Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto paid a visit the Mt. Juliet/West Wilson Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Wednesday, and laid out where the county is headed in the coming months and years.
“I think we have to put an emphasis on education and public safety,” Hutto told the crowd as he went over his key points to moving the county forward. Hutto said he believed jobs, quality of life and roads are the second tier for the county.
Hutto said that people ask why we don’t have more white collar jobs in Wilson County, and he believes that starts with education. He said that Wilson County is a leader in education, and is near the top in test scores. He pointed to Mt. Juliet High School’s honor last from SCORE, naming them the top academic high school in the state.
To continue to improve schools, Hutto said that the Wilson County Board of Education has approved the additions to West Wilson Middle School, Rutland Elementary and West Elementary, as well as the brand new Watertown High School.
“This will be the fourth high school we have built in Wilson County without a tax increase,” said Hutto.
Hutto said Wilson County has not had a tax increase on the general purpose side since 1995.
Lebanon High School just had their opening recently, and Hutto said that 5,000 people came to look at the new building. Some from surrounding counties visited as well, and Hutto believes this shows that Wilson County’s is a leader in education.
“I was just blown away to see that many people come here,” said Hutto.
Hutto also said he believed the old Lebanon High School could be put to good use. He thinks that if Cumberland University will invest in it, Wilson County students who want to take their AP and dual enrollment classes can drive there, and some may be able to get as much as a year under the belt in college before attending a higher education institution. He also believes this will free up the other schools who currently hold those classes on campus.
Hutto said the county needs to strive for balanced services for everyone. He said that he wants each community and its citizens to feel represented no matter where they live.
One of those services is the emergency services in Mt. Juliet. Hutto believes that they have made good progress on the issue.
“We are a long way down the road,” said Hutto.
Hutto said that Mt. Juliet has a building in the works, as well as a revenue source. He said that it makes sense that the county works with each city because county area surrounds each community so it affects both entities.
“Your emergency services are a model for the state of Tennessee,” said Hutto. He said that the county strives to have everyone in the county covered, and they are getting closer to that for future planned stations.
“We work well together,” said Hutto of all the city officials that he works with, including Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty, Lebanon Mayor Phillip Craighead and Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings. He said that unity will help solve issues like the emergency services in Mt. Juliet.
Hutto said the group may disagree on certain issues, but they all work well together and can work toward unifying the county more. Hagerty, who was in the crowd, nodded in approval of Hutto’s statements.
Hutto told the business owners in the community that he is trying to create more tourism for the county, so the tax numbers go higher and businesses pull in bigger profits.
One of the ways to build interest is the Wilson County Place to Be license plates. Hutto feels that if people see the license plates in surrounding areas, it will spark their interest about what is going on in Wilson County.
In closing, Hutto talked about the importance of maximizing the advantage of having a rail line in the county. He said the county is encouraging more communities along the rail line, especially the elderly who may not be able to drive and get easily downtown or other areas along the track. He also hopes to have a bus loop from Lebanon to Mt. Juliet and they are currently looking into the possibility of that. .