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'Partnerships make a lot of things happen': Craighead on Expo Center

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County commissioners, Lebanon City officials and other supporters gathered Friday on the ground where - a year from now - the Wilson County Expo Center will stand.

In his opening remarks, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto said that in the future, folks won't remember standing on the bare lot at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. Instead, they will be asking about the Wilson County Expo Center's hopeful success.

"They will be asking, 'Is it full?'... 'Did we make a good investment?'" he said of the $11 million-plus project. "Fight with us to make it a success."

Hutto noted that he was received support from citizens, and the three municipalities within Wilson County - especially the City of Lebanon. Under the direction of Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead and members of the City Council - the city has pledged $100,000 for 20 years to the Expo Center.

Hutto complimented Craighead for taking chances to make things happen.

Mayor Craighead, joined by councilors Rob Cesternino and Fred Burton, next stepped to the podium to share a few words.

In turn, Craighead thanked Wilson County leaders for "pushing to make this happen."

"Partnerships make a lot of things happen," he said. "We are proud to be a part of it because it is going to make a huge difference."

Hutto, who said he didn't want to leave anyone out, also pointed out Commissioner Jeff Joines who "grabbed the bull by the horns" and commissioner Sue Vanatta in the crowd for their support as well as Mike Manous and Thompson and Steed contractors.

The Expo Center will be 78,000 square feet, with 45,000 of that space being an exhibit hall. Hutto said they will begin work soon on hiring a director for the Expo Center - and hope to have that position in place by March of 2016. Mt. Juliet's Charity Toombs was recently named Expo Center Marketing Director.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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#wcdevelopment, Expo Center, James E. Ward Ag Center, Jeff Joines, Lebanon, Lebanon City Council, Philip Craighead, Randall Hutto, Wilson County, Wilson County Commission
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