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Cumberland Caverns sells for $1.2M
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I dare say most of us have things we don’t like about our job. It may be hard to believe, but some of us may even have co-workers we don’t like.
Fortunately, I’m extremely blessed here at the Standard. I may have the greatest job in the world and I certainly have the greatest boss in publisher Pat Zechman. I say that entirely to earn brownie points in hopes of getting a large pay raise when I show up for work Monday.
But even the best jobs come with things you don’t like. For example, I hate typing obituaries. I don’t know if it’s because of the morbid nature of the task, or the fact it’s so time consuming because there are so many names you must type in correctly. One forgotten “a” and our dearly departed was married to Dan instead of Dana. That’s sure to get surviving family members demanding a reprint.
I’m sure other professions are much the same way. Mail carriers get tired of being attacked by dogs. Nurserymen get tired of trying to speak Spanish. Doctors get tired of putting on rubber gloves and … well you get the picture.
Probably the worst part of working for the newspaper is people are always eager to blame the media. No matter what happens, it’s somehow our fault.
If a guy gets caught driving 120 mph with a meth lab, two small kids, and a stolen gun in the car, it’s not his fault. The Standard is to blame because we got the story all wrong.
I love the routine by comedian Chris Rock where he’s making fun of the way people are so quick to blame the media.
“When it’s 2 a.m. and I’m at the ATM machine, I can tell you one thing,” Rock says. “I’m not looking over my shoulder because I’m scared of the media.”
That brings us to the case of Wilma Jones, the lady who had over 100 dogs seized from her property. The story has commanded its share of media attention so it was only a matter of time before someone tried to blame the media for this event.
Sure enough it happened in Friday’s edition when a concerned resident brought in a four-page letter to the editor detailing how the media was to blame for the dog fiasco. After pondering this for some time, the resident might be right.
It was probably members of the media who snuck out to Jones’ property 35 years ago to start selling pure-bred dogs. It was probably members of the media who built hundreds of cages all over the property and filled them with dogs. It was the media which allowed the number of dogs on the property to climb to over 120.
Yes, I can see how the media is behind all of this. I’ll probably be served with an indictment Monday morning.
But enough about the media. The media won’t be blamed for stopping today’s Business Pulse so here it is.

Cumberland Caverns
sells for $1.2 million

It was Friday afternoon when I heard the news Cumberland Caverns had sold. It was late in the day, especially for a Friday when everyone likes to leave early, but I made all the rounds trying to verify the information.
When all I got was the runaround, I knew one thing for sure – it had to be true. So I hoped over to the Register of Deeds office to dig through the public records for myself.
What I found in Record Book 276 starting on page 348 is the Cumberland Caverns property, over 100 acres of it, has indeed sold for $1.2 million. The buyer is Hershywii, LLC, which has James Hershend listed as the owner.
I was able to track down a contact number for Mr. Hershend but wasn’t able to talk to him before it was time to send the paper to press. From talking to a couple other people familiar with the sale, I was able to piece together a little information.
James Hershend comes from a family rich in the entertainment industry. In fact, Hershend Family Entertainment owns a number of tourist destinations, including theme parks such as Dollywood, Silver Dollar City and Wild Adventures. Hershend Family Entertainment also owns two aquariums, five resorts, and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.
James Hershend, however, is not affiliated with that business from what I can gather. It’s run by his father and uncle. Buying Cumberland Caverns is his own business venture and I’d say it will be a good one with blossoming Bluegrass Underground sure to increase interest in the local attraction.
From what I’ve heard, Mr. Hershend plans to keep the Cumberland Caverns show cave pretty much intact with possibly some plans to add a few other things in the area like lodging.
But that’s just word on the street. I will continue to try and get in touch with him personally and find out his plans directly from him.

Manufacturing returns
to old DeZurik building

The big news coming from Belmont Drive is manufacturing has returned to the old DeZurik building. Around 17 people are now working a production line inside the building that is cranking out some 70,000 plastic bottles a day. Yes, that is a lot of plastic bottles.
The building has long been owned by a company in Hayden, Ind., which has used the facility to store and repair heavy duty industrial presses for around 10 years. While that press work is still taking place, an upstart company called Tennessee Bottling is beginning to draw attention.
The company started months ago with just a handful of employees, but it has really ramped up its hiring in recent weeks. In fact when I stopped by the facility last week, there was someone waiting for a job interview. From what I’ve heard, the company is conducting interviews virtually every day as it looks to grow its work force.
Tennessee Bottling manufactures all types of plastic bottles including sippy cups, hand sanitizer bottles, oil sample bottles, pill bottles, and even plastic jack-o-lanterns. The company is working three shifts even though there are just a few employees on each shift.
From the outside, the building sure doesn’t look like much with tall weeds growing in the parking lot and various items strewn around the property. Without cars in the parking lot, the building would look abandoned.
The inside doesn’t look much better at this point, although I’ve been told remodeling is in the works. The building serves its purpose with a large work area.
If you apply at Tennessee Bottling, you don’t have to worry about temporary worker status. Everyone is hired as a full-time employee with perks like vacation time.
Even though I was given a mini tour of the building, company officials declined to be interviewed for a story. My only guess is they must not want people to know they’re bringing jobs to McMinnville.
Fortunately, I have ways of gaining information through non-official sources. It usually involves buying someone’s lunch.

House bills jeopardize
public information

I devote countless hours talking about other businesses in this column and rarely devote any time to the newspaper industry. But I believe that needs to change today because there are two bills currently in the Tennessee House that threaten to hurt both newspapers and the public’s right to know valuable information.
One measure, House Bill 1920, would reduce the number of required foreclosure notices published in newspapers from three to one. The bill would further weaken what are already some of the country’s worst homeowner foreclosure protection laws. In a worst-case scenario, you could have your home foreclosed right out from under you and not even know it if you happened to miss that one notice published in the paper.
This bill is being pushed heavily by the banking industry which doesn’t want to hassle with such pesky formalities as foreclosure notices. At the risk of offending bankers, I really don’t think that’s the right stance.
Another measure, House Bill 1309, is just as damaging. It would take other public notices out of newspapers and instead allow them to be hidden away on some government website. This would be an indisputable step toward more government secrecy and less accountability, which are not positive things in my book.
Changing the zoning on a piece of property, bidding government projects, and publishing an election sample ballot are all vital pieces of information that belong in newspapers. They shouldn’t be moved to the Internet.
On top of hindering your right to know, these measures would also take a huge financial bite out of newspapers across the state. The painful fact is if newspapers lose a substantial amount of revenue from these bills, they will lose an equally substantial number of employees to compensate.
It’s similar to legislation Ben Lomand was fighting earlier this year in the General Assembly that would have resulted in lost revenue and likely the loss of local employees.
These two House bills are not good for newspapers. They don’t benefit folks who enjoy reading local stories and seeing local pictures of people in their community. The House is set to vote on these measures Tuesday so contact Judd Matheny (615-741-7448) and Charlie Curtiss (615-741-1963) and let your voice be heard.
This newspaper has stood up and fought for a great many people over the years. It would be nice if some people could repay the favor and stand up and fight for us.

New showroom just
start of HHR plans

Kris Pawlak and Tony Cunningham said they had big plans when they decided to move their business, HHR, to Chancery Street near Bobby Ray Elementary. Their new showroom, which opened yesterday, is just the start.
“We wanted a place to show what we’re capable of doing to a house,” said Tony. Their areas of expertise include windows, gutters, decks, roofing, flooring, tile, siding, patios, concrete work, sunrooms, and more.
Even though they have a prime-time location, Tony says they are considering other options and are seeking a larger retail location.
“We’re looking at the old Honda shop, but that’s not a done deal,” said Tony. “We have three tanning beds and we’d like to diversity with a retail line. It would be seasonal like swimsuits and clothing in the summer and switch to different merchandise in the winter. We’d like to get another business going to pick up the slack for this if it ever slows down.”
Tony said he and Kris are covering the Midstate and have done work in Murfreesboro and Cookeville. He said they are on the verge of getting their commercial/ industrial license so they can concentrate on that end of the remodeling business too.
To help them market their business, Tiffany Smith and Tony’s wife, Jessie, have come on board. They will be working the new showroom on Chancery and a kiosk at Three Star Mall.
The showroom hours are Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The number is 507-4447.

That’s all folks

Now it’s time to say goodbye Business Pulse readers, if anyone has in fact read this thing. Give me a call with all your business tips at 473-2191. As always, you need not reveal your identity.