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Business Cheetah 8-9-15
Cumberland Caverns, home to Bluegrass Underground, was named to an elite list as a top 15 concert venue in the world by Business Insider. The distinction puts Warren County in prestigious company. Pictured is Old Crow Medicine Show performing at the cave. To see the top 15 list, visit

It’s a source of enjoyment for me to rank things in top 5 lists. I’m not exactly sure why this is, but I consider it a major character flaw.
To illustrate my point, if I was to compile a list of really dumb things, the highly publicized breakup of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy would rank No. 1 on such list. How has this captured headlines on CNN?
The news of the split was announced Tuesday on their respective Facebook pages.
“After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, Miss Piggy made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship,” the posts read. “We will continue to work together on television and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter. Thank you for your understanding.”
Don’t thank me because I don’t understand. These aren’t real people. They’re inanimate objects.
I guess the next step will be watching Kermit and Miss Piggy fight over the house. And, in keeping with the times, maybe we’ll get to follow them as they try online dating and sexting. With all our real-world difficulties, this Muppet drama seems entirely unnecessary.

Cumberland Caverns in elite company

Since I’m on the topic of top 5 lists, allow me to draw your attention to a top 15 list compiled by Business Insider, which is a New York City-based online news organization. Business Insider touts itself as a Website which covers the worlds of technology and finance, with a mix of unique features and snarky analysis tossed in to stimulate conversation.
Business Insider has released a top 15 list of the most unique concert venues in the world. And making this list is none other than our very own Cumberland Caverns, known for its Bluegrass Underground performances.
To see a Warren County attraction on this international list is really astounding. The list includes fabled concert venues in countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Croatia, Guatemala and Austria. And there, in the middle of all this greatest, is none other than McMinnville, Tenn. It’s an amazing distinction.
The Business Insider story says, “Watching a live performance is thrilling in itself, but getting to do it while being in the midst of a stunning stage makes the experience unforgettable. In countries around the world, there are music venues that have been built in breathtaking natural and historical locations that include underground caverns and 19th-century forts. … Here are 15 fascinating places you can enjoy live music around the world.”
Local officials are trying with all their might to promote this area as a great tourism destination and I think that’s an excellent direction. Considering that focus, this Business Insider article is going to provide a certain amount of bounce.
People who read this top 15 list are going to see McMinnville ranked among global landmarks and it’s going to generate buzz. Whether this amounts to five visitors or 500, the article is going to have an impact and bring people to this area.
That’s why I love business partnerships like the one between Cumberland Caverns and Smooth Rapids where visitors can buy a package that includes a trip to the cave and also a kayaking adventure. In contrast, I’m not as much a fan of the package where a person gets tickets to Bluegrass Underground and out-of-town hotel accommodations at Fall Creek Falls.
McMinnville’s downtown business association is trying to get aboard the Bluegrass Underground choo-choo and offer promotions to coincide with concert dates. This is an idea of brilliance.
Bluegrass Underground has turned into a gem for our community. Now that this gem is really starting to sparkle and gain widespread attention, it provides food for thought about how we can better capitalize on the thousands of tourists flooding in for 25 concerts a year.

Morrison Tool needs more land

The Industrial Development Board called a special meeting Thursday to discuss the best way to provide Morrison Tool & Fab with more land around its existing building at Mt. View Industrial Park.
The IDB owns some surrounding acreage and Morrison Tool & Fab founder Ron Wilson was asking for a way to get about 6 acres to accommodate upcoming expansion.
“I need permission to start moving dirt,” Ron told board members. “I need to get going.”
IDB members discussed the best ways to sell Morrison Tool & Fab the property it needs and are considering several options. They did not reach a decision at Thursday’s meeting but gave Wilson the green light to begin his expansion plans on the property he needs.
As for what those expansion plans entail, Ron does not want to go into detail at this time. He said the company is preparing an announcement that will be released Oct. 1.
Without going into specifics, it’s fair to say Morrison Tool & Fab is enjoying prosperity and preparing to expand its workforce, which is currently around 275. This means more jobs are coming. Anyone who reads the classified section of this newspaper knows the company is continually looking for welders and has been hiring for some time.
For anyone looking to praise local accomplishments, with that someone being me, Morrison Tool & Fab is a noteworthy success story. Ron and Renee Wilson had a workforce of 13, which included the two of them, back in 1992. Now the company has capitalized on the automotive boom and is experiencing tremendous growth. It’s great to see a homegrown industry do so well.
As for more specific information about the Morrison Tool & Fab expansion, that looks like it will have to wait until Oct. 1.

Time to pass the hot dog

There comes a time in life when it’s time to pass the baton to the younger generation. For “The Hot Dog Man” Brian Curran, that time is now.
Brian says he’s stepping away from the weekly grind of serving hot dogs from his popular cart outside Big Lots and passing the torch to his stepson, Simon James, who is taking his place. Brian says he will do a few special events like the final Main Street Live this coming Friday night and the Autumn Street Fair, but that’s about it.
Brian has a fascinating story and it’s sad to see him fade from the local business landscape. He grew up on the California coast and noticed how a hot dog vendor there put three kids through college by selling hot dogs on the beach. He stored that bit of information into memory.
Upon moving to Warren County, Brian tried to land a job with a local bank. Despite a career in the industry, he wasn’t successful in finding employment.
“I told my wife Wendy maybe it’s time for me to buy that hot dog cart,” said Brian. “I ended up buying one from a guy in Mt. Juliet. After I bought it, it sat in the yard for probably six months. We’d walk by it every day. Finally Wendy said, ‘Why don’t you sell that hot dog cart? You’re never going to use it.’ Well that kind of lit a fire under me.”
It wasn’t long before the hot dog cart was up and running and Brian was selling hot dogs in downtown McMinnville. Hot dog vendors may scurry around big cities like ants, but this was undiscovered territory for McMinnville. Local residents didn’t know what to think of this newfangled concept of a hot dog cart.
“When I first started, I would wave at people driving by and nobody would ever wave back,” said Brian. “Gradually people would start to wave back, then they would start stopping and eating my hot dogs. I got to the point where I decided I would stop waving and people would wave at me when they drove by. It was interesting to see how the dynamic changed.”
Brian and his hot dog stand graced the downtown sidewalks when the area was a dilapidated mess. He started about two years before downtown renovation began in August of 2004.
I’m usually pretty good at remembering stories, but Brian reminded me of one I had forgotten. This happened on a bitterly cold January day and I had decided to walk downtown, mainly to see if “The Hot Dog Man” had mustered enough internal strength to set up his stand in such frigid weather. To my surprise, he was there.
Seeing Brian there shivering, I felt an overwhelming obligation to buy a hot dog, if for no other reason than to support the frozen guy. After buying the hot dog, I turned my attention to the condiments.
“It was so cold the mustard was frozen solid,” Brian reminded me. “We never could get it to come out.”
Brian thought downtown revitalization would be a springboard for his business, but little did he know what would happen after Main Street was given a $5.2 million facelift.
“The city passed an ordinance to prohibit my cart,” said Brian. After being banished from downtown, Brian briefly set up shop at the tiny building at Plaza Shopping Center before settling in front of Big Lots for the past eight years. In all, he’s been selling hot dogs for about 12 years in Warren County.
Brian said he’s been impressed with the honesty of Warren County residents. He says some customers have returned hours later saying they just remembered they didn’t pay for their hot dog. He said one man drove back to town from Rock Island because he realized he didn’t pay.
As for future plans, I guess you could say Brian is really going to relish his retirement. There are some things he’d like to catchup on. He says he'd like to do some traveling, concentrate on mission work and "do things most old people do."
Brian is officially passing the torch to stepson Simon, who will be manning the hot dog stand in front of Big Lots from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday thru Saturday. Simon says he will be serving that same great-tasting hot dog with all the trimmings. Simon is no stranger to the business as he has been operating a hot dog cart in Tullahoma, also at Northgate Center, for several years.

Renee Gipson joins McMinnville PT

McMinnville Physical Therapy is pleased to announce the arrival of Warren County native Renee Gipson to its staff. Renee has 15 years experience as an occupational therapist, which includes six years of working with an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii.
Renee’s addition to the McMinnville Physical Therapy staff further allows the business to be a one-stop shop when it comes to outpatient rehabilitation needs for children and adults. This can include injuries that arise from a medical condition such as a stroke, sudden trauma such as a car accident, or gradual wear such as repetitive motion at work.
“I consider occupational therapy to be whatever it takes to get you through your day,” said Renee. “People who are retired, they may need to get out and golf, or they may need to work in their garden. If they can’t do those things, they will go into depression so occupational therapy for them may be different than occupational therapy for someone who is still working but can no longer lift 40 pounds. Occupational therapy is for everything you need to do to get you through your day. Most of the time it’s possible to regain your strength. Occasionally it’s not.”
Renee’s first day on the job was Monday and she was already seeing her first patient by Tuesday. Her specialties include treatment of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.
The problem may result from an accident or it may result from long-term conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. Renee can custom fabricate splints for the wrist and hand for many of these conditions.
In addition, Renee will join McMinnville Physical Therapy's Zach Sutton and Telekia King in the Warren County School System as they will be on-site school therapists. It's part of the complete pediatric program at MPT which has been named Petey's Pals.
As for her time in Hawaii, Renee said it was a wonderful six years and she recommends everyone take at least one vacation to the Pacific islands to enjoy the experience.
Renee is a nice addition to McMinnville Physical Therapy, which first opened its doors in January 2011. For more information, call 474-7755 or email Renee directly at

That’s all folks

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