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Annie Martin


On a beautiful Fall afternoon of Sunday, October 4, 2015, I had a wonderful opportunity to be present for the dedication ceremony of a stone bench dedication at Two Rivers Mansion by the Two Rivers High School Class of 1965 on their 50th Anniversary.  I was also beginning to put together my questions for my next Hearts of the People blog featuring Mrs. Annie Martin.  “Ms. Annie” as most folks call her, is 92 and has seen more in Donelson than most.  It struck me that Ms. Annie probably had great memories and stories of Two Rivers Mansion and this event would be a great time to do my interview before the event and invite her to come with me as it probably would trigger more memories.  I arrived at Ms. Annie’s house about an hour before the bench dedication to interview her.  As it turns out, Ms. Annie told me her son graduated in 1965 from Two Rivers High School rival Donelson High School.  It did indeed trigger some great memories.  She remembers Mrs. McGavock twice a year inviting kids in the neighborhood to come to her front porch and she would serve them fresh baked cookies.

Annie’s parents married in 1898.  She recalled her days growing up in Gallatin in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Her dad worked for the Corps of Engineers and was also a lock master at Lock Two at the end of Pennington Bend.  (Just recently, Lock Two was one of the properties that received a historic overlay as proposed by Mayor Dean’s administration).  Her mom was a teacher and Annie remembered stories of her Mom recalling riding their horse and buggy every day to the school where she taught, going through the Toll Gate, which was near one of the Donelson Gateway Project sites at the intersection of Stewart’s Ferry Pike and Lebanon Pike.  Today that site has a small toll gate acknowledging that site’s history.  Annie also remembered stories of her Mom recalling riding by McGavock Pike while it was still an unpaved road.  Mrs. McGavock would refer to it as “her road”.

Annie married Robert Martin, an Air Force Veteran and graduate from Boston University.  They lived in Boston about five years and recalled stories of living near Harvard University and walking through Harvard Square every morning.  They returned to Nashville and Robert began working for Clements Paper Company, where he retired after 32 years.  Annie worked for (what’s become) BellSouth and was there 30 years.  She chuckled when she mentioned that she’s been retired for longer than she worked there, now 39 years.

The Martin’s lived in East Nashville for two years and moved out to Donelson in 1952.  Ms. Annie remembers the first three digits to her first phone number – 28R.  The “R” was because Donelson was considered rural back then.  She also remembers getting involved with her neighbors to secure a petition to help bring Third National Bank to Donelson.  She helped secure over 300 signatures and the Donelson branch was then built.  That effort actually led to Willie McDonald moving from downtown Nashville to the new Donelson branch.

That morning before I went to see Ms. Annie, I had just dropped off Joey on a Fall trip to the Smoky Mountains with Scout Troop 777.  I had a good chuckle when she recalled vivid memories of her and Robert being very involved in their son’s Scout Troop 260 that met at Donelson Heights United Methodist on Fairway Drive.  Both her husband and son both earned their Eagle Scout rank.  She remembered going with them on a Smoky Mountain trip and helping to motivate the boys hiking all the way up to Mount Le Conte.  Once she helped get the Troop up the mountain, she then turned around and hiked back by herself, scaring bears out of her way while travelling down the mountain.

Ms. Annie continues to volunteer at FiftyForward Donelson Station and Telephone Pioneers of America, which gives back in many community service hours and charitable efforts.  When I arrived at her house, she showed me two big bags of toys that they were starting to collect to help provide a good Christmas for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have one.

Anyone who knows Ms Annie knows the feisty tenacity and energy that greets you when you see her that always puts a smile on your face.  She’ll quip that she’s “older than sin”.  When Annie got in my car to head over to the Two Rivers Mansion for the bench dedication, she was as independent as ever and didn’t want me opening the door for her.  Once we got to the mansion, she immediately recognized folks and they knew her son (even though they went to rival high schools).  We enjoyed a beautiful early Fall afternoon together and it was wonderful to hear the personal recollections of Donelson’s history and how the community has changed over the years.  Ms. Annie is a blessing and a treasure to the community and she shows no sign of slowing down.

Annie Martin, Growing up in Gallatin in 1920s, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Living Near Harvard University, Nashville, Riding by McGavock Pike while it was still an unpaved road

Donelson Non-Profit News – August/September 2015

The weather is starting to cool off a bit and there are some great events to enjoy in the weeks ahead!  Don’t forget the Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market is going strong every Friday until the end of October.  Lots of great information about what’s going on at the market can be found at their website.

I had a blast the weekend before last helping out the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association in building a new access point to Mill Creek.  It is located just off Elm Hill Pike under the bridge going over Mill Creek, just across from the site of the Buchanan Station Cemetery.  It was hard work, but a lot of fun and I met some new friends.  The TSRA built a very successful access point on Stones River near Kohl’s a couple years ago.  I’m meeting with them soon about a couple other possible locations to build access points in Donelson.  Check out their website above to learn more about what this great organization is all about.


Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association - Mill Creek in Donelson

Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association - Mill Creek in Donelson

The final Music at the Mansion for 2015 is coming Friday, September 18 and will feature the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band.  The great group of musicians puts on a fun show for everyone and is sure to be a good time at the Two Rivers Mansion.

Tennessee Mafia at Two Rivers Mansion

The Donelson Community Garden is doing a Fall clean-up and needs volunteers.  Contact Jan King via their Facebook page to come out and help.  She and her team have done an incredible job turning this site into a very beautiful community garden!

The Larry Keeton Live Music series is back with two shows September 25 and 26 that will be during the evening of the annual Donelson Fall Festival & BBQ.  See poster below for details.  I’m also a proud sponsor of the BBQ this year.  Check out their website for the latest newsletter to see all the activities going on during the BBQ weekend and more at FiftyForward Donelson Station.

Larry Keeton Live with Jeff-Allen at The Larry Keeton Theatre


Donelson Non-Profit News - August 2015, Hip Donelson Community Farmer’s Market, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Nashville, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band at Two Rivers Mansion, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association in building a new access point to Mill Creek

Donelson School News – August/September 2015

Stanford Montessori is having their annual Fall Fest on September 19.  They are also seeking vendors.  See the two flyers below and come on out to support them.  You’ll find your new Councilman supporting the festival by being in the dunk tank at some point during the event!

Stanford Montessori Fall Festival in Donelson


Stanford Fall Festival Vendor Application

You’ll notice the improvements made to the front and back entranceways of McGavock High School.  New white paneling has been installed that gives it a brighter appearance.  We’ll work in the years ahead to finish the project around the school.  Landscaping installation will begin this Fall.  The list of those supporting this effort grew by a big donation of $2,500 from Delaware North as part of their 100-year old celebration.  Thank you to all our supporters of this project, which is an initiative of The Donelson Gateway Project.

Speaking of McGavock High School, the McGavock Cluster Coalition and the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce are looking for local businesses to host one or more juniors at McGavock for a Job Shadow Day.  See the below flyer for details and contact information to inquire further.

McGavock High School - Community Job Shadow Days

Donelson School News - August 2015, Improvements to McGavock High School, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Nashville, Stanford Montessori is having their annual Fall Fest on September 19, The Donelson Gateway Project

Donelson Business News – August/September 2015

The Donelson-Hermitage Chamber calendar has some good events coming up to share.  Nashville Shores is hosting a “Business Card Exchange” that the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber, Mt. Juliet Chamber and the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber invite everyone to on September 9.  See link above for details.

SmartSpace President Floyd Shechter will be the guest speaker at the DH Chamber’s September’s General Membership Luncheon on Thursday, September 10, addressing growth and development in the Donelson, Hermitage and Old Hickory areas.

Congratulations to Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace for having a very successful grand opening and incredible first couple of weeks.  The marketplace is still in progress and should be open later in the Fall.  It’s a great new neighborhood business and my thanks to Robin Davis and Jennifer Starks for bringing it to Donelson.

Check out these photos of beautification done by The Print Shop.  They’ve been in business since 1975 and we thank them for continuing to serve the community with pride!

The Print Shop Beautification in Donelson

The Print Shop Beautification in Donelson

The Nashville MTA/RTA Strategic Planning process, nMotion2015, continues with the release of Service Improvement Strategies, posted on their website.  I encourage everyone to sign up for updates, attend and participate at the meetings and stay involved in this issue that has become one of the most critical challenges we face in our region.

Check out these photos of beautification done by The Print Shop, Congratulations to Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace, Donelson Business News - August 2015, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Nashville, SmartSpace President Floyd Shechter will be the guest speaker

Donelson Neighborhood News – August/September 2015

Councilman Claiborne and I led a meeting on September 1 with Public Works and neighbors on Fairway Drive to discuss a sidewalk project coming early next year.  CM Claiborne has worked on securing funding for this project for several years so we have him to thank for this finally happening.  This project will connect Stanford Montessori with our Donelson Library.  There are a number of logistics to work out over the coming months and if all goes well, it should begin in early 2016.  It should be completed in about 6-months.

Fairway Drive Sidewalk Project

Our MNPD Hermitage Precinct welcomed Captain Preston Brandimore as the new Commander of our precinct.  Brandimore succeeds Commander Michele Donegan as she transitions to a new opportunity as Director of the Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center.  Commander Donegan has been a wonderful community leader and supporter and I know she will continue to do great things at the ECC.

Captain Preston Brandimore

Thanks to neighbors in Sunset View and Eva Mor Heights, we have two new Neighborhood Watch groups forming.  If you live in either neighborhood or know someone who does, click on the links above to go to their respective Facebook groups.  Communication among neighbors is a key element in keeping it a strong and safe neighborhood.  Sunset View had their first meeting and it was very well attended.  Big thanks to Kathy Parsons-Kruse who has led this effort along with Nick Rollins and Shane Williams (who secured his church, Lebanon Road Church of Christ, as the meeting place).  Thanks to Kathy of inviting me.  I had the opportunity to share our experiences in Donelson Hills with creating our Neighborhood Watch.  Thanks also to Sgt Jeff White for coming to speak to the neighbors.

I’m proud of my Donelson Hills neighbors and our entranceway signage project at the corner of June Drive and Cottage Lane.  This is a project we started working on a couple years ago after a large hackberry tree fell from that corner and presented a great opportunity for a new neighborhood project.  Big thanks goes to the Eakes Family (Jane Eakes, Laurie Ford, Maria Mauthe) for allowing the sign to be on their property as well as being a large donor to make the project a reality.  Many thanks as well goes to our Donelson Hills Neighborhood Association President Jeff Gregg.  Our neighbor, Oliver McAbee, designed the layout and we next will look at landscaping and then a sign between the middle columns.

Donelson Hills Entrance


Donelson Hills Entrance

Connecting Stanford Montessori with our Donelson Library, Donelson Neighborhood News - August 2015, Fairway Drive Sidewalk Project, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, MNPD Hermitage Precinct welcomed Captain Preston Brandimore, Nashville

August 2015 – A month of Preparation & Transition

Dear Friends,

This past month has been truly extraordinary and I am quite blessed.  Each and every message of congratulatory well-wishes has truly meant a great deal to me.  Sincere thanks goes to our Councilman, Phil Claiborne, for all his time, support and effort over the past couple of years as I worked towards running for the District 15 seat.  It’s made the transition to hitting the ground running that much smoother as well.  There are strong long-term initiatives and specific projects that began with CM Claiborne that the community will benefit from in the years ahead.  I believe there is a collective feeling in Donelson that very bright days are in front of us.  The energy in the community is palpable.  Look for an announcement coming soon about my first initiative to bring all our diverse neighborhood leadership together to help me be a strong voice for our community’s growth, development and preservation.  There is much to learn from each other and collectively support the variety of issues we face.

I’m proud to share the video of me taking the Oath of Office, administered by Judge Randy Kennedy.  Thanks to neighbor and friend Chris Lackey who was there and caught the memorable moment of Judge Kennedy recalling all the prior District 15 Council Members since Metro was formed and reflect on his time as a Metro Council Member in the Donelson-Hermitage area.  Big thanks to my lovely Markey for standing beside me, as well as CM Larry Hagar and my good friend Andy Depuy.  I also received the below Official Certificate of Election from the Davidson County Election Commission.

Official Certificate of Election - Jeff Syracuse Metro 15

My next Soul of a City blog is online.  It’s poignant that I feature Roland White & Diane Bouska as I reflect on another past big milestone of helping strengthen my neighborhood.  Not having organized a block party before and it being something never done in the neighborhood that anyone could remember, I had a little anxiety if anyone would show up.  Not only did 100+ neighbors come, everyone brought an amazing variety of homemade delicious food to share.  Roland and Diane and a handful of other talented neighbors shared amazing music with us.  They also gave a wonderful performance for the whole community at Music at the Mansion a couple years ago.  Enjoy the selection of their tunes and be sure to catch one of their shows down at The Station Inn!

Our first official Metro Council meeting is Tuesday, October 6.  In future newsletters, I will include a section to inform you on Council activities and decisions.  Please make sure you get out and vote in the run-off election coming September 10.  Early voting is going on now.  All voting information can be found at

I look forward to seeing you soon out in the community!


Councilman Jeff Syracuse Metro 15

August 2015 - A Month Of Preparation and Transition, collective feeling in Donelson that very bright days are in front of us, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Nashville, Sincere thanks goes to our Councilman Phil Claiborne, The energy in the community is palpable

Roland White & Diane Bouska


Roland White and Diane Bouska have been great Donelson neighbors for many years and they add to the diverse fabric of “Music City” in keeping the tradition of Bluegrass going strong.

Ask most anyone to name some of the most influential musicians in bluegrass, Roland White will certainly be among them.  Roland has been performing for over 60 years and has made major contributions in the music, earning Grammy awards and honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA).

Originally from Maine, Roland’s family moved to southern California in 1955.  Roland came from a large family of musicians.  Roland started performing at a young age in Maine along with his younger brothers, Eric and Clarence.  They founded the group, The Country Boys (later known as The Kentucky Colonels) and earned many accolades while touring across the country in the 1960’s during the folk music boom and their album, “Appalachian Swing”, is considered one of the most important albums in bluegrass.  They even made appearances on The Andy Griffith Show.

Towards the end of the 1960’s, Roland had the great opportunity of being a guitarist for the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe.  Roland considered Monroe a mentor and the influence of his style and feel became a big part of Roland’s music.  After being in Bill Monroe’s band, Roland had another great opportunity of joining another legend in bluegrass, Lester Flatt.  Roland played mandolin in Lester’s band, The Nashville Grass, from 1969 – 1973 and recorded several albums with them.  Roland and his brothers got back together briefly in 1973 with The White Brothers but his brother Clarence died tragically.  Roland later joined the group Country Gazette, playing guitar and mandolin with top bluegrass musicians of the time.  He then went on to achieve great success as part of the Nashville Bluegrass Band in 1989, winning two Grammy Awards and Grammy nominations on all their albums.  Roland and his wife Diane Bouska then went on to form The Roland White Band in 2000 and earned a Grammy nomination for their album “Jelly on My Tofu”.

Diane grew up listening to jazz as her father was a big fan and was friends with some of the leading jazz musicians in Kansas City.  She recalls having famous jazz pianist Jay McShann over at the house playing on their piano.  In college she started playing Scruggs-style banjo and then guitar.  She and Roland have been married over 25-years and have been playing music together since then.  They both teach and lead weeklong workshops as well, traveling several times a year all over the country and internationally.  Diane has written and published instructional method book/CD sets teaching Roland’s mandolin style and his brother Clarence’s guitar style, which they sell retail and distribute to music stores.  Roland also started the Annual Bill Monroe Appreciation Night in 1996 at The Station Inn and it has been going strong ever since.

The Station Inn has a legendary status as a venue in Nashville and is very special to musicians and fans alike.  “There is no venue like The Station Inn in its importance to bluegrass music and bluegrass musicians”, says Diane. “It’s home to the best, and there is a genuine, close-knit community of musicians and friends and family that are connected through The Station Inn.”  Roland and Diane have played a big role in supporting the venue and you can catch them playing there every couple of months.  Be sure to follow them at to find when they will be there next.

  • Last Thing On My Mind – (The New Kentucky Colonels)
  • Same Old Blues Again – (Roland White)
  • Powder Creek – (Roland White)
  • Rose City Waltz – (Roland White)
  • Jelly On My Tofu – (Roland White)
  • Old Fashioned Love – (Roland White)
  • On My Way Back to the Old Home – (written by Bill Monroe, performed by Roland White)
  • Pike County Breakdown – (written by Earl Scruggs, performed by Roland White)

Diane grew up listening to Jazz, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Most influential musician in Bluegrass, Nashville, Roland White & Diana Bouska, The County Boys (The Kentucky Colonels)

Thank You Donelson!


Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I am humbled and filled with deep gratitude for the strong victory last night electing me your next member of Metro Council for the 15th District.

I’m very proud to say that the confidence you have placed in me is not a statement of “now it’s time to get to work”, it’s a statement of “let’s continue the work we are doing on a greater and deeper level”. Just over the past month, the facelift of McGavock High School has begun, two Neighborhood Watch’s are being formed by new neighborhood leadership in Sunset View and Eva Mor Heights and the hard work and challenge of revitalizing the heart of Donelson’s business community continues. By electing me to be your next Councilman, you’ve given me the great honor of serving all our neighborhoods, schools, non-profits and businesses in Donelson. I love this community and will continue being an attentive, focused and dedicated public servant. I look forward to the years ahead and am confident of Donelson’s bright future.

One note – this election season is not yet over. As you know, there will be a run-off election on September 10th for Mayor and Council At-Large. Encourage your neighbors who may not be registered to do so by Monday, August 10. They will then be eligible to vote in the run-off. Head to for all voter information.

With a grateful heart, I am sincerely yours,


Jeff Syracuse Councilman 15th District

Donelsons Bright Future Ahead, Jeff Syracuse Metro Councilman 15th District, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Lets Continue The Work We Are Doing!, Nashville, Thank You Donelson

July Neighborhood News

Metro Nashville Police Department and Nashville Fire Department will host a Traffic Safety Event & Share the Road Awareness Event at Centennial Park on July 25.  There will be auto-theft VIN etching, shred-it and pill drop-off services and more.  See flyer for details.


Traffic Safety Event - Metro Police Department

The Mill Creek Watershed Association was formed in 2009 to provide education and for improving and protecting Mill Creek.  They just recently welcomed a new Director, Dan Moranville.  If you’re interested in being part of this effort, please visit their website where you keep up to date about regular events and opportunities.

I encourage everyone to stay connected to the nMotion 2015 strategic planning process for Nashville MTA/RTA.  The next survey was just release and it is titled “trade-off”, in which you decide where to focus our investment.  It doesn’t take too long to complete and this input is very valuable to ensuring every neighbor’s voice is heard about the future of investing our tax dollars in a regional mass transit system.

Visit The Wilson County Fair in 2015 Riding The Music City Star

Take the Music City Star to the Wilson County Fair on Saturday, August 15 and Saturday August 22!  Tickets are on sale online.  See website for details.



Donelson July Neighborhood News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Metro Police & Fire Traffic Safety Event, Nashville, Ride The Music City Star To Wilson County Fair, The Mill Creek Watershed Association

July Non-Profit News

The 2015 Music at the Mansion at Two Rivers Mansion series kicked-off with a great concert from the Nashville Symphony in June and the The Moonlighters in July.  August 22 will be the 5th Anniversary of Nashville Blues Society being part of Music at the Mansion and will feature Eight O’ Five Jive and Markey Blue


Also, tours are going on through August 14th.  Come learn the fascinating history that starts in the 1802 House and takes you through both floors of the Two Rivers Mansion while going through three generations of McGavock’s that lived there.

Music At The Mansion in 2015 - Jeff Syracuse for Metro 15

A special “After 5” concert at the Buchanan Log House on Friday, July 24will feature talented local artists and comedians with a cash bar and food.  See flyer for details.

Buchanan Log House After 5 - Jeff Syracuse For Metro 15

If you haven’t visited The Larry Keeton Theater website in a while, check it out.  It’s new and improved and has information on all the upcoming shows, audition opportunities and Larry Keeton Live Music Series, which was a big hit of three very well-attended events and I hear the Leadership Donelson-Hermitage Class of 2015 team that created the series is working on bringing more music shows to the theater, so stay tuned.

Buchanon Log House Music After 5, Checkout The Larry Keeton Theatre New Website!, Donelson July Non-Profit News, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Music At The Two Rivers Mansion, Nashville