailboxes.

“If you go to the [Mt. Juliet Post Office] you can’t even find a place [to park],” he said. “Think about in a subdivision with everyone trying to get their mail. You don’t want them queueing up to get their mail.”

Hamblen said no matter what the commission regulates, the post office has the final say on the type of mailboxes in the community.

The item was a part of the consent agenda, a cluster of developments or projects, which were discussed in the past and could be voted on with one vote. The commission unanimously voted to approve the consent agenda.

The second issue concerned sidewalks in Stonehaven, which is in Wilson County, but partially within Mt. Juliet’s urban growth boundary.

The developers said they wished to not have to build sidewalks on the property for two reasons, the topography of the property would make it hard to build, and because of the hills, it would not be popular among pedestrians.

“There have been a lot of discussion about this project before the meeting,” Hamblen said.

Tom White, who represented the developers on the property, said he preferred not to have to build the sidewalks.

He said, “The motion should be to approve this development without the sidewalks. The property is in the county. It’s a half-mile or so from the city limits. It’s in all likelihood never going to be annexed by the city.”

He said considering the topography of the land, the county requires greenways be constructed on the property, rather than a sidewalk.

“Sidewalks required by this committee would be duplicative,” White said. “The topo on the site would be difficult and would be expensive. With respect to the sidewalks, there’s nothing they would connect to. This is a classic case of sidewalks to nowhere.”

According to city regulations, the commission had the authority to allow only “alternative pedestrian” walkways, White said.

Planning commissioner Luke Winchester said the development is near a key intersection with Benders Ferry Road, and he has seen no traffic improvements the city would deal with if the development were to eventually be annexed into the city.

“If you put them off on Cooks Road, the road has terrible ingress and egress, as well as site distance, challenges,” Winchester said.

He also said that the development is designed to connect to other developments within the city’s Urban Growth Boundaries.

“You have various stubs on your plat that says, ‘we’re going to go west; we’re going to go east, and we’re putting numerous houses on a continuous cul-de-sac,’” Winchester said. “So, when someone has a wreck at the end, you’re not going to get people in and out. To me, the whole subdivision is a massive safety concern from the standpoint of getting safety services in there. And you top it off with another continuous cul-de-sac right at the entrance.”

Even though those issues were brought up during the discussion, the only motion was to vote on the sidewalk construction.

In the end, the commission voted unanimously to require the developer to build sidewalks throughout the community.