Annual Hendersonville Christmas Parade held December 3

The annual Hendersonville Christmas Parade was held December 3,  an unseasonably warm afternoon. The parade drew a large crowd of locals and out-of-town visitors. Produced under the HolidayFest umbrella, the parade had more than 80 entrants, including floats, classic cars, clowns and musical performances by high school marching bands.

This year’s Christmas parade was emceed by Channel 4 morning anchor Holly Thompson, who also served as a parade judge. Additional judges included Fox 17 News anchor Scott Couch, Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kathleen Hawkins and Dr. Paul Leavitt of Leavitt Family Medicine. The 2017 parade grand marshal was Diamond Rio’s Dana Williams.

Vol State Shows $584 Million Economic Impact

Volunteer State Community College generated a $584 million impact to the regional economy over the past five years, a study conducted for the college shows. The analysis of the economic impact of Vol State on its 11 county service area revealed the value of business volume and individual income generated an average of $117 million each year during the 2011-16 period of the study. That impact is estimated to have created or sustained 20,988 jobs during those five years, according to study author and Knoxville educational consultant Fred H. Martin.

The report estimates that business volume—the total amount generated locally by businesses from the college’s direct and indirect expenditures—was $293 million for the five-year period, up significantly from the 2004-09 report. The economic impact study notes that each dollar of revenue coming into Vol State generated a return on investment of up to $6.58.

The study also analyzed the impact of the 2015-16 graduating class. It estimated that the 991 graduates for that year would have $465.8 million potential additional lifetime earnings due to their education. That is projected to produce nearly $60 million each year in income for the graduates and $1.9 million in annual tax payments per year. Data shows that 73 percent of Vol State graduates stay in Tennessee.

Adult Students Highlight Vol State Fall Graduation

Volunteer State Community College held its fall commencement ceremony on Saturday, December 16. The event drew hundreds of students, family and well-wishers to the Pickel Field House on the campus in Gallatin. There were 729 students eligible to graduate, representing 17 different countries of birth. Twenty-two of the graduates are military veterans, and 227 were TN Promise students. The stories of adult students were a highlight of the ceremony.

Joanne Layton of Gallatin was named Fall 2017 Outstanding Graduate. Layton, a computer information technology student, had a long career at AT&T, rising to management, all without a college degree. A forced retirement left her in a fix.

“I found it difficult to find employment doing anything because I didn’t have a college degree,” she said. “When I worked with AT&T, I handled projects with multimillion-dollar budgets. I had all this experience, and I wanted to use it. It was demeaning.”

One company even suggested she seek employment as a hotel maid. Layton had other ideas.

“My AT&T experience was all mainframe computers, which is fast going away in most companies. Now I’m working with client-server applications and computer networking.”

Graduate Charles Ware of Portland shared his path to a degree.

“I started taking one class at a time,” he said. “It was the only way I could do it given that I was working 50-60 hours a week.”

Five years later, he graduated with an associate’s degree in secondary education. He has some advice for other adult students: “Don’t give up; be persistent. I feel so proud; I can’t stop smiling.”

The stories of adult students graduating are especially timely, given the TN Reconnect program, starting next fall, which will provide community college education tuition-free for adult students who do not have a college degree.

Tristar Hendersonville Medical Center Names Nick Howald Chief Operating Officer

Tristar Hendersonville announced the appointment of Nick Howald as the hospital’s new chief operating officer.

“We are proud to welcome Nick Howald to our team,” Regina Bartlett, TriStar Hendersonville CEO said. “Howald’s experience as a health care executive and proven leadership record will be a huge asset to our community as we strive to improve our operations to serve the growing needs of Sumner County.”

Howald most recently served as the associate chief operating officer at TriStar Centennial Medical Center, where he earned increasing roles of responsibility since joining their team as an administrative intern in May 2014. 

Howald earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, his master’s from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and his MBA from Tippie School of Management at the University of Iowa.

City of Hendersonville Names Rod Kirk as new Economic 
Development Professional

Hendersonville Mayor Jamie Clary announced the city has hired Rod Kirk to be the city’s assistant for economic development.

“Rod will be responsible for bringing more professional jobs to Hendersonville,” Clary said. “We have thousands of professional employees living here, but many are spending too much time getting to their jobs in other cities. When we attract employers to Hendersonville, our residents spend more time with their families and less time commuting.”

Kirk most recently worked as a technology acceleration specialist for the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services. Before that business development position, he was the assistant vice president for the Clarksville-Montgomery County Economic Development Council. He also has worked for the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Kathleen Hawkins, president/CEO of the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce, said she is looking forward to Kirk filling the position.

“We need a point person selling Hendersonville and the workforce that we have to offer,” she said. “We have such a strong retail and restaurant base with exceptional people in service and professional jobs. Hendersonville needs to continue the trend of attracting professional employers.”

Kirk will join the mayor’s staff amid a local business surge. During the past six months, Hendersonville has issued permits for more than $7 million in office construction. At the same time, Hendersonville’s population is increasing at an average rate of one family per day.

First Baptist Church Displays a Football Field-Wide Nativity Scene

During the 2017 holiday season, the Hendersonville First Baptist Church displayed a unique exterior nativity scene. The display, located at the end of one of the church’s parking lots, spanned more than 300 feet, nearly the length of a football field.

The display was designed and constructed by local physician Dr. Tommy Crunk, who spent more than 900 hours laying out, cutting, sanding and painting each of the display pieces. Collectively, the nativity scene featured more than 140 individual display pieces, including baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, the Magi, palm trees, sheep, camels, cattle and a small shepherd boy. The display was also illuminated at night so that the attraction can be enjoyed around the clock. From 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., the illuminated display featured a skylight to help guide visitors to the scene, similar to the story of the Christmas star.

Crunk was inspired to build the display due to childhood memories of visiting a long-gone nativity scene that was an annual attraction at the Parthenon in Nashville each year until the late ’60s.