October 2015

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Candidate Forum Summary

Watertown forum puts candidates in spotlight

By Sandy Campbell
Staff Writer
Lebanon Democrat

Six candidates seeking the three contested seats on the Watertown City Council answered questions at a forum at the Watertown Elementary School Gym last night.
The forum was co-sponsored by The Democrat, which presented the event live on its webcast at lebanondemocrat.com, and The Watertown Gazette.
Gazette Publisher and Editor Lounita Howard moderated the event.

The candidates were current Alderman Jim Amero and Vice Mayor Brandon Howard and challengers Kristie Cantrell, Jimmy Locke, Jimmy Foster and Jim Mahoney who served as an alderman from 1988 to 1994.
The questions were submitted to the candidates in advance and three questions were taken from the audience at the end.

Q. It is often said that there are not enough activities for the youth in Watertown; that unless you take part in athletics, there is little to occupy your time. Noting that and in light of problems with vandalism, harassment and other acts committed or suspected done by teenagers or very young adults in Watertown over the past year and a half, what solutions would you pose to address this issue?

Jimmy Locke: "Having nothing to do is not an excuse for tearing up property." He said a skateboard park would be one possibility but expects the insurance to be "astronomical." He said he would serve on a committee to address the issue.

Brandon Howard: He said he had been very active in the parks programs and had coached athletic teams. He said that a FEMA grant will help establish a walking trail.

Jimmy Foster: "There is no excuse for vandalism." He said the problem needs to be addressed to the youths themselves. "We need to ask them. I'll listen to them."

Jim Amero: He said a representative from the students might be a good idea. He said programs like the Adopt a Grandparent or Saddle Clubs might help. "Some of these kids walk around town with a chip on their shoulder ... we need to communicate better." He said he believes a skateboard park would be "workable."

Jim Mahoney: He said it was time the city developed the area behind the city park. He favors a concrete area for skateboarding and roller blades as well as a bicycle trail. "There's lots of state financial aid grants out there."

Kristie B. Cantrell: She agreed that expanding the park would be a good idea, but noted that much of the problems begin at home.


Q. The issue of allowing beer sales for on-premises consumption was brought before council several months ago as a way to help local businesses. What proposals or suggestions do you have relating to attracting and keeping businesses in Watertown? (The question was asked twice in an effort to make certain the candidates answered the question fully.)

Mahoney: "My stand is we should follow the law," noting that the state has laws that keep beer sales 300 feet from public gathering places. "The only way to keep local businesses in town is for local people to support them."
He later said, "Shop locally, buy locally."

Locke: He said he remembered when "thugs" were on the square drinking beer and we "don't want to go back to that." He later said there is land available in the industrial park and agreed that local businesses should be supported.

Howard: He said he would always vote no on selling beer on the square because the taxes gained would not pay for the necessary policing. He later said, "Shop here. It's that simple. We're a sales tax-based state."

Cantrell: She agreed and said lots of people have told her that beer should not be sold on the square. She later added, "Everything you need is here."

Amero: "Selling beer and wine is not at the top of my list. People are impressed when they come to our city and they come back."

Foster: "As far as beer goes, I don't care ...we probably don't need it. To bring new businesses in we have to support businesses that are here. If you want businesses to come to Watertown, spend your money." He later emphasized marketing the city better.

Q. Many people have suggested that more services for our elderly are needed to Watertown. Given that the budget is tight, what, if any, ideas – such as a bookmobile – would you propose to fill this void?

Amero: He once drove a bookmobile, he said. "We do need to involve elderly people." He suggested they have a lot of history to share and could be train greeters or story tellers.

Mahoney: He proposed a senior citizen alertness network and believes one of the city's police cars could be a scan vehicle. He proposed a Meals on Wheels program.

Locke: He drew a laugh from the audience by noting that he is a senior citizen who is neglected by his wife. He said his elderly friends have not mentioned they need anything from the city.

Foster: He urged members of the community to visit the elderly and show them that they care. He liked the bookmobile idea.

Cantrell: She said the seniors already meet twice a month. "Let's ask them." She suggested more youth involvement with the senior citizen community.

Howard: He stressed that Watertown is a volunteer city and said the police chief does check up on seniors. He said water rates are based on consumption, which gives seniors a break if they live alone.

Q. The fire protection issue has become a hot topic (no pun intended) in the Lebanon and Mt. Juliet city elections and was one in the country mayor and county commission races this past summer. What are your thoughts on how to provide fair and adequate fire protection for all of Wilson County?

Cantrell: "I think our fire department does a wonderful job."

Amero: "Mt. Juliet needs to step up to the plate ... Watertown needs to find money to buy a new fire truck."

Mahoney: He also praised the Watertown firefighters and said he wanted to "jump on the bandwagon about Mt. Juliet."

Howard: As the captain of the WFD, he said, "We are an example for the rest of the county." He said the equipment was "top of the line" and said the lack of fire protection is "Mt. Juliet's problem."

Foster: He talked about the community's need to take precautions to avoid fires.

Locke: "Good luck to Mayor Hutto in working with Mt. Juliet ... Mt. Juliet's got more money than Fort Knox. If they want a fire hall they can build it and staff it."

Q. There are concerns about water quality in Watertown. Rainwater runs directly into our sewer, and there are also concerns about sewer capacity, raised recently when a subdivision of property was brought before the Watertown Municipal Planning Commission along with a request to annex commercially-zoned property so the developer could have sewer service. What do you see as the needs of Watertown in relation to sewer/water service and how to provide for future growth with limited financial resources?

Foster: He said, "The water does not taste good." He said there were "geysers" shooting out of sewers during the May floods. He suggested community fundraising events to pay for improvements.

Cantrell: She agreed that the water is bad tasting but said another way should be found other than raising water fees.

Amero: "I don't foresee us raising water fees."

Locke: He said Watertown's water meets all state standards. "Rain always goes in sewers." He said it would take federal money to fix the problems.

Howard: He defended the water quality and said, "Our capacity is there" for expansion. He noted that Watertown is tied into the county water system. "Let's not talk ourselves out of commercial growth."

Mahoney: He called for a review council to study why "our water bills are too high – senior citizens can't afford it."

Q. Do you believe that a new Watertown High School needs to be kept inside the city limits? Why or why not? If you answer yes, how would you as a council member work with the Board of Education to insure that a new WHS remains within the city limits?

Howard: He said the lack of a 40 to 60-acre parcel within the city limits probably means the high school would be built in Watertown's "sphere of influence." He said the city's sewer system can handle it.. "Don't be misled."

Foster: He too believes the school should be built close to the limits and said there are "lots of places students can commute safely."

Cantrell: She agreed it should be in the city but should be built close.

Mahoney: He said there was a lot of available land on the Highway 70 corridor that the city could annex after the school is built.

Locke: "I just want to see it. If its outside the city limits, it shouldn't be far." He added that the high school should be as well-equipped as the ones in
Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.

In questions from the audience, the candidates were asked again to give "fresh ideas" on generating funds to support the community.

Amero said communication from citizens would help.

Locke and Mahoney said the city should consentrate on recruiting for the industrial park.

Cantrell admitted she had no answer, but would work with the council to develop ideas.

Foster warned that they shouldn't be greedy and should look to appropriate businesses like outlet malls, roller rinks and movie theaters.

Howard said the city should be more vocal in the Joint Economic Development Board meetings and use the assets Watertown has, such as the depot and the historic district.

Asked if the city should be compensated when a production company films in the city, Howard, Foster and Cantrell said it would depend on whether the city's resources were used or if Watertown businesses were blocked or had to compete with caterers brought in by the companies.

Mahoney said companies should compensate residents for any inconvenience they caused.

Locke sees nothing wring with charging the companies who he said have "big bucks," while Amero said it is a matter of communication and "if they block you, they should pay you."

The audience question was: "City pays $24,000 a year towards the library. One payment of $6,000 was missed. Do you support continuing to make these payments?"

Amero said yes. Locke and Mahoney are unfamiliar with the issue but support the library, as does Cantrell, who said, "They have wonderful programs for children," and Foster who said the thought of cutting library funds "sickens me."

Howard said the city was committed to paying the $6,000 and would do so when property tax money comes in.


Jim Amero


Kristie Cantrell


Jimmy Foster


Brandon Howard

Jimmy Locke

Jim Mahoney

Photos by Bill Cook, The Lebanon Democrat

See more Win In'10 series election coverage online at www.lebanondemocrat.com


Trick-Or-Treat on the Square

Trick-Or-Treat on the Square:

Watertown will celebrate Halloween this year with our annual Trick-Or-Treat on the Public Square.

Trick-Or-Treating will commence from 5 pm until approximately 7-7:30 p.m on Friday, October 31st.

WWII Re-Enactment

Watertown, TN WWII Re-Enactment

The annual Watertown TN battle will take place Nov 15th this year, with setup and camping on Friday the 14th in the park at the train station through Sunday morning (no pre-registration required for camping). Please feel free to visit the camps - you'll get a chance to look at a piece of 'living history' up close! Once the battle begins all spectators will be asked to keep a safe distance away.

Public battles will be at 11:00AM and 2:30PM

There will be no train this year due to the schedule date change. Expect crowds to be down from previous years.

Facebook page for the Watertown battle is https://www.facebook.com/events/1472494913006529/

There is limited room for approved reenactors to participate. You must be registered to participate in the battles (see below).

Registration will be handled by the city this year. Come to the encampment area and you will be directed to registration. Please register before setting up camp. Tentative hours will be 2:00PM-9:00PM on Friday and 07:30AM-09:00AM on Saturday.

Please do not set up your camp without checking with Darrel Fisher for designated tent and parking areas.

The city has commited that food and firewood will be available to reenactors. We are still working out which meal(s).

The covered pavilion at the train station will be available to vendors and displays at a first come basis. You will not be allowed to park your vehicle at or around the pavilion. Vendor area is free, bring your own tables. Lights and power available.

There is one house between the Allied camp and the side road. Do not use their driveway for vehicle or pedestrian travel.

Photos from previous events can be found on Derek DeWeese's blog here:


Details on some of the re-enactors can be found here:

Caleb Brown Benefit

Date of Event:  Nov 13, 2010
DeKalb County Fairgrounds

calebA 5K run benefit for Caleb Brown will be held on Saturday, November 13th starting at 9:00 a.m. at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria.
Registration is $10.00 and all the proceeds will go to Caleb's Trust Fund. Caleb was seriously injured after being struck by a 25 plus pound rock while visiting Fall Creek Falls on a family camping trip. Caleb remains in TC Thompson's Children's Hospital in Chattanooga.

Following the 5K, a concert will be held at the Lion's Club Pavilion on the fairgrounds from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 13th. featuring performers Joe Rucker, Jennifer Brantley, Jeff Batson, Diane Berry, Don Wayne, Jimmy Payne, and celebrity impressionist Johnny Counterfeit.
The concert is proud to feature :
 - Jeff Batson - whose recent song made the title track on Tracy Lawrence's CD, The Rock, which was nominated for a Grammy
 - The legendary Jimmy Payne - who had #1 songs with Charlie Pride, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, as well as others
 - Don Wayne -a member of the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame and writer of such country classics as Lefty Frizell's Saginaw Michigan and Cal Smith's Country Bumpkin

Admission is $5.00 or $1.00 if you are wearing your Caleb's Run shirt!

A silent auction will also be held with LOTS of great items including autographed memorabilia.
George Jones and famed cartoonist Guy Gilchrist are donating items for the silent auction that will be held during the show.

Donations may be made to: Caleb's Run C/O Bobbie Ford, 343 Old Alexandria Road, Watertown, TN 37184. or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Caleb's Run - November 13th


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