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Business Pulse - New lodge like an 85-room oasis
Lodge at Fall Creek Falls - smaller.jpg

Suddenly, there are new hotels everywhere.

Two months after a sparkling Hampton Inn opened in McMinnville, the state has opened the Lodge at Fall Creek Falls, a $40.4 million, 85-room hotel. The facility includes conference space and a full-service restaurant and lounge nestled inside Fall Creek Falls State Park, one of Tennessee’s largest and most visited state parks.

Gov. Bill Lee was on hand Tuesday and holding large scissors for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Said Lee, “This new lodge is an outstanding attraction at a premier state park. It’s an example of why Tennessee has one of the best state park systems in America. We are eager to welcome the many visitors who will stay at the lodge and continue to make Fall Creek Falls State Park a year-round destination.”

The governor’s presence is important because it was just in July that Gov. Lee visited our very own Rock Island State Park to peek inside the old mill. There is a two-handed push to restore the old mill, which is said to be structurally sound but it doesn’t have running water or electrical infrastructure. It’s that old.

A smaller lodge with restaurant similar to the one just unveiled at Fall Creek Falls has been mentioned for Rock Island. However, our Industrial Development Board obtained a $25,000 grant and had a site analysis performed and that study determined the old mill is too small to be a viable lodge.

The main finding against transforming the old mill into a lodge is that the structure couldn’t fit enough rooms to break even financially. That may be the case, but a lodge would be a great addition to Rock Island State Park, which is one of the great assets our county has to offer.

At Fall Creek Falls, the lodge is open, but it’s hitting the ground at a slow pace. A limited number of rooms are currently available for reservations. The restaurant is open with limited hours and a limited menu.

The lodge was built to be an ideal destination for individuals, families, groups and conferences looking for escapes in a natural setting. The guest rooms overlook Fall Creek Falls Lake and have a variety of sizes. All rooms feature balconies with views of the lake.

The restaurant has indoor and outdoor lakeside dining with a total dining capacity of 174 people. The ballroom can be divided into two spaces and holds upto256people.Conference and meeting spaces are available inside the lodge and at several locations throughout the park.

Fall Creek Falls encompasses more than 29,800 acres on the Cumberland Plateau. It features 30 cabins and 222 campsites, as well as backcountry camping. More than 56 miles of trails can be explored.

I’d like to make it up to the new Lodge at Fall Creek Falls for a close-to-home getaway. It probably won’t be in the freezing cold, but perhaps Cupcake and I can visit the lodge this spring.

Skate shop Is open, dude

When I jog around Milner Recreation Center at night on the exercise trail, I can usually count on hearing one thing. It’s the clatter of skateboards going up and down ramps as I pass the skate park.

To cater to the needs of skaters in McMinnville and beyond, MacTown Skate Shop has opened at the lower level of Plaza Shopping Center.

Lawrence Levenhagen is the owner and he gets a big helping hand from his daughter, Ginger, and from longtime pal Joe Thompson.

Lawrence has been enjoying skateboards for years and still does.

“Wheels and a board, it seems so primitive, but there’s something about the noise and the feeling of the movement when you’re riding,” said Lawrence. “It’s something so simple, but it has so much variety. With skateboarding being part of the Olympics and skate parks everywhere, I feel like there’s a lot of support behind it. It’s really rewarding to try something over and over, and to fail over and over, and then you finally get it. Whether you’re the one doing it or you’re just there watching, it’s fun to celebrate and be part of the moment.'

Lawrence said the big box stores are a great place to shop to buy a basic, lowend skateboard. But when skaters reach a point where they’re ready to upgrade with a nicer board, wheels, bearings and trucks, MacTown Skate Shop has everything you need.

Lawrence and Joe have been skating together since their middle school days in the 1980s. Now in their 40s, they still enjoy it.

“It’s an endless challenge,” said Joe. “I love the creativity of it, whether you’re going to a skate park or you’re in a drainage ditch. Anything can be your terrain. You don’t need a big ramp or a team to go out and have fun. You don’t need to make it a competition.”

Lawrence is a tree trimmer who stays busy, while Joe is in the heating and air business which is especially important this time of year. They are both keeping their day jobs and describe MacTown Skate Shop as a playful diversion.

Hours are Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. The business can be reached at (615) 648-7602 or (931) 703-1404.

New leadership At NHC Homecare

After 23 glorious years with NHC Homecare, longtime director Hershey Glenn has retired. Hershey did a little of everything during her tenure at NHC Homecare, which included helping to organize the annual Morrison Ruritan Health Fair.

The new director of services at NHC Homecare is Beverly Harrison, RN BSN. Beverly has a wealth of experience and has been a nurse for more than three decades. She knows how to provide quality care. Beverly has been with NHC Homecare for seven years and most recently served as director of nursing before her promotion.

The new director of nursing is Candy Collett, RN, who has been a nurse for 15 years. She has been with NHC Homecare for several years and has worked in many different roles. Most recently she worked as the quality improvement coordinator.

Both ladies are very excited to move forward in their new roles and to serve our community. Like so many employers around the state, they are currently looking for RNs to join the growing team at NHC Homecare. If you’re interested, they are offering a $7,500 sign-on bonus as a very nice incentive.

NHC Homecare can be reached at 473-3872.

Welding & fab shop has opened

I was out in Centertown on Friday talking to John Murray, the owner and operator of Distinctive Designz. We were discussing how much technology has changed in recent years, but I believe there will always be a need for welding and fabricating metal.

John has a shop set up to do just that. He has opened Distinctive Designz at 3171 Pigeon Hill Road and has quickly filled a pretty large shop with all types of equipment.

'A shop is kind of like a fish in a fish tank,' said John. 'The fish will grow as big as the tank will let it. That's kind of the way it is with a shop. I already have this one filled up pretty good.'

John can do all types of welding and metal fabrication work that is difficult to get done elsewhere. He is currently finishing up three jobs on older vehicles.

He made a custom aluminum fuel tank for a 1971 Datsun and he's doing stainless exhaust work and inner fender fabrication for a 1963 Chevy.

The 1963 Chevy is an interesting project. The owner found the body in a barn and the vehicle is being reconstructed from the ground up.

John says one speciality is metal modifications to the automotive body. He doesn't like to do glass work or wiring. He does some mechanical work but not a lot.

'It's custom automotive work,' said John.

I think this should be a popular service considering the number of local residents who restore older vehicles.

'If you need a bracket or a one-of-a-kind part, I can make it,' said John. 'I've done a lot of work for restaurants where I've made specialized hoods and done duct work. I've made stainless tables that needed to be an odd size.'

John found his love for welding and fabrication way back in middle school when he took an ag class and welding was taught. Through the years, he's done different types of work, but it's usually incorporated welding in some fashion.

'I've made a lot of men a lot of money over the years so I figured this is something I should try for myself,' said John.

Distinctive Designz has all types of specialized equipment. That includes a 5x10 CNC plasma table, a 150-ton press brake, and a 10-foot sheet metal shear.

'I started buying this equipment two years ago and have been gradually building up,' said John.

Distinctive Designz can also make signs, both metal cut-out signs and vinyl signs and stickers. John said partner Jason McEwen is very skilled at doing his own design work and recently made a unique vinyl sticker for a man who placed it on the back of his truck.

Distinctive Designz has regular business hours during the week Monday thru Friday. John says he is available after hours on an emergency basis if needed.

'I want to be here to serve the community when I'm needed and hopefully the community will support me in return,' said John.

Pigeon Hill Road is located off New Nashville Highway in Centertown. If you're coming from McMinnville, make a right onto Pigeon Hill Road and follow the signs to the shop. The business can be reached at (615) 569-5554.

That's all folks

I hope your new year has started with a pleasant bang as we ring in 2022, which could be the best year ever! To drop me a line with business news, email editor@southernstandard. com.