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SALT expands access to food beyond seniors

An organization known largely for its delivery assistance outreach to Wilson County seniors is broadening that access to help feed more people.

The SALT Ministry, which stands for Serving at the Lord’s Table, will be hosting a mobile food pantry starting Saturday at 9 a.m. for anyone in Wilson County who’s hungry and needs sustenance.

Historically the SALT Ministry has concentrated their efforts on feeding seniors, but it is seeking to branch out and with new pick-up sites.

According to a news release from Joyce Gaines, SALT Pantry coordinator, the mobile aspect of the food pantry means that “this will be a drive through event hosted at the SALT Pantry at Leeville United Method Church.”

Leeville UMC is located at 7019 Hickory Ridge Road, Lebanon.

Gaines said that since this is a drive-through giveaway event, “nobody will have to get out of their cars.”

She added, “Trunks or back seats should be cleaned out of unnecessary items so there is room for the food to be put in the vehicle.”

Registration can be done on site, and then the patron will drive from station to station to receive food. Gaines said that in years past, “Food tends to go pretty quickly so participants are encouraged to come early.”

As always, the SALT Ministry team is inviting any un-enrolled seniors who need food to call 615-965-5361, or email saltministry2015@gmail.com to be added to its delivery routes.

Gaines said Monday that communication networks such as friends, family, churches, and other social service organizations are vital in spreading the word and is encouraging those entities to help get the word out to seniors in need. “We talk to people in the community and said where are the underserved people?”

From a logistics standpoint, Gaines said, “The potential to provide service to new neighbors is dependent on knowing where to go, and having enough volunteers to make the deliveries.”

In anticipation of this growing demand, SALT is taking applications for volunteers. This is why Gaines hopes the pick-up sites can offset some of that burden.

“This is dependent on our volunteer base, but if we can get it to a pick-up site for seniors capable of making that trip, it would help us cut down on the need for volunteers,” she said.

SALT will be adding other pick-up options later with specific dates and times to be announced. People who don’t need the food to be delivered can get on the distribution list. They still have to call and be registered in advance. This will be open only to those who are registered with SALT.

No matter the method of delivery, the qualifiers remain simple. One just needs to be a Wilson County resident, age 55 and over, and having a financial need.

“Our seniors have a hard time getting to the grocery store,” Gaines said. “Could be a health issue or a lack of transportation, but it also provides a friendly face once a week they can check in with.”

Gaines said that an increasing situation being seen involves seniors who are raising grandchildren. If the SALT team realizes its delivering food to one family where the grandmother is the sole support for herself, daughter, and two grandchildren for example, then they would send an extra child-friendly box.

On one such occasion, a SALT volunteer came back and relayed the excitement as one girl opened the box exclaiming, “Look Mom. It’s just like Christmas.”

The volunteer said, “That brought tears to my eyes that a child would get that excited over food.”

The SALT Ministry has been delivering food to seniors since December 2014. Their volunteers currently serve about 150 households across the county. The SALT mission is simple: See no Wilson County senior goes hungry.

Most of the food is received from Second Harvest Food Bank, SALT also receives USDA food that is distributed to those that meet the government qualifications.

When the organization gives away USDA food, questions about income are required by law, but the non-USDA food doesn’t have as many restrictions.

“We have a little flexibility on the non-USDA items,” she said. “So, if someone is hungry, but the income isn’t quite in line, we are still going to try to feed them.”

For a worthy cause

When a fellow officer or first responder is beset by tragedy, institutional support groups can do a lot more than just raise money for medical bills, they can lift spirits and instill hope.

That camaraderie was on full display Saturday at the Lebanon Fire Department Administration Building on Coles Ferry Pike during a cornhole tournament held to raise money for the Lebanon Police Department’s Cpl. Matt Dedman.

LPD public information officer Lt. P.J. Hardy said that Dedman, a 15-year veteran with the department, was suddenly struck ill in mid-May. It would prove to be far worse than anything his family could have imagined.

Dedman was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a brain stem stroke, a type that is often fatal. On the brighter side, Hardy said doctors told Dedman those who do survive have a high likelihood of making a full recovery.

Well on his way to that recovery, Dedman made an appearance at the cornhole tournament on Saturday where he walked in on his own accord. The sheer volume of people who were there to show support brought the veteran officer to tears.

Addressing the crowd he said, “You have no idea how this makes me feel to see you all out here. Thank you so much for supporting me and my family in our time of need.”

As for the tournament, it was a double elimination format with teams of all ages competing against one another. Until the final round, there was no rule for a “bust,” where one team goes over the 21 points needed to win, and subsequently loses several points. It was strictly first to 21 points.

Forty-two teams competed, with a $40 entry fee for each team. All the proceeds went to help out with Dedman’s medical bills. There were way more than just the 84 cornhole players attending, however, as friends and family showed up in droves to support the cause.

Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell said he was proud to be the mayor of a city that would do so much for a fellow resident. “The most amazing thing out of all this is seeing the support our city is ready to offer when one of its own is in trouble.”

Events to help fundraise for Dedman continue later in the year, with a Mayhem for Matt co-ed softball tournament scheduled for Sept. 4. For more information visit the Lebanon Fire Department’s Facebook page.

Florida suspect in Haiti president killing deepens mystery

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The arrest of a failed Haitian businessman living in Florida who authorities say was a key player in the killing of Haiti’s president deepened the mystery Monday into an already convoluted plot surrounding the assassination.

Haitian authorities identified the suspect as Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 62, who once expressed a desire to lead his country in a YouTube video. However he is unknown in Haitian political circles, and associates suggested he was duped by those really behind the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in an attack last week that critically wounded his wife, Martine, who remains hospitalized in Miami.

A Florida friend of Sanon told The Associated Press that the suspect is an evangelical Christian pastor and a licensed physician in Haiti, but not in the U.S. The associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of safety concerns, said Sanon told him he was approached by people claiming to represent the U.S. State and Justice departments who wanted to install him as president.

The associate said the plan was for Moïse to be arrested, not killed. He said Sanon would not have participated if he knew Moïse would be assassinated.

“I guarantee you that,” the associate said. “This was supposed to be a mission to save Haiti from hell, with support from the U.S. government.”

Haiti’s National Police chief, Léon Charles, said Moïse’s killers were protecting Sanon, whom he accused of working with those who plotted in the assassination. He gave no information on the purported masterminds.

Charles said officers found a hat with the logo of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 20 boxes of bullets, gun parts, four license plates from the Dominican Republic, two cars and correspondence with unidentified people, among other things, in Sanon’s house in Haiti.

Twenty-six former Colombian soldiers are suspected in the killing and 23 have been arrested, along with three Haitians. Charles said five suspects are still at large and at least three have been killed.

“They are dangerous individuals,” Charles said. “I’m talking commando, specialized commando.”

Meanwhile, Colombia’s national police chief, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas, said that a Florida-based enterprise, CTU Security, used the company credit card to buy 19 plane tickets from Bogota to Santo Domingo for the Colombian suspects. Most arrived in the Dominican Republic in June and moved into Haiti within weeks, Vargas said.

The Colombians are cooperating with Haiti’s investigation, Vargas said.

He said that Dimitri Hérard, head of general security at Haiti’s National Palace, flew to Colombia, Ecuador and Panama in the months prior to the assassination, and Colombian police are investigating whether he had any role in recruiting the mercenaries. In Haiti, prosecutors are seeking to interrogate Hérard over the assassination.

Charles, Haiti’s police chief, said Sanon was in contact with CTU Security and that the company recruited the suspects in the killing. He said Sanon flew into Haiti in June on a private jet accompanied by several of the alleged gunmen.

The suspects’ initial mission was to protect Sanon, but they later received a new order: to arrest the president, Charles said.

“The operation started from there,” he said, adding that 22 additional suspects joined the group.

Charles said that after Moïse was killed, one suspect phoned Sanon, who then got in touch with two people believed to be masterminds of the plot. He did not identify them or say if police know who they are.

Sanon’s associate said he attended a recent meeting in Florida with Sanon and about a dozen other people, including Antonio Enmanuel Intriago Valera, a Venezuelan émigré to Miami who runs CTU Security. He said a presentation was made for rebuilding the country, including its water system, converting trash into energy and fixing the roads.

He said Sanon asked why the security team accompanying him to Haiti were all Colombians. Sanon was told Haitians couldn’t be trusted and that the system is corrupt, the associate said. He said Sanon called him from Haiti a few days before the assassination and said the Colombians had disappeared, leaving him alone.

“I’m all by myself. Who are these people? I don’t know what they are doing,” the associate quoted Sanon as saying.

Sanon “is completely gullible,” the associate added. “He thinks God is going to save everything.”

Sanon has lived in Broward County in Florida, as well as in Hillsborough County on the Gulf Coast. Records also show he resided in Kansas City, Missouri. He filed for bankruptcy in Florida in 2013 and identified himself as a medical doctor in a video on YouTube titled “Leadership for Haiti.”

However, records show Sanon has never been licensed to practice medicine in Florida or any other occupation covered by the state’s Department of Health.

Sanon said in court papers associated with a 2013 bankruptcy case filed in federal court in Florida that he was a physician and a church pastor at the Tabarre Evangelical Tabernacle in Haiti. He said he had a partial stake in enterprises including the Organization of Rome Haiti, which he identified as a non-governmental organization, a radio station in Haiti and medical facilities in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

At the time of his bankruptcy, he and his wife reported income from his businesses of $5,000 per month. They reported a home in Brandon, Florida, valued at about $143,000, with a mortgage of more than $367,000. A federal bankruptcy trustee later determined they hid ownership of about 35 acres in Haiti from creditors in their bankruptcy petition.

Florida records show Sanon has started about a dozen businesses over the last 20 years, all of which failed, including ones that appeared related to medical imaging, physical therapy, fossil fuel trading, real estate and veganism.

In a YouTube video nine years ago, Sanon denounced Haiti’s leadership as corrupt, accusing them of stripping the country of its resources, saying: “They don’t care about the country, they don’t care about the people.”

He falsely claimed that Haiti has uranium, oil and other resources that have been taken by government officials.

“Nine million people can’t be in poverty when we have so much resources in the country. It’s impossible,” he said. “We need new leadership that will change the way of life.”

Sanon’s arrest comes as a growing number of politicians have challenged interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who is currently in charge of Haiti with help from police and the military.

U.S. officials, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, met Sunday with Joseph, designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s dismantled Senate, whom supporters have named as provisional president in a challenge to Joseph, according to a statement from the White House National Security Council.

The delegation also met with Haiti’s National Police and reviewed the security of critical infrastructure, it said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the delegation received a request for additional assistance, but did not provide details. She said a potential deployment of U.S. troops remained “under review,” but also suggested that Haiti’s political uncertainty was a complicating factor.

“What was clear from their trip is that there is a lack of clarity about the future of political leadership,” Psaki said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said he was closely following developments, adding: “The people of Haiti deserve peace and security, and Haiti’s political leaders need to come together for the good of their country.”

Meanwhile, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Haiti’s request for security assistance is being examined.

The United Nations has been involved in Haiti on and off since 1990, but the last U.N. military peacekeepers left the country in 2017.

Jazz Fest returns to Watertown

Watertown’s marquee musical event is all set to bring jazz back to the historic square on Saturday with one small change, it’ll be a one-day lineup this year instead of two.

Event organizer John Jewell said that despite the condensed schedule, the quality is still going to be there. The line-up features The Vantrease Jazz Band, Jerry Krahn’s Fat Tuesday Dixieland Jazz Band and Bob McChesney and Cabria Foti with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra.

Jewell said that as excited as he is about some of these acts, he’s thrilled to have some local collegiate jazz talent featured as well. Cumberland University’s Jazz Band will perform at 3 p.m. and the Boro Red Hot Jazz Majors of Middle Tennessee State University tip off at 4 p.m.

The full festival starts at 1 p.m. with the Nightingale Big Band, followed by the Music City Swing Big Band at 2 p.m. Each performance will last about an hour, and be followed immediately by the next act.

Jewell credited Glenn Martin, the festival’s music director, for helping craft the lineup.

“He’s been helping line up music for years. He has taught music at Cumberland and Vanderbilt. He knows the acts and the people in the industry,” said Jewell.

Jewell told Martin that he wanted this year’s event to feature pure jazz. What he meant by that, he was happy to explain. “We would like for the music to be listenable jazz with melodies people recognize.”

He is convinced Martin has put together just such a lineup.

Last year’s event was not held due to the pandemic, but the organizers have years of experience to their names and have all the pieces in place to pull this thing off, according to Jewell.

The organizer said stages won’t be set up until late Friday evening, but employing a relatable analogy, commented, “All the bolts and screws are in place, they just haven’t been tightened.”

Jewell first got started with the Jazz Fest in 1995, when it only had a budget of $5,000. This year, the organization has raised almost $40,000, well above its target goal.

“Fundraising is never easy but we have been able to obtain our goals,” he said.

Since there isn’t seating set up for guests, attendees are encouraged to bring their own light foldable chair. Jewell also said to bring an umbrella, which can serve two functions. “If it rains, you’re covered, or you can use it to shield you from the sun.”

There will be some road closures and additional law enforcement on site for the event. According to Watertown Police Assistant Chief Michael Henderlight, the department will be providing “three additional officers to help just with the festival.”

“The Town Square will be closed to vehicle traffic along with some business parking lots to help with parking for the performers,” Henderlight said. “All closed areas will be marked.”

For some guests, automobile traffic won’t be an issue. Jewell expects the sold out excursion train coming from Nashville to bring about 450-500 people into Watertown for the event. Jewell said he spoke with the train company and tickets have been sold out for over a month.

For more information on the line-up, sponsors, or even details on how and when this began, check out watertownmusicandarts.com.

If you’re interested in signing up as a vendor, contact Watertown Chamber of Commerce at 615-237-0270 or visit WatertownTN.com to download an application.