The Place I love to be

The Place I Love to Be!

 The Place I love to be


As a teenage girl growing up in Gainesboro, Tennessee, many times I traveled Highway 70 to Nashville, passing through Lebanon and Wilson County. Sometimes we stopped to shop on the square, ate at Snow-White Drive In, or drove on the campus to check out the cute boys in uniform at Castle Heights Military School.

I never thought one day, I would call this city and county my home. I never dreamed my four children would graduate from the local schools, and I certainly could not have imagined I would be working for the Chamber of Commerce.

From the first day we arrived, I knew this was my home forever. We started a State Farm Insurance Agency, and we worked day and night to build that business. Getting involved in the community was never a doubt. My parents taught me to give to others to the best of my ability, to have good work ethics, and be a person of my word.

The Place I love to BeOne of my first experiences here was a little sad, but when I look back it was probably the best lesson I could have had in a new community. I was invited by a friend to play bridge, a game I had heard about but had never played. I was very excited to be invited and have the opportunity to become a part of this new community. Knowing absolutely nothing about the game, but wanting to fit in, I attempted to play. Oh no, I quickly found out this wasn’t for me, I made a wrong move and was informed unless I learned to play I would not have any friends in this town. I went home that night and told my family, I will never play another game and I will make friends. I have played other card games and I have made many friends, just chalk this up to one bad experience in life. I have a lot of great friends that play bridge, they love it and they know how to play, this game just wasn’t for me. I knew then I would have to find other ways to become involved in my new community.

Moving to Wilson County truly has been a great life for me. I have four children, three daughters and one son that have been a blessing. Like most families we have had our share of trials and tribulations. When my children were growing up and especially during their teenage years, our front and back door was always open. I have had my children’s friends run away from home and come to our house, saying they wanted to live with us. From the outside looking in, I guess they liked what they saw, but if you ask my children they would say living there wasn’t always full of fun. As a family we laugh together, we cry together, and we love to sing and dance together. Our theme song is “We are Family”, and we enjoy being a 20 member family.

Being in the right place at the right time opened the door to the Chamber of Commerce for me. I cannot believe I have had the honor of serving in myThe Place I love to be present position for twenty-one years. When we opened the State Farm Business, the Chamber Director Laura Bentley came to see us and invited us to become a member of the Chamber.

The Chamber of Commerce, what is that we asked? Laura quickly explained the organization mission statement and the benefits it would bring to our business. We were sold. I quickly got involved; I attended Chamber events and met a lot of wonderful people.

A couple of years later I was asked to serve on the Membership Committee and that gave me the opportunity to talk to other business owners and tell them why they should be a Chamber member.

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How Should I Vote?

How Should I Vote?


Have you reached the point yet where you are sick and tired of all the negative political commercials?

Aren’t you going to be glad when the November elections finally come and we can get this thing behind us and return to some normalcy?

Isn’t it amazing how elections anymore seem to bring out the worst in people? Regardless of how we wish it might change or be different, I’m still glad we live in a country where we have the right to cast our votes and choose those who govern us. With the next election on the horizon, there are a few questions worth looking at as it approaches.

Should I Vote in the coming election? I could use a portion of this article to extol the personal responsibility that every American should feel towards participating in electing our government officials. But that’s a given. I really want to spend my time addressing this question from a little different angle. I am going to take the unusual approach of answering a question by asking another one. What happens if I don’t vote? I’ve heard some say they do not like the religious affiliation of the candidates so they don’t feel that in good conscience they can vote for any of them. I respect that but I also respectfully disagree.

We do not have to agree with the religious affiliations of any of the candidates on the ballet. But one very important thing to keep in mind is this. Choosing not to vote in a sense is a vote for the status quo saying it’s ok with me if the present administration stays in office or it’s ok if that administration is replaced by a new one. If we choose not to vote we have forfeited any legitimate and credible right to complain about who is elected and in what direction they may lead. Should I vote? When you consider the possible consequences of not voting, the overwhelming answer is YES, I should vote.

Who should I vote for? Determining who we should vote for as Christians should not be a hard decision to make. This decision should transcend party identification, the latest poll, how our peers or family members may plan to vote or the suggestions of the media (liberal or conservative.) There should be something stronger guiding our thinking. As Christians the process for determining who we should vote for should be no different than how we decide other courses of action in our lives. The Christian life is not an event, it is a way of life that is governed by biblical principle and guided by a daily walk with Christ. We should vote for candidates who give evidence in their lifestyle and stated positions which most closely reflect our own biblical and personally held beliefs.

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Taste of Wilson County

Taste Of Wilson County

Taste of Wilson County

Taste of Wilson County

Foodies, families, and friends gathered to sample the delicious culinary creations of local chefs at the fourth annual Taste of Wilson County held on the lawn of Wilson Bank and Trust on October 18th. This year’s event raised thousands of dollars to benefit the Lebanon/ Wilson County Chamber of Commerce’s education programs. VIP attendees were treated to deviled quail eggs, truffle mac and cheese, tuna tartar, and acorn squash soup shooters from Forte Chefs.


Restaurant Week 

Taste of Wilson County opened Wilson County Restaurant Week. Local restaurants offered special menus and pricing from October 19-26.

Grill Off Contest

Grill off ContestWilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, Lebanon Mayor Phillip Craighead, Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin, PFG Chef Ron Warner, WBT Chef Ron Ballard, and Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Chris Crowell, competed in the Home Depot grill off contest. The friendly competition between the local leaders was a crowd favorite.

The People’s Choice winner was the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce.Taste Of Wilson County

For more information regarding participants and sponsors, visit:

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“That’s No Small Potatoes”


George Ambriz can do more things with potatoes than Bubba Gump can do with shrimp.

PotatoesThe proprietor of Oh! Papas & Beer on Lebanon Road knew he would have to offer something other than typical pub fare to stay competitive in this market, so he’s developed a menu centered on his favorite vegetable: the potato. (For those who aren’t fluent in Espanol, “papas” is the Spanish word for “potatoes.”)

Potatoes and beer have a long history together. Whether it’s the British traditional dish of ‘bangers and mash’ with a pint of ale, or German potato salad with beer, or the Hispanic ‘papas fritas’ (fried potatoes) and cerveza, these dishes often grew out of cultures where factory or farm work required men to consume high carbohydrate diets to get through the workday. Ambriz has always had a fondness for spuds, but he noticed that, when he would go to dinner at a steak house, the baked potatoes were often small and the toppings sparse. Sometimes he would order a second one just to fill him up. At Oh Papas, Ambriz imports cases upon cases of one-pound-plus Idaho potatoes for use in his sides and entrees.

Potato wedges, waffle fries, fresh cut fries, seasoned curly fries, potato skins, sweet potato bites, potato (tater) tats, and homemade chips, are just a few of the sides that Ambriz offers with his steak sandwiches and burgers, but he also has a number of potato-based entrees as well on the menu.

The Hawaiian Papa, one of George’s signature entrées, is a one-pound Idaho potato stuffed with smoked ham and pineapple tidbits. Papas con Chorizo is Mexican sausage stuffed into a spud and covered with grilled onions, mozzarella cheese, butter and sour cream. Carne Asada is ten ounces of steak topped with grilled onions, mozzarella and sour cream and layered over a big potato. The ‘Papas and Wings’combo comes with seasoned, curly or regular fries as well as your choice of kamikaze teriyaki, spicy barbecue, or diablo cayenne sauce.

Oh! Papas & Beer has several other specials, including the Gatlinburg Big Dog, a foot-long smoked sausage topped with grilled onions and peppers. (Ahhh, a meal truly worthy of “Da Bears” fans.) The Veggie Papas is stuffed with onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese and broccoli. The basic Papas & Burger and the Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches are favorites, too. All for around $6-$8. Not bad for sports bar fare.

A native of Baja, California, Ambriz worked in construction, owned a pub in Baja, managed a retail center, and ran a banquet hall in California before comingPotatoes to Tennessee a year ago, where most of his family has been living for many years. When he took over the space that formerly housed the Bicyclette restaurant, Ambriz made good use of his construction skills. He built the bar, painted, hung drywall, and even installed many of the booth seats: another unique feature of the establishment.

Ambriz has always enjoyed browsing auction sites online. One day he was surfing around and noticed that the Davidson County general services department had a number of car seats from the backs of Nashville Metro patrol cars for sale. “When they arrest people, sometimes they tear up the seats, so when they get new vehicles, they rip out the back seats and install some sort of fiberglass seats in place of them,” Ambriz says. “So they had all these back seats from Chevy Impalas they were selling. Not too many other people are in the market for that sort of thing, so I got a pretty good deal on them, and now I’m using them for my restaurant seats, with the headrests and all.”

Of course, in addition to the spud-heavy menu, Oh Papas and Beer offers a wide variety of assorted bottle and tap beers, including several from local breweries, like Yazoo. Four wide-screen TV’s carry local college and pro football games, and even some local high school games during the fall. Oh! Papas also has live music between 8 pm and 11 pm on Friday nights. Ambriz says that, unlike most sports bars, he wants to court family business as well as the typical younger sports enthusiasts. “I’ve noticed that, at a lot of sports bars, if you bring in kids with you, they don’t seem like they are that happy about serving you. They want the guys who will sit and drink beer and watch games all day, but here we want people to bring their kids. On Mondays and Tuesday nights, kids who are with an adult can get a kids meal for free.”

Oh! Papas and Beer is located in the Cool View Commons shopping center, across from the entrance to Hickory Hills subdivision at 14801 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet. For more information, call 758-3478.

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Styles & Trends

Beauty Buzz


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Styles & Trends

Styles & Trends

By Erin Brown

Happy Holidays!!

This issue was so creatively fulfilling. The creative concept for this issue came to me while focusing on new beauty trends when flipping through one of the Styles & Trends(way too many) fashion & art magazines I have in my Nashville apartment.

I noticed how beauty is taking a sharp turn in many different directions this season! From a desperately dark Bordeaux lip with a nearly nude eye, to the flip side of a large, subtly smokey, light taupe eye…not too dark or harsh in any way, with a natural lip. The last keytrend I wanted to note was a modern cat eye …it’s new, fresh, large, expressive & beautiful.

Our beauty experts from Asante and The Villa, both in Lebanon, will also share the products they used and how they made each look “work” on our models. I hope you find these tutorials helpful when you are getting ready for the big party season, when opportunities abound for every kind of gathering and party imaginable!

If you are looking for a change, sometimes a new you has to happen first on the outside to seep its way inside!

Wishing you & yours a lovely holiday season,


Erin Brown

Styles & Trends

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Four More Years

Four More Years!

Wilson Living Magazine turns four….
and sure could teach Washington something about working together and reaching across party lines…


Four More YearsIt’s hard to believe that just four years ago, Becky and I were sitting in Sam Hatcher’s office pitching an idea about a local lifestyles magazine, and today we are again in those same offices – but this time with our own desks, phones, computers, and whiteboards. (We’ve basically taken over!)

For those who don’t know the back story – Becky and I finagled our way into a meeting with Sam four and a half years ago. We believed our magazine idea was just fabulous and we had determined, Sam should be so lucky as to help us start it! And why wouldn’t we be successful? I mean, we both loved to read and write, what more was necessary? It couldn’t be that hard, right?

I distinctly remember him laughing and saying “Sure ladies, let’s try it.” And knowing Sam as well as we do now, that lunch he said he had to get to as he scooted us out of his offiice…didn’t exist. But somehow we pulled off that first issue and were thrilled when the emails and calls started coming in after the first issue of Wilson Living Magazine was delivered in the Wilson Post on October 31, 2008.

Our idea that Wilson County was a pretty special place and people were ready to show it off – was right on target!Four more years

Four years later, 24 issues later, two website redesigns later, and four Holiday Expos later, we are still at it – only difference being – somewhere along the way – we figured out how to do it! (And also figured out, it wasn’t quite as easy as we had first imagined!)

Our team has grown from just the two of us at a kitchen table to a whole team of professionals working on the magazine, every day. So it seems completely appropriate that this issue’s Meet Your Neighbor should be about the Staff of Wilson Living Magazine.

One of the benefits of running the magazine is that Becky and I have had the opportunity to meet so many people in our community. We feel we know everyone and we actually love it when people we don’t know, come up to us and mention they feel as though they know us. So it’s about time – we had a formal introduction….don’t you think?

Therefore, I’m honored to introduce you to Your Neighbors at Wilson Living Magazine.

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Hometown Heroes

Friday Night Lights

 Hometown Heroes

By Brody Kane

I remember suiting up for the big game, you know the one. Every high school football player, who grew up in a small town, has that special memory of playing against their arch rival. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sight and feel of chalked yard lines, the Friday night lights, and most of all the sound of a cheering crowd. As we walked onto that field that Fall night, the sound coming from the stands was motivating.

Hometown HeoresI recall the game as if it were yesterday. It was my senior year, Watertown High v. Friendship Christian, behind the hedges in Watertown. During my study hall that Friday, I had helped Coach Bill Robinson chalk the field and then, after school, stopped in to buy a new pair of white game socks at Watertown staple, Russell’s Men’s Store, on Main Street.

Today, they paint the sidelines and hash marks instead of chalking them, and Russell’s Men’s Store is no longer around either, but those memories still remain. There was electricity in the air as the game got underway, or at least it felt that way to this 17 year old kid. Growing up in Watertown there was nothing quite like playing the “hated” Friendship Commanders and we were all up for the game, coaches included.

Coach Robinson, Coach Rick Martin and the late Coach Don Franklin were as nervous…and pumped as we were. And man, was it a great night for football! I scored a touchdown and had an interception in that game, which, believe me, was not a common occurrence for someone with my somewhat limited athletic abilities. Our Quarterback, Bobby Brown, scored five, yes five, touchdowns that night. With talent like that, he went on to coach Lebanon High School for a number of years. Brandon Mang and Byron Lee played hard for Friendship but in the end Watertown was victorious! The score was 41 – 7. Smackdown!!

And afterwards, like we always did, the team descended on Gondola on South Cumberland Street in Lebanon to celebrate.

My senior teammates were all there: James Vaden, Kirk Thomas, Winston Beard, Terry Tarpley, Chris Stephens, Guy Buckner and Kevin “Spaceman” Roberts who would be my roommate at MTSU the following year. All men I continue to call my friends today.

We graduated that spring and life moved on, but the memories of playing those Friday night football games are some of the fondest that I have. The shared comaraderie on and off the field, the brutal practices every day after school, suiting up for the game and the pep talk from the coaches beforehand, the passion when we were victorious and the agonizing pain when we were defeated.

Those Friday nights would shape us in more ways that we knew. And for many of you who grew up in this area, I’d say you share the same experience. Be it Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Carthage, Gordonsville or Hartsville – those Friday night lights were brilliant.

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French Inspired

French Inspired, Home Desired

French Inspired

The wait to build her dream home was worth it!

 By Becky Andrews

French InspiredIt had been a dream of hers to build a home from the ground up ever since Elmie Ruck moved with her husband, Herb and oldest daughter, Tiffany, to a Pre-Civil War home on the west side of Lebanon. That was 1976. After adding a second daughter, Tatum, to the family and more than a decade spent renovating that home, the Ruck’s decided to move into a more suited space for their growing brood. They found just what they were looking for less than 3 miles away.

Nearly 25 years after that last move, Elmie saw her home building dream become reality when construction was completed on their elegant French Country French Inspiredstyle home that rests on one of Wilson County’s most scenic properties. “I told Herb, ‘I just want to build one house, just one.’ For years he said he didn’t want to build. We should just relax and enjoy the home we were in’ Elmie says, “But a few years after both of our girls were out of the house starting their own families, Herb realized that 5 acres is a lot to keep up with. One day he said it might not be a bad idea to build something that requires less maintenance. That’s all I needed to hear. The next day we were looking at lots.”

Elmie and Herb started looking at building lots in Nashville but after a day of looking, they headed back to the place they have called home since 1976. “Lebanon is home and I guess it will always be home. It’s hard to raise your family and move away from all that’s familiar.” Elmie says after scooping up her youngest (4 legged) daughter, Maggie.

The finished product is… well, just look at the photos!

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Running the Race Set Before Him

Teen amputee Andrew Kittrell dreams of paralympics

Story by Ken Beck

At his first track meet, this past summer’s Endeavor Games, Lebanon’s Andrew Kittrell, 13, brought home four gold medals and set four records in his age group. The lively lad may just be getting warmed up. One of his goals is to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games, while his biggest aspiration is to play football for the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Continue reading “Running the Race Set Before Him”

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