Finding the money to build a new fire hall

Apparently, it’s no problem if the location is in Watertown.

Below are pictures of the new public safety complex in Watertown which opened last August.

According to the Lebanon Democrat:

Both departments and WEMA personnel are thrilled with the the completion of the improved facility, which cost over a million dollars to build.

Those were COUNTY dollars by the way.

Why is this not a MUCH bigger issue than the horse barn?

Watertown, TN – population: 1,358




Filed under Fire Protection, Mt. Juliet City Commission, Wilson County Commission

63 responses to “Finding the money to build a new fire hall

  1. I hope you took the time to go inside. I have worked a few shifts there and can tell you they spared NO expense. This place is to the nine’s. The volunteer aspect works great here, the people have an enormous amount of pride in this facility and I give John Jewell a ton of credit for this. Point to consider: As you mentioned, population 1300+.

  2. Almost forgot… it was a 50/50 with county $$$ and Watertown fish fry ,et al. $$$. Stop by for a visit. It is a little off the beaten path, but I can tell you the breakfast and lunch specials at the Depot and Dr. Jackson, DDS are second to none. Happy July 4th and may God Bless America.

    2 Chron 7:13-14

  3. Butch Huber


    Man, they must have some good fish in Watertown to have raised a half-million dollars, or was it a million?

    One million, according to this article, of county money on 1,300 people! Wow, does that mean when Mt. Juliet gets its building, considering that we have over 25,000, we will get a building worth about, oh, let’s say, $20,000,000? How does the county quantify and justify the decision to build such a building in Watertown and yet they won’t spend money in Mt. Juliet? Let’s do an analysis on the revenues that the county receives from Watertown and the revenues that the county receives from Mt. Juliet!

    This story deserves a full investigation!

  4. Butch Huber


    Have you been holding out on us? You knew about his building and yet in all of your posts you never even mentioned it? Really?


    Have you been holding out on us as well?

    Really guys, don’t you think this would have been important information to include in the debate? We met together in person to start the process of finding ways to address this issue and it never even crossed your minds to mention this? Really?

    What did you think I would do with this information if I had it? The county has lost this issue at this point. They have absolutely no where to run. They are front and center, in the spot light, and they have been caught with their pants down. Its an ugly sight to see, but it is something we are going to have to deal with!

    Watertown will never catch up to Mt. Juliet in terms of what it sends to the county, yet they get a brand spanking new fire hall and we get a bunch of guff from the county?

    Our city commissioners are in a meeting saying that the county has no money, as if that is something that should satisfy us. Then we find out that the county has sufficient money to build a fire hall in Watertown. Watertown already had a fire hall from what I read in the CTAS/MTAS study. Why on earth did the county need to spend money on a fire hall in Watertown?

    Man, Publius, how on earth can the county recover from this one?

  5. Shawn Donovan

    You know me Butch I don’t hide much. With regards to this firehall, from what I was told that it was constructed under an agreement with the county and Watertown, that the County would allow to city to use their bond rating in order to get the loan for construction of this fire station. Then Watertown would pay the county for the cost. Has the county seen one payment of this money, I have no clue.

    Then you need to remember the Director of WEMA and the Fire Chief of Watertown are the same person, John Jewell. In addition, all the communication sites for the County on the east side of Wilson fall on his land as well.

  6. Butch,
    Breath. I have it in my notes to cover as we explored the county zone by zone. It is my understanding that we plan to meet more than once. We covered a great deal of info in the first meeting, I am hopful there will be others. Again, breath. Happy 4th.

    BTW, the former firehall in Watertown was delapidated and being held together by mold. It is now the subject of a lawsuit.

  7. Butch Huber

    To Jamie, Shawn, and the others who are involved in the fire protection/EMS issue:

    Please understand that there is a very large effort afoot in this county to force this city to establish its own fire department despite the enormous amount of money we are already sending to the county for such services.

    The basis for all this chatter is that the city of Mt. Juliet needs to grow up and take care of itself. Forget that we are taking care of ourselves by paying the county for services, just grow up. What would be different if we were taking the money we are now sending to the county and paying a private fire department for such services? Would we be grown up then? We are grown up, in fact, we are more grown up than the county, because we are paying for the services and they aren’t providing services to the level that we are paying.

    So there is all this chatter going on trying to make us look bad and force us into setting up our own fire department and yet the county pays to build a new fire hall in Watertown. With a population of 1,300 how much fire protection do you need? It looks like they have six bay doors on that building! How long will it be before Watertown ever grows to the point where they need enough equipment that it takes six bay doors to house it? For 1,300 people? Really? One piece of equipment per 216 people? At that rate, we would need about 120 bays to house equipment in Mt. Juliet. Just how calm should I be? Really guys? How calm should I be? For all this time I have been working to help find a solution to the problem, trying to find the “Right” solution. Trying to find the solution that gives the people of the county what they pay for and that gives the citizens of the cities what they pay for, while ensuring that everyone gets as much coverage as possible. Then I find out that the county has paid this much money to build such a nice building for Watertown. Even if it was a loan that the county backed, shouldn’t it have been made public? Shouldn’t this have been made part of the discussion? If I knew a piece of information so damning to my position as this and I didn’t tell you about it, then you find out about it someway other than me telling you, would you trust me anymore?

    If it turns out that the county spent the million+ to build this building, as I believe we will find out, let me point out to you just how bad this really is.

    There are parts of this county that essentially don’t have coverage at all. This investment didn’t provide any more coverage, from what I can tell, at all, than what we already had in this county. The county would have done much better with its money by setting up a couple small fire, cheap, fire stations in the rural areas of the county and staffing them with volunteers and two full-time fire fighters/emts. They could have leased the equipment needed so that they don’t have to come up with all that money up front. They at least could have provided coverage to no less than two unprotected areas of the county and raised our overall standing in terms of fire protection and emergency services. If I am not mistaken, there is homeland security money available to the state, which is then granted to WEMA’s by the state based on preparedness. Are we missing out on that money because we are not up to standard in this county? I don’t know the answer to that, but I find it hard to believe we would be considering the fact that no less than 38% of our county essentially has no fire protection or emergency services available to it!

    As far as Watertown having a fire department that is the subject of a lawsuit, isn’t that Watertown’s problem? Watertown is a municipality. What does that have to do with anything? I will tell you. The county cannot provide any level of fire protection to the city of Watertown, except for mutual aid, except through inter-local agreement. The way that the county funds the fire department disallows the county from providing fire protection except through mutual aid agreements and inter-local agreements. I think it is time for us to find the inter-local agreement between the county and Watertown. What is Watertown giving up in consideration for them to have such an investment there? If someone it going to use “Watertown has its own fire department” as a basis of argument that the city of MT. Juliet should have its own fire department the least the city of Watertown could do is provide for its own fire department.

    How freakin’ insane is it to leave this city so grossly under-protected when there is so much growth and so much need for service and then spend a million dollars on a building for just 1,300 people!?!? There are more than 1,300 people in Willoughby Station for crying out loud! Let’s draw that comparison! We have the land here in Willoughby Station to build an identical building as what was built in Watertown! They could erect such a building right here in my neighborhood just for the people who live in this neighborhood and it would make more sense than to spend the money building such a building in Watertown! In fact, you could leave out the upper end of this neighborhood and you would still probably have more people! This is insanity on steroids!

    Fellows, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. There is no wiggle room now. The county has obviously taken a position “AGAINST” this city. This isn’t just a matter of difference of opinion now, this is a slap in the face of Mt. Juliet.

    We were asked to turn over the fire department in this city, along with our equipment and personnel and all the apparatus and gear, to the county in return for the county providing fire protection to this city. The county got what it wanted and then less then they came back and wanted to discontinue service after they had gotten what they wanted. This isn’t even just a slap in the face of the people who live in this city, it is a slap in the face of the people who live around this city but in the county! How many times more people live around this city, but not in the city, compared to Watertown? The county, in its effort to poke this city in the eye, has also alienated the citizens of the unincorporated areas around this city. This is an obvious example of bitter politics, and perhaps even back-room politics at the county level! How is that the county commission can justify spending so much money in an area from which they draw so little revenues and yet ignore such a cash cow as is Mt. Juliet?

    You mentioned that the Director of WEMA is the Fire Chief of Watertown, but also important to note is that Mike Jennings, the County Attorney, is also the Mayor of Watertown. Just how good ol’ boy is this project? I wondered again and again why John Jewel wouldn’t step up and become part of the discussion over the lack of fire protection in this county, now I can see why! He was getting his town a nice shinny new fire hall complete with six bays! Can we believe now that Mike Jennings would go to bat to show the county that they are illegally funding WEMA considering that his city gets a shinny new fire hall complete with six bays?! Look at the picture of Watertown’s city hall! Now look at the picture of their new fire department! The first thing that came to my mind was that we just paid to give them a new city hall! Will they now be conducting their city business in this building?

    Jamie, you should be apoplectic right now! So should you, Shawn! If this debate that has been going on is really about fixing this situation and not about forcing this city to establish its own fire station because it “ain’t gonna happen with county help”, then you should be going into Anaphylactic shock right now! This couldn’t be more damning to the county, even if it was a loan, which I doubt.

    With this slap in the face it is time for our city leaders to take this to the mats. We pay for services we are not getting, that is a fact, and it is the bottom-line. I have been trying for a very long time to work with others to get this resolved equitably and safely so that everyone gets their fair share and so that nobody is left out. I have maintained the position that the county-wide fire protection system is the best system as long as it is run properly, and I still maintain that position, but I can see now that it won’t be run properly. Hell, the WEMA Chief just got his brand new six bay fire hall for his city while leaving stations unmanned and understaffed.

    The city of Mt. Juliet needs to hold hearings and subpoena witnesses and get to the bottom of this matter. How could this happen legally? How can such a thing happen ethically and morally?

    This city probably puts more money into the County by April than Watertown puts in in a year, perhaps even by February of each year. AHHHH!!!!!!!!

    Guys, I still like you, and I still want to work with you to resolve issues, but I want you to know that I don’t like the fact that you knew this and yet didn’t make what you knew known. I have been upfront and honest with you guys every step of the way, and I have told you everything I knew. I have spent countless hours searching laws and examining this issue from every conceivable angle to discover what is “Right”. I have maintained that what I wanted was what was “Right”, haven’t I? I have said I don’t want anything I am not paying for, but that I want everything I pay for, Right? Now I am finding out that the county spent our funds to build a six bay fire hall (Possibly a city hall for all I know) for Watertown, with a population of just over 1,300 people! And I find out that you knew about it and you didn’t tell me? Guys, that is no way to establish a working relationship.

    Shawn, Jamie, and others who are involved….I am asking you now…are there other things such as this that I should know? Don’t let me end up standing someplace and end up with egg on my face. Had I taken a position that this city does need to establish its own fire department without county funding and without establishing fire tax districts I would have egg all over my face right now! You cannot have a good working relationship without divulging everything. Hell, I have posted things on Radiofreemj that are counter to my position because I want transparency in what I am doing. If it is found that I am concealing things and withholding information my voice must be muted for I have no credibility from that point on. I am certainly one of the most vocal, and arguably one of the most informed and one of the most knowledgeable people on this subject in the county and yet I didn’t know a thing about this new fire station! How big of a secret was this thing?!

    Publius is right, this is way more of a story than the horse barn! This is a watershed moment in the fire protection debate in Wilson County. This is a basis for the state legislature to remove the provision in the law that allows funding of fire departments through shared revenues instead of fire taxes. This county government obviously cannot control its hatred and animosity toward this city and therefore cannot be trusted with the funds. This city of Mt. Juliet must establish a board to inspect and examine the county finances now and in the future. The city of Mt. Juliet must examine every nook and cranny of their finances to see where the money comes from and to where it goes. The city of Mt. Juliet needs to hire someone to record county meetings and report back to our commission, and to our citizens, what they discover at the county meetings. It is obvious that our county commissioners from districts that lay within our city won’t pass information back and can’t be trusted to inform us when things like this occur.

    I can’t help feeling that this wasn’t made public because this ends the discussions of whether we need to force fire tax districts or not. Now the debate is about how to force fire tax districts. We can’t control how the county commission votes, but we can protect ourselves against what they do to the best of our ability, and the only way that I can see to do that now is to force fire tax districts.

    Million dollar fire hall for 1,300 people, what the hell were they thinking!

  8. Shawn Donovan

    I totally agree with you Butch. Honestly I’ll have to go back and look at my prior posts from way back because this building was constructed in I wanna say 2008. As I always have I hit the City Commissioners then on the subject, but I was told that is was an agreement between the County and Watertown so Watertown could get a lower percentage rate on their construction loan.

    I would suggest you go out there and see it in person. WEMA staffs a Medic unit (M21) that is always staffed with a Medic and a Tanker out there for use on the Southeast part of the county (Statesville).

  9. Shawn Donovan

    Wow, my bad. Just read the article and it was last August that it was finished and occupied. We will need to look into this deeper as to who paid for the building (Watertown or County), since if it houses Watertown PD and FD, I don’t know how the County could have paid for the construction.

  10. Southsider

    I tried to tell all of you. This has never been about fire protection with the county. It has been about how much more subsidy can be imposed on west wilson county residents.

    I hate to say, “I told ya so”. But..

  11. Butch Huber

    Southsider, you were right.

    Mt. Juliet will win this issue in the end, I am confident of that now. However, there are some people in the county who will be harmed because of what this County Commission has done here. It is a shame we couldn’t have worked out some way to address the lack of fire protection and emergency services for them as well, as they are our fellow county citizens. But with this new news, it is apparent that this is as you say, another way for us to subsidize the rest of Wilson County, and it needs to stop. We just bought Watertown a new station, what’s next on the county agenda?

    Time to switch tactics and go “legal” on them. It is time to force fire tax districts in Wilson County.

  12. Brother Butch,
    Again…BREATH. If you end up anywhere with egg on your face, it will be of your own doing. You have a personal responsibility to conduct yourself in such a way as to not lose credibility. The logic in the timeline of our meeting of less than 2 hrs., prohibits the covering of ALL the many facets of this issue. You know this. Believe me, I do not want to play conspiracy with you. I have on a number of occassions published my phone number in a message directed to you for us to continue discussions offline and you have never once utilized this opportunity. There are only 8 fire stations in the county and their location is a matter of public record. The originator of this post got up off his butt and went to get this info. I can’t get you to pick up the phone and call. I am relieved that you still like me, I still like you, too. I will never be deceitful, conniving, or hateful to you. But for the life of me, I do not understand why this has your head in such a spin. Were or are we under some type of deadline? BTW, you are ( as of your June 30 @ 0742 post) incorrect about the dual role the personnel of WEMA perform. You wrote, “Ambulance service is a bigger issue than fire protection.” No, it is not. You went on to state, ” Fixing the fire protection issue won’t address the ambulance service shortfall.” Yes, it will. Again, please call me and I will explain in great detail. The fact is when you calmly look at the Watertown facility and see the before and after… you will realize it does not warrant that large of a panic attack. The previous county facility on the square ,which was shared with the PD, was a health risk due to mold. The WVFD facility, loacted around the corner from the square, was too small. The leaders of the PD, WVFD/WEMA, Watertown Mayor, County Mayor got together and decided instead of building 3 separate facilities, to pool the funds and build one. The city of Watertown approached the county and in the spirit of cooperation and collective good, worked this to completion. The part of this that troubles me is that with the current relationship of MJ and the county, anything similar to this can not be considered. Hope your 4th was enjoyable.

    2 Timothy 2:15

  13. Southsider

    Mr. Luffman,

    Quoting scripture does not change what the “money changers” are doing here.

    Out of nowhere comes a state-of-the-art facility serving 1300 people in a county of 120,000?

    Come on dude, your credibility is eroding. Do you really wonder why the county’s relationship with Mt. Juliet in in the state it is in?

    I can’t wait to see the possum town WEMA control center being planned. Is it true the firefighters will have to pass through an X-ray security gate to get in?

  14. Doc Cider

    Butch hit the nail on the head. Mike Jennings, county attorney and mayor of Watertown. Good ol’ boys at play with our money indeed.

    I wonder how Gilbert Graves and Billy Patton, who seem to think we shouldn’t even HAVE fire service in Mt. Juliet, voted on this one. If it was even voted on.

    They are also whining about needing a new high school in Watertown. The current facility is an older building by Wilson County standards, but it is not even close to being full, unless they’re busing people in from Gladeville and Lebanon.

  15. Pop Korn

    They were going to put a new state of the art facility in Laguardo but somebody mentioned that it was on the west side of 109…..

  16. Butch Huber


    Please don’t pass off the two hour meeting as the only venue that you could have discussed this matter with me. I have been involved with this matter for no less than two years. There has been ample time for posts on this issue before now.

    Your last post confirms what I believed to be the case, this isn’t just a “Watertown Fire Station”, it is going to serve many functions. The question is, how much of that building was funded with county taxes? This is a big story, Jamie. You can’t underplay this or you will lose all credibility. This is a major, major thing.

    If it turns out that the county commission has spent county taxes to assist in funding a City Police Department there needs to be a criminal investigation into the matter. This isn’t playroom stuff here, this is perhaps one of the biggest stories to come out in Wilson County Politics “EVER”. Why shouldn’t my head be spinning. Jamie, I shouldn’t have had to have called you on this, you should have been forthcoming right here on RadioFree. Had I known about this you can bet that I would have made it public right away. This story can’t be kept under a fire hat, it needs to be let out where the sun can shine on it.

    Jamie, look at the conditions in Station 3. The common chatter is that the condition of that station is a “Mt. Juliet” issue, however, improvements to rented buildings is normally the responsibility of the renter. The county uses that building to serve the residents that live within a 78 square mile boundary, the city only encompasses 20 square miles of that area. Who should be responsible for improvements to station 3? Really?

    Jamie, explain to me how ambulance service is not the bigger issue, but do it on here, so everyone can see. Jamie, I want it all right here on Radiofree, so the whole world can see. The citizens have a right to know. Post the stats regarding the number of calls that really require a fire fighter and the number of calls that really require an EMT. Then post the number of ambulances we have in comparison to the number of fire engines we have. The problem with having the fire fighters perform dual duty is that the county wants to county the fire fighter’s time as “ambulance” services in financials and they want to count the operating costs as “ambulance services”, so that they can hope to retain the “county-wide” fire protection funding model so that they can continue to siphon money out of Mt. Juliet and to the county where they can then spend it on a million dollar facility for Watertown. Jamie, either you need to recognize that the county is taking from Mt. Juliet to give to another area of the county soon or you will be left without any credibility yourself. It is so obvious what is going on here that a person cannot in good conscience ignore it any longer.

    You can’t justify what the county has done here, Jamie. They are wrong for having done such a thing, and there is no excuse.

    There is no coming back from here, Jamie, they have stepped so far over the line with this development I can’t see a way back for them. Jamie, if you are so in favor of Mt. Juliet having adequate fire protection, why aren’t you upset about this? I don’t understand. I would be outraged if I were you. What gives? Is there anything else we don’t know about? Come clean, Jamie, what else, if anything, aren’t you telling us?

  17. Paul Deyo

    This is an interesting story, but I don’t think they were exactly hiding the building. I think it made the Chron and other local papers when it opened. Certainly most of us, myself included, missed this one as a piece of the puzzle relating to the fire coverage the county provides Mt. Juliet. Butch is right in that the funding stream for this should be investigated. It is an outrage that county commissioners who live here vote for new fire halls in Watertown and vote against fire coverage in Mt. Juliet.

    Another facet relating to this is that the city commission has taken up the matter of a new police headquarters. The mayor wants 100k and wants to put the facility on Mt. Juliet Road. The commission came back with 50k and no lock on a location. Butch knows what I think of using prime commercial locations for government buildings, but all that aside, there may be an opportunity to ‘do a Watertown’ here.

    First, 100k will not build a police station, not even if they just refurbish the current city hall as a police facility only (which I think is a valid idea). Second, here is an opportunity and a concrete reason to look at the Watertown funding stream as an example and take the county’s temperature about doing the same here. And third, it might not be a bad idea for the city to look at going this route anyway (but NOT on Mt. Juliet Road).

    Since the mayor has been coasting on Kevin Mack’s accomplishments for years, she shouldn’t be embarassed by ‘borrowing’ an idea from Mike Jennings. Food for thought.

  18. Pop Korn

    The county’s thinking about putting a state-of-the-art fire hall in Vesta since it’s near the race track…..

  19. Chris Allen

    Butch, how do you dare criticize Jamie and Shawn, two people who are actually volunteering their time to provide fire protection, while you and others simply pontificate on this site and get to sleep every night!

    Watertown, like Mt. Juliet, desperatley needed new facilites. The city and the county actually worked together to fix a problem. Novel idea!

    How is it up to Jamie and Shawn to worry about what happened in Watertown? What right do you have to say they had any reason to bring it up? I doubt either of them had any involvement in the project.

    The project was no secret. It is not like it was built in some hidden, non-public location. WEMA has an Ambulance and tanker at that station, both of which serve a very large area of the county. Watertown has 2 engines and a brush truck, I think, all of which also run calls into county areas.

    Butch, I too am a volunteer firefighter here and was at the meeting at the park. I am willing to help but I will not be part of a group when people like you attack on a public forum those of us actually getting dirty for free to help our community. Shawn, Jamie and I all worked for free last night to assist with staffing as WEMA resources were stretched to their breaking point. Where were you?

    Stick to what you know. Much of what you say about fire protection across the state is wrong. Yes, we need additional stations, additional career staff, additional volunteer staff, additional apparatus, and additional pay and benefits for the career staff we have.

    Bottom line, emergency services cost money. Having lived in the north, we don’t pay much for our services. Until people are willing to quit ranting and raving about tea parties, etc, and actually pay for services, we wont be the fastest growing county for long, as people will figure out we don’t have adequate emergency services, we don’t have parks, we don’t have good schools as the teachers keep leaving for better paying systems, etc, etc, etc. They can pay a little more, move to Franklin or Hendersonville, and get A LOT more.

    Butch, your efforts at bringing this important issue to the forefront are appreciated but quit going off on radical tangents or YOU will loose all credibility with the people who actually know emergency services.

  20. Southsider

    Well it is clear the firefighters just want Mt. Juliet citizens to pay more taxes.

    Anyone who is not upset about the Watertown firestation doesn’t care about the other 118,700 Wilson County citizens this station will never serve.

    And they don’t really care about fire protection either – they just want to raise taxes in Mt. Juliet.

    Don’t gripe at Butch. He was willing to pay more in taxes if it would fix the problem. It is now pretty clear this issue was never about a shortage of revenue or fire protection.

    Told ya.

  21. Butch Huber


    Your attitude sir is just as much a part of the problem as you are part of the solution.

    You and others of the same mind set think that a person has to be a fire fighter to have a say in the matter. You couldn’t be more wrong. I find it interesting how fire fighters think that somehow because they serve they have some mystical right to have a say that others don’t have. I also find it quite arrogant when I hear a fire fighter use the phrase “pick up a hose”. I spent 9 years serving the nation in the military, Chris, doesn’t that give me a right to a say? Really? My father served, his brothers served, one of which gave his life for the country. I have many cousins who have served this country as well. In fact, my family has a whole line of people who served this country, supposedly going all the way back to Ben Franklin. Doesn’t that give me a right to speak? I served on Two Med Cruises and a North Atlantic cruise, mixed with untold numbers of other exercises. I remained in the military for three extra years because we were in a war and I was asked to stay, Chris….doesn’t that give me a right to a say? Being stationed in dangerous situations off of hostile coasts, being sent to taunt Moammar Kadafi with his line of death, being sent to South America in a naval detachment to protect the President of the United States when the Columbian drug lords threatened to attack our ships with cigarette boats loaded with explosives doesn’t give me a right to a say? Really, I don’t have a voice in the matter unless I pick up a hose? Really? What about all the days I served on the ship’s damage control team, do they count? Or isn’t that being a part of a “real fire fighting team”? There is a big difference between fighting fires onboard ship and fighting fires on land, Chris, onboard ship you can’t escape. Weren’t you and your fellow fire fighters sleeping while I stood watch? Doesn’t that count, Chris? I think you are spouting off to the wrong man, Chris. Until you can justify not allowing a former member of the United States Military to have a say I suggest you listen once in awhile.

    From the very beginning of the dialog that I heard concerning this fire protection issue all I ever heard coming to the surface from fire fighters was that “Mt. Juliet needs its own fire department”. It was as if the fire fighters had made up their minds that the only solution was to force this city into double taxation and only receiving service once! Mt. Juliet doesn’t need its own fire department, the county needs to run the county fire department correctly. However, if the county won’t run the countywide fire department correctly, then the city needs to take the matter into its own hands and force the county to stop taxing us for what it won’t provide to us.
    Quite Frankly, if the only purpose of us getting together is so that we end up pursuing getting the city of Mt. Juliet to establish its own fire station without having forced the County to do what is right, I don’t want to be a part of that effort.

    Yes, I have an expectation that partners in something I work on will tell me everything. Can you say that I don’t have a right to have everything on the table? If I knew something that would cause this city to have to establish its own fire department and I didn’t divulge that in our dialog to one another and you found out I knew and didn’t say anything I don’t think you would trust me any longer and you probably shouldn’t trust me. You fellas obviously knew about this and you should have known that this was important enough to tell us about it or at least make sure we knew about it. We certainly hear enough scenarios about how dire the situation is here in the west end of the county, why don’t we hear about how Watertown just got a brand new state of the art fire hall? All we hear about is that WEMA can’t afford to provide adequate service to Mt. Juliet, even though Mt. Juliet is pouring money into the county. Now I find out that the county provided funding for a station in Watertown of all places?

    Yes, I want to know if there is anything else that you fellas know that you haven’t told us. I think if you are going to ask citizens of this city to help you fix the situation you owe it to us to be straight with us. I don’t think it is too much to ask that you let us in on everything.

    Going of on radical tangents?! The county spends a million dollars on a fire station in Watertown, a city that contributes very little in comparison to Mt. Juliet and likely never will, and I am going off on a tangent by bringing perspective into this issue? Really?

    Prove that much of what I say about fire protection across the state is wrong. Don’t just say I am wrong, prove me wrong.

    As far as you and Jamie and Shawn volunteering last night because WEMA was stretched so thinly, I am glad you are willing to serve, but that doesn’t give you any special rights, and I am not required to serve just because you do, it doesn’t make you better than me because you served last night and my 9 years of military service doesn’t give me any special rights, but it does give me standing to exert my rights. Damn it, I served this country just like you serve this city, and I’ll be damned if I will let you or any other fire fighter demean me because I choose not to become a volunteer fire fighter! How dare me? How dare you?! I serve this community in my own way, Chris, by spending countless hours trying to fix broken government. To you, that may be pointless, useless, and not worthwhile, but to me, it means everything to be a citizen and stand up for what is right. You demean tea party members because we don’t share your liberal bent. This is a nation of laws, it is a federation of states, a republic. Unless governments are willing to abide by the constitution of the United States and unless our states are willing to exert their rights and unless all governments respect and acknowledge the rights of citizen, we have no country, we have a gang of people who govern based on feelings, emotions, and opinions with no firm underpinning. You serve in your way, sir, and I will serve in mine. So far I have raised two eagle scouts with one on the way. I have a son studying to become a law enforcement agent. I have been an assistant scout master for God only knows how long. When the time is right I will run for public office to serve my country once again. No, sir, you are admonishing the wrong guy for not serving.

    It is unconscionable that the county would have spent this money in this manner. They can blame Mt Juliet saying that they have been waiting for a letter from this city all they want, but they knew when they did this it was wrong, and they don’t need a letter from this city to know it. A million dollars for a fire station in Watertown, what were they thinking? They had to know that this would one day blow up into a very large thing.

    You say that until people are willing to pay for services we won’t be the fastest growing…. Chris, we pay for services, we just don’t get them! That is the whole point! Haven’t you listened to anything? We pay for services and we aren’t getting them! What does it take to get that through to you? Dick has done extensive research on impact fees that have gone to the county over the past several years….where did that money go? The money is coming from Mt. Juliet and it is going somewhere else! Now we see where! I have a right to be angry, Chris, and so do you! And you should be angry, because you served last night for free because WEMA was so stretched thin! Don’t you get it?! The county is taking advantage of you, Chris! They refuse to fix this problem and you and Jamie and Shawn have to serve for free because of it. It isn’t that the county can’t afford to provide adequate service here, it’s that they don’t want to, and you are paying the price because of it! If you don’t want a solution to the problem, keep doing what you are doing and it won’t get fixed. However, if you want the solution, get on the bandwagon and force a positive change by forcing the county to do what is right. When the county stops taxing us for services it isn’t providing we can move forward.

    And as for your final statement, Chris, this isn’t about emergency services at this point, in case you aren’t watching, it is now about the unethical, if not illegal, use of taxes and it could quite possibly blow up into a full-fledged investigation into something much, much bigger. I don’t think you fully grasp this situation. If this was done in reverse, and the city somehow was taking money from the County and spending it on something that doesn’t benefit the county all hell would break loose and you know it.

    I will continue to do whatever I can to bring this to the forefront, but not because of you or Jamie or Shawn, it was never about you in the first place. I will do what I can to bring this to the forefront because it is the right thing to do. And Chris, I don’t think I ever said I know more about emergency services than you, but I know right from wrong, and I don’t need you to point that out to me, I do just fine on that one without much help from anyone.

    Once again, guys, I appreciate what you do for me and my family, but you guys have to stop acting like you are special because you serve. We all serve in our own way, if by nothing more than paying taxes and raising good children. You serve because that is what you want to do, and there is honor in that, but when you strut around and act as though you are somehow better because you serve you look small.

  22. This group has eroded. Southsider, you hide behind a fake name and then question my credibility. Your value system is warped. You guys want to get outraged and fight over this. What will that do? You panic and show your tail ends and let’s see how your credibility does, or more important, let’s see if they tear down the Watertown facility and build it back in MJ. You use degrading tones when I and the others do not agree with you or share your rage. Each time, its we don’t get the issue. I, too have a right to this forum and to add my perspective. Ease up, comrades. I will rest easy on the fact that my credibility is safe and steadfast. You solve the problem, I am going to busy myself doing the job.
    That does not make me better or worse than anyone else. It is where I need to be and you can count on my credibility there. Good Night.

  23. Butch Huber


    What is necessary before we can ever hope to move forward is we need to come to a place of total transparency and all the cards need to be on the table. You and the others can choose to walk away, but I’m not. I still plan on doing what I can to “fix” the problem, however, I want to know that the people I am working with are being straight with me and they are telling me everything they know. I promise to tell you guys everything I know, and I have told you everything I know, I have been completely transparent in every way.

    If all this was was an exercise to see if we can gather enough support to force a Mt. Juliet fire department rather than actually “fix” the problem, then all we did here was expose the truth. However, if there is a sincere desire on your part and on the part of the other fire fighters to actually “fix” the problem, not your way, not my way, but the “right” way, then we have a basis to move forward.

    Whether you want to continue to work together or not is up to you, but I will not quit.

  24. Southsider

    Ok Mr. Luffman, go ahead and have your opinion. No one here said you have no right to one. Forgive me for understanding this issue at a higher level than “lobbyist”. That is my right whether you know my identity or not.

    I have said over and over that this issue was never about a county lack of revenue. To some who post here it has always been about getting Mt. Juliet citizens to pay higher taxes. Others really want to fix the problem.

    No one wants to tear down the Watertown fire hall. It would be nice if the firefighters who post here would stop wrapping themselves in the flag on this issue. Solving any problem starts with understanding what the problem really is. The Watertown fire hall is proof the problem is not a lack of money.

    Your credibility on this issue belongs to you and is yours to lose.

  25. Shawn Donovan

    Well that has been a few of the more interesting posts I’ve seen in a while.

    Butch and the others, here’s my spin of this. I’m a father, son, husband, brother, veteran, firefighter, and taxpayer. I too served in the Navy and have been a Firefighter for a number of years. When it comes to this issue I too have a say and my opinion just like any resident of Wilson County, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Watertown, etc. etc., but have the added inside view of WEMA that unless you volunteer for them or work full time you most likely wouldn’t know. Does this make “more important” then another taxpayer, no, since we all pay the same “tax rate”. As for being a firefighter, does it make me a more honorable citizen for doing so, no, because its a calling and I have a special set of skills that took years to acquire. That is one of the great things about being a resident, you can be as involved as you want to be (from the resident who never does anything to one who attends all the meetings and keeps track of the issues). Its your “cup of tea”.

    When it comes to this situation, problem, or whatever you want to call it…. how bout the issues with red and white trucks. There are so many people who could be held accountable for why its like this including

    1) The taxpayer- who allowed it to continue without being more involved in the government process and letting them pass budgets without “gut checking them” and then electing these Commissioners who misallocated our funds with their yes or no vote.

    2) The Commisioner- who we elected to be our voice at the County Court who instead allowed this take from the West to give to the East scenario

    3) County Mayor- who appointed the WEMA Director

    4) Finance Director- who created the budget and plugged the dollars and cents of our tax dollars into it

    5) WEMA Director- of various names including Mcfarland and Jewell, who haven’t requested additional manpower and streamlined the operations process to put us in our current situation

    There’s a few to think about, and you have the control to hold all these accountable by your personnel actions and at the ballot box.

    Between reading Butch, Southsider, Doc Cider etc. who have interesting viewpoints on this, I do agree that we need to look at the money spent at the County level and figure this at part of the overall problem with this issue. So how do we do this is the question, is it as simply as doing a information request at the Finance Dept or more in-depth. You guys seem to have this finance angle down you tell me. As I’ve been labeled as a “lobbyist”, I know the operational issues and what it should cost, you tell me where to find the money and get it re-directed.

    Then my favorite subject over the last few days, Watertown Public Safety Complex. I personally have the same information as you when it comes to this subject, reading the Lebanon Democrat-Chronicle, because I do not work as a Volunteer Firefighter in Watertown, and quite honestly don’t even ride in East Wilson as a WEMA Volunteer. My equipment was paid for by Mt. Juliet, so this is the area I run calls in. As far as the “all cards on the table” thing, I”m a Station 3 person and focus on the operations on this part of the County. Honestly the who, what, when part of WEMA Administration is too frustrating to me, so I stay involved in operations at a local level. So, saying that does it frustrate the hell out of me that Watertown gets a Fire Station for a town of 1300, when I live in Providence with a population in my NEIGHBORHOOD, larger then that (add Belinda City into the mix) and this with land donated to the City for a Fire Station… the answer is YES. How do you fix it from happening again, focus on changing 1-5 I listed above.

    Finally, your welcome Butch for covering your family, but thanks isn’t required. Those of us who do this for either a career or as a volunteer, don’t do it for the hugs and handshakes, even though it is appreciated.

  26. Southsider

    I think it is time for some humor. Let me tell you how dysfunctional this county really is.

    When a site was chosen for what would become Wilson Central High, the county commissioners stressed real hard to figure out how to use school building money to run water and sewer lines for the development community. Not the whole development community – just the “special” ones. So the Wilson Central site was picked even though it was located further per student mile away from kids than any other. Building that High School in Davidson or Sumner County would have made it more convenient than it is. We currently bus students from almost Gallatin (45 minute drive one-way) to fill Wilson Central High. But at least there is a water and sewer line in the 840 corridor.

    So what is so funny about that? Mike Jennings (the County Attorney and Watertown Mayor) has been trying to get the Wilson County taxpayers to build a state-of-the-art High School in Watertown for years. That is a tough sell since, well, no one lives in Watertown. They really need at least 1200 students to justify even the smallest size High School. To get 1200 they would have to re-district students west of Wilson Central and bus them 45 minutes to Watertown. A lot of students.

    So maybe a past dysfunction will save a future one. Maybe raising taxes will help.

  27. Pop Korn

    I hear the good ol’ boys want to build a state of the art fire hall in Norene because they think the name sounds folksy….

  28. Mr./Mrs./Ms/Miss, Southsider,
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to have my opinion. I can not tell you how grateful I am for all you have done to make that opportunity available for me. Again, sir/ma’am, thank you. There are certainly no hard feelings, especially with the addition you made of the next creditible line.

    “Forgive me for understanding this issue at a higher level than ‘lobbyist'”.

    I did not know we were in a race for the hierarchy of knowledge on the issue. I was led to believe it was for shared understanding in an effort to create one or more workable, successful solutions. At any rate, believe me, there is nothing to forgive. Have a safe day and enjoyable weekend.

    Gal 6:9
    Matt 10:22
    2 Cor 4:1

  29. Butch,
    Not to worry. It will take more than just a sissy pissin’ flare up to run me off. I am here to help and do so in such a way as to not bring shame to my father’s last name. I do not expect you to know this or take my word for it. I will prove myself honest and credible on my own. When you get done having your feelings hurt, I will be here. (Suggestion: Kubler-Ross model) My apologies for the logistics of the timing of that information. Being that the building was a matter of public record and covered in the local media, part of me thought it might already be in your collection of notes. I will put thought and extra effort to revies my notes and see if there is anything else that might not have been covered. I do have one caveat that represents a significant dollar amount, but it is of a sensitive nature and we can discuss it at the next face to face. Until then, have a good day and be blessed.

  30. Southsider

    Mr. Luffman,

    This blog site honors anonymity and you choose to post here. You should read up on how our founding fathers used the pseudonym “Publius” in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola to write the federalist papers. I am sure there were British sympathizers who criticized that too.

    It doesn’t matter who I am. Dispute my ideas not my identity. You choose to use your identity as a firefighter to insinuate expertise on the issue. I don’t do that.

    You said, “I did not know we were in a race for the hierarchy of knowledge on the issue.” Then why post here at all? I thought we wanted to solve the fire protection problem. Knowledge helps identify the problem and come up with viable solutions.

    Attacking me and Mr. Huber is not adding anything to the equation. Cheap shots score no points.

    The Watertown fire station changed this debate. It outed the lobbyists.

  31. I insinuate nothing. Having spent 20 years on the job, you tend to learn a thing or two. I am not an expert, I am a student continuing to look for opportunities to learn…to improve. My base of knowledge comes from doing the job. The statement, ” Forgive me for understanding this issue at a higher level than ‘lobbyist'” …you do not and you will not until you man a post. This and your arrogance toward me and others that do the job is leaving a hole in your base of knowledge. What I know is yours to use to better this issue. I do not seek power or position in this debate or the solution. If this is a race, then we should race as a group. As far as cheap shots, you seem to be able to hold your own there. In closing, I am not a lobbyist or at least I do not feel like one, whatever that may feel like. I support 2 solutions with an open mind for others. Enhance WEMA thru fire tax districts or create MJFD. Either way, you need better service. Until then, I will remain in His service and yours.

  32. Doc Cider

    Countywide fire tax districts is a way to fix the problem. Establishing a city fire department in Mt. Juliet is a way to get adequate fire protection in a small section of west Wilson County but it is putting an expensive band aid on the problem and allowing the problem to continue.

    Doing something because Lebanon did it is wrong-headed thinking. Lebanon has its share of problems as a result of thinking that throwing money at things fixes things.

    Step one in fixing the problem will occur on August 5th. A small step but an important one. The problem is our county government. Look closely at the county commission candidates in your district and make an informed decision at the polls.

  33. Southsider

    You nailed it Mr. Cider.

    In my opinion the two worst County Commissioners are Gilbert Graves and Bill Patton. If both get re-elected Mt. Juliet will continue to have no representation on this issue for another four years. They cannot fix a problem they have caused.

  34. I40

    Do you see Jason Brockman and Nathan Claraday as better replacements? Two candidates that have no political experience who have no political pull.

    Why don’t we make sure Jim Bradshaw gets elected to join them, since he has a record of doing nothing but vote no.

    3 seats that we need to pull out votes in the East, and basically being taking 3 steps back.

  35. Shawn Donovan

    Ok, if Fire Tax districts are the answer to the problem Doc and Southsider, answer me the following

    1) How do we get them in-place

    2) Will this increase the amount of money I currently pay for property tax

    3) Who determines the level of protection I receive for my tax district.

    If all this does it gets more money for fire protection but I don’t see a direct result in the form of more equipment, reduced responses times, and increased manpower its a waste of MY tax money.

  36. 1) County Commission vote, OR State Legislative cram-down, OR Court-ordered result of a lawsuit, OR make somebody King
    2) depends on where you live. In rural areas, likely it will. In dense, suburban areas, likely it will not.
    3) See the answer to question 1)

  37. Shawn Donovan

    Thanks Publius.

    #1- So based on my watching of the County Court, no likely happening by them. So sounds like a stretch

    #2- If its going to cost more, I’m sure they’ll try to get more money for it

    #3- The County Commission is partly responsible for the current state of WEMA and the lack of adequate resources county-wide. This is what continues to draw concern on my end.

  38. Doc,
    Just to clarify…Having been born and raised here in MJ, I wish for MJ to be MJ and only do what will be best for MJ if that (MJFD) is best in the getting stage and the having stage. I do not want MJ to become Lebanon-Lite. Parallel solution possible, mirror image not so much. Fact is, WEMA has the infastructure in place, it needs enhancement and reinforcement. That can only occur at the county level. Much agreed, we need to educate our county votes. Have a great weekend.

  39. Southsider


    I see any two people in those two districts being better than Graves and Patton. Remember, they both voted to repeal fire protection for their own districts in 2006. Patton voted to repeal protection for his own home! They also held up funding to build a safe road to the new Mt. Juliet High School for 5 years (the reverse L).

    Your point is well taken that two rookies will have a learning curve. Lets hope it takes decades before they learn how to vote against protecting the homes and safety of the people who elected them. Graves and Patton are already experts at that.

  40. Southsider

    Mr. Donovan,

    The best anyone can hope for is to pay a fair share of the cost for adequate fire protection. Does anyone here have another goal? I would love to hear it.

    The current system was not awful when it was set up. Wilson County won awards and became the model for rural county emergency service agencies statewide. The problem started when Bob Rochelle changed the law to allow Wilson County to get out of using fire tax districts to fund the system.

    That produced the current situation where the density subsidizes the rural. The problem will only get worse as the County grows.

    Density requires a higher level of service but collects more money to pay for it using tax districts. The current situation only applies service upgrades politically – like it just did in Watertown.

    The State originally required fire tax districts for a reason – so cross-county service subsidy schemes couldn’t happen (like is happening in Wilson County).

  41. Shawn Donovan

    Thanks for the info.

    Maybe we need to work on the current state elected officials who represent us, since Rochelle is no longer in the picture, to get their input. Looking at all the options is always a good thing.

  42. Butch Huber

    I don’t believe fire tax districts solve the whole problem. They solve fire protection issues, but I am not sure that they solve the ambulance service issues. We need a solution that solves all the problems. The BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) is fire tax districts.

  43. Pop Korn

    I think my dog would make a better county commissioner than the one who has spent 40 years voting against his own constituents.

  44. that depends. . . what kind of dog do you have?

  45. Doc Cider

    I40, when have those two clowns ‘pulled out votes in the east’, and in support of what? Cutting off fire service to Mt. Juliet? Holding up funding for the reverse L? Placing a convenience center at the Mt. Juliet Elementary site?

    An experienced bad commissioner to me is much scarier than a new commissioner with good intentions.

    If Bradshaw scares you, he would still be an improvement over his predecessor and friend Bob Neal (who, btw, isn’t running). And Mrs. Branchaud would probably be even more promising, as she’s seen the good ol’ boys in action so she knows what needs to be fixed.

  46. Butch Huber

    Will Sellers has done something!

    He sponsored a resolution to establish a Mt Juliet Emergency strategy committee. This is on the agenda for the next city commission meeting. Call your commissioners and tell them to vote for the establishment of this committee!

    Hopefully, we will get the right people on the committee.

  47. Shawn Donovan

    Good to hear. I can’t see any reason that any commissioner would be opposed to this type of committee being established, especially with them putting money in the new budget specifically for this reason.

  48. Pop Korn

    Definitely not a Bull Dog, Publius!

  49. Doc Cider

    An interesting tidbit in the ‘yard sign wars’, Billy Patton does NOT have the support of a certain former mayor with a high visibility yard.

  50. Concerned Citizen

    Sellers doing something is nothing to get excited about. He has had four years to do something. Election year and contested race = Sellers getting off his butt. Makes you wonder if no one was running against him if he would do anything. Four years of talk and he wants four more… 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, wasted time! If he wins, again look forward to 4 more years of talk and no action. This site has accomplished more in the same period than he has.

  51. Southsider

    It is odd that Sellers should even be doing this at all. In Mt. Juliet’s form of government the Mayor has the right to appoint advisory boards. It is the way a Mayor can lead the Commission to vote on controversial or complicated issues. No vote of the Commission is needed for the Mayor to appoint a committee. It is a very effective leadership tool.

    The best use of these type appointments occurred when Mayor Kevin Mack appointed the short-term and long-term traffic solution committees. The recommendations of the short-term committee led to fixing the High School traffic problem within 60 days.

    Does anyone know why our Mayor isn’t “leading” on the emergency services issue?

  52. Doc Cider

    But she does provide jobs, just like her flyer says! She provided a job to Lisa Keylon, who had a ‘Pelosi for President’ bumper sticker on her car and who wanted to turn Mt. Juliet into Hickory Hollow. She provided a job for Jay Cameli, a longtime friend and ally who has done her bidding on the Planning Commission. And she almost provided a job for the bow tie guy from Provinceton, Mass.

    Never mind that she, or in the most recent case her city manager, ran off the good people who preceded them. Ignore the portly woman pulling strings behind the curtain……

  53. She has a fire department/staion <50 yards from her office plus $1.

  54. Butch Huber

    It appears that the city has approved the resolution to establish the committee.

    Interestingly, John Jewel was at the commission meeting tonight and he was saying that a unified service for fire protection makes sense and we should do it. He said that it would mean Watertown rolling in their service and Lebanon rolling in their service, and perhaps Mt. Juliet kicking in some money.

    Linda Elam stated that in 2006 it was reported to the city of Mt. Juliet that Watertown had said, “no way ever” to the prospect of a unified service. I think what I heard John Jewel say was that that statement came from someone else, and that he agrees with it, but that we really need to do a unified service. I am confused. Does he agree that watertown shouldn’t ever roll in their service or not?

    What brought about this change of positions? Could it be that Publius caught the county good ol’ boys in their little misdeed and they are reeling trying to get back to some place where perhaps an investigation isn’t launched?

    Yes, we need a unified service, but we also need to investigate exactly what happened with the watertown fire station.

    John Jewel also brought up the ambulance service saying that it is unified and that everyone pays the same for ambulance service. But that brings up another point. Shouldn’t the ambulance services be apportioned according to where the money comes from as well? I mean, it makes sense that we should have significantly increased ambulance services in this city and in lebanon, right? After all, the bulk of the money going to the county come from those two cities.

  55. Doc Cider

    Not to mention a bulk of the people at risk. A fire is arguably less likely to happen per capita in Mt. Juliet because of the average building age and the presence of good building codes. There is no such assurance with people.

  56. James Copas

    Good morning Gentlemen,

    I see it’s been a couple of weeks since anyone posted on this topic but I felt as if I could serve as a better source of information on the Fire Station in Watertown than the Lebanon Democrat and it’s affiliates. I am employed as a Firefighter/EMT-IV with WEMA. I work out of the MJ station. I am also a Lieutenant and the Training Officer for Watertown Fire Dept. Here are a few points to ponder.

    1) The Public Safety Complex at Watertown was funded 50% by the county and 50% by the City of Watertown.
    2) The previous WEMA station and Watertown Fire Dept. station (which were two seperate buildings) were dilapidated and mold filled. There was such a mold problem in the old WEMA station that one employee was forced to retire with disability benefits due to permanant lung damage. The old WEMA station which was on the square in Watertown was built in 1903.
    3) The Watertown Fire Dept. contributes a lot to the county. Over 66% of the calls that Watertown Fire runs are outside the city limits of Watertown. That’s at no charge to county.
    4) There are a total of 7 bays on the new Fire Station. 1 for the ambulance, 1 for WEMA’s tanker, and 5 for Watertown Fire. Someone said on here that there was no need for that many pieces of equipment for a rural area like Watertown. That is a very untrue statement. The difference between Watertown and Mt. Juliet is Fire Hydrants. There are much fewer fire hydrants in the SE part of Wilson Co than in the West. Those fire apparatus are basically sources of Water. There is also a Rescue Truck, a Brush Truck and a Medical Response vehicle. (Medical calls make up 75% of what WFD runs.)
    5) Of all the Fire Engines in Watertown they are all outdated. One is a 1967 model, another is 1985, and the newest is a 1993.
    6) Funding of Watertown fire is primarily through the City of Watertown and by generous donations and the monthly Fish Fry. We pay for our own training.
    7) Of the appartus mentioned above 2 were purchased by the City of Watertown. (the 1967 and the 1993.) The 1985 was donated by the county in 1985 due to amount of calls being ran by WFD in the County. The Rescue truck, Brush Truck, and Medical Vehicle were all purchased on bank loans secured by members of Watertown Fire Dept. Those loans are paid off by our annual door to door collection drive.
    8) The new fire station was in the planning stages long before John Jewell became director. As a matter of fact it was already nearing completion when he became director of WEMA. The planning for this building began in 2001 or 2002.
    9) WFD currently consists of 19 volunteers. They run approximately 500 calls per year. Their medical training ranges from EMT-IV to CPR only. Fire Training ranges from Firefighter 2 to Rookie Firefighter. And all members are trained in Vehicle Extrication. All members receive EVOC training and Incident Command Training.

    One final point, regardless of the rural (some would call it redneck) nature of the SE portion of Wilson Co. I want to ensure that everyone knows WFD is far from that label. The members of WFD provide a much needed, and very professional service to the citizens of Watertown and East Wilson Co.

    I hope that I have shed some light on a few mis-statements that have been made in the previous comments and also provided some new information as well.

  57. Butch Huber

    James, included here are some comments on your last post.

    You wrote:

    “Good morning Gentlemen,

    I see it’s been a couple of weeks since anyone posted on this topic but I felt as if I could serve as a better source of information on the Fire Station in Watertown than the Lebanon Democrat and it’s affiliates. I am employed as a Firefighter/EMT-IV with WEMA. I work out of the MJ station. I am also a Lieutenant and the Training Officer for Watertown Fire Dept.”

    First, let me say, thank you for your service to me and my family. Even though you are paid for what you do, you are willing to risk your safety, and perhaps your life, to protect me, my family, my friends, and my neighbors, and for that I am truly and sincerely grateful.

    You posted:

    “Here are a few points to ponder.” Then went on to say the following:

    “1) The Public Safety Complex at Watertown was funded 50% by the county and 50% by the City of Watertown.”

    I find it interesting that this complex is call the “Public Safety Complex at Watertown”. I have a question, “which end of the building did we pay for and which end of the building did the county pay for?” I am being facetious, I am sure that we paid for all of the building and Watertown paid for all of the building, and they split the cost, right? Meaning, half of every brick was paid for by the county and half was paid for by the city of Watertown. I am sure there isn’t a yellow line dividing the building between WEMA and Watertown police, right? So, if I am right, and there is no boundary line, then the county is fully involved in this building.

    “2) The previous WEMA station and Watertown Fire Dept. station (which were two seperate buildings) were dilapidated and mold filled. There was such a mold problem in the old WEMA station that one employee was forced to retire with disability benefits due to permanant lung damage. The old WEMA station which was on the square in Watertown was built in 1903.”

    Hold the presses! There has been a “WEMA” station in Watertown all along? I was led to believe that Watertown had its own volunteer fire station and that we (Mt. Juliet) needed to act like a grown up city because Watertown and Lebanon provided for their own fire protection. If there is a “WEMA” station there, what is its function? Emergency Services. I don’t remember reading about this in the CTAS/MTAS report…perhaps I just glazed over it and missed it.

    “3) The Watertown Fire Dept. contributes a lot to the county. Over 66% of the calls that Watertown Fire runs are outside the city limits of Watertown. That’s at no charge to county.”

    Does the county provide anything toward the services of Watertown’s Fire Department, such as fire trucks, training, etc? Do those people who live outside Watertown, but in the county, contribute to the viability of the Watertown Fire Department?

    “4) There are a total of 7 bays on the new Fire Station. 1 for the ambulance, 1 for WEMA’s tanker, and 5 for Watertown Fire. Someone said on here that there was no need for that many pieces of equipment for a rural area like Watertown. That is a very untrue statement. The difference between Watertown and Mt. Juliet is Fire Hydrants. There are much fewer fire hydrants in the SE part of Wilson Co than in the West. Those fire apparatus are basically sources of Water. There is also a Rescue Truck, a Brush Truck and a Medical Response vehicle. (Medical calls make up 75% of what WFD runs.)”

    Okay, I get it about the need for more trucks in rural areas because of the lack of, or relative lack of, fire hydrants. Is this a justification for WEMA to build a new fire station, especially one that costs so much money, in Watertown? And, by-the-way, you say that Medical calls make up 75% of what WFD runs. Does WFD get the money from those calls? How does all that work?

    “5) Of all the Fire Engines in Watertown they are all outdated. One is a 1967 model, another is 1985, and the newest is a 1993.”

    I see this as a reason to turn over Watertown Fire Department to the county.

    “6) Funding of Watertown fire is primarily through the City of Watertown and by generous donations and the monthly Fish Fry. We pay for our own training.”

    Okay, I can’t fault you or the city of Watertown for putting in the extra effort to raise money to pay for your protection there. However, you once again are giving me even more reasoning for justification for WEMA taking over all fire fighting and emergency services in the county.

    “7) Of the appartus mentioned above 2 were purchased by the City of Watertown. (the 1967 and the 1993.) The 1985 was donated by the county in 1985 due to amount of calls being ran by WFD in the County. The Rescue truck, Brush Truck, and Medical Vehicle were all purchased on bank loans secured by members of Watertown Fire Dept. Those loans are paid off by our annual door to door collection drive.”

    You what!? Members of the Volunteer Fire Department took out loans to purchase equipment? Really!? AHHH!!!!!! Doesn’t this ring in your ears like a gong going off telling you that it makes more sense to have the county take over the operation of Watertown’s fire department?

    “The new fire station was in the planning stages long before John Jewell became director. As a matter of fact it was already nearing completion when he became director of WEMA. The planning for this building began in 2001 or 2002.”

    I hope you are right, and that this was planned before John Jewell became director. However, what part has he and the county attorney played in the building of this project and in the quality of the project?

    “9) WFD currently consists of 19 volunteers. They run approximately 500 calls per year. Their medical training ranges from EMT-IV to CPR only. Fire Training ranges from Firefighter 2 to Rookie Firefighter. And all members are trained in Vehicle Extrication. All members receive EVOC training and Incident Command Training.”

    I really don’t have anything to say about this, except, thanks.

    “One final point, regardless of the rural (some would call it redneck) nature of the SE portion of Wilson Co. I want to ensure that everyone knows WFD is far from that label. The members of WFD provide a much needed, and very professional service to the citizens of Watertown and East Wilson Co.”

    I am sure that you guys are great, and I am not being sarcastic. I don’t want for Watertown, or the members of Watertown’s volunteer fire department, to have to pay for anything that should be paid for out of the county coffers. That is part of my involvement in this, I want what is “Right” for everyone.

    I hope that I have shed some light on a few mis-statements that have been made in the previous comments and also provided some new information as well.


    The county having spent money on building a building such as this inside Watertown could present a problem for the county. There are very specific laws regarding funding of a County Wide Fire Department, and it may be that the county has violated the law here. To many politicians, that may not mean much, but it does mean something to me. I believe in doing things the right way. The county has used the areas of the law that are vague or hard to understand to continue to disenfranchise the citizens of Mt. Juliet for years, now they are doing even more with this project. Watertown contributes very little to the county in terms of taxes, when compared to what the people in this area of the county contribute anyway. For the county to contribute upwards of $650k to a million dollars to build this building while at the same time ignoring Mt. Juliet and the surrounding areas that lay inside the unincorporated areas of the county is a travesty. It is utterly shameful. You are a career fire fighter for Mt. Juliet, right? Isn’t it a travesty that the county is spending this money for so few people when so many more in this area are being left so under-protected?

    The fact that Watertown is supplying fire protection to the people who live inside the county should be enough for Watertown to make waves. However, I am sure that your door-to-door drives, donations, and fish fry events are well supported by those people who live outside the city, so perhaps it is “fair” if not “Right” that Watertown support them.

    On the same note, I am all for this city and the surrounding area doing things like donation drives, fish fries, and door-to-door campaigns to raise funds to pay for augmentation of services that should be supplied by the county.

    Where I came from we held carnivals, which seems to supply ample money for fire departments because they have very nice facilities and lots of equipment there.

  58. Southsider

    Watertown residents should not have to subsidize fire protection for people who live just outside their city.

    Fire tax districts fix that problem too.

  59. James Copas

    Mr. Huber,

    I was not posting that information to argue with you or anyone else on this board. Simply to correct some mistakes that were previously stated. Even after my explanation there are still some things you are confused on.

    When I said there was a WEMA station in Watertown previously you took that as me meaning a full WEMA station. That is not the case, it was an ambulance only station. There were no fire engines in that station.

    And you are wrong in the statement that I am a “career firefighter for MJ”. I am a career firefighter for Wilson County who happens to provide fire protection for MJ.

    Lastly, I did not come on here to argue any one point. I simply wanted to provide some facts. Some of which you obviously do not want to believe because your judgement is clouded by your opinions. (Reference your comments concerning my statement about the building being in the works long before Jewell was Director.) As I believe I said in my post the building was actually being built before he became director. (And please do not mistake that as me defending Jewell in any way, just stating fact).

  60. Butch Huber

    Mr. Copas,

    I am not arguing, I am trying to figure out the “full” truth in all of this and I am clouded by my opinions, I am just not naive when it comes to politics and politicians. The County Attorney and John Jewell could have, at any time, made sure that the public knew about this and that it was wrong. Leaders of all types have a duty and a responsibility to act when things are right, even if it is after the fact.

    Sorry to call you a “Career firefighter for Mt. Juliet”, what I meant so say was that you are a Career firefighter who works in Mt. Juliet.

    Thank you for clearing up the confusion about the WEMA station in Watertown.

    To all, this whole mess started when a politician started playing politics. We, the citizens of this county, need to fix this problem.

    We have WEMA providing ambulance service to Watertown, but they aren’t fire fighters. We have WEMA providing ambulance service to Lebanon and back-up fire protection if needed. We have WEMA providing fire protection and ambulance services in Mt. Juliet out of a building owned by Mt. Juliet. There is more than half the population of this entire county living in an area probably less than the size of Lebanon, yet we have very few responders in this area and too few station and too little equipment. Our rescue workers are put in perilous situations because politicians are playing politics. The entire county is under-protected because of the enmity that has existed between east and west wilson county. There is a good ol’ boy network that seems to remain alive and well even though this county has grown up and become part of the twenty-first century. This is a complete and utter mess and now that the election is over it will likely get swept under the rug for another couple years or so unless we stay on top of it and force a change.

  61. James Copas

    Mr. Huber,

    You will not hear me dispute the statements in the last paragraph of your post. I whole heartedly believe that fire protection is a mess in this county. I live it everyday. I believe that my life is in more danger than is neccasary by working in MJ under the current staffing levels. I do want to make this clear though, I feel safer as a firefighter in Watertown than I do as a firefighter in the city of MJ. In Watertown during the first 5-8 minutes of an incident we can field somewhere between 10 and 14 personnel. The same is not true in MJ. During the S & S Industries fire there were only 2 firefighters on scene in the first 5-7 minutes.

    One other fact about Watertown Fire that I forgot to mention. The response area for WFD runs from the backside of Cedars of Lebanon park to the Smith Co. line. and from Poplar Hill Rd to the Cannon, Dekalb Co. lines. Just to put into perskpective the area that WFD covers.

    Again, as I said before I agree with your assessment of the situation. From my standpoint though, firefighter safety, work conditions and pay are my primary concern. I really don’t care how that situation gets resolved as long as “forward, positive progress” is made. The building of that station was a huge benefit to the members of WFD and to the WEMA personnel. In my opinion the WEMA station in Watertown was one of many health concerns that WEMA personnel face and the situation was reckified. I applaud then Director McFarland, Wilson Co and Watertown for making it happen and I very seriously doubt you will find a single WEMA employee that believes that building should not have been built.

  62. Southsider

    WEMA is not the only mess made worse by Bob Rochelle – there are a couple more left to clean up.

    If Wilson County is going to have a countywide emergency response service it needs to be funded correctly. The costs of providing that service are different depending on where you live in this county. It is impossible to fund this system correctly using politics.

    I predict that east Wilson County will beg for Fire Tax Districts after the 2010 census redistricting takes place.

  63. Doc Cider

    Step One of the steps needed to fix the problems in Wilson County has been taken care of by the voters and by two candidates who worked hard to win. I congratulate Mr. Brockman and Dr. Clariday and the voters in their districts. And in the Villages, another commissioner who made the notorious vote to take away fire protection here did not run this time. Bradshaw will be an improvement. He is accessible and willing to please if not a rocket scientist.

    We can debate all day about the Watertown fire station, but the fact is that station should have been built here. I’m not saying the station should not have been built in Watertown. But we need a similar facility, probably two, with the personnel to staff them.

    Southsider is right, the census will show a disproportionate population increase on the west side of the county. Half or more of the county commission districts will likely be west of 109, with more within the Mt. Juliet city limits. So we also have a better chance of getting those tax districts.

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