Angel Kane - Kane & Crowell Family Law Center

No news IS good news…

By Andrea Clark Hagan

I don’t watch the news.  In fact, if my husband turns on the news, I leave the room.  There’s no way to truly isolate myself completely, anytime I unlock my phone I see the headlines.  But the headlines tell me all I need to know.  That I should be very afraid of the world we live in.  And that’s the belief that I’m trying not to let take root.

There is no medicine for fear.  Scottish proverb

Of the malady, a man fears, he dies.  Spanish proverb

He who fears something gives it power over him.  Moorish proverb

The day we fear hastens toward us, the day we long for creeps.  Swedish proverb

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.  Japanese proverb

Some claim “do not be afraid” is written in some form or fashion 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

So what to do during this time of uncertainty and fear?  Robert Frost said that “the best way out is always through.”  So we’ll go through it and we’ll get through it.  And I still won’t be watching the news.

Drug Court offers a Second Chance

If your life hasn’t been touched by addiction, count yourself not only lucky but in the minority. The statistics are staggering: 31.9 million American adults (aged 12 and older) are current illegal drug users; the number jumps to 53 million Americans if you include both those who use illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs; 14.8 million people have an alcohol use disorder in the U.S. Drug abuse and addiction costs American society more than $272 billion annually in lost workplace, productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs. Of the 2.3 million people in American prisons and jails, more than 65% meet the criteria to be considered addicts.

Paula Langford and Jeff Dickson address the Court on both the successes and set backs

In 2018, 47% of young people had used an illegal drug by the time they graduated high school. Additionally, current users (within the past month) included 5% of 8th graders, 20% of 10th graders, 24% of 12th graders. Between 1999-2017 over 700,000 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses.

No person, no race, no age group is immune.

From the housewife who convinces her doctor to keep her on valium, to the husband who drinks a six-pack driving home from work each night, to the injured worker who starts on pain pills and can’t get off, to the teenager who smokes weed on the weekends, to that pretty girl we all remember from high school, that has now lost her family, her children and maybe even her life to meth – it’s all around us.

The Drug Court Team holds weekly meetings to determine how each participant is doing in the program

Be it directly in your family or just in your community, it effects us all.

So how do we stop it? The million-dollar question, of course.

Jail is always an option. Arrests and then convictions, at least get drug abusers and sometimes their dealers, off the streets, but rarely is this a permanent solution.

In Middle Tennessee, however, specifically Wilson, Macon, Smith, Jackson, and Trousdale county, there is an option that is definitely making some headway.

The 15th Judicial District Drug Court Program began in 2002 with the help of the late Judge Bond and a team of professionals trained to break the cycle. Drug courts are specialized courts across the country for those addicted to drugs or alcohol. Rather than send people to jail, over and over again, drug courts use a multi-faceted approach with the aim of reducing the chances of re-arrest and relapse. They do this through interactions with the judge, treatment and rehabilitation services, monitoring, supervision, sanctions, and incentives.

There are consequences for failure, so if the individual continually relapses or commits crimes, the system effectively reverts to the ordinary, incarceration-based approach.

Initially, our local drug court program was only open to persons arrested in these five counties, for crimes involving felonies – basically any criminal charge that did not include violence, for which you could be sentenced to serve more than a year in jail.

Drug Court Team: Assistant District Attorney, James (Jimmy) Lea Jr.; Criminal Court Judge, Brody Kane; Program Coordinator, Jeff Dickson; Logan Rosson, Bethany Maynard; District Public Defender, Shelley Thompson Gardner; Darlene Cahill, Paula Langford (not pictured: Kristine Seay, Pete Pritchard and Terry Yates)

Judge Bond and later Judge Wootten, were instrumental in growing and supporting the drug court program that was near and dear to both of them. Upon Judge Wootten’s retirement in 2019, Criminal Court Judge, Brody Kane took over the reins and expanded the program to include any misdemeanor offenders out of criminal court in all five counties that he serves.

“I’ve got children. That’s my reason for wanting to be involved in this,” says Judge Kane. “I see the devastation first-hand drugs are doing to our community – my community. I grew up right here in Watertown and moved back to Lebanon after graduating from law school in Memphis because I wanted to raise my children in a community far away from drugs and crime. But, realistically, I was being a naive 27-year-old father. I know now that those same things affecting the larger cities are coming this way and some are already here. I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of Judge Bond and Judge Wootten and also proud to serve alongside Judge Tiffany Gibson who has started a misdemeanor drug court in Jackson County and Judge Michael Collins who has started a misdemeanor drug court in Smith County. We all grew up right here when things were maybe simpler, we all have children we are raising in these communities and we want them to stay here and be safe here and we are all determined to fight this fight against drugs in as many ways that we can.”

“But this isn’t about the Judges,” he continues, “ we are just the ‘heavy’ you might say, this is really about the drug court team led in the 15th Judicial District Drug Court Program by Program Coordinator, Jeff Dickson. Jeff and his team include professionals that have years of experience helping people successfully battle drug addictions. They truly care about the people in the program and are cheering them on when they succeed and are devastated for them if they fail. The team includes probation officers, behavioral health services and provides services specific to veterans. For me, the best result is, if we Judges never see our participants in our courts again – maybe I’ll see them at Walmart – but I hope to never see them in my court again.”

Drug Court – as it’s called – is a sentencing option available to the court that focuses both on treatment and supervision of people convicted of felony or misdemeanor charges. In essence, the Judge has the option, if you either plead guilty or are found guilty of any crime not involving violence, of allowing you to participate in the Drug Court program as part of your sentence.

If chosen to participate then those individuals will receive treatment for alcohol and/or drugs at the local level while also being under intensive supervision to ensure compliance for at least 18 to 24 months.

“You are still under probation during the 18 to 24 month period, so you still face punishment for your crime, but as part of that probation you now get this intensive drug and alcohol treatment,” notes Program Coordinator Jeff Dickson.

“And yes, it’s a two-year program, because that’s what it takes to break the cycle.”

Treatment is provided locally and usually begins with a residential or in-house stay. Thereafter, participants step down to an intensive outpatient program – 3 days a week for 3 to 4 hours a day.

After that, each person continues outpatient treatment with AA/NA meetings and continuing education. Home visits, as well as work visits, are conducted by the supervising team throughout the length of the program. Every participant is required to work full time, attend school or if disabled, do volunteer work. If the participant does not have a high school diploma, they are expected to work towards their GED. The participants are drug and alcohol tested regularly and randomly, they must remain drug and alcohol-free, and they must adhere to strict rules about who they associate with and abide by curfews. They check in weekly, not only with the drug court team, but each week, in court, with the Judge and if there is a misstep the Judge can sentence them immediately to jail for that violation.

There are different levels – after a participant proves himself with not only continued sobriety, but also following all the rules and expectations in place, they move to the next level, and then the next level, with the goal that in two years they can graduate from the program.

Jeff Dickson has seen some real success with the program, “It’s intense. We only allow 30 participants at a time and we closely monitor them, encourage them, and support them. Of those that are allowed into the program, only 30% will actually graduate but of those graduates, 70% will not return to court in the next 5 years.”

That’s a very good result because, without intense treatment and monitoring like this, the national average recidivism rate is that 77% percent of drug offenders are re-arrested in five years, and nearly half of those within the first year of release.

Anyone convicted of a non-violent crime can contact the drug court office either on their own or through their attorney to apply. The Drug Court Team then evaluates each candidate based on their prior record, their support systems, whether they have transportation or employment, the type of substance abuse, and the amount and frequency of said drug use.

The program is also voluntary. Judge Kane finds, “you’ve got to want to get off the drugs or alcohol. My ordering you to treatment won’t help anyone truly recover from addiction. The fire inside you to seek treatment has to be brighter than the fire around you. But if you are ready, then this team will do everything in their power to help you never see the inside of a jail again. We are losing a generation of people. I’ve seen folks I’ve gone to school with come in front of me for sentencing and now I see their children in court for the same crimes. We have to find a way to help that doesn’t just involve locking them up and then letting them out to just get locked back up again. That only puts addicts back on the street to not only possibly hurt themselves but also your children and my children.”

Success stories abound with this program, notes Shelley Gardner, District Public Defender who has been on the drug court team for a number of years, “we have three former graduates that have started their own business. Two former graduates that either work or volunteer in the Drug Court program and most importantly, seven out of ten graduates of the program never return to court. We support them but they do the work and I’m always amazed at the two-year mark by the transformation.”

Assistant District Attorney James (Jimmy) Lea Jr, adds “Our team works with each individual on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis to give them support and feedback when they are struggling. During the COVID-19 crisis, when we couldn’t meet in person, we quickly moved the face to face meetings to Zoom because continuity and contact is so important. We try to be there not just when participants are succeeding but also when they have hurdles because getting over those hurdles without relapsing is the key.”

Dickson and his team stand ready to continue to help those in the community that are ready themselves. Some people are not given the gift of recovery because they are either too far gone or no longer with us, but for those that are prepared to fight for that recovery, there is not just hope, but a structured road with a light at the end of it.

To find out if you or someone you know is eligible for this program, contact the Drug Court Director at 615-453-5314.

15th Judicial District Drug Court Team serving Wilson, Macon, Smith, Jackson and Trousdale counties

Program Coordinator: Jeff E. Dickson Drug Court

Senior Case Manager: Paula Langford

Criminal Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

District Public Defender: Shelley Thompson Gardner

Assistant District Attorney: James M. Lea, Jr.

State of Tennessee Probation: Bethany Maynard

Treatment Provider Volunteer Behavioral Health: Kristine Seay

Drug Court graduate and volunteer: Logan Rosson

Vocational/Veteran Services: Pete Pritchard Veteran

Peer Recovery Volunteer: Terry Yates Drug

Court Case Manager: Darlene Cahill

Community Connection Compassion… Rebuilding Wilson County, from a safe social distance

In January, many of us were still in disbelief that 2010 was a decade ago and trying in vain not to date documents 2019. You might say we were living in our own little bubble. That all changed in the early morning hours of March 3, 2020, when an EF-3 tornado decimated that bubble.

In the end, three people were killed and more than 1,300 homes and buildings in Wilson County were damaged or destroyed by tornado winds of up to 165 mph.

Moments after the initial touchdown, Wilson County law enforcement, emergency personnel, resident volunteers, and local officials were making their way to those neighborhoods and businesses to help. “No one knew at that time how much damage we were looking at.” Lebanon Police Department Public Information Officer PJ Hardy said. “We knew it was significant, but I don’t think you can prepare yourself for the sight of those homes.”

Something else Hardy and other first responders weren’t prepared for was the volunteer effort. “Almost immediately people started showing up at the prescient. Others who lived closer to the areas that were the most heavily hit went right to work. As tough as that night and the aftermath were, the volunteers brought an electric energy to the recovery. It was something to see and feel”

By Friday, March 6 damages were estimated at more than 1 billion dollars.

Even though it looked like it couldn’t get any worse, it did.

The tornadoes seemed to be an early wake-up call that natural hazards still loom large as whispers about something called COVID-19 soon turned to roars.

From Tornadoes to Covid-19

On April 2, Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order requiring all Tennesseans to stay home unless carrying out essential activities.

The goal…to slow and hopefully curtail the novel virus that first made headlines in late 2019.

It was up to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and other local officials to educate and enforce guidelines for Governor Lee’s order.

A task that proved challenging to say the least. “The shelter in place order brought some confusion early on. Everyone had to be educated on who was in charge. Davidson, Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Madison and Sullivan Counties own their health departments, so their County Mayors were making executive orders and people wanted the other 89 counties to do so as well.” Hutto continued, “Then, we learn that those other 89 county health departments, including Wilson, are controlled by the state. Therefore, we had to wait, each day to hear Governor Lee’s direction.”

Mayor Hutto faced a tug of war each day. “Some thought we were doing too much others not enough. All the while, we felt the weight of each citizen on our shoulders to protect and yet maintain an economy so people could live.”

Soon days turned into weeks then months. That’s when a plan to begin reopening slowly began to take shape. But this didn’t mean life would go back to normal. Not by a longshot. “People go back to their lives; they remain effected and still in need of help.” Mayor Hutto said. “Thanks to Recover Wilson-a long term recovery group formed by Pastors Regina Girten and David Freeman, Wilson County now has a solid foundation to be prepared for the next disaster.”

Because many local businesses were primarily shuttered for two and a half months, owners had to get creative while looking for ways to stay connected. Necole Bell who owns The Beauty Boutique Salon & Spa in Lebanon overhauled her stores website to make it easier for customers to shop for clothing and beauty essentials.

“Until Covid, our site was set up for customers to book appointments and learn more about our store.  We built a new ecommerce site in five days. That was a gamechanger.”

In addition to the website, Beauty Boutique offered customers curbside pickup, local delivery, and shipping, as well as Facebook Live events showcasing BB’s new spring inventory. Beginning in May, salons opened at half capacity and at press time spa services are still being phased in.

No one with an internet connection can deny the impact social media played in helping business owners stay connected to customers.

Gym’s like Hot Yoga Lebanon, Sports Village Fitness, and Taylord Fitness offered an array of Facebook Live classes for members to stream.

When we were sick of cooking at home restaurants were there to save the day. Sammy B’s, Town Square Social, Cheddar’s, Wildberry Café, Sake’, and many more offered up their culinary de-lights curbside.

How Wilson County will fare when the dust settles from the pandemic is an open question, as it is for many areas throughout the US. Unlike many other places, Wilson County has had a practice of surviving devastating events.

As businesses were still boarding up busted windows from the tornado mere days after the first touched down on March 3, a makeshift sign went up on the Southside of Lebanon’s square, that established a new town motto, “TN Strong.”

It was during this time that Mayor Hutto noticed something familiar. Among the scattered debris and shuttered business doors, were signs that our community would get through this. As emergency personal and volunteers continued to work round the clock, residents rallied around their favorite businesses. “You realize that people in Wilson County will be all ‘hands on deck’ when there’s a crisis. You realize organizations may be the most important tool you to have to put all the parts together. You learn to never underestimate the public when there’s a cry for help. Maybe the most important lesson is that there are always rainbows in the storm. No matter how bad things got, there were blessings mixed in that would really blow your mind.”

Celebrating A Wilson County Legend

You might call him a trendsetter. Before, mixology became a word. Before, liquid nitrogen became part of cocktails. Before microbreweries. Before, bartenders became the star of the show. Before it all, Wilson County native James Cason was calling the shots and pouring on the fun.

  • Portrait painted of James by a former Art student at Cumberland University

Cason’s storied career began 50 years ago by accident. “I was asked to work at a wedding reception at Lebanon Golf & Country Club. When I got there, they gave me a jacket and asked me to pour champagne. But they didn’t tell me not to give it to the kids.” Cason says with a hearty laugh.

Even though a few children had their first taste of alcohol that night, he caught the attention of Lebanon Golf & Country Club Manager, Larry Swafford, who thought Cason was a natural. Swafford convinced him to bartend at the club full-time. “That first night, I made $5. And $5 in 1970 was A LOT. So, I decided that this was the job for me, and I haven’t looked back.”

Growing up the 5th of 18 children (his mom had TWO sets of twins in the same year!), James dropped out of Baird’s Mill School after the 8th grade to help the family.

He worked at various jobs in Wilson County before that evening spent pouring champagne changed the trajectory of his life. As Wilson County’s first licensed African American bartender, Cason had dreams of moving to a different state to expand his knowledge and grow in his career. Today, he’s happy those plans didn’t work out. “A long time ago, I wanted to move to Atlanta or Washington,” he continues, “But the Lord directed me to stay here, and it’s been wonderful.”

Married for 55 years, Cason and his wife Katharine have two children and four grandchildren. When he’s not crafting cocktails at Sammy B’s Restaurant or singing in the choir at Lebanon’s Primitive Baptist Church on Sunday mornings, he tends to a small herd of cattle on his farm in south Wilson County.

It’s been five decades since Cason began his impressive career and lucky for everyone who’s had the privilege to watch him mix a cocktail while sharing a funny story, he’s not showing down anytime soon.

“It’s the people that keep me coming back. I’ve met so many good people. I’ve had customers who became friends and took me under their wing and gave me an education in business. It’s hard to beat the life I’ve lived.”

Cheers to you, James Cason! Wilson County appreciates you!

Family, Business, Community…Building Tennessee’s ‘Mayberry’

These days, life is looking a little different for Wilson County resident, Randall Clemons. After more than 30 years at the helm of Wilson Bank & Trust-the institution that he helped organize-Clemons passed the torch at the end of 2019 and called it a day… sort of. “I’m still on the board at the bank so I’ll still be around, but not in the day to day operations.”

Continue reading “Family, Business, Community…Building Tennessee’s ‘Mayberry’”

Cream of the Crop…Farm to Family with Shop Springs Creamery

With Shop Springs’ growing population, Elizabeth and Jeffrey Turner decided to no longer wait to put their dream into action! Both being raised on dairy farms, Shop Springs Creamery’s founders have a passion and love for the dairy industry and agriculture. “The Dairy industry has faced many challenges over the past decade,” explained the Turner’s. “The greatest of those challenges being financial burdens due to low prices that farmers receive for their milk from processors and market uncertainty.” This is one of many reasons they feel there is a great advantage to processing and marketing their product directly to consumers.

Continue reading “Cream of the Crop…Farm to Family with Shop Springs Creamery”

Things are ‘Poppin’ at Poppie’s Boutique

Two brick and mortars, a thriving online store, a podcast, a new lifestyle brand, an upcoming bible study series…and all conceived, carefully curated, and managed by the 25-year-old owner of Poppies Boutique, Sarah Collins. Impressive isn’t it!? Before sitting down with Sarah, I did a little research. Given all that she has going on, I assumed she was in her mid-30’s. When I found out she was just 25-a full two decades my junior, I felt like Chris Farley’s character in Tommy Boy. Then I met her. She’s smart, kind, creative, and has one of the most infectious laughs you will ever hear. Plus, she shares my affinity for all things Golden Girls. She’s like a unicorn! Continue reading “Things are ‘Poppin’ at Poppie’s Boutique”

The Road Home

No matter where you grow up, to the young, the grass is always a little greener somewhere else. Bryson Eubanks was certainly someone who wanted to spread his wings.

Bryson and his brother Lee were raised by their single mother, Marie Eubanks. “We lived near Carroll Oak-land school and it was the late 80’s, early 90’s, so Wilson county didn’t have as much going on as it does now,” notes Bryson. “Growing up I attended church at Immanuel Baptist Church, went to Lebanon High School, played baseball, football & basketball, the usual things kids from around here do. My family is very close so I was usually with my brother or my cousins, Lisa Eubanks Nave or Michael Eubanks but I always figured I’d move away.”

After high school, Bryson attended Carson-Newman where he continued his baseball career. Later he obtained a Masters in Gerontology from Appalachian State. “When I was growing up, my great-grandmother was very important in my upbringing. She would babysit my brother and I when needed and taught us many life lessons. It was tough seeing her fall ill because she was the first person I had ever seen age and progress through the later stages of life. I watched my entire family come together to care for my great-grandmother. There were not many options back then nor was there information as to what options were even available. We did what we could to help insure her later years were good ones, but it was then I knew my calling would be working with the aging population.”

After obtaining his Masters Degree, Bryson returned to middle Tennessee, settling in Nashville working for two of the leading attorneys in Elder Law. My adult life has been focused on the field of public benefits, Medicaid planning, VA planning, and asset protection. It was while I was working for Tim Takacs that he and another attorney came to me and encouraged me to attend law school because I had a real knack for elder law. I laugh now because most attorneys I know don’t like math but I loved it. I was really good at reading the Medicaid laws and then figuring out how to reallocate client’s assets to meet  Medicaid rules.

To say his mother is proud of the fact Bryson not only has a college degree, graduate degree and now a law school degree would be an understatement. “We didn’t have much growing up but I instilled in Bryson and his brother that an education and helping those less fortunate than you, are two things that will always steer you in the right direction.”

“I learned so much working with Tim and later Barbara Moss. They are both outstanding attorneys who specialize in the areas of estate planning and elder law. In fact, it was also at Barbara’s office where Bryson met his wife, Miller Hunt, also an attorney. The couple will soon be celebrating their one year anniversary and are excited about all their future holds.

“After law school, I knew the right place for me was back home. Back to my roots, back to my family and friends, back to where all this knowledge could really make a difference. So I knocked on a few doors and here I am, back in Lebanon practicing law with the law firm of Kane & Crowell. It’s a great fit because the firm already handles estate planning and I’m able to offer even more services to their clients by bringing my years of experience in elder law as well as asset protection. Plus it was about time the law firm hired a male attorney – I’m their 6th attorney and the only male, which makes for lots of laughs every day.”

Senior Law Partner, Amanda Crowell points out that “helping families has always been our goal, but as we ourselves are getting older, we are seeing the need locally for more expertise in the areas of Estate Planning and Medicaid and VA Planning. That’s why when we met Bryson, we knew he would be a perfect person to lead our Estate Planning & Asset Protection Division, with our other local attorney, Kayla Horvath.

Bryson points out that “U.S. News and World Report previously published an article that stated that 75 million Baby Boomers are on the verge of retirement, and over the next twenty years, approximately 10,000 people will turn 65 each day. The same report goes on to say that 18% of adults will be over the age of 65 by 2030, and the number of senior citizens in the population will total 89 million by the year 2050. To add to these staggering numbers, the parents of these baby boomers are living much longer than their parents due to better medical care, easier access to nutritional choices, and a focus on exercise and well-being.

These facts are important because the cost of long-term health care is rising as fast as those aging into it. The 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey presented facts from a study done by CareScout showing that nursing home care in 2019 will cost a resident between $78,960.00 and $84,588.00 per year; additionally, lower levels of care in an assisted living facility or at home will cost between $17,952.00 and $48,456.00 annually. All of those numbers are up from the previous year and can only be expected to rise; therefore, how people pay for long-term care is very important. Statistically, one in three Ameri-cans over the age of 65 rely on Social Security benefits alone.”
Being proactive is always the best option, but no matter the situation or timing, Bryson’s goal is to help clients face disability, aging, and the rising cost of long-term care head-on. Kayla Horvath, who has been with Kane & Crowell for several years notes that “our approach is a holistic one that focuses on care, finances, and the law. These three focus areas will work together so you and your family can answer questions such as:

• “Does my Will really do what I want?”
• “How will we provide for our disabled child when we can’t take care of ourselves?”
• “Who will make financial and healthcare decisions for me when I can’t?”
• “What do Medicare and Medicaid actually cover?”
• “How will I afford nursing home care, and will Medicaid take everything from me?”
• “Can my status as a Veteran help me in any way?”

Attorney Angel Kane, one of the founders of Kane & Crowell Family Law Center, commented that “everyone knows us as a Family Law and Estate Planning law firm which is what we do, but Elder Law is something very different from typical Estate Planning. We all need a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will, because no matter how old you are, you should plan for who will take care of your children or your affairs if you suddenly pass away. Kayla Horvath has been working in this area of law with us for many years, and she has both the knowledge and compassion to serve our clients well with these needs.

Elder law, however, is for older adults who want to plan for their future care needs. It lays the groundwork for a financial legacy rooted in protecting family assets. It also encompasses crisis care planning for elderly adults that have immediate health and safety needs with a focus on getting proper, affordable care. This includes both Medicaid and VA aid and attendance benefits.

Amanda and I began focusing on this area of law many years ago as our own grandparents and parents were getting older, and we needed to help them plan and prepare. And as often happens, we grew busier and busier, and the cases we saw became much more complex. This area of the law is not one you can learn overnight. You really have to immerse yourself in this area of law to truly understand the complexities of Medicaid and Trust laws. Bryson has done that, plus when he told us he was raised here and all about his great-grandmother’s story – we knew he would be a perfect fit because he has a real passion to help those around him.”

“Elder law is near and dear to my heart,” Bryson says. “Watching my family’s struggle with my great-grandmother impacted me. Watching that struggle led me to focus my career on helping our aging community, and I’m glad to be back working in my hometown, serving the people who helped make me who I am today.”Recently, Kayla and Bryson, were asked to speak to a church group about elder law and asset protection. “People had so many questions and we loved being able to answer them and help make a complicated process easier to understand.

In 2020 we are planning many more seminars so if your organization or group would like us to come out, we are happy to do so. My goal is to help the aging population preserve their dignity and protect their assets. Information is power. I’ve got the information and I’m ready to help you get your power back.”
To reach Bryson call (615) 784-4800 or visit www.kane-law.com. Or to schedule a speaking engagement email him directly at beubanks@ kane-law.com

Enchanted Duck Pond Farm

Local couple, Dan and Lisa Liles, like to have breakfast and coffee on typical Saturdays. and this particular off-grid day they decided to haunt an auction to perhaps by farm equipment.

“Once we arrived at the auction, unknown to me, my husband’s interest quickly changed from the farm equipment to the land being auctioned,” remembers Lisa from that 2010 slumber Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lisa was poking around the landscape and became mesmerized by the natural beauty of the 150-acre spread off Couchville Pike in Mt. Juliet.

“While the auctioneer was doing his chant, I slipped away to walk close to the creek to calm my anticipation of finding out who would be the highest bidder,” said Lisa. “Talking with another lady about the charm and peacefulness of this secluded acreage the chant came to a stop.”

That lady told Lisa a tall guy with glasses was the new owner of the peaceful respite. Lisa’s husband was tall but didn’t wear glasses. She was poignantly disappointed. But when she got to the sale place, that tall guy was wearing
sunglasses, not “real” glasses.

And it began then.

Duck Pond Farm is now a true local gem. Minutes from the heart of Mt. Juliet and a couple more from Nashville, it’s a unique venue for a stay-cation this fall, or a preeminent wedding destination for those couples who want a flair for something other than the normal place to say their vows.

There’s no need to travel to faraway venues when Wilson County offers this spectacular one-stop getaway that is so close but transports you back off a country road to a splendid wilderness respite, but with all the amenities.

The Liles want to provide their guests, no matter the occasion, with an unforgettable experience, with a stress-free atmosphere, with a feeling of being tucked away with a view second to none.

Duck Pond manager, Marisa Henson, explained the gorgeous place was once a working farm with horse stables. There were some original buildings and the
Liles upgraded, and added to, for their dream to turn the place into a multi-faceted venue for the community.

Today, there are multiple cabins which include a bridal suite, a groom suite, a kitchen and full-size dining room, and huge pavilion, plus more.

There’s a huge A-frame with open-air accommodations, wraparound porch and a view of the pond that in all can accommodate up to 38 guests. There are other cabins and chalets, some with fire pits, grills and picnic tables.

The moniker “pond” is two acres and is majestic on the property. “Dan built a gazebo and pergola by the pond,” said Marisa “They were built from trees on the property.”

And, there’s a separate island on the pond that is a favorite ceremony site. It doesn’t have to be a wedding, but has also been a favorite for engagements and such.

Dan said he’d never sell the property, he loves the land and takes some occasions to hunt and hike on it. The greenspace pays homage to ducks, geese, deer and turkeys. A local grows impressive corn crops on some of the acres.

Marisa explained there are three main areas of the event space; the main pavilion, the party pad (concrete patio) and a cocktail area where patrons can bring in food trucks of their choice for their special occasion.

Already over 150 weddings have shared their joy on the place. Corporate retreats, family and high school reunions, birthday parties, baby showers, bar mitzvahs and more have found this local gem.

Duck Pond Farm is just several miles from Providence and greets guests with a long cedar tree-lined drive. Recent renovations include fresh coats of paint and a new pavilion and decks.

A common statistic is that 33 percent of engagements happen between September and Thanksgiving, so those newly engaged should snag this local venue as soon as possible to feel at ease while they plan their once in a  lifetime wedding. Also, locals who just want to chill can book a long-earned respite just a stones throw away.

“Come see our treasure,” said Lisa.
For prices, terms, reservations, and accommodations please go to their website at Duck Pond Farms.

Looking Back at Lebanon’s first 200 years

We don’t get as much snow as we once did.

Scores of former residents have had a significant influence on our nation’s government. One is regarded as the “father” of the United Nations.  And Lebanon has made its mark in the field of entertainment from an early spokesperson for a popular pancake mix to one of America’s most gifted songwriters.

These bits and pieces of Lebanon’s past can be found in a history that has been recently authored by Sam Hatcher and titled “Notes From Lebanon’s First 200 years.”

For several months, actually dating back to early spring, Hatcher, a former newspaper journalist, and Brandon Wagoner, a book publisher who lives in Lebanon, have been poking around records, looking through scrapbooks, making phone calls, and interviewing locals regarding Lebanon’s 200 years of history.

“It’s no secret of course that the City of Lebanon is celebrating its bicentennial this year and because of that Brandon and I believed it to be important to create a book to commemorate this very special event,” Hatcher said.

He explained that the book’s title, specifically the word “Notes” in the title, is used as “an apology of sorts because I’m not sure any history book is ever totally complete.

“We’ve tried for the better part of seven months to piece together as best we could the 200 years of Lebanon’s past.

“This has not been an easy chore for either of us,” Hatcher said in reference to Wagoner, who has authored a number of books and whose three-year-old company, Grassleaf Publishing, has published several works including children’s books and faith-based titles.

“I think many readers will be surprised to learn that one of the early representatives of Aunt Jemima Pancakes, Maude Woodfork, was from here; that the longest-serving U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, was educated here; and that the songwriter who pinned “Green, Green Grass of Home,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and dozens of more classics, Curly Putman, made his home in Lebanon,” Hatcher offered.

A self-described “weather freak,” Hatcher said one of his personal favorite parts of the book deals with the weather.

Chapter Five of the book’s 11 chapters, “Weathering the Storms,” is a very thorough recall of significant weather events including a detailed graph that spans several pages noting dates of major local weather occurrences.

“We often hear that we don’t seem to get the winter snows as we once did and a graph Brandon labored over for several days spells this out clearly.

“Whether it’s global warming or some other cause, it’s evident that the deep snows experienced frequently in winters decades ago have been a rarity in recent times,” Hatcher pointed out.

Discussing the book’s content, Hatcher, who authored the popular “Heisman’s First Trophy” three years ago, said much of what’s in the history has been captured from other writings, reports by the community’s newspapers, individual interviews, records at Cumberland University, and other sources. He said there are a significant number of photos in the book, many of which have been in storage or not available for public display.

According to Wagoner, the book traces the development of industry and commerce; education, both public and private; healthcare; and other subjects.

He said one of the book’s final chapters is called Potpourri and addresses the World War II maneuvers, Gen. Robert Hatton, a Civil War battle in downtown Lebanon, and several other points of history that have had an impact on the community.

Both Hatcher and Wagoner reminded that “Notes from Lebanon’s First 200 Years” is strictly a history about Lebanon and shouldn’t be confused with matters, happenings or people outside of Lebanon.

“Notes From Lebanon’s First 200 Years,” will be available for purchase in early November. The book which sells for $20 per copy will be sold locally at the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce office on the Lebanon Square, at Gibbs Pharmacy on Baddour Parkway, Split Bean Roasting Company,  and at Gifts on Main on West Main Street.

Hatcher, who began a career in journalism after graduating from Castle Heights Military Academy, is a lifelong resident of Lebanon. He often tells that his great grandfather, J.J. Hatcher, was the City’s first electrician and was the one who turned on lights in Lebanon for the first time in the 1800s.

His book about Cumberland University’s game against Georgia Tech in 1916 in which Tech beat Cumberland 222-0, “Heisman’s First Trophy,” was published on the 100th anniversary of the game and has received national recognition by ESPN, several major metropolitan daily newspapers, National Public Radio, CBS, Sports Illustrated Magazine, and others.

Wagoner, a graduate of Friendship Christian School, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Tech and a master’s degree in engineering management from Lipscomb University.

He initiated Grassleaf Publishing some three years ago and has had the opportunity to publish several books including children’s books and titles that are faith-based. To learn more about Wagoner’s company visit Grassleafpublishing.com.

 

 

 

Agee & Johnson…The Vision Lives On

Forty years ago Agee & Johnson was founded by Jim Agee and Jerry Johnson. The gentlemen shared a vision for a realty and auction company rooted deep in community service. That vision lives on today under the new ownership of Principal Broker and Auctioneer Jay White.

White began working for Agee & Johnson in 1988.

“I never thought about doing anything else,” he said.  “It has been enjoyable. I like helping people and seeing the joy in their eyes when they buy something or seeing the joy in their eyes when something gets sold.”

Helene Cash, an affiliate broker and spokesperson for White, explained that three years ago Agee & Johnson partnered with another real estate company, becoming a division of that firm.

“Early in 2019, the opportunity arose for Agee & Johnson to become its own brokerage again. Jay had an opportunity to open the brokerage and chose to restore the legacy of Agee & Johnson Realty and Auction,” she said.

White doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon and said that with his son, Hayden, now an Affiliate Broker and Auctioneer with the company – taking ownership seemed like the right thing to do.

“I wanted to bring back the way we have done things in the past and continue the legacy,” White said.

Cash added that although the business is community-focused, there is a modern approach with technology and utilizing the tools available for today’s home buyers and sellers.

“With the diverse talents of our real estate team, we handle all aspects – commercial and residential, buyer and seller, new home sales and resales, working with buyers searching for their dream home as well as land development,” Cash elaborated. “Jay and his team are highly skilled at land development and land division no matter if it is a real estate transaction or an auction sale.”

Agee & Johnson boasts over 100 years of experience in helping clients thanks to their team, which includes: Jim Agee, Harry Bennett, Phil Bryant, Linda Hackett, Seth Hallums, Scott Harris, Ed James, Larry Keller, Rene Ketelsen, Neal Oakley, Charlie Pass, Michael Randolph, Clay Sanders, He-lene Singer Cash, Chip Smith, Jan Smith, Lou Anne Snyder, Jessica Taylor, Rick Thorne, and Hayden White.

Hip To Be Square Market

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For some, it can’t happen soon enough. For the rest, the mere mention of four little words can incite anxiety, irritability, sweating, and nausea. No, it’s not, “Your relatives are here.” I’m talking about “it’s time to decorate!”

Pulling out the tree (or trees, for some), wreaths, and lights doesn’t have to be a curse inducing task. Do you believe that? According to Wilson County’s resident design expert and owner of home furnishings boutique, Square Market Paula McDonnell, there are more important things to wWrittorren By about. “Evy Bill Congereryone is going in different directions. And it gets even worse between November 1 and December 25. We set unrealistic expectations. We want perfection. And when you spend so much time focusing on getting the house totally decorated before a certain date, you miss all the fun.”

If you’re like me, you’ve gone down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking for tips on “Staying organized during Christmas” or “How to create the perfect holiday experience inside your home.” They never work. No matter how many clear bins you purchase, how loud Nat King Cole sings about roasting chestnuts, or how much you love your sweet family (even when they complain about pulling those plastic bins from the attic), every year someone winds up cursing or crying or both. And that someone is usually you (see: Becky).

Today I am in the front showroom of Square Market. I’m sitting in what has to be the most comfortable club chair in the world (or at least Middle Tennessee), and chatting it up with McDonnell when she declares, “I’m not pressuring myself into decorating by a certain time ever again. Adding a few pieces to what I already have out saves my sanity.” One might think it’s easy to say that when you own a home décor and furniture boutique but looking around at the sophisticated blend of modern and vintage, it’s easy to see that Paula practices what she preaches.

This year, she has a goal. That goal is to help you alleviate the stress when it comes to decorating this holiday season.

“By selecting items that are thoughtful, purposeful and simple, you can create a timeless Christmas décor theme that doesn’t have to be taken down on December 26th,” McDonnell says as she moves hand-carved wooden angels around a breathtaking table display.

According to Paula, there are several items needed to create timeless holiday décor that can stay up all year long.

“Angels, trees, nativity scenes, deer are things that do not scream Christmas, but can easily meld into your décor during the holidays when you pair with a string of lights.” Paula continues, “Boxwood wreaths are perfect transition pieces. Take the red bow off after Christmas and the wreath can stay up all year.”

There’s no one size fits all solution for taking the stress out of the holidays, but Paula hopes that she and her staff can help you focus on what matters. “The holidays are meant for spending time with family. Sometimes we get so busy trying to make things perfect, we miss everything. This madness must stop. Turn off the phone and iPad and pay attention. The magic of Christmas is in our families. Sure, the decorations provide a nice backdrop for photos, but simple décor keeps your family in the spotlight. And that’s what it’s all about anyway.”

Building Relationships

While Paula has a natural instinct for putting a room together and curating a home with unique style, she has put together a staff who also offer a fresh perspective on creating interiors with a keen eye towards current home trends. “I’m just one person so, it helps to have the best employees. Every single one of us cares about each person who walks through those doors. It’s about building relationships, not a database.”

Paula’s mission is to think outside the design box and offer the most exciting always-evolving unique collections of furniture, lighting, home decor, textiles, artwork, and gifts while supporting local artisans. These collections are both inspired by years of exciting design work, and the creativity Paula pushes to consistently surpass with each new day.

Location & Hours of Operation
115 South Cumberland Street
Open Tuesday-Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 10 am – 3 pm
615-965-2595
www.squaremarketlebanon.com

Tis the Season for Proposals

According to wedding experts and social media sites, the Christmas holiday is the most popular season for couples to get engaged.

There’s no time to waste when it comes to planning. Especially if you’d like to walk down the aisle in the coming year. After booking the location, it’s time to start thinking about the food. Like venues, caterers and restaurants are booked months and, more often-years in advance. The process of hiring the caterer for the wedding, then reserving a restaurant for rehearsal dinners, luncheons, receptions, or showers can be a little overwhelming. That’s why your first call should be to Sammy B’s Restaurant & Catering.

From backyard to black tie, Sammy B’s is one of Middle Tennessee’s premier restaurants and caterers. Whether you are planning a small affair or a grand one, Co-Owner Gina Stradley and her expert staff is here to help you plan the perfect day. From creating a most fabulous menu and all the little details in between…they will do everything they can to assure your event is a success.
Owners, Jim and Gina Stradley share a few of their most popular menu items (all curated and prepared by Jim and his culinary crew. Seriously, they are amazing!) that will have your guests swooning.

New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life

Aimee & Wendy Dorfman at the Orchard

They might be called a little “zany” to go out on a limb(s) (peach and apple that is!) and buy a revered orchard in Mt. Juliet during a ‘mid-life’ crisis whim. But, they did and those limbs are strong!

  • New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life
    New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life

Photos by Wendy Dorfman

Wendy Dorfman and Aimee Dorfman (sisters-in-law) opened the 12-acre boutique orchard July 2018 in the heart of Mt. Juliet.

It’s the Breeden’s Orchard County Store & Farmers Market. It’s a fresh new revamp on a beloved orchard that originated in 1974.

They’ve put their style and panache in the place, but with a respectful homage to the long-time owners who had to sell.

Together, Wendy and Aimee saved this pristine little orchard from the hungry hands of developers who wanted to raze the long-developed peach and apple trees to ‘raise’ a sprawling development.

Long time owners, the Breedens, had to sell after decades, simply because of health and age.

Aimee and Wendy are a cool pair. The “zanies” reference is to their partnership with their husbands in the well-known Zanies Comedy Club enterprise the past 25 years, ad all across the country. They’ve been doing it for decades, and, well, maybe a “zen” orchard was in order.

“We are in our 50’s now,” laughed Aimee. “We got a call to see the orchard. It’s a different path. It was so beautiful [the orchard sold by long time Tom Breeden because of health issues]. It was a dream that just sparkled.”

Rather than a bright red convertible mid-life crises issue, these two decided ripe peaches and red apples were more apropos.

Let’s get to real time and what this duo has done to enhance the orchard and provide a wonderful outlet for locals in Wilson County.

Their she-shed-place of business is spectacular with great space to showcase a myriad of locally produced products. It’s an Amish-style barn retrofitted with wood that came from the Breedens’ house and barn. No sadness, there’s still a place left where these women work, that was the Breeden’s home.

These nature lovers and preservers of history look toward many school field trips to visit them, and they are researching new apple varieties to call this place home.

“It is hotter, and we are sweatier and still celebrating our mid-life adventure,” said Aimee.

This year, Breedens’ peach trees have flourished so much that they opened up the orchard for a few limited u-pick days, something they thought they were years away from, or at least till their new grove of trees was ready.

“Although the trees are still old and fragile, they are stronger than we thought, well, and that the fact that some of those summer storms took out the weakest limbs,” said Wendy.

This year, Wendy and Aimee are making all their own fried pies, paying homage to the southern way with fried apples and dried fruit and perhaps leaf lard.

“We do get asked if we are frying them in leaf lard, I can’t source enough leaf fat or flair to do that,” said Aimee.

They say they don’t have a southern bone between the two of them, but, have managed to get more than a few “this tastes like my grandma from y’all.”

Think about peach, apple, lemon, chocolate, pecan pie, coconut cream, chocolate peanut butter, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, apricot, German chocolate, and finally, caramel banana fried pies and they are your ticket atop the orchard that is thriving under their care.

“And yes, we are working on sugar free and made without gluten varieties, but they are still in the testing stages,” said Aimee.

Both said they’ve augmented this orchard to include so many more agricultural opportunities. They said they want to get Tennessee peaches into peoples’ mouths and to remind them that the flavor of Georgia peaches doesn’t hold a candle to Tennessee peaches.

So, lets add tomatoes, pumpkins, melons and berries.

And, now they have their Scottish Highland beef cattle and invite people to taste and buy.

Aimee said they have a lot of fall activities planned. Their pond is taking shape, and, they baby their new 500 baby peach and apple trees.

“Some of the new varieties of trees took, some didn’t,” said Wendy. “Farm life lessons…not everything is going to take.”

One of their exciting new bits of information is that Edible is having their farm to table fall dinner at the orchard on Oct. 5.

Go to Breeden’s Orchard Facebook for updates on everything.

“We are doing a happy dance,” said Aimee. “We are a great spot for packing a picnic, grabbing some fried pies or a donut, a cider slushie and enjoying an afternoon with the family. This year, we will also have fresh beef from our herd of Scottish Highland cattle. We look forward to seeing you!”

This orchard is located at 631 Beckwith Road in Mt. Juliet.

Here’s To Strong Women!

May We Know Them, May We Be Them, May We Raise Them

When you meet Allie Cummings, Judy Cox and Medana Hemontolor, a few things stand out. Three generations of strong, smart, sassy women stand before you and you best get out of their way! These ladies have work to do! Allie Lee Tarpley Cummings and her husband, Howard Houston Cummings, raised their daughter Judy Cox on the family farm in Gladeville, where the Nashville Speedway sits today.

  • Here's To Strong Women

Life wasn’t easy back then, but life was good. Their children which included Judy, and her siblings, James Cummings, Joyce Reeves, and Joe Cummings were no strangers to hard work which often included early mornings, milking cows and tending to crops. And like many back then, that also meant there was no running water or an inside toilet.

But Judy remembers those days fondly, “life was simpler then. We didn’t have all the trappings we have now but instead we had family meals around the table and evenings under the stars listening to the whip-poor-wills. And yet we were never ever bored!” Christian values and family values were everything Allie made sure to instill those values in Judy at a young age. In the mid 60‘s, the family moved to “town” where Judy started high school, settling near Cumberland University. Soon, “Pa”, as Howard Cummings came to be known, had the kids mowing yards on the street for free, so they wouldn’t be bored. This strong work ethic eventually led to all four of his children working their way through high school and college and establishing careers in and around their communities.

Judy eventually went to work for Cecil and Sue Johnson at Johnson’s Dairy (Purity Dairy now) and became the first female District Manager for several counties including Wilson. After being in sales for years, real estate seemed a natural fit for Judy as Pa always told her she could talk to a fencepost! Judy notes “real estate is not about the sale, but it’s about the relationships you make along the way. I love to meet people and get to know them. My clients become my friends and I’ll often help families buy and sell several homes over the years as their families grow and change.” And while building her career and business have always been important to Judy, her mother, Allie, (known as Granny to many) taught her that family always comes first. That meant where Judy went, there was usually a little blonde-haired girl following her. Medana Hemontolor is much like her mother and grandmother and she is very proud of that fact.

Growing up Medana followed her mom not only to work, but to church events and community events. Judy, who has always been very involved in the community, felt it was important to teach by example. Medana remembers, “my mom would take me to her Business Professional Women meetings on Monday nights and Chamber events throughout the year. I had a blast and enjoyed getting to know professional women of all walks of life. I learned by watching mom and these women show me how to be professional at anything they did and how to be strong women with Christian values. I remember watching my mom be awarded the Career Woman of the Year award and was so very proud of her!

BPW no longer exists but in 2001 a core group of women from that group, which included my mom, formed Wilson ONE which is a wonderful group that encourages and supports women.” Today, Medana is the President of Wilson ONE, an organization of Networking and Education for Women – paid & non-paid working women of all walks of life. Each year this organization gives out two to four scholarships to non-traditional students and Medana has been instrumental in growing this organization to an average of 40-45 women who meet the first Thursday of each month for a lunch and learn one-hour event. Currently, Medana also serves on the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a Chamber Ambassador. “I love helping new businesses and business owners get involved in our community.” Medana has also served as the past President of Kiwanis Club of Lebanon and currently serves as their Secretary. She is also a past graduate of Leadership Wilson, a group she continues to support. To say, she is following in her mother’s busy footsteps is an understatement!

These days when the ladies are not participating in community events, they are working side by side in the family real estate business. Judy’s husband, Mike Cox, is a well-known builder and owner of Cox’s Construction and Judy has been a top real estate agent in and around Middle Tennessee for almost three decades. In 2005, Medana came on board to help them both. Previous to this, Medana held several professional positions including working alongside her mother-in-law, Peggy Hemontolor, at the well-known school supply business, The Teacher’s Aid. No stranger to work, Medana met her husband, Greg, while the two were employed at the Lebanon Kroger, each paying their way through college at MTSU. Greg and Medana have been married for 26 years now and for the last 20 years, Greg has been employed at ICON Clinical Research as the Global Senior Project Manager conducting drug study trials. Medana has also stayed active working while also raising their boys, Evan and Grayson.

But these days, the boys are grown and busy. Evan recently graduated from MTSU and is engaged to be married and Grayson, begins Cumberland University in the Fall. Medana notes “we couldn’t be prouder of the strong, Godly men we have raised.” As her boys came into their own, so did Medana. Real estate you can say is in her blood. Medana’s father, Ronnie Lee Hobbs, is the great-grandson of JR Hobbs who started JR Hobbs & Sons, the oldest real estate company in Lebanon, which shows the apple does not fall from the tree! Initially upon joining up with Judy and Mike, Medana worked with Mike on the construction side as the Construction Coordinator for Cox’s Construction where she learned all the ins and outs of building from Mike. And then when not on job sites, Medana was learning the real estate side from Judy. And from there, quite a dynamic Mother- Daughter Real Estate Team was born. The ladies work side by side these days at EXIT Rocky Top Realty (C&D Team), an international real estate company, which means they are often tackling to-do lists all over town for their real estate clients. “My mother can put a to-do list together for a day that looks so impossible to do; but she can do that list and then some by the end of the day. That is what I have been taught most of my life – Put your mind to it and you will do more than you thought you could in a day.” And while they have shared many, many good times, it’s in tough times, you really learn what you are made of.

In June 2016, in the midst of growing their business together, Medana was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatment and credits her family and church support for helping her go through this valley of her life. “I
received love and support from so many and even received cards of encouragement from people I did not even know. My aunt, Del Lackey, formed a Sherry’s Run TEAM MEDANA and the friends and family that walked with me was completely overwhelming! In 2018, I was asked to be an executive member of the Hope Joy Light Cancer Support Group at Immanuel Baptist Church. Sally Pierce, the founder, and I were on our cancer journey at the same time and were a support for each other. Our group is for cancer fighters and survivors of our community and we come together and support one another. We meet the first Wednesday of each month at 6 pm and Immanuel Baptist Church and would love to spread the word about our group so we can continue to support people like I have been supported,”

And when the ladies are not supporting their community, they are often together spending time in each other’s company. “Granny has a fun-loving spirit and loves when we come together and celebrate. You can often find us together after church on Sundays, eating around the dining room table or enjoying an afternoon of family get-togethers. I also have a brother, Jason, and sister, Deborah and am blessed to have them in my life.” Allie and Judy are both proud of the strong woman they have raised. “Medana is a loving compassionate person, she feels her friend’s and client’s joys as well as their sorrows. I am so proud of the Christian lady, wife mother, daughter and friend she is to all of us.”

Designing Through the Decades: A Fresh-Traditional Renovation

For the past few years, most of my projects have been devoted to full home renovations. Many of them with homeowners who have spent the prior decades working, raising their families, and spending their time on all of the important things.

But now they’ve moved into a new phase of life- their children have left the nest, and they look around and realize their “nest” is in need of a few new feathers. These are the projects I love, and this one may be my favorite so far. When the homeowner originally contacted me about this project, she told me that she knew what she liked, she just didn’t know how to make it all work together. She felt her kitchen was too small to entertain family as much as she liked, and she just wanted to lighten things up.


She leaned toward traditional design and had many inherited pieces to work into the space. Upon our first meeting, I knew that updating this space with classic and timeless elements would be most important.

The time and planning required for a project of this scope is large, so it’s important to me to get to know my clients well as we will be spending lots of time together. Working in someone’s home is a very personal endeavor, and not something I take lightly.


I’m very grateful to my client, whom I now call friend, for letting me share her home with readers. We all love a good before and after, and these are some of my favorite shots from my client’s renovation.

A Cut Above…

Sammy B’s Restaurant & Catering

  • A Cut Above
    A Cut Above
 

Whether you are stepping inside their restaurant or attending one of their many catered events, the owners of Sammy B’s Restaurant want to make sure you have a culinary experience to remember.

With so many eateries, restaurants, and food trucks on the scene, it can be a challenge to stand out from the crowd. Jim and Gina Stradley have found that keeping things simple is the key to their decades-long success in the food industry with Sammy B’s Restaurant and Catering.

“By hand cutting the meat we serve and using superb locally sourced (when possible) ingredients, our food speaks for itself,” Gina says, “and there’s no difference in the way we prepare our dishes in the restaurant from the way we prepare for our catering events.”

Catering hamburgers for 600 means that they hand-cut every single one. “We could buy the frozen patties, but again, anyone can do that,” Gina continues, “trust me, you can tell the difference.”

Jim adds, “You can grab a burger from anywhere these days. We want to make a burger that brings you back time and time again.”

It’s clear that local is important to the Stradley’s. Gina sounds passionate as she describes the disconnection a lot of us have with the food we eat or how it’s prepared. We were fresh and local before fresh and local was ‘in.’ We wouldn’t have it any other way.” The filet is one of Sammy B’s most popular menu items. Their USDA Prime Barrel Cut filet mignon is hand-carved from the center of the tenderloin to deliver the quality and melt in your mouth tenderness you would expect from this cut of meat.

Another area where Jim’s culinary skills really shine is the smoker. He’s kind of known for it: that, and his special drool-inducing, homemade barbeque sauce. In addition to homemade barbeque sauce, their salad dressings, and hot honey (it’s sooooo good!), chicken salad, dips, etc. are all homemade.

In a fast-food, chain-driven, cookie-cutter world, it’s hard to find a true original. A restaurant that proudly holds its ground and doesn’t scamper after every passing trend. For more than 25 years, Sammy B’s has been that place. Whether you’re looking for a classic cocktail crafted from local spirits or a nationally acclaimed steak, Gina and Jim Stradley welcome you. “Come in and discover the unique mash-up of new and true that draws people to our restaurant or to use our catering services,” Gina continues, “and keeps them coming back for more.”

Godess of Grocery

Demeter’s Common is everything!

Mallory Jennings’ philosophy is simple: The earth has provided us with everything we, as humans, need to live a wonderful life. We just have to honor it and listen to it. Jennings recently opened a lifestyles grocery store in Lebanon. Demeter’s Common is located in a strip mall behind Cox’s Gifts and Jewelry on West Main. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Goddess Of Grocey
    Goddess Of Grocey
 

The store is full of locally grown produce, glass bottled milk, local cheese, flour grifts, cornmeal, spices, condiments, baked bread, eggs, jams, honey, coffee, salads, meats and more. The majority of her items are locally grown or made. It was a goal to keep everything in her full diet haven as natural and close to home as possible.

“I also have fun gifts such as cards, candles, tea towels dyed with natural plant matter, tote bags, t-shirts,” Jennings said. “We have a little of everything.”

Jennings grew up in Lebanon. She attended Tuckers Crossroads School until eighth grade. After graduation from Lebanon High School, she went on to earn degree in Agriculture from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in 2013.

“After college, I worked on an organic farm in West Nashville for six years. I was the manager of the on-farm market. My job was to network with local farmers all across the state to get the best of the best produce, meat and cheeses
in the market,” she shared. “It is why I started Demeter’s Common. I wanted to do what I love, but be closer to home.”

The store is named for Demeter, the Greek Goddess of Agriculture.

Jennings studied agriculture in the Czech Republic in 2011 and noted that there was a huge statue of the goddess.

“They explained to us who she was and I absolutely fell in love. She inspires me and what she stands for is something I want to show the world,” she said. “She’s beautiful and I wanted to honor her with my store. I find Greek Mythology so interesting and I feel like with goddesses, you can make them your own and do your own rendition of what you think they look like. That is why you will find many version of Demeter in the store.”

She is helped at the store by her mother, Betsey.

“She is truly my best friend and the backbone of this store. She is here with me most of the time,” she said. Her fiancé, Miles Miller, also helps along with friends and her four sisters.

“It’s just me and mama for the most part and I have enjoyed every second of it – and so have the customers. She is basically famous now and people are mad when she isn’t here,” Jennings said.

She is intent on providing the best possible customer service. “That is my pet peeve and I have been so adamant about making sure everyone who steps foot in this door will be welcomed and feel comfortable. I want this to be a warm space for people to come relax, shop and have a full grocery store positive experience,” she continued.

“I use all of my products and stand behind them. I wouldn’t put anything on my shelves that I don’t support and believe in.”

Her store is incredible and unique – but Jennings credited mother earth and a supportive community with helping to make her dream a reality.

“I am in awe of our earth. It provides us with everything we need to live a full and happy life. I think our society has gotten away from that and the organic nature of our earth and is too caught up in technology, being in a rush, not listening and talking to one another,” Jennings said. “It plays into their diets and lifestyles. They are all wanting stuff easy and fast. I truly believe that taking time to understand where your food is grow, how its grown and who is growing it is so fulfilling and wonderful for our bodies, as well as our peace of mind.”

Jennings wanted to thank her community for making the hard work worthwhile.

“I will always be here with a smiling face because (they) have been so supportive and wonderful to me. Thank you is an understatement,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

Moonlight & Magnolias…a look at the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party

  • Moonlight & Magnolias Phoenix Ball and Patron’s Party 2019
    Moonlight & Magnolias Phoenix Ball and Patron’s Party 2019
 

Since 1984, the first Saturday in June has always represented an evening of elegance, dancing, ballgowns, tuxedos, flowers, delicious food and a night of raising money to fund scholarships for the great students of Cumberland University.

By the time white tents start going up around campus, the Chairs and the Phoenix Ball Committee have spent months planning every single detail of one of Middle Tennessee’s premier fundraising events. Every detail, from choosing the theme and hiring the band to designing the invitations and curating the menu have been carefully planned to make sure the evening is perfect.

This year is certainly no exception as the 2019 Phoenix Ball Chairs, Scott & Kirsten Harris, worked hard to raise the bar. Kirsten Harris explains, “We wanted to give a nod to Southern Elegance while also keeping the evening relaxed and glamorous. That’s why ‘Moonlight & Magnolias’ was the PERFECT theme for our year!” Based on reviews and attendance from the evening, Kirsten was right. The 36th Annual Phoenix Ball presented by The Pavilion Senior Living set records across the board.

This year’s ball had the highest attendance to date with nearly 500 guests and raised a grand total of more than $350,000. “One of the Chairs’ primary responsibilities is securing sponsorships and corporate donations,” says Scott Harris, “but this year the excitement and momentum made our job easy. We sold out of existing sponsorships early so we created new donor opportunities in order to meet the demand from businesses who wanted to be part of this year’s event.! In total we had 42 sponsors and donors.”

The Phoenix Ball Committee is the driving force of the annual event. Alongside the Chairs, this group gives input and direction every step of the way. Without them, the Ball wouldn’t be possible.

Of course, the event’s success can also be contributed to the Silent and Live Auction. A very popular part of the night’s festivities, more than 100 items were donated this year from businesses throughout Middle Tennessee.

The Pavilion Senior Living Community was the Title Sponsor for the 2019 Phoenix Ball. This wonderful facility gives so much to our community. The Pavilion took the opportunity to announce their new development Cornerstone Place at the event.

The evening began with cocktails in a Baird Chapel while guest browsed Silent Auction items.

The Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena was transformed into an elegant ballroom with white draped walls, chandeliers throughout, an English Oak dance floor surrounded by a garden fit for any Southern mansion. At 7 pm guests were seated to enjoy a delicious menu that included, Charleston Shrimp & Grits, classic Blue Cheese wedge salad, Filet of Beef Oscar with orange-glazed carrots and Gruyere Potato Tart. A dessert buffet featuring classic Banana Pudding, Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Bars and chocolate bourbon pie capped off the dining portion of the event. 

After an exciting live auction, the Bourbon and Bubbles Bar and photo booth opened while guests danced the night away to classic tunes performed by 12 South Band.

The Patrons’ Party has become the 2nd hottest ticket in Wilson County and is a wonderful wrap-up event to The Phoenix Ball. This year’s Patron’s Party was hosted by Eric and Deanna Purcell. With more than 100 guests, this year’s event also broke records. The Purcell’s home offered a perfect location for a chic garden party.

Upon arrival, guests enjoyed signature cocktails and champagne and were invited to commemorate the event in the photo booth.

Attendees were led to the beautifully landscaped pool area where they dined on classic southern fare including fried green tomato BLTs, hot chicken and waffles, mini crab cakes, and Strawberry shortcake while the sounds of Amanda June & Cole Vosbury played in the background. The evening was capped off by a magnificent fireworks display.

Proceeds raised from the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party will go directly into Cumberland University’s scholarship program. This enables more students to benefit from the superb education offered by the university. To learn more or to be a part of next year’s event got to www.PhoenixBall.com