Surviving Till Sunday

I was diagnosed with placenta percreta at 22 weeks gestation during the pregnancy of my third child, Banks. It is a rare diagnosis, affecting as few as 1 in 550 pregnancies. Essentially, the placenta attached too deeply into my uterine
wall and penetrated through to my bladder causing a potentially life threatening situation at delivery. I also developed complete placenta previa as well as gestational diabetes, complicating matters even further. In addition, Banks was diagnosed with a VSD, duodenal atresia, and several other
soft markers for Down Syndrome. Because of the complications I faced, an amniocentesis was out of the question so his official diagnosis had to wait until delivery. I was hospitalized at 28 weeks, delivered at 29 weeks and was placed in ICU on a ventilator. I lost 26 units of blood the night of my delivery
and earned myself the title of “the girl who lived” among my medical teams.

Though I was only 27 at the time, the surgery required a hysterectomy to stop the hemorrhaging, the most common course of action in cases such as mine, and I have a scar that ranges from just below my chest to my pubic bone.

Banks was transferred to another hospital to have surgery and begin care in the NICU while I recovered. I didn’t meet him until a week after he was born. After a long year of recovery, on the eve of his first birthday, I penned the following words:

So….what now?

It’s an odd question to ask yourself on the eve of your child’s first birthday, huh? Yet, I find myself sitting here typing on a blog I rarely post on, posing the question as if someone will offer direction.

It’s not the first time I’ve asked this very question, since delivering Banks one year ago on January 15th. In fact, I think I’ve asked it several times, most often in therapy. The wonderfully aggravating thing about therapy is most questions such as the one above are met with more questions. I’m happy that we’re here. Please don’t mistake my questioning as ungratefulness because nothing could be farther from the truth.

It is not now, nor will ever be, lost on me that it is a privilege to breathe in and out. And when I begin to feel ungrateful, a gentle brush of a hand across my midriff reminds me just how lucky I am. It’s just, well, milestones-especially this
milestone in particular-is a difficult one to navigate.

On one hand, we are celebrating. My 3lb miracle baby boy is a happy, thriving child absolutely bursting at the seams with life. He’s made leaps we didn’t know were possible and overcome every single obstacle in his way. His smile will melt your heart and his eyes are so full of hope. He can’t be stopped. And
praise God for that. He is curious and funny and tender and oh so dramatic. He’s the most perfect “last baby” I could ever dream of. He completes our family and has our whole hearts.

A year ago, he made his way into the world. And we were afraid. Because of the complications I faced, Banks was born under the effects of anesthesia, so I am assuming, no tiny cry pierced the air that night. His cord blood was banked, he was placed on a ventilator, and whisked to the NICU to begin care. With an overwhelming number of soft markers for Down Syndrome, we prepared ourselves to raise a special needs child the best way we knew how and had to wait several days for the results. There was no skin to skin contact between us.

No placing him on my chest. No crying. No labor. No…anything. I wouldn’t meet him for a week later. His birth, in some sense, was simply one portion of a very large surgery. But at the same time, it was a miraculous event all on its own.

Banks spent 59 days in the NICU following his birth. The VSD he was diagnosed with before birth closed on its own. He was transferred to another hospital and had Duodenal Atresia surgery in the days following his delivery.

Though we still deal with reflux, his digestive system has healed well. He faced a variety of hurdles in the NICU as a 29 week preemie, but overall, did really well. His cord blood results indicated no Down syndrome, nor any other chromosomal manipulation. He had a second surgery in December that was urological in nature and has since healed really well. He’s overcome all of the odds and is currently doing his best to take his first steps.

The journey from where he started to where he is now has not been easy. There have been LONG days (and nights), but also, it feels like a whirlwind. However, though we are celebrating his birthday, and his incredible life, January 15th is also a mourning for me in a sense. It’s the day of my surgery. The day everything changed for me.

When Banks was born, there was also a death of some sorts. Granted, that figurative death was almost a literal death and I do not take that lightly. I am GRATEFUL to be here. I did remarkably well in my healing and I have too beat all of the odds in my way. But… I’m not the same. And that hurts still.

With Banks’ birth came the elimination of my ability to have any more children. Granted, we were done having children. But still. My choices at the time were a hysterectomy or death, so it’s not like the options were abundant. And I guess, there’s a resentment that at 27 years old that was my reality.

And perhaps that’s the thing that still bothers me the most, that even a year later, it’s hard to process that this is still my reality. Maybe there’s part of me that wants to believe that the surgical end of things was all a bad dream. That my birth was normal. And my body is the same. And that all of the people I
met and things that I faced were nothing more than a bump on the head that landed me in Oz and at any moment, I can click my ruby red heels and go home. And yet, I wake up in my bed and run my hand down the ridges of my incision and know that I am home. And that it wasn’t a dream. And that, moving
forward rigid and weak, is the only way to go. Because what was, isn’t coming back. And this is reality.

Which brings me back to my original question: What now? So what do I do with a story so special? What do I do with a body like this? How do I live suspended between great joy and great loss in a world that- despite my desperate plea doesn’t stop spinning?

And honestly, I don’t have an answer. I would like to tell you I had a plan. Or a book deal. Or something spectacular. But I don’t. At the very end of December I sat across from a new primary care physician and asked her what I was supposed to do now, and do you know what she told me? Nothing. She told
me that I’m still healing. I didn’t like that answer. I told her so. She smiled through her mask and also told me this: “You have a brand new body now and it’s shattered who you were before. And I know you feel weak, but now, we get to start rebuilding”.

I don’t know what that looks like. But it is hopeful, isn’t it? When I suffered a miscarriage several years ago, the one that lead me to start a blog in the first place, I clung to a particular verse that also seems to apply here: 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It’s the one that says “we grieve with hope”. And perhaps
the fact we can do that, is reason in itself to celebrate. Today (though I am writing this the night before) will be weird for me. There are parts of it, especially this year, that will be hard to process. But it’s also Banks’ birthday. And he is the most joyful boy to celebrate. So today, I’ll grieve. And I’ll
celebrate. And somehow, both will coexist. Because that is the reality of living. And the truest illustration of hope.
XO, B.

Thank You For Being A Friend…Keeping Gina Putman’s Memory Alive by Giving Back

If you knew Gina, odds are you remember the first time you met her. I know I do. Excuse me while I borrow a line from my second favorite Golden Girl.

“Picture it, Southside Elementary. August 1980. Mrs. Polly See’s 1st-grade class.”

Gina had the blondest hair and the bluest eyes, and the best laugh. She was nice. But not nice in the typical-my parents told me to be nice to people-way. She was just lovely…to everyone. She was full of life and creativity and lived that life to the fullest. Always with family and sometimes a few friends in tow. She put 150% into everything, and if she met you once, you would always be a friend.

Always with a smile, a two year Gina hams it up for the camera.

Gina’s mother, Vickie Johnson Eads, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in constant contact with her oldest child either by phone call or text. But that changed on a hot summer day in August 2019. The world that her family and close friends came to know would be no more. “Sunday night, Gina flew home from a visit with her sister Monica who lived in Colorado. Terry and I picked her up at the airport. The next morning, I went to work at the fair office. Gina was still sleeping when I left. Not unusual since she didn’t work on Mondays.” Vickie continues, “She was supposed to pick up her cousin that afternoon and didn’t show up. That wasn’t like her at all. I knew something was wrong.”

Always surrounded by friends: Shelley Bowen Shaw, Gina, Stacey Nivens Maxwell, Hugh Britt, and Melissa Edwards Hosier

Vickie asked a family friend who was near their home to check and see if Gina was there. “He called me, and I knew before he even opened his mouth that Gina was gone.” Vickie rushed home and made a series of calls to family and friends, who trickled in as the night wore on.

Gina had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. “We were in shock. How could this happen?” Friends rallied around Vickie, Terry, her brother TK and sister-in-law Sierra, her sister Monica and the rest of Gina’s family in the immediate aftermath. Wanting to do something anything to honor Gina, those friends put together an event that would become the outlet they all needed to fill the void
that seemed impossible to fill.

“Shortly after the funeral, Gina’s friend Tasha Walker Irby approached me about hosting an event in honor of Gina.” Irby, along with some of Gina’s lifelong best friends, Stacey Nivens Maxwell, Melissa Edwards Hosier, and Paula Harper Petty got to work organizing. They formed the committee, and that November-just, three short months after she passed away, Gina’s Friendsgiving took place at Lebanon Golf & Country Club. “I was worried about the turnout at first, but it was fantastic,” Vickie says. I don’t know how they did it.”

While Friendsgiving started as a way to channel grief and offer comfort to Gina’s family, it quickly turned into something else thanks to a suggestion from another childhood friend. Committee member Stacey Maxwell explains. “At the funeral, another friend from high school, Jeremy Frizzell, suggested we start a scholarship in Gina’s name.” And it made sense to committee members that the scholarship goes to someone who wanted a career in the beauty industry. “Gina loved her work as a Cosmetologist. She loved the creative side of it and was always eager to learn.” Stacey continues, “I knew this idea would be Gina approved.”

Later that month, Jeremy went live on Facebook at the 2019 Wilson County Fair, where he announced a match challenge asking friends and followers for donations in memory of his late friend. The challenge? Eating fried snickers-a lot of fried snickers. A few hours later, after ingesting 47 fried candy bars, Jeremy raised $1,100, and thus, the Gina Putman Scholarship was born. “I think he had to stop the contest because he couldn’t eat anymore.” Stacey laughs,
“That first deposit gave us the energy we needed to get busy planning and to find our first recipient.”

There were two goals when the committee started planning. One, keep Gina’s memory alive, and two, raise money for some of Gina’s favorite charities. Money raised from ticket sales to the sit-down dinner, silent auction, and the sale of swag honoring Gina has benefitted several charities in addition to funding the scholarship

They aim to eventually cover the tuition for a student to complete cosmetology school-a cost Stacey estimates to be between $16,000-$18,000. They are well on their way as ticket sales for the 2022 event will begin soon. “We want this money to go to someone that has a passion for a career, but most importantly a passion for life, just like Gina. Gina made the world a beautiful place, and this is our way of making sure that legacy of love, beauty, and artistic flare continues for generations to come.”

I can’t think of anyone that could make me laugh as much or as often or as loud as Gina did. Gina also had a way of bringing levity to the people around her. Talk to friends and family members of Gina and, each one (and there are a lot) will share a different story about what made her special. And when you know someone like Gina, you want to make sure everyone knows her too. She was the life of the party, and you are on the 2022 invite list.

To purchase tickets to the Friendsgiving 2022, email gputscholarship@gmail.com. Committee members have begun the process to register the Gina Putman Foundation as a 501c3 Non-Profit.

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FRIENDSGIVING THROUGH THE YEARS

— 2019 —
In 2019, Lebanon Family Resource Center received gift cards totaling nearly $2,000.

— 2020 —
Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Friendsgiving raised more than $3,000. • Two scholarships were awarded. One recipient, Allison Johns, received $1500 and the other, Emaline Briggs, received $250 and a set of Gina’s favorite shears valued at more than $1,500.
*Guests also brought donations (coloring books, toys, DVDs, and gift cards) to fill Champs Toy Chest at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, an organization that held a special place in Gina’s heart as she and her family spent many days and nights there when her young cousin, Sean Putman, battled cancer. Sean passed away in 2005.

— 2021 —
In 2021, more than $4,000 was raised. • A $2500 was awarded to Watertown High School senior Alyssa White.
*Guests brought items that were donated to Our Sister’s Keeper, Inc. Our Sister’s Keeper is a non-profit that advocates for women both during and after their time spent in the criminal justice system. The non-profit was formed by Wilson County native (and Gina’s childhood friend), Suanne Bone and Brittany Davis.

In Your Defense…Power of (this) Attorney comes from family and hometown roots

As a young boy growing up in Mt. Juliet – back when Mt. Juliet was a sleepy town with dirt roads and everyone knew each other – Jeff Cherry had a rather idyllic childhood. He spent his days either in school or on ballfields, hunting and fishing on Saturdays and church on Sundays. “I have fond memories of my childhood days in Mt. Juliet – going to the M&M Variety Mart for a cherry ICEE, picking up pizza at Sunshine’s Pizza in Clearview Plaza, working the soda fountain for Bill Staggs at Staggs’ Pharmacy before I was even old enough to
drive. I also remember how I loved fishing in the farm ponds owned by Mr. Sonny Tillman, Mr. Jack Stewart and Dr. Robert Thurman. And after a hard fought game at the Mt. Juliet Little League we would race to the concession stand for a suicide drink and then ride in the back of a pickup truck to the
Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone.

The Cherry Family. From left to right; Hailey, Jackson, Jessica, Jeff, Stacey, Amber, and Jeff Jr.

But mostly I remember when Mt. Juliet was nothing but a small town that, as a child, seemed to be a long long way from Nashville. And that was a good thing because it encapsulated us and protected us. When not in school or ballfields then on weekends my family camped the bank of the Obey River and Caney Fork River wading the waters for rainbow trout. It was just wonderful and I can understand why so many people are moving here now – because I can think of no better place to raise children than right here.”

A fact that didn’t go unnoticed to Jeff then or now – having raised his own children just a few miles down the road in Lebanon, with the same set of values and traditions of those he grew up with.

And back when Jeff was growing up in Mt. Juliet, if you were in any way involved in law enforcement or the legal profession, then you would have heard of a man named B.F. “Jack” Lowery or better known as “Big Jack”. Just say the name Jack Lowery to anyone in the legal field, and they’ll immediately regale you with stories of “Big Jack” and his notorious court room performances. Lowery was and is one of the best legal advocates this side of the Mississippi. In fact, back in the day, people would come watch his trials for entertainment and if your son or daughter was in trouble, Big Jack was the
one always willing to help. Growing up, Jeff knew the name but vaguely.

“Being a lawyer wasn’t necessarily something I knew I wanted to do from a young age,” notes Jeff. “Instead, I wanted to be in law enforcement. That to me was an honorable profession where I would be able to make a real difference.”
After college at MTSU, Jeff attended the Metro Nashville Police Academy and
graduated second in his class and won the Top Gun award for best marksmanship. Growing up hunting – had come in handy! As a Metro Nashville Police Officer Jeff worked the public housing developments of West Nashville on the Night Walking Unit. He then served in an undercover capacity on the Crime Suppression Unit. He was later assigned to a public speaking assignment in Crime Prevention and finally taught recruits and veteran
officers the law at the Metro Nashville Training Academy. He was awarded the Exemplary Service Award in three different years for day in and day out exemplary service. He was also the recipient of the Odd Fellows Award for a traffic stop resulting in the seizure of a large amount of crack cocaine.

“I loved being a police officer but after working the streets in Nashville’s high crime areas, I decided that I did not want to raise my children having my wife, Stacey, and them worry about me not coming home each day. That led to my decision to begin Nashville School of Law. I was allowed to work a day shift to teach at the Academy in order to attend law school at night. I graduated in May of 2001, two days after our daughter was born. I took the bar exam in July and was licensed in October when the bar results were released.” Fellow local
attorneys Robin Vance, City Attorney for Lebanon, Andy Wright, Chief Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner and Assistant Public Defender Kelly Skeen were all part of his graduating class as well.

“Soon after graduating, Wilson County Sheriff Deputy, David Begarly, told me that Jack Lowery Jr. was looking for an associate to practice criminal defense. And if you can believe it, I told him I wasn’t interested! I can’t imagine what my life would be like now- had David not looked at me and said – I needed to rethink that position! In March of 2002, after rethinking it, I began working for Lowery and Lowery on the square in Lebanon. My first day was April Fool’s Day.”

And on April 1 of 2022, Jeff will have been with the Lowerys’ for two decades having defended thousands of persons charged with criminal offenses during that time and having learned from two of the best attorneys in Tennessee. The firm Lowery, Lowery and Cherry was founded in 1962 by B.F. “Jack” Lowery and later, in 1998, Jack D. Lowery, Jr. joined his father in practice. In 2006, the firm changed its name from Lowery and Lowery, to Lowery, Lowery and Cherry, PLLC – taking note of the talents Cherry had brought to the firm.

Since then the firm has expanded to include Christopher Beauchamp and together the firm represents people across the State in both criminal and civil courts. “I am indebted to Jack Lowery Sr. and Jack Lowery, Jr. for trusting in me
and mentoring me over these past twenty years. I would not have been able to have enjoyed the successes that I have had it not for the Lowery name and all that it means in the legal and business communities.”

Criminal Defense is a passion of Jeff’s that he spends a great deal of time on.
From being a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL) since his law career began and, serving on legislative committees for eight legislative sessions, to testifying before both the Senate and House Criminal Justice Committees-he has a passion for ensuring the rights of all the citizens are protected. He rose through the ranks of TACDL and served as its President of the Board in 2018-2019.

Often criminal defense attorneys are asked – how can you defend someone charged with violent crimes or murder and Jeff replies that “our country is founded upon the proposition that a charge is simply an allegation. Our justice system requires the State or the Government to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. I fight to ensure that the government does not violate the constitutional rights of my client during these processes. This is fundamentally important not just to the citizen accused but to us all. We all have a right to
due process and fundamental fairness.”

And today, Jeff Cherry’s name in criminal defense circles is as well known as the Lowery’s. Criminal Court Judge Brody Kane, who Jeff often appears in front of, says that “Jeff is a zealous advocate for his clients who is always prepared and knows the law.”

To that end he often presents continuing education classes to other attorneys on a range of criminal defense topics and is often sought out by his peers for advice and mentorship. In 2015, Jeff was awarded the TACDL Workhorse Award for the tireless work, unlimited energy, and zealous advocacy he brought to TACDL. In 2020 he was honored by those peers when he received the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Robert W. Ritchie Service Award for his outstanding leadership and service to the organization.

Jeff was also nominated by his peers to be named a MidSouth Super Lawyer in criminal defense in 2019. This is a designation awarded to less than 5% of the attorney population. He has maintained this designation in 2020 and 2021.
Jeff’s skills and passion have also caught the eye of Governor Lee who appointed him to the Tennessee Criminal Justice Investment Task Force in 2019 where he worked in the Parole and Probation Subcommittee. This has led to several other appointments including the most recent to the Tennessee Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision as the Criminal Justice Attorney Representative.

“Advocating and helping my clients navigate the legal system is what I do for a living but I’ve realized my job is also to pass on what I’ve learned to the up and coming new attorneys – much like Big Jack did for me, so that they too will advocate for all of our rights.”

And when not fully immersed in the legal community, Jeff has helped locally with several non-profit boards including Prospect Inc., Hearthside, Inc., Our Sister’s Keeper and MJ4Hope Inc, a non-profit that Jeff helped found with several high school classmates to assist other classmates in need. “It was a real blessing that in 2020 when the tornadoes hit, we were able to raise over $100,000 to disperse to the victims and we continue to do what we can at a local level whenever there is a need.”

While his criminal defense profession has been nothing less than spectacular, if you ask Jeff what his biggest accomplishment is – he immediately says his family.

Jeff and his wife Stacey celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in December of 2021. Stacey and Jeff were high school sweethearts who have been together through the good times and hard times. “Stacey was with me every step of the way – through the police academy, my years as an officer, then law school and then while I grew my practice. She put together and held together everything else in our lives while I pursued this dream of mine. She is the glue and the backbone of everything I do.”

The Cherry’s have raised three children together who are their pride and joy. Jeff Cherry Jr. , their eldest, is married to Amber and now lives in Lebanon. Jackson, their middle son graduates from college in May and has already been accepted to law school in the Fall. He is also planning to get married to Hailey Pittman in June of this year. And their youngest child, Jessica, is studying education and plans to be a teacher in the near future, although Dad and brother Jackson are pushing her toward the law. “Stacey and I have watched the success of the Lowery father and son duo over all these years. The joy that
they both derive from trying cases together and navigating legal landmines has been a joy to watch and be a part of. I can’t think of a much more exciting way to continue my law practice than with one or more of my children.”

And in July of 2019, the Cherry family put into motion one more dream – to live on a working farm. Now living in Watertown on their farm, Triple5 Farm, the Cherry’s are loving life – with 27 goats, chickens, a rooster named Jorge and three great Pyrenees protectors.

Asked if its now time to slow down – Jeff categorically will tell you No. In fact, he is continuously re-evaluating the expansion of his practice and that of the firm. “I am blessed to receive calls from all across this state and outside the state for criminal defense representation. I consider it a great honor to be trusted to guide my client, and their family, through the most difficult time of their lives. We train for trial and we fight to win. We are prepared to travel wherever justice demands.”

The last year…

The last year…

I’m having one of those weeks. That’s not true. It’s been more like two months. At first, I thought it was the moon. Menopause. Too much social media or fast food. Not enough water. Then last week as I lay wide awake in bed anxious over an endless to-do list, it hit me. The thing that was making me a little crazy lately. He’s leaving soon. The littlest, who is now the biggest in terms of height, is a senior in high school.

That means in a matter of months, we will load up the car with twin sheets sets, closet/drawer organizers, toiletries, and an epic selection of wall décor (aka “The Big Lebowski” and “Pulp Fiction” movie posters) and move him from here to there. We don’t know a lot about there yet. He hasn’t made his final decision on where his there will be.

We know his brother managed well there. He managed to eat and wash his own clothes and make it to class and work and graduate. I have a reference point for this feeling. I know what to expect while expecting. But this time, it’s still…different. It’s different because we are talking about a different child. We’ve had different experiences, me, and this boy.

I can give you all the perfect, Instagram worthy descriptions of moments I’ll miss.

The hugs and kisses I get the minute he walks in the door from school or work or before he goes to bed. I’ll miss that.

Listening to his music suggestions and liking them.

Watching him play a new song he mastered on the ukulele.

Watching something funny together when a day felt particularly heavy because laughing always makes us feel better. How could I not miss that?

Sharing handfuls of hot buttery popcorn mixed with peanut M&M’s while watching “Elf” or “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” for the 1,200 time.

There are so many little things.

It’s easy to miss the good stuff. But if history has taught me anything with the first go round moving his big brother from here to there, I will miss the not so perfect, even difficult days just as much. You know the days I’m talking about. If you have a teenager or had teenagers at one point or another, you know. The days when you feel like it will be a miracle if you both survive this phase of parenting.

The days when every single glass in the house can be found in his bedroom, on his nightstand, on his desk, on the bathroom sink.

The days spent worrying about him making the team, making the grade, and making the right choices.

The days when there’s 50 empty junk food bags strewn on his bedroom floor.

The days he gave me the silent treatment because I said NO to something.

The days/month/years he didn’t touch the banjo he just had to have.

The times he got mad at me every time I had the nerve to ask him about playing said banjo.

The days we didn’t bring out the best in each other.

The days when we were too hard on each other.

The day when he looked me in the eyes and lied. After I assured him that he’s been granted full immunity. Even that day, I will miss. Because that day taught me that he was human too. Prone to mistakes and bad days just like the rest of us.

We still have a few months left yet. A few months to enjoy every silly Napoleon Dynamite giggle. A few months to wonder where he puts the 15,599 calories per day he eats. A few months to love on the little boy who completed our family on an overcast December afternoon in 2003. He will be back, of course. It will just be different. So, I guess until the time comes to move him from here to there, we will enjoy every single minute here. Even if it means I must buy a new set of glassware.

 

Farm Bureau Expo Center Back in Full Swing

As Tennessee emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many events and happenings at the Farm Bureau Exposition Center, located on 945 East Baddour Parkway in Lebanon, Tennessee are now in full swing again. And one person that has helped the Expo navigate the unprecedented the last year is Expo Director, Gayle Hibbert. Gayle and the staff have been instrumental in keeping the Expo up and running through 2020 and are excited to say that 2021 is expected to be a banner year for the Expo Center.

Hibbert comes from a marketing background in the healthcare industry. Transitioning to event coordination, Hibbert explains, was natural for her as she had built connections and honed her managerial skills for two decades. After obtaining further education at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Hibbert returned home to Wilson County with the intention of aiding to its growth and development as a community. As the new Expo Director, Gayle is now able to bring with her a multitude of helpful experiences, including her ability to adjust schedules and pivot when necessary and remain the calm within the storm.

Although the pandemic did not close the doors of the Expo Center to all events, many adjustments were made for the safety of the community. Around 75% of the $350,000 worth of cancelled events from March through June 2020 were rescheduled to the current year, with around 25% of these events unable to reschedule. However, in July 2020, while abiding by CDC safety procedures, events were once again scheduled and safely executed, and by the end of the year, bookings for 2021 and 2022 were filling up rapidly, allowing the Expo Center to bounce back after a short amount of time.

The Expo Center was renamed from the Wilson County Expo Center- the title they opened with in 2016- to the Farm Bureau Expo Center following a $225,000 five year naming rights agreement between the Expo and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

The entire building is an impressive 79,000 square feet, suitable for large gatherings and events such as trade shows and concerts, and the individual exhibit halls and rentable spaces can cater to the needs of smaller gatherings as well, for instance, more intimate business meetings or wedding receptions.

Of the numerous occasions planned for the coming months, there are several events for the Wilson County community to participate in and enjoy. The Wilson County Fair – The Tennessee State Fair, held on the James E. Ward Agricultural grounds, are running concurrently from August 12th through 21st. For firearms enthusiasts, the RK Gun Show is hosting multiple events during the fall and winter months in 2021. Near the end of August, a Creating Keepsakes Scrapbooking convention will be held on the 27th-28th, for craft aficionados. And in October, many fun events are scheduled including the Tennessee Antique Vintage Market and Fall Flower Show as well as the Wilson County Oktoberfest- modeled after a traditional German Oktoberfest- which will feature traditional German music, lively activities, and German food and bier, and will be held on the 23rd-24th of October.

Gayle is glad that the storm is behind us and Wilson County has emerged stronger than ever. Gayle notes that “the Expo Center is a great space for our community to come out and enjoy events as well as a source of income for the community. We are proud to be an iconic landmark in the county, as well as this event resource. Our focus is to bring diverse events into Wilson County, drive revenue dollars and further support the merchants and hotels within the greater Wilson County area.”

If you are interested in planning a private event at the Expo Center, you can contact Hibbert through her office number, 615-450-3049, her cell number, 615-864-1977, or through email, at gayle@farmbureauexpo.com. For a schedule of upcoming events you and your family can enjoy be sure to visit their website at farmbureauexpo.com. Events are constantly being added, so check back often and come out to enjoy all the Expo Center offers!

Staying healthy with Up Your Game Hydration

Since March 2020, many of us had to tweak or totally overhaul once normal routines. Medicine cabinets are now fully stocked arsenals of vitamins, tinctures, and essential oils. All serving as an invisible barricade between you and covid-19 or any variant thereof. We know we need vitamins, but 5 or 10 or 12 a day? Luckily, a local medical professional expanded her clinic by offering a supplement solution for the vitamin weary.

 

Wilson County native Helen Thorne is a family nurse practitioner and owner of MidTenn Primary Care. She had been researching IV vitamin therapy for quite some time and decided to put her research into practice (literally) by opening Lebanon’s first IV therapy service, Up Your Game Hydration.

Operating out of her office located on Park Avenue in Lebanon, Up Your Game
Hydration offers a menu of vitamin cocktails, calming atmosphere with reclining chairs, soft music, and peace from outside distractions.

Helen sat down to answer questions you might have about IV Vitamin Therapy.

WL: When did you decide to expand your medical practice to include IV vitamin therapy?

Thorne: We decided at the beginning of 2021 that it was time to offer Lebanon a service that would make people feel better. We knew that IV hydration therapy was a service that could help promote both wellness and boost immunity while people were still reeling from the pandemic.

WL: What are the benefits of IV therapy?
Thorne: IV Hydration Therapy provides the body with a myriad of amazing benefits that include increased energy, improved skin complexion, higher levels of antioxidants and decreased damaging free radicals, fewer headaches, increased alertness, improved immune system, and shortened recovery time, optimal performance, and improved endurance for athletes.

WL: Are there any age restrictions?

Thorne: Although we do not have a certain age range that we provide our services to, we do like for people to understand that our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Our services are intended only for healthy adults. People who are concerned that they may not be a candidate due to certain pre-existing health conditions should check with their physician before considering IV Hydration Therapy.

WL: Does insurance cover this procedure (in part or whole)?

Thorne: Insurance does not cover IV Hydration Therapy but most often our patients are able to use their health savings accounts for our services.

WL: How was your first experience with IV therapy?

Thorne: My personal experience with IV therapy provided me with a huge boost in energy and erased the brain fog I deal with on a daily basis just due to a hectic, crazy schedule!!

 

WL: How often can someone get IV therapy?

Thorne: IV Hydration can be performed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Bariatric surgery patients struggle with vitamin deficiency due to limited absorption. They are perfect candidates for IV Hydration. Athletes and heavy drinkers can easily handle weekly hydration, as well.

WL: Why IV vitamins over pill form vitamins?

Thorne: Most of us do not consume the recommended daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy immune system or the energy we need to support our busy lives. While oral supplements are a great way to ingest nutrients, the digestive system can compromise a large portion of their efficacy. IV hydration therapy is a safe and effective way to obtain those important vitamins, minerals, and amino acids directly and immediately into the body through the bloodstream, altogether bypassing any breakdown through the digestive tract.

WL: What are some of the most popular cocktails you offer?

Thorne: We offer a wide array of cocktails that improve performance, immunity, hair/skin/nails, mental fatigue, hydration, energy. There are cocktails for detoxification that remove free radical from the body. We also have cocktails for cramping/pain relief for migraine, hangover, menstrual pain and post-performance for athletes.

WL: How long does the procedure take?

Thorne: We pride ourselves on our impeccable customer service while maintaining that personal feel. We strive to get our patients in and out within 45 minutes.

WL: What do the effects feel like?

Thorne: Most people tell us that they feel a surge of energy within 1-3 hours of having the infusion and report having a great night’s sleep.

WL: What events do you have coming up?

Thorne: We are planning to have a monthly AFTER-HOURS GIRLS NIGHT OUT IV HYDRATION. We want to be available to the working women whose schedule does not allow them to come in during the day. We would like for them to be able to come in, enjoy their hydration experience and not be rushed.

WL: Will you be offering group events (bride and bridesmaids, groom and groomsmen, before/after bachelorette/bachelor parties;))?

Thorne: We are able to offer mobile services such as pre-wedding events for
brides/bridesmaids, grooms/groomsmen, and rehearsal dinners.
If you would like to learn more about IV vitamin therapy, visit the Up Your Game Hydration office at 701 Park Avenue in Lebanon or Call 615-547-6699 for an appointment.

Client Testimonials:

“If you haven’t tried IV hydration yet…you totally need to. It’s not what most people think it is. I finally went to see what all the fuss was about!!! I am feeling incredible after a visit to Up Your Game Hydration. They have all different options based on what your body needs are. Also if you and a group of friends want to go do it together, they have a great set up for that as well.”-Torri and Brian Fussell, Owners of IMA Crossfit in Lebanon

“I have always wanted to try hydration therapy. However, since we did
not have this option locally, I put it on the back burner. When Helen
and her staff announced offering this service, I was so excited. I had my
first, but not my last, and was totally amazed at how great I felt. My
energy level improved, my mind was clear and focused, and my sleep
became more sound and restful. IV hydration therapy is my new self-
care. If you are considering IV hydration therapy do not wait. You will
not be disappointed.” -Kim Stroud-Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Counseling in Lebanon

Bringing History Back to Life

If you have visited or live in Wilson County, there is a good chance you’ve driven by the IWP Buchanan House. The eye-catching beauty had seen better days until recently. That all changed when the owner of Reid & Co.
Construction, Reid Hinesley and his wife, Ashley, purchased the residence hoping to bring it back to its original grandeur. Ashley notes, “Reid and I had driven by this home for 15 years and promised if we ever had an opportunity to restore it, we’d do it! And, we’re so thankful we had the chance to.” Reid adds, “We were told the house may be torn down and lot scraped before we purchased, which would have been a tremendous loss for the city. There’s just something really special about investing in the town that we live and raise our children in.”

Designed by renowned architect, George Barber, construction on this stunning home began in 1894 and completed 3 years later. “We knew it would be a tough challenge and not a low-cost investment from the first time we walked on site. Although it had fallen into disrepair from years of weathering storms,” Reid continues, “The bones of the home were and still are solid. 16-inch thick hand-chiseled limestone that makes the foundation and hand-pressed brickwork are second to none. Similar original stonework accentuates the front elevation in a polygonal tower. And the granite like strength of the wood
that frames the structure is from the yesteryears of the old growth forest harvest.”

  • Many rooms of the interior of the Buchanan House have been proudly preserved by Reid & Co. during the extensive renovation process.

This renovation was not their first building challenge. In fact, the managing partners at Reid & Co. bring more than 75 years of professional experience in the building industry to every job. “Currently, Reid & Co. Construction is blessed to have eight $1-$3 million luxury lake homes in various stages of
construction on Old Hickory Lake.” Reid says.

By combining a passion for architectural design and interiors, Reid & Co. offers a hands-on boutique business style while building fine custom homes and select high-end renovations to clients throughout Middle Tennessee. They are always working to implement new technologies to better the customer
experience and just launched Vintage Barns, a timber frame barn division.

After graduating from Purdue University, Reid started his professional career in construction, working during one of the biggest housing booms in US history. During his tenure working for a Fortune 500 company, Reid was mentored by an accomplished Master Builder. Early in his career, Reid excelled
in the construction field as an award-winning project manager completing construction of more than 400 homes.

In 2008, Reid left his corporate management position and founded Reid & Co. Construction and brought on his 3 brothers: all highly skilled and accomplished builders. To date, the team at Reid & Co. Construction has been entrusted to manage more than $100 million in projects.

It is the firm’s dedication to quality and making every client’s unique tastes and perspectives a reality that can be found in each Reid & Co. project. “We want our homes to withstand the test of time. The same way that IWP Buchanan invested in the bones of his home some 127 years ago. This is what continues to motivate Reid and his brothers to build heirloom quality homes with the best bones so they can stand for generations to come.” Ashley continues, “When you walk into a home built by Reid & Company Construction, we don’t want you to feel like you’ve ever seen another like it.”

If you’re in the market for a fine custom home, Reid & Co. provides the expertise and vision to ensure your home is built above industry standards while making sure it fits your unique style and way of living. Reid adds, “At Reid & Company Construction, we build with a custom approach catered to compliment your site and lifestyle. While we understand the importance of price per square foot and meeting budget goals, we focus on quality per square foot and overall long-term value.”

Reid and his wife Ashley live in Wilson County with their three children.

Finding Your Piece of the Good Life

When Mt Juliet City Mayor Ed and his wife Katrina Hagerty moved to Mt Juliet, the population was just 3,000. The landscape looked a little different. “I remember driving seven miles to buy a gallon of milk, downtown to enjoy a nice restaurant, and to Opry Mills to see a movie. Today, those activities and more are available right here in our city!” Ed says

Ed and Katrina met playing racquetball and married on February 14, 1982. Later that year, they made the move to Mt Juliet and haven’t looked back.
“We moved several times that year, from Cookeville to Atlanta to Arlington, Texas, and then an opportunity opened up here in Middle Tennessee.” Katrina
adds, “We looked at Nashville and all the surrounding counties but fell in love with Wilson County.”

Cut to 2020, Mt Juliet has a population of more than 34,000. The Hagerty’s have helped usher in a fair amount of the change seen across the western
city of Wilson County. There’s another big change in store for the Hagerty’s this year as Ed retires from local politics after more than two decades-ten of those as the Mt Juliet City Mayor. “I believe in the great traditions of our country, beginning with George Washington and later codified by the 22nd Amendment that the leader is to serve two full terms.” Hagerty continues, “With that said, it’s definitely a bittersweet decision to step aside. I have other passions to pursue. I love my church, I love teaching Economics, and American Government to 12th-grade students at Heritage Christian Academy, and the grands living three doors away were all important factors. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next.”

When Hagerty decided to step into local politics, his mission was simple. He wanted to bring decorum to the city. “Most people may not know or remember but our board was dysfunctional with in-fighting, back-biting, and unprofessional behavior. Shortly after taking the chair, a local reporter called
me and said my meetings were boring. My reply was, ‘Mission accomplished!’ My second goal was to upgrade our building standards.” Ed continues, “I
remember asking a friend to give me his first impression of Mt. Juliet. His response was, ‘Oh, that’s easy, it’s the land of metal buildings with brick fronts.’ I knew immediately that could not be how we would be defined. I worked many years to change that, and our buildings are now beautiful with sustainable designs.”

While the Hagerty’s love their city, they really light up when they talk about family. “We have three amazing daughters. Kristina is married to Sam Parnell,
and they have four children: Eli, Kate, Luke, and Ike. They live three doors down from us! Kacy is married to Andrew Callaghan. They have a newborn baby girl, Ezra, and live in Nashville. Kelly is married to Luke Strimaitis, and they live in Mt. Juliet. Kelly is a Registered Nurse and studying at Cumberland University to
become a Nurse Practitioner. We feel blessed that our children live close
enough for frequent family dinners!”

Katrina helped change the way many parents in Middle Tennessee homeschool by starting Heritage Christian Academy in 1997. HCA is a tutorial program where students meet each week to do school and life together. They have grown from just a few dozen students to hundreds. “We have families across the US and even some missionaries in other countries registered with
Heritage,” Katrina says.

As the world came to a halt in late spring 2020 due to the global pandemic, Katrina, along with her daughters, started Homeschoolers Association, a program aimed at helping families who have chosen homeschooling due to the impact of COVID. While Katrina no longer teaches classes at HCA, she’s still involved. Now she focuses more on the administrative duties of the school. “I love helping parents navigate this homeschooling adventure
for their children. Our students have a yearbook, take field trips together, go camping together, attend dances, participate in our STEM and International
Fairs, participate in Spelling and History Bees, attend graduation, and so much more! HCA has been our family’s ministry for many years, and we are blessed to see families grow together as a family unit and in the Lord.”

From the tornadoes in March to Covid-19, Mt Juliet/Wilson County faced a lot of challenges in 2020. Many of us can’t wait for the year to end, but Ed has a different outlook. “I prefer to think we will all look back on 2020 as a time of great personal growth, a time where we were intentional about our family relationships, and a time where we learned to value and cherish our faith walks. For us personally, we were saddened that Katrina’s father passed away in March. Still, we celebrate that our fifth grand was born, and she is a beautiful miracle.”

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.

Summer 2020 Digital Edition

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.