Jeff Syracuse

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FY23 Budget Season, Pennington Bend Meetings and the Mayor’s Office of Music, Film and Entertainment

The Metro FY23 budget season has begun.  Fundamentally, the Mayor’s Budget is a good one as I see it thus far and focuses on critical needs.  Council has begun our budget hearings to take a deep dive into the Mayor’s proposal.  The Citizen’s Guide to the Metro Budget can be found here.  Some of the highlights of the FY32 budget proposal:

  • 4% COLA and step increases
  • Support for Paid Family Leave
  • MNPD personnel support for the 9th precinct – 46 officers
  • Emergency Communications personnel support – 36 additional staff
  • Fire Department personnel support – 31 positions
  • Highest ever support for affordable housing between budget and federal American Rescue Plan funds with personnel support for Housing Division
  • Support for homelessness via American Rescue Plan funds with personnel support for Metro Homeless Impact Division to address substance abuse, mental health and finally moving forward for a 90-unit permanent supportive housing complex.
  • Codes, Fire Marshall, Planning and Water – focused personnel support to meet continued growing demand for services
  • Additional much needed support for Parks, Arts and Libraries

Here is an invitation to attend the groundbreaking of the permanent supportive housing complex on Tuesday, May 31st.

Permanent Supportive Housing

One specific announcement that I am very happy about is the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Music, Film & Entertainment.  Since I was elected in 2015, I have worked with all three administrations on the effort to continue efforts creating a public-private partnership to support our music industry and eco-system.  The Music City Music Council was an initiative created under Mayor Karl Dean, and then further supported under Mayor Megan Barry with the first full-time position in her office. 

The effort to further stronger governance and strategic planning stalled with the political shake-up within the Mayor’s Office and then 2020 hit and so it unfortunately went on the back burner of priorities.  Rapid growth and development coupled with the negative impact of the pandemic has shuttered venues and made it extraordinarily difficult for creatives to thrive.

I passed legislation securing funding from American Rescue Plan funds to study ways we can sustain and support our independent music venues, a critical small business sector as part of our overall music eco-system.  This is the beginning of what a revitalized Music City Music Council as part of this new office should be doing to support Nashville’s status as Music City, USA.  I find myself more and more stating that Nashville is becoming a victim of its own success.  If we don’t support the working creatives in this city and the infrastructure that supports them, a major part of our culture and economy will be negatively impacted and so I’m very happy this new Office will help to refocus our efforts.

Sustainability and resiliency efforts continue within Metro.  This summer, local experts, nonprofits, and researchers will team with citizen scientists to measure temperatures and humidity across Nashville and Davidson County during a one-day heat mapping campaign. The data will reveal the warmest and coolest neighborhoods in our city and help inform heat mitigation efforts by city public health and environmental officials, nonprofits, urban planners, urban foresters, and researchers.

Below are examples of heat mitigation strategies that Nashville could explore and possibly implement using data collected during the heat mapping campaign. The data collected is likely to be most impactful in terms of informing locations in greatest need of mitigation strategies. This is not an exhaustive list.

  • Increased education and outreach on heat risks and heat equity issues
  • Increasing trees and vegetative cover
  • Creating green or cool roofs
  • Use of cool pavements
  • Creation of cooling and/or hydration centers
  • Deployment of early warning systems
  • Encouragement of energy conservation measures

There are a variety of mechanisms that could be used to execute these strategies. This, and a variety of other mitigation strategy design and implementation factors, would need to be discussed among interested stakeholders and neighborhoods to make sure there is ample engagement and buy-in to move forward.

A volunteer recruitment process has begun. Individuals interested in participating in the campaign should complete this form.

Congratulations to Dr. Berthena Nabaa-McKinney for winning her election for School Board District 4 (Donelson – Hermitage – Old Hickory).  I endorsed her and will continue to support her in the County Primary Election August 4th.  The “Find 2022 Election Information” link at the Davidson County Election Commission website is very handy to prepare for and learn about the candidates.  Remember that if you need to register or update your registration (i.e. address change, even within Davidson County), you can do so online as well.  All information you need to engage with our elections is on that website.  A small number of voters decided judges, District Attorney and School Board races in the May 3rd election.  I encourage everyone to be mindful of elections and please participate!

I have not moved forward with a zone change in the Pennington Bend in a few years. There has been a need to align infrastructure with an improved pedestrian-focused policy via Nashville Department of Transportation specific for Pennington Bend before we move forward with the remaining developable areas in the area. After a lot of work behind the scenes, I'm prepared to move forward with bringing us back together with meetings over the next several months.

The first is a 42-unit single family development at 2600 Pennington Bend. Please make plans to attend a community meeting on Monday, June 6th at 6:30pm at Grace Church of the Nazarene at 2620 Pennington Bend Rd. We will discuss where we are headed from a broad perspective as well as hear a presentation from the developer, M/I Homes.

Pennington Mills Preliminary Concept Plans May 27 2022

I was honored to be approved from officials from the City of Liverpool on engaging with Nashville on a second Liverpool International Songwriting Contest.  Starting during the pandemic as a way of promoting kindness and engagement when we were all separated, this year’s event, called “Road to Nashville”, will focus is on the stigma of mental health, especially in the songwriter / artist community.  So far as of the writing of this newsletter, there have been over 1,200 song submissions from 11 different countries.  Every songwriter who submits a song will have access to a life coach and/or a psychologist in the country where they reside.  The finals will be held on October 9th (John Lennon’s birthday, another Liverpool connection) at Exit / In here in Nashville.  It’s been a wonderful project to be part of.  For more information and to submit a song, visit this link.

Liverpool Internationl Song Contest 2022 Road to Nashville

CMA Fest is back and now there is an opportunity ride the WeGo Star to the festivities.  Read more about with links and more info at this link to a new story about it from WKRN Channel 2.

The Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market is off to a great start, back again on Friday’s from 4-7pm at Two Rivers Mansion.  This is a volunteer-driven market, so if you, your neighborhood, or community organization can help, please see the flyer below for details to contact Hip Donelson and help keep this the wonderful market that it is.

Hip D Market Flyer

Hip D Market Volunteers

The Donelson Lion’s Club will host a Community Shred & Medication Disposal event on Saturday, June 4th from 9am-12pm at the Tennessee School for the Blind.  See flyer below for details.

Lions Club Tennessee School for the Blind

The road that runs behind McGavock High School has never had a real name.  It is highly travelled and as it’s the entrance to Two Rivers Golf Course, Two Rivers Dog Park and McGavock High School, it could use its own name to assist with mapping systems and emergency services.  I worked with Metro Parks and Nashville DOT on this, and we will name it Two Rivers Lane.  It will soon have its own street signs.  I’m also working traffic calming speed cushions as drivers travel at fast speeds and it’s a narrow street with many pedestrians around.

If you live on Donelsonwood Drive or Fitzgerald Drive, I will be coming in a week or two going door-to-door to speak with neighbors about traffic calming speed cushions.  The 100-unit townhome development on Lebanon Pike next door did not require a zone change, so I didn’t have any opportunity to engage neighbors and control it more.  However, the developer, Legacy Homes, has agreed to pay for speed cushions as there will be an entrance to their development through Fitzgerald Drive and I want to deter speeders cutting through.  The installation requires the permission from neighbors, so I will be coming around with more information and a petition to sign if you support this.  Please reach out with any questions and please spread the word to any neighbors you know that live on these two streets.

For the past eight years, Aspen Dental offices across the country have opened their doors on the annual Day of Service, to provide free dental care to veterans. Aspen Dental created the Healthy Mouth Movement to help ensure our veterans get the care they need. The Aspen Dental Day of Service will take place this year on June 11, 2022. Since 2014, the Healthy Mouth Movement has provided over $23 million in donated dentistry to more than 30,000 patients in need.

I continue to attend regular meetings as our new Donelson Branch Library and am very pleased to report that construction is scheduled to start in August.  Fencing should go around the area towards the end of June or July.  We’re finally there!

As always, reach out if I can be service.  Jeff.Syracuse@Nashville.gov and 615-886-9906.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Trash Pickup Update, Development Community Meeting, Traffic Calming and More

After weeks of a new low in performance by our trash contractor, Red River, things are finally improving after hiring another contractor to begin picking up routes to coincide with Metro picking up a few other routes that should allow Red River to be able to handle the remainder.

As many have heard, Red River filed bankruptcy last October and so they are afforded protections under the law.  Metro has legal counsel in Dallas aggressively representing our interests.

Red River’s contract began in 2004 and while it worked OK for some years, their poor management, inability to keep up with our growth, and failure overcome equipment, truck, and personnel challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic is why we find ourselves in this continued frustrating and untenable situation.

As many will recall, I filed a resolution last year calling for the end of the contract with Red River.  That prompted some structural changes to the contract, which made the situation better for some months afterwards, but Red River’s internal problems have only become worse, and they are spiraling downwards.

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The Holidays are here with Tree Lightings, Parade, and Finally the Unveil of our new Donelson Branch Library

Dear Friends,

The Holiday Season is here and there is much to be thankful for and celebrate.  I hope you and your families and friends enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Here are some events coming up to put on your calendars:

  • The Donelson Hermitage Neighborhood Alliance has put together the 1st Annual Hermitage Christmas Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 2nd. 5:30pm decorating, 6pm tree lighting. It’ll be at the Hermitage Library.  See flyer below.

Hermitage Tree Lighting

  • The 36th Annual Donelson Hermitage Chamber Christmas Parade will be on Saturday, December 4th at 2pm. It’ll be on the same route it’s been for several years along Donelson Pike from Elm Hill Pike to Donelson Station, so pick a good spot anywhere on either side of the street on the sidewalk. For all information, street closure information, application to enter a float and more, visit https://www.donelsonhermitagechamber.com/christmas-parade/.
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Two Rivers Mansion Event Center, Metro Arts “Call To Artists” for New Donelson Library and Redistricting Update

Dear Friends,

Good news to share and important updates this newsletter.  First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. AsafeNashville.org continues to be Metro’s information site for COVID-19 testing and vaccines. Here’s a great PSA from the TN Council for Development Disabilities featuring our State Representative Darren Jernigan and State Representative Sam Whitson supporting everyone to get vaccinated. It’s the fastest way to end this pandemic.

A major piece of good news is for Two Rivers Mansion’s 14-acre property and all our community. The long-awaited event center, to be located behind the mansion, was funded in Mayor Cooper’s recently released Capital Spending Plan. The Master Plan that Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation, Metro Nashville Historical Commission and the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion put together several years ago to support its preservation and advancement identified an event center as a needed investment to capitalize on the success of the total renovation at the mansion and renewed interest and excitement in hosting events there. This will help keep the mansion preserved while being able to host larger events that also will be a larger revenue generator. This has been a priority project of mine since I’ve been in office and this investment will be transformational for the property and the future of the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion. Stay tuned for more details to come.

There is a website dedicated to explaining the required redistricting process we’re going through. Visit it here.  Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census, Metro Nashville must re-establish the boundaries for Metro Council and School Board districts. The new districts must be balanced in population and follow traditional redistricting criteria, in conformance with federal, state, and local rules. The Metro Charter assigns responsibility for redistricting to the Planning Commission, which makes its recommendation to the Metro Council for adoption. Draft maps have been released on the website and you’ll notice the 15th District will likely move our borders both further West and East. Here’s the highlights:

  • Our northern border (the Cumberland River) and southern border (I-40) are both mostly staying the same. We currently have a small section of 37217 south of I-40 along Spence Lane and the northern part of Murfreesboro Pike east of Spence Ln. The 37217 section will likely go to the 16th District and the 15th will extend its southern border along I-40/I-24 to the overpass where they split.
  • The Western border shifts almost to downtown. There isn’t any additional population picked up with this expansion, but it does put City Side in a contiguous district.
  • The Eastern border shifts to a cleaner line between 14th and 15th District along Stewart’s Ferry Pike. Both CM Rhoten and I agree this is a better line and keeps Cloverhill in one district, as opposed to being split between two currently.

I’m comfortable with this first draft as it relates to the proposed changes to our district, but there is time to submit your comments via the website. From a broader perspective, the data and this draft shows where the population has grown across the county, areas that haven’t grown as quickly, where gentrification has occurred the most, and much more. You can also view the proposed changes to the school board districts.

More good news of new restaurants and eateries coming to Donelson. Edley’s announced they will build their largest location at 2717 Lebanon Pike in the totally renovated building owned by Kurzynske & Associates. Also, in this shopping center will be Yeast Nashville, a wonderful bakery. Both these developments will occur sometime in the first part of 2022.

I am excited that our Metro Nashville Office of Arts + Culture has launched a Call to Artists for the two public art projects that will be located at the new Nashville Public Library Donelson Branch. See the graphic below about these two wonderful opportunities for local and national artists. For more information and the application, visit here.

The library project team has been working hard on finalizing the design of our new library and we are close to an unveiling. Stay tuned for more details to come in the weeks ahead.

Metro Arts

The next sidewalk project that should start for our district is the Old Lebanon Pike project, east of JB Estille Rd to Lebanon Pike. This was funded a few years ago and glad to see this important connection move forward. It’s currently out to bid and the contractor should be selected early next year, and the project should start and end in 2022, if all goes smoothly. This project should create a mid-block crossing for McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, like how Party Fowl has on the other end of Old Lebanon Pike to make crossing the road safer from their additional parking area. Remember the Sidewalk Tracker is a good resource to track projects.

Through the hard work of Neighborhood Planting Captains Jenny White in Lincoya Hills, Marie Anderson in Maplecrest, and Erin Duvall in Maplecrest working to recruit neighbors for trees in the district, Lincoya Hills is receiving 55 trees and Maplecrest received 76 trees. All 131 trees were delivered to the recipients' yards during the week of October 11. Most recipients opted to plant their own trees, and Root Nashville staff assisted those who requested help. In March 2022, additional neighborhood trees will also be coming to Merry Oaks through the efforts of onboarding Neighborhood Planting Captain Esmeralda Figueras, an AmeriCorps service member.

Checkout the “Homegrown Origin Story: The First 5 Years” a recently created retrospect on a beloved Donelson hangout. Big thanks to Robin Davis, Jennifer Starks and team for bringing this wonderful taproom and restaurant to our community. The video was beautifully done, and I was honored to be among the neighbors interviewed for it.

There is a great project coming from The Donelson Gateway Project and neighbors in Elm Hill Acres.  Thanks to the leadership of Elm Hill Acres’ neighbor Rick Haley, he designed the below improvement to the end of the Briley Parkway south ramp at Elm Hill Pike near the entrance to Elm Hill Acres. This site has been a persistent problem aggressive panhandlers and drug use. With help from TDOT, the area has been cleaned up and this project will keep the area beautiful and welcoming. If you’d like to support this project, The Donelson Gateway Project is a 501c3 and donations are tax deductible.  To donate, please contact Rick Haley at elmhillacres@gmail.com or via Venmo at @Rick-Haley (last 4 digits of phone number is 5061 for verification). A tax letter will be provided to you for tax write-off purposes.

Elm Hill Briley Pkwy S Exit - Before

Elm Hill Briley Pkwy S Exit - After

MDHA is now accepting applications for its Home Repair Programs and Weatherization Assistance Program from qualifying Davidson County residents. For more information, including the application, qualifications, and eligible projects, visit their website and see the below fliers for more information.

MDHA 1

MDHA 2

As many have heard, NES is creating a program called Power of Change to support the Home Uplift program, providing weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades to homeowners who need it most. You most opt OUT of this program if you choose. Everyone is opted in as it rolls out in January 2022. See this link here for more information on eligibility and how to opt out.

The Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce will hold their annual Holiday Market at the Mansion at Two Rivers Mansion on November 19th and 20th. See flyer below for details.

Holiday Market at The Mansion

 

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Ravenwood Regional Park Ribbon Cutting, Litter Clean-Up and Two Legislative Successes

Dear Friends,

Ravenwood Pavilion Rendering Donelson TNI look forward to joining Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation and Kevin Rhoten - Metro Council District 14 for a groundbreaking ceremony for Ravenwood Regional Park on August 20, Friday, 10:00 a.m. at the construction site of the park. The park will transform 800 acres of farmland near the historic landmark Stone Hall into a space for recreation, hiking, play, kids’ activities, and a quiet ambiance.

“Ravenwood Park is located only a few miles from downtown Nashville. It will fill a notable void in the area by providing vital recreational opportunities to the residents of Donelson and Hermitage as well as others across the county,” said Monique Horton Odom, Director of Metro Parks. The project is in the early stages of development. Phase One of the project includes demolition, earthwork, paving, landscaping, and site utilities. It will also involve the construction of an entry road, greenway and trails, parking lot, playground, large pavilion, sports court and fitness equipment, sidewalks, and open lawn.

Ravenwood Park, uniquely surrounded by almost four miles of highly scenic river frontage, is tucked off Lebanon Road between the Donelson and Hermitage neighborhoods in a large bend of the Stones River just south of the confluence of the Stones River and the Cumberland River. The area expands into beautiful natural vistas and has a rich history.

The Stones River greenway currently runs along the edge of the site connecting this large park to Shelby Bottoms to the west and the Percy Priest Dam to the east. Stone Hall, the local historic landmark known as the Donelson Home, was acquired in 2007 and sits at the front of the site along Lebanon Pike.

Former Mayor David Briley, State Representative Darren Jernigan, and Jeff Syracuse, Metro Councilmember District 15, Erin Evans, Metro Councilmember District 12, and Russ Bradford Metro Councilmember, District 13 will be in attendance at the ceremony.

WHO: Metro Parks and Council Member Kevin Rhoten (District 14).

WHAT: Groundbreaking Ceremony to kickoff Phase One construction of Ravenwood Regional Park.

WHEN: August 20, Friday, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Ravenwood Park, 3401 Central Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076.

DIRECTIONS: Take I-40 East to Central Pike. Merge right to Take exit 221A on TN-45 N/The Hermitage to Central Pike. Turn left on to Central Pike and follow it until it ends at the parking lot at Ravenwood Regional Park.

Welcome to Donelson, Hands On Nashville! I'm thrilled they found a new home here in the 15th District. Here's their latest newsletter where they could use some helping hands with the move. Hands On Nashville does extraordinary things for all of us, so if you're able to lend a helping hand, please click on the newsletter below and sign up.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has approved a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine for those who are immunocompromised. The Metro Nashville Public Health Department anticipates receiving the list of the immunocompromised conditions that would be eligible to receive the 3rd dose from as early as Monday. Once MPHD has the guidance we will share it with Meharry Medical College and they will begin providing the third dose at Metro’s drive-thru site located on Murfreesboro Pike. At that point MPHD will also offer the vaccine at their scheduled pop up events. To find the calendar visit the website here (https://www.asafenashville.org) . MPHD will ONLY be offering boosters for those who meet the criteria as established by the ACIP. MPHD also encourages those eligible for the 3rd dose to check with the closest pharmacy, grocery location, or walk-in clinic to find the vaccine at the most convenient location.

The Donelson Hermitage Neighborhood Association will hold a “State of Donelson Hermitage” with area elected officials. Note that this will be held at the Hermitage Precinct and so masks will be required. See flyer below for details.

State of Donelson Hermitage on August 19, 2021

The Donelson Hermitage Neighborhood Association is sponsoring litter clean-ups in our area’s districts. Ours is Sat, August 21 at 8am. Meet at The Crossings Shopping Center where Publix is. Thanks in advance for your help keeping our community clean and beautiful!

I worked on two pieces of legislation for the last couple of years that have finally moved forward. The first was when I was Chair of Parks, Library and Arts when the NFL Draft came to town and the cherry tree incident occurred. That was a combination of poor communication, unclear and inconsistent policy across multiple departments where urban forestry is managed, and lack of community engagement. I pledged to strengthen our policies in regards to managing trees on public property and this bill is the result. I’ve learned a great deal and thank the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps for their focused and knowledgeable leadership in helping craft this bill.

We have dedicated and passionate tree advocates in our Metro departments and this bill codifies the Executive Order that began under Mayor Megan Barry after the widespread clearing of trees at Fort Negley. This bill helps to ensure our policies across departments are consistent, transparent, engaging with community advocates and helps highlight the strong work being done internal to Metro departments and applies data-driven results to ensure we have a healthy and robust urban tree canopy on public property.

We all win when we work together and this bill has taken some time to engage all stakeholders, inside and outside of government. As mentioned below, seeing the widespread destruction of our mature and healthy trees due to the tornado of March 2020 strengthened my resolve to get this right. It’s an ever evolving landscape as we ensure sustainability initiatives are core to our long term success as we continue to develop and grow at a rapid pace. I’m very proud of this work and am again very thankful to the NTCC and all our Metro employees, especially Rebecca Dohn in Metro Water Services, who all worked closely together on this effort. Read the bill here

The second legislative effort passed on August 3rd and supports historic preservation. So many times we hear from neighbors about why we can’t do anything to help save our cultural and historic treasures yet we offer incentives to large out of state corporations. This legislation enacts a State program for Metro to create a tax abatement program to incentivize investment in historic properties and will not dip into our budgeted revenue and only abate the . This is the only program available to local municipalities by the State legislature. This program does many things, including encouraging the local designation and therefore the long-term preservation of historic buildings and sites, provides a financial incentive to rehabilitate existing property where zoning allows for a greater financial return to demolish and develop new, designed to improve neighborhoods and increase the value of properties that might otherwise be demolished or remain vacant, encourages rehab over replacement new construction, which has multiple benefits to the growth of a municipality. Rehab of existing buildings is more likely to add to the affordable/accessible housing pool and more likely to serve new and small businesses than new construction. Rehab is more environmentally sustainable than new construction as it retains embodied energy and keeps valuable building materials out of the landfill. In Metro Nashville, 23% of the waste we send to landfill is created from construction and demolition waste. When landfilled, this material can create greenhouse gases. Reduces the cost of living or the cost of doing business for a temporary period of time and stimulates the economy by encouraging rehabilitation. Rehab keeps more money and jobs local than new construction. This same activity improves property and communities, which means higher property tax revenue for the city once abatements expires. It encourages continued development within established areas with existing infrastructure rather than encouraging sprawl. To read the bill and about the program guidelines (found as the Exhibit link in the legislation), click here.

I have been working on a number of developments with neighbors around them and will have a more comprehensive update on all of them in a subsequent newsletter. Donelson Plaza’s phase two has commenced. Stay up to date at www.donelsonplaza.com at the Updates section for details. The project team for the new library continue to work hard and hope to have details to share in the next couple of months.

Every ten years after the U.S. Census is complete, Metro Nashville must review and analyze the data to ensure districts are balanced in population through a process known as redistricting. The process for Nashville is overseen by the Metro Nashville Planning Department, who launched a new website this week aimed at educating and engaging the community. The website, redistrict.nashville.gov (https://redistrict.nashville.gov/) , includes a survey, a timeline of the process, frequently asked questions, and a map of how council and school board districts have changed as Nashville has grown.

Metro Planning is beginning community engagement before receiving updated population totals from the U.S. Census Bureau to give the community time to learn about the process. However, Metro Planning will not begin preparing new district lines until that data is available. It's important to note, these recommendations will only pertain to Metro Council and Metro School Board districts and will not impact school attendance zones or State or Federal representations. Residents are encouraged to take the survey now. There will also be opportunities to participated in public workshops later this fall. Metro Planning will continue to work with Metro Council and Metro School Board members to help keep communities informed on the process, as well as share public engagement events.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Donelson Plaza Palooza, Rezoning Community Meeting, Digital Inclusion Survey and Job Fair

Dear Friends,

As the weather warms up and everyone is getting out more after being vaccinated, here’s a great opportunity to enjoy our new green space in front of the new Donelson Library site and support Donelson Plaza businesses. On Saturday, May 22nd from 10am – 3pm, bring your chair or blanket, visit Plaza business booths with special deals and grab a lunch at one of the Plaza businesses while enjoying live music and performances in addition to special programming from our Nashville Library! Plus, the Civic Design Center wants your ideas for the public space in front of the Donelson Library. Visit their “Soundbox” shipping container during the event!

Donelson Plaza Palooza

I will be hosting a community meeting on Thursday, May 13th at 6:30pm via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8343340820) so the development team can introduce themselves and make a proposal. 2842 Lebanon Pike is proposed as three 2,500 sq ft commercial buildings with five condo buildings at 79 total units. 2850 Lebanon Pike is proposed as five condo buildings at 63 total units. These two are separate filings and would be separate bills, but because they are close together, I wanted to ensure they run together through the process. They are scheduled to be at the Planning Commission on Thursday, June 10th.

Donelson UDO

The Nashville Digital Inclusion and Access Taskforce is seeking input from Metro residents about the digital divide—the growing gap between those who benefit from technology and those who are excluded in the digital age. The Taskforce is led by Dr. Fallon Wilson of Black Tech Futures Research Institute and Dr. Samantha Perez of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. The group aims to collect data to enable Metro Government and local organizations to make data-driven decisions about how they serve the public, particularly those who have low or no Internet access or digital literacy. The survey is one of 21 strategies set forth in Connected Nashville, Metro’s smart city plan, developed by a 76-person working group. Funded by Frist Foundation, Google Fiber and Nashville Public Education Foundation, the survey is conducted collectively by Vanderbilt Peabody, the Digital Inclusion and Access Taskforce, and The Equity Alliance. Results of the survey will be publicly shared with the community and published on the Metro Open Data Portal. Additionally, the Taskforce will issue recommendations to maximize the impact of existing initiatives and resources by targeting work to address areas of greatest need, as identified by the survey. To take the survey, Nashville residents are invited to visit http://bit.do/digequitynash through May 15 (http://bit.do/digequitynash%20through%20May%2015) .

There will be a two-day job fair hosted by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. One of the days will be at Opryland. See flyer below for details.

Job Fair Flyer May 2021

I’m honored to have been asked to be among the faculty of Neighbor 2 Neighbor’s C4N Nashville 2021. I will be participating in the panel discussion, "The Role of a Metro Council Member in Planning and Development." C4N Nashville is a one-day training and networking event for anybody who wants to make a positive difference in their neighborhood. Choose from 25 workshops, facilitated conversations, panel discussions, and presentations on eight key neighborhood passions.

Please plan to join me virtually at C4N Nashville on Saturday, May 15th. Learn more and register at https://www.n2n.solutions/c4n.

C4N Nashville

Best,

jeff syracuse

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2021 Reappraisal and Tax Impact, Farmer’s Market 2021 Season, Community Clean Up and More

Dear Friends,

Everyone should be receiving their 2021 reappraisal information in the mail soon if not already.  As you’ll note in the packet in the graphic below, growth has not slowed down, even through the pandemic  Here are two graphics with heat maps that compare the 2013-2017 growth vs the 2017-2021 along with very important information about the reappraisal process, which is mandated by State law.

2021 Reappraisal Packet 1

2021 Reappraisal Packet 2

2021 Reappraisal Packet 3

2021 Reappraisal Packet 4

As you’re probably aware, the State mandates the reappraisal process to be revenue neutral, so as the values go up, the tax rate must come down.  That also means that if you’re above the average countywide reappraisal rate, the impact to your property taxes is that they usually go up.  If you’re below the median increase, they generally go down.  Check out our tax rate compared to Tennessee’s four biggest cities.  You’ll note the impact of the reappraisals over the years.

Property Tax Graph 25 Year 4 Cities

A lot people were understandably upset at the 34% tax increase last year.  It couldn’t have come at a worse time due to pandemic and economic shutdown.  Among the financial issues we have, the biggest one is that we haven’t managed the tax rate well.  If you’ll note on the 25-year tax graph, historically after the appraisal occurs and affects the tax rate to go down, the Mayor and Council will nudge it up nice and easy in the years afterwards to account for growth.  That didn’t happen in 2017 and we were left with an unsustainably low rate.  We hadn’t nudged the rate up since 2012 and should have done that so we wouldn’t have been looking at such a stark increase last year (which was still 30 cents cheaper than it was in 2017).  So, here we are again with an appraisal that shows rapid property value increases, which means the rate will drop back down to historic lows.  Yes, we have issues with overspending and too high of debt, but our overall financial outlook is strong if we can keep our hands tight on the reigns of the tax rate.  We’re still operating with fewer Metro employees than we had in 2003.  We have a lot of work to do to manage growth and ensure it is benefiting everyone.  When you add the impact of the pandemic and the economic shutdown, the trillions of dollars that has come from the federal government assistance to states, cities and local municipalities, we have to be laser focused on stable fiscal management, which means budgeting thinking about the long term and not using federal government assistance to balance our budget.  That would be dangerous as those funds will not be here forever and we need to focus on those funds supporting schools, small business, out of work neighbors and other critical areas so we can get through the pandemic’s impact.  We will get through this together.

The Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market returns for the 10th season at Two Rivers Mansion on Friday, May 7th at 4pm.  This is a treasure of an event for the community and hope you will make plans to support it every Friday through October.

The Donelson Gateway Project needs your help for the annual spring cleanup.  “Many hands make light work”.  Meet at the Briley Pkwy / Lebanon Pk site on Saturday, May 8th at 10am.  We can disperse to other sites as needed.  Thank you for your support of keeping Donelson beautiful!

The Buchanan Family Festival Fish Fry & Flea Market will be May 15th at 11am.  See flyer below for details.

BLH 2021 Festival Flyer

The annual Phil the House with Arts and Friends at Two Rivers Mansion will be on Sunday, May 16th from 1-4pm and will feature the photography of local resident and Friends member Doug Almy.

I’m now fully vaccinated and encourage everyone to do the same so we can get back to opening the city back up 100%, all our kids back in school and put this pandemic behind us.  All COVID19 related info, including how to sign up for vaccine appointments can be found here.

Finally, I will be sending out another newsletter about two rezoning meetings coming up (one for a single family home development at 2600 Pennington Bend Rd and the other for condo developments at 2842 and 2850 Lebanon Pike) plus an exciting community event on Saturday, May 22nd.  So, stay tuned to another newsletter on the heels of this one once I firm up dates and details.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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Let’s Work Together to Create a Better 2021

Dear Friends,

The recent insurrection attempt at the US Capital shows that the complexities that arose in 2020 are not yet in the rear-view mirror.  Many have asked about reports of continued protests and rallies that may turn violent.  The below letter from MNPD Chief Drake was received by Metro Council Members.

January 11 Letter To Metro Council

There is an understandable amount of anxiety and frustration about the rollout of the vaccine.  As with all things related to COVID-19, this website is your best local source to follow Metro Health Department processes and find when your eligible timeframe for receiving the vaccine is here and how to sign up.  That’s also the place to continue to get the latest information on testing centers.  Further helpful information at the State Department of Health here is a good resource as well.

As you may have seen, I’ve been on the news a bit to talk about the uptick in crime, mostly stemming from our hotel / motel and hospitality businesses in the district.  As mentioned to the media, some of this is not new to an uptick we see around the holidays, but certainly some is attributed to the ancillary issues from the pandemic.  I have worked hard at establishing a stronger communication network between our Hermitage Precinct and hospitality businesses and has already shown to have some efficacy.  It will be a monthly meeting focused specifically on how our hospitality businesses can unite together, apply best practices of managing their parking lots guided by the Hermitage Precinct, share resources for being more proactive in protecting their properties, and utilizing improved technology to create a faster, more effective communication network to all area hospitality businesses and MNPD when an incident happens.

As you have likely noticed, we have an uptick in homelessness issues in the district and new camps have been set up in various locations.  Homelessness is one of the most complex issues to deal with and must be done with sensitivity and support for our unhoused neighbors.To that end, I am hosting a virtual community meeting on this topic on Thursday, January 28th at 7pm.  I strongly encourage everyone to attend.  Thanks to Donelson neighbor Tara Shaver, she will host the meeting on her corporate Zoom account and manage the logistics.  We will hear from our Metro Homeless Impact Division and learn about their role and efforts, non-profit partners engaged in this effort, including Open Table Nashville, Room at the Inn, Mental Health Cooperative and People Loving Nashville.  Sergeant Jeff White with our Hermitage Precinct will be in attendance to discuss MNPD’s role and efforts as they interact with the homeless community and how they interact with other Metro Departments.  He will also discuss panhandling, which is a separate issue, but is somewhat connected to community concerns.  State Representative Darren Jernigan will be in attendance to discuss this from a State perspective.  This meeting will require registration.  Please visit this link to register.

I continue to work hard on all things related to any further development in the Pennington Bend area, specifically on infrastructure.  Last term I focus efforts on attempting to push for a third interchange.  That does not appear likely to happen at all for several reasons, so am now focused on ensuring private development proposals to include ample infrastructure support and have created a couple new Capital Improvement Budget requests of Metro for future planning.  Stay tuned for a community meeting within the next two months that’ll hold to bring everyone up to speed with my efforts.

Despite the challenges before us both at a national and local level, I have strong faith in our ability to come together and meet these challenges and create a brighter future for the next generation.  I hope you will join me in working to find common ground, vehemently reject extremism as a cancer upon our democracy, create and participate in constructive dialogue (especially on social media), and be part of solutions to our problems in service to each other.

Best,

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Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting and Closing out 2020

Dear Friends,

It’s time for the 2020 Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting!  Join us LIVE Sunday, December 13, 4:00pm on the Hip Donelson Facebook page. 

It’s a different kind of tree lighting this year for a couple of reasons.  For safety we are hosting this virtually.  In addition, the location begins a new era as we begin to utilize our new civic space in front of where the new library will be.

Please consider driving by and dropping off an unwrapped toy for the Metro Police Christmas Charities, started by District 15’s very own Chief Joe Casey.  Those who donate a toy will receive a coupon for a complimentary Bacon Popcorn at Homegrown Taproom & Kitchen!

Thanks to District 15 Beautification Commissioner Michele Mazzu, Hip Donelson, The Donelson Gateway Project, JVI Secret Gardens and Donelson Cafe and Catering for all coming together to make this event possible.

Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting in 2020

Click here to review Mayor Cooper’s Transportation Plan for Nashville.  As the Mayor’s Office describes is, this is a “people-focused approach to help set us up better for grant opportunities”.  There is no direct funding appropriated with this plan.  It does help identify the infrastructure needs with “critical projects for community resilience, neighborhood livability, shared prosperity, and system preservation and performance.”

As a reminder as we close out 2020, here are a few resources to help you navigate these very difficult times:

  • Call 211 to reach the United Way, who is a critical resource for guiding you for various resources.
  • Affordable Housing Resources also has two programs to help with rent. Contact AHR at (615) 251-0025, Extension 0 or email sbosworth@ahrhousing.org
  • The Financial Empowerment Center stands ready to help you navigate these very difficult times for so many. See below for their contact info.

Free Professional Financial Counselling

As always, don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  I wish you and your families a very Happy Holidays.  Despite the extraordinary times we’re living in,

Best,

Councilman Jeff Syracuse

 

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An Overdue Newsletter with a New Format Coming and a Metro Budget 101 Series Everyone Should Attend

happy-thanksgiving-3727343_1280 Happy Thanksgiving from Councilman Syracuse!

Dear Friends,

It’s been a few months since I last sent out a newsletter.  I will freely admit it’s been a challenge to sit and focus on writing one during these strange times… tornado recovery, global pandemic, Presidential election and significant budget issues.  I am hopeful about the news regarding the success with progress towards a vaccine and recovery from the tornado is ongoing, but good progress has been made.

I’m going to soon change the format of my newsletters to be shorter and hopefully more regular.  As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged.  For now, I wanted to get this critical information out to you ASAP.  I strongly encourage everyone to get more engaged in our budget issues and processes so we can have more productive conversations about them.  One of my greatest frustrations with this year is the inability to have town halls.  I started looking at doing a live streamed town hall, but this series below is even better.  I may be a day or two late getting this newsletter to your inbox before the first meeting of the series, but it will be rebroadcast and available to watch online as well.

Councilmembers Kyonzté Toombs (Chair) & Delishia Porterfield (Vice-Chair) of the Budget and Finance Committee, will be hosting a Virtual Metro Budget 101 Series over the next few months. The sessions, beginning at 6PM, will provide transparency and education for the general public concerning Metro Nashville Davidson County's revenues, and the budget process.

Questions from the public may be submitted to kyonzte.toombs@nashville.gov by 5PM on the day before the session. All questions must be on-topic.

How does the city get money?

  • November 19, 2020 - Property Taxes: Assessor of Property Vivian Wilhoite, Trustee Erica Gilmore
  • December 3, 2020 - Sales Tax: Councilmember At-Large Bob Mendes
  • December 17, 2020 - City/State Revenue: Finance Director Kevin Crumbo and State Rep. Harold Love

How does the city spend money?

  • January 7, 2021 - Metro Nashville Public Schools: School Board Member Freda Player-Peters, Chief Operating and Financial Officer Chris Henson
  • January 14, 2021 - Metro Public Works and Metro Parks Departments: Public Works Interim Director Shanna Whitelaw
  • January 21, 2021 - Nashville General Hospital
  • January 28, 2021 - Public Safety (Metro Nashville Police Department, Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office)

Community Panel Discussions

  • February 4, 2021 - Community Panel Discussion
  • February 11, 2021 - Expert Panel Discussion
  • February 18, 2021 - How the Budget Process Works
  • February 25, 2021 - Participatory Budget: Councilmember At-Large Zulfat Suara

This series of sessions will provide helpful Information, and I hope you will participate as we wort through this upcoming 2021 budget year. The schedule will be updated as speakers are confirmed.

The public may watch the following meetings live online at:

https://www.nashville.gov/.../Metro.../Live-Streaming.aspx

Metro Nashville and Davidson County residents can view Metro Nashville Network on Comcast channel 3, AT&T U-verse channel 99, Google Fiber channel 3, and streaming on the MNN Roku channel.

As always, don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of service.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  I wish you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Best,

jeff syracuse

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FY2021 Budget Virtual Community Meetings, Tree Replacement and Unveiling of a New Art Piece in Donelson

Dear Friends,
 
I’m going to keep this newsletter brief as I know we are inundated with information being sent to us from national, state and local levels and I don’t want to simply regurgitate information you’re already seeing elsewhere, such as all information related to Nashville’s COVID-19 response here, where it details the metrics being looked at and the Roadmap for Reopening Nashville.
 
When Mayor Cooper announced his budget proposal, my phone started ringing off the hook as is expected, especially when a tax increase is part of it, and especially when our economy is largely shut down.  I get it and I hear you.  It’s frustrating that we can’t have community meetings in person, so what I’d like to do is set up two virtual community meetings via Zoom so I can offer a platform to hopefully have productive conversations as Council proceeds with our budget hearings with Metro Department heads.  Until then, the Citizen Guide to the Metro Budget and Mayor Cooper’s budget presentation are here.  All documents Metro Council Members are reviewing and our budget hearing schedule is here

  • Thursday, May 21st at 6:30pm – Zoom Meeting Link
    Meeting ID: 811 7969 9344
    Password: 995935
     
  • Thursday, May 28th at 6:30pm – Zoom Meeting Link
    Meeting ID: 830 0936 6439
    Password: 046653

Upcoming Public Hearing

The public hearing for the budget will be at the June 2nd Council Meeting.  How do you have a public hearing without the public?  Great question.  Governor Lee has extended his Order that allows local municipalities to meet virtually until June 30th.  If members of the public are interested in speaking either for or against any item on the public hearing agenda this is how you do it: 

  1. Tune into the meeting via live streaming on Nashville.gov, by watching on cable TV (Comcast channel 3, AT&T Uverse channel 99), or watch on the Roku Metro Nashville Network Channel.
  2. Wait for the Vice Mayor to announce when your item is ready for live call in.
  3. Dial 629-255-1931 and wait for operator assistance.
  4. You will be asked if you are calling for the current bill on public hearing.
  5. Mute your TV or live stream when it is your turn to speak.
  6. Once your time begins, state your name, address, and whether you are for or against the bill. You will have two minutes to speak.
  7. During your public comments, you will receive a 30-second warning before your time limit is up.

While the live call-in feature is strongly encouraged in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, members of the public may attend the Metro Council Meeting at the Historic Metro Courthouse (1 Public Square) and speak to the Council from the Council Chamber.  Additional information about virtual Council Meetings and remote participation in Council public hearings can be found here.
 

Affordable Housing Programs for Tornado Victims

Affordable Housing Resources has a new program to help homeowners who lost use of their homes in the tornado called the Tornado Mortgage Mitigation program (TMM).  The TMM is a free service designed to help these homeless homeowners get up to a 12 month “holiday” from their mortgage payments – basically as long as the home is unlivable.  From working in past disasters, including Katrina, they learned it takes most homeowners 12 months to settle on their FEMA and Insurance payments, find a contractor and get the repairs completed.  During this time most homeowners are responsible to keep their monthly mortgage current and are now also paying rent on temporary housing; however, experience has shown that it’s often challenging for many homeowners to deal with mortgage servicers.  This is because they do not deal with financial institutions and mortgage servicers often and these institutions are often full of pushbacks.  AHR is experienced at mitigating mortgages as they worked with thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure during the 2010-2014 Recession.  They know how to successfully negotiate with the various professional mortgage servicers.  Below is a flyer with more information about this free service to all homeowners whose homes were rendered unlivable by the tornado.  Most lawyers charge $2,000 or more for this mitigation work.   They are able to make it a free service because of generous grants from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the Frist Foundation and NeighborWorks America.  Also, thanks to a recent gift from the United Way, AHR can now help those homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgage due to recent job losses caused by COVID-19, so give them a call to learn more.
 

 
Thanks to organizations like Root Nashville, there are opportunities to engage in helping us restore our tree canopy we lost in the March 3rd tornado and recent storms of May 3rd and 4th.  For us to be successful in helping neighbors plant the right kind of trees in the right places and defray the cost, it’s important we support organizations like Root Nashville as plans are made available for us to engage with.  As you’ll note at the link above, “Planting Captains” will help coordinate the logistics.  The other program will be through the Nashville Tree Conservation Corps called “Operation Overstory”.  I encourage you to check them both out and support them as you’re able.  More information on this in the weeks and months ahead, but please let me know if you’re willing and able to assist with these efforts as we’ll need it.

The Donelson Gateway Project

To close this newsletter, I invite you all to join The Donelson Gateway Project's Facebook page LIVE next Thursday, May 14th at 6:30pm as we unveil a public art piece at the Briley Parkway / Lebanon Pike site.  This was inspired by our treasured Merry Oaks neighbor and former 15th District Beautification Commissioner Naomi Regensburg.  The idea came to life thanks to our Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts + Culture THRIVE program, artist Brian Somerville, and Brian Sexton with Creatives Day managing the process.  It’s an art piece that is poignant for the times we’re living in, so we decided to go ahead with an unveiling event live on Facebook.  It’d be a great night to support a local restaurant for dinner and tune in next Thursday, May 14th at 6:30pm live on The Donelson Gateway Project’s Facebook page.  See you then.
 

 
During this extraordinary time of challenges, if I can be of service, don’t hesitate to call my cell at 615-886-9906.
 
Best,
 


615-886-9906

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COVID-19 Information, Tornado Recovery, Federal Stimulus and State of Metro

Dear Friends,
 
Since the tornado, things have moved so quickly, it has been difficult to sit down and compose a newsletter.  I’d like to give a very big public Thank You to Chelsea Moubarak, who has assisted several Council Members with putting together a comprehensive list of information, resources and much more.  She’s done a great job with compiling much of the information below.
 
Between the tornado and now a global pandemic, I know it feels like we’re living in the Twilight Zone.  There has never been a time more than now as your Council Member that I have felt more helpless.  My heart breaks for those that were impacted by the tornado and now we’ve been hit with the one-two punch in dealing with COVID-19.  That said, I have seen extraordinary service to one another and unparalleled perseverance.  Thank you to each of you for taking care of your neighbors and community.  Please continue to support small business and their employees who are struggling immensely now.  Take-out, delivery and curb side service are being offered by just about all our favorite local restaurants.

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Donelson School News - March 2020

I am thankful to MNPS Interim Director Dr. Adrienne Battle and her leadership team for presenting the proposed FY20-21 school budget at various meetings across the county.  I am impressed in that it acknowledges the difficult budget season we face and presents options for funding various areas of MNPS depending on what revenues are available.  Here is a two-page brief on the proposal.

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Donelson Non-Profit News - March 2020

Come visit Two Rivers Mansion on Sunday, March 15th from 1pm – 4pm for the annual Open House – “Phil the House with Arts and Friends”.  Admission is Free.  The artist spotlight this year is Randy Purcell.  This event is hosted by the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion.  Please consider becoming a member and supporting this wonderful group who continue to showcase this historic gem in our community.  Many events become free with membership.

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Donelson Neighborhood News - March 2020

This newsletter’s Neighborhood News section is about honoring people.  At the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber’s second annual Influencing Women Awards Gala, a few 15th District community members were honored.  Big congratulations and well-deserved awards went to Nicole Vaughan with the Heart of Donelson-Hermitage Award, Kerra Bennett with the Woman to Watch Award, and Laurie Eakes Ford and Mill Creek Mercantile with the WOW (Woman-Owned Workplace) Award.  Congrats to all the well-deserved winners.  Photo credit to Sarah Boyce Photography.

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Donelson Business News - March 2020

Big news was announced for the former headquarters of Bridgestone at 535 Marriott Drive.  Genesco announced it will relocate its corporate headquarters next year, create new jobs and invest more than $30 million in Davidson County over the next five years.
 
Check out the updated website for Donelson Plaza.  There are new images of what the final renovation will look like.  Note: The architect of our new Donelson Library will be chosen soon.  The depiction of the library in the images is just a placeholder for now.  Also, check out this news clip from WKRN Channel 2 about the Plaza as well.

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“The State of Donelson and Hermitage” Forum Coming Plus the Next Mayor’s Night Out and Budget Meetings

Dear Friends –

The Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Association is hosting a “State of Donelson and Hermitage” forum at FiftyForward Donelson Station on Monday, March 9th at 7pm.  See flyer below for details.  See you there.

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Tornado Response and Donelson Community Support Day – Saturday, March 7th

McGavock Pike after tornado in Donelson Tennessee
 
Dear Friends –

My heart goes out to everyone who was in the path of the tornado. The outreach and support from neighbors and the community at large has been inspiring and words cannot express the appreciation and love we all feel towards those that are assisting with this recovery effort.

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Donelson Business News - February 2020

Welcome to Legacy Barber Lounge!  Located at 160 McGavock Pike around back next to the dry cleaners and laundry mat.  See pics below for hours of operation.  The space looks great!
 

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Donelson Neighborhood News - February 2020

I was honored recently to present two proclamations to constituents on very special occasions.  Congratulations to Billy Sanford on his 80th birthday and Ann Clayton on her 100th birthday!  Billy Sanford is a great musician and the day he moved here in 1954, Roy Orbison asked him to be in his band.  The famous guitar work we all know in Pretty Woman is none other than Billy.  And Ann Clayton is an extraordinary neighbor as well!  She celebrated her 100th birthday with family and church friends and the next day went on a big cruise!  I’m so thankful for the opportunity to recognize neighbors on their special days like these.

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