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Business Pulse 3-29-15
Tri-Tech-fire-overall
The Tuesday morning fire at Tri-Tech Molding on Smithville Highway could be seen for miles because of its thick, black smoke. The business is going to be down for some time, according to co-owner Bob Brown.

Here in the great state of Tennessee, we’re flooded with gun bills. By now we’ve heard all about Guns in Bars, Guns in Parks, Guns in Kindergarten. The list goes on.
But here’s some welcoming news. Tennessee isn’t the only state consumed with ridiculous legislation. In Nevada, state lawmakers are considering a Pot for Pets bill that would allow pet owners to be prescribed marijuana for their dogs. I am not joking about this.
The bill (SB372) is aimed as a way to help dogs deal with chronic pain and loss of appetite. The only thing I see happening from this is a spike in dog adoptions. And dog owners will dodge euthanization like never before.
“Gee doc, I just couldn’t stand to have Sparky put down. He’s been my companion for 10 years. Maybe if you made him just a little more comfortable, say, with some marijuana. That ought to work. It would only be for him, not for me.”
That's not to mention all the wackos who might starve their dogs.
"Gee doc, look how thin he is. He hasn't eaten in days. Maybe you could prescribe him a little marijuana."
I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I’m against dogs smoking marijuana. This is 100 percent wrong. We all want to keep kids off drugs. What kind of message does it send if we allow Rover to smoke pot?
Democracy may be the best system of government in the world, but we have a unique way of electing bozos to represent us in government.

Tri-Tech Molding still in limbo

Without a doubt the biggest – and worst – local business story of the week is the fire which destroyed Tri-Tech Molding on Smithville Highway near Dibrell.
The factory is a complete loss just as it was finally building momentum and becoming a growing employer. Plant manager Jeff Wolaver told me Tri-Tech had just begun operating on a 24-7 schedule in August with 12 people employed there. With new machinery in place, the plan was to expand the workforce to around 20.
Sadly, those plans came to an abrupt halt Tuesday morning when a fire swept through the plant and was still burning on Thursday. Through the course of the fire, seven fire departments and more than 50 firefighters responded.
I don’t know how you’d formulate a contingency plan for such a disaster in just three days, but I called business co-owner Bob Brown on Friday to ask him if he had a chance to think about it. He told me no plans have been made about what to do next but that they would likely have a meeting in the coming days to try to determine the best strategy.
“We’re going to be down for a long time. There’s no way around it,” said Bob, who co-owns the business with Don Terry. “The building can’t be used. None of the machinery can be used.”
If it was my business, I have no idea what I’d do next. When you lose everything, there is no quick solution. Best of luck to Bob, Don and the entire Tri-Tech crew for getting that business back on its feet. While it’s not Bridgestone or Yorozu, it’s still a piece of the Warren County economy and every piece is important.

Westwood property sells to Jones

There’s been speculation about what might happen to the empty field in Westwood that’s been for sale on Morrison Street. That attractive piece of property has been purchased by local contractor Connan Jones, who says his plans include more residential housing.
“Westwood is a nice residential area and I plan to build nice homes there,” said Connan.
He told me he is currently designing a plan to determine the best way to utilize the property in Westwood and doesn’t know exactly how many new homes will be built.
I say it’s always a positive sign when new homes are under construction. When the housing bubble splattered into 1,000 pieces a few years back, there were no homes being built in Warren County.

Let there be camping

Some Business Pulse readers may recall the new campground in McMinnville I told you about last June. The secluded, 8.5-acre tract is located at 251 Durham Street and includes about 1,000 feet of water frontage along the Barren Fork River.
The campground opened last summer and has been doing a little business here and there until experiencing a monster turnout this weekend in conjunction with Bluegrass Underground. Around 30 campers are staying at Smooth Rapids Outfitters with the campground even offering shuttle service to and from Cumberland Caverns for the three days of concerts.
When you talk about ways Bluegrass Underground can benefit a local economy, this is one of them. When you attract tourists to an area, those tourists need a place to stay and places to eat. Having a campground available is a great option with tents, pop-up trailers and RVs all welcome at Smooth Rapids Outfitters.
The campground is a spin-off of Smooth Rapids, a kayaking business preparing to enter its fourth summer. It’s owned by Todd Barker, Mickey Heath, Jimmy Barker, and Michael Lockhart. They say they got the idea for the campground because so many people renting kayaks would inquire about camping so they decided to make that option possible by purchasing land along the Barren Fork River.
Gradual improvements are being made to the site with an older house adjacent to the campground being remodeled to serve as a general store. It will sell ice, drinks and other essentials.
This is just another example of how Bluegrass Underground is a win-win for Warren County.
For more information on the campground or kayaking, call (931) 4-KAYAK-1 or visit www.smoothrapids.com.

Walling Arcade gets new ownership

For as long as I can remember, Walling Arcade has been a broken-down building on Spring Street. In fact, in the over 15 years I’ve covered business news in this community, I can only recall one business operating there. That was a short-lived money wiring service called The Mailroom.
But hope is on the horizon ladies and gentlemen because, as of Friday, Walling Arcade has new owners in Lee and Joyce Cooper. They purchased the 6,200-square-foot building with plans to revive it.
“It’s a good-sized space and there could have been eight or nine businesses in there at one time,” said Joyce. “Our immediate plans are to make it look better and to put my law office in one of the front windows. After that we’ll finish the rest of it and lease it as the need arises.”
There has been a push in recent years to make Spring Street look better and I think that goal is being accomplished to some degree. Walling Arcade and the Dinty Moore building have always been the two which have dodged any sort of improvements so I’m pleased to see the property under new ownership. Joyce told me Friday she’s been impressed with the work attorney Ryan J. Moore has done to his buildings on Spring Street and they hope to have a similar positive impact with Walling Arcade renovation.
“There are a lot of interesting ideas we have that are up in the air that kind of depend on some things that have been tossed around,” said Joyce. “There has been talk of a new hotel and talk of lifting the 300-foot church ban, but that’s really just talk for now. What we’re going to do for sure is put my law office there, make the outside look better and go from there.”

WCHS goes medical

There’s been much emphasis in recent years about producing high school graduates with real-life job skills.
That was much of the reason for extending the Mechatronics program from Motlow to WCHS and it’s the reason behind a first-year program the high school is offering for Certified Nursing Assistants.
Registered nurse Lequita Maxwell is teaching the course that’s being taken by 11 senior students. The course is demanding with students required to do hands-on training every morning at Raintree Manor from 6 to 8:15 a.m.
Asked how they like getting up at 6 a.m., the students were quick to correct.
“We have to be there at 6 a.m.,” said Shelbi Ogle. “I get up at 4:45 a.m.”
Students get real-world experience working at the nursing home. Their duties include giving baths, mouth care, catheter care, monitoring vital signs and any other chores performed by CNAs on a daily basis.
“I thought I would lose a couple of them after the first week, but they jumped right in there, put on their gloves, and stuck with it,” said Lequita. “I have really been impressed. They work every floor over there and that experience will help them proceed through this field.”
WCHS has a comprehensive CNA lab complete with all the necessary equipment. After performing their daily duties at Raintree Manor, students have classwork at the high school in addition to other requirement they have to fulfill for graduation.
“In this county and surrounding counties they can come here and take their CNA board test and skills test,” said Lequita. “When they pass, they can go right to work out of high school.”
All of the students said they plan to pursue a career in the medical field in some capacity. While some do want to be nurses, there are other aspirations too, including pediatrician, X-ray technician, and dentist. If they want to continue into nursing school, the WCHS program gives them a great jump start and in some cases college credit.
Lequita said the WCHS and central office administrations have both been very supportive in establishing the program and she’s pleased with the way the inaugural year has transpired. From my perch, I admire the kids for taking such initiative. In addition to getting up early, some of them work after-school jobs, making for one really long day.
Local educators are on the right track with this program that teaches a skill that can be used to gain employment. As an English major, I’m all for reading the classics, but my knowledge of Swift and Melville has never landed me a job. Giving students a chance to earn a CNA certificate provides them with more opportunities after high school. Two thumbs up!

That’s all folks

For more adventures in business, be sure to catch next week’s column. Take care. Drive safely. We love you all.