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Lebanon
Wilson County approves $59-million bond

Wilson County commissioners took one step closer to constructing new school campuses by approving a $59-million bond sale at their monthly meeting on Monday.

“The bond from Monday night was to finish out West Wilson Middle School and to purchase the sites of land for future schools, the one in the Glade and the one on Double Log Cabin Road,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said.

The March 2020 tornado destroyed West Wilson Middle School and Stoner Creek Elementary School.

“When Stoner Creek and West Wilson were blown down, we filed with our insurance company,” Hutto said. “They paid their portion. We took that portion and built back Stoner Creek. We added room for 400 extra students.

“Then, we worked toward West Wilson and added room for 400 more students there.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the damage incurred by the tornado, but the county is on the hook for the additional space and chairs at both schools.

“FEMA’s goal is to come in and make people whole,” Hutto said. “Whatever insurance doesn’t cover, they get back to where you were. FEMA will only put back the original blueprint. They won’t take care of the new space for students.”

The bonds are issued for 20 years, but the county will have the option to pay it back after five, which local officials believe will be possible following the injection of FEMA dollars.

“We made this bond callable for five years so that when that money comes in, we can pay a lump sum on it,” Hutto said.

“We didn’t want to have that money sitting in the bank and not being able to pay off the loan.”

The five-year call note does impact the interest rate on the bond. Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard indicated that the total interest cost would be 3.4983%.

“One thing that affected us negatively is that we put a five-year call note on that bond,” Maynard said. “We are going to try to pay that back with FEMA dollars from the tornado.”

Budget, finance committees filledSince the September meeting represented the first official meeting of a new term for the county commission, some housekeeping was in order. A shuffling of several committee seats required an at-large vote by the commission.

The Wilson County Budget Committee includes four electees nominated by fellow county commissioners.

It takes 13 votes for someone to be elected since there are 25 individuals on the county commission.

Five names were nominated — Tommy Jones, Diane Weathers, Mike Kurtz, Wendell Marlowe, and Justin Smith, representing districts 14, 16, 21, 22, and 25, respectively.

Each county commissioner cast a ballot for four names out of the five. When the dust settled, Jones, Weathers, Marlowe and Smith had enough votes to secure a seat on the committee.

Like the budget committee, the Wilson County Finance Committee has four seats elected by the full commission. Also, like the budget committee, five commissioners were nominated for the four seats, requiring another vote.

County commissioners Robert Fields, Beth Bowman, Kevin Costley, John Gentry and Lauren Breeze, representing districts 1, 6, 8, 11 and 18, respectively, were nominated. After the ballot process, Fields, Bowman, Costley and Gentry received sufficient votes for the seats.

Commissioners elected to those committees will serve a one-year term.


Lebanon
Eight is never enough

Dan and Amber White might know a thing or two about parenting.

The Mt. Juliet couple are the parents of eight children.

Together the Whites have four children, three girls and one boy.

However, in 2018, they decided to adopt four children that they had been foster parenting, thus bringing the household total to eight.

“This is how we got into the foster-care system,” said Amber White, who now serves as a children and family counselor and foster care recruiter trainer as she works with families in both Trousdale and Wilson counties. “I do in-home therapy with a company, and most of my kids are foster kids.

“One of the families that I worked with had several kids, and they started talking about the agency they fostered through ... we just started talking about it.”

Although her desire to foster children may have begun at that moment, Amber White knew that her husband would have to be on board in order to make it happen.

“It took my husband about a year to agree (to foster), but then we decided, ‘We can do this.,” said Amber White. “It took us about a year and a half to finally go fully forward.

“We got our first set of four (foster children) on July 31, 2018. They were two brothers and two sisters. They came to us because they were in separate homes. We were told that they were going to be with us for a while. We fell in love with the kids.”

But as it is the primary goal of the foster system to reunite children with parents, the courts, many times, send foster children home in an attempt to get the family back together. Although it is sometimes successful, it does not always work out well.

“We went to our first court case in October (of 2018), and the judge told (the children), ‘Go home,’ ” said Amber White. “We were like, ‘What just happened?’ Nobody was on board with it, but we couldn’t overrule what the judge said. We were heartbroken. We said, ‘We are never doing this again. They just took our kids.’ That is just the way it felt. Even in the short two-month time, that’s the way we felt about the kids.

“The day that the kids left, Oct. 4, the 11-year-old just turned around and looked at us. He said, ‘Can we come back?’ I said, ‘If God wants you to be back here, then that is in His plan, but I can’t make that decision.’ (The boy) had already anticipated coming back.”

Less than 45 days after the children left, the Whites received a call from an attorney who was representing the children’s interest, and he requested that they take the children back. However, by that time, they were fostering another set of four children.

“We got a call (from the lawyer), (and) he said, ‘They are getting ready to go get the kids ... can they come back to you,’ ” said Amber White. “I said we have another four kids, but if you can make it work, we will also make it work. So, we had 12 kids. We had two sets of fosters at that time, and we made it work.”

Their second set of foster children stayed with the Whites for 15 months and were able to successfully return home to their family, and the first set of children who had returned to the Whites’ home had officially been adopted ... by the Whites.

Davian Alexander White, 18, and Antonio James White, 15, are the two oldest of the White’s four adopted children. Significantly enough, in 2020, as they were able to change their last name to White, they were also given the opportunity to pick their middle names, names that both of the boys are proud of.

According to their mother, the eight siblings get along amazingly well.

“They go everywhere together,” said Amber White. “They are best (friends). They get along great. They really do. Overall, they get along amazingly.”

In agreement with their mother, the boys expressed their love for their siblings in a way that only teenaged boys can do.

“They (his siblings) are cool,” said Antonio White. “They’re very nice.”

Davian White added, “It’s crazy, but I do love them at the same time.”

Sadly enough, this is not always how the story goes for foster children. Davian White recalled the time when a former caretaker was caught up in to drugs and other illegal substances.

“My old caretaker was doing drugs and stuff,” said Davian White. “They were not looking out for us.”

Fortunately, that is not always the case as many foster parents have a heart for their children.

In the state of Tennessee, there are ore than 9,000 children that are currently in state custody, with over 8,500 of these children being in the foster-care system.

There are 98 children from Wilson County, and, thankfully, only one child from Trousdale County is currently in the foster system. However, these numbers can change daily, and children from all over Tennessee can be placed in any suitable home throughout the state.

Since it is a goal of the foster-care system to keep siblings together whenever possible, many foster families in Tennessee have children from different areas of the state. When the number of siblings to be placed together in foster care is high, it sometimes limits the homes that will take them in as a result of some people feeling as if their home is not large enough to accommodate several children at once.

However, Amber White recalls the time she and her husband made it work with 12 children in the house.

“Our house is actually 1721 square feet,” said Amber White. “It has three bedrooms and two baths and the garage that has been turned into a big room. A couple of years, before we started fostering, my oldest daughter said, ‘Let’s make (the garage) into a (bedroom). So, we built a wall and made a (bedroom). There are two sets of bunk beds in that room. Then, we started fostering.

“We did have to re-arrange everything (to accommodate 12 children). My son was a trooper though. He actually slept on the couch for about three weeks. He gave up his bed until we were able to maneuver my office to make it a bedroom for him while the other boys slept in his room. We made it work.”

According to TN.gov, foster parents are dually approved to adopt the children they foster. That affords them the first option of adopting their foster child or any other child that has become eligible for adoption.

For more information on becoming a Tennessee foster parent, interested individuals can call 833-525-8196 or go online to https://healthconnectamerica.com/become-a-foster-parent/.


Crime
Local sex offender charged with battery

A call in reference to a possible sexual battery at Walmart in Lebanon on Sunday resulted in a registered sex offender’s arrest.

Christopher Marmon, a registered local sex offender, is charged with aggravated sexual battery, two counts of sexual battery, resisting arrest and simple possession following the events that unfolded.

According to information from the Lebanon Police Department’s public information officer Lt. P.J. Hardy, a responding officer met with the mother of a juvenile female that reported her daughter having been touched in a “sexual manner” while shopping at the Lebanon Walmart, which is located at 615 South Cumberland St.

Investigators reviewed video footage taken at Walmart of the reported incident. In doing so, investigators believe they have identified at least three other potential victims of the same crime.

Through the investigation, the offender was identified as Marmon.

In all, two of the victims were juveniles, one was an adult and the last victim has yet to be identified.

The LPD is encouraging anyone who may have experience something similar recently to contact Det. Matthew Wigger at 615-453-4365 or by email at matthew.wigger@lebanontn.org.


Lebanon
Mt. Juliet enjoys largest turnout for walk, run and roll

The Mt. Juliet Bicycle and Pedestrian Community (BPAC) hosted its ninth annual walk, run, and roll event to approximately 50 people Sunday.

Walkers and runners trekked through a 5K course, which started and ended at the pavilion at Sgt. Mundy Memorial Park.

Cyclists traveled through the rolling portion of the walk, run and roll course on a 5.5-mile loop before returning to the park.

Mt. Juliet District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele led the walkers, runners, and cyclists through the course, traveling along Belinda Parkway, Legacy Park Road, Stafford Drive and Bridge Mill Drive at more than 3.2 miles.

The Mt. Juliet Police Department helped point the way for all of the walkers, runners and cyclists through the route.

Participants were also able to tour the Mt. Juliet Fire Station No. 1 during the event.

Milele, who is a Mt. Juliet BPAC member, felt that the trail on Providence Parkway was the best part of the event.

“It was amazing to look at the trail’s beautiful scenery,” said Milele.

“Seeing the trail’s connectivity with the sidewalks and the bike lanes brought a smooth, enjoyable experience with this ride.”

Last year’s walk, run and roll was cancelled due to heavy rain.

However, the walkers, runners and cyclists enjoyed sunny weather for Sunday’s event.

Alisha Eley, who is Kimley Horn’s landscape architect, said that this year’s walk, run and roll had both the best attendance and the best weather.

“We did not have a chance of rain today, and it seemed like over the last few years, there was rain on the day of the event, or it was going to rain on this day,” said Mt. Juliet BPAC Chairman Art Giles.

Eley, who brought her son Gavin to this event, said that it was great to see a lot of developments throughout the ride, especially with the sidewalks on Belinda Parkway.

Mt. Juliet completed work on the sidewalks along the south side of Belinda Parkway from Providence Trail to Sgt. Mundy Memorial Park two years ago.

“Seeing these developments while walking or running or riding our bikes shows how committed that Mt. Juliet BPAC is in getting our residents to appreciate physical activity,” said Milele.

Participants also got to see a StoryWalk, an educational activity that places a children’s story along a walking route, in Mundy Park. This year’s walk, run and roll featured “Big Dance” by Aoife Greenham.

“Big Dance,” which is a story about a girl who finds the dance in herself, was presented through 17 reading stations, each separated by a short walk in this park.

Giles said that it was special to see his grandchildren, Liam and Henry, not only enjoy reading the book, but he also appreciated reading in a prudential way.

Mt. Juliet BPAC partnered with the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University and the Mt. Juliet Public Library for the StoryWalk.

“It is special to see Mt. Juliet show a lot of support for physical activity, especially with the walk, run and roll,” said Giles.


Battle of the Gateway highlights Week 6 slate 


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