The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon where Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto delivered his annual State of The County address to just more than 100 business and government leaders Wednesday at Rutland Place in Mt. Juliet.
Hutto told the sold-out crowd that Wilson County is strong in education, economics and quality of life.
“I want you to know that you live in a great place, and it’s primarily because of the people sitting in this room that run the economic engine that creates the atmosphere that makes people want to move here,” Hutto said.
“I believe it’s good to live here. I love coming to Mt. Juliet. I live around the 109 area and shopping and eating and doing whatever I do. I enjoy my place in Lebanon when I’m there, and I came from Watertown, so I enjoy going back out into the country. So we have the best, I believe, of all worlds.”
Hutto spoke of investing in the people of Wilson County when he touted the growth in the county. He said Wilson County was ranked as the fourth-best county to live in in the state and is the third-fastest-growing county in the state, with the total population expanding from 113,993 in 2010 to about 140,000 currently.
Hutto said 6,300 jobs were added in Wilson County since 2010, and the county awarded 27 economic grants for a total of $18 million and more than $1 billion in private investments made in Wilson County.
“Education-wise, you’re in good shape,” Hutto said, pointing out Wilson County has the fourth-fastest-growing school system and is the ninth largest school system in the state. The county also has an AA-plus bond rating.
Hutto touched on plans for the proposed Green Hill High School in Mt. Juliet and discussed the newly implemented improvements to Wilson County Schools, such as proposed teacher pay raises, new security buzzer systems for entry, the commitment to have school resource officers in every school and the achievement of no portable classrooms at any school despite the growth in the county.
Hutto said that the Wilson County Board of Education will present its general purpose budget, along with bids for the new school to the Wilson County Education and Budget committees July 23, and the entire county budget would be discussed after the Aug. 2 elections.
“On Aug. 6, we’ll spend time talking about where exactly we’re at budget-wise with the county, and we’ll also address the school,” Hutto said.
Hutto also talked about the continued success of having more Wilson Emergency Management Agency ambulance and fire stations in the county, which allow for faster response times for first responders.
In expanding on the theme of the best of both worlds, Hutto talked about a variety of things, from Wilson County as No. 1 in active farms to $2.5 million in additions to the Mt. Juliet library and plans to add to Lebanon’s library upcoming. Hutto also spoke about the Wilson County Veteran’s Plaza that continues to grow, along with the success of the Expo Center.
Hutto said a new FEMA study was recently completed to better help with areas in flood zones, and several construction projects on roadways are underway, with other problem areas under consideration for future projects, including expansion of the Music City Star train schedule and potential buses to and from Nashville.
Jamie Helm, who works in business development at Jason’s Deli, attended the luncheon for the first time and promoted a new Jason’s Deli, which will open in Mt. Juliet soon off Belinda Parkway.
“We really want to network within the community. We’re a wonderful family owned, family focused business, so to really meet the other economic drivers in the community is great,” Helm said, “I get to meet a lot of really wonderful people, the businesses, really get familiar with the community so that we can make an impact.”
“Just know that we’re here to serve,” Hutto said to close his address. “If you have a bad thought about government, I do not believe it exists locally. I can’t speak for everywhere else, but the people who I work with strive hard to do the best they can. Do they make all the right decisions? No. Do I make all the right decisions? No. Have I made mistakes? Sure. But I’ve busted my tail trying to do the best I can, and I think you do the same thing where you’re at.”