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Business Cheetah 2-28
Arm wrestling tourney may be step too far
Standard reporter Duane Sherrill pretends to be challenged and is greeted by a lack of amusement from reporter Lisa Hobbs as their arm wrestling match begins. Duane would show he can beat a girl and win.

Our corporate brainpower here at the Standard has stumbled upon a brilliant realization. It pays to have healthy employees.
I’m not sure if it’s because of the empty donut boxes lying around the office or the expanding size of our waistlines, but corporate office has decided we need to get on a health kick. It’s time for us to step away from the potato chips.
The company has been nudging us to take part in various fitness activities and phrased this as politely as possible. But the gist of it is they don’t want us sitting around getting fat and lazy.
We’re nothing if not receptive to corporate directives so we’ve taken their gentle encouragement and been implementing various physical challenges throughout the work day. But this time I fear we may have gone a bit too far with our latest challenge, that being an arm wrestling tournament.
This is a little more ambitious than our previous walking and yoga challenges, which were as stimulating as a goldfish. The arm wrestling tournament has turned us into chest-pounding savages eager to show off our imagined strength.
Unfortunately, we’re not as young as we used to be. After just one day of competition, employees were complaining of severe arm and shoulder pain and mentioning things like a trip to the doctor.
It was pointed out, rather astutely, someone was probably going to have to undergo surgery if we continued through the final three rounds so we put our heads together and made an executive decision. We have suspended our arm wrestling tournament here at the Standard and even removed the tournament bracket from the wall.
Next up: musical chairs.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

If you turned straight to Business Cheetah and haven’t seen today’s Classified Section, my oh my, what an impressive display of job listings we have for you today. Five pages are filled with Help Wanted ads, extending all the way back to page 8D. If you can’t find a job, you must have slipped into a coma.
Among all those job ads is one for Zaxby’s in what is the restaurant’s first job posting in Warren County. If you’re hungry for a new career, Zaxby’s is under construction and currently recruiting people for its management team.
I emailed the address listed in the ad in hopes of learning how many people they plan to hire and to see if I could get an opening date that’s a little firmer. However, I didn’t receive a response, which can only mean I’m not important enough for the Zaxby’s hierarchy.

New Hardee’s on the way

Two months after putting their foot down and stomping on Hardee’s plans to demolish their existing building and construct a new one, city officials have experienced a change of heart. On Tuesday, the city approved the rezoning request from Hardee’s, which means the restaurant chain can construct the new building of its dreams.
All that’s left to establish is a timetable. Since Hardee’s has to go through the city before it can proceed, I figured a good place to start is with Planning and Zoning director Nolan Ming.
Nolan told me Friday that Hardee’s has yet to submit architectural drawings for its new building, but he expects them in the next month or so. Nolan said it’s his understanding Hardee’s wants to start the demolition and rebuilding project in May and he said the company expects the project to take around 90 days.
“Once they get me the plans, it won’t take more than a month before they get all their approvals,” said Nolan. “They have already been working closely with MES and with TDOT because they are on a state road. They aren’t going to be adding a new entrance, but they may be widening a current one to allow for two exit points.”
This project sounds fine and dandy, but I have to wonder about the Hardee’s workforce and what it’s going to do during this 90-day demolition and construction period. In a day when so many people live paycheck to paycheck, it’s going to be tough for employees to miss three months of paydays.
There must be a plan for this -- a fabulous, elaborate, beautiful plan. Or a government program.

Old Foodland to spring to life

The last time the Kingwood Foodland building was open for business was back in August 2013 when Noel Pepper was selling groceries from that famous spot.
A new business is poised to end nearly three years of dormancy at that location this week when Williams Wholesale Supply opens its doors and welcomes customers. The company is an electrical and plumbing distributor that sells to contractors and the general public.
“We’ve been traveling to this area and already have a lot of customers here,” said Williams Wholesale Supply president Roy Williams. “We’ve built our business on knowledgeable employees, great customer service and having a good inventory. We’ll have 8,000 square feet here in this building and we plan to have it full of plumbing and electrical supplies.”
Williams Wholesale Supply is a Cookeville-based company established in 1939. It’s a family owned business and Roy is the third generation to operate it.
David Uselton has been hired to manage the local store. David is a Warren County resident who spent 22 years working at Don’s Supply on Sparta Street before it closed.
“I know things that work and I’ll be doing some new things on my own,” said David. “I’ve been making contact with people I did business with before and letting them know we’re going to be opening.”
David says they will deliver throughout Warren County and beyond. He said he’s been working on organizing the store to make merchandise as easy to find as possible.
He said he’s received questions from several people who have driven by, seen the activity, and asked about what’s going to be there.
“A lot of people who live out this way have stopped in and said they hoped it would be another grocery store,” said David.
Because of some unexpected delays in setting up their computer system, David said he’s not sure which day Williams Wholesale Supply is going to open, but he said it will be this week. Regular store hours will be Monday thru Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 507-8038.

Downtown parking has 489 spaces

Q: What’s the first thing people say when you mention downtown McMinnville?
A: It’s a great place to visit, if you can find a place to park.
For years and years, decades and decades, folks have been complaining about what they perceive to be a lack of parking in downtown McMinnville. The topic reared its dragon-like head again last week when city officials were talking about the Driver Testing Center locating at City Hall and how there would never be enough parking to accommodate it.
I don’t agree with that statement and I’m going to explain why. Because I had about 45 minutes to kill Friday morning, I made my way to downtown McMinnville with one goal. I was going to count every parking space I could find.
What my unofficial count determined is there are 489 parking spaces in downtown McMinnville. These are parking spaces either on Main Street or directly off it.
My unofficial breakdown goes as follows:
• There are 87 parking spaces on Court Square.
• There are 72 parking spaces in the area behind the Chamber and Park Theater.
• There are 97 parking spaces in the block behind Paul Holder Realty and Edward Jones.
• There are 156 parking spaces in the area behind First National Bank and around the Farmers Market.
• There are 77 parking spaces on Main Street in the general shopping district from Chancery Street to just past Pioneer Pediatrics.
This grand total of 489 parking spaces doesn’t include Spring Street, Morford Street, and the public parking area off Spring Street. It also doesn’t include parking in front of the post office, which is pretty much filled entirely by post office customers.
The problem, as many people have often said, is perception is reality. Since people perceive there to be a lack of parking in downtown McMinnville, despite some 500 parking spaces being available, the city has a parking problem.
That’s why I have a simple suggestion that could help downtown McMinnville as much as anything. Place a few signs downtown and around these parking lots to indicate they are public parking areas.
In my travels to places like Chattanooga, Nashville and beyond, the areas for parking are typically well identified. Yet I didn’t notice signs around our parking lots in downtown McMinnville identifying them as free public parking. Perhaps if the city were to saturate the area with parking signs, it would help to ease the overwhelming perception there’s no parking.
This is a simple, but magnificent, idea I can add to my long list of magnificent ideas. I’ll call it Magnificent Idea No. 237, which implies there have been 236 magnificent ideas before this one.

Let’s bring in those tourists

Community leaders often make it a priority to attract tourists and those all-powerful tourism dollars. We don’t have to look any further than Pigeon Forge to see how tourism dollars can carry an economy on its shoulders.
One thing local officials have been working hard to publicize in recent years is the musky fishing that’s available in Warren County with the Collins River being a great musky spot. To help the cause, Chamber of Commerce president Mandy Eller made a trip to Milwaukee earlier this month to attend a Musky Expo and tell everyone who would listen about the musky fishing available right here.
“These musky fishermen are really hard core and that’s all they want to talk about,” said Mandy. “I don’t know much about musky fishing and I was very upfront about that. I was there to sell the community. For me, it was like learning a foreign language through immersion. I don’t think I had a single conversation that didn’t pertain to musky for three days.”
Mandy shared a booth with Chris Willen, who is a local musky guide from December to March. She said that’s a popular time for musky fishing here because places up north have frozen rivers and fishing is not possible.
Mandy said she distributed about 350 brochures and heard many positive comments from people who may consider Warren County as the site for their next musky expedition.
“We had some great pictures and people were really amazed at how large the musky get here,” said Mandy. “These fishermen, they love musky fishing so much that’s their source of entertainment. That’s all they want to do. So our brochures had places to stay, places to eat, and ramp information. That’s all they’re concerned about.”
Every little bit helps and if our fish bring folks to Warren County to spend money, I’ll take it.

That’s all folks

You don’t have to arm wrestle to report business news. Just give me a call at 473-2191 or email