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.

Local Yogi Brings Namaste to Smith County

A surreal and unplanned yoga session in a cage atop a huge ferris wheel in Las Vegas several years ago was a pivotal moment for Beckie Rutherford.

A longtime Smith County resident and former nurse, Rutherford was in the city with her husband, Dr. Richard Rutherford, and while he was at a meeting she saw a billboard outside her hotel window that advertised “YOGA IN THE SKY.”

“I had never done yoga before,” she said. “But, I was at a point in my life where I was searching and I called the number the next day.” Rutherford found herself in a large cage, teetering in the Vegas sky with a yoga instructor. She was told to stand up only when they reached the top.

“I looked out over the city, and suspended there I was peaceful and I cried,” she said. She and the instructor both had on headsets and the instructor talked her through the poses. She said at that moment “vibes” came over her and she knew “something in me had changed.”

This pivotal, life altering experience catapulted Rutherford to a new career path and now she is owner and instructor of Namaste 37030 yoga studio in Smith County she opened Nov. 16, 2020.

After years as a nurse, she trained non-stop in this new-toher discipline and today is just a few steps away from attaining the highest pinnacle of training in the practice you can achieve. Call it close to a PhD. “From the moment I stepped on the yoga mat I knew there was something about yoga that was changing me,” she said.

By July 13, 2020 she put in 334 days, 109 books, eight states, zoomed, saw many Master trainers and completed 500 RYT (Registered yoga teacher) and was accepted into The Yoga Therapy program at YogaFit. As owner and instructor of Namaste 37030, Rutherford teaches a plethora of yoga classes, barre, paddle boarding and more.

“I teach 13-17 classes a week,” she said. There are about 150 people registered on her APP and about 35 active clients. She teaches from her home at 337 Lebanon Highway. My life got me to where I am now This exciting life-fork for Rutherford came only after a long journey. It’s a life path that she said led her to now, and unexplainable joy and renewal at age 57.

The road was paved with many joys, a lovely family, a career helping save lives, but also full of heartbreak, some unexplained health issues and other hurdles.
Born in Japan (her dad was a Baptist missionary) Rutherford came to Smith County at age 2. Her parents were former Smith County residents and they came back “home”.

“Missionaries made no money,” she recalled. “My mom and dad had four kids. No money. They borrowed the money to buy a house that had no running water, no indoor toilet. We raised the meat we ate. We had spring water that dried up in the summer, froze in the winter and when it rained got muddy.”

Life was rough. Her brother was diagnosed with cancer at age 15. Her mom, who was a factory worker, quit to care for her brother. Financial trouble caused them to lose their home and a divorce followed. But, her brother recovered
with treatment.

“My dream was to be a nurse,” Rutherford shared. “I watched the nurses take care of my brother and I knew. They looked like angels from heaven taking care of him. In my eyes, they had saved my brother so …. I was going be a nurse.”

She graduated nursing school in 1986, but prior got married at age 18 and they lost one child at 22 weeks, but she gave birth to Zach and Jacob. At age 25 she was divorced. She met and married Rick and they are going strong now at
31 years married. After their marriage Rutherford was a stay at home mom to five children.

“After the kids were all in school I was asked to start the Health Science Program for the Smith County School System,” she said. She did and also received her Master’s Degree in Education Instructional Leadership from TTU. She next worked for UMC in Lebanon in the OR for 11 years and was the ENT Coordinator. Managing her career, children and marriage was challenging. Her brother, who was the Ag teacher for Smith County was diagnosed in 2008 with a severely damaged heart from childhood radiation and chemo. After a heart transplant that failed, Rutherford tragically turned off life support for her

“In six months, I lost three amazing people in my life,” said Rutherford. “Grief is hard. It touches everyone. Yet society does not want to acknowledge it. After the loss of a brother, you are expected to return to work the next day. No one wants to talk about it. They want you to act as if nothing ever happened. It hurts to smile. It hurts to laugh. My life changed.”

At age 48, Rutherford struggled. She lost her voice, had trouble swallowing and her body was tense. She quit her job. Her relationships were falling apart. She sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic and had two years of TMJ treatment.
Path to Yoga Tired of physical therapy, Rutherford turned to exercise at
her local Senior Citizens Center. Then came barre work.

“I began to get stronger and made time for myself,” she said. Then came her epiphany up in the sky in Vegas. What follows is a triumph and a return to “self” and opening Namaste 37030. “What I found in Yoga is how to breathe again and healing on the inside. I was broken,” said Rutherford. “I had to learn to love who I was… and that it was OK. I had to learn that it was OK for me to be happy again, even though I had suffered so much loss.”

It’s about quieting the mind and giving yourself permission to have one hour to yourself. “We have no competition, no expectations, no judgement,” said Rutherford. “You have to do you. If you want to come and lie in child’s pose the entire class it is OK. You are not required to come to so many classes a month.”

Her philosophy is the more you move the more you can move. “The number one thing is to shut your mind off and breathe,” said Rutherford. “It’s not about a bendy and stretchy, it’s about meditation. One hour of forgetting about work,
going to the grocery store or what you have to do tomorrow.”

Rutherford has clients from Hartsville, Lafayette, Lebanon, New Middleton, Gordonsville, Cookeville, Mt Juliet and more. “Just because my name is Namaste 37030 doesn’t mean every zip code isn’t welcome. Come and visit!” she said.

For full list of classes, times and prices, visit

The Sun Will Come Out…Smith County Playhouse presents debut musical “Annie” in March 2022

There’s a buzz and energy in Smith County as Smith County Playhouse (SCP) propels forward to bring back children’s theatre to the county with a planned musical to hit the stage of Smith County High School mid-March, 2022.

And, it appears the thirst for children’s theatre is alive and well as this children’s theatre organization fulfills its desire to teach students every aspect of theatre to help them be as well rounded as possible. The much- anticipated musical is “Annie” and is under the direction of JR Smith.

Smith said SCP is building on the success of those whom came before them and were passionate about theatre for all ages. This new organization is carrying on the tradition of Smith County High School’s after-school theatre program.

“Smith County High School has consistently had an active theatre program,” he said. “Our program could not thrive at the level it currently is without our past directors, including Marie Wiser, Connie Dyer, Bill Reece, and Dillon Reed.

It was Bill who really got the musical program going, and we owe a lot of what we’ll be doing to him. Many of our current volunteers either acted under or worked with Bill.”

And, it’s come full circle with this debut musical chosen by SCP. Smith took theatre from Reece at school and in the fourth grade played a role in “Annie”, directed by Reece in 2008. He was an apple seller in the homespun play. And,
something very special must have cemented at this young age because his wife played the role of Annie in this same play.

“Yes, I met my wife Allison while we were in the play together,” he said.
She was in fifth grade. Now, at age 23, Smith will direct “Annie” for SCP on the very stage he performed. It’s come full circle.

Smith now teaches Journalism and English at Smith County High School. He got the job after graduating Middle Tennessee State University. The school’s long-time theatre teacher is soon to retire and handed over her reins to Smith to take over the position.

Smith is the founder of SCP because he saw a real need to augment classes such as his theatre class, with true performance experience. “Putting together a large show such as Annie is so much better than solely book learning,” he said. “They really go hand in hand.”

He said Reece’s main focus was on acting and singing. “This is our goal, too,” Smith said. “However, we plan to build on this with having a main goal of our shows mostly being student-led with adult volunteers to oversee the students
in the various aspects of theatre.”

Smith chose “Annie” for their first musical based on the fun history of meeting his wife in the play. “But, also as we come out of the pandemic, this show is filled with hope and uplifting,” he explained. “We cannot go wrong with it.”

This first of SCP’s is supported by the Smith County School Board, as well as local businesses (Smith sold advertising), grants, and individuals. Already fundraising has garnered $23,000 so far. It allowed them to purchase two projectors and the system that works them, among other things to progress the play.

Auditions for this musical took place Nov. 15-17 in the Smith County High School. “We’re looking to have students represented from each school and homeschool community in the county,” said Smith.

The musical welcomed any student 2nd-12th grade in Smith County to fill both actors’ and backstage roles. As of mid-November, they already had students helping in set construction and soon will have students helping with costuming, painting, hair and makeup, sound and light design, and of course, on-stage acting.

Smith explained many of the students in Smith County have never crossed the county line. “In fact, of students I’ve talked to, many couldn’t describe what a musical was,” Smith said. “This is the only outlet a lot of our students have to explore their interest in theatre, whether it be acting, singing, dancing, or anything off-stage.

Aside from church plays, it is the only opportunity for children’s theatre in Smith County. When I’ve visited schools in preparation for the show, I’ve had so many students who have expressed interest in what we’re doing.”
So many kids want to be in front of and behind the stage, but didn’t know how to further that interest.

“By supporting our students, you will help grow their confidence and encourage their dreams,” said Smith. “You’ll also help develop their skill set-we can’t give students the latest technology without the funding to do so. Our
construction students are developing interpersonal communication skills. They are developing leadership skills. We are providing students with skills any future employer would be pleased with. Our students are passionate, and
every one of them-be it our performance students or those who prefer backstage-are ready to give it all they’ve got come March 2022.”

“Annie,” the musical, will be March 11-20, 2022 in the Smith County High School auditorium. It will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s in this time period. Friday and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. for a total of
six shows. Go to Smith County Playhouse on Facebook for the latest ticketing information.

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 Committee members have begun the process to register the Gina Putman Foundation as a 501c3 Non-Profit.



— 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.


Sherry’s Hope…Different Name, Same Wonderful Cause

Since 2004, the second Saturday of each September has become synonymous with one event in Wilson County—the Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk. While Sherry’s Run 5K is a one-day event, the team works throughout the year to provide hope to those battling cancer in our community by offering financial assistance with everyday needs. To better reflect this important work carried out on a year-round basis, the organization decided a name change was in order. Sherry’s Hope was introduced in January 2021.

“I don’t think anyone who gathered for the very first Sherry’s Run 5K would have imagined where we are today,” says Executive Board Member, Scott Jasper. “With the outstanding support we receive from the community, we have been blessed to grow into so much more than a once-a-year run. It is our prayer that Sherry’s Hope will embody the hope that comes from shared burdens.”

The funds raised from those first few 5K events went to cancer research. It was in 2008 that an idea was presented to use the funds raised to help people battling cancer in our community by offering financial assistance with everyday necessities. That idea began the transition from a fundraising event to a full-fledged 501c3 non-profit organization. Since 2008, hundreds of individuals in our community fighting cancer have received assistance with utility bills, housing payments, prescription assistance, medical expenses, grocery assistance, and gas assistance.

Though the organization is undergoing a name change, this will not affect the assistance offered to those in our community who are facing cancer. In fact, it is the hope of the board and staff that this change will bring awareness to the year-round ministry made possible by the support from generous donors and run participants. “It has been amazing to watch this organization blossom from a small run into the non-profit organization it is today. We are truly blessed and so thankful for our supporters,” says staff member, Corrie Cluck, who also participated in the very first run held in memory of Sherry Whitaker. “Healing begins with hope and this community provides that hope to so many,” says Cluck.

The event our community has come to cherish will continue on every 2nd Saturday in September as the Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk to benefit Sherry’s Hope. The run is an important fundraiser for the work carried out by the Sherry’s Hope organization.

This year’s run will be held on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 8 am at 623 West Main Street, Lebanon. Register for the 18th annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk to benefit Sherry’s Hope online at and click on the register button at the top of the page. Paper registration forms are available at the Sherry’s Hope office, 110 Babb Drive, Lebanon. Chip timed runner, participant and virtual/sleep in registrations are available. While you don’t have to join a team to participate in the 5K event, teams are a fun part of the Sherry’s Run 5K! Teams are a great way for a group to work together to support family, friends and neighbors who are fighting cancer. More team information is available at

The organization wants everyone in our community to know that if you are fighting cancer, Sherry’s Hope is here for you. In addition to financial support, the non-profit also hosts monthly support group meetings.  If you would like more information about our programs or if you or someone you know is undergoing cancer treatment and in need of assistance, please call 615-925-9932 or visit



18th Annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk

Saturday, September 11, 2021


For General Information

Call 615-925-2592

or visit

Bringing Design Home to Smith County


Smith County native Stephanie McCaleb is making her mark in the design world, one room, one house, one storefront at a time. Stephanie attended Smith County High School and after graduation attended Tennessee Tech University where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Housing and Design with a minor in Business in 2017.

Since then, with her husband Jonah’s full support, Stephanie has blazed quite a trail throughout Middle Tennessee which has finally led to her own storefront – Stephanie McCaleb Interiors, which is located in the heart of her hometown of Carthage, right where it needed to be.

Owning a business in Smith County has always been a goal for McCaleb, and although her business model has shifted over the years, interior design is a long-lasting passion. Over the past four years since graduation, she has worked diligently to gain knowledge and experience in interior design and increase her design skills. And in 2020, the storefront became reality.

Stephanie McCaleb Interiors is a full-service interior design firm and curated home furnishings shop located on Main Street in Carthage, Tennessee. Although McCaleb is based in Carthage, her services are available to all Middle Tennesseans; many of her current clients are from the Cookeville and Nashville surrounding areas, as well as Wilson County.

As a full-service designer, she is able to assist clients in a variety of interior designing tasks, including project and paint consultations, furnishings, renovations, and new home construction layouts. The store – which is soon to be reaching its one-year mark since opening – carries a wide array of furniture, lighting, rugs, and accent decor, all of which are hand-selected for quality, durability, and aesthetic. McCaleb is confident in every service and item she offers, and that’s because, she notes, “I would decorate my own home with my products and often do!”

In addition to working on her own business, McCaleb also regularly coordinates events with other small businesses, especially female-owned and operated. She recently co-hosted a candle pouring event with another small business owned by a Smith County native, and frequently arranges pop-up spotlights within her shop for other businesses, specifically those who may not have access to a storefront property.

In fact, her next big event will be her one-year storefront celebration in September. “It’s going to be a big day for my husband and I and everyone is welcome. We are still working on the details, so for those interested in stopping by, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @stephaniemccalebinteriors.”

Stephanie enjoys providing publicity to other small businesses through these events, as well as through social media shares and other word-of-mouth mentions. She acknowledges that small businesses are not easy to start, but that each of them bring a unique touch to hometowns and allows for community growth.

From an outside perspective, opening and running a small business may seem simple to some, however, it can be challenging. Nevertheless, McCaleb encourages those desiring to start a business to reach for the stars. Stephanie’s advice for potential business owners is, “find yourself a support system that encourages you, believes in your ideas, and most importantly keeps you grounded. I can’t tell you how many times in my journey to become a small business owner I received a ‘no’ or hit an obstacle. Each time I was crushed. I questioned if I was really meant to pursue this dream. My husband has been the best at making sure I did not give up, but also keeping me in check with reality.” She credits her husband for encouraging her ambitions, supporting her, and most importantly reminding her to be patient while working towards her goals.

Stephanie says that she is excited about her future. The housing market is exploding as are renovations. “Everyone is interested in making their homes beautiful and that starts with the basics – colors, staple pieces, and then accents to make it more personal. I love every aspect of what I do. From meeting clients, working with them to come up with the right design, finding the perfect pieces, pulling it all together, and then watching it evolve over time as they grow into their space. And now, with the storefront, I have even more to offer to a wider clientele. And, what makes me even happier is I’m doing it where I grew up. That makes it even more special!”

In the spirit, of giving back to her community McCaleb is offering a deal to the readers of Wilson Living Magazine, “As a thank you to everyone taking the time to read this article, I would like to extend a welcome gift for your next visit to Stephanie McCaleb Interiors. Bring your copy of this article or let us know you read it and receive 10% off your next in-store purchase!” (Exclusions may apply to this promotion.)


Compassionate Hands finds Permanent Home

Since 2012 Compassionate Hands has been helping the unhoused in Wilson County. In 2020, this much needed local charity found a permanent space and it could not have come at a better time.

Shelia Weathers, Director of Ministry Development

Compassionate Hands began as a network of churches working together to provide winter shelter to Wilson County’s unhoused population. Their purpose was to insure that no unhoused friend would freeze to death. In 2020, they were blessed with the opportunity to purchase their own building, thus allowing them to offer year-round services.

Shelia Weathers, the current Director of Ministry Development at Compassionate Hands, continues daily to fulfill it’s mission by procuring volunteers, funds and other resources. Weathers became involved after learning about the organization from a board member with whom she attended church. Before joining Compassionate Hands, Shelia was the Development Officer for another ministry located in Nashville, that also served the unhoused population. Because of her background, she was already familiar with her new role and agreed to join their mission. Weathers stated, “I am continually grateful for God leading me to this amazing organization”.

The mission statement of Compassionate Hands is to provide opportunities to serve, support, advocate, and befriend our unhoused neighbors in need in Wilson County. Weathers believes that by providing the men and women who live on the streets during the winter months, a safe place to eat three meals a day, showers, beds, laundry, clothing, mentoring, further supports the long term goal of eventually helping the unhoused find jobs, permanent housing and other resources. During the warmer months, the organization works to support the same individuals by continuing to provide a place to shower, eat, do laundry, obtain counseling, and acquire other resources that many may not have access to otherwise. Weathers reiterated that Compassionate Hands’ mission is vital to the community, since the organization may be one of the few allies for the unhoused population.

Weathers spoke of an incident in which an elderly man in poor health was living in his car in a business’s parking lot. Compassionate Hands’ volunteers began to work towards building a relationship with the man by providing him meals and other needs and asking him to elaborate on his situation. They soon realized that he was receiving disability benefits and paying for his relative’s expenses with these funds in order to house them, which left him with very little. Due to the man’s condition, the organization was able to utilize funds from a recent grant they had obtained, to assist him and his family into housing where they still remain today. This is just one example of the good this charity does for the community.

There are numerous methods that members of the Wilson County community can aid the organization’s cause. Volunteering can be a beneficial experience for all involved. This summer, volunteers are needed on Mondays and Wednesdays especially. Volunteers can participate in food preparation, serving meals, assisting with laundry and showers, repairing bikes, mentoring, painting and minor repair work, landscaping, and cleaning at the center. During the winter season, the shelter is more active in housing people, and needs volunteers for all of these tasks, in addition to nightly staffing for the shelters and bus drivers. The organization also must replenish supplies frequently, and monetary donations are extremely helpful.

In 2020, the organization moved into its headquarters on College Street in Lebanon. It came right at the perfect time, because with COVID, places to shelter the homeless for the night, became limited. The headquarters was used to house the male population and The Glade Church in Mt. Juliet graciously provided their facility as shelter for the women. “Our new headquarters was a Godsend,” notes Weathers “because finding shelter was becoming harder and harder for us because of the pandemic. The long-term plan for the headquarters is to be a place the unhoused can obtain resources/training to obtain sustainability with jobs, housing, and other much-needed life-skills, with the overnight shelter to return to the local churches. But we are taking it day by day and are just thankful that for now, we have this permanent building to offer our unhoused community.”

To find out how you can help Compassionate Hands as a volunteer or donor, call (615) 784-9897, or email

Vanderbilt Level Care with Small-Town Feel

No matter where you are in your reproductive health journey, Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon has got you covered. Our team of four Certified Nurse Midwives and four OB-GYNs empowers you to make your own informed healthcare decisions by supporting you, educating you, and standing by your side at every visit.

“We offer a full range of primary health care services for patients of all ages – from adolescence to post-menopause,” said Heather Potts, Certified Nurse Midwife. “Our team is well-versed in primary care, family planning, preconception care, gynecological care, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Our midwife team works closely with our physician colleagues to provide the best service for you and your family.”

Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon midwives are obstetric and gynecological healthcare providers that offer intimate and personalized care for our patients. All of our midwives have a background in nursing, which ensures effective and safe care for clients. Our Certified Nurse Midwives are experts at assessing, diagnosing, and treating a diverse range of healthcare conditions. Mothers walk away from their appointments with our team feeling heard, understood, and connected to their healthcare providers. Here, you will know your care team by name – and they will know you.

Our midwife team keeps close watch over you during the duration of your pregnancy and birth, offering guidance and a hand to hold. “Nothing is more rewarding to us than delivering your baby safe and sound,” said Megan Donohue, MSN, Certified Nurse Midwife. “Being the first one to introduce parents to their baby is worth its weight in gold. We laugh and cry alongside our patients – it is this connection that keeps us coming back for more.”

Heather Potts Certified Nurse Midwife

At Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon, we ensure you will have a true understanding of your care plan, while also giving you a voice to alter the plan to fit your needs and desires. Our midwives present all options to you, discussing risks and benefits openly and honestly. These conversations start in the clinic, but they don’t stop there. These discussions continue throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period, because we want you to have a say.

Megan Donohue MSN, Certified Nurse Midwife

If you are a higher-risk patient, we are able to expedite your care to any specialist in the Vanderbilt Health system, ensuring you receive the intimate care that is expected at a private practice, while also offering the resources that come along with a large academic institution. Our patients will always have a comprehensive team supporting them through their entire birth, pregnancy and postpartum process. We’re the best of both worlds.

The majority of our women’s health team is local to Wilson County – we are members of your community who care for you like family. The newest addition to the team will be Zoe Belkin, MD. In fall 2021, Dr. Belkin will be the first female OB-GYN to join Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon.

“I am thrilled to be joining the team as the first female OB-GYN at Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon,” Dr. Belkin said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to provide care for women of Wilson County through all life stages – including pregnancy, postpartum, non-surgical and surgical gynecological care. I strive to improve my patients’ health through evidenced-based care, careful listening, and individualized attention. I am a strong advocate for my patients, and I hope to empower them to feel in charge of their own health.”

With both Certified Nurse Midwives and OB-GYNs, all experts in a wide range of women’s healthcare, Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Lebanon is ready to serve you and your family. We will empower you to make informed decisions about your care. Let us meet you wherever you are in your reproductive journey.

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 For a schedule of upcoming events you and your family can enjoy be sure to visit their website at Events are constantly being added, so check back often and come out to enjoy all the Expo Center offers!

There Must Be Something In The Water

Watertown’s small-town values impact our community in a big way

Mayor Randall Hutto, County Attorney Mike Jennings, Judge Brody Kane and District Attorney General Jason Lawson

If you ever have the opportunity to drive through Watertown – you’re likely to see children riding bikes, grandparents sitting on their front porches and neighbors waving at each other as they drive down the road. Boasting only about 1500 citizens, Watertown is a close-knit community where neighbors check on each other, churches are full on Sundays and hard work is valued.

Wilson County’s smallest city was established in the 1790s when the grandparents of Wilson L. Waters, the founder of Watertown, moved into the Round Lick Creek area. Waters established a sawmill, gristmill and blacksmith in the early 1800s and in 1858 was appointed the first postmaster. Waters’ 400-acre farm became forever known thereafter as Watertown.

Watertown – with its rolling hills, fishing holes and a town that takes pride in the fact they don’t even have one traffic light in their entire town  –  almost sounds unreal in today’s 21st century modern world, where life happens fast and people are quickly losing their connections. But the people of Watertown are holding tight to their small-town values, finding that those values are impacting and shaping Wilson County for the better.

Just ask four local citizens who hail from Watertown. Each of them holds fond memories of growing up in Watertown and how their small-town values have influenced their lives and careers.

County Mayor Randall Hutto, County Attorney Mike Jennings, District Attorney General Jason Lawson and Criminal Court Judge Brody Kane were all raised in Watertown and have not wandered too far from their hometown roots. Hutto and Kane now live in Lebanon, Lawson is in Mt. Juliet and Jennings not only continues to live in Watertown but is also their Mayor. Visit a Friday night Watertown football game and you’re likely to see one or two of these men in the stands cheering their Purple Tigers on while talking to their old friends and neighbors.

“It’s about community. When you grow up in a small town like this, you always feel safe and protected. Everyone was always rooting for you, from your teachers who wanted you to succeed, to your coaches on the field who taught you grit and perseverance, to your friends who always had your back and still do 50 years later,” notes Criminal Court Judge Brody Kane.

Brody Kane

Wilson County County Attorney, Mike Jennings, was born and raised in Watertown and then raised his own children there too. In fact, he liked it so much, he has stuck around and has remained the Mayor of Watertown for more than three decades. A job he does without pay because this way of life and preserving it, is important to him. Mike remembers that “growing up in Watertown revolved around church, school and family. These things were focal points then and, in my opinion, they still are.”

Mike Jennings

In the last ten years, Wilson County’s population has grown by over 26% and as Nashville keeps pushing east and people are moving to Tennessee in droves, change is inevitable. Yet, the reason so many people want to live in Tennessee and Wilson County specifically, is directly because of the fact – church, school and family are important to them as well.

A fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by all four of these men whose job it is to protect and preserve our community, as well as another Watertown resident, who chose to call Watertown home as an adult.

In July, Jeff Luttrell took over as Wilson County’s Director of Schools. Jeff was raised in a town much like Watertown north of the border in Kentucky. He became a teacher because of the deep impact his teachers had on him as a young child. They believed he could when others did not. Their words and actions impacted him and encouraged him. Their efforts led him down a path that eventually brought him to Cumberland University and under the guidance of Coach Woody Hunt, Jeff finished college and began his teaching career in Hartsville and later Watertown. He stayed in Watertown because of a pretty young lady from Watertown named Tiffany Allison, who at the time was cutting his hair.  Jeff likes to share that his regular barber only charged ten dollars while Tiffany charged fifteen dollars, which was steep for a young teacher, but he laughs, he kept coming back every few weeks until she eventually went out with him and married him. Since then Jeff and his family have called Watertown home with Jeff eventually going from a teacher and coach to Principal of Watertown High School.

“Watertown is a great place to live and raise your kids. The people are hard-working and have integrity. What they say they mean. It’s not about money, it’s not about who your parents are or what they do, it’s about what you do and how you do it that matters. It was my privilege to be the Principal of Watertown High School and to see small town values in action daily within this community and the school specifically. You don’t necessarily teach honesty or work-ethic – instead it’s instilled in you as a way of life by watching and learning from those around you. Teachers take pride in their work and want their students to succeed. Parents are involved and support the teachers. The community as a whole watches out for each other and for our kids and often steps up to help each other out. The world our children are being raised in might be completely different than the one we were raised in, its faster, scarier, bigger but if your core values are solid, then you can handle anything that life throws your way.”

As Wilson County grows, the Director of Schools has a huge responsibility because how Luttrell leads will affect not just the children but the entire community in the future. “I’m ready for this job. I don’t take lightly the impact my decisions will make. I talked to my family and prayed about it long and hard before deciding to put my name in for the position. I’m up for the challenges ahead and excited to see all that these kids will be doing in the future. And I hope that many of them will return to the area after finishing up their education. The world out there may be all shiny and new but there is something to be said about living and working in a community like the one we have here in Watertown.”

Mayor Hutto, a former teacher and coach himself, also hopes that many of our young citizens will decide to stay within the community. “It’s one of the many reasons I decided to become Mayor eleven years ago. It’s important to me that as this community grows, we grow in a way that preserves our past but makes room for our future. We have to have opportunities for both our older and younger citizens and give them all a good quality of life – good jobs, good neighborhoods, good school systems, safe communities. While we can’t bring Mayberry back, we can teach and encourage the values that support a good quality of life. I was blessed to be raised in Watertown and maybe that’s why I love The Andy Griffith Show so much, because it reminds me of my early years in Watertown.”

Randall Hutto

“Growing up in Watertown, when you were not in school, a ballfield or church then you were somewhere working,” Hutto reminisces. Hutto remembers at nine years old working for his Uncle Donnie Roberts at the Valley Discount Store in Watertown. “It was the only store that stayed open past 6 p.m.. I learned how to pump gas, run a cash register and eventually become the butcher. When I wasn’t there, I was on my grandfather, Claude Roberts’ farm raising tobacco and taking care of two large chicken houses – which had over 10,0000 laying hens. The eggs had to be gathered twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening – 365 days a year. The store was open 365 days a year as well and only closed early on Christmas evening. So during a typical day, I would wake up around 5:30 in the morning and ride to the store with my Uncle Ed Roberts who also worked there and was like a brother to me. I would pump gas until it was time to ride the bus to school. We practiced football during school in those days, so when practice was over, I’d ride the bus back to the store and stay there until 10 o’clock at night when I’d drive home with my Pa, who would often allow us to do the driving.”

“Those were different times but hard work never killed anyone and made you stronger in my opinion. I support Jeff Luttrell and know he knows the value of hard work and how it impacts our younger generation. To be successful in our world today you must be able to withstand the storms of life – and to do so, you must have a strong foundation. Watertown gave me the foundation that has helped me navigate this world and hopefully make a difference. The first foundation was being raised with people with similar values as my own – people who valued family and a strong work ethic. The second foundation came from the people that came into my life from teachers and coaches to friends. These people helped me make my decisions. I remember my principal Mr. John D. Johnson’s response as I asked him whether I should go to college. He simply said ‘If you don’t try it, you will never know if you can succeed or not.’ The third and most significant foundation would be my faith, which was built by my grandmother Corine Roberts. She made sure I went to church every Sunday at the Watertown First Baptist Church. This church has not only been special to me because it was the first church I regularly attended and served in, but it was also the church that I was married in 35 years ago. I have many great memories in this church but the faith I live by today, especially when the storms of life arise, help me get through the other side.”

“Watertown is different today but I still believe the product it continues to produce is above average. There is just something special about this place. And I carry what I learned those years in Watertown and the foundation it gave me into everything I do to this day, including my job as County Mayor.”

Judge Kane also holds fond memories of growing up in Watertown and how that shaped him. “Mrs. Marian Driver was my 4th Grade teacher and she was wonderful. She often read books to us and had each row of students compete against the other in hotly contested math flash card competitions. Her classroom was located in the “new” high school building which meant I would often see my older sisters during the day when the high schoolers changed classes. I don’t ever remember being afraid of the high school kids, everyone was nice and respectful to each other.” Interestingly, the home and farm that the Kane’s grew up in in Watertown was torn down to make way for the current Watertown High School campus. “Whenever I drive onto the campus, I feel like I’m coming home – because I am. I rode my bike up and down that driveway thousands of times – riding my bike into town to the five and dime located on the corner of the square or to the Snow White for the vanilla shakes. It never once crossed my mind to be scared or that something would happen to me. I felt safe everywhere I went. And when I got older, there was less bike riding with friends and more working in the hay fields with them in the summer.  And when I wasn’t working on someone else’s farm then I was helping my parents out on our farm – from taking care of sheep or cattle when my Dad was out of town to planting rows and rows of potatoes for my mother. Work kept me out of trouble. I was too tired for trouble by the time I planted ten rows of potatoes!”

And of course, then there was football. Kane recalls that “Junior Pro Football started in the 3rd Grade and so I immediately started playing. William Taylor and Jack Hale were the coaches my first year followed by Ken Fountain and Bruce Harris and eventually Coach Robinson in high school. They all had a great desire to not only win but to teach us that in order to win we had to work hard at learning our skills and work together as a team. They spent countless hours teaching us these important lessons and for that I will be forever grateful.”

“I moved away from Watertown for college and law school and then lived in Memphis for a few years. All of a sudden the big city and all that came with it was at my door. That impacted me in a big way because I realized that without the support of teachers,  family, and church behind you, shaping you, like I had had,  you could easily make wrong decisions that could affect you and others negatively for the rest of your life. I returned to Wilson County because I knew I wanted my children to be raised with the same values I was raised in. And as Criminal Court Judge, I see daily what is happening to our world. But if a child is raised with a strong foundation, much like Mayor Hutto, mentions – family, faith, work ethic and then our schools and churches also are proponents of values like honesty and commitment, they are less likely to go astray. But if they do, you find ways to get them back on course. Those are Watertown values for sure – responsibility and caring about your neighbor.”

District Attorney Lawson, the youngest of the Watertown natives, grew up like Kane and Hutto – in that family, school and church were the cornerstones of his childhood. Lawson notes that “as I reflect on my memories about Watertown what I have come to realize is that the most special thing about the town is the people.” From his childhood friends Alan Hill, Patrick Orrand and Jennifer Hearn with whom he would play way past dark in games that spanned all the yards on the street, to attending church and listening to his grandfather Ben Fuston preach on Sundays, to his teachers Paulette Dorris, Sue Simpson and Janice Rochelle (to name just a few) who shaped the future of each child they taught, Lawson attributes who he became on all these one on one connections. “The people of Watertown, those memories, they have helped shape me to be the person I am. A person that cares about other people. A person that wants to help out. A person who isn’t afraid to step forward and make the effort to correct the situation and make it better than it was before.”

Jason Lawson

It was a great childhood – filled with great memories. Lawson remembers that playing softball at the Watertown ballpark was a right of passage. “My team was sponsored by Anderson’s Backhoe, a company ran by Billy Anderson, with whom I attended church. We were terrible but I’ll never forget one night my teammate Eric Dies crushed his first homerun over the fence. There was a reward for anyone who could hit a homerun – a free ice cream from the concession stand, and we were so bad I was really excited to see someone finally get one! I remember coaches like Clint Dennison and Steve Carlisle who would often talk to us about life lessons that had nothing at all to do with the sport they were coaching. They just cared about the kids they were helping raise. To all of these coaches and teachers, it wasn’t just a job to them, it was a profession that they invested themselves in. They knew how important their job was to make all of us become the people that we ought to be.”

“Watertown people have a spirit of helping people out. When the roads would ice over, my dad would get my brother and I up and tell us to get our warm clothes on, that since we had larger trucks with his business, that we had a duty to use them to help people get unstuck and to make it to their homes. I remember local farmers like Bob Haley reaching out to kids to hire them to help work in his tobacco fields not because he truly needed the help, but because he knew that the kid or the kid’s family could use the money. I remember Fridays and Friday nights during football season. Whether it was a year that I was a fan or a year that I played, the experience was unforgettable. The pride that the whole school and the whole town had for its team. The school decked out in royal purple face paint, pep rallies, and then a parade in town for a team meal at the Depot. It’s an amazing way to grow up.”

“All these people and their acts of compassion and dedication shaped me to be the person I am and I’m not alone in sharing this. County lawyers, county mayors, judges, district attorneys, school directors, there are easier ways to make money. These jobs come with challenging problems and more often than not not everyone agrees with your decision. But there are not better ways to help families in our county and to shape our community into what we want it to be. It is the spirit of service that I learned in Watertown that draws us to these positions and continues to motivate us to continue to serve.”

Lawson, who graduated from Watertown High School and went on to MTSU and then UT Knoxville for law school has been a prosecutor his entire legal career. In 2021, he was appointed by Governor Lee to be the new District Attorney General upon the retirement of General Tommy Thompson. At his swearing in ceremony, Judge Brody Kane had the honor of administering his oath of office, a touching moment that did not go unnoticed by many of their Watertown teachers, coaches and neighbors who undoubtedly had a hand in their achievements.

And it is in that same spirit of service that Mike Jennings, the final Watertown native continues to give back to his small community that has given him so much. Mike has been Wilson County’s county attorney for decades and Watertown’s Mayor for 38 years. He and Luttrell have raised families in Watertown and have no plans to leave. In fact, Mayor Jennings now has grandchildren growing up in Watertown.

Mike reminisces that ”I was blessed to have teachers that cared about me and made sure that I applied myself to my education. The older I get the more I realize how much these teachers influenced my life. Expectations were laid out in class and you were expected to meet them. Behavior issues were dealt with by the teachers in the classroom and they were not afraid to use the paddle. In fact, Mrs. Sadie Knox had an axe handle which she laid out on the front of her desk to remind you of the need to behave! And, should your behavior not rise to their expectation level you can better believe that information would beat you home and there would be worse consequences awaiting you there. One teacher, in particular, Mrs. Dorothy Bass, told me at her desk one day ‘you will be the Mayor of Watertown someday.’ I laughed at her and told her she was crazy. We both laughed about that and I thought about her the night I took my first Oath of office as Mayor of Watertown at age 28.

Mayor Jennings is also a member of Watertown First Baptist Church and remembers how the men of the church spent time with the boys like himself taking them camping, fishing and to the occasional minor league baseball game. They even built a ballfield out back at the church for the kids. With connections and support like this, you can do anything you put your mind to. “Like most boys of that age and time, I started out wanting to be a major league baseball player or football player. At the end of my junior year, the Watertown Lions Club selected me to attend American Legion Boy’s State in Cookeville and that is where I began to get interested in government. In college I became more and more interested in the law, traveling with my best friend, who also became an attorney, to the Wilson County Courthouse many afternoons to sit in on trials. By the time I graduated MTSU, I knew that I wanted to go to law school.” After law school, Jennings started his own law practice that eventually led him to being named the County attorney, representing Wilson County in various governmental matters. And a few years after starting his law practice, he also became the Mayor of Watertown.

As Mayor of Watertown, Mike believes “it’s important to continue the family values and guidance that I received as a student and young man. That is what I have tried to do in my 38 years as Mayor. I want Watertown to be a family friendly community where people want to live and, if they can’t live here, that they enjoy visiting. I want it to be appealing to any age and we try real hard not to make decisions that would not be in the best interest of our families, schools and churches.”

And while Watertown strives in many ways to stay the same and preserve its Mayberry type of community, Mike and the citizens of Watertown see the change coming right before their eyes. The new high school is a jewel in the county, and many families are moving in so their children can attend the school. “We’ve gone from one ballfield in town to a community Park and three fields. We have a drive-in theater and we have many annual events such as the Jazz Festival, Car Shows and the Watertown Mile Long Yard Sale. We still don’t have a traffic light though,” Mike says proudly, and then chuckles, “but we like it that way.”

Small town values – integrity, mean what you say, treat people how you want to be treated, work hard at everything you do. These are the qualities instilled in Watertown’s young not just by words but by the actions of those around them. And these are the qualities instilled in those guiding our community into tomorrow.

How sweet it is! Heavenly Bites by Cora.

Cora Wyatt’s cases at Heavenly Bites by Cora in Lebanon are full to the brim with the most decadent, delicious, and down-right good goodies nearly every day of the week.

Wyatt’s second act involves cupcakes, cake pops, pies, cheesecakes, pretzel sticks, dozens of different kinds of dipped caramel apples, and cakes upon cakes. And much more.

A surgical nurse for 25 years (20 years in Cookeville) she got a real wild hair and moved herself alone to Lebanon and opened Heavenly Bites by Cora on Highway 109 North on July 6, 2019.

“I transferred for a job in Lebanon at what was then Tennova,” she said.

She moved to Lebanon in 2014 and was still a nurse there several years.

But, the fun and secret side of Wyatt was she is a fantastic baker.

“I made pumpkin rolls for children on the side as an emergency call nurse,” she recalled. “I was up all day waiting for the call and just decided to start baking.”

She gave away her scrumptious, secret recipe pumpkin rolls to co-workers and a buzz began.

“People told me I ought to sell them,” she said.

She sold pumpkin rolls out of her Spence Creek neighborhood for several years. It was her Grandma’s family recipe.

Her baking business morphed so much her fiancé, Tim Porter, bought her a place on 109 so she could bake with a business license. She concocted her confections in the back of the place.

In Oct. 2018 Porter built out the space to include an eventual storefront.

“Tim supported me the whole time,” said Wyatt, 52.

At first, Wyatt did all the baking herself because she’s persnickety about her recipes. Porter bakes as well. On a single day, they have 14 different varieties of fresh-made cupcakes from scratch and in the oven at 6 a.m. These aren’t your ordinary varieties though. Each are filled with deliciousness. Kids, and grownups as well, can pick out from four to six different types of cake pops. The ones at the local coffee shop pale in size and taste. There’s Keto, large and small pies, cookies, pretzel sticks and her dipped caramel apples go beyond plain caramel, but are dunked in triple chocolate and rolled in nuts.

“There are too many varieties to list,” Wyatt laughed.

Tim has joined her full time. Out of this world scones are behind her case, as well as cinnamon rolls the likes of blueberry and more.

“All my goodies are family recipes,” said Wyatt. “All tested and tried. Our cupcakes are gourmet with filling in them. Think hot fudge, cherries, Reese’s Pieces. They are twice the size of regular cupcakes.”

She said her delights are affordable.

“I want families to come back again and again,” Wyatt said.

Each day customers will find homemade cakes in about three varieties. And, she bakes special orders every day.

Customers eat up about 250 cake pops a week, German chocolate is the fav flavor for her cupcakes, and the strawberry shortcakes are requested on an hourly basis.

Pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate fudge pies are equally loved, as well as her blueberry crisp pie.

Now a bit of time into this  fun foray into the baking world, Wyatt has expanded to Cookeville.

“People were driving to Lebanon to get my desserts,” she said. “We opened the Cookeville store Jan. 9 as a storefront.”

Today both cupcake businesses are flourishing. Despite the pandemic. These days she has some help. Though she’s super woman, she can only bake so many cupcakes herself.

“Now I have four employees at my Lebanon store and two at my Cookeville store,” said Wyatt.

She pops up at both stores on a daily basis, and, still bakes.

Recently, there were about 29 different selections of delectables in her case on one day.

“In 2014, I came here alone and I learned to save,” she said. “Now I have a whole new career.”

Her decades in nursing gifted her with stamina and drive.

“I am my own boss now,” she said, smiling ear to ear.

She and Tim bought a houseboat recently on Center Hill Lake. They put the finishing touches on it and moved in mid-July.

And, this cupcake couple tied the knot in August. It was a destination wedding, just the two of them, in Hawaii.

“We can put our money into our bakeries!”

We bet they toasted the union with a cupcake!

‘Dr. Mike’ happy with ‘new normal’ eight years after stroke

After a surreal journey the past eight years, Mike Harris believes laughter is the best medicine.

Known as “Dr. Mike” of Mt. Juliet Animal Care Center by legions of friends, family and clients, this loved local vet asks Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa to tell him a joke every morning to start off his day.

“She makes sure I laugh every day,” Mike said while at his home in Gladeville.

What happened to Mike, 67, on Sept. 11, 2013 was the furthest thing from a joke imaginable.

A few hours after a routine sinus surgery, Mike suffered an Ischemic stroke while recuperating at home. That type of stroke happens when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked. Within minutes, the veterinarian’s 35-year fulltime career came to a screeching halt and he began a fight; first to live, and then to battle back to regain full speech, the use of his legs and some mobility.

His wife, Denise, had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few months previously and was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

“The neurologist came to me and said Mike’s right side of the brain was devastated and the left side had irregularities,” she said.

Their daughter, Haley, was 12 at the time. They had a son, Drew. Denise said that day changed their lives and she put her cancer in the backseat.

“I was so caught up in keeping him alive I went into emergency mode the whole time,” she said. “Of course, I’d come back to the question of ‘why?’ He is such a good man. It’s devastating to watch your husband struggle.”

Brain surgery led to 30 days in the ICU and 120 days in the hospital. Then years of therapy. Both Mike and Denise fought off COVID-19 last June.

For years, clients and locals asked about Dr. Mike and how he was doing. If he was able to talk and walk? How is he recovering? The community missed Dr. Mike and he was rarely seen.

Life before the stroke

Mike was the first generation of his family who was not born in the log cabin on the family farm in Gladeville. Today he and Denise live in Gladeville, off Leeville Road. Haley is in college and Drew is in California in the music industry.

It was only logical Mike became a vet. He grew up on the farm where his father and grandfather ran a dairy. They then used it for beef cattle. Mike and his brother still run cattle today.

Following graduation from Auburn University’s veterinary school in 1978, he joined a vet practice in Austin, Texas. He came back home in 1982 and after a stint at Hermitage Animal Hospital, he opened his own practice on N. Mt. Juliet Road (Billy Goat Café now occupies that space).

In 1986, he built his animal care facility. He expanded three times before he sold the vet business to VCA in 2010 to spend more time with his family. He had been working 80-hour weeks for years. He had built the practice up to 15,000 clients, five other vets and 65 employees. At one point, it was not uncommon for him to treat 100 pets a day.

His deal was he could work there three years more to help with the transition. His clients begged him to stay.

He didn’t quite make it to finish that third year because of the stroke.

Journey back to ‘new normal’

When he woke from the brain surgery, he could barely speak, could not sit up and had no use of his left arm, and the other limbs were iffy.

“It was so frustrating, I was so scared but I had hope to get better,” Mike said. “As long as I could speak, I had to fight. I had my 12-year-old daughter, son and my wife.”

Denise said they were lucky enough to privately pay for his therapy and is taken aback when she thinks of those who can’t. Haley started a nonprofit called Healing Heads that raises money for those with brain injuries.

“After dealing with the fear and anxiety that comes with cancer, I was pretty emotionally numb when Mike had his stroke,” Denise said quietly. “It was simply a matter of survival at that point. In addition, there was so much support from our families and tons of support from his clients, friends, church family and the community in general.”

Mike said his lowest point was at first when he thought there was no hope to get better. He said his highest point was when after years of therapy he knew he could live a “semi-normal” life.

He hated therapy. He said therapists were strict.

Life’s new normal

One doctor told Denise that Mike would most likely never stand.

He can. He can walk with a cane short distances and uses a motorized chair around the house. He has no use of his left arm.  Mike’s mind is as sharp as ever and he remembers every surgical detail. Sometimes former clients call him for advice.

“One client who lives in Florida now called me at 1 a.m. and said her little Yorkie (a former patient) was having seizures,” said Mike. “She couldn’t get a vet at that time. I knew the sugar levels were low and causing the seizures and told her to give a teaspoon of white corn syrup. The seizures stopped within 30 minutes.”

Recently he talked a former client through the delivery of a goat.

He doesn’t want to go into part-time practice, though he has kept up his vet license. He also signs health certificate licenses for the FFA and 4H.

“I realize my limitations,” he said.

Checkers and Scrabble are his favorites. Chess?

Until recently he thought Chess was just too slow. But recently, he began to play.

Denise said he and a friend can play up to 13 rounds of checkers in one sitting. She plays Scrabble with her husband a couple times a day. She said he’s remarkable at it considering his vision in one eye is compromised.

Progress continues every day. Mike said he’s done with formal therapy and good with where he’s at now. Denise said Mike has never been a bad patient.

Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats later and eight years of fight, the retired vet has found peace with a simpler life.

“I’m a 67-year-old man,” he said. “I am now at my happy place.”


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

Seven Generations Later and the Dixons Come Home



If one trait has been passed down from generation to generation in the Dixon family, it has been perseverance. Josh and Ashley Dixon and their children have it and then some!

Today this large family are putting the finishing touches on their dream house in Defeated Creek, located on the original site of the farmhouse settled in the early 1800’s by Josh Dixon’s ancestors. Their farm, located in Smith county, has been in the family for seven generations and was given to them originally with a land grant.

Josh and Ashley met at church and dated for 6 months before tying the knot. “When I started dating Josh I saw a man who had an amazing work ethic, already had his own house and farm and I knew he was the type of man who would always take care of our family,” notes Ashley. “We didn’t plan on having
a big family but I came from a big family of 6 girls and Josh came from a family with 4 children so it was definitely something we were used to.”

As their family grew, their small construction busines flourished as well. Josh had been working construction since he was 10 years old and hard work was something that was instilled in him at a young age. However, in 2008 the market crashed and things went south in the construction business. The
Dixons made the difficult decision to sell the family farm and the home they had spent four years remodeling. By then they also had three children under the age of 3, a car and house payment and they had no other choice. They did, however, find a way to keep 45 acres of the farm with the hopes that they could someday return.

At that point, they left their beautiful remodeled home and moved into a 2 bedroom rented trailer, determined to persevere. Josh continued construction and took a factory job at night. They kept working the Dave Ramsey financial plan, saving their pennies and staying out of debt. This meant no credit cards and shopping thrift stores and goodwill for their growing family.“It’s amazing what you can do on so little!” Ashley remarks.

Soon Ashley was pregnant with baby number 4, a baby boy. Ashley says his name was whispered in her ear at a friend’s house. “It was the craziest things. It was like an Angel told me to name him ‘Logan’. I don’t know why and I still don’t to this day, but I believe one day I will.” After renting for a few years and the market making a comeback, they decided to build on the 45 acres
that they left. It was a crazy spot to build but we went for it. Josh continued to build small custom homes and take on remodeling jobs with his company ‘Dixon Homes’, while building the family home as well. They also started flipping houses and kept adding to the family too.

Then one day the person who had bought their original home reached out to them that she planned on selling it and wanted to offer it to them first. They Dixons, of course, jumped at the chance to have the old homestead once again be part of the family farm.

And as if they were not busy enough, Ashley had also started homeschooling her happy family of now 8 children, while also having them participate in gymnastics and baseball and enjoying family trips in between.

But Ashley is the first to admit that she had struggles along the way. After their 5 th child, she suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. “By using micronutrients I was able to heal myself and now I use Instagram to encourage other mothers who may struggle with the same issues. My handle is @takingbackmoterhood and I love sharing what I’ve learned along my journey. As you can imagine our life is a little different than families of a smaller size because everything over here is bigger! Bigger meals, bigger shopping trips and bigger planning!”

So how does this family of ten manage homeschooling, a business and just day to day life? Ashley says that she likes to take her advice from God and how in Genesis God said it was evening and morning the first day. “He started the day at night, so preparing for the next day the night before is really helpful. I
am also a work in progress minimalist. I try to keep my children’s clothes to a minimum so there is less laundry overall, focusing on quality items over quantity items. If they won’t be fitting into it by the next season out if goes. I use apps like ‘Mercari’ to resell clothing so that I can reuse that money to buy what they need. I have never had a problem shopping second-hand clothes and shoes and when I do buy new, I shop sales and use websites like ‘retail me not’ to get cash back online.”

As for groceries they family cooks a lot of meals from scratch, buy from Sam’s in bulk and often buy a whole cow from a local farmer to have it butchered to fill their freezer. The boys also love to hunt so they eat deer as well. Ashley is just like the rest of us though and notes “Walmart grocery pick up is a
blessing!” She continues that “habits are so important for managing a large family. Starting when the kids are young, we teach them simple things like taking off your shoes when coming inside and putting them where they go. Hanging up backpacks as soon as they get home from tutorial and unpacking and putting away their lunchbox. I teach all of my kids to put away their own laundry and as they get older how to do their own laundry as well. Instilling good habits just makes life easier, even if it’s harder at first. And we are definitely not perfect and that is ok. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t but we just keep going till we get it right.”

“The kids are also involved in the business. A good work ethic is so hard to find these days and we felt if the kids were allowed to work when they were young it would produce more productive adults. I always say I’m raising the kids to be adults and not kids. We do pay them for work and they save money and
buy things they want. It’s important that the children learn the value of hard work because if we just buy them something they wanted ourselves, they would not learn that lesson.”

“It’s all about deciding what is worth it to you and thinking about the things you can make do without. Doing without the things you don’t need enables you to save more for the things you really enjoy like trips and hobbies. And the truth is I have grown with my children. It’s like a body of water, if it never moves it gets stagnant. I’ve had to adopt to life changes and I’ve had to learn to grow where I need so that the family can function well. It’s been quite a journey and in many ways we are still at the beginning stages and we look forward to that!”
And while 2020 was rough for the whole world, the Dixons have stood strong in their faith, family and business. They are now in the process of building their final home on the original site of the ancestorial farmhouse and hope to have it ready to move into by Spring 2021. While the road home has not been easy, the Dixons want to use their story to inspire others to reach for their dreams no matter how crazy they may seem.

Josh and Ashley have come full circle and are now exactly where they were meant to be!

Ebel’s Tavern

Founded in 2017 by husband and wife team, Cole and Erika Ebel, Ebel’s Tavern has become the centerpiece of the Carthage downtown square. And that seems only fitting since Ebel’s Tavern is located in a century-old building
made of solid brick and stone, right in the heart of town.

When Cole and Erika first moved to Smith county in 2012, they were not necessarily interested in starting up a new restaurant. Instead, they were looking for a simpler life, having each served in the military, air force for Erika, and army for Cole. They loved the hometown feel of Smith county and thought it was the perfect place to raise their three children. Upon moving to town, they soon became involved in various community groups and events and
realized that there were not that many places to socialize.

And the idea of Ebel’s Tavern was born.

  • The Ebel’s family (L-R): Colin, Cole, Evangeline, Cason, and Erika

“We wanted to incorporate a family-friendly, classy atmosphere where community could come together, eat good food, drink well-made drinks and have fun,” notes Cole. During a downtown event in 2016, the Ebels noticed
that the historic building was for sale and just for fun, called to ask about it. Next thing they knew, they made an offer and soon were the new owners.

One might think with no experience in the restaurant business, the Ebels would have been terrified of such a new business venture, but that isn’t their style. “We’ve both traveled the states and world and have enjoyed many
different cuisine styles and we wanted to bring some of those tastes closer for others to try,” continues Cole.

Ebel’s Tavern is a steak and seafood restaurant primarily. Specializing in everything from snapper, grouper, fresh oysters and scallops to calamari, shrimp platters and even lobster stuffed mushrooms, you definitely will find something you’ll love on their menu! They are also known for their delicious steaks that are all hand cut, upper 2/3 grass fed, grain finished and aged 21 days. While the grouper and scallops are local favorites, the oysters are extremely popular as well.

In addition to quality food, Ebel’s Tavern has become a place where the community can gather. The tavern has live music every Friday and Saturday night supporting local artists, a poker league every Wednesday night, family fun trivia on Tuesday night and a Thursday night dart league. And the Ebels continue to work towards filling up every night with an event that supports the community.

The success of Ebel’s Tavern, however, is definitely a group effort. While Cole and Erika certainly are very hands on, they are first to give credit to Janie Jones the General Manager of Ebel’s Tavern, as well as Chris Underwood, their Chef and Vince Vaughn, their Sous Chef. The Ebels are thankful for not only their hard work but also their loyalty especially during the last few months.

And while the restaurant is certainly near and dear to their hearts, the Ebels have not only enriched the town square with their new venture but stay  involved in other ways as well. Both are now involved with their local
government with Erika serving on the County Commission and Cole being part of the City Council. As active Libertarians, they are involved not only in government but also other groups that support their community including River City Ball, Smith County Living, Smith County Help Center, Keep Smith County Beautiful and are constantly on the Caney Fork River with a passion for keeping it clean and promoting river tourism.

To say they’ve embraced their new community is an understatement, but the best is yet to come. While expansion is certainly a possibility, for now the Ebels are content on concentrating their efforts on making Ebel’s Tavern the best it can be for the community they’ve come to love and call home.

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.

Q&A with 3 Mayors


What important decisions must you make during your first 90 days in office?

RB: During the campaign, I talked with citizens throughout Lebanon, and three areas of concern emerged from those conversations. In the first 100 days, these need to be addressed.

City of Lebanon Mayor, Rick Bell

First, I will work closely with the Finance Director to better manage the budget. I will also ask each department head to look for cuts in their respective budgets. With many homeowners and local business owners facing difficulty and with an unknown economic future, it is essential that we relieve any unnecessary tax burden.

Second, I will work with the Planning Commission to implement a plan of growth management. This will include a deep study of the Comprehensive Plan that has yet to be approved. We must use the compiled data to create a multi-level strategy to tackle immediate concerns and plan for long-term goals.

Third, we must create a plan to attract restaurants and other amenities to Lebanon. I will work with the Economic Development Director to implement a plan to promote our city to regionally and nationally known businesses and to
incentivize the investment in locally owned businesses.


Watertown Mayor, Mike Jennings

MJ: As I am continuing in office with another term, I don’t know that I can identify any new decisions that must be made during the first 90 days. We will continue to pursue funding for the installation of the railroad turntable and
identify our source of long-term funding for the major sewer project about to go to bid.


City of Mt Juliet Mayor, James Maness

JM: Board and committee appointments, selecting a replacement for the open District 2 seat.


WL: What long-term goals are you coming into office with?

RB: My first long-term goal is to ensure that Lebanon runs financially efficient. We must spend citizen’s tax dollars wisely and in areas that enhance quality of life. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping everyone protected in their homes and neighborhoods; improving the infrastructure of the city; and
creating recreational opportunities for people of all ages.

Second, we need to take advantage of Lebanon’s strong position as a place where people want to live. With the proper strategy, we should be able to choose the type of development that we want and where we want it to be located.

Third, we must promote Lebanon’s assets to attract the types of businesses that we want. We have several things – Vanderbilt Hospital, Cumberland University, Music City Star, Lebanon Municipal Airport – that make our city unique in Middle Tennessee. Instead of waiting for someone to come to us, we will go to them and show them why they need to invest in Lebanon.

MJ: I have pretty much the same goals I have always had. I want to offer our citizens as many things as possible while continuing to maintain our small-town atmosphere.

JM: Reducing the fire ISO rating to a four in the city, completing our transportation projects, adding additional park land and greenways.

WL: What do you believe your city’s biggest challenge is right now? And what are your plans to find a solution for this issue?

RB: Lebanon faces several challenges, but I believe that growth is the biggest. Over the past four years, the city has grown tremendously. However, we have experienced the challenges of growth without reaping the benefits that should
come with it. As I stated previously, we must implement a plan that will prepare us for both. The first step is to study the Comprehensive Plan to determine issues that need to be addressed immediately and to map a strategy for the future. With the proper strategy, growth can be managed, and we can choose the type of community that we want to be.

MJ: The biggest challenge is always money. Many people may not realize that citizens of a small community like Watertown expect you to offer the same services that larger towns and cities do. Police and Fire Protection. Parks and
Recreational opportunities. Safe drinking water. An efficient, working sewer system. Paved streets. Codes enforcement. Opportunities for employment. Many of the expenses to provide these things continue to increase with inflation, increases in population, etc. The challenge is to do the most
you can in the most efficient, economical manner.

JM: Our biggest challenge is transportation. In 2019 we passed our long-term transportation plan. We have to ensure staff has the resources they need, and the funding is there to present shovel-ready projects to the state.

WL: How do you plan to manage the inevitable growth that is coming our way, with the “small town” quality of life many citizens want to retain?

RB: During the campaign, I talked about protecting Lebanon’s identity as a place where we can spend our lives; raise families, and watch as our families grow. Protecting our historic core is an important way to do this. For over 200
years, the square and downtown area has been the heart of Lebanon. We must ensure that it continues. We must also protect our established neighborhoods
throughout the city. There are many neighborhoods where people have raised families and are spending their retirement years. These areas have to be protected from the encroachment of higher density subdivisions.

Also, we need a traffic plan. For people in some parts of Lebanon, they can get to Mt. Juliet quicker than they can get across our city. Better traffic flow can make life less frustrating. It can also help people better enjoy the attributes
that make Lebanon a special place.

MJ: It’s difficult because there are just so few things that you can have input on or manage. We have been fortunate in Watertown to have slow, sustained growth. That offers you more opportunities for input and control. Folks who live in Watertown daily may think they don’t see any change. But, if they will look back 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and more they can see what I mean.

JM: One thing we have pushed for is lower density growth. There is a high demand for the area, and we try to balance the demand to develop an area with required open and green space. It’s also important for the growth to be compatible with the area and add value. It’s important we do not settle for just anything and continue to demand high standards.

WL: What will you do to bring more, higher-paying jobs or industries to the area in order to keep our younger citizens from moving away to larger cities with more opportunities?

RB: When businesses relocate, quality of life for their employees is an important part of the decision-making process. As I stated earlier, we must promote the assets that will put Lebanon at the top of their list. We have Vanderbilt Hospital, which has a reputation of providing excellent medical care. We have Cumberland University that creates a skilled workforce. We have the Lebanon Municipal Airport for convenient corporate travel. We have the Music City Star that provides public transportation to downtown Nashville. However, we must also improve our recreational facilities Businesses want to be in cities that provide greenways, parks, and athletic fields. These are places that provide recreational activities but also provide ways for people to be part of the overall community.

MJ: We will continue to look for those things. But, it is more difficult to do in a town that is 10 miles from the interstate system, rather than having multiple interstate exchanges available like Lebanon and Mt. Juliet have. But, we will
continue our efforts. We have some very good small industries here with some fair paying jobs. I think we have the opportunity for more of those. And, I have always tried to identify the businesses that will be “good corporate citizens”. It
needs to be a two way street between government and industry.

JM: One thing we are actively working on is the recruiting of white-collar jobs to Mt. Juliet. Providence Central was recently approved and will provide long-term traffic relief to the Providence area while having the space set aside for the type of jobs many of us commute to other cities for. Mt. Juliet was recently found to be the most cost-effective local government in the state. Keeping taxes and fees low, proximity to the airport, and a great workforce are some
things we offer to attract jobs.

WL: Under your leadership, what will the city do to improve the quality of life for both younger families as well as our Seniors?

RB: Quality of life can be defined in several ways. For some people, it is more places to dine and shop. For others, it is navigable sidewalks and greenways that provide opportunity for exercise and a way to move around the core of the city. For many, it is parks and better athletic fields for their children. For a lot of people, it is a place like the Senior Center, where people can congregate and socialize. For most people, it is a city that places importance on beautification. I will work in each of these areas, and more, to ensure that quality of life for the citizens of Lebanon improves.

MJ: I will continue to lead, and encourage, our City Council to pursue the things that blend into, and compliment, the things already in our community. I have been blessed to have a very cooperative and, I think progressive, City Council over the years who want the best for their community. Many people may not know that none of us receive a salary, or stipend, for what we do. We do it for public service seeking the best for all the citizens of our community.

JM: One thing we recently did was donate land for the senior citizen center. We also have required age restrictive communities to donate to the senior citizen capital fund so they can construct a new center. We are also actively looking
to expand our park land. Recently, in the last few years, the city opened several smaller parks and expanded our greenways. I also plan to explore ways to encourage family activity centers, such as skate centers, bowling alleys, etc. to
build in our city in ways that are not cost prohibitive.

WL: In your role as Mayor, what can you do to improve our education system?

RB: The Lebanon Special School District is independent from the City of Lebanon. However, we know that growth greatly affects the school system. I have asked the Planning Director to speak with LSSD officials when he is researching a potential development. Understanding the impact of a development on the school system is an important part of the process. If school officials say that a development will place a tremendous burden on them, then that should be taken into account when the Planning Director recommends approval or denial.

MJ: Continue to cooperate, and assist, them in any way we can. We have had a long, proven track record of working with all our schools (we have three inside the city limits) to assist with traffic flow, safety, and, through our recreational leagues primarily, provide some part-time employment for students.

JM: I think our parents, teachers, and school administrators deserve the credit for our great school system. One thing the city has done has been to encourage, when possible, the building of age-restricted developments (i.e. 55 and over) which pay into our schools without increasing the load on the school system. We can also work to streamline the building process for our school system when they need to build schools in the city.

WL: Where do you see your city 5 years from now?

RB: In five years, Lebanon will have a plan that manages growth and ensures that it is positive for everyone. It will also be a place where people have a variety of options in dining, shopping and entertainment. It will have a vibrant
downtown core where local residents will gather and people from other cities will travel to spend money. It will be on its way to having a sidewalk and greenway system that connects the entire city.

MJ: I see the slow, steady growth continuing trying to meet the challenge of providing 21st Century businesses, employment, etc. while continuing to maintain our small town image that we have come to be known for. Especially
around our Square and Central Business District.

JM: We will have our third fire station opened and operational, a reduction in our ISO safety rating. Many of our proposed transportation projects will be started and some complete within five years. By that point, we will see the
addition of some needed park space.

WL: Where do you see your city 20 years from now?

RB: In twenty years, Lebanon will be a place that provides a high quality of life for its residents. There will be a completed greenway system that connects neighborhoods and parks throughout the city. That quality of life will help
make it a hub of high-tech jobs. While some people will ride the Music City Star to Nashville for work, others will ride to Lebanon to enjoy our historic downtown and other amenities. It will be a city that prides itself on beautification and strict building standards. It will be a city that its founders and the generations who have lived here would be proud of.

MJ: Very similar to where I see the city in 5 years, however, I do think the urban sprawl that has affected Mt. Juliet over the last 20 years, and to a lesser degree Lebanon will become more of a challenge to future leaders. In school, we learned from the 19th century the encouragement “to go west, young man.” Here, in our County, over the last 20 years or so, it seems the encouragement, and actuality has been “to go east, young man.”

JM: We will see the completion of some major transportation improvements and see Mt. Juliet positioned as not only an edge city but a destination city offering diverse jobs. Mt. Juliet will be a city people commute to and not from. In 20 years, one thing that won’t change is Mt. Juliet will still be one of the safest and family-friendly cities in the state.


Our Sister’s Keeper

There are 231,000 women and girls incarcerated in the United States. Women’s incarcerations have grown at twice the pace of men’s incarcerations in recent decades and has disproportionately been located in local jails. In Tennessee, white women have been the fastest-growing segment of Tennessee’s state prisoners. The number of incarcerated white women increased 117% from 2003 to 2018 compared to 29% for white men.

Research shows that the majority of these women incarcerated suffered from major trauma as children – including abuse, homelessness, and abandonment. Left to fend for themselves, often at very young ages, they, for one reason or another, often end up in the criminal justice system. And once in the system, find it almost impossible to get out without family or support to teach them how to change their lives. A fact that did not go unnoticed for Brittany Davis, an Assistant Public Defender with the 15th Judicial District.

The more involved Brittany became with her many clients within the criminal justice system, the more she realized that they needed more than just legal help. She shared her worries with her friend Suanne Bone, a long-time Wilson county resident known for her community involvement, and together these two strong women formulated a plan to offer help.

Our Sisters Keeper, Inc. is a non-profit recently formed by Suanne Bone and Brittany Davis that will advocate for these very women in our own community jails, both during and after their time in the criminal justice system. “Currently, we serve the General Sessions and Criminal Court in Smith county,” notes Brittany, “but we hope to serve the entire 15th Judicial District as resources
become available. That includes women in Wilson, Trousdale, Macon, and Jackson counties as well.

Currently, with Brittany assigned to Smith County courts, she is able to identify women in the justice system who are in the greatest need in Smith county. She connects these women with Suanne, the Executive Director of Our Sisters Keeper, who is the liaison between the women and determining their needs to lead a purposeful life outside of jail. Services include long-term drug and alcohol treatment, rehabilitation, and mentors and other partners committed to the women as they start anew. To help get the non-profit off the ground, Suanne pulled together various members of the community who also wanted to be part of the solution to this growing issue. The current board of directors includes Brittany Davis, Carl Hudson, Stephanie McCaleb, Jack Bare, Jeff Cherry, Shelley Gardner, Angel Kane, Russell Parish, and Cathey Sweeney. In its inaugural year, the non-profit has its work cut out for it but hard work isn’t something this group shies away from.

First on the agenda is finding permanent office space. One office will be the administrative office where the following services are offered: coordination of rehab beds, teaching the women how to reinstate their drivers license, resume building, interview skills, job placement, housing placement, expungement of criminal records, and completing their education. The second office will be a boutique furnished with donated clothing and hygiene products where the women can “shop” and choose pieces for their new life.

“I remember one of the first ladies who participated in our program. I picked her up from the jail and was taking her to a rehab facility where she would be staying for a few months and she literally had almost nothing to take. She had a few personal items in a garbage bag. That was her whole life. As we were just starting the non-profit, I called on friends and family for anything we could pull together to give her, some clothes and a bag of her own to put her belongings in. You would have thought I gave her a million dollars when I gave her a bag of clean clothes and toiletries and her very own pretty bag to carry it all in, “ Suanne notes. “How can we expect to raise someone up like this, when, if and when she does get out of rehab, she doesn’t even have clothes to put on for a job interview. It’s needs like this that we take for granted but make a huge impact on success for many of these women.”

And if we help these women, the end result is not just that these ladies lives will be forever changed but also the generations of women that will follow them.