Mt. Juliet Chamber Blogs

Keep up with everything going on at the Mt. Juliet Chamber!

Keeping You in the Loop #mjchamber

Coming Soon!
If breaking ground makes it official, then numerous new businesses are on the way soon. Projects already in the construction phase include: Chuck-E-Cheese, Active Life Chiropractic, Primrose Pre-School, Lifestyles, and Sellars Park.

New Additions Coming to Jones Park
Work is already underway to bring a Walking Trail and Frisbee Golf to Jones Park on N. Mt. Juliet Road, across from WB&T. This park already has both a Sand Volleyball Court and Bark Park available.

Starbucks Signs Letter of Intent 
Starbucks has signed a LOI for a location to be announced on Lebanon Road. Plans call for a location near N. Mt. Juliet Road and Lebanon Road.

Indoor Gun Range & Retail Storefront 
Construction is underway for Mt. Juliet's first Indoor Gun Range to be located on Lebanon Road. Plans include a gun-related retail storefront as well.  

Robinson Crossing Now Leasing
The soon to be completed Robinson Crossing Building located at the corner of N. Mt. Juliet Road and Old Lebanon Dirt Road is now leasing retail space on the first floor. The second floor is entirely office space and is already 100% leased.

Mt. Juliet is #4! Looks like our little secret is out...Four Middle TN cities are on the "Cities on the Rise" list. Find out who else made the cut! 

Just one more reason why Mt. Juliet is unique...Mt. Juliet woman the best female horseshoe pitcher on the planet!

More new growth in Mt. Juliet...$28M apartment site set for Providence in Mount Juliet.

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Who Gets to Decide?

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of conversation and print dealing with such things as traffic, infrastructure, and other related issues. None are particularly new but in some cases they may be a bit more pronounced than before. I'd say it is safe to say we will be having such conversations for many years to come; at least I hope so and I can tell you why. I guess my feelings go back to the late 1970’s when I began working at McDonald’s in Bluffton, Indiana. Anyone who worked at McDonald’s back then likely heard many of Ray Kroc’s little sayings. Among them one of my favorites was “When you are green you’re growing, and when you’re ripe you start to rot”. I doubt that he was speaking specifically about our community at the time, but there is no doubt that saying is as relative to us now as it was to McDonald’s back then. It is obvious to us all that we are indeed growing.

Whether we are growing too fast, too slow, or just about right is open to discussion and I’d probably be able to make a case for all three. Whenever I am invited to speak to community or civic groups about what all is happening in Mt Juliet, one of the first questions I get is when will be getting a Sam’s or COSTCO. For those folks we cannot grow quick enough since they will only plant roots in MJ when our population reaches a certain level. (Note; Hendersonville just got their first one and their population is nearly twice ours!). Others appreciate and advocate for the growth because it means more new customers and sales. And still others like the deer in the back lawn and want no more traffic. It’s hard to really argue against any of them when it comes down to it.

Years ago we had a luncheon speaker from TDOT who was speaking about all of the various road and construction projects in our community. At the end of his presentation someone asked him “how soon will we be getting rid of all of these orange barrels; our town is full of them”? His response back then should give us something to think about even today. He simply said “if you don’t like living in a community with orange barrels, you should try living in one with no orange barrels. I swear you could have heard a pin drop as the noise was deafening. I credit Paul Deggs with TDOT for providing us with a valuable perspective that day.

Going forward, let’s not ask for no growth or to make growth and development so difficult that that turns out being the end result. Let’s not grow so fast either that we end up not being able to get from one side of town to the other without packing a picnic. We are not the first nor will we likely be the last to see such growth in a relatively short period of time. We love our community, we are proud of our community, and we have been telling folks that for a long time. It should really be no surprise that they want to come and be a part of all of the wonderful things we have to offer. Let’s keep our doors wide open and continue to be as welcoming to our new friends and neighbors as our friends and neighbors were when we got here.

A friend of mine (PS) once told me that just because we climbed up and made it into the treehouse; we don’t now get to pull up the ladder. Let’s look at where we need to focus our efforts and resources, make a list of our priorities, build community support for the needed improvements, and keep the ball rolling. As a community it is fair to say that we are still a bit green and growing when compared to others around us. As for me personally, I happen to feel as though that is far better than being ripe. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Close Your Eyes....What Do you Hear?

I just read a story about a Japanese master who spoke with a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. The Japanese master served tea and when he poured his visitor’s cup, he kept on pouring until the cup spilled over. The professor watched the cup overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It’s full and no more will go in!” exclaimed the professor. And the master said quietly, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Reading this story made me think about the episodes of Kung Fu I watched back in the early 70’s. In this show, Kwai Chang Caine (played by David Carradine) was the orphaned son of an American man and a Chinese woman in 19th century China. As a child, he trained at a monastery where he grew up to become a priest and martial arts expert. Flashbacks were used to recall his childhood lessons at the monastery from his teacher, Master Po, who was blind. In these flashbacks, Master Po called his young student "Grasshopper" in reference to a scene in the pilot episode:

Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: No. Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?


I guess both of these are reminders of how little we really pay attention to life. We might ask someone a question, but our mind hardly stops churning in order to hear what the response is because our attention is already focused on something else. We complain about the incessant heat, but fail to notice the birds chirping or the flowers blooming or the gardens ripe for harvesting. Our hustling, bustling lives are so full of noise and people that we rarely really hear and see what’s going on around us. Because of this, we very often miss out on some spectacular - albeit simple - everyday things. 


Let’s challenge ourselves to slow down every day and take a 60-second respite from the craziness of our world. Just 60 seconds. Find a comfy chair, sit with your feet on the floor in a relaxed position, close your eyes, and just breathe. Let the out-breath be twice as long as the in-breath. Just breathe. We have 86,400 seconds in a day. Why not take 60 of those seconds for a mini meditation right now? Do you hear your heartbeat? Do you hear the grasshopper at your feet? It's kind of nice, isn't it?


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Lots Going On!

Normally I use this space each week to share my thoughts about something that is on my mind at the time and for the most are singularly related. This week I would like to touch on numerous topics that might be of interest to you.

Ambulance Service; the City of Mt Juliet is exploring the possibility of privatizing our EMT service which is currently provided for by County Government. Like many citizens in our community, I am learning more and more about this issue each and every day. There are many things to be considered and we all have a vested interest in the outcome. To learn more about this topic and to share your thoughts with your local leaders, the City is hosting two Town Hall Meetings; Monday, July 7th at Life Assembly Church and another one on Tuesday, July 8th at Joy Church. Both are at 6:30 PM. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. 

Concert Between the Lakes; this past week saw the first event of its kind in Mt Juliet. Held at the amphitheater area in Charlie Daniels Park, attendees had the opportunity to enjoy food trucks, games and activities for the kids, and listen to some great performers. Sponsored and made possible by our friends at TDS TV, we enjoyed music from American Idol Finalist Tim Urban, #1 Singles from Marc Scibilia, and the Nashvegas All Stars. I hope you will make plans to attend the next one.

Thanks to Modern Woodmen & the Jones Family; today our community is an even better place to call home thanks to the generosity of our friends at Modern Woodmen and the Bob Jones Family. With their financial support and benevolent donation of land we are now able to enjoy yet another park in our community at no cost to the taxpayers. Located on N MJ Road just north of Old Lebanon Dirt Road, this new park features sand volleyball and an expansive dog park. 

New Police Headquarters; in the next couple of weeks our community will be cutting the ribbon and will be invited to the grand opening of our new Police Headquarters. Located on Charlie Daniels Parkway, this was made possible by the generosity of our friends at Joy Church, our Mayor & City Commission, and the hard work of our Police Department, Public Works, and Park Department. “Thanks and Job Well Done” to all of you!

State of the County; each month your MJ Chamber hosts a monthly luncheon program. These events are open to the public and lunch is included. On July 16th, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto will be presenting his annual “State of the County” address. These monthly events are held at Rutland Place on Rutland Road behind MJCA. Advance reservations are required and everyone is invited. To register for any of our events and for information about all of our programs and services, visit

I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Starting My Christmas List

Since it is exactly six months until the big day, I thought I would go ahead and start making make out my Christmas List. Surely with about 180 shopping days to go, there is still time for all of the Development Elves to wave their magic wands and make a couple of my wishes come true. If either of these things are also on your list, let’s work together and make them happen!

Something that is relatively new to my list, but could be an awesome addition to our community is something we saw first-hand this past weekend in Cheatham County. Out in the middle of nowhere, as we rounded a bend on Highway 12 coming from Clarksville into Ashland City, two identical, magnificent looking 10-story condo towers suddenly appeared. As we made our way to them, they only became more impressive. While some of the upper floors may have a view of the river, it was hard to imagine that the lower ones could see much water at all. At that instant, I asked myself why in the world Mt Juliet could not do this. I’d certainly not want to pop up anything like this that would even remotely obscure the view of anyone who already has a lake view they enjoy. It may be possible that there is not a single place left on Old Hickory Lake that could accommodate such a project. But it may also be possible that there are indeed locations that could support a development like this without impacting a single other property.

With the well documented condo boom going on in the heart of downtown Nashville, it’s not much of a stretch to think there may also be folks who would pay handsomely to have the same type of living accommodations with not only awesome views of the lake, a marina, and miles of rolling hills, but probably even views of the Nashville Skyline. All of this in Mt Juliet and so close to the big city. Infrastructure, land, and development costs are certainly not cheap, but these units are selling for well over $300,000 in Ashland City! Google the Braxton Condos online and see for yourself. Let’s pick out a spot now so we can have this in place before all of the good spots are taken.

Compared to the above condo project, my next wish is a whole lot easier and millions cheaper. I’m asking Santa to help us find a spot on which to relocate the large salt, vehicle, and equipment storage building currently on Industrial Drive behind the soon to be completed funeral home. Planners, developers, investors, site selectors, and ECD Professionals local leaders know very well about the highest and best use for property. That location has probably served us well for the last several years. The time is now to turn the page and find a better use for that property. With that whole area now being developed into nice retail space, offices, and restaurants, the salt trucks and that metal building need to be relocated. Let’s do what we need to do to keep the downtown development ball rolling. Clearly this would be beneficial to all concerned!

Most might think these are just a couple of “Big Hairy Audacious Goals”. But like I’ve said many times before; not only do we all need to have them individually, but as a community we must have some B.H.A.G.s. These are but just a couple of mine.

I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Connecting Talent with Opportunities

Is your business looking for talented employees or as a talented employee, are you looking for employers with job openings today? If so, then the Mt Juliet Chamber CareerWORKS Program (CCWP) may be for you. I would like to invite both employers and employees to consider attending an upcoming CCWP. These meetings are held twice monthly on the first and third Tuesday of the month from 8:30-9:30. All CCWP are held in the community meeting room at Courtney’s Restaurant on N MJ Road. There is absolutely no cost to attend and everyone is welcome. For those that would like to eat a Dutch Treat Breakfast before the meeting, please plan to arrive a few minutes early so that you are ready to join the group at 8:30.

The MJ Chamber CareerWORKS began a number of months ago and has already had many success stories. Organizer and facilitator Steve Horrell is doing a magnificent job helping to connect those who may be looking to share their talents with those who are looking for talented employees to join their team. It is important to know that these meetings are not a job fair, no interviewing takes place, and the setting is very relaxing. Everyone who attends these meetings understands that their next employer or employee is not nearly as likely to be someone else in the room at these meetings. Rather, it is much more likely that it will be someone in the room that knows someone else to help complete the connection. During our time together, these hour-long programs allow time for those attending to share with the group just what they are looking for regardless of if that is an employee or a career. Everyone is then encouraged to help each other make successful connections. By including so many others in their search, the chances for success are increased greatly.

To this day, even those who were once looking remain in contact and are available to help those who have followed behind. The openly shared credo that drives the group is “givers gain” and that by sharing and helping others, the rewards are returned to the giver. Those who truly want to help others along the journey while helping themselves at the same time are most likely to benefit from this program. To have a program such as this in our community is very beneficial, even to those who are not currently looking for employees or employers. When all persons in a community who want to work are gainfully employed the entire community benefits. Those with jobs are able to purchase goods and services, pursue home ownership if desired, support churches and charities, and give back to our young and elderly.

The MJ Chamber remains committed to developing and pursuing programs and services which help make MJ and Wilson County the kind of place that folks will want to live, work, and raise our families. Chamber CareerWORKS is but one of many and all of our friends and neighbors are always invited! For more information or to register for any MJ Chamber event, please visit or call 758-3478 for more information. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Thank You Gentlemen

This past week saw the passing of two community icons; Mr. John Moss and Mr. Danny Farmer. Both men had deep roots in and a passion for our community. Both will be truly missed. Upon hearing the news of their passing and in a quiet moment of reflection I found myself with feelings of gratitude and respect for the seeds they sowed. At a time when your mind is flooded with emotions and memories, sometime it’s hard to find perspective. In the days after their memorials, I was thinking about how men like them and so many others who have come and gone can still teach us lessons of responsibility, character, vision, and service to others.

It has not been that long ago that Mt Juliet boasted a population of barely over 3,000. Now less than thirty years later we are at nearly ten-times that number of residents. And while we are continuously working thru the expected growing pains, most would agree we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. It’s safe to say that we have a very special place to call home. Many who are relatively new to our community may not know of those who planted that tiny acorn many years ago so that we could enjoy the shade of this mighty oak we call Mt. Juliet.

It is no secret that many of my articles are about our weekend travels throughout the back roads of our great State. As we come upon some of these often small and once thriving communities, sometimes we do stop for a short visit but mostly we just slow down as we pass by. It becomes very obvious very quickly that some have found a way to stay connected to their past while staying relevant in the current. Others however present a very different picture. It’s almost as if their town is dying with little hope of ever returning to a vibrant and growing community. Some have clearly been a casualty of an Interstate Highway that is in the next town over which has sucked their retail tax base away. Others perhaps did not invest early on in their downtown or utility infrastructure to prepare for future growth of any kind. I’m sure there are many other reasons, probably too many to even imagine. Maybe, just maybe though, it was because they never had a John or a Danny, or others like them to help nurture the tiny acorns in their community the way we did.

For our newer friends and neighbors, you may just have to trust me on this one. We owe these men and so many other men and women like them a tremendous debt of gratitude for making today’s shade a reality. What will each of us do today, tomorrow, and years from now to make sure that those that follow us will be able to enjoy their shade? Some things take a lot of time and often get handed down as works-in-progress to future generations. Things such as sewers, fresh water, sidewalks, roadways, greenways and open spaces, parks, and building standards never really get finished. All of these things require constant planning, investment, maintenance, expansion, and upgrading. None of that comes cheap. In fact it comes at a very steep price.

I applaud all of our local leaders, investors, stakeholders, community servants, and visionaries who truly understand that while these things cost money, they remain steadfast in their resolve to make the sacrifices necessary to insure the long term benefits. I’d suggest that from having seen it with my own eyes many, many times; the price that will ultimately be paid by our children and grandchildren for not doing so will be much, much greater. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Life Has No Remote

I wouldn't say that I am necessarily well-traveled. I've been on mission trips to Mexico and Spain and spent a week in Belize a couple of years ago. I've traveled from Key West to Boston to San Francisco to Missoula, with many other stops in between. I’ve interacted with a lot of diverse people and always try to experience local cuisine, transportation, and cultural activities no matter where I am. But, it seems as if one of the most rewarding trips I’ve taken lately was the shortest geographical distance I’ve ever traversed.    

Novelist Alice Walker said "the most foreign country is within" and I have to agree. This quest to really get to know myself in the last few months has been wonderfully fulfilling, albeit a little painful and frightening at times. 

I have several friends and family members who seem to be on personal journeys these days as well. Even though we are a variety of ages and from different walks of life, and the reasons that have brought us to this place are different, we are all seeking balance and harmony in our lives, whatever that looks like to us.

I guess it doesn’t really matter who you are or where you come from, soul searching is a part of life if you choose to accept the assignment. It can be a little scary since you don’t always know where it will take you, but having the time and inclination to truly begin listening to that quiet, still voice inside is a treasure indeed.

I’m not sure who said it, but I really like this message: “Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself!” We have to take charge of our own life; no one is going to do it for us. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish. What are you waiting for? 


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A Ghostly Experience…Maybe

I think I am going to have to add yet another unusual experience to my resume. This past weekend I wanted to slip away from the hustle and bustle for a peaceful and relaxing weekend with Tonya to celebrate her birthday. We love to visit Bed & Breakfasts and go places we have never been together. Not wanting to drive far, we decided to visit Red Boiling Springs and stay at the historical Thomas House B&B for a couple of nights. It is actually kind of a mix between a 100 year old hotel and a B&B. Red Boiling Springs is about 90 minutes away from Mt Juliet up in Macon County on the border with Kentucky. As we were reading some of the online reviews from previous guests we began to look even more forward to our stay. Believe me; all of the stuff people had written about as far as the friendliness of the other guests and staff, uniqueness, food, historical look and feel, and so forth were all spot-on. This truly is a one-of-a-kind place to visit.

I had of course made reservations for two adults as we were traveling alone. However, I am not 100% sure that there were only two of us in the room after dark. It seems that this place is widely known to be haunted. In fact, were told that the folks from the Ghost Hunters Program have claimed that this hotel is the second most “active” place in the entire United States when it comes to documented paranormal experiences. We are not absolutely positive, but we may have been paid a visit by “Sarah”, an 8 year old girl who died there decades ago. Those may have even been the tiny footsteps we heard running up and down the halls at night. It’s possible that we also were in the presence of a former pastor at the haunted church at the end of the drive where we spent several hours in near total darkness sitting around in a small circle in the middle of the night. There were, of course other past family members and friends that while unseen, may have in our midst. And all of that happened on our first night there!

We decided that on Saturday, we needed to slip away for our weekend get-away for a day of sightseeing. That little day trip took us to Tompkinsville, KY to the burial site of Daniel Boone’s relatives. Some of the headstones in that small State Historical Shrine (Old Mulkey Meeting House) dated to pre-Revolutionary War times. How we coincidently and unexpectedly ended up visiting an old cemetery during this trip remains yet another mystery. Before settling in for our second night of what we thought would be a peaceful night’s rest, we visited Celina, TN near the dam at Dale Hollow Lake and the antique stores in Gainesboro, TN. Along the way we passed thru many tiny towns that might remind one of Mayberry or maybe Walton’s Mountain.

Back at the hotel on Saturday night, let’s just say we watched movies with the lights on until the sun came up on Sunday morning. I can’t really say exactly how many new friends we made that weekend, as I am sure we never actually shook hands with several of them. We are looking closely at some of the pictures we took while there. The number of people that can be seen in some of them is open to interpretation I guess. Either way it was a memorable weekend. Just when I thought I already knew all of the reasons why I love Mt Juliet so much, I have found yet another. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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The return of red light cameras?

I’m sure that many if not most in the Nashville area recently read or heard about the tragic death of a Metro Police Officer helping with traffic control on I-65 just south of Nashville. Following that horrible and avoidable loss of life there were many posts, tweets, and other social media notes imploring drivers to move over when passing by emergency vehicles on the side of the road. I’d imagine that at least for a while there will be some improvement. If this is like a lot of other things, I’d also imagine that it won’t likely be a long term solution. I do not make my living on the highway, I seldom drive long distances for business, nor do I even use the Interstate to commute to work. I do however spend a reasonable amount of my leisure time canvasing our beautiful state visiting points of interest.

This past weekend I had a thought; one that many in our community may be able to relate to. A few years ago the City of Mt Juliet installed those somewhat unpopular red light cameras. While the pros and cons of having them at high-traffic intersections inside the city limits received plenty of ink in the local papers, perhaps when true life and death consequences are ever present, they could be considered? What if these were converted into a slightly different use in temporary conditions? Someone a bit smarter than me could surely reconfigure them to snap photos and record videos of people racing thru construction zones or not moving over for emergency vehicles. Obviously not all police cars could realistically have access to them, but I bet they could mount one on the back of those bright green emergency vehicles that often pull up right behind officers on the side of the road. I’d also imagine they could be easily mounted on temporary poles as drivers enter construction zones. Some of these construction zones such as work on the Interstates and the bridgework like Highway 109 can last well over a year or two. What if every construction worker in these zones or emergency workers on the scene of an accident had some type of early-warning device (think of a pager type device that vibrated, sirens activated, lights begin flashed, etc.) immediately alerting them that a vehicle is entering their area at an excessive speed?

There was plenty of debate over the use of the cameras in Mt Juliet which took a lot of photos and videos of vehicles rolling thru or not completely stopping for right hand turns and running red lights. Ultimately these became such political liabilities that they were removed. Would there be near as much pushback from the public if those speeding in construction zones or not pulling over in emergency situations received tickets (or even warnings) in the mail? Maybe, maybe not; but in the absence of any better solutions being proposed it may be work at least considering. I realize that there are many, many obstacles to such a program. We seem to be able to spontaneously capture literally everything else on video these days, why not make this technology work in our favor and perhaps even help save lives?

The next time you see someone on TV or you read an article reporting on the next tragic death of a construction worker or emergency personnel claiming that this nonsense has to stop and that we will do “everything” possible to avoid future such deaths, think about this and then ask yourself “have they really done everything”? Let’s all slow down and be just a bit safer this summer. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Pie Dough Cookies

When I was a little kid, my mom used to bake pies all the time, pies made totally from scratch. She would carefully mix the ingredients, turn the kneaded ball of dough onto the kitchen counter sprinkled with flour, and roll the dough into a thin circle with a rolling pin. It was a process requiring time and precision and waiting for the final product was hard to do with any amount of patience. For me, my favorite part of baking pies was not eating the pie itself. It was the excess, the dough cut from the edges once the pie was in the pie pan, before the crust was crimped to seal in the juices. You see, with a family of seven children, my mom never wasted one thing. She took that surplus dough, cut it into thin strips, sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and baked it. We called them "pie dough cookies" and they were a favorite snack for as much of my early childhood as I can remember. 

The older I get, the more it seems as if time just flies by and sometimes, it’s easy to feel as if I’m just wasting away my days. But it’s important to remember that true joy is in the smallest, simplest, most insignificant moments of everyday life. Things like sitting on the bleachers watching my grandson’s baseball game, grilling burgers with my kids, seeing a movie with a friend, or sitting quietly on the deck reading a book are some of life’s greatest pleasures.   

Auguste Rodin, the French sculptor said “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” I think that making memories with the people we love is one of the wisest, most important things we can do for ourselves. Even though it’s been over 40 years since I ate a pie dough cookie, that simple act performed by my mom remains one of my fondest childhood memories. I hope you can make some safe and happy memories of your own with the people you love most this Memorial Day Weekend!   

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Memorial Day Memories

For me, just like for many of the folks reading this article, the Memorial Day Holiday is a time to both make and reflect on special times. Some people know years ahead of time what they will be doing on certain holidays be it Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving and Christmas. They know because they have long standing family traditions, obligations, or special occasions often planned around certain holidays. I’d imagine most of these events are fun, relaxing, perhaps exciting, and will likely include lots of outdoor activities as well. Whatever may be bringing your friends and family together, let’s not forget about the true meaning of this holiday and for so many who have sacrificed so much to make virtually everything else we do possible. Maybe this weekend we can all pay a little more attention to those beautiful red, white, and blue flags we see proudly flying this weekend. Maybe we can start or continue a tradition of taking a young person to a Memorial Day Service so they too can begin to experience community patriotism, sacrifice, and remembrance.

For me, I have many fond memories of this special weekend. Having been born and raised only a couple of hours north of Indianapolis, this was often referred to as “Race Weekend”. With the running of the Indy 500 and nearly half a million people in attendance it really was a big deal in our neck of the woods! One of my earliest childhood memories of race weekend was taking a break from helping my father’s sister (Aunt Connie) move into a new home near Wabash, IN if I remember correctly. I don’t remember much about the move, can’t swear to the name of the town, or much else about the day. What I can remember though as if it were yesterday, is taking a break (actually it was Dad who took the break, I was probably not doing much more than holding the door or getting in the way in the mid-late 1960’s) from moving stuff into her new home. At that time Dad and I, pulled up a chair under a big shade tree outside, tuned in an old radio, and listened to the start of the race. Don’t remember the year, the winner, how fast they were driving or really any other details, but to me it has always been one of the many special Father-Son times I enjoyed as a young boy.

There were many Memorial Days that saw my Boy Scout Troop (Kiwanis Club, Troop 150, Bluffton, IN) out in the community at memorial services, events, and the much anticipated campouts! Later on, with two young daughters, they too learned early on about Memorial Day. Many in MJ might remember both of them showing up at the community memorial service at Bond Memorial for several years in a row. Dressed in cute little red, white, and blue vests, they provided the Star Spangled Banner in sign language for the hearing impaired. Daddy was sure proud, but I don’t really recall asking them how much they really enjoyed it. Perhaps someday they will write an article like this and I’ll find out.

Since then, this weekend has seen Tonya and I enjoy a special B&B Cabin in Giles County called the Clock Creek Cabin. Someday maybe this will be a longstanding tradition as it was a perfect get-a-way weekend. Whether we ever go back or not, a part of us will always be there as we carved our initials into the timbered wall out back along with many of those who had come before us. As for this weekend, who knows? What I do know is that I will enjoy all that I am blessed with, remember and thank those who have made it possible, and be appreciative that I am in MJ to enjoy family and friends. One thing I know for sure is that I am going to tell my father how much I enjoyed our time under that old shade tree. Be safe this weekend and I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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A Visit to 200 B.C.

Last weekend on our way back from Memphis, Tonya and I decided to check out one of two State Archaeological Parks in Tennessee. This one was Pinson Mounds on the boarder of Madison and Chester Counties just south of Jackson. Pinson Mounds is home to the 2nd tallest mound (Saul’s Mound) in the United States at 72 feet. I happen to know firsthand that is approximately 127 steps up and down with no seating along the way. While Pinson Mounds is small in total acreage compared to many if not most other parks in TN at only 1200 acres, this historical significance of this park is amazing. There are at least 17 earthen mounds covering nearly 400 acres of the park. These mounds were constructed during the Middle Woodland Period (200 B.C. to 500 A.D.) and it is the largest mound center in the entire Southeast. That means that these mounds may have been built as many as 2,200 years ago!

It’s almost impossible to even begin to understand how or why a people would go to such lengths to build such a monument. Some suggest that it represented the 4 corners of the compass as it has a very distinct North-South-East-West footprint and from the top it is possible to see small communities which are many miles away. As we stood at the top and were taking in the sheer beauty and magnificence of the mound, we found ourselves quietly reflecting on what was around us. While Pinson mounds is on the National Register of Historic Places and was first documented in 1820 by local surveyor Joel Pinson, most had not heard of it until the 1950’s and 60’s. That is when local residents requested that the State of Tennessee purchase the land to preserve it as a park. I found it a bit ironic that in the midst of trying to imagine this place in 200 B.C., I was using satellite technology enhanced GPS and Google Maps on my phone to pinpoint within 3 feet exactly where I was on the planet. I even used the satellite images to identify small communities dotting the horizon with about the only identifiable landmark available being lonely water towers.

As Tonya and I continue on our journey to see as many Tennessee parks and historical sites as possible, we continue to find random and spur of the moment places such as Pinson Park. The funny thing is, that the more we seek out these beautiful, historic, and scenic places, it never fails that as we see that wonderful “Welcome to Mount Juliet” sign we appreciate what we have right here even more. Not only do we get to appreciate our family, friends, and neighbors, but we also grow even more to appreciate the beautiful state in which we get to call home.

Do you suppose that someday in say the year 4214 someone will be standing where we are today wondering what it was like to live here 2,200 years prior in the year 2014? Have you been to a special place in Tennessee that is hard to find, out of the way, and off of the beaten path that holds a special place in your heart? If you have, why not share your story too? Once in a while when someone asks me how I am doing, I will smile and say “well I plan on living forever, so far so good”! And while I may not be around as long as the Middle Woodland era folks, I do live in Woodland Place so who knows! I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Want to Know a Secret?

     The Secret is a best-selling self-help book based on the idea that positive thinking can bring positive, life-changing results. The book has sold more than 19 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages. The premise is that the law of attraction determines the path of our personal lives through the process of "like attracts like". For example, if you think angry thoughts, you will attract events and circumstances that cause you to feel more anger. On the other hand, if you think and feel positively, you will attract positive events and circumstances that make you feel even more positive. 

     The book, which has been parodied on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Saturday Night Live, has received some controversial reviews, stating that the only people generating wealth and happiness from it are the author and the publishers. But, let’s think about this whole thing for a moment. Whether or not we believe in “the secret,” we have choices. We can live our lives with positive attitudes, spreading smiles and good thoughts to everyone we meet and being a pleasant person to be around. Or we can be grumpy, negative,  and unhappy, blaming the world for all our problems and claiming that this whole idea is pure hogwash! 

     Singer-songwriter Roger Miller once said “Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” I guess life just boils down to who we want to be how we wish to handle things that come our way. We can be someone who just gets wet or we can be someone who walks in the rain. I saw some cute little polka dot galoshes on sale when I was window shopping the other day! Care to join me?

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Why Wait?

Each year the Nashville Business Journal recognizes 25-30 folks in Davidson and the surrounding counties as “Impact” Award Winners. These community leaders represent a broad base of constituencies, businesses, organizations, development, governments, and other persons making an impact in their communities. Last week I was reading thru the bios and remarks from those who were nominated in Williamson County this year. Each were asked the same question; “what does Williamson County lack” to make it an even better place to call home. It’s no secret that Williamson County is an awesome place to live, shop, work and play. In fact, the county seat of Franklin was just recognized as one of the best small towns in the entire country to live.

Given that the population of Franklin is over 66,000 (2012 Census est.) and the population of Mt Juliet is less than half that many, it will likely be many years before we reach that number of residents. I found their responses to that question to be particularly interesting, and it would be wise to learn from our neighbors to the south since they have been around just a bit longer than we have. A bit of perspective: the Battle of Franklin took place in November of 1864 (nearly 150 years ago!) and we have been an incorporated city for just over 40 years. If we truly aspire to take advantage of all of our wonderful assets and to truly become the very best we can be, let’s take a look at what they feel they are lacking to make sure we don’t end up in the same place one day.

Perhaps by thinking about a time many, many years from now and planning accordingly we will not lack for the same things? Of the 28 Impact Award Winners, there were a few areas that seemed to stick out amongst the others. In fact, four of the things deemed most lacking by these leaders were a comprehensive transportation plan, affordable housing, and bike / walking trails and local access to higher education. Those would seem to be relatively easy “fixes”, except that when you really drill down to make them happen there are many challenges and obstacles standing in the way. While bike lanes and walking trails sound easy, stop for a minute to think about who pays for them, who cedes the land for them, who maintains them, and how do they mix and intersect with vehicular traffic? Roads are very expensive and adding even a few feet can have a huge impact on a stretch of road that is not even very long. Businesses often have only inches left on setbacks in order to meet the requirements for parking places. Mass transit and traffic will only become more challenging as we grow. Where will roads be built, how wide will they be, and who pays for them?

When is the “right time” to start adding dedicated pullovers to our major arteries to one day allow busses, trolleys, taxis, and even horse-drawn carriages (okay, maybe we don’t get these) to pull over to pick up riders so as not to hold up an entire lane of traffic? (Even Cancun, Mexico has these so the impact of loading and unloading of bus riders is greatly reduced). As for local access to higher education, we are doing well so far and this topic remains in the forefront of development discussions and recruitment efforts. Affordable housing is a whole other ballgame and one we must pay attention to it if we truly want to be a place that people from all walks of life can call home. In all of our prosperity and growth, let’s not end up one of these days where our public servants, students, employees, young adults, and retired persons are excluded from affordable housing.

I realize this is a lot to think about and frankly we are off to a really good start. Some of the other things they feel they are lacking are an Ikea Store, an In-Out Burger, downhill skiing, and someone even added a beach to their list. Not sure if we will ever see downhill skiing, but we do have a couple of nice beaches to soak up the sand and sun. I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Cheers to 11 Years!

It’s hard to believe but this Saturday we will be celebrating our 11th Annual “A Toast to Tennessee” Wine Festival. It seems like it was just yesterday that a small group of folks were sitting around the office trying to come up with an event that would appeal to the rapidly growing and increasingly diverse population of our small community. We wanted an event that was unlike anything previously done and that would be something that people would look forward to year after year. That meeting was in early 2003. As the ideas were kicked around and future meetings were held, we began to look into hosting some type of Wine Tasting event. From that point on it quickly mushroomed into what would soon become the largest wine festival in the entire state of Tennessee featuring only Tennessee Wines.

It took a lot of planning and dozens of volunteers, sponsors, and assistance from the TN Department of Agriculture to pull it off, but in May of 2004 our first one was held under the giant grandstands at what was then the brand new Nashville Superspeedway out off of 840. Jumping ahead 11 years brings us to this Saturday, May 3rd. At beautiful Nashville Shores just down the road, 22 wineries, dozens of artisans and specialty food vendors will be showcasing their products. By state law there can only be 8 such events per year which allows TN wineries to actually sell their product someplace other than at their place of business. By bringing them all together, those who have a favorite wine (or 2 or 3 or more) can get them all in one place. The modest ticket price allows attendees to sample from over 200 different selections.

This event is made possible by our generous Title Sponsors; TDS Telecom and Waddell & Reed. As our Media Sponsor, the MJ News / Lebanon Democrat has provided all of our guests with a complete event program. There will be seminars held throughout the afternoon and concessions will be provided by Nashville Shores. For a complete list of our sponsors, vendors, seminar schedule, ticket information, and overnight travel packages please be and visit In addition to all of that, the parking is free and complimentary shuttle service will be provided to help get you to and from your car and the front gate.

And for those who are still looking for that perfect (in most cases) Mother’s Day gift, there is still time to get her the April Shower’s Package so all four of you can have a day of fun and relaxation. To the countless folks who have supported this event and who have worked so hard over the years to make this event so special, I want to say “Thank You” very much; we owe it all to you! I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Taxes Going Down in MJ!

Hat’s off to our City Board of Commissioners on a recent vote to lower the Hotel / Motel Tax in the City of Mt Juliet. For several years now the city has had a five-percent tax added onto existing state and local taxes making the total tax in Mt Juliet 19.25% per room night. By lowering the PRN Rate to 18.25% (a reduction locally of 1%) Mt Juliet is no longer at the highest level of any city in Tennessee. That is a very significant accomplishment and in my opinion sends a very important message to those we are inviting to spend the night in our community. I have often referred to those who stay overnight in a community, shop in their stores, eat in their restaurants, and then return home to points yonder as “temporary tax payers”. These folks are a huge asset to any community, but perhaps none more important than a community such as Mt Juliet that depends so heavily on sales tax collections to fund and pay for most city services.

In Economics and Economic Development, there is a simple rule that certainly applies to this particular tax decrease; tax what you do not want and incentivize or tax less what you do want. In this case, since we are trying to attract more tourists, overnight business travelers, and other temporary taxpayers, a lower per night room tax makes us a more attractive alternative for their hotel accommodations. Will there be a reduction in the total amount of revenue collected? Of course there will be, but only temporarily! Now other hotel companies will be looking at our community as an even more attractive location for future hotels. As soon as one or two or three additional hotels are built, the combined revenue collected from an increase in the total number of rooms in Mt Juliet will far exceed what would have been collected without the increase in rooms. At some point, in order to become EVEN more attractive, perhaps the local room rate tax goes down to 3%...hum?

I have written about the 6 P’s (proper prior planning prevents poor performance), about my BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), being the most welcoming, diverse, and friendly city in Tennessee, fiscal responsibility, teamwork and cooperation, pro-growth and shopping locally, and many other things. This action being taken by our BOC touches on all of them. Imagine one day soon when mini conventions and trade shows can take place right here in MJ (one of my BHAG’s by the way), our local shops and stores are more alive and robust than ever before, traffic is flowing more smoothly with improved streets and major arteries, sales tax collections keep setting new records, and the products and services available right here at home are beyond our wildest dreams. Dare we even dream of a rate of only 2%? I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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Do You Know What Content Marketing is?

Do You Know What Content Marketing is?

Our company has traditionally worked closely with our client base to ensure that they fully utilize their content management system (Joomla) in order to maximize their website results and their visitors experience on the website.  We have done this primarily by teaching classes (both formal classes and onsite training) as well as providing a “how to” support role to ensure that the client not only has a great looking and functioning website but the content is easily updated with fresh, up to date and relevant information.  This is not only great for website visitors and but also great for Google.  Your content on your website determines your search engine and keyword positioning and this determines how many prospects you are reaching (Google is all about the prospect!).

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EXPO Center or Not?

The dust is beginning to settle on the proposed EXPO Center project and the view forward is getting bit clearer for all to see. The State Legislature did not approve a recent request from the County Commission to allow for an increase in the Hotel / Motel tax that was the primary source of generating the income necessary to service the debt for this project. Thousands of words have already been written in local papers citing impact studies, casting blame, pointing fingers and even pitting one city in the county against another. So far that has gotten us what? Let’s see what that managed to get us.

From what I can see so far, at this point we ended up with no EXPO Center but plenty of hard feelings and strained relationships. While there was a flurry of last minute grandstanding and misinformation to and from various stakeholders, a couple of things did become obvious. First, as our county continues to grow and prosper, it is going to be imperative that our local leaders find alternative means of fostering unity and developing an understanding of our changing diversity. It would seem to me that securing a broad base of input, support, and enthusiasm on the front end is going to be a lot more productive than trying to get it on the back end. During the often heated debates about the need or desire to pursue an EXPO Center type project, I cannot recall a single person that told me flat-out we did not need some type of venue such as this. There was plenty of back and forth about the size, location, and even design of the building, but the desire to have such a venue seemed to be widespread.

So where did it jump the tracks? In the end it simply became a matter of what was it really going to cost and who was going to pay for it. I have seen many presentations from the architect, county leaders, supporters, as well as detractors of the project. Even when considering how to pay for it, I have not yet seen a hurdle that could not be overcome if everyone will work together. Going forward, if we were to keep an open mind and respect (not necessarily agree by any means) the perspectives of others, I feel confident that even the financial issues can be resolved in order to one day have such a venue in Wilson County. Tax payers deserve and have a right to expect a reasonable return on the taxes they pay. We can save the tax argument of “too high” or “too low” for another time. I think it could be universally agreed upon that we all want our taxes to be “appropriate” for what we want and get. Doing otherwise and we run the risk of either taxing ourselves right out of prosperity or under taxing ourselves right into high crime, depreciating property values, a declining education system, and so on.

We’ve all heard the saying that when you ask the wrong questions you usually get the wrong answers. Perhaps rather than trying to answer the question “how can we at least get a bare bones center that by most indications might be under-sized from day one?”, we might consider asking ourselves ”how can we generate widespread support, pool our resources, greatly enlarge the number of vested stakeholders, and together create a venue that become a tremendous source of community pride?” The path forward starts with open minds, open hearts and one single but very powerful question; “What do YOU think”? I hope you will join me right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and be sure to visit us 24/7 at

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We'll All Become Stories

On a trip to Pensacola a few weeks ago to visit my youngest daughter, Lindsay (who is in grad school), we lingered around the dinner table on my last evening eating yummy homemade pasta, drinking a nice glass of wine, and telling old stories. It’s funny the things you find out years later, once your kids are grown; things that were supposed to remain top secret and be taken to the grave.

Lindsay’s older sister, Autumn, who was the instigator in some of these teenage stories, later called her baby sister a “little snitch” and said that she “threw her under the bus.” It might have mattered more if I had heard the tales back when they happened, but it matters less several years later. Frankly, now it’s just funny to hear about some of the crazy things they did, even if they shouldn’t have done them! I guess things I would have worried about then have all turned out okay for the most part.

Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood, said "In the end, we'll all become stories." That’s an interesting way of summing up life, but I guess it’s really true. Everyone we encounter and everything we do or say, have the potential of becoming fodder for a story somewhere along the line whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not.

I’ve been thinking about what kind of stories might be generated about me. I’m quite sure that some of them are doozies, since I was a teenager in the 70’s! I’ve lived a pretty full life, made some mistakes along the way, broken some hearts, and had mine broken in return. But for the most part, I think that most of the stories that will be told about me will bring a smile to the storyteller’s face. It’s nice to think so anyway.

So, if it’s true that we all become stories in the end, let’s try to laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter, hug like we mean it, spread a little kindness, be more thankful, dream a little bigger, be a little braver, and spend more time with the people we love. If they’re going to tell stories about us, let’s make them good ones!   

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