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.”

Imagination Dinner celebrates literacy

By Matt Masters

Wilson County Books from Birth held its 13th-annual Imagination Dinner fundraiser Thursday night at the Wilson County Expo Center, and it featured a star-studded room of characters.

Wilson County Books from Birth is the local affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program that gives new age-appropriate books to children each month to every participating child less than 5 years old.

This year’s dinner featured a record-breaking 52 tables, which attendees bought and then created themes such as Where’s Waldo, the Titanic or the Wild West.

Wilson Books from Birth executive director Peggy Simpson said the growth and continued success of the program is due to the overwhelming support from the community.

“For 13 years, it’s grown,” Simpson said. “We started out over at the East-West Building, and we moved over here the year before last. We have 10 more tables this year, and every year we add more tables. They believe in us, and the school systems particularly put their arms around it, and the community does, too. They believe in Wilson Books from Birth and the Imagination Library, not only in Wilson County.”

Attendees raised money for the program through donations, participation in a silent auction and donations tied to unique challenges for other groups, such as making them do a silly dance in front of the crowd of several hundred attendees.

One of the groups, Leadership Wilson, offered up a unique challenge for everyone in attendance.

“We are challenging everyone in the room to do an act of kindness for someone tomorrow and then video it and put it on the WilCo Sparks of Kindness Facebook page,” said Dorie Mitchell, executive director of Leadership Wilson.

Prizes were also raffled off, and the imagination and detail of the team costumes and table themes were judged. The Carroll Oakland Elementary School team took home the best decorated trophy.

More information about Wilson County Books from Birth and the Imagination Library may be found at

Missing man’s remains found

The remains of a Mt. Juliet man reported missing in August were found in a wooded area in Hermitage two weeks ago, according to Mt. Juliet police.

The body of Dace Martinez, 29, was found. Martinez was reported missing Aug. 25.

The discovery ended the search for Martinez, who was last seen at his home on West Division Street in Mt. Juliet near the Davidson County line.

Police said the skeletal remains of Martinez were found just inside Davidson County, and according to Metro Nashville police detectives, who are in charge of the investigation, there were no signs of foul play.

Since Martinez was reported missing, detectives searched the property near his home with the help of specially trained dogs. Detectives also contacted all of his known acquaintances and reviewed communication details on his mobile phone and online presence.

There was no trace of Martinez until forensic analysis confirmed the identity of the skeletal remains.

Martinez’s cause of death and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death were not determined as Metro Nashville police detectives continue to investigate the case.

Community Calendar and The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Community Calendar may be submitted via email at, 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.

April 10

Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency Food Giveaway

9 a.m.

The Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency will hold a commodity food giveaway for low-income families in Wilson County on Wednesday, April 10 and Thursday, April 11 from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1-3 p.m. at 104 Webster St. in Lebanon. For more information, call Desirre Starks at 615-444-4714.

April 11

Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency Food Giveaway

9 a.m.

The Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency will hold a commodity food giveaway for low-income families in Wilson County on Thursday, April 11 from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1-3 p.m. at 104 Webster St. in Lebanon. For more information, call Desirre Starks at 615-444-4714.

Women in the Lead

11:30 a.m.

Christy Pittman Neal will speak about flourishing after failure at the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in the Lead luncheon Thursday, April 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Sammy B’s at 705 Cadet Court in Lebanon. Admission is $15. To RSVP, call 615-444-5503 or email

Kindergarten Night at Lakeview Elementary School

5 p.m.

Kindergarten Night will be Thursday, April 11 from 5-7 p.m. at Lakeview Elementary School. The event will provide an opportunity for parents and students to meet some of the teachers and staff and learn more about what to expect for the upcoming school year.

Wilson Books From Birth Imagination Dinner

6:30 p.m.

The Wilson Books From Birth Imagination Dinner will be Thursday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wilson County Expo Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. Table of eight sponsorships are available for $250 each. For more information or to sponsor a table, call 615-444-5586.

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.

April 12

Open Pantry at Cloyd’s Cumberland Presbyterian Church

10 a.m.

An open pantry will be available Friday, April 12 at 10 a.m. at Cloyd’s Cumberland Presbyterian Church at 595 W. Division St. in Mt. Juliet. Groceries will be available for 15 families. Call 615-758-7434 and leave a message to confirm availability.

Ladies Night Out at Active Life Chiropractic and Rehabilitation

7 p.m.

Free bra fittings, refreshments, wine and appetizers, along with free spinal screenings, will be offered Friday, April 12 from 7-9 p.m. at Active Life Chiropractic and Rehabilitation at 12920 Lebanon Road, Suite 1, in Mt. Juliet. To attend, RSVP before April 12 to

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy presents “Guys and Dolls”

7 p.m.

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s dramatic arts will present “Guys and Dolls” on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. at the school. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students.

Encore Theatre Co. presents ‘Bedtime Stories’

7:30 p.m.

Encore Theatre Co. will present “Bedtime Stories (As Told by Our Dad)(Who Messed Them Up)” on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m. at the theater at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of State Rout 109, in Mt. Juliet. Doors will open 30 minutes before show time. Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for youth and seniors. For tickets, visit To reserve seats and pay at the door, call 615-598-8950. For more information, visit

April 13

Wilson County CASA Pancake Breakfast

8 a.m.

The Easter Bunny will make his return Saturday, April 13 from 8-10:30 a.m. for Wilson County Court-Appointed Special Advocates’ fourth-annual pancake breakfast at Lebanon High School. Breakfast will include pancakes, fruit, sausage, coffee and juice for $5 a ticket. Bring a camera and take photos with the Easter Bunny. To buy tickets for a classroom of children, personal use or have interest to volunteer, call Cathey Sweeney at 615-443-2002.

Spring Thing Nature Festival at Long Hunter State Park

8 a.m.

The annual Spring Thing nature festival will be Saturday, April 13 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Long Hunter State Park. The free event will feature nature-themed activities for the whole family, including a wild edibles program, bird walk, scavenger hunt, butterfly slideshow, cedar glade hike, live animal show, a honeybee presentation and more. There will also be booths by the Friends of Long Hunter State Park, Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation and other local organizations. The Friends of Long Hunter State Park will sponsor the event. For more information, visit or call the park office at 615-885-2422.

Wilson County Republican Party meeting

9 a.m.

The Wilson County Republican will meet Saturday, April 13 at 9 a.m. at Music City Baptist Church at 7104 Lebanon Road. Sixth District Congressman John Rose will be the speaker.

West Elementary School Spring Fling

10 a.m.

The West Elementary School Spring Fling will be Saturday, April 13 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the school. It will feature games, concessions and more. For more information, email

Lebanon Gas Department Easter Egg Hunt

10:30 a.m.

The Lebanon Gas Department’s Easter Egg Hunt will be Saturday, April 13 from 10:30 a.m. until noon in Fiddlers Grove at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. The Easter Bunny will arrive at 10:30 a.m., and hunts will be at 11 a.m. for 3 year olds and younger, 11:15 a.m. for 4-7 year olds and 11:30 a.m. for 8-12 year olds. In case of rain, the event will be Saturday, April 20 and follow the same schedule.

Easter Helicopter Egg Drop

11 a.m.

Connect Church will play host to the Easter Helicopter Egg Drop on Saturday, April 13 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Charlie Daniels Park in Mt. Julist. Aaron Shust will also be live in concert. For more information, visit

Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center Reverse Raffle

5 p.m.

The Exchange Club of West Wilson County will hold a reverse raffle Saturday, April 13 at 5 p.m. at the Mt. Juliet Senior Activity Center at 2034 N. Mt. Juliet Road. The drawing will begin at 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $50 for one person and one meal or $60 for couples. Additional meal tickets are $10 each. The raffle has a $5,000 grand prize, and 300 tickets will be sold. Contact Nancy Britt at 615-289-7623 or with questions or for more information. Tickets are available weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the center.

Wilson County Civic League Annual Fundraiser

6 p.m.

The Wilson County Civic League will hold its annual fundraiser Saturday, April 13 at 6 p.m. in Baird Chapel on the Cumberland University campus. The theme will be “the role faith-based organizations play in our communities.” The guest speaker with be state Rep. Harold Love Jr., and the musical guest will be Wess Morgan. Tickets are $30 and can be bought by calling 615-449-0719. Visit for more information.

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy presents “Guys and Dolls”

7 p.m.

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s dramatic arts will present “Guys and Dolls” on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. at the school. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students.

The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Government Calendar may be submitted via email at, 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.

April 15

Wilson County Commission meeting

7 p.m.

The Wilson County Commission will meet Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

April 18

Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority meeting

11 a.m.

The Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority executive committee will meet Thursday, April 18 at 11 a.m. with lunch at noon and the authority’s quarterly meeting to follow at the Nashville and Eastern Railroad Authority office at 206 S. Maple St. in Lebanon.

Mt. Juliet Planning Commission meeting

6:30 p.m.

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission will meet Thursday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road.

April 22

Mt. Juliet City Commission meeting

6:30 p.m.

The Mt. Juliet City Commission will meet Monday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road. A public hearing will be at 6:15 p.m.

April 29

Wilson County Board of Health meeting


The Wilson County Board of Health will hold a presentation on the Wilson County Health Department’s budget and on services rendered during 2018 during a meeting Monday, April 29 from noon until 1 p.m. at the Wilson County Health Department at 927 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.

– Staff Reports

Lynn donates flags to Rutland Elementary School

State Rep. Susan Lynn donated four flags Friday to Rutland Elementary School.

Lynn’s donation included two United States flags and two Tennessee flags. Lynn presented the flags to Rutland Elementary School assistant principal Stephanie Hines after she met with school administrators.

“It was a privilege to visit Rutland Elementary School and donate these special flags to the school,” said Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet. “It’s always great to speak with our teachers and administrators, and I hope these flags will encourage students to get involved in their state and country. They are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Lynn represents House District 57. She is chair of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee and also serves as vice-chair of the Joint Pensions and Insurance Committee. She is a member of the Calendar & Rules Committee, Joint Fiscal Review Committee, Select Committee on Rules, Naming, Designating and Private Acts Committee and Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee.

Rubber ducks to race the Cumberland

Tickets are on sale for the fourth-annual Ducky Derby fundraiser event to benefit the Wilson County Community Help Center.

Thousands of rubber ducks will race their way down the Cumberland River on May 4. They will launch at 10 a.m. from the bridge on U.S. 231. For $5 participants can adopt a racing duck, and the owner of the winning duck will get a $2,500 purse. The second-place duck will win $1,500, while the third-place duck will bring in $750.  The last duck’s owner will win $100.

Adoption tickets are $5 each and are currently on sale and available at the Wilson County Community Help Center and through help center board members.  Participants must be 18 years old or older to participate but do not have to be present to win.    

The Wilson County Community Help Center is a nonprofit organization at 203 W. High St. in Lebanon.

For more information, call 615-449-1856, email or visit

WilCo Sparks of Kindness to Stuff the Bus

The Leadership Wilson Kindness Team plans to begin its second phase of the kindness mission, Stuff the Bus.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash, Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty and Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings recently declared May 8 as Kindness Day throughout Wilson County, and WilCo Sparks of Kindness reached more than 11,000 people and had more than 4,000 post engagements since that time. 

Wilson County residents will continue to spark kindness with donations of food items for the summer backpack programs. 

“There are hundreds of students who face food insecurity and hunger in the summer when they do not have access to school meals. This program provides food that the students can eat with little to no prep,” said Betty Williams, a Leadership Wilson member. The Stuff The Bus program is designed to gather food and distribute it to qualified students who attend Lebanon Special School District and Wilson County Schools.”

CedarStone Bank’s Lebanon and Mt Juliet locations are drop-off points for food items to Stuff the Bus during Kindness Day on May 8. 

“We are so excited to be a part of this great kindness revolution in Wilson County,” said Bob McDonald, president of CedarStone Bank. “What better way to be kind than to make sure our students have access to food this summer. We look forward to seeing our community rise up once again to demonstrate great kindness.”

Foods items needed include pop-top ravioli and spaghetti, individual macaroni and cheese bowls and packets, beef jerky, cheese and crackers, chips, individual cookie packets, breakfast bars, Pop Tarts, fruit snacks, juice bars or similar items. 

“These are items we have found work best for our students,” Williams said. “Both school systems want to make sure children have food for the summer. Help us meet our goal. Prior to May 8, take your donation to CedarStone Bank. If you want to be part of the big celebration day, bring your food items to Don Fox Park on May 8, where we will literally stuff the bus.”

To join the kindness revolution, visit WilCo Sparks of Kindness on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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.”

New TWRA official spreads the word

New Mt. Juliet resident Jenifer Wisniewski has a complicated title, but a simple goal, as the new Communications & Outreach Chief with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Getting the positive messages, latest news, and other information distributed to the state’s hundreds of thousands of outdoors-persons.

The best story in the world is lost if nobody knows about it, and Wisniewski’s mission is to spread the word.

“Tennessee has so many great outdoors opportunities,” Wisniewski says, “and we want to make everyone aware of them and how to be able to enjoy them. Our effort is part of a nation-wide movement to recruit and retain hunters, fishermen, boaters, campers and others to the outdoors.”

Wisniewski, a native of Anniston, Ala., and graduate of the University Alabama, joined the TWRA after gaining widespread recognition for her work with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

During her six years in the communications department, Georgia was one of only a few states in which the sale of hunting and fishing licenses increased. That success attracted the attention of the TWRA, which lured Wisniewski away from the Peach State.

“I was poached,” she says with a laugh.

The TWRA over the years has enjoyed excellent public relations, thanks to some of the best in the business, including recently-retired Doug Markham, Agency veteran Don King, Lee Wilmont, Barry Cross and Tennessee Wildlife Magazine editor Austin Bornheim. All are media-friendly, efficient and accommodating.

Therefore, Wisniewski doesn’t see her task as re-inventing the Agency’s various communications outlets, but more a matter of enhancing them and expanding them to serve a constantly-changing landscape.

She plans to emphasize up-to-date news and features on the TWRA’s website, pod-casts, e-mailings and TV programs, and utilize social media to its fullest.

While enhancing the various “new media” components, Wisniewski says she will not abandon the TWRA’s traditional print outlets, such as the popular Tennessee Wildlife Magazine and the Tennessee Fishing Guide and Hunting & Trapping Guide. Many Tennessean outdoorsmen – especially those of an advanced generation – are not internet-connected or social-media savvy.

Wisniewski promises they will not be left out.

“We don’t have to sacrifice one outlet for another,” she says. “We will utilize them all.”

Wisniewski grew up hunting and fishing in Alabama with her dad. As a little girl she went with him on dove shoots, and one of her duties was to collect the birds.

“I was the retriever,” she says, again with a laugh.

Wisniewski and husband Jason – who joined his wife on the TWRA staff as a fisheries biologist stationed in Gallatin – selected a home in Mt. Juliet because of its quality of life.

“It’s a great area, we love our new home, and we both have jobs we thoroughly enjoy,” she says. “We couldn’t be happier.”

Larry Woody is The Mt. Juliet News’ outdoors writer. Email him at

LifeWay to close all 170 stores across the US this year

By Mike Pare

Chattanooga Times Free Press

NASHVILLE (TNS) – Nashville-based publisher LifeWay Christian Resources, the largest Christian retail chain in America, plans to close all its 170 brick-and-mortar stores across the country this year.

In Wilson County, the Mt. Juliet store at Providence will close by year’s end, according to LifeWay.

LifeWay acting president and CEO Brad Waggoner said last Wednesday the entity is moving into a new era with a strategic digital focus that will prepare it for the future and allow it to better serve customers.

“LifeWay is fortunate to have a robust publishing, events and church services business,” he said. “Our retail strategy for the future will be a greater focus on digital channels, which are experiencing strong growth.”

Bob Munce, president of the Christian Retail Association in Largo, Florida, said the planned closing of all of LifeWay’s stores “comes as a bit of of a shock in the industry.”

“I didn’t know it was as tough as it was for them,” he said. “They’re wonderful stores. Everybody wished this didn’t happen and they’d stay in business.”

In January, LifeWay announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales. LifeWay said last week the Hamilton Place store would close for the last time May 31.

“While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” Waggoner said.

He said the decision to close its local stores is a difficult one.

“LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honored to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbors,” Waggoner said.

The timing of store closings will vary depending on local circumstances. But, LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of the year.

Munce said many Christian bookstores and retailers are impacted by online sales just as secular businesses have been with the growth of Amazon and other e-commerce book sellers.

“All brick-and-mortar retail is under pressure,” he said, adding there’s not a decline in the interest in Christian publications and literature. “It’s a change in the way people buy things.”

Munce said the chains seemed to have struggled more than the independent retailers.

He said he’s optimistic Christian bookstores will rebound, as such retailers expand their offerings to inspirational gifts and other items. He said Bible sales at such stores are doing “extremely well.”

“It has gotten stronger rather than weaker,” Munce said, as buyers seek out expert advice to find the right Bible for them.

Lifeway, in operation since 1891, offers a comprehensive selection of Bibles, books, Scripture reference tools, Bible studies, children’s products, Christian music and movies, gifts and church supplies.

“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years, and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future,” Waggoner said. LifeWay distributes resources in 164 nations and licenses resources in more than 60 languages.

As part of the organization’s strategy, LifeWay has introduced a number of digital resources including online Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events and online training opportunities.

In one month, LifeWay said it interacts with five times as many people through its digital environments as it does through LifeWay stores.

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.”

Congressman John Rose announces art competition

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Sixth District Congressman John Rose announced an art competition Friday morning at Mt. Juliet High School for high school students within his district.

Students are urged to paint, draw or take photos for their entry. One entry will be allowed per student. The deadline for entries is April 22. That is the date the entry must be in Rose’s office. Art department members from Tennessee Tech University and Volunteer State Community College will judge the entries and select a winner. The winning entry will be announced on April 24.

The winning student will receive two tickets on Southwest Airlines and will be honored at an awards banquet, along with the other 434 winning artists from across the country. All winning entries will be displayed for one year in Cannon Hall at the U.S. Capitol, Rose said.

All high school students are encouraged to enter the competition, whether they have taken art classes at their respective schools. To enter, the item must adhere to competition requirements, which include the artwork must be two dimensional, and the artwork must be no larger than 26 inches high and 26 inches wide. The entry must also be no more than 4 inches deep.

Winning entries must be framed, and no framed piece should weight more than 15 pounds. Frames must be made of wood or metal. No plastic “snap on” or metal frames, which can easily come apart, are to be used. All entries, except for oil or acrylic on canvas, must be protected by plexiglass or glass.

Accepted materials for the artwork can be oil, acrylic, watercolor or other paintings; drawings with colored pencil, pencil, ink, marker, pastels or charcoal. The pastels and charcoal drawings must be fixed. Also, they may be two-dimensional collages; prints in the golf of lithographs, silkscreen or block prints; mixed media in which two or more mediums such as pencil, ink or watercolor; computer-generated art; or photographs.

All artwork must be original in concept, design and execution and may not violate U.S. copyright laws. Any image that is copied from an existing photo or image, including painting, graphic or advertisements, that were created by someone other than the student is a violation of the competition rules and will not be accepted.

Each entrant must submit a typed student information and release form, which is available through Rose’s Cookeville or Gallatin offices.  The Cookeville office is at 321 E. Spring St., Suite 301, in Cookeville, and the phone number is 931-854-9430.

The Gallatin office is at 355 N. Belvedere Drive, Suite 308, in Gallatin, and the phone number is 615-206-8204.

Seven take part in drug court graduation

The 15th Judicial District Drug Court held its spring graduation March 22. 

The program, established in 2002, recognized seven participants for their work to achieve and maintain a positive lifestyle change. Each participant made a minimum two-year commitment to drug court that combines treatment and community-based intensive supervision.   

Also recognized were two drug court team members, Logan Rosson, a former graduate of the program who is currently an active team member, and Jimmy Lea Jr., assistant district attorney with the 15th Judicial District attorney general’s office.  Both men received J.O. Bond memorial achievement awards for their continued commitment to help others.

Judge John D. Wootten Jr., drug court judge, said drug court is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Wootten said this year’s graduates demonstrated compliance not only with program structure and accountability, but also they each noted a new self with direction in life.

Drug court members include Wootten, Lea, Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner, Cumberland Mental Health director Nathan Miller, Board of Probation and Parole state probation Officer Jeremiah Smith, Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program veterans representative Peter Pritchard with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Rosson, drug court coordinator Jeff E. Dickson Sr., and case managers Paula Langford and Shelly Allison.

The 15th Judicial District Drug Court program serves Wilson, Trousdale, Macon, Jackson and Smith counties and has been in existence for nearly 17 years.

Wilson County students celebrate diversity

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Students, teachers, advisers and parents from Wilson County Schools gathered at Mt. Juliet Elementary School on Thursday evening to celebrate the various nations English as a second language students claim as their native land.

From Mexico to Africa, France to Japan, the students demonstrated the culture from the various nations. They showcased art, displayed storyboards, sang, played instruments and featured native foods.

Tracy Thompson with Carroll-Oakland School, Jo Thacker with Springdale Elementary School, Chelsea Howard with West Elementary School, Sarai Lewis with Stoner Creek Elementary School and other teachers brought items to display or helped students showcase their displays.

Mt. Juliet Elementary School students sang songs; Prisha Bangena played her violin; Shweta Arura, Nidhi Gupta and Simran Batra cooked and served food from India; and the Futuro Organization, an all-inclusive professional Hispanic student organization at Cumberland University, showcased the Phoenix, which is a wooden bird student organizations paint for display at events.

“This is our Wilson County Schools’ multi-cultural celebration,” said Mt. Juliet Elementary School English as a second language teacher Tracy Brown. “We open up to our entire county. Schools come to share our great diversity in Wilson County. [Middle Tennessee State University] is planning to be here, elementary schools, artwork projects, games, Cumberland University is coming, [Lebanon High School] HOSA. We’ve invited everyone to come and share their culture, their diversity, and gain knowledge and understanding from everyone.”

Brown has about 20 students in her ESL classes, but there are about 45 overall, she said.

“There are schools who have as few as 10 and those with almost 100,” said Wilson County Schools ESL coordinator Julie Harrison.

What started out as a day event for MJES students has turned into to the night event for everyone to celebrate “our wonderful ethnicities and differences in our schools,” Brown said. “We need to share that and acknowledge that.”

Teacher Glenda McKinney with Tuckers Crossroads School, said her students studied Native Americans and wanted to expand to other countries such as Peru.

“We decided to expand to indigenous people in Spanish-speaking countries,” she said. “I had read them [a Peruvian folktale]. They rewrote some Peruvian folktales.”

Ashlee Hargrove works at Rutland Elementary School and said, “We have students from all different cultures. We have a lot of students from Uzbekistan. We have students from Egypt and students from all over the world. We have students from Madagascar, the Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. We have a very diverse population at Rutland Elementary [School].”

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.

Audience of One to be spotlighted in three April shows

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Audience of One will present three different shows in April, and it all kicks off April 5 with “A Night on Broadway.”

“It’s a review of all of our past shows and a look at what’s coming up in the future,” said Audience of One director Angie Dee. “People have requested a Broadway review, and someone said, ‘Hey, why don’t we make it a dinner theatre? [Let’s] make it a giant show and just have fun for everyone.’”

Dee said she’s “had some generous people come forward and say, ‘Let us do this for you.’ We’re making it a fundraiser for Audience of One to try to recoup our new stage floor costs and things like that.”

She said musical numbers from all of Audience of One’s past shows, “are up for grabs. Anything from ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘Little Women, the Broadway musical,’ ‘She Loves Me’ and, of course, ‘West Side Story.’”

Dee said because Audience of One doesn’t do “A Night on Broadway” every year, she hopes people will come and enjoy the show.

“You can have dinner, or you can sit in the regular theatre seating,” she said.

Doors will open for “A Night on Broadway,” at 5:30 p.m. for dinner and 6:30 p.m. for people who just want to see the show. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for adults with dinner, $25 for children 3-11 years old and seniors with dinner and $17 for regular theater seats. Tickets may be purchased at

On April 6, the troupe will perform during “A Chocolate Affair,” the annual fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center.

“We had the opportunity to do their fundraiser last year, and we were asked back,” Dee said. “Abused children are near and dear to my heart. It’s a subject that I definitely want to give back to. [The CAC] came to me and asked, and I gladly accepted.

“It’s just a wonderful fundraiser. They need funding. They need help. They need support from the community, and it’s a great cause. We’re happy to be there.”

Single tickets are $50 and may be purchased at

On April 7, the company will perform during a fundraiser to support the Beard family, as plan to they adopt two or three children.

“The Beard family is an incredible family,” Dee said. “This entire family has been close to Audience of One. From website development to graphic design to choreography. Tara, Richard and Hope all do shows.

“It’s kind of a family affair. They are very instrumental in my board. I love their heart. Tara’s one of my best friends in the whole world. When God led her to do this adoption, I said, ‘How can I help?’ This is how I know how to help. We’re standing behind them and helping them raise funds for this amazing adoption.”

Tickets are $35 for adults, and the show will start at 6 p.m.

“We’re super excited about getting behind all three of those events,” Dee said. “Come support Audience of One productions. We do great work, and we are excited to be at the Capitol Theatre.”

Papa Joe’s House to help advanced heart-failure patients, families

By Angie Mayes

Special to The Democrat

To help advanced heart-failure patients and their families, the Joe Beretta Foundation, a nonprofit in Mt. Juliet, plans to build a 10-bedroom home known as Papa Joe’s House.

The building will be a place for patients and their families to stay long-term while the patient receives the treatment they need in Nashville hospitals, such as Centennial, Saint Thomas and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The home is the brainchild of Mt. Juliet residents Davey Shepherd and his mother-in-law, Lillian Beretta, who lost her husband, Joe, to advanced heart failure in 2016.

“Our story is that my husband started feeling ill,” Lillian Beretta said. “He started having water in his legs and shortness of breath. He was a very healthy guy, a very good eater, really healthy. These symptoms started to get worse, and before we knew it, we were in big trouble.”

Joe Beretta was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, she said.

“His heart was in really big trouble,” Lillian Beretta said. “It was a very big surprise to us that he was that sick.”

They first went to Centennial Hospital, where the doctors gave him different medications. The medications didn’t work, and the doctors told the family about a procedure to insert a ventricular assist device.

“My husband’s left ventricle wasn’t working properly,” she said. “He ended up needing the VAD. We ended up at Vanderbilt hospital for the VAD procedure.”

Joe Beretta had more procedures to try to help his heart, Lillian Beretta said.

“He was a strong guy who was really, really sick,” she said. “He passed in 2016 from complications from everything.”

Joe Beretta had long stays in the hospital. Traveling wasn’t a problem for Joe Beretta’s family because of their proximity to Nashville.

“We were seeing other families who were really struggling,” she said. “Our room had family and food, and you’d go by another room, and they were all alone, maybe one person or two. We started asking questions. That’s when we found out our experience was so unique, because we live here. Most people have to come one, two, three hours to get here. They come all over the South to Vanderbilt.

“Because of that, they didn’t have the family, friends and support they needed close to them because there was no opportunity to do that. When Joe passed, we decided to do something as a family that would help [the others].”

Within a short amount of time, the family created the Joe Beretta Foundation.

“We are giving housing; we’re paying back bills; we’re providing gas and money cards so they have the transportation to get to the hospital and all of the help they need,” Lillian Beretta said. “From that was the birth of the Papa Joe’s House. We’re finding that in Nashville, the biggest need is housing. It’s very expensive to have to come here for 35 days in a row.”

She said the family wants to build the Papa Joe’s House in Mt. Juliet because of the community support they’ve received.

“Most of the caregivers are women, and they’re not used to a city. They’re not comfortable in a city and would much rather be in a community like Mt Juliet,” she said.

The principal goal of the foundation is to meet the needs of advanced heart-failure patients, Shepherd said.  Papa Joe’s House would be a hospitality house for heart failure patients and families, he said.

Those who can stay in the house range from caregivers to those who come in for check-ups, those who have surgery and those who are post-surgery.

Post-surgery patients who have to do cardiac rehab would require them to go back and forth to the hospital several times a week, and they would have to stay for several weeks before they went home, could stay in the house.

The cost of a hotel in Nashville can be upwards of $1,000 a week, versus the cost of the Papa Joe’s House. The cost would be between $25 a night for a family.

Shepherd said 6 million people in the U.S. have heart failure. A quarter of those have advanced heart failure, but the others head down that path.

“Our goal is to make sure they get the life-saving treatment that they need,” Shepherd said. [To] receive the life-saving remedies and follow-ups that those surgeries require, and to make sure that overall the heart failure population is getting as healthy as they need as fast as they can. Right now, people are turning down the surgery because of money.”

He said the travel, housing and food costs “take its toll over several years. If we can have this option to help people get healthier sooner, they won’t go into as much debt, [and] their families recover sooner. That’s just better for everybody.”

Lillian Beretta said, “For us, it came down to the family because we lived it. We know what it’s like. Heart failure doesn’t just affect the patient. It impacts the family and generations of families.”

Shepherd said there were people they worked with who died because they couldn’t receive the treatment they needed because of money.

“It should never be that way,” he said.

The house will be built on land next to the Church at Pleasant Grove, Shepherd said. The church donated the land. The Joe Beretta Foundation also seeks assistance to build the home such as materials and labor.

When construction begins, they will need items such as linens, toiletries and other practical items. They can be dropped off at the church at 555 Pleasant Grove Road in Mt. Juliet.

To build the house, the Joe Beretta Foundation has three main ways for people to get involved.

One is for people who want to volunteer and have boots on the ground. That’s called Adopt a Waiting Room. Lillian Beretta is in charge of that.

“We go to the hospital on heavy surgical days when the family will be there and know where’s something’s located in the hospital, know which restaurants deliver, where laundry can be done, just very practical things that can help people in a crisis,” she said.

There’s also the Twenty-Five Club, where donors pay $25 a month for a year, which goes directly to the patient, Shepherd said.

The third is “Dinner in the Vines,” which is a fundraiser that will take place June 22 at 6 p.m. at Lillian Beretta’s home. She has a small vineyard on her property, and attendees will be able to taste the family’s wine.

“It’s a private vineyard,” Shepherd said. “We don’t sell the wine, but we open it up once a year for a very fun evening. There’s live music. There’s a silent auction. We’re going to do a wine pull this year. We’ll have yard games and wonderful food.”

Early-bird tickets are $125 and covers all of the wine and food for the evening, Shepherd said. It will increase to $150 a ticket May 2. A second option is a VIP ticket, which will provide food, wine and a private wine tasting with a reputable wine expert. All of the money raised goes to the Joe Beretta Foundation.

Information about the foundation, to donate or buy tickets and how to get involved, may be found at

Mt. Juliet chamber hears about autonomous vehicles, traffic

By Matt Masters

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce held its March chamber connection luncheon last Wednesday at Rutland Place, where Dan Work, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering and computer science and the institute for software integrated systems at Vanderbilt University, spoke about the future of autonomous vehicles and traffic.

Work’s presentation entitled “Autonomous Vehicles: The End of Traffic?” detailed the future adaptations and challenges that face the increased move toward vehicle automation.

“If it’s easy to travel, then we’re going to travel more,” Work told the crowd of more than 50 people.

While the idea of people each having their own autonomous vehicle to travel in seems like the next step in America transportation, Work said it will take more than just a few autonomous vehicles to help change traffic issues.

Work said a few autonomous vehicles on the road and those with adaptive cruise controls, which automatically slow down with traffic when cruise control is enabled, can help to elevate phantom traffic jams.

Work showed several videos of his work on analyzing traffic patterns. One of those videos was collaboration between Ford and Vanderbilt University that studied the effects of adaptive cruise control in reducing and eliminating phantom traffic jams.

“The thing that is most apparent to me is that the technologies that go into freight are the ones that are going to be the most beneficial up front – the stuff in the trucking world,” Work said. “Anything that you can do to reduce the labor or reduce the fuel costs of operating those vehicles is direct money that makes your system more profitable. You can offer more services and so on. It’s probably not as attractive. You’re not going to see it in the national news everyday, but it’s definitely where I think a lot of the smarter companies are betting on the technology development. Because the business proposition there is much more straight forward than convincing everybody in this room to basically buy a car that has an $80,000 sensor on top of it.”

Work also said he believes the best opportunity for autonomous vehicles in traffic reduction will be in the shipping industry with autonomous tractor-trailers.