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Posted on: September 25, 2019

GNRC Honors Outstanding Achievements at the Annual Awards Luncheon

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On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, GNRC hosted their 52nd Annual Awards Luncheon at the Bluegrass Yacht and Country Club in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Each year GNRC honors its membership and community partners with two types of awards. Grand Awards, named after influential leaders throughout GNRC’s history, are presented to individuals or organizations for demonstrated leadership on a regional scale. The Excellence in Local Government Awards recognize county governments and municipalities for projects or initiatives that serve as a model for peers across the region. 


Local Government Awards

Excellence in Land Use Initiatives 
This category honors local governments who have achieved outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to public services in the areas of land use initiatives that include local planning, transportation planning, and housing programs or activities.

Award Recipient: City of Hendersonville
Project: Drones for Planning 

This award recognizes the Planning Department’s innovative approach to collecting imagery. A City staffer, who is a licensed drone pilot, has used his drone to capture images that have proven helpful in the planning process. Drone footage has helped staff better understand current conditions and potential impacts of proposed development, particularly in areas that are not easily accessible. The footage has been used in both Planning Commission and Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings and can be viewed by residents on the City’s local cable channel.

Award Recipient: City of Lebanon
Project: Design Guidelines for Preservation, Quality, and Compatible Development

This award celebrates two important land use initiatives undertaken by the City of Lebanon: the Square Historic Preservation District and the Developer’s Task Force Team. Despite being on the National Register of Historic Places, Lebanon’s square was not protected from demolition or significant alteration. In 2019, the Lebanon City Council created the Square Historic Preservation District to better protect the historic character of the square. This award also recognizes the Developer’s Task Force Team that was established by the city. After years of collaboration between local government and developers, the Task Force presented Design Guidelines for Residential Buildings that were adopted by the city. As a result, projects in the city are designed and approved in a much more efficient manner.

Award Recipient: Wilson County
Project: Hamilton Springs Station  

This award celebrates the opening in September 2018 of the Hamilton Springs Station. The stop on the Music City Star is the heart of the first transit-oriented development (TOD) in Tennessee. Consisting of 3.2 acres, the station includes a park-and-ride with 160 lighted parking spaces and was the sixth stop on the Music City Star commuter route. The Hamilton Springs Station TOD plan was recognized by GNRC with a Local Government Award in 2012. 

Award Recipient: City of Gallatin
Project: Adaptive Reuse of Historic Home 

This award recognizes the City of Gallatin for their efforts to save and repurpose an early 20th-Century home. The Walter Franklin House was relocated and restored by the City and will house the City’s Engineering Department. The house, which will feature 3,200 square feet office space, will also serve as the City’s traffic operations center, which will be created with the help of the ITS Signal Grant. The project cost approximately $1.5 million. The move was complex and required cooperation among several City Departments, as well as outside entities, including CSX. The City’s Public Works Department constructed a 2,000-foot roadway that crossed railroad tracks to move the house to its new location.

Award Recipient: Town of Smyrna  
Project: Downtown Smyrna Master Plan and Enon Springs Gateway Overlay

This award celebrates two land use initiatives undertaken by the Town of Smyrna: the Downtown Smyrna Master Plan and the Enon Springs Gateway Overlay. The Master Plan is notable in that it connects the downtown historic district with its surrounding growth. The plan recommends the development of catalytic projects, the implementation of value capture funding, and the creation of a business entity to manage and promote downtown. The Enon Springs Gateway Overlay District is a tool to guide future development along the Enon Springs Road extension. The overlay sets higher standards, including requirements related to architectural features, landscaping, pedestrian connectivity, and signage. The overlay is an important element in the effort to establish the area as an aesthetically pleasing and walkable gateway into the heart of town.

Excellence in Economic Development
This category honors local governments who have achieved outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to public services in the areas of economic development initiatives that include employment and business development, tourism promotion, and education or workforce activities.

Award Recipient: Cheatham County
Project: Adaptive Reuse for Cheatham County Office Space

This award celebrates Cheatham County’s successful repurposing of a run-down commercial strip center into much-needed office space for the County. The County purchased the center for $3.1 million and invested another $3.3 million to renovate the strip center’s façade and build out 22,000 sq. feet of office space. Earlier this year the several County offices, including the County Clerk, Register of Deeds, and Building Commissioner, moved into the newly renovated office space. The building includes space for non-profit and civic organizations and is also home to private businesses, which allows the County to generate revenue off their investment. 

Award Recipient: City of Gallatin
Project: Gallatin Expansion and Retention (GEAR) Program

This award recognizes the expansion of the City’s GEAR business initiative, which promotes local industries and helps them recruit employees. The City has produced videos to promote local manufacturing companies, taking on many of the misperceptions that exist about manufacturing workplaces. GEAR also produces employee spotlight interviews, provides updates on economic development, and promotes the many advantages of working in Gallatin.

Award Recipient: Wilson County
Project: PaintWilCo Art Initiative

This award recognizes the County for is beautification program, PaintWilCo. Over the course of the next 12-18 months, ten murals will be completed around Wilson County by local artists. The goals of the effort go beyond beautifying existing buildings and public spaces, as the County hopes the murals will help boost tourism, celebrate local artists, and spark interest in public arts. The first mural was debuted at the 2019 Wilson County Fair. 

Award Recipient: Stewart County
Project: Homespun Tourism Media Initiative

This award recognizes Stewart County Tourism for their efforts to promote the county through a video series hosted by singer-songwriter, historian, author, and farmer Rick Revel. The four videos, which were produced by KY Filmworks, a private media business, showcase the natural beauty and historical significance of Stewart County. Numerous destinations and points of interest in the county are featured. The videos received over 25,000 views online in the project’s first two weeks.

Award Recipient: City of Portland
Project: Tourism Enhancement with a Strawberry on Top 

This award honors the City of Portland for Strawberry Crate, an art installation in Citizen’s Park that celebrates its status as the Middle Tennessee Strawberry Capital. Strawberry Crate was the vision of former Mayor Ken Wilber and provides an interesting photo opportunity for those visiting the downtown. The project was made possible by a $42,450 tourism enhancement grant. While Strawberry Crate was just unveiled in May, it’s already made a splash on Facebook and Instagram.


Excellence in Recreation and Youth Development
This category honors local governments who have achieved outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to public services in the areas of parks and recreation, cultural and historical initiatives, youth programs, and fitness programs.  

Award Recipient: City of Gallatin
Project: Fire on the Water Music Festival

This award recognizes Fire on the Water Music Festival, a day of music, food, and celebration on Old Hickory Lake. The festival boosted local and regional tourism and celebrated Gallatin. The event was funded and organized by the City of Gallatin and volunteers from the community. The event drew more than 1,200 attendees on foot and 100 boats to Lock 4 Park. 

Award Recipient: City of Lebanon
Project: Think Clean Youth Litter Challenge

This award honors the City’s Beautification Commission’s annual Youth Litter Challenge and Carnival, which educates youth, as well as teachers and other adult participants, about the effects litter has on their community and environment. The impact of the litter program is evident when locals and visitors drive along the roads of Lebanon and enjoy the beautiful view of a clean city.

Award Recipient: Wilson County
Project: Cedars of Lebanon State Park/Sadie Ford Heritage Farm and Art Center

This award celebrates the grand opening of the Sadie Ford Heritage Farm and Art Center at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park in May 2019. The farm, which is located across from the entrance to Cedars of Lebanon State Park, consists of 73.3 acres and features a house and outbuildings, including a milking barn, livestock barn, and corncib. As the last remaining pre-park farm in the area, this property provides an excellent example of an early-to-mid-twentieth-century working farm, as well as an immerse, year-round, educational experience of living history. 

Award Recipient: Town of Smyrna
Project: Greenway Systems for Scenic Linkage and Memorial in Perpetuity

This award recognizes two important projects: the Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial and the Jefferson Springs Greenway. In 2016 Captain Jeff Kuss, a member of the Blue Angels, lost his life in a crash. The Captain Jeff Kuss Memorial now stands as a testament to the fallen pilot as well as all the men and women who serve our nation. It has become a large draw for tourists who visit the Smyrna area. Additionally, the Town has completed an extension to the Jefferson Springs Greenway. The 1.4 mile course connects Sharp Springs Park to the Jefferson Springs Recreation Area, both Army Corps of Engineers-maintained recreational areas. 

Award Recipient: Sumner County
Project: The Bridal House

This award honors the partnership between the County and Friends of the Bridal House to provide a new park property in Cottontown. The County purchased the house, which is the last remaining home associated with Cottontown’s founders in 2016. Since then volunteers have collected donations of period furniture, sponsored programming, conducted free tours, and opened the house to the public. In 2018, with the help of a Department of Health Built Environment Grant, the County installed swings and picnic tables at the park property. The property provides an opportunity for visitors to experience life of a family in the early 1800’s.

Award Recipient: City of Columbia
Project: Riverwalk Park Fitness Zone

This award recognizes the partnership between the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Maury Regional Foundation, and Columbia Breakfast Rotary to create the Fitness Zone, an outdoor fitness facility at Riverwalk Park. The Fitness Zone’s stations are designed to be used by those ages 14 and up and are built in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facility has been well received by people of all ages and fitness levels.

Excellence in Protective Services
This category honors local governments who have achieved outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to engaging the community in public safety programs or communications activities to build relationships with protective services departments.

Award Recipient: City of Lebanon
Project: Councilor Joe Hayes Memorial Fire Station

This award celebrates the public private-partnership between the McCall Family and the City of Lebanon to create the Hayes Memorial Fire Station. The fire station, which was completed in August 2018, was made possible by the donation of the commercial property by the late Henry McCall and his son Hank McCall. Named after successful businessman Joe Hayes, the fire station ensures residents are provided with timely fire and emergency protection. 

Award Recipient: Wilson County
Project: Stop the Stigma: DrugFree WilCo for Youth Awareness

This award recognizes the efforts of DrugFree WilCo to prevent and reduce drug misuse and addiction by providing education and awareness of resources to youth and adults. Since its creation in August of 2018, DrugFree WilCo has hosted multiple Town Hall meetings and public outreach events covering topics such as the opioid crisis, addiction, and recovery. In September 2018, DrugFree WilCo launched a video series called “Our Voices” that gives individuals a voice to tell their personal story of addiction and recovery. Through these efforts, DrugFree WilCo has addressed the stigmas associated with drug addiction and gives people tools to prevent addiction. The effort has reached at least 683 people and engaged over 100 volunteers.

Award Recipient: Sumner County
Project: Health and Safety Day

This award recognizes the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office’s family-focused Health and Safety Day. The event, which featured first responders from all over the County, offered the public access to simulators, driving courses, a bicycle safety course, fire truck “bubbles,” pony rides, face painting, balloons, a bounce house, and food. The State Highway Patrol, T.W.R.A, Drug Task Force, EMS, EMA, Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, and police and fire departments from Gallatin, Hendersonville, Portland, Millersville, Goodlettsville, White House, and Westmoreland all participated in the event. 

Excellence in Aging Services
This category honors local governments who have achieved outstanding results or taken an innovative approach to providing activity programs or resources to older adults in the community.

Award Recipient: Wilson County
Project: Seminar Series
This award honors the Wilson County Seminar Series: Aging Matters, which addresses questions and issues faced by older adults and their caregivers during lunch-and-learn seminars. This series has included seminars about Alzheimer’s, financial fraud, and decluttering and seeks to engage older adults, their caregivers, and anyone experiencing life changes in the county.


Grand Awards

Alma Pillow Excellence Award
The Alma Pillow Excellence in Aging Award honors a professional who has used their career to better the lives of older adults in the Greater Nashville Region. This year’s award goes to Dr. James Powers, a physician who, in addition to serving on the boards of the Alzheimer’s Association, Council on Aging, TN Health Care Campaign, and several geriatrics societies, has implemented the Geriatric Journal Club to educate physicians and colleagues about medical ethics in geriatric medicine, developed the geriatric program at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and has trained over 1,400 doctors in geriatrics.

Richard A. Fowlkes Excellence Award
The Richard A. Fowlkes Excellence in Aging Award recognizes an individual who has shown dedication to older adults in the Greater Nashville Region by giving their time, expertise, and care as a volunteer. This year’s award recipient, Homer Bradley, has committed his retirement to volunteerism, providing over 20,000 hours of his time going above and beyond at Morningside of Gallatin Assisted Living and 11,000 hours at the Sumner Regional Medical Center, leading the Cairo Community Club for more than 55 years, and developing an annual fundraiser to support the Sumner County Food Bank.

Ernestine Bowers Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is given every other year to recognize an individual who has committed their lives to the needs of older adults. This year, GNRC is honored to present this award to two deserving individuals: Janet Jernigan and Nancy Pertl.

Throughout her career, Janet Jernigan has been devoted to advocating for others, serving the Nashville nonprofit community for more than 52 years. During her almost 30 years in the role of Executive Director for FiftyForward, from which she just retired, she led countless successful initiatives and expansions to better support older adults in the region. Janet’s skills in relationship building, planning, and community development and her dedication to the needs of older adults have been instrumental to growing the available services and supports for older adults in the region. Janet has been described as a connector, a compassionate leader, and a role model for active aging and aging advocacy. 

Nancy Pertl dedicated her career to the wellbeing of older adults and their caregivers. As the Aging Services Coordinator at Mental Health America of the MidSouth for 16 years, she developed supports such as the “Just the Facts” educational series for caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related disorders, the largest monthly caregiver support group in Davidson County. She organized conferences, workshops, continuing education, and more while serving on multiple committees and frequently volunteering in the community at fundraising events to support older adult programs. Nancy promotes the importance of mental health and wellness for healthy aging and is known as being gifted at teaching older adults self-advocacy. She has been described as skilled at identifying what is needed and how to jump in to do what needs to be done and is known for being able to accomplish in a 30-hour work week as much as if not more than 3-4 full-time staff.

Marshall S. Stuart Award
This award is named after Marshall S. Stuart, who served as the first Executive Director of the Council from 1970 to 1985 after a long career as Mayor of Burns and Dickson County Judge. Judge Stuart believed deeply in the importance of regional planning and intergovernmental cooperation. This most important award is dedicated to his memory. It honors local governments or regional organizations which have exhibited excellence, outstanding accomplishment, achievement, or innovation in intergovernmental cooperation and coordination. The award is presented to the members of GNRC’s Expert Lenders Panel ,comprised of Jim Schmitz of Elliott Davis, Lethia Mann of First Tennessee Bank, Former Robertson County Mayor Howard Bradley of F&M Bank, Pete Wooten of Pinnacle Bank, and MADC President Bruce Carter of Simmons Bank (retired), for their shared wisdom and dedicated service to aligning GNRC’s small business lending programs with Middle Tennessee’s broader economic and community development goals.

Maynard Pate Regional Leadership Award
Named after Maynard Pate, who followed Marshall Stuart as the Council’s third Executive Director from 1986 to 2004. Throughout his 42-year career in urban and regional planning and economic development, Maynard provided professional guidance, expertise, and leadership to cities and counties on a wide range of issues regarding regional cooperation. The award is presented to an outstanding individual or individuals for leadership and excellence in regional cooperation, planning and coordination. The award is presented to Mac Nolen of Rutherford County and Joey Smith of the City of Murfreesboro for their exceptional leadership in the advancement of regional collaboration on solid waste issues as co-chairs of GNRC’s Solid Waste Directors’ RoundTable.

R.J. “Hank” Thompson Award
The Hank Thompson Award honors R. J. “Hank” Thompson, former Sumner County Executive, Hendersonville Mayor, and two-time GNRC President. It is presented to recognize an outstanding individual for the exhibition of personal, professional, or political integrity in the support of a regional initiative. The award is presented to City of Franklin Mayor Ken Moore for exceptional leadership and integrity in building consensus among mayors, county executives, and state officials to address Middle Tennessee’s growing transportation challenges.  

Click here to view photos of the Awards Luncheon.

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