Pope appointed as election commissioner

 By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

State Rep. Clark Boyd appointed John Pope on Friday to serve as a Wilson County election commissioner to replace Ann Calabria, who was removed by the Tennessee Election Commission July 9.

The state election commission members gathered in a “show cause” meeting last week to listen to a complaint about Calabria from former state Sen. Mae Beavers. Beavers, who challenged incumbent Randall Hutto for Wilson County mayor, complained Calabria took to social media and expressed her opinions about Beavers’ current Wilson County mayoral and prior gubernatorial campaigns, according to Kent Younce, a Tennessee election commissioner.

“We heard statements from [Beavers] and from [Calabria],” Younce said. “Then, after hearing all of the comments, we deliberated and decided to remove [Calabria].”

According to its website, the mission of the election commission is to ensure the integrity of every vote cast in the county by administering election law and procedures equally and fairly by all, by providing the most efficient, accurate and secure election possible.

The state election commission appoints county election commissioners after members of the local legislative delegation recommend them. Since state Rep. Susan Lynn appointed Calabria, Lynn would have found a replacement under normal circumstances.

Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, said she tried to find a replacement for Calabria, but because the person must start immediately, it was difficult to find someone on short notice.

She said she considered a retiring county commissioner, but the person couldn’t start until after leaving office, which would be after the Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election and state and federal primaries. Early voting started July 13 and will continue through July 28. 

Because of that, Lynn allowed Boyd make the current appointment, and she would make the next one.

Pope, a Wilson County native, is a 1996 graduate of the Labry School of Business at Cumberland University. He has more than 20 years of experience in the local banking industry and currently serves as vice president at Southern Bank of Tennessee.

“I am proud to appoint John Pope to serve on our local election commission,” said Boyd, R-Lebanon. “I have known John for many years. He is a man of integrity who is well respected within our community and all of Wilson County, and I know he will do a great job.”

Additionally, Pope is actively involved in Lebanon Youth Baseball and also supports the local education community.

“I am grateful to Rep. Boyd for this appointment,” said Pope. “I look forward to the opportunity to support one of the most important processes that shapes our great state and nation by serving as our election commissioner.”

Wilson County election commissioners include Sherrie Orange, chairman; Ronnie Kelley, secretary; Don Simpson, member; Jan Spray, member; Phillip Warren, administrator of elections and Tammy Smith, assistant administrator of elections. For more information about the Wilson County Election Commission, visit wilsonelections.com.

Boyd represents House District 46, which includes Cannon and part of Wilson and DeKalb counties. 

Democrat correspondent Angie Mayes contributed to this report.

WIlson County Fair introduces new milk cow

Staff Reports

The Wilson County Fair on Aug. 17-25 will celebrate the year of milk.  

The fair bought a milking cow, which is a life-sized cow that moos and children will be able to milk. The cow will be featured in Hometown USA in the Expo Center each day of the fair as part of the Pick Tennessee Products section.  

“It is a unique experience for children as they milk the cow and it is mooing while it happens,” said Wilson County Promotions president Randall Clemons.  

The Wilson County Fair Board had a naming contest recently, and the cow was named Buttercup. Homestead USA at the fair will feature school exhibits from each school in Wilson County, vegetable competitive exhibits, rose exhibits, baking exhibits, egg competition exhibits, a display of rare antique John Deere tractors as part of the 100th anniversary of John Deere, community park and the hometown stage. The hometown stage will feature daily musical entertainment, culinary arts demonstrations, history, recreation, shopping and more. 

“The Expo Center was a great new addition to the fair last year and will again be the home of all the pageants, which will include baby shows, fair princess, king of the fair, doll parade and fairest of the fair. It will also again be the location of the competitive home economics exhibits, photography, art and stained glass,” Clemons said. 

 The Wilson County Fair will be a learning experience for children about the farm with Fun on the Farm on Aug. 21 for 4-12 year olds. The event will include sack races, cow milking, spoon egg races, goat ribbon pulling and greased pig contests.  The fair will feature daily the Ag Venture Barn, which teaches children hands on about farm animals. Children will be able to visit chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, cows and other farm animals. There will be many hands-on farm events in the barn. In the livestock barn area, there will be a petting zoo of farm animals, as well.

“The fair will be the largest school classroom in the state the week of the fair as it is a learning experience for children and adults on farm life of yesterday,” Clemons said.  

For more information, visit wilsoncountyfair.net or pick up a fair catalog at most banks in Wilson County or The Lebanon Democrat office.

Early voting tops 9K in Wilson

Staff Reports

Early voters Saturday pushed the total vote count past 9,000 votes cast in the Aug. 2 Wilson County General Election and state and federal primaries.

A total of 667 votes were cast Saturday with 246 in Lebanon, 253 in Mt. Juliet, 37 in Watertown, 84 in Gladeville and 41 at Lighthouse Church. 

At the midway point in early voting Friday, total votes surpassed the 8,000 mark with the second highest single-day total in early voting.

“We’ve had a good turnout. People are voting, and that’s something we like to see,” said Phillip Warren, Wilson County administrator of elections.

A total of 1,322 votes were cast Friday with 525 in Lebanon, 439 in Mt. Juliet, 62 in Watertown, 177 in Gladeville and 109 at Lighthouse Church.

Early voting finished Thursday nearly 10 votes off Wednesday’s pace, and total votes surpassed the 7,000 mark. 

A total of 1,217 votes were cast Thursday with 536 in Lebanon, 411 in Mt. Juliet, 46 in Watertown, 106 in Gladeville and 100 at Lighthouse Church. 

Early voting ended Wednesday with 1,226 total votes cast with 487 in Lebanon, 464 in Mt. Juliet, 67 in Watertown, 118 in Gladeville and 87 at Lighthouse Church. 

On Tuesday, voters cast the highest single-day number of votes thus far with more than 1,300. The vote totals Tuesday were 1,358 in all with 637 in Lebanon, 451 in Mt. Juliet, 52 in Watertown, 116 in Gladeville and 101 at Lighthouse Church. 

Early voting kicked off July 13, and more than 1,200 people took to the polls on the first day. 

On the first day of early voting, 1,233 voters took to the polls with 523 votes cast in Lebanon, 363 in Mt. Juliet, 76 in Watertown, 136 in Gladeville, 130 at Lighthouse Church near Mt. Juliet and five were received by mail.  

On July 14, 510 total votes were cast with 221 in Lebanon, 153 in Mt. Juliet, 28 in Watertown, 55 in Gladeville and 46 at Lighthouse Church. 

A total of 1,299 votes were cast July 16 with 609 in Lebanon, 386 in Mt. Juliet, 62 in Watertown, 138 in Gladeville and 97 at Lighthouse Church. 

Prior to the start of early voting, 188 people cast their ballots through absentee and by mail, and 57 votes were added through Saturday.

A grand total of 9,020 votes were cast through eight days of early voting with 6,539 Republican ballots cast, 2,366 Democrat ballots and 115 general-only ballots. 

Early voting will continue through July 28 at the Election Commission office at 203 E. Main St. in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet Community Center at 1075 Charlie Daniels Pkwy., Watertown Community Center at 8630 Sparta Pike, Gladeville Community Center at 95 McCreary Road and the Lighthouse Church at 6141 Saundersville Road in Mt. Juliet.

All of the locations will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., with the exception of the Lighthouse Church, which will close Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

All voters are required to show a Tennessee state or federally issued photo identification card to vote.

Field of Flags planned to fly at Ag Center

A Field of Flags to benefit local veteran organizations is planned for June 29-July 1 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon.

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash were at the Wilson County Courthouse last Wednesday to show support for the event and the American Legion Post 15, which will play host to the event, along with other veteran organizations.

A field of 500 U.S. flags will stand and wave at the Ag Center from the opening ceremony June 29 at 1 p.m. until the closing ceremony July 1.

All proceeds from the sponsorship sales of flags will be distributed to the four veteran organizations in Lebanon, the American Legion Post 15, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004 and its counterpart, the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1004.

The organizations have fundraisers throughout the year to enable them to provide assistance to needy veterans and their families. In addition to help veterans receive benefits and medical care, the assistance can range from help for handicapped veterans get ramps for their homes, providing food, assistance with utility bills and even providing large boxes of food at Thanksgiving.

The four organizations are currently pre-selling flag sponsorships to individuals, businesses and corporations. There are different levels of sponsorships available, and each level will include a certain number of flags. The top four levels of sponsorship will be recognized on a tri-fold brochure, along with a short description of the veterans organizations and other media at the flag site.

Flag sponsorships will be available at the event, as well. People can have a flag dedicated to a loved one, past or present, attached to their flags.

Anyone who has questions or wants to purchase a sponsorship may contact Harold Weist at grnmarine@tds.net or Pete Norman at Uncle Pete’s Truck Stop.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Surefire Fireworks gears up for Fourth of July

Explosions, smoke and the smell of gunpowder will soon fill the air for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations throughout Wilson County.

To prepare for the annual event, tents are already popping up across Wilson County, and officially opened for business last Wednesday until July 5 for residents to fill all their most explosive desires.

Where do all those tents come from, though, and where do the tent operators get their supply? The answer, for some of them at least, is a 40-year-old Wilson County staple, Surefire Fireworks Wholesale and Retail.

Jacob Smith • Mt. Juliet News
Surefire Fireworks gears up for the busiest season of the year as fireworks season approaches, and tents across Wilson County opened last Wednesday.

The company sits up on a hill at 1946 Murfreesboro Road in Lebanon. According to employee Brendan Martel, the organization is able to sell fireworks year-round because the building is outside the city limits, but obviously, its biggest season is around July 4.

“Really, we start getting busy when the tents start to open in town,” said Martel. “People are seeing the visual in town of, ‘Oh, that’s right fireworks,’ and then some people remember we’re here, and they’ll come to us too, because we’re air conditioned.”

Martel said the local tents are really just an extension of the store itself to offer residents in Wilson County a more convenient way to get fireworks for the big holiday. The company also sells wholesale to privately owned firework businesses, but none locally.

“It’s a little bit of both up here; we do the retail and the wholesale,” said Martel. “We’ve just started doing [wholesale] the past couple of years, and we get people from all over the state who will purchase through us at wholesale prices.”

“There’s not any here in Lebanon, because we try to make people aware when they’re buying from us that we don’t want to compete against them. It’s a business relationship, so most of our people are from outside Wilson County.”

The big fireworks finale on sale this year is a 1,000-gram grand finale from Black Cat. A 500-gram show is actually the largest fireworks show allowed to be sold to non-professionals, but the 1,000-gram finale features two 500-gram displays designed to go off at the same time.

“You have to shoot them at the same time to get the full effect, back and forth, in them,” said Martel. “That’s the biggest thing we’ve got this year, and it’s brand new. We just picked Black Cat up again this year. They have some awesome grand finale stuff.”

The 1,000-gram finale can be picked up for July 4 at Surefire Fireworks Wholesale and Retail or at any of the fireworks tents that are supplied by the business across Wilson County.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Civics 101: The duties of Wilson County mayor

Editor’s Note: The following story is part of a series of stories designed to educate voters on what each elected office does – and in some cases, doesn’t do – for the people of Wilson County.

The role of Wilson County mayor is one of the more recognizable positions within county government, but by definition, there are specific roles the county mayor has in government.

According to state law, “The county mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the county and shall have all the powers and duties formerly exercised by the county judge, county chair or elected official exercising general supervision of the county government as provided by state law, other general laws, special, local or private acts.”

According to Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard, the Wilson County mayor “fills in the cracks” in a way by exercising authority over county organizations that do not already have an elected official that presides over them. For instance, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office has a sheriff that’s elected to run the department, however, the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency does not have an elected director. Therefore, the county mayor appoints a director for that department.

The mayor also serves as a nonvoting member of the county commission. During Wilson County Commission meetings, the mayor will present items from the agenda to the commissioners, but will not vote on them. It is also the mayor’s responsibility to recommend appointees to committees for the full commission’s vote.

The biggest role of the county mayor is to act as a leader in all aspects of county government. The county mayor usually serves as chairman of the county commission, as well, and in that role, it is the mayor’s responsibility to recruit candidates for subcommittees. The mayor also has to meet with other elected county officials to ensure everyone works toward the same goals.

By the time a resolution reaches the commission, it has already passed through a subcommittee, where members recommended by the mayor discuss and approve it.

Maynard estimated an elected county mayor spends an average of 60 hours per week on the job to fulfill the various duties.

On Aug. 2, Wilson County voters will elect a mayor for the next four years. Incumbent Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto since 2010 will face former state Sen. Mae Beavers. Early voting begins July 13 and ends July 28.

The last day to register to vote in the Aug. 2 election is July 3. Residents can register online at wilsonvotes.com or call the election office at 615-444-0216.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Shout out to emergency service workers

wanted to take a moment to talk about emergency service workers and the great job they do for our county. These are the dedicated men and women who patrol our streets, protect our homes and give us medical treatment and care when we need it. In other words, you can think of them as our guardian angels.

Kenny Martin, City Manager,
Mt. Juliet

In our great county, we have many wonderful men and women working to keep us safe. We have the Mt. Juliet police and Fire departments, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Lebanon police and fire departments, Watertown police and fire departments and The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The are agencies filled with professionally trained and dedicated men and women sworn to protect and serve not only the citizens of Wilson County, but those that visit and patronize our great county and cities, as well.

You may say to yourself, it sure seems like he’s bragging about emergency service workers and you’d be right. I am proud and appreciative of each and every one on these fine agencies and the men and women who serve.

Our county is truly blessed to have such fine agencies and personnel looking after our wellbeing and safety. Having the peace of mind knowing that my family and I are not only well protected by these fine men and women, but also well represented makes me more than proud to call Wilson County home.

In closing, please take time to get to know an emergency services worker. Tell them how much you appreciate what they do. And as always, please pray for them and our wonderful soldiers serving our great country. They and their families need our constant support and prayers. God bless you all for the many sacrifices you make on our behalf.

Divers fish stolen vehicle out of water

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency divers pulled a vehicle out of the water last Wednesday that was previously reported stolen in Nashville.

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies and Wilson County Emergency Management Agency divers recovered a vehicle last Wednesday previously reported stolen in Nashville. (Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos)

According to Wilson County sheriff’s Lt. Scott Moore, the caller reported they were swimming near the boat ramp and saw what appeared to be a car tire, but couldn’t see anything else because of the dark water.

WEMA divers confirmed a vehicle was underwater and, after deputies ran the VIN number, they determined it was previously reported stolen in Nashville.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Fair to feature new carnival ride provider

Staff Reports

Wilson County Fair officials announced Reithoffer Shows will be the carnival ride provider for the upcoming fair in August. 

Reithoffer is the oldest traveling carnival company and only five-generational family owned and operated show. It has operated since 1896, and the Wilson County Fair will be its first visit in Tennessee. The midway will be larger with an expanded kiddie land area and more rides. 

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
The Euro Slide will be one of several new rides featured at the upcoming Wilson County Fair.

Reithoffer Shows is regarded as one of the top carnivals to have spectacular rides, fair officials said. There will more than 50 rides, including two roller coasters and the Euro Slide that will arrive from Italy this year and is 65 feet tall with seven lanes.  It is the largest portable slide in the U.S. and will only be featured this year at four fairs in Lebanon; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Perry, Georgia; and Dothan, Alabama.

Reithoffer Shows will feature 23 kiddie rides, 18 major rides and 14 spectacular rides with nine classified as super spectacular rides. There will be more shade in the kiddie land area, and Reithoffer Shows plans to bring 100 new park benches for more seating.

Visit the Wilson County Fair website at wilsoncountyfair.net for more information and discounts that will be offered all nine days of the fair from Aug. 17-25.

Mega tickets will be available for $25 for admission to the fair, and ride armbands will be good any of the nine days of the fair. The tickets will be offered for a limited time and will not be available during the fair.

The Euro Slide is a separate ticketed ride for $5 and may be purchased on the website or during the fair. Armbands won’t allow rides on the slide.

Wilson County Fair to honor dairy farmers with its theme, ‘mAGic Memories’

Staff Reports

The 2018 Wilson County Fair will honor dairy farms and families as it celebrates “Year of Milk” as the agriculture commodity and making more mAGic memories.

A life of early mornings, long days of hard work and braving the elements day in and day out 365 days a year may not sound appealing to everyone, but for Wilson County’s dairy farmers, this is the lifestyle they have happily chosen.

Looking out over the farm, raising children and grandchildren to experience morning and afternoon milking, bottle feeding baby calves, harvesting crops, baling hay – the many chores involved with stewardship of the land and cattle bring families closer together.

“Watching three little boys grow up and have the whole farm experience – playing in the creek, showing calves, seeing the natural life and death experience and growing up to be good people” are the mAGic Memories for Roy Major, patriarch of Major Dairy Farm, where he and wife, Diane, raised sons Josh, Seth and Jared.  Grandchildren Carter and Addison experience the same mAGic. Major Dairy Farm was established in 1979.

“It’s a good way of life,” said Larry Eastes with Eastes Dairy Farm. “A dairy farm is a good place to raise a family, to get to be with them every day and see them grow.”

Eastes’ farm will reach century farm status in 2019 – with 100 years of continuous dairy operation. Established by his grandparents, Ernest and Allie Driver, the farm was then operated by his parents, John D. and Ernestine Eastes, before Larry Estes took the reins. His son, Kirk, helps daily on the farm, while daughter, Lora Eastes Stutts, is a fifth-grade teacher in Watertown. Both live on the farm with their own families, and Larry Estes’ grandchildren are growing up steeped in farm life just as their parents were.

Brothers Jeffrey, Justin and Jason Turner grew up milking cows, and Jeffrey and Justin Turner decided to open their own dairy on the family farm, milking their first Holsteins on Dec. 9, 2015. Their parents, Tommy and Jackie Turner, got out of the dairy business in the early 2000s, but Jeffrey Turner has fond memories of going to the barn with his dad to milk, or when he was too small to help, waiting for his dad to come in from milking so the family could sit down together for the evening meal.  It’s all about family. And even though Jason Turner isn’t a partner in the new dairy, he helps out, too.

Holsteins are the predominant dairy breed in Wilson County, and the Turners have 100-percent Holsteins; the Eastes family have about 80 percent Holstein plus Jersey and a few Brown Swiss; and Major Dairy Farm has 95 percent registered Holstein, plus a few Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and Jerseys – from acquiring additional breeds for the youngsters to show through 4-H.  Eastes milks about 80 cows a day, the Turners about 100 cows, and the Majors average 200-220 cows. That translates to tons of milk in a year, 8 million to 8.5 million pounds of milk annually, combined.

 

While dairy farming is a beloved way of life, it’s one that is more challenging than ever before. Volatile markets and only one buyer for the area leave the hard-working families at the mercy of whatever price they are given. Margins are slim to negative. Giant corporate dairy farms that load out full tankers of milk daily are tough for the family farms to compete against. Prohibitively high land costs make expansion nearly impossible. But the dairy farmers are accustomed to adversity and do their best to survive and thrive.

Roy Major said he hopes to see market corrections bring some stability in the future so his farm can continue to provide the dairy farming opportunity for his grandchildren. The Eastes family already has diversified by building up their herd of beef cattle. Larry Eastes’ dream is to at least keep operating the dairy through the 100-year anniversary in 2019, but without market changes, they may transition completely to beef. As the youngest dairy farm in Wilson County, the Turner Dairy Farm would like to expand and is exploring options to eliminate the market volatility they face.

Through it all, they pull together as strong families rooted to the land and cattle they care so deeply for, making more mAGic memories as the days pass.

Lynn announces re-election bid to state House of Representatives

Staff Reports

State Rep. Susan Lynn recently announced her re-election plans for the House District 57 seat in the August primary. 

“As representative, I have worked hard every day to help our district,” Lynn said. “I am a conservative Republican, so that is how I vote, but party has never mattered to me when it comes to helping the people who live in our district. Responding to your emails, phone calls and needs is more than a duty, it is my mission and one of the greatest privileges of my life. Today, I announce that I am seeking re-election to the state House in order to continue my mission of public service.”

Susan Lynn

Lynn said she is proud to uphold Jeffersonian principles such as limited government, states’ rights, free enterprise and Constitutional freedoms. She touted her endorsements, including Tennessee Right to Life, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Tennessee Professional Firefighters and the Tennessee Realtors Legislative Fund. 

“I remain faithfully pro-Second Amendment, and I am consistently “A” rated,” Lynn said.

“Two years ago, I promised to use the budget surplus to cut taxes and improve our roads, and that is just what we did. The IMPROVE Act cut the food tax, factory taxes, eliminated the Hall income tax and cut property taxes for disabled veterans and low-income seniors; it also provided TDOT funding so that today, we have $108 million in road projects occurring in Wilson County, including State Route 109, State Route 141, Interstate 40 and many others.”

Lynn said she is a public servant rather than a politician.

“I focus on results, not rhetoric,” she said. “I am very proud of my record as a proven conservative representative.” 

Lynn said in total since elected in 2012, she voted for $740 million in tax cuts while dramatically increasing education funding. She said Tennessee has remained the number one state for job growth for six years running. 

“Our economic reforms have grown our economy, and our state government reforms generated a huge budget surplus of unspent tax dollars,” Lynn said. “By focusing on these two areas of reform, we have been able to provide Tennesseans with tax cuts and improve roads and education.” 

Lynn said she is proud of the dollars used to increase education funding by $1.3 billion; fully funding the BEP, teacher pay and insurance, school health and safety and career and technical education. She also said she voted to eliminate Common Core and quickly address the TNReady issues.

“Because of our excellent teachers, the hard work of our students and the additional financial support from the legislature, Wilson County Schools are among the top in the state,” Lynn said. “Today, Tennessee has the fastest-improving test scores and graduation rates in the nation.” 

Additionally, she said the governor and legislature allocated $30 million to school safety during the past session.

Lynn also touted the responsible use of the $2 billion surplus, which restored funds taken from TDOT long ago, replenished the rainy-day fund, kicked off the road projects in the IMPROVE Act and addressed a backlog of badly needed capital maintenance and improvement projects for state properties.

An initiative she spearheaded this session was the Congressional Prayer Caucus’ “National Motto Bill.” With its passage, the national motto – “In God We Trust” – will be displayed in schools across Tennessee. 

Wilson County has not only benefitted from increased road funding, but it has also received $13 million in economic and community development aid; $2.5 million for parks; $900,000 in multimodal access grants; and $390,000 in litter grants. “Infrastructure improvements provided by these funds bring us jobs and a better life,” Lynn said. “As a result, this year and over the last few, 21 new major employers have located in Wilson County, generating a $450 million in total investment.

“I ask for the honor of your vote in order to serve you again in the Tennessee General Assembly. I have truly done my best every day to be the most effective, attentive and responsive legislator, and that will never change.”

Lynn is chairman of the House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee, member of the House Finance Ways and Means Committee and the House Ethics Committee. She was elected by her peers to the Fiscal Review Committee and appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to the state Workforce Development Board and to the board of directors of Launch Tennessee. 

She and her husband, Michael, have been married for 34 years. They live on Green Harbor Road. They are members of First Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet. They have two adult children, Master Sgt. Michael Lynn Jr. and Grace Douchette, and six grandchildren. Lynn has a bachelor’s degree in economics and works as a financial analyst.

For more information about Lynn and her campaign, visit susanlynn.us.

Mt. Juliet planners give OK for new high school

Plans still have to be approved by city commissioners, county before the project gets green light

 

The Mt. Juliet Planning Commission voted to send a positive recommendation to the Mt. Juliet City Commission regarding a proposed new high school on Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet at its meeting Thursday night.

The commission previously deferred discussion on the development at the request of the developer.

The proposed Green Hill High School – the name listed on the commission’s agenda – on Lebanon Road near where it intersects with North Greenhill Road, takes up about 1.84 acres.

The development was presented to the commission in four parts, the plan of services, the annexation of the property, the land use plan amendment and the site plan.
The first three sections of the proposition received a unanimous recommendation from the commission, but planners were split on the site plan. It ended up with a positive recommendation on a 5-4 vote.

Last year, the Wilson County Commission approved $1.5 million for Wilson County Schools to conduct design services for a potential new high school in Mt. Juliet, which was the center of skepticism from some commissioners.

The design authorization does not signify the county commission’s commitment to spend $110 million for a new high school, which is the estimated cost.

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright and Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall explained to commissioners and to Wilson County if a new school was not built, the only high school in Wilson County that would not exceed its maximum occupancy would be Watertown High School.

The proposed Green Hill High School will go before the Mt. Juliet City Commission with a positive recommendation at a future meeting.

According to Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson, Green Hill High School is currently a placeholder name for the school and is not necessarily the official name of the new high school if it’s ultimately approved.

 

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com

Mt. Juliet firefighters put out home fire

Staff Reports

Firefighters from the City of Mount Juliet and Wilson County EMA responded to this house fire on Hillview Drive. (Mark Bellew • All Hands Fire Photos)

Mt. Juliet firefighters put out a heavily involved home fire Friday night on Hillview Drive.

According to deputy fire Chief Chris Allen, Squad 103 arrived at 605 Hillview Drive about five minutes after the call was received at 8:05 p.m., and it and other units were able to control the fire within 15 minutes after arrival.

Allen said Squad 103 arrived and found heavy fire at two windows and the roofline at the southeast corner of the home.

A father and two children were home when the fire started and were alerted by smoke detectors. All left the home without injury.

In all, the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet sent two engine companies, two ladder trucks two chief officers and 19 paid and volunteer personnel. Wilson Emergency Management Agency sent one engine company and one medic unit with four personnel and provided fire attack and medical monitoring. Mt. Juliet police provided traffic and crowd control, and Wilson County Rehab 23 volunteers provided aid to the firefighters.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

July 4 fireworks plan unveiled

Mt. Juliet police lay out security, traffic plans for annual celebration

Staff Reports

Mt. Juliet’s fireworks celebration for the Fourth of July is planned for 9 p.m. at the Paddocks of Mt. Juliet shopping center.
To make sure the event is safe and enjoyable for everyone, Mt. Juliet police officers and firefighters will be on site.

The fireworks will launch from the field between Academy Sports and Culver’s restaurant and will be visible along all parking lots connected to Mt. Juliet Road between Weston Drive and Providence Parkway. The best viewing area will be in the Paddocks of Mt. Juliet shopping center and the surrounding area.

Mt. Juliet’s public safety teams expect large attendance and increased traffic. Safety is always a top priority, and many police officers will be present during the event for patrols and traffic control, according to Mt. Juliet police Capt. Tyler Chandler.

With any large event, attendees should always be vigilant for suspicious activity. If anything suspicious is spotted, attendees are encouraged to say something and call police. To contact the police department’s non-emergency line, attendees can simply dial 311. In addition, the Fire Department of Mt. Juliet will have extra firefighters on hand near the firework launch site.

According to Chandler, the fireworks show should end around 9:35 p.m., and a large amount of traffic will begin to exit out of parking lots along Mt. Juliet Road near the Interstate 40 intersection. A traffic plan was established, and advanced traffic signals will adapt to the increased traffic.

Pleasant Grove Road will be closed at Old Pleasant Grove Road to westbound traffic only. Residents and visitors will be allowed access so they can get to neighborhoods along Pleasant Grove Road. Traffic will not be allowed to use Central Pike from Pleasant Grove Road.

“Please remember during this event, our roadways will see a major increase in traffic, so delays should be expected,” said Chandler. “Personal fireworks, alcoholic beverages, barbecue grills and parking on roadway medians are prohibited.”

Mt. Juliet librarian honored at Tennessee Tech’s teacher appreciation awards

Submitted to The Democrat
Tennessee Tech’s College of Education associate dean Julie Baker presents Mt. Juliet High School librarian Brooke Holloway (left) with a high school educator award.

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech University’s College of Education recently held receptions to recognize outstanding Tennessee educators working in partnership with the college and its candidates in practicum and residency programs.

The events also highlighted future educators at the graduate and undergraduate level.

Wilson County’s Brooke Holloway, librarian at Mt. Juliet High School, was honored as the librarian award winner.

“Our students have access to and benefit from the experiences and examples set by the dedicated educators working across Tennessee,” said Lisa Zagumny, College of Education dean. “Only through such partnerships can the college prepare future educators and impact the state’s P-12 students.”

Nominations for current educators were accepted from College of Education students, faculty and staff.

Guest speaker for the event was Lillian Hartgrove, chair of the state Board of Education and vice president of workforce development and education for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

The awards reception and teacher appreciation week were supported by the college’s appreciation partners, regional businesses that offered door prizes and discounts for educators.

For more information, visit tntech.edu/education.

Staff Reports

Roadwork heats up during summer

Several ongoing Tennessee Department of Transportation road projects continue throughout Wilson County that could cause delays for motorists.

Temporary lane closures will continue daily from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Trousdale Ferry Pike from Sugar Flat Road to the Smith County line to allow for paving work. One lane will remain open.

Temporary lane closures will continue daily from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Hartsville Pike from south of Spring Creek to north of Lovers Lane to allow for widening work. One lane will remain open.

Periodic flagging operations to direct traffic along State Route 109 to allow clearing, truck crossings and utility work while the road is widened will continue daily from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. from north of U.S. 70 to south of the Cumberland River Bridge.

Rolling roadblocks on Interstate 40 eastbound between mile markers 231-235 will be found daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., excluding weekends, for blasting work.

Rolling roadblocks on State Route 109 between Callis Road and I-40 will be found daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. for rock blasting and excavation. Additionally, traffic will be reduced to one lane in both directions at the intersection of State Rout 109 and Callis Road for turn lane construction. Flaggers will be used.

Through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., there will be a lane and shoulder closure on Lebanon Road southbound to begin work on a turn lane for the River Oaks subdivision. One lane will remain open, and traffic control will be used.

Motorists are encouraged to use caution and obey reduced speed limits in all TDOT work zones, regardless of lane closure activity.  The contractors provided roadwork information the Department of Transportation. Most work will be weather dependent and subject to change due to inclement weather. 

Staff Reports

Kidz Kamp coming to Fiddlers Grove

Fiddlers Grove at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon will offer its fourth-annual Kidz Kamp for children. 

The classes will be June 20-21 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The cost is $35 per child, and lunch and snacks will be served both days. Children must be registered before a class to ensure the instructor has enough supplies to teach the class. Class sizes are limited so that each child may receive undivided attention. 

“Your child will learn how to use their hands to create beautiful things,” said Gwen Scott with Fiddlers Grove. 

On the first day, campers will learn about Wilson County and Tennessee history, stories about famous people from Tennessee and the hardships forefathers endured. There will be fun and games, competition and awards for achievements. 

On the second day, campers will choose two of the favorite crafts they want to learn how to do and will work on each one during the day. At the end of the second day, they will be able to show off their handiwork.

“This would be an excellent way for churches to support the kids they serve by sponsoring them,” Scott said. 

Parents may call 615-547-6111 to register a child by phone. For more information, follow Fiddlers Grove on Facebook.

Staff Reports

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs…missing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some political signs fall victim to city sign ordinances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burks couldn’t be reached for comment. 

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

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

By Jared Felkins

jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com

Fair to honor dairy farmers with theme, ‘mAGic Memories’

The 2018 Wilson County Fair will honor dairy farms and families as it celebrates “Year of Milk” as the agriculture commodity and making more mAGic memories.

A life of early mornings, long days of hard work and braving the elements day in and day out 365 days a year may not sound appealing to everyone, but for Wilson County’s dairy farmers, this is the lifestyle they have happily chosen.

Looking out over the farm, raising children and grandchildren to experience morning and afternoon milking, bottle feeding baby calves, harvesting crops, baling hay – the many chores involved with stewardship of the land and cattle bring families closer together.

“Watching three little boys grow up and have the whole farm experience – playing in the creek, showing calves, seeing the natural life and death experience and growing up to be good people” are the mAGic Memories for Roy Major, patriarch of Major Dairy Farm, where he and wife, Diane, raised sons Josh, Seth and Jared.  Grandchildren Carter and Addison experience the same mAGic. Major Dairy Farm was established in 1979.

“It’s a good way of life,” said Larry Eastes with Eastes Dairy Farm. “A dairy farm is a good place to raise a family, to get to be with them every day and see them grow.”

Eastes’ farm will reach century farm status in 2019 – with 100 years of continuous dairy operation. Established by his grandparents, Ernest and Allie Driver, the farm was then operated by his parents, John D. and Ernestine Eastes, before Larry Estes took the reins. His son, Kirk, helps daily on the farm, while daughter, Lora Eastes Stutts, is a fifth-grade teacher in Watertown. Both live on the farm with their own families, and Larry Estes’ grandchildren are growing up steeped in farm life just as their parents were.

Brothers Jeffrey, Justin and Jason Turner grew up milking cows, and Jeffrey and Justin Turner decided to open their own dairy on the family farm, milking their first Holsteins on Dec. 9, 2015. Their parents, Tommy and Jackie Turner, got out of the dairy business in the early 2000s, but Jeffrey Turner has fond memories of going to the barn with his dad to milk, or when he was too small to help, waiting for his dad to come in from milking so the family could sit down together for the evening meal.  It’s all about family. And even though Jason Turner isn’t a partner in the new dairy, he helps out, too.

Holsteins are the predominant dairy breed in Wilson County, and the Turners have 100-percent Holsteins; the Eastes family have about 80 percent Holstein plus Jersey and a few Brown Swiss; and Major Dairy Farm has 95 percent registered Holstein, plus a few Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and Jerseys – from acquiring additional breeds for the youngsters to show through 4-H.  Eastes milks about 80 cows a day, the Turners about 100 cows, and the Majors average 200-220 cows. That translates to tons of milk in a year, 8 million to 8.5 million pounds of milk annually, combined.

While dairy farming is a beloved way of life, it’s one that is more challenging than ever before. Volatile markets and only one buyer for the area leave the hard-working families at the mercy of whatever price they are given. Margins are slim to negative. Giant corporate dairy farms that load out full tankers of milk daily are tough for the family farms to compete against. Prohibitively high land costs make expansion nearly impossible. But the dairy farmers are accustomed to adversity and do their best to survive and thrive.

Roy Major said he hopes to see market corrections bring some stability in the future so his farm can continue to provide the dairy farming opportunity for his grandchildren. The Eastes family already has diversified by building up their herd of beef cattle. Larry Eastes’ dream is to at least keep operating the dairy through the 100-year anniversary in 2019, but without market changes, they may transition completely to beef. As the youngest dairy farm in Wilson County, the Turner Dairy Farm would like to expand and is exploring options to eliminate the market volatility they face.

Through it all, they pull together as strong families rooted to the land and cattle they care so deeply for, making more mAGic memories as the days pass.

Staff Reports

Honor Ride for Veterans upcoming in Wilson County

Bobby Reynolds • Mt. Juliet News
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash meet with Wilson County veterans Saturday at the Wilson County Veterans Plaza to help promote the upcoming Honor Rode for Veterans. The annual motorcycle ride will be July 8 at 10:30 a.m. at Fiddlers Grove at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

The Wilson County Veteran’s Office will hold the sixth-annual Honor Ride for Veterans on July 8 at 10:30 a.m.

Registration for the event will be at 8 a.m. at Fiddlers Grove at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 Baddour Parkway in Lebanon.

The Honor Ride is an annual event where motorcycle riders from across Wilson County and surrounding areas are invited to come out and ride together in support of a cause.

This year’s event is special as it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of World War I.

The Honor Ride is $25 per rider and $10 per passenger. This cost includes a T-shirt.

For more information, call the Wilson County Veteran’s Office at 615-444-2460, stop by at 304 E. Main St. in Lebanon or email robertsl@wilsoncountytn.gov.

By Jacob Smith

jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com