Hermitage Tree Lighting

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/.
  • Yoga Muttz Movement Lounge in Donelson Plaza has organized a Winter Fest on Saturday, December 4th from Noon – 5pm with 30+ vendors, food truck, pictures with Santa, adoptable pets and more. It’ll be in the green / civic space in front of the future library. See flyer below.

Winter Fest

  • The Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting will be a great event starting at 4pm just after the Christmas Parade is wrapping up. Come a little early to help decorate the tree. There’ll be plenty of things to enjoy at the event, including:

Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting

  • The Stones River Woman’s Club returns with their Christmas Open House at Two Rivers Mansion on Saturday December 4th and Sunday, December 5th. Enjoy a bake sale, refreshments, a Christmas Shop to buy gifts and more. See flyer below for details.

Two Rivers Mansion Open House

The status of the emissions program has been a recent hot topic.  The bottom line is this program will be ended as we know it.  At the Council meeting on November 16th, we deferred the resolution to end the program until January 4th, but regardless of whether we passed the resolution that night or on January 4th, the termination date of January 14, 2022 will likely still be the same.  We allowed the Health Department to research a few things first, including likely upcoming stricter EPA regulations of emissions and to look at alternative methods for monitoring emissions, but the EPA approved a revision to remove the vehicle emissions testing program from Tennessee’s air quality plan this past August and the program is ending in Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties.  Thus, I’m comfortable ending the program here in Davidson County as well, but I was fine with deferring one time to allow our Health Dept to return with a report before officially ending it.  I know none of us are happy with the long lines because of the labor shortage we’re experiencing, but it’s also time to reevaluate the efficacy of the program as less than 10% of all the cars tested fail and cars are only improving in efficiency and reduced emissions with greater hybrid and electric cars coming in greater numbers.

You may have seen the recent WKRN news story from Julia Palazzo regarding the unsafe intersection at Old Lebanon Pike / Lebanon Pike.  I was sad to learn of another pedestrian death trying to cross in this area.  It’s not safe for pedestrians or vehicles and it’s time for a formal study to assess our infrastructure in the core of Downtown Donelson and determine what improvements could be feasibly made.  I have a Capital Improvement Budget request to perform such a study and a consultant should be hired in a few months.  We need to ensure infrastructure is not an after-thought.  More information on this in the months ahead.

JVI Secret Garden will have a special addition to their unique Christmas experience this year.  When you go to buy a tree, wreath, plant, or decoration, donate $3 or more to The Donelson Gateway Project and receive a s’more to enjoy by the fire.  Thank you for supporting your local community beautification effort!

JVI Secret Gardens

The Donelson Gateway Project (https://www.donelsongateway.org/) has continued to make a big impact for Donelson, both with beautified physical and figurative gateways into the community. Entranceways, schools, and more areas have been invested in and it’s thanks to your donations and volunteerism to make these projects happen. DGP is a non-profit that is in need of your support as the needs begin to outweigh our resources, which is why I’m highlighting this in my newsletter here. As we approach “Giving Tuesday (https://www.givingtuesday.org/) ”, we hope you’ll consider a tax-deductible contribution towards this wonderful small non-profit that does great things to make Donelson inviting and beautiful for all.

Donelson Gateway Project

Phat Bites is hosting an Open Mic for Young Musicians on Saturdays from 3-5pm.  It’s open to any young solo instrumentalist or vocalist.  Slots must be reserved.  Contact Suzanne at suzannepianolady@gmail.com to reserve a spot or for more information.  See flyer below.

Phat Bites Open Mic

Best,

jeff syracuse

Donelson Christmas Parade, Donelson Council News

Metro Arts

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

Donelson Council News, Donelson Library, Edley's Bar-B-Que, Two Rivers Mansion

Ravenwood Pavilion Rendering Donelson TN

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

Donelson Council News

Donelson Plaza Palooza

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

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

2021 Reappraisal Packet 1

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

Donelson Council News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15

January 11 Letter To Metro Council

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,

Donelson Council News

Donelson Christmas Tree Lighting in 2020

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

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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

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

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.

Vice Mayor Jim Shulman announced the creation of a Special Committee of the Metro Council that brings together the eight Councilmembers whose Council Districts were directly or indirectly impacted by the recent tornadoes that swept through Nashville and the Middle Tennessee area.  They are Kyonzté Toombs (District 2), Sean Parker (5), Brett Withers (6), Erin Evans (12), Kevin Rhoten (14), me (15), Freddie O’Connell (19), and Brandon Taylor (21).  This Special Committee will be responsible for four tasks: 

  1. Continue to assess the needs of the impacted areas (Do they have supplies, what about power problems, other concerns?)
  2. Allow impacted Councilmembers to continue to have a voice about the needs of their districts;
  3. Watch the flow of resources back into the community (Are funds getting to those most in need?); and
  4. Reporting back to the Mayor and the Metro Council on a regular basis regarding the first three items.

As always, please do not hesitate to let me know what resources or assistance you need as we continue to recover and rebuild.
 
I can’t express in words what The Donelson Fellowship and all our faith communities have done to help us recover from the tornado.  TDF’s partnership with Samaritan’s Purse meant that we had hundreds of volunteers on site within a day or two.  It was extraordinary to be part of this effort.  With the inclusion of our Donelson and Nashville neighbors from all over assisting each other, Saturday March 7th was the most incredible day of service I have ever seen.  We had approximately 2,000 volunteers and what an amazing difference each and every one of the volunteers made in our community.  Here I am with Pastor Russ King from Donelson Church of Christ and Pastor Tommy Swindol with The Donelson Fellowship on the morning of March 7th before we all got to work.  The second picture I took from the stage to show the first round of volunteers.  There were about 400 people waiting outside for the next round of orientation and project assignments!
 


 
March 31st was the first State of Metro address from Mayor John Cooper and suffice to say, it was focused on a message of perseverance and a conviction that we will get through these difficult times together.  It was held in the Metro Council Chamber and aside from program participants, the room was empty and everyone watched from home.  As President Pro Tem of Council, I participated in the program.  I encourage you to watch it on Metro Nashville Network, found online as well as Comcast channel 3, Google Fiber channel 3, Uverse channel 99 and is available on Roku.

I know many are very concerned with the announcement Mayor Cooper made about a substantial tax increase. We will focus on that next as a budget proposal is delivered to Council and I will share more details when we have a budget presented to us. It’s important those eligible sign up for the Tax Freeze program. The Trustee’s Office has extended the deadline to apply. Please visit their website here (https://www.nashville.gov/Trustee.aspx) for more information.

 
 

Summary of the local COVID-19 situation:

  • You can view the Davidson County case tracker and a lot of important information about COVID-19 in Nashville, including the Public Health Orders at the “A Safe Nashville” website here.  It is updated daily.
  • You can view the TN Department of Health’s website with statewide information on COVID-19 here.
  • The President, Governor, and Mayor have declared states of emergency.
  • Governor Lee announced a Safer at Home order for the State and statewide closure of non-essential businesses on March 30th.
  • The COVID19 Hotline is 615-862-7777, available 7am-7pm, every day of the week.
  • The TN Department of Health Hotline is 1-833-556-2476 or 877-857-2945.  These lines are staffed 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. CDT daily.

Mayor Cooper’s daily briefings:

 

 
These briefings typically provide updates from:

  • Mayor John Cooper
  • Dr. Alex Jahangir, Mayor’s Office Director of Coronavirus Response & Chair of the Metro Board of Health
  • Dr. Michael Caldwell, Director of Health
  • Dr. James Hildreth, President of Meharry & Renowned Infectious Disease Expert
  • Chief William Swann – Director of the Office of Emergency Management & Nashville Fire Department

Watch former briefings here on Metro’s YouTube Channel
 
Briefings are broadcast in full by all local TV news stations.  You can also watch on Metro Nashville Network via Comcast Channel 3, Google Fiber Channel 3, AT&T U-verse Channel 99 and here.
 
Residents can also stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 updates from the Mayor’s Office and MPHD here and by following the Mayor’s social media channels below:
 
Twitter: @JohnCooper4Nash
Facebook: facebook.com/MayorJohnCooper
Instagram: @johncooper4nashville
 

Safer at Home Order:

 
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, The Metro Public Health Department issued a Safer at Home Order, which includes the closure of all non-essential businesses effective at 12:01am on Monday, March 23.  Residents of Davidson County are directed to stay inside their homes and immediately limit all movement outside their homes beyond what is absolutely necessary to take care of essential needs.  As noted below, grocery stores will remain open and the supply chain remains robust, so there’s no need to hoard food and other items.
 
Under the order, you CAN:

  • Go to the grocery store, convenience store, or Costco
  • Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
  • Go to medical appointments (confirm with your healthcare provider first)
  • Go to a restaurant for carryout or order delivery
  • Care for or support a friend of family member
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, and be in nature including Warner Parks, keeping six feet between you and others
  • Walk your dog and take your pets to the vet

 Under the order, you SHOULD NOT:

  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by the order
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Be less than six feet from others while you are out
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites.

An overview of the order:

  • All bar and restaurant on-site services will be closed and can serve customers only through delivery, take-out, curbside, and drive-through.
  • On-site activities at hospitality, educational, fitness, sports, and entertainment venues, business, and facilities will close. On-line activities through these businesses may continue
  • Services that require direct human contact, including hair, nail, massage, tattoo and other such facilities will close.
  • Public and private social clubs will close.
  • Non-essential social and educational programs at senior citizen and other assisted living communities and centers will end until further notice.

All gatherings are strongly discouraged, and those with greater than 10 people are prohibited. Gatherings include any event or convening unrelated to essential services that brings together groups of individuals, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers; and similar activities.
 
NOTE: As of March 24, playgrounds, dog parks, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and skate parks will be closed until further notice. Parks, greenways, trails and golf courses remain open. Everyone using these open spaces needs to adhere to CDC guidance on social distancing and hand hygiene, remaining 6 feet apart.
 
You can learn more about the Safer at Home Order here.


 

Metro Services:

  • Metro Nashville Public Schools (as well as all TN public schools) will be closed through April 24.
  • The Sheriff’s Office has suspended eviction notices until further notice and the Courts are not hearing these cases either.
  • If your car tag is set to expire in the next two months, you now have until June 15 to renew.
  • Metro Emissions Testing Facilities will be closed until May 18th and emissions inspections will be waived through that time. Call 866-329-9632 for information or visit their website here for more information.
  • If your driver’s license expires between March 12 and May 18, its validity has been extended six months.
  • All upcoming meetings of Metro boards and commissions have been canceled.
  • For the near term, Metro Council meetings are expected to be held electronically. They will remain fully accessible to the public.  As Pro Tem, I will likely still be in the Chamber should the Vice Mayor need me.
  • The Metro Police Department and all Metro Fire Stations remain open and fully operational.
  • Most in-person court appearances have been canceled.
  • All Nashville Public Library locations have closed until April 6, which may be extended.
  • Starting Monday, March 30, WeGo Public transit will begin operating a modified service plan until further notice, which includes the Star.  Most local bus routes will operate on its Saturday schedule during the week, plus supplemental service on select routes to accommodate downtown Nashville commuters on regional bus and train service. Please visit WeGoTransit.com for more information. The following routes will not operate until further notice:
    • 24 Bellevue
    • 35 Rivergate
    • 38 Antioch
    • 41 Golden Valley
    • 43 Hickory Hills
    • 73 Bell Road

Learn more about Metro Department responses here.
 

Private Business and Utilities:

  • All bars and gyms in Nashville have been closed.
  • All restaurants have been closed besides carryout and delivery.  Thanks to District 13 Council Member Russ Bradford for compiling this, here is a great list of restaurants in the Donelson and Hermitage communities to be sure you support.

 

  • See here for Ways to Support the Hospitality Industry
  • The Metro Beer Board voted last week to allow beer delivery from restaurants.
  • NES has suspended disconnections and is waiving late fees and credit card fees through May 31.
  • Piedmont Gas has suspended disconnections and is reducing rates.
  • Metro Water has suspended cut-offs and will waive late fees for the month of March.  Metro Water Services customers who have found themselves experiencing financial hardship may request a payment plan for outstanding balances by calling 615-862-4600.

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce website has assembled many helpful resources, including information about:

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation has also assembled a list of Residential, Labor, & Job Services for individuals and businesses impacted, including a list of businesses who are currently hiring.
 
If you are experiencing Domestic, Physical, or Sexual Violence during this period of time at home you can call or text the Domestic Violence Hotline.
 
If you are experiencing a Mental Health Crisis or Emotional Stress you can call the TN Statewide Crisis Hotline at 855-274-7471.
 

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) information:

 
We know this unprecedented time brings unique challenges to our families and students. We’re working closely with our community partners to continue to provide meals to all students.
 
Breakfast and lunch for students: On Monday, March 23, and continuing every weekday that schools are closed, breakfast and lunch will be available to anyone under the age of 18, regardless of their school status; however, they must be present to collect the meals, per federal law. The bagged or boxed meals will be provided in a drive-through setup. Meals will be available for pickup between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the locations listed on the MNPS website here.
 
Delivery meals: Six MNPS school buses will be used to pick up approximately 250 meals each from preparation kitchens and brought to locations where children are able to pick up the meals.  Locations and times for the bus drivers to provide meals are listed here.
 
For ways to supplement your child’s at-home learning, check out these free at-home learning resources here.

Here is another source of help and info for those who might need it: the Crisis Line at Family & Children’s Service (FCS), one of Nashville’s oldest nonprofits that offers safety net social services directly to clients. You can call 615-244-7444 anytime, or text the word “HERE” to 615-502-HERE (4373) between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., Mon-Fri.
 
Additionally, the FCS Healthcare Access line is 866-475-7879; they help with TennCare, CoverKids, Marketplace insurance, and resources for those who are uninsured or underinsured. They have staff who speak Spanish, Kurdish & Arabic, so please pass this along to neighbors who might be able to use this help.
 

What is COVID-19 and how do I protect myself?

 
SPREAD:  Coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can travel up to 6 feet, which is why it is recommended to stay 6 feet away from others.  The virus can also remain on a surface or object and enter through the mouth, nose, or eyes. That is why you must wash your hands before touching your face.
 
PREVENTION:

 
SYMPTOMS:
 
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath, you should call ahead to a doctor or healthcare provider and discuss your symptoms.  They can assist you with your individual needs.  It takes 2-14 days to develop symptoms after exposure to the virus.  The average is 5 days.
 
Most people who have COVID-19 do not feel sick and show no symptoms for two weeks, but are contagious, which makes the virus easy to spread.
Here are some animated simulations showing how it happens.
 
SEEK TESTING IF YOU ARE:

  • exhibiting symptoms
  • you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus
  • you have traveled recently to one of the high-risk countries

 
WHERE TO SEEK TESTING:
 
First, call your doctor and/or call Metro’s Coronavirus Hotline at 615-862-7777, as they can assist you with your individual needs and direct you where to go for testing if necessary.
 
Apple, in partnership with the CDC, FEMA, and The White House, has launched an interactive COVID-19 screening tool that will help users determine what steps they should take, including testing. The tool guides users through a set of questions covering symptoms, risk factors, and potential exposure. Users can also find links to these tools at Coronavirus.Gov and on Metro’s response website at A Safe Nashville.
 
OEM, the Department of Public Health, and healthcare partners, constructed three Community Assessment Centers across Davidson County.

  • Nissan Stadium Parking Lot N
  • Meharry Medical College
  • former K-Mart site on Murfreesboro Road in Antioch

These drive-thru centers are now open and serving the public from 9am-3pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Staff will collect a sample by swabbing your nose or throat.  HOWEVER, you must call the city’s coronavirus hotline, 615-862-7777, before going to a testing site so they can help you determine if you need to be further assessed at a center.
 
Click here to view a list of all the COVID-19 Assessment Sites throughout TN.
 
I’m thankful to the Nashville Fairgrounds for utilizing their facilities to assist our homeless and unhoused neighbors.  Read more about that here.
 
Help for Senior Citizens: Call FiftyForward at 615-743-3416, who can assist with food delivery, prescription assistance, case management and more for older adults in need of assistance.
 
Here is also another great way to volunteer and support our neighbors who are at a higher risk.
 

 
Call 211 for help with rent, electric bills, and any other concerns about lost wages, or if you are living alone and need food brought to you. 
 
Call 311 for Hub Nashville or use the phone app or website here for any ongoing Metro-related issues.
 
Resources at-a-glance:

Federal stimulus package:

 
On Friday, March 27, President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), to offer economic assistance to millions of Americans, healthcare workers, small businesses, and State/Tribal/Local governments to get through this challenging time.
 
The package includes:

  • $1,200 payments for qualifying Americans
  • $100 billion in direct support for hospitals
  • $370 billion+ to small business owners to keep their employees on the payroll.
  • $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for State ($1.25 billion+ per state), Tribal ($8 billion), and local governments

This aid comes on top of the Family First Coronavirus Aid Package, which increased the federal share of Medicaid payments through the emergency period by 6.2 percentage points and provided reimbursements to States for the cost of expanding certain public assistance programs.
 
State/Local/Tribal provisions include:

  • $150 billion in direct aid to State, Tribal, and local governments. Aid will be allocated primarily by a State’s population with each State receiving at least $1.25 billion.
  • $340 billion in emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreak, with $274 billion going to state and local governments for specific purposes. This is in addition to the $150 billion distributed to states to cover their own separate efforts and forms a major part of the federal government’s plan to assist state efforts.
  • $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, including $2 billion to existing CDBG grantees that received funding in FY 2020. The bill also provides $1 billion for states and insular areas to respond to COVID-19, including activities within entitlement and non-entitlement communities and requires that those allocations. Any remaining funds will be distributed directly to states on a rolling basis.
  • A $500 billion for loans and guarantees through an Economic Stabilization Fund that authorizes the U.S. Treasury to support eligible businesses and States and local governments to cover losses incurred as a result of COVID-19.
  • $100 billion for hospitals and health care facilities to reimburse expenses or lost revenues not otherwise reimbursed that are directly attributable to COVID-19.
  • $3.5 billion to allow States to expand childcare benefits for healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the frontlines of this crisis.
  • Additional federal funding for joint federal-state programs like Medicaid and unemployment compensation, along with other expenditures which will reduce some of the need for states to undertake new COVID-19 spending on their own.

What does this mean for my family?

 
It depends on your income. Most adults will get $1,200, although some would get less. For every qualifying child age 16 or under, the payment will be an additional $500.  Single adults with Social Security numbers who have an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less will get the full amount. Married couples with no children earning $150,000 or less will receive a total of $2,400. And taxpayers filing as head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.  Above those income figures, the payment decreases until it stops altogether for single people earning $99,000 or married people who have no children and earn $198,000. According to the Senate Finance Committee, a family with two children will no longer be eligible for any payments if its income surpassed $218,000.  You can’t get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you’re an adult. In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible. There is an exception for members of the military.  You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 federal tax return.


 
Will I have to apply to receive a payment?
 
No. If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.
 
When will my payment come?

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expected most people to get their payments within three weeks.  Check out this really helpful NY Times article with FAQs about the stimulus package, including individual payments, unemployment benefits, student loans, and retirement accounts, and charitable contributions.


  
The Emergency Cash Assistance provides two monthly cash payments to families that were employed as of March 11, 2020 and have lost a job or at least 50% of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency. This money is funded by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and provides:

  • $500 for a household of 1 to 2 persons.
  • $750 for a household of 3 to 4 persons.
  • $1000 for a household with 5 or more persons.

 
This assistance is available in addition to any unemployment benefits individuals in the family may be receiving.  To be eligible, families must have been employed as of March 11, 2020 but have since then lost employment or at least 50% of their earned income due to the COVID-19 emergency, include a child under the age of 18 or a pregnant woman, have a valid Social Security Number, must not have resources exceeding $2,000, and the gross and/or unearned monthly income may not exceed 85% of the State’s Median Income that’s currently:

  • Gross Monthly Income of $2,696 for a household of one.
  • Gross Monthly Income of $3,526 for a household of two.
  • Gross Monthly Income of $4,356 for a household of three.
  • Gross Monthly Income of $5,185 for a household of four.
  • Gross Monthly Income of $6,015 for a household of five.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federal workforce development and employment program emphasizing work, training, and personal responsibility. It is temporary and has a primary focus on gaining self-sufficiency through employment. Existing TANF customers receiving Families First benefits will be eligible to apply for this emergency cash assistance.  To apply, visit here.

Update on Disaster Assistance Centers for Tornado Recovery:

 
Davidson County’s three Disaster Assistance Centers in Davidson County closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The facilities, located at East Park, Hadley and Hermitage Community Centers were opened to offer in-person support to individuals and businesses recovering from tornadoes earlier this month.  Assistance is still available online or via phone call. Survivors can reach FEMA at DisasterAssitance.gov or 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585).  The toll-free numbers are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time, seven days a week.  May 4th is the deadline to apply.

Thanks to the Realtors Relief Foundation, assistance is available to qualified applicants towards mortgage or rent due to displacement or loss of a primary residence. Click here (https://tnrealtors.com/2020/tornado-relief-opportunities?fbclid=IwAR3XG4EiV6kDezTU_MoXIQrt_jnDEqeoKyse0wH3Ovvt-5Vy4xV4cNI-KfE) for more information.
 
Applications for assistance from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) are available online. TDHS is accepting applications for Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits and the Families First/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Cash Assistance program.
 
Metro Social Services office will remain open with abbreviated walk-in hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Continue to follow A Safer Nashville website for status on all Metro services.
 
Metro Action Commission (MAC) will be open for regular in-person business hours Monday through Friday from 8am-4:30pm at 800 2nd Avenue North. MAC has programs that help with rent, mortgage, and utility payments and rental deposits.  If applying for help with your utility payment and you are not able to walk in, the application is available on the MAC webpage here. Applications are available also by mail, email or faxed to you by calling 615-862-8860, Ext 70100 or by requesting via email at metro.action@nashville.gov.
 
Help Meet Immediate Needs
 
United Way and their partners are working to ensure every person in our community has shelter, food, clothing and resources to get through these challenging times.

If you were affected by the March 3rd tornado, please visit the Nashville Financial Empowerment Center page for in-depth information on financial disaster recovery. Also, please visit Metro Nashville’s Storm Response website for information on additional resources.
 
Support Long-term Recovery
 
In addition to continued support from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the United Way of Greater Nashville will mobilize their Restore the Dream fund to support our community’s long-term recovery efforts. The road to full recovery is long and takes a significant, community-wide response.
 
Funds will be distributed to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations through an independent application process. Fund distribution will remain separate from United Way’s general Community Fund. All decisions regarding fund distribution are made by the Restore the Dream Committee, which is made of up leaders from United Way’s Board of Trustees and community members.


  

Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Announces Emergency Supply Drive for Medical, Protective Equipment:

 
In response to a critical shortage of medical and personal protective equipment (PPE), OEM has announced an emergency supply drive. OEM is asking community members, including local medical facilities and professionals who are not involved in caring for COVID-19 patients, to donate new and unused medical and PPE that could protect staff members and providers involved in the city’s response.
 
Metro is asked specifically for these donations:

  • Surgical face masks & N-95 masks
  • Isolation gowns
  • Disposable exam gloves
  • Sani-cloth wipes
  • Face shields
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Specimen bags
  • Red top viral tubes (lab supply)
  • Nasal swabs (lab supply)
  • Large trash cans

“We are preparing our collective resources to ensure we can care for those who may become ill in the coming weeks,” said Chair of Metro’s COVID-19 Task Force Dr. Alex Jahangir. “Though we are taking all appropriate steps to preserve our resources, we must prepare for a shortage. Medical and PPE supplies are essential to our ability to care for each other and keep our healthcare providers and first responders safe. We are so grateful to the individuals and business leaders who are willing to support our efforts by donating supplies in the name of public health.”
 
Anyone with unused and new medical supplies or PPE to donate may contact OEM at OEM@nashville.gov or complete the donations form.
 
For smaller donations, donors can drop off the medical supplies and PPE Monday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm at the Community Resource Center, 218 Omohundro Place, Nashville, TN 37210
 
At this time, Metro is only accepting the donation of the new, unused medical PPE that is noted above. Medical devices, medications, food, linens or handmade masks, caps or gowns will not be accepted at this time.
 
Ideas to Stay Engaged and Connected

There are great, live Facebook events from the St. Louis Aquarium and the Nashville Zoo is also posting fun and adorable animal videos to be enjoyed by adults and children alike.
 
Live streaming Nashville music
You can tune into Music City Bandwidth, hosted by Visit Music City, where Nashville’s favorite artists and local venues are live streaming concerts.  Many musicians have begun to utilize online concerts to assist them as the hospitality industry suffers immensely and many musicians are out of work.  Please support them and the venues like Exit / In, Station Inn, 3rd & Lindsley and all others as you’re able.  They are the life-blood of Music City.
 
Virtual Offerings from Nashville Attractions
There are tons of offerings to choose from, including from the Adventure Science Center, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Escape Game, Frist Art Museum, Jack Daniel Distillery, and the Nashville Symphony.  View Virtual Offerings from Nashville Attractions
 

Due to COVID-19, the Census is temporarily suspending field operations. Please do your part by having your family fill out the census by phone or online. Call the numbers below or visit: http://my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020.  For Spanish, call 844-468-2020.
 
The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade.  That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.
 
Census results influence so much, including:

  • highway planning and construction
  • grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems
  • how money is allocated for the Head Start program
  • grants that support teachers and special education
  • programs to restore rural areas
  • wildlife programs
  • programs to prevent child abuse
  • wildfire preparation measures
  • housing assistance for older adults

We lose $1,091 per person, per year of funding from FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Percentage) for each person who does not complete the Census. (**per The George Washington University Institute of Public Policy).  At least 22 Federal Grant programs use Census Data. When you don’t complete the census, our community suffers.
 
To conclude on a positive note, I was honored to be able to help with the grand opening of our new American Legion Post 88.  It was held on Sunday, March 8th, the day after our massive day of service and volunteerism.  Thank you to Commander Len Chappell and all the leadership and members of Post 88 for this great new facility in the community to support our veterans.  It was a beautiful sunny day and as an example of how great our community is, at the opening, I was discussing with members of the Ladies Auxiliary how Two Rivers Middle School needed assistance replenishing food and supplies that had to be given away or tossed because of the power outage at the school from the tornado.  They immediately took to action and delivered much needed supplies for our students and families that depend on Two Rivers Middle as an accessible community pantry.
 


 
I know this was a long newsletter, so if you’re reading this, you made it all the way through!  As always, I am here to serve you.  My cell is 615-886-9906.  Call me anytime if I can be of any assistance to you during these challenging times.  We will come back stronger and we are already seeing the indomitable spirit of how strong and resilient our community is.
 
Best,
 

615-886-9906

COVID-19, Donelson Council News, Federal Stimulus, Tornado Recovery