Council donates to Empower Me

Xavier Smith • Updated Feb 8, 2017 at 9:00 AM

The Lebanon City Council approved a large donation to the Empower Me Center on Tuesday, as well as redirected funds to complete the Lebanon Dog Park.

The council agreed to donate $42,900 to Empower Me after Councilor Rob Cesternino expressed support for the group last month. Empower Me Center’s mission is to serve special needs children in Wilson County.

“What Empower Me does is absolutely amazing and its humbling. If you’ve never been there, you should get there. We take care of our veterans. We take care of our seniors. We do some things for our children, but I don’t know that as a governmental body that we’ve ever done anything for the special needs,” Cesternino said last month.

Cesternino reiterated Empower Me executive director Michelle Hill’s figure of 492 special needs children in the Lebanon Special School District, which prompted him to form the donation resolution.

Ward 4 Councilor Rick Bell, who also serves on the Empower Me board of directors, said last year that he believed it was time for the group to have a permanent home after it operated from the James E. Ward Agricultural Center since its inception. The group was unable to use the facility last summer due to the Wilson County Expo Center construction. 

The council recently approved the rezoning of 26 acres on South Hartmann Drive for the group’s future home.

The new facility will consist of a 37,000-square-feet community recreational building, recreational sports complex, complete with a splash pad, playgrounds, sports court and the Miracle Baseball Field. It will also house independent living cottages on the property.

The council also agreed to take $10,000 from the general fund to complete construction at the Lebanon Dog Park.

The Lebanon City Council approved the location and plans for the pet park in 2015. The location is the former Gas Peak Shaving Plant property on Jim Draper Boulevard next to New Leash on Life.

The 3-acre park, currently open for use, is divided into two sections for smaller and larger dogs, along with a shaded section for pet owners. MJ Lucas, member of the dog park committee, said the park would not restrict certain breeds, but would not allow aggressive dogs. 

In other business, the council approved:

• Lose and Associates to perform master planning, design and construction documents for the west side park

• Lease agreement with the Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board

• Police vehicles and relative equipment for the Lebanon Police Department

• funds for the State Route 109 Traffic Signal Timing Study

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