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Massive special events flag raised for first time
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Staff Reports

Last June, Will Sellars  began working on raising funds for a special events flag to donate to the city of Mt. Juliet. 

After speaking with fire chief Jamie Luffman, the two decided on using a 30x60 ft flag for special events, such as Veterans Day, the Christmas Parade, and more. 

Donors for the flag included the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, the Exchange Club of Wilson County, Modern Woodman of America, American Legion Riders, and American Legion Post #281.

EXPO Center to break ground
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Staff Reports

Wilson County will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the highly anticipated EXPO Centwwwer at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 at the James E. Ward Agriculture Center. 

“The EXPO Center will be a great addition to our county.  It will be a place for our families to come and enjoy as well as visitors to experience Wilson County,” Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto explained.  “It has taken several people to make this vision possible and I’m excited to break ground.”

The 78,361 square foot facility is a multi-purpose design with the ability to host an assortment of activities and events simultaneously.  The main exhibit hall is 45,000 square feet and can be sub-divided. In addition to the main hall, there are two 3,350 square foot break out rooms that can be divided into four separate rooms.

The EXPO Center will allow for 252 trade show booths, ability to seat 2,100 guests with a banquet style arrangement, also seat 6,300 for a graduation ceremony.  It can accommodate four basketball courts or eight volleyball courts.  The facility will include approximately 1,942 turf and 80 paved parking spaces.  

“We are already getting phone calls about events,” EXPO Center Marketing Director Charity Toombs said.  “The facility has so many possibilities and creates endless opportunities for the county.  I am thrilled to implement the county commission’s vision for the community.”

The EXPO Center is already taking bookings and will open its doors the first of fall 2016.  To book your event, contact Ms. Toombs at (615)449-9077.  

Wilson County schools continuing to thrive
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

 Staff Reports

For the fourth consecutive year, Wilson County Schools earned all As for achievement in grades 3-8 for math, reading/language arts and science, according to the annual Report Card released by the Tennessee Department of Education.

The TDOE released the Report Cards for all 142 school districts, which reflects the progress in K-12 education for the 2014-15 school year, Thursday morning

The Tennessee State Report Card includes state, district and school-level information on student achievement and student growth, demographics, and student discipline. The Tennessee Education Improvement Act of 1992 established accountability standards for all public schools in the state and required the Department of Education to produce a Report Card for the public to view each year.
As a growth measure, Wilson County achieved a composite Level 5, the highest attainable level, in all subject areas.
“TVAAS (Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System) Composites are reported on a 1-5 scale. These scores are used to measure student growth over the course of the school year,” said Deputy Director of Academics Monty Wilson. “Level 5 scores indicate that the district is exceeding expected growth from all applicable TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) and End of Course assessments.”
Wilson County’s graduation rate continues to exceed the state average and ranks as one of the highest in the state of Tennessee. In addition, the report card shows a significant increase in ACT scores and college readiness. Wilson County Schools’ average ACT scores are above the state’s average in every category: English, mathematics, reading, science reasoning and overall composite. 
While closing the achievement gap amongst different subgroups remains a challenge for the district, the district made improvements in this area.
“Wilson County’s teachers and principals are continuing to focus on individualizing instruction to meet the needs of each child, and in doing so, we believe we will continue to close achievement gaps amongst subgroups,” Wilson said.
 Highlights from Wilson County’s results show:

•    The district obtained all As in grades 3-8 for achievement
•    The district’s graduation rate is 95.7 percent, surpassing the state by 7.9 percent
•    The district has a 20.0 composite score on the ACT, up from 19.7 the previous year
•    The percentage of students eligible for the Hope Scholarship is 43.3 percent, which is up from 41.7 percent the previous year.

The Tennessee Department of Education recognizes excellence in schools based on student performance with its Reward School list. Wilson County Schools had five schools on that list:  Lakeview Elementary School, Gladeville Elementary School, Mount Juliet Elementary School, Mount Juliet High School, and W.A. Wright Elementary School.
Wilson County had the most schools recognized as a Reward School for both achievement and growth than any school district in the state of Tennessee. Only nine schools statewide garnered this distinction, and three of them were from Wilson County – W.A. Wright Elementary, Gladeville Elementary and Mt. Juliet High School – are Wilson County Schools.
All rose to the top 5 percent for annual value-added growth, while also ranking in the state’s top 5 percent for overall achievement. Two other Wilson County Schools – Lakeview and Mt. Juliet Elementary schools – were also named Reward Schools for ranking in the top 5 percent for their achievement or performance scores.
“It’s been a good year, and it’s a validation as far as all of the hard work our teachers and administrators have put forth,” said Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright. “It didn’t happen by accident. It was very intentional, very deliberate, and the work is paying off on behalf of our boys and girls.”
“According to student outcomes, there is much to be proud of and recognize. The students, teachers, administrators and parents of this county will continue to work diligently to help improve both achievement and growth as our students move through the school system,” Wright added.
To visit the 2015 Report Card, visit

Career Solutions to host big job fair
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

At least 12 employers needing more than 350 workers will attend a job fair at Friendship Community Church’s City Center, 11853 Lebanon Road, Mt. Juliet from noon-3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.
The event is being hosted by Goodwill Career Solutions and #MJCareerTransitions.
Participating employers include Asurion, Elwood Staffing, Kroger, OHL, Mt. Juliet Goodwill Retail Store, Insource Performance Solutions, Marriott Hotels, Randstad USA, Wilson Sporting Goods, Automation Personnel, Holiday Inn Vanderbilt and Golden LivingCenter.
Openings include forklift and reach truck operator,  certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, director of clinical education, deli, bakery, donation attendant, security, picker-packer and other positions. Rates of pay range from $7.25 per hour to $68,000 per year.
 Representatives from these companies will be on site and interviews are possible, so job-seekers should dress for success. Job candidates are encouraged to bring a resume, photo ID, Social Security card or birth certificate.
This event is one of many job fairs taking place during the week of Oct. 26. A complete list of job fairs taking place at Goodwill’s 30 Career Solutions centers can be found at

New LED lighting now completed at I-40 interchange
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

If driving along the I-40 interchange near Providence, things might seem a bit brighter. That’s because the installation of LED lighting at the interchange, is now complete.

Mt. Juliet officials said for years, one of the complaints of motorists was they couldn’t see the lines on the road when it was raining, especially at night. That should change with new state of the art LED lighting. A contractor has begun installing a half-dozen of them. 

Mt. Juliet has split the $700,000 cost with the state. 

“From what I understand they’re brighter, they’re more efficient and they last longer,” Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said. 

They are definitely brighter, and can be seen when crews tested the lights Monday in the daylight.

The city plans to add landscaping to the interchange next. Martin felt like new landscaping coupled with the bright lighting will help Providence Market Place and other retailers in the area.

“It’s just going to give us life.  It’s going to give us an ambience after hours, so when people say why do you get so excited about street lights well, there’s a multitude of reasons why,” Martin said. 

The lighting was so much brighter the city has looking into what it would cost to replace all of the street lights with similar LED lights.

The primary focus though was safety. This was the same interchange where crews were tackling a water drainage issue.

Mt. Juliet Police said there have been too many crashes blamed on standing water, causing vehicles to hydroplane in the eastbound lanes of I-40.

The inside lane was still closed as construction continued to add more drains and change the slope of the traffic lanes.  

Once construction has finished and the new lights have been added, the interchange should be safer.

Mt. Juliet officials were so excited about the new lights they’ve planned a ceremony to turn them on when the construction has been completed. The lighting and drainage project should be finished sometime this week.

Currently, there are few locations with LED lights along the interstate, including a weigh station along I-24, near the Manchester and Tullahoma area. However, the Mt. Juliet Road interchange is the first to have LED lighting.   

Additionally, Cookeville has selected an LED design for an interchange, but it has yet to be built. 

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