Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wooded Rapist foiled in Brentwood

Best news to come out of Nashville in weeks, months, years? Yesterday's conviction of Robert Jason Burdick, better known as the Wooded Rapist.
Burdick is accused of committing numerous sexual assaults on Middle Tennessee women over the course of 14 years. It was almost the perfect crime, or crimes, as the case may be. A perfect episode for CBS' Cold Case. But now, at last, the storyline can play out on NBC's Law & Order.
Last year Brentwood police officer Elliott Hamm made the first break in the case, which includes an 2004 assault in the Meadowlake subdivision and others just over the county line. Ironically, Hamm's first encounter with Burdick also occurred in the older north Brentwood neighborhood that's bordered by Franklin Road and Maryland Farms.
Wednesday's conviction brings to a close the first of what will likely be many court appearances for Burdick.
"I think this conviction is a great thing for our case as well," Brentwood Police Chief Ricky Watson told me today of the case which will be tried in Williamson County. "With the evidence against him, I feel very good about multiple convictions."
Burdick was found guilty on two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated burglary. His sentencing is scheduled for June 10. He faces up to 56 years in prison from this first conviction.

One of the key factors in Burdick's conviction, according to all published reports, was the cool thinking of the victim in that particular case. The Donelson woman kept her head after being violated and preserved as much evidence as possible.
Though no one ever wants to think of being raped, there are steps Brentwood women can take to be prepared in the event they are in danger.
One of the best is the R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) Program that the Brentwood Police Department offers as free community service.
R.A.D. is the largest and fastest growing women’s only self-defense program in the United States and Canada, according to the city's website. It offers "practical options for responding to increasing acts of violence against women."
Brentwood's 12-hour R.A.D. program is taught in four three-hour sessions and is open to all women age 13 and up. Best of all, it's designed for virtually all fitness and skill levels. To learn more about upcoming programs, contact Officer Mark Wood 371-2267 or email him at

And finally, a gentle reminder to keep Joe Lassus, our city Planning Director, in your thoughts and prayers. He undergoes surgery on the brain tumor discovered just a few weeks ago early Friday morning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cool treat for cheap RIGHT NOW

"Mom, does this have nuts in it?" the little girl with a pink top and matching pink flip flops asked her mom of the ice cream cone she was licking outside of Brentwood's Baskin Robbins about 45 minutes ago.
"No," her mom said, "it doesn't have nuts but people are nuts if they don't get down here by 10 p.m. tonight for 31-cent scoop night."
OK, I made up the last part but that's what I want to tell you. Our neighborhood ice cream store is even offering FREE waffle cones. Of course, being on South Beach, I had a "no sugar added" Caramel Turtle Truffle in a cup, but let me tell you, those waffle cones smelled great. They've got the waffle iron going full steam in anticipation of the crowds.
Baskin Robbins is located in The Brentwood House shopping center, at the intersection of Franklin Road and Town Center Way.

How did I know about the ice cream deal? I saw the sign twirlers after I left The Perch, the new coffee bar and crepe cafe that's opened beside The Skinbar.
Unfortunately the door was locked at 5 when I tried to enter. Fortunately owner John Kressaty let me in, saying they had some house coffee left and I was welcome to a cup.
I like this place already.
Plan to go back for lunch tomorrow to talk with John and his lovely bride Heather Chandler and get the big scoop on The Perch. Too bad BR won't be offering free little scoops again on Thursday.

Let's vote ... for Jesse Lee

Gotcha on the headline I hope. You thought I was writing ... again ... on the Brentwood City Commission race. Well, have you voted? Thursday's the last day to vote early. The Big Day is next Tuesday, with 10 polling spots open from 7-7 so you have no excuses.
But forget politics for a while. Let's talk country music. Specifically Jesse Lee.
Brentwood has its share of country music divas that call it home, think Dolly and Carrie. Hopefully it's about to have a new one.
Jesse Lee is the first country artist Atlantic Records signed in over a decade. Her first single, "It's A Girl Thing" is out and her first album is due in the fall.
How did I learn about her? At the last California Girls gathering way too long ago. (The California Girls is the disparate group of mostly Brentwood women who have all lived in California at one time or other and gather occasionally for fun times.) Jesse's mom Pegi Levin brought her along and once we heard Jesse's story, we talked her into singing for us. A fan club was instantly formed.
Want to join the club too? It's easy. Check out her video at or www.myspace/jesselee. Read her bio at, on the Artists page. And while you're there, be sure to vote for her video to return to GAC's Top 20. Just scroll down until you see Fan Zone and hit 'Vote for Videos.' You can vote once a day.
Why do I like her so much? Guess "It's a Girl Thing"

"We love romance, and candlelight/ You like a cold beer, we like a fine wine/ You hardly talk, we can talk all night/ You wanna fix it, we just wanna cry/ It's a girl thing."

-- Jesse Lee

Coming up: Plans for the new children's library, a visit to The Perch and more.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Baptists have best bar in town

Made a huge discovery yesterday that must be shared, because from the looks of it, those responsible are trying to keep it pretty quiet. Can't say I blame them. If I was a Baptist church with a great bar, I might try to keep it to myself too. Wouldn't want those Methodists or Presbyterians trying to get a piece of the action. Word might get out and next thing you know there would be bars all over the place.
And this is Brentwood. If Nashville's the buckle of the Bible Belt, that makes our city the belt strap for sure.
Indeed, the Connection Cafe is hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for. It's definitely not following the old marketing rule of the corner effect -- where similar, and competing business, all spring up at the same corner. There's no directional signage, at least not yet. And you don't find any "Happy Hour from 3-6" flyers posted on the light poles either.
But, if you're looking for a great cup of coffee, lunch or a red velvet cupcake piled high with frosting, it's worth following the "seek and ye shall find" formula.
After voting yesterday, I turned left onto the new Mallory Lane Extension that Brentwood Baptist and Fellowship Bible churches so conveniently got started for us, stoplight and all.
Though I had no idea where it was, I stayed on the new road until I saw what appeared to be the likely entrance. The large lettering proclaiming the building as the "Connection Center" served as a clue.
What greeted me inside was a marvel. A coffee bar that far surpasses anything else in town. Starbucks seems like a closet in comparison.
Cafe manager Jonathan Mayfield and barrista John Paul Penrod are an affable pair. They shared how one recent day Fellowship lost its power so a lot of its staff brought their laptops over to take advantage of the cafe's free wifi and spent the day with their neighbors.
The cupcakes are made by Ivy Cake in Franklin. There are lots of other food options too. Once I get off this pesky South Beach Diet, I plan to raid the pastry case.
In the meantime, if you're looking for new place to get a cup of coffee, have a quiet lunch or meet up with a life coach or friends, check it out. It's worth the search. And everyone's welcome, there are no "Must be 21 and a Baptist to enter" signs. This Methodist plans to make it a regular stop.
The Connection Cafe is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m.-7p.m. Sundays.

Coming up: I've heard great reports from The Perch, another new coffee house in town. Will let you know what I think as soon as I visit! Feel free to share your thoughts on local food and beverage spots too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Four votes cast, final goes to Freeman

Today at 11:43 a.m. I became the 936th voter at the Brentwood Library and 1277th overall in the City Commission election.
That means there are still 24,738 votes to be cast on or before Election Day, May 5.
At least that's what my new friends, Election Commissioner Elaine Hughes and poll workers Wanda Graham and Stephen Argalas told me when I made it to the Teen Central area to cast my votes.
Brentwood has 26,015 registered voters, Elaine shared. Let's see if we can't at least top 20 percent in this important local election.
After a lot of thought, and a great meeting over coffee last Friday, Rod Freeman has earned my last vote.
The decision did not come easy. It meant not voting for two incumbents who have served the city long and well. It meant not voting for a female candidate after being so pumped during last year's election cycle when women made great strides in political arenas. Natalie Mertie has really grown as a candidate over the course of the election and deserves consideration.
But in getting to know Rod, I was so impressed that he is not a politician. Far from it. He almost apologized for running and is the first to admit he's uncomfortable in the political arena, though he has the best resume of all the candidates in another type of one.
The former NBA and Vandy basketball player is quiet and thoughtful. He has been active in the community for over two decades, through schools, Rotary, youth sports and his church. He's owns his own company and understands how the current economy is affecting small businesses.
I left our meeting assured that he had no hidden agendas and is not running to represent any particular group or constituency.
So my four votes went to incumbent Paul Webb, and newcomers Devin McClendon, Rhea Little and Rod Freeman.
Your votes are yours. No matter who you support, the important thing is to become an informed voter and participate in the process. If you haven't yet voted -- and that would include almost 24,000 Brentwood citizens -- take some time evaluating all of the candidates. Think about your priorities and concerns about the city in the coming years. Give the candidates a call. Review newspaper stores that have already been published. Talk to your friends and neighbors.
Then vote.
Seven of the 10 candidates have websites. Here are links if you'd like to learn more:


So happy to report that an unplanned contribution to Rhea Little's campaign was averted today, through the quick action of AAA.
Son Thomas' 1991 Plymouth Acclaim had been acting up again. It would crank but not start.
Trying our best to keep the auto club in business during the economic downtown, I called, once again, for help, expecting it to be towed, once again, to Little Brothers Shell on Franklin Road.
Amazing things happen though when a car that's gas gauge reads almost empty is pushed onto level ground.
Another miracle to add to the books.
Coming tomorrow: Move over Starbucks, there's new competition in town

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Concert of Hope tonight for one and all

Regardless of your faith, or if you even claim to be a person of faith, tonight's Concert of Hope at Brentwood United Methodist Church promises to be an event that raises spirits for all who attend.
"We invite the community ... to reach out to those they know who may be suffering and in despair at this time. All of us know people who are struggling economically, socially, physically and emotionally, and we offer this music as one comforting tool for tough times," the church announced in its invitation.
For the most part, I am over the pity party I threw myself after losing my job in December. I quickly put things in God's hands and so far he hasn't let me down. But almost daily I learn about friends and acquaintances in Brentwood and beyond also now struggling with job loss or cut hours or slow real estate markets or lost college funds or any number of other difficulties. I learned this morning about a fabulous Brentwood woman whose cancer has returned.
A Facebook friend just sent a note sharing that our Middle Tennessee Goodwill doesn't have enough donations at a time when demand for its stores' inventory is higher than ever. Though we don't have a store in Brentwood -- and boy do I wish we did! -- we do have a collection point at the Wilson Pike recycling center just south of Concord Road. I'm sure Thrift Smart, Graceworks and other nonprofit agencies are experiencing the same challenges.
But it's a beautiful day in a beautiful city in a beautiful country in a beautiful world. We have so much to be grateful for. And I think a night of music may be just the thing to remind us all of that.
The concert features the 120-voice Chancel Choir, Treble Chorus comprised of 5th-12th graders and the Franklin Boys Choir. The choirs will be accompanied by the Orchestra of Brentwood. Guest soloist is Scot Cameron of Dallas, Texas, and the concert is directed by Dr. David Keith.
The church is located at 309 Franklin Road, across the street from Brentwood Place shopping center.
If other churches, schools or organizations are hosting similar events, please let me know. I'd love to spread the news.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Prom gods smile down on Brentwood

Tonight Ravenwood High's upperclassman will be dancing under the stars, or close to it, when their prom takes place at Historic Carnton Plantation. Can't wait for reports about how it goes under the big tent. The weather couldn't be better and I know many parents have been working hard to make it a memorable night.
While I'm sending good thoughts to all those decorating this morning, I'm so happy to be at my desk, still in my jams, at 9:59 this Saturday. Last week we were three hours into building the "set" for Brentwood High's 'Emerald Enclave" prom at The Factory.
The Brentwood prom -- with the exception of the late rain, and possibly the song choices by the DJ (lame in my 49-year-old, Prom Mom opinion; whatever happened to live bands?) -- the evening couldn't have been better.
Hope everyone attending and associated with tonight's event has a marvelous time too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

1,007 votes and counting

How convenient! You can vote for up to four of your favorite Brentwood City Commission candidates and pick up a slew of summer reading material all at the same time this weekend.
According to the Williamson County Election Commission, 1007 Brentwood citizens had cast votes either by mail or at early voting stations through Thursday. With five days left to vote early and our official Election Day on May 5 ahead, I'm hopeful we can at least reach 5,000.
Tell you what: I'll call five of my friends and you call five of your friends who can call five of their friends to remind all who are registered to be sure to vote. Better yet, let's make it 10. These don't have to be campaign calls, in fact, we don't even have to mention the candidates. We just need to remind everyone that each voter can cast up to four votes and how important it is that all Brentwood residents -- old-timers, newcomers, seniors of both the mature and high school variety, young professionals and longtime business people -- are represented in the election. Remember, our population is inching close to 36,000; expecting 5,000 votes is not too much to hope for.
And as we clearly learned in 2007, each vote counts.
In the last city election, candidates Betsy Crossley and Paul Ross each received 1,740 votes, resulting in a costly runoff. I can't count the number of people I talked to afterward who said, "I really like Betsy and meant to vote," or "I told Paul I'd vote for him but never made it to the polls." All said they regretted not making the effort.
Early voting continues at the Brentwood Library, 8109 Concord Road, and the city's Municipal Building today untl 6 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon, and next Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. If you work in Franklin, ballots can also be cast at the Williamson County Election Commission Office, 1320 West Main Street, Suite 140.
And since the Friends of the Brentwood Library's book sale is ongoing today until 5 and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (when everything's half price!) it's a great opportunity to shop and vote at the same time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No stimulus needed for teen talent bank

While many in Brentwood were listening to Brentwood's own Dave Ramsey's nationally simulcast Town Hall meeting (wish I could have been in two places!), I attended the Brentwood High School Choral Department's "Mainly a Capella" concert.
I never cease to be amazed at the level of talent our high school students possess. Did you see Beauty and the Beast at BHS or Footloose at Ravenwood this spring?
After the Beauty curtain closed in March, my brother, in town from Virginia, made the statement: "This was better than most of the theater I've seen in Richmond the past few years."
Thursday night's concert was just another example of the incredibly talented youth that live here. Taylor DeFore's take on "Superman" left me speechless. Brett Rosenblum totally rocked "You Raise Me Up." In the spirit of full disclosure, my son Thomas had a solo as well (which is why I wasn't at the Town Hall meeting). Believe me, he doesn't get his pipes from his mother.
If you've missed this spring's earlier productions or concerts, don't despair. Just plan to head to Brentwood Academy this weekend for Into the Woods.
Shows continue Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Reserved tickets, available online only, are $12. General admission tickets are $8. Visit for details. Hope some talent scouts have been in the audiences this spring. If not, they've missed a fine opportunity to discover some amazing young talent.
Maybe we could add a local teen talent show to the always popular but growing tired lineup at Crockett Park this summer. Now that could be amazing.

Teens, rules and the ALC

For weeks, the alleged actions of several Ravenwood High School students at an off-campus, YMCA-sponsored event have kept tongues wagging, parents in an uproar and resulted in an increased law enforcement presence on the campus. They have also brought to light questions about the county's Alternative Learning Center.
And for the record, Ravenwood's not alone. Several Brentwood High students have been arrested in recent months for off-campus activities as well.
Today's Williamson A.M. features a story on the ALC from the perspective of its teachers and students. The section also has a Letter to the Editor from a friend of the students who were reassigned to the ALC after the incident.
Here are links to the stories:
If you have experience with ALC, positive or negative, please share your thoughts. If you are a parent, student or law-enforcement officer with an opinion on the recent events or related topics, please share. If you don't want to post a comment, send me an email at
I'll write more on this, and share my thoughts, in the next few days.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Details on Day in Brentwood's Past

Linda Lynch, the city's community relations director, shares the following information on Saturday's “A Day in Brentwood’s Past.” Sounds like fun, so let's all try to be there!

Here's the city's press release:

Have you ever wanted to step back in time? Or wanted to see the interior of the Cool Springs House or the Log House at Crockett Park? Are you looking for something fun the family can do together? The Brentwood Historic Commission invites the public to travel back in time at this free family event at Crockett Park on Saturday, April 25 from 10-2.

For a few hours the historic area at Crockett Park will return to yesteryears. Visitors can stroll at their own pace and see a blacksmith, a spinner and a long hunter demonstrate their skills.
The exhibits, some of them hands on, will include Civil War memorabilia, music including a fife, drum and bugle trio, a guitarist and dulcimers players, crafts, and native animals including ‘native Brentwood goats’. Children will especially enjoy the old fire truck. This day has something for everyone.

Both historic homes will be open with greeters in period clothing.

This program was held for 13 years for fourth graders as a field trip. This is the first year that it is being offered to the general public as a family experience. Make this part of your Saturday at the park.

Town Center Mole Fest volunteers needed

Franklin's biggest party, the Main Street Festival, is this weekend. Did you know Brentwood's having a party this Saturday too?
That's what I was afraid of.
I learned about "A Day in Brentwood's Past' last night from Sandy Noble -- who, by the way, should never be referred to as "wife of City Commission Alex Noble." Sandy and her family will bring goats and chickens to the event.
The city's updated website,, lists only a time and date, no details.
The celebration marking the city's 40th birthday got three lines in today's Brentwood Journal story on the city's history without a breakout box on details.
For now, we know it's at Crockett Park and starts at 10 a.m. Check back here later for the complete scoop!
Speaking of festivals, expanding the number of city-sponsored events was a hot topic at last week's candidates forum at Ravenwood High School. What we kept hearing from the incumbents was "bring us an idea."
"Brentwood is built on volunteers," Paul Webb (who I have endorsed) said. Efforts like this "need to start with volunteers." Those in the forum audience heard that over and over from the candidates.
"The city stands ready to assist," Joe Reagan stated.
Let's take them at their word. I'm ready to take a leadership role in coordinating and planning a new festival in Brentwood. Who says we have to wait until Town Center is redeveloped to throw a party there? Several people have already expressed interest in helping with such an event. Spread the word, and if you want to be involved -- or even better provide some big bucks to get it started -- send me an email.
I want to call it The Town Center Mole Fest. Don't discount the idea. Here's why:
Brentwood used to have a Pear Fest. Then all the now-despised Bradford Pears started blowing down limb by limb and, thankfully, are disappearing from our fair city.
Just think what might come from a Mole Fest!
It's book sale days again at the Brentwood Library and the Friends of the Brentwood Library are always in a happy daze when they come around.
Not only can you snatch up some great bargains, it will give you a chance to check out all the construction. Hours are noon-1-7 p.m. today; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday.
Next Wednesday at 3 p.m., plans for the new children's area will be unveiled. I can't wait to see them!
Have BrentWord worthy news to share or want to help plan the Mole Festival? Contact me at

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chamber's in great hands

Yesterday Brad Dunn, chairman of the Brentwood Cool Springs Chamber of Commerce, sent an email with the subject line: "Brentwood Chamber Chooses New President and CEO."
I didn't want to open it. I didn't want to read that Cindi Parmenter, who has led the chamber in an interim role for the past six months or so, would be replaced by someone else, probably someone from outside of Brentwood as these nationwide searches go.
But no, I'm happy to report that the email informed chamber members that, indeed, Cindi was the candidate of choice and will remain in the role she's so ably filled during the transition.
Congratulations -- to Cindi, but even more to the chamber and Brentwood business community. You're in great hands.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coming soon: Updates on prom, PETA and much more

Wow. What a weekend, make that two weekends in a row, in our fair city. I'm still recuperating from it all but I promise full reports as the day goes on.
For now, suffice it to say that Brentwood High's Emerald Enclave by all accounts was a success and I'm happy to report that all goldfish used in the table centerpieces survived the evening and have been adopted. No little fishes disappeared down the throats of pranksters or down the toilet at the end of the evening. PETA would be proud.
In these days of economic downtown, I've discovered a way to eat and drink your way through the next few weeks without spending a dime. Stay tuned for details so you can take part, and become more politically aware at the same time!
Bet you always thought Santa Claus drove a sleigh. But no! On Saturday I spied him in a bright red Mercedes convertible on Moore's Lane. How did I know it was him? Well, the "S Claus" license plate gave me a clue. Williamson County plates too.
Who knew he had a summer home right here in Tennessee?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Devin's won my third vote

Thousands of people attended Wednesday's Tea Party in Franklin. Only 60 or so attended Thursday night's final Brentwood City Commission candidates night, by far the best of the four held this election season. The questions were fresh and different. Several of the candidates really began differentiating themselves from the pack while others missed opportunities to open themselves up to new ideas and innovations.
In my estimation, the local race can have so much more impact on people's actual lives than state or national politics since it involves their home, their schools, their property taxes, their environment. I had hoped the excitement and involvement experienced during the November elections would light the fire under this local one. I worry it's just flickering.
After attending all of the candidates nights, I stand by my support of Paul Webb and Rhea Little. And I'm now ready to add a third to the list.
The day I picked up a candidate's petition for the Brentwood race a young man was already at the county's election office counter. He looked at me and said, "Are you running? This could be very interesting."
I didn't but it has.
He introduced himself as Devin McClendon. I didn't know him at the time and had my doubts. But over the past few months he has impressed me with his preparation, understanding of the issues and dedication to the campaign.
Devin is smart and savvy in a positive way. He's the only candidate who wasn't born when the city incorporated 40 years ago but he has already graduated from Leadership Brentwood, served on the city's 2020 committee and is connected to the younger residents, professionals and business leaders who will take the city forward in the years ahead.
The last of my four votes? I'm still mulling that one over. But I will tell you that Miguel Palmer really intrigues me. Natalie Mertee has stepped up and Rod Freeman is a proven leader in our community. Look for more on all of them before May 5.
Have BrentWord worthy news to share? Contact me at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Updates on forum, Joe and, yes, the prom

A forum for the rest of us
Despite the rumor mill, tonight's 7 p.m. candidates forum at Ravenwood High School is definitely on, organizer Chris Bosen tells me. The confusion started with a paperwork snafu, but all is good. Eight of the 10 candidates will be there. Want to know what they'll be asked? Here's a preview of some of the questions:
  • Students today are technologically savvy and communicate via the Internet, text messages and other web-based tools. ... would installing wireless hot spots in city parks and other prominent public places around the city ... be something you would support?
  • The Brentwood City Commission has recently created an environmental committee. Brentwood's young people already know the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling and want to put it into practice. Which candidates can say they will make it a top priority to arrange a recycling bin beside each trash can in all public parks?
  • The wonderful Crockett Park concert series is Brentwood's signature festival-type event and attracts large crowds every year. Since Pear Fest no longer exists, are there things that you would like to see the city pursue in terms of further building our town's identity among resident families and visitors?...

I promise I didn't write the last two but could have. Readers of my former newspaper column will know that recycling and a Town Center Festival were two of my favorite topics. Other questions concern the city's supplemental funds for Williamson County Schools; the city's 2020 plan and new amenities for members of the Class of 2020 -- who will graduate from first-grade this year. Anyone who has been to previous forums will recognize these are not your Grandfather's questions. Thank Goodness.


Update on Joe Lassus

It's now confirmed that our planning director, Joe Lassus, does have a brain tumor (see previous post). Treatment will begin in a few weeks. Fire Chief Kenny Lane is the point person for information and is doing all he can to help Joe and his family remain connected and served during this trying time.

If you would like to help, please email the chief at And keep those prayers coming.


Practice hair

I thank God every day I have sons. Popped into Starbucks this afternoon and ran into Donna Doggett, another BHS junior mom, who also is daughterless. The girls behind the counter, however, gave us all the scoop on girls getting ready. Who knew there was such as thing as "practice hair." Wonder if they pay as much for a practice updo as the real thing?

Whatever. Brentwood's prom is Saturday night at The Factory. The theme is Emerald Enclave and despite my protestations last year when son Thomas was elected junior class president, I find myself "Prom Mom" (read that: volunteer coordinator). Still looking for a few hearty souls to work the midnight-2 a.m. shift. Feel free to contact me if you just happen to be available.

Have Brentword-worthy news to share? Email me at

A prayer for our top planner

Regardless of your faith, I'd like to ask each of you to say a prayer or send good thoughts to Joe Lassus, head of Brentwood's Planning and Codes department.
Joe and his family learned early this week he may have a brain tumor. He is now in Vanderbilt ICU and his doctors are working on a plan of action.
City Manager Mike Walker has been keeping city staff and commissioners informed on developments.
"I have told Joe that his primary focus for us now is on full recovery and not on day-to-day work. Knowing his 'Cajun' determination and spirit, I am confident he will recover. Your positive support and encouragement will be essential to his recovery too," Mike wrote in his first update.
For now, Jeff Dobson will assume the lead role in the planning section and Tim Harrington for the codes section, Mike says.
And in the meantime, start those prayer chains.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Update on library burglary...

This just in from Captain Jeff Hughes of the Brentwood Police Department:

Officers responded to a burglary call at the Brentwood Library on Friday, April 10th at 8:00pm. A library employee reported seeing a male who had gained entry to the library. The suspect fled the area on foot, but Officers quickly located him.

The suspect, identified as Brandon Nicholas McKay of Brentwood, was transported to the Williamson County Criminal Justice Center and charged with Burglary.

Blockbuster story about BW library

The Brentwood Library had its first-ever break in Friday night. The intruder was apprehended and arrested. But there's more to the story and it's a good read.
It seems Library Director Chuck Sherrill and his son, Ben, 10, had stopped in the Concord Road facility Friday night about 8 p.m. to get a video. (Now that's one great perk of having keys to the library -- you can check out books, videos and DVDs anytime you want!)
When they got there, an out-of-breath custodian met them at the door and told them he had just chased someone out of the library.
According to Chuck, Brentwood Police responded immediately and with a great description to work with, made quick work of finding the bad guy. I've contacted the department for details and will share them as soon as they get back with me.
In the meantime, it should come as no surprise that after the cops' flashing lights were turned off and things settled down, young Ben turned to Chuck and said,"This is better than any movie, Dad."
Speaking of the Brentwood Police Department, Starbucks on Franklin Road is offering everyone the opportunity to purchase a pound of their favorite blend to be donated to the force. You can even write a note on "your" bag.
One in the basket yesterday read: "Thank you. You are appreciated." I second that.
If you're one of the 99% of Brentwood residents who stop by the coffee house every day, consider making a donation to the "Coffee for Cops" promotion.
Back to the library, I wish I could attend Saturday's Free Genealogy Workshop. More than one reader has asked what "loosely descended from Alf and Robert Taylor" means on my blog bio. You can see I need some help here.
"What's My Line: Tracing your Family History" starts at 12:45 p.m. and runs until about 4. It's sponsored by the Traveller's Rest Chapter of the D.A.R.
And that's not all. On Thursday at 6:30, the library's "Exploring our Hidden Selves" discussion group meets. Among tomorrow's topics: Are leaders born or made? and Do we get what we deserve? (That should surely spark some discussion. My children obviously would have an opinion on the matter.) I'm a little relieved I'll be attending the 7 p.m. Brentwood City Commission candidates forum at Ravenwood and won't be able to make it.
And finally, on Monday, April 20, a free walk-in Diabetes Screening will take place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. As someone diagnosed with Type II Diabetes just a few years ago, I know how important these screenings are.
For information on any of these programs, or to register, call Robyn Zandi at 371-0090, ext. 851 or email her at
Have BrentWord-worthy news to share? Email me at

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Candidates missing prime opportunity to win votes

Now, I realize it's not like me to give advice or have an opinion. But if I were to venture in that direction, I'd have to tell the 10 candidates running for the four available spots on Brentwood's City Commission that they all have completely missed the boat by not bringing up and creating a platform on the most important issue facing our city.
Indeed, moles were going to be the heart of my campaign had I decided to turn in my petition and run. I would have campaigned to declare Brentwood a "Mole-Free Zone." If elected I would have had big, bold signs posted at every city gateway informing the little vermins that they are not welcome here.
If you have not experienced the havoc these shifty infiltrators are creating you've had your head in a tunnel -- one no doubt created by one of the sly, earth-moving engineers.
So, I urge one or all of the candidates to accept my challenge and bring it up at Thursday night's final candidates forum.
I remain undecided on two of my four votes. I'm telling you, if someone can get rid of the moles, they are a shoo-in for a seat.
Speaking of the candidate's forum, if you haven't been to any of the previous ones, make this one a priority.
Brentwood parents Terry and Chris Bosen have organized the 7 p.m. Thursday affair at Ravenwood High School. The Brentwood Family YMCA has signed on as co-sponsor. The focus will be on issues that directly affect Brentwood families of school-age children. And though WAKM's Tom Lawrence has done a fine job moderating the three previous forums, this one will be moderated by Lesley Raney, a senior at Brentwood High, and Hannah Andrews, a Ravenwood senior, who will no doubt bring something new to the table. Even better, you are invited and encouraged to submit questions for the candidates.
I, of course, will be emailing in a question about moles, an issue affecting families on their one-acre lots all over town. But if you have a different issue you'd like to see the candidates address, email you question(s) ASAP to: Or feel free to post them here and I will pass them along.
Let's pack the Ravenwood theater so when early voting begins Friday we'll all know the candidates better and be ready to make educated and enlightened selections.
See you there!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A new day dawns

On December 2, my life changed dramatically. The headlines and stories that had been recording the nation's economic downtown suddenly became personal.

At a little past 5 p.m., I was called into my editor's office at The Tennessean's Williamson A.M. office and informed I was one of the 2,200 employees being laid off that day throughout the Gannett Corporation. I didn't see it coming. Like a growing number of friends and acquaintances in Brentwood and beyond, I found myself applying for unemployment and wondering, what now?

Since the start of the year I have enjoyed reconnecting with the Brentwood community in ways never possible as a member of the official press. I seriously considered a run for City Commission in the current race but opted -- at least this time around -- to be an active citizen participant by publicly supporting candidates, writing letters to the editor and speaking out on issues that concern me. I have become much more active in my church, neighborhood and in community affairs. I enjoy walking around "downtown" Brentwood and Town Center and am amazed at what I see and the people I meet.

Unfortunately, with local media's cutbacks we've experienced an increasing lack of indepth news coverage of our very dynamic, well-educated and incredibly interesting suburb of Nashville. So after a few months vacation, I've decided it's time to start writing again. Today, BrentWord the blog begins. Have an idea, suggestion or issue you want me to look into? Have some fun news to share? Drop me an email or post a comment.

Now, about that Town Center Festival no one's planned yet ...