Today is Friday, August 18, 2017

Lebanon/Wilson Chamber hosts appreciation luncheon, unveils fundraiser

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Crowell, along with Chamber President and CEO Sue Vanatta, told the audience that through such donations they were able to pay the note on renovations to the building and roof, which totaled $191,809. To celebrate, Crowell led CedarStone Bank President Bob McDonald, Chris Rippy of First Tennessee Bank, John Bradshaw of First Freedom Bank, Bryan, Vanatta and Smith in burning the note. He added that their final mortgage note would be paid in the next three to four years.

Crowell and Vanatta also unveiled a new fundraising campaign at the luncheon, thanks to some help from Phil Ponder, a well-known artist.

I have known Phil Ponder literally my entire life, McDonald said of the United States Navy Veteran, Genesco retiree and established artist. Mr. Ponder has many talents, many skills. His best talents are his mind, his eyes and his hands. He envisions it and puts it on canvas.

Ponder, who has created portraits featuring everything from Cumberland Universitys Memorial Hall to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, was asked by Vanatta to paint a portrait of the chamber before her retirement in December 2012. Vanatta later chose her retirement date to be December 2014, but her wish was granted early when Ponder presented her with his creation.

Ponder said the idea for the artwork came from a series of photographs he took in late July while walking around the Lebanon Public Square. Vanatta said that she cried tears of surprise and joy when she first witnessed the piece. The group showcased the original piece and several renderings by the artist and prints available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the chamber.

McDonald purchased one of the 150 first prints for Vanatta, saying, I know how much you love Lebanon and the Chamber.

Several other artist renderings were given to sponsors, including John McDearman of Wilson Bank & Trust, First Freedom Bank, CedarStone Bank, First Tennessee, Michael Cherry of University Medical Center, Kellie Mires of LoJac and the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Foundation.

Crowell said other prints are available for purchase through the Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 444-5503.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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From left, Lebanon/Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Chris Crowell leads a burning of the note ceremony with John McDearman of Wilson Bank & Trust, Bob McDonald of CedarStone Bank, John Bradshaw of First Freedom Bank, Chris Rippy of First Tennessee Bank, Michael Cherry of University Medical Center, and Sue Vanatta, president and CEO of the Chamber, participating. Editors Note: The name of Michael Cherry of University Medical Center was inadvertently left out of the caption that accompanied this photograph in the print edition of The Wilson Post on Nov. 16. The Post regrets the error and is happy to set the record straight.
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