Damage reports continue to come in from the Mt. Juliet area after a confirmed EF-2 tornado struck the northern part of this city early Tuesday morning.
The confirmation was made after personnel with the National Weather Service Office in Old Hickory and the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency surveyed damage in Mt. Juliet.
The tornado roared through the area, beginning at Glenwood Drive in the Green Hill area at about 3:25 a.m. and headed east-northeast along a path of a little more than 5 miles before lifting near Cooks Lane close to Cooks United Methodist Church, according to a statement from the National Weather Service Office in Old Hickory.
The estimated peak wind for the tornado was 115 mph. An EF-2 tornado is considered a strong one with winds at 111 to 135 mph.
The heaviest damage occurred in a mostly commercial district at the Highway 70/Lebanon Road and Mt. Juliet Road intersection. The NWS statement noted that a warehouse and an automotive business received heavy damage. Several other businesses in the area sustained minor to moderate structural damage.
The Mt. Juliet Little League ball park received significant damage to outbuildings, fences and power poles, the statement said. It added that dozens of trees and power lines were blown down and many other homes received damage along the path of the tornado.
Wilson Post Sports Editor Tommy Bryan, in Mt. Juliet late Tuesday morning, reported the following:
roof damage at Silver Springs Baptist Church on Hwy. 70/Lebanon Road
a small outbuilding at Cedar Creek Sports was destroyed
bleachers at the Mt. Juliet Little League complex were scattered and trees were down everywhere
the top floor of the Lineberry Building, a three-story structure, was ripped to pieces, and another building nearby was also damaged
a building behind Hardees restaurant sustained structural damage
glass was blown out of the windows at AutoZone
Mt. Juliet Animal Clinics sign was obliterated
Advance Auto Parts sustained damage to its roof
a greenhouse covered by plastic at Moss Florist received structural damage
Trees were blown down on the north side of Hwy. 70, Bryan said, and across from the Green Hills Church of Christ.
Crews with Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation were up and down Hwy. 70 in Mt. Juliet replacing power poles, repairing lines and working to get power restored.
In Lebanon, the only major damage reported was at the site of the former Sale Barn on West Main Street which appeared to have some roof damage.
Wilson County Schools officials closed W.A. Wright Elementary, West Elementary and Mt. Juliet Elementary Schools on Tuesday as power was reported out at those facilities.
As the tornado formed, WKRN Channel 2 personnel said NWS meteorologists reported wind at 105 mph at the weather service office in Old Hickory in West Wilson County.
As for damage to the Lineberry Building, described as a mixed-use facility housing a residence and offices, three people were inside at the time the tornado struck but all were able to make it out OK.
Also, a tractor-trailer belonging to M.B.M. was overturned in a parking lot behind Hardees. The truck driver was asleep inside the vehicle but was not injured.
The intersection of Hwy. 70 and Mt. Juliet Road was closed for a time Tuesday morning as emergency and law personnel worked in the area. It was reopened later in the morning.
Check this website for more details as they become available.
From Post staff reports
By JENNIFER HORTON
The Wilson Post
Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation crews worked all day Wednesday to restore power to most of their customers in Wilson County who lost power as a result of the nasty weather earlier in the morning.
Spokesperson Todd Palmer said there were approximately 15,000 customers without electricity as the high winds and rain which included an EF-2 tornado in Mt. Juliet roared through beginning about 3:25 a.m.
As of about 4:30 p.m., there were 337 customers remaining without power, including four in Mt. Juliet, off Highway 70/Lebanon Road.
Palmer said there still a few customers in the area north of Lebanon proper without power and located along Hunters Point Pike, Canoe Branch Road, Lakeview Drive and Providence Road off Hartsville Pike, essentially the northern portion of Wilson County. In addition, he said, there was an outage along Bluebird Road, north of I-40.
He put the number of those without electricity as of Wednesday afternoon at approximately 250 or more.
Crews had replaced all power poles in the Mt. Juliet area, Palmer said, adding there were still some meters that would need to be replaced because of damage from the tornado.
Palmer praised the work of the crews who responded early Wednesday and worked through the day. Theyve done an excellent job. The crews worked really hard. Theyve come a long way today.
Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lebanon Police Department Narcotics Unit and SWAT Team executed a search warrant at 305 South Tarver on Tuesday. During the search, investigators seized approximately one fourth pound of marijuana, a .380 handgun, two vehicles and $1,470 cash.
Lease holders Zachary M. Reeves (23) and Ashley Nicole Sykes (25) were each charged with Possession of marijuana for resale, Possession of a legend drug and Possession of drug paraphernalia.
A statement from the LPD said officers were disturbed by the fact that a small child was present inside of the residence. The Department of Children's Service was contacted and responded to the scene. Police have already been in contact with the landlord regarding eviction of the tenants. The address was brought to the attention of investigators after complaints from neighbors were received.
UPDATED -- The Sale Barn, located on West Main Street, Lebanon, lost a portion of its roof in the early morning storms that swept through Wilson County today
The National Weather Service in Nashville has confirmed an EF-2 Tornado touched down in Mt. Juliet earlier this morning. The Dollar General Store on Hwy. 70 received extensive damage in the storm that hit West Wilson County around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Also damaged was the roof of the three-story Lineberry Building and Hardees located near the Dollar Store and adjacent to the Mt. Juliet Little League Complex.
Bleachers at the Little League Complex were tossed about by the tornado, wrecking several stretches of fencing.
Three local elementary schools, West, W.A. Wright and Mt. Juliet Elementary are closed today due to power outages.
Hwy. 70 is now open between Mt. Juliet Road and Hwy. 109 but is moving slowly due to repair and clean-up crews working in the area. The roadway was closed earlier today.
Westbound traffic on Interstate 40 is now moving after a tractor trailer rig jackknifed at the 228 mile marker earlier today.
More details & photos will be posted as they become available.
By SABRINA GARRETT
The Wilson Post
Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead sent out an email survey Monday where concerned citizens could voice their opinions regarding the safety project on the Lebanon Public Square. Craighead wrote they would like to have 1,000 replies to give to the State by Friday to reinforce the citys commitment to the redesign project inviting participants to drop off the surveys at City Hall or the Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce.
Whether or not they reach that goal is yet to be determined. The project is currently on hold and outspoken business owner Carolyn Markham of Markhams Shoes and longtime Wilson County resident Jack Cato are in no rush to resurrect it.
In an interview last week, Markham told The Wilson Post that she is not against a square improvement project however, she is against the proposed roundabout redesign that TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) is suggesting. Markham listed decreased parking, loss of tourism and vehicular hazards as her reasons for opposition to the plan.
She said that trucks would have trouble making deliveries and that there was a potential for vehicles to back into each other or pedestrians the redesign has been drawn.
Cato supported her statement regarding tourism, pointing out that the monument of General Robert H. Hatton is visited by tourists frequently because Lebanon is listed on a Civil War trails map. We were selected as one of the Civil War Heritage sights. You cant just invite people to town and then not let them be able to see it, he said of the monument, which in the proposed plan would stand in the middle of the square, as it is now, but without parking spaces surrounding it.
This square definitely needs some thinking but I dont think this plan has been thought out. I am all for enhancing the square, but I do not like the plan as it is written, added attorney Hugh Green, who operates an office on the Square. I have looked over the square since 1979 and many people come to this town to see the stature of General Hatton and take pictures of it. I see families out there all the time.
In lieu of the TDOT project, Cato suggested the city look into purchasing solar powered traffic signals to prevent future accidents on the Lebanon Public Square.
Mayor Craighead disagreed that there would be a loss in tourism or patrons on the square. Instead, he rebutted, It would really get people closer to the stores.
In the same article as Markham, Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce CEO Sue Vanatta pointed out that most tourist groups call ahead and speak with the Chamber about sightseeing. Vanatta said Chamber representatives have frequently escorted buses full of tourists from the parking lot that sits parallel to A-Plus Printing and Design to the statue and would continue to do so with the redesign.
Yes, you can still get out there but it wont have a designated area, Craighead explained. He added that the entire project would be funded through the state with the city paying for additional landscaping.
Craighead said the landscaping would not be costly, especially since several landscapers want to donate their time, efforts and material.
There has also been some disagreement between those in opposition and those who are for the project on the timespan of the redesign from start to finish.
Craighead said the actual construction portion of the project would not take a year. Saying that it takes a year would include engineering, design, bidding work and closing out. It wouldnt be 12 months of just closing off the square and working, he corrected.
The way I understand it is the construction part would be done in stages. It would not have a detrimental effect anywhere from four to six months. They would come in and get this done as fast as they could.
The survey is available online at mayorcraighead.com, for those wishing to participate.
By SABRINA GARRETT
The Wilson Post
The Wilson County Board of Education spoke of expanding Southside, Carroll Oakland and Tuckers Crossroads Elementary School buildings at their Saturday work session. Director of Schools Mike Davis said that a presentation by Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, Morris (KBJM) Architects explored the possible cost of adding on to the three schools.
The board received some criticism from parents and teachers this past December when they announced their intentions to use the updated portions of the former Lebanon High School facility on Harding Drive for a new school as stated in the buildings 20-year plan. The board briefly considered the facility for a grades 6-8 school which would have pulled over 300 students from the three elementary schools to be relocated into the new middle school.
After two public hearings in which parents and teachers voiced their concerns over the state of the building, it was decided at the January board meeting to table the subject. Under Davis recommendation, Chairman Don Weathers proposed to defer any action until the board had time to determine the best use of the facility. The motion passed with a 3-2 vote with board members Wayne McNeese and Bill Robinson voting against it.
At the meeting, the board voted to pull $78,000 from the systems fund balance to lease three portable classroom buildings for Carroll Oakland, which has dealt with the most overcrowding issues. While the future of the Harding Drive facility is yet to be determined board members know that they must take some action to alleviate overcrowding in all of the elementary schools.
KJBM Architects presented three plans at the work session that could add new space and convert current space in the schools to maximize their core student capacity. Davis explained that the numbers were really rough, comparing the possible plan to a rough, first draft.
The plan they presented as a possibility for Carroll Oakland would add about 57,000 square feet for a core student capacity of 1,000 students, Davis said of the construction that would cost an estimated $9.9 million. The school currently has about 600 students.
Adding-on 28,000 square feet to TXR would cost $4.8 million and bringing Southside up to a core student capacity of 1,000 would cost $4.2. That is $20 million just in construction cost, Davis said.
No decisions were made at the meeting. Instead Davis said they are simply reviewing several scenarios.