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Taking care of their brother

Mt. Juliet Police Department Officers Jacob Berti and Kyle Holtmeyer were honored for helping an injured Metro-Nashville Police officer at the Metro-Nashville Police Department’s annual awards ceremony on April 13.

“They were off duty,” Mt. Juliet Police Department Public Information Officer Cpt. Tyler Chandler said. “I think they were headed to pick up a couch, and one needed help. While they were driving, they saw this crash take place.”

Metro Nashville Police Officer Samuel Sundra was parked on the shoulder of I-440 in February of 2022 when a pick-up truck slammed into the back of the vehicle.

“They immediately stopped to help,” Chandler said. “The officer was unconscious inside. They stayed with him and rendered aid until medics arrived to help.”

At first, Berti and Holtmeyer didn’t realize that it was a Metro-Nashville officer involved in the wreck.

“When I first saw the wreck I noticed how bad the damage was,” Holtmeyer said. “At first the only thing I thought was that it was a bad wreck. Then, I realized one of the cars involved was a Metro Nashville police car, and there were no other first-responders around checking on injuries. That is when officer Berti and I realized we needed to stop and check for injuries.”

That’s when Holtmeyer called 911.

“I assisted the officer by calling 911 to confirm that EMS and MNPD was aware and coming,” Holtmeyer said. “I also attempted to get the injured officer to respond to me verbally, and when he didn’t, I asked him to squeeze my hand, which he did.”

While Holtmeyer worked to get Sundra to respond, Berti was putting pressure on his injury.

“I was able to stabilize the officer’s neck and hold pressure to a wound on the back of his head while waiting for additional resources,” Berti said.

Afterwards, Berti and Holtmeyer were told that Sundra was going to be alright.

“It was a scary couple of hours after the incident, because I knew how serious the injuries could have been,” Berti said. “We received word later in the day that the officer was in stable condition. I felt relieved and thankful that the officer would be okay.”

Holtmeyer was also relieved when Metro police reached out.

“MNPD reached out to us quickly afterwards and informed us that the officer was stable and recovering, which I really appreciated, because while on scene, we were uncertain of how severe the injuries were,” Holtmeyer said.

For Holtmeyer, the most memorable part of the experience was the raw feeling of approaching the vehicle and seeing Sundra injured.

“I have responded to many serious injury crashes, but when you are looking at a police officer in uniform, it makes you realize how easily it could have been me or a really close friend of mine,” Holtmeyer said. “It also was a reminder of the dangers that come with the job. The officer was sitting stationary with his emergency lights activated to try to keep traffic from hitting utility workers ahead, and it could have cost him his life.”

When Metro was made aware of Berti and Holtmeyer’s actions that day, the department wanted to make sure they were honored.

“Metro Nashville Police were made aware of this and made the special commendation award for them to ensure they were recognized for helping out,” Chandler said. “They thought their selfless service was worth the honor, and they wanted to be sure that they were recognized.”

Berti and Holtmeyer were able to see Sundra again as they received the award.

“I think the most memorable part of the experience for me was being able to shake officer Sundra’s hand, talk to him, and see that he has made a full recovery and is doing so well after such a traumatic event,” Berti said.

An officer being recognized by another law enforcement agency isn’t a common occurrence.

“It’s pretty rare, but I think these circumstances were pretty rare as well,” Chandler said. “I think everyone’s grateful that they were in the right spot at the right time when it happened. It all came together for the better of Officer Sundra, the Metro officer that was injured. I think he’s lucky that those two officers were right there and ready to help.”

Holtmeyer didn’t do what he did to be rewarded. He just acted.

“It was a rewarding experience being invited to Metro Nashville Police Department’s award ceremony, but I did not help the officer in hopes of being honored or awarded,” Holtmeyer said. “I did what any other police officer would have done if put in that situation. Law enforcement views each other as family members, so even though I had never met the injured officer before, he was a brother to me. I really enjoyed being able to meet him and talk to him after the ceremony.”

Berti added, “I am grateful to the Metro Nashville Police Department for recognizing our part in the incident. However, I feel that any law enforcement officer driving by would have done the same. To me, it doesn’t matter which department you are from. We are all brothers and sisters in our profession, and I know that if I needed help, a fellow officer would have done the same for me.”

MJPD Police Chief James Hambrick also commended the officers’ actions.

“On or off-duty, Mt. Juliet’s police officers are here to serve others,” Hambrick conveyed in a press release. “Our department is grateful for the collective, amazing work of our police officers. I am especially grateful Officers Berti and Holtmeyer were in the right spot at the right time and rendered care to Officer Sundra. Thank goodness Sundra fully recovered and is back to work serving the Nashville community. Much appreciation to Nashville Police Chief John Drake for taking the time today and recognizing Officer Berti and Holtmeyer for their actions.”

Purple reign

When the 2023 Wilson County Teacher of the Year was announced on Friday evening, Joan Oxley hadn’t expected to hear her name ring out from the speakers in Cumberland University’s Baird Chapel.

“I was shocked but honored,” Oxley said. “I didn’t really think that I would win. I work with some fantastic teachers in this county, and so, I was very shocked when they called my name.”

Oxley has been a teacher for 20 years. She’s spent the last four years of her career teaching eighth-grade social studies at Watertown Middle School.

“It’s nice to see that someone notices the work that me and other teachers put in,” Oxley said. “I got into teaching not for recognition, but to be with students and to help young people. To know that somebody notices it other than me and my students (is nice).”

Students found out that Oxley had won the award during Watertown Middle School’s morning announcements on Monday.

“They were very excited,” Oxley said. “They’ve been coming up and telling me congratulations.”

For Oxley, her teaching style is something that she’s constantly working on and adjusting to fit student needs.

“I reflect daily on my teaching and my teaching style and what worked (that day) and what didn’t work,” Oxley said. “I think one of the things that has helped me in my teaching career has been building relationships with my students and with their parents.”

Student relationships are of the highest priority.

“For me, my key goal is building relationships,” Oxley said. “I try my best to make sure every student knows that I see them. They are seen, and they’re valued and appreciated.”

Something that’s worked for Oxley in her classroom is letting her students be involved in teaching the day’s lesson.

“One of the things that I realized is that if I teach, if I do the lecturing, then, they’re not really getting it,” Oxley said. “I sit, and I make them read with a partner or look up something for their notes. Then, they can come up to the keyboard if I call their name to underline or do something like that. That has been very successful, having them engaged in the lesson instead of just sitting there taking notes from me.”

Since teaching at Tuckers Crossroads Elementary, West Wilson Middle School, Rock Springs Middle School and now Watertown Middle School, many of the highlights of Oxley’s career have been when students reach back out to her after graduation.

“Having them reach out to me on social media and ask me to be their friend even after they graduate high school, that means a lot to me,” Oxley said. “It means a lot that they still want to communicate with me.”

Keeping prescription drugs off the streets

Twice a year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holds a national drug take back day across the country to help address public health and safety. This year, DrugFree WilCo, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office and the Lebanon Police Department joined forces to help safely dispose of prescription drugs.

“It’s an opportunity to rid our homes of unused and expired prescription meds and other over-the-counter medications,” DrugFree WilCo Executive Director Tammy Grow said. “It helps us reduce the temptation for our youth to experiment with opioids. It also keeps the meds out of the water, so (the take-back day) is good for the environment.”

There were around 169 pounds of medication turned over at Gibbs Pharmacy in Lebanon on Saturday. After the medications are collected, they’re incinerated to be kept out of the water supply and out of the home.

“A lot of times, people feel compelled to stockpile medications for that ‘just in case’ moment, but if we can get those meds out of the homes, we know it’s less of a temptation,” Grow said. “When people come in to do work in the home, we know some people can get their hands on meds and sell them. You just don’t know who may be dealing with a substance use disorder that might come into your home.”

DrugFree WilCo also provided free lockboxes during the drug take back day to anyone who wanted a safe place to store their medications.

“Keep those medications locked up and out of sight and storing it in a place where others might not think to look,” Grow said. “It can help not only with youth who might think, ‘Oh, I want to experiment with opioids and see what everyone’s talking about,’ but it also helps with keeping those meds off the streets.

Since being founded in 2018, DrugFree WilCo has helped the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office with the take back day.

“Whenever we do these take backs, we want to really get it out to the public how important it is to turn in any unused or expired medications,” Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Scott Moore said. “It could get into the wrong hands. It could get into someone’s hands who overdoses, because they don’t know what they’re taking.”

Moore said that the drug take back days have been successful.

“Every time that we’ve hosted it, we’ve always assured everybody that there’s no questions asked,” Moore said. “You simply pull up and give us your medications.”

Mt. Juliet approves urban growth boundary

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners revised its urban growth boundary (UGB) plan during Monday evening’s meeting.

The commission unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to support revisions on Mt. Juliet’s UGB map.

The city commission added more than 198 parcels into the city’s urban growth boundary. Those parcels of land include parts of Lebanon Road, Hickory Hills and Posey Hill Road.

The city commission plans to send their proposed UGB map to the Wilson County Commission for approval.

During Monday’s meeting, district 1 commissioner Ray Justice suggested to incorporate the Cedar Creek Yacht Club into the urban growth boundary. Justice shared that putting the yacht club into the city’s urban growth boundary gives Mt. Juliet an advantage, because it is one of the city’s commercial properties.

“If we were annexed there, we would get the sales tax off of that,” said Justice.

He also said that annexing the Cedar Creek Yacht Club into the city allows the property to have access to both Mt. Juliet’s emergency services and Wilson County’s emergency services.

Justice noted that the boat house in the Cedar Creek Yacht Club even counts as a commercial property.

“They have over 500 boats there, and each of the boats generates money to our city with every monthly boat rental,” said Justice.

The city commission voted 4-1 to include the Cedar Creek Yacht Club into the urban growth boundary.

Mt. Juliet Planning Director Jennifer Hamblen suggested that the city annex portions of the Cedar Creek Campground and the Cedar Creek recreational area into Mt. Juliet’s UGB map. She said that the city commission should include those portions for the sake of consistency.

“Having these portions annexed would be amazing for our local dispatchers,” said Hamblen.

Hamblen said that she knows how much of a nightmare it is for a local dispatcher trying to provide public safety in these areas.

The city commission voted 4-1 to amend those portions into the urban growth boundary.

Mayor James Maness questioned why the Berkshire area was included into Mt. Juliet’s UGB.

Hamblen said that there would be residential opportunities in this area.

However, Chris Leauber, the executive director of the Water and Wastewater Authority of Wilson County (WWAWC), indicated that the city of Mt. Juliet would not be able to build infrastructure in the Berkshire area because the WWAWC owns the rights to build around that area on the south side of Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet Public Works Director Andy Barlow said that Mt. Juliet would also not be able to provide sewer to this area.

Maness said that if Mt. Juliet starts annexing the Berkshire area, it would eventually own Beckwith Road.

“Once we own Beckwith Road, we are going to have to make some improvements there,” said Maness. “I just don’t know if we can make those improvements without getting right-of-way acquisitions among other things, and I think this will give our city bad publicity if we start taking right-of-way acquisitions.”

Therefore, the city commission voted unanimously on an amendment to remove the Berkshire area from the city’s urban growth boundary map.

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