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Wilson County School Board votes against censuring board member

After the Wilson County School Ethics Committee Meeting in February, only one of the complaints filed about zone 4 school board member Joseph Padilla was not dismissed.

On Tuesday night, that complaint was brought before the school board for further review.

The option brought to the board by the ethics committee was a possible censure. A motion that the board dismiss the complaint and to not move forward with censure was passed, with six votes in favor and one abstention.

Green Hill High School teacher Melissa Prince filed a complaint against Padilla after a photo of her classroom appeared on the evening news without her consent, alongside an interview that he did. Her complaint also referenced Padilla’s posting of a link on his school board member Facebook page that led to a list of teacher salaries. When clicking on her salary, Prince was also able to easily find her address.

“Now, I realize that my salary and address can be found online, but I cannot fathom why a school board member is connected to putting my full name on the evening newscast, casting both me and a group of students I support in a negative light while simultaneously making it easy for the community to access my personal information,” Prince said. “I have been a teacher for 24 years now, and never have I been treated this unfairly.”

Zone 2 school board member Beth Meyers asked Padilla that when he posted the salary link, if he put anything in the post in reference to Green Hill High School. He said that he did not. She asked him if he encouraged anyone to look up any teacher or Prince. He said he did not.

Meyers also asked Padilla what his intent in posting the link was.

“We were in debate,” Padilla said. “The director’s contract extension was coming up, and people were comparing salaries to different districts. So, I didn’t feel it would be appropriate for me to look up any employee. I simply posted and said, ‘If you would like to look up any contract of anybody that works in Wilson County or the state, feel free to reach out to your board member, because we’re going to be voting on the director’s contract.’ ”

Padilla said that his intent was giving his constituents a tool to find the information they were asking him for.

“I want to be held accountable,” Padilla said. “If I did something wrong, I would admit it to you right now. I’m strong in my convictions that I did nothing wrong. That is why I decided to come up here and try to let you know that I’m passionate about this, because it might not be a big deal to you ... but to me, the truth matters, and the truth doesn’t need an apology.”

Before making the motion to dismiss the complaint, Meyers explained her hesitation with moving the complaint forward.

“I understand that emotions are high,” Meyers said. “I understand that sometimes we say things on both sides that can be taken poorly, but there’s three things that I’m struggling with here. No. 1 is there’s no indication or there’s no solid evidence that the image was directly given to the news. They could have gotten it in any possible way, especially if it was on the Facebook website. I’m assuming it was the Facebook website or district website. I’m not sure. The second is the assumption that the news article and the salary post were deliberate. In other words, was there any indication that that news article was directly related to the news story? Just because it occurred within a short time period doesn’t necessarily mean that it is connected. And the other one is ... there is no evidence that I can see in anything that I’ve looked at, that indicates that Mr. Padilla intended for people (to find the addresses). As I’m looking at that website, there’s all kinds of ads on that website.”

All centered on the cross

Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church has been bringing different congregations together for since before senior pastor Kevin Medlin began his time with the church 20 years ago.

“Years ago, First Presbyterian hosted an event very similar to this, but it kind of fizzled over time,” Medlin said. “People missed it, and so, this church picked up the baton and started doing it. We’ve been doing it for around 28 years.”

The Holy Week services have always been a cooperative effort. Other churches come to Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian to lead worship, deliver a short sermon and then serve food to the mixed congregation.

“We try to pair up two churches every single day to partner together,” Medlin said. “One provides the worship. The other provides the message. Both churches come together to provide the food. Us being the host, we supplement the food and make it all happen.”

The Holy Week services have helped strengthen the fellowship between churches in Lebanon.

“To me, this is a picture of what Jesus wanted, for us to set aside our minor differences, whatever they might be and come together and focus on him,” Medlin said. “It doesn’t matter what denomination we are ... we all center on the cross. We all have that in common.”

For Medlin, Passion week services are a build-up to Easter.

“It just builds for me,” Medlin said. “It builds for me, because Easter is the culmination of it all, but if we’re not careful, we jump too quick to Easter and forget all that Jesus went through that last week of his life.”

Barton’s Creek Baptist Church Pastor Jacob Colwell was one of the pastors who participated in the Passion week activities, delivering his message on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s an honor for sure,” Colwell said. “I just think it’s nice to work with other churches in this way, so I’m very thankful. It’s a good reminder that, ultimately, we’re all serving for the same purpose.”

Like many other churches, Barton’s Creek Baptist Church will see a larger turnout on Easter Sunday.

“The hope that we have in Christ is a hope that we think everybody needs, especially in our day and age,” Colwell said. “We’re just thankful that we can share that with people. We want to be warm and welcoming and encouraging for them.”

This was Journey Church’s first year participating in the Passion Week services.

“This is a tradition back where I come from in Indiana,” Journey Church Associate Pastor Brandon Sutton said. “We used to do stuff like this. I think it’s good because, as I was talking about today in my message, society is getting worse and worse. I think the churches need to stop being isolated and work together.”

Sutton felt honored to be a part of this years event and to be asked to speak on Wednesday.

“You get to meet people you don’t know,” Sutton said. “You get to go to places you’ve never been. I think we need more of that. We’re a Baptist church. This is a Presbyterian church. We may have some differences theologically in our beliefs, but we believe the same gospel message and the same truth about God. I think it’s important for us to get together.”

Journey Church is hosting three services for Easter this year, where Sutton and the church will be seeing people they don’t normally see on a normal Sunday.

“We see it as a great opportunity,” Sutton said. “We know that there are people who are coming to our church that don’t go to church regularly. For us, that means that at the very least they’re not walking with Christ the way he’s commanded for us to. At the very worst, they don’t know Christ. We’re hoping that we can minister to them through the totality of our services and speak some truth to them. We talk about putting a rock in people’s shoes and at least get to a point where they can’t get what they heard out of their minds.”

As is the case with many churches, the volume of Journey Church’s attendance is exponentially higher on Easter Sunday.

“Last year, we were running 1,400 or so a Sunday, and we had 2,000 on Easter,” Sutton said. “This year, we’ve been running about 1,600 to 1,700 a week, so we’re expecting probably around 2,200.”

Lebanon First United Methodist Pastor Ryan Bennett is also anticipating seeing people who aren’t typically in the pews on a Sunday morning this Easter.

“I think it’s a good reminder,” Bennett said. “I think some people are critical of those people (who only come on Christmas and Easter). I think it’s good to be reminded that there is something special about this day. Sometimes, we treat it just like any other Sunday, and it’s not like any other Sunday. It’s a significant day, and it’s a defining moment of our faith.”

Bennett kicked off the week of messages on Monday at noon.

“What this is trying to do is bring us together,” Bennett said. “There’s so much that divides us between denominations and political ideologies and theologies. Even in our own churches, we have things that divide us, but we need those things that draw us together and make us one.”

Lebanon to become more strict with zoning

Lebanon zoning codes may become more strict when it comes to multi-use developments.

On Tuesday, the Lebanon City Council voted 5-1 on the first reading to approve an ordinance that would eliminate a loophole in the zoning code, which will now prevent developers from utilizing multi-use zoning in the building of apartment complexes.

The council will discuss amending the zoning code during its next work session on Thursday, and there will be a second vote to approve or deny the ordinance on April 18.

“One of the things that we’ve been doing for the past couple of years is managing growth,” Lebanon Mayor Rick Bell said. “There’s been several things that (the city) has placed in front of (the council) that you’ve approved that are really positive. We passed the comprehensive planning as councilor (Camille) Burdine mentioned earlier. We’ve created a sunset clause on special plans so that if (developers) haven’t done anything in three years, they have to come back (before the council). We’ve also increased standards for multi-family. We’ve made developers pay for improvements to infrastructure. But one of the things that we’ve talked about in work sessions before is tightening up the zoning code.”

The city created the zoning committee for that purpose. One of the things that became a priority for the committee was commercial neighborhood and commercial service zoning.

“When those zonings were put into effect, they were meant to create mixed-use developments, which are retail, commercial, and residential,” Bell said. “It means that they also allow a lot of uses. So, one of the things that we’ve seen is that most developments are being used for one purpose, and that’s multi-family.”

Burdine, the ward 2 councilor, originally made a motion to defer the vote until more public input could be received.

“I’m not disagreeing that we need to do something,” Burdine said. “What I’m saying is I think there needs to be a harder discussion.”

The public will have opportunities to address the council regarding the ordinance at the work session on Thursday and also before the final vote is taken at the next city council meeting.

“You can defer it,” Bell said. “You can vote yes. You can vote no. But at some point, this council has to decide what you want to see the in next 20-30 years, not just project by project. What do you want to see the city look like in 20-30 years?”

The motion to defer the vote was denied.

“We have time to discuss it,” ward 1 council member Joey Carmack said.

Ward 6 councilor Phil Moorehead recalled the loophole affecting him and his neighbors.

“Where I live, there was a property that was CS (commercial service),” Moorehead said. “Everybody was led to believe that there was going to be commercial development there. It’s now a giant apartment complex.”

Zone 4 councilor Chris Crowell has also had experience with developers utilizing the loophole.

“I’ve got some personal experience with people having zoning, and then, they change their horses in the middle of the stream, and they do something different than what they said they were going to do,” Crowell said. “That’s not cool at all. From my standpoint, you come forward, tell us what you would like to do, (and) let’s work together to bring something to the city that benefits everyone.”

Mt. Juliet man arrested for McDonald's shooting

A Mt. Juliet man has been arrested after allegedly firing shots at a vehicle near the McDonald’s located at 126 North Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet.

No one was injured in the incident.

The 61-year-old suspect was booked into the Wilson County Jail on Friday after officers received reports of a shooting at approximately 10 a.m. Once on scene, witnesses gave a detailed description of both the suspect and the individual that he fired at.

Using the description provided by witnesses, the Mt. Juliet Police Department was able to locate the shooter’s vehicle near the intersection of Old Pleasant Grove Road and Pleasant Grove Road.

Detectives were able to find out that the suspect and another 34-year-old male had not known each other before they began to argue in the McDonald’s parking lot. The argument quickly escalated, and as the other individual began to leave in his vehicle, the suspect allegedly fired shots with his handgun.

Witnesses were in the parking lot as the shooting occurred, and the other man fled the area.

The 34-year-old was later found and confirmed the accounts from other witnesses at the scene.

Lebanon left-fielder Braden Metzgar (right) is enthusiastically greeted by a Blue Devil teammate as he returns to the dugout after his shoestring catch led to an inning-ending double play against Mt. Juliet. Metzgar had another big play against the Bears in the seventh when his RBI double lifted the Blue Devils to a walk-off win.