A1 A1
top story
Dad turns life lessons into faith-based Halloween tale

Hendersonville resident Joey Frank credits his two young sons for inspiring him to finally realize his decades-old dream of illustrating and penning his own children’s book.

Frank, 40, grew up in the Shackle Island community attending Beech area schools and honing his innate artistic ability.

“I realized as a kid that I had a talent and passion for art because I would enter contests at the state fair and win ribbons,” he recalls.

One art contest entry even scored him a bike.

“I loved coming up with my own cartoon characters of my pets, and my friends’ pets, and I had storylines that I would draw out with them,” he says.

Frank was a huge Disney fan as well – even dreaming for a time of going to work for the company and creating his own beloved characters.

At Beech High School, where he graduated in 1999, Frank was often asked to design the t-shirts for school functions like football games and Homecoming.

After obtaining a fine art degree from Vol State Community College and a degree in graphic design from Nashville State, Frank was hired as a graphic designer for the Tennessean’s group of community newspapers.

Not long after that, he married his wife Krystal, fathered two boys, and settled down in the same community he grew up in.

Currently the creative director for an advertising company that designs content for grocery stores across the South, Frank had put his dream of creating characters and bringing them to life on the back burner.

And then one day two years ago just before Halloween, Frank found his inspiration while elbows deep inside of a pumpkin.

“I think the first time I thought of creating a story with a pumpkin seed was when I was carving one and pulling out the seeds with my kids and I sketched it out,” he recalled. “Then I got into gardening and started growing my own pumpkins where I would be out there and just get an idea in my head, so I would run in and write it down in [my sketch] book.”

Frank’s sketches soon evolved into the story of Pepo The Pumpkin Seed, a down-on-his-luck pumpkin seed whose faith in God sees him through some tough times.

Frank says he also drew inspiration from his grandmother.

“A couple of years ago, before my grandmother passed away, sometimes she would get frustrated when she would forget stuff, and she would just start singing the song, ‘Count your blessings,’ he recalled.

“That really stuck with me and inspired this first book. I wanted to help kids know that there are going to be ups and downs throughout life, and to understand that as long as they include God on their journey, that he’ll help them through the tough times.”

He says he debated whether or not to keep it a Christian themed book, or just include a good moral story.

“I wanted it to be a Christian book because I realized God gave me my talent and has blessed me to be able to use that talent in my career, so I wanted to use it to spread His word,” he said.

Frank finished the book last fall and printed out about 20 copies on his own that he gave to his two sons, his niece, and close friends.

But that wasn’t enough for Logan and Landon, who wanted their dad’s book to be available to a wider audience.

“My kids kept asking me over and over, ‘when are you going to print more Pepo books for everyone to see?’” he said. “My kids inspired me and pushed me to put it out there more. I was like, maybe I can do this after all.”

For months, Frank researched how to publish children’s books and chose to self-publish under the name J. L. Frank.

A year later, Pepo and the Pumpkin Seed is available on Amazon.com and Frank has already penned another Pepo book – this one about the importance of controlling one’s anger and telling the truth.

Frank says his ultimate goal is for Pepo to have his own animated television series.

“I know that’s a high goal,” he laughs. “But I really believe that nothing’s impossible at this point.”

top story
Hendersonville man faces child porn charges
  • Updated

A Hendersonville man has been charged with four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after at least 400 images of child pornography were found on a thumb drive at his home.

Brian Lee Busch, 61, was arrested at his Walnut Drive home after Hendersonville detectives received information that pornographic images depicting underage children had been found on an account linked to Busch.

Hendersonville detectives, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, executed a search warrant on Busch’s home on Oct. 7, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Sumner County General Sessions Court.

After seizing evidence in the form of electronic devices, detectives discovered a thumb drive located in a locked gun safe after Busch provided the access code. The drive contained at least 400 images of child pornography.

In addition, “tens of thousands of images” were found on seized devices and will be processed and identified by Homeland Security, the affidavit states.

Police say they expect to bring additional charges once all of the devices have been analyzed.

Busch is being held in the Sumner County Jail a $250,000 bond. He’s scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.

Anyone with information regarding this incident or other crimes is encouraged to contact Hendersonville Detectives at 615-264-5303 or call Hendersonville Crime Stoppers at 615-594-4113. Tips can also be submitted by text to the number 274637 (CRIMES) using keyword TIPHPD.

top story
$50M luxury apartment complex planned for Indian Lake Village
  • Updated

In a narrow 7 to 6 vote on Tuesday, Hendersonville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to approve a revision to the Indian Lake Village Final Development Plan, paving the way for 247 luxury apartments to be built next to the Hobby Lobby shopping area off of Indian Lake Boulevard.

It was the first time in more than six years that city leaders have voted to approve plans that would allow for an apartment complex within the city.

Tenn Holdings, owner of several properties within Indian Lake Village, requested to amend the Final Development Plan for the more than 400-acre mixed use development by adding multi-family dwelling to the list of uses permitted on 8.74 acres behind the Aventura Apartments.

In the last seven years, the owners have had little success in marketing the property for its currently zoned use of commercial, planned development, Tenn Holdings partner Rob Horton told city leaders.

“We’ve had zero offers from any retail developers,” said Horton. Tucked off of Indian Lake Boulevard, the property lacks the visibility for other developments like a hotel, he added.

In addition, for-sale units in the Gatherings, a new age-restricted development in Indian Lake Village, aren’t selling as quickly as that development had hoped, according to Horton.

The estimated $50 million project will include 247 high-end, one-and two-bedroom units in two four-story buildings, and will generate $428,000 in property taxes to the city and Sumner County, according to Patrick Poole, who represents the project’s design-builder Al. Neyer. Neyer was the architect on the recent Vanderbilt Medical Center office building on Anderson Lane, according to Poole.

Poole said the project would be unique to Hendersonville and would target young professionals and empty-nesters in higher income brackets who would pay between $1,500 to $2,000 a month in rent.

Several aldermen, including Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown, said the project was a good fit for the area, noting that the city won’t be responsible for roads within the development or trash collection.

“If we’re ever going to approve [apartments], you’ve found the spot to do it,” said Brown. “I just feel like you’ve got a pretty good product.”

As a condition of approval, the developers offered to make off-site improvements to the area that includes the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Saundersivlle Road and the commercial access road in front of Sam’s Club for an estimated cost of around $600,000. It will also install additional turn lanes at the intersection of Indian Lake Boulevard and Saundersville Road.

Developers will also construct a trailhead for the Indian Lake Village greenway that will include a pavilion, map kiosk, and a watering station with a dog water fountain.

Several aldermen took issue with several variances the developer requested, including a request to exceed the number of apartments allowed in Indian Lake Village by 247 units.

The overall Indian Lake Village development is currently restricted to a total of 1,200 residential units. Of those, up to 600 may be rental units. All of those rental units have been built while 176 single-family for-sale units remain to be built, according to the city’s planning department.

In addition, 446 parking spaces are required for the proposed development per the city’s zoning ordinance. The developer is proposing to provide 334 of those parking spots and share 112 spots with the adjacent shopping center.

The developer also asked for a waiver on building materials, asking to use substantially less brick than what the city allows.

Ward 6 Alderman Eddie Roberson said he feared granting the variances would open the door to more requests from developers.

Those who voted for the revised FDP on Tuesday included Brown, Arlene Cunningham of Ward 3, Jonathan Hayes and Rachel Collins of Ward 5, Pat Campbell of Ward 2 and Ward 1 representatives Peg Petrelli and Mark Skidmore.

Roberson, Mayor Jamie Clary, Ward 3 Alderman Russ Edwards, Karen Dixon of Ward 4, Ward 6 Alderman Jim Waters, and Ward 2 Alderman Lee Peterson voted against it.

The Hendersonville Regional Planning Commission recommended approval of the revised plan to BOMA 7 to 3 on Sept. 7. The project was recommended 2 to 1 by the General Committee on Sept. 14.

City leaders last approved apartments in 2014 when the 94-unit Luxe at Indian Lake Village was approved.

top story
City moves toward term limits referendum
  • Updated

In a striking reversal from two years ago, Hendersonville’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to ask the state legislature for the authority to establish term limits for the positions of aldermen and mayor.

Tennessee code allows the governing bodies of certain municipalities under a mayoral-aldermanic charter to establish term limits, but Hendersonville is not currently one of them.

Resolution 2021-43 asks members of the Tennessee General Assembly to amend the city’s charter to allow for the establishment of term limits during the next legislative session that begins in January.

After the legislature approves the change, BOMA will vote on an ordinance establishing how many terms leaders will serve and what offices would be subject to the limits. If the ordinance passes two readings by a two-thirds majority, Hendersonville voters will be able to vote themselves on the measure in a referendum – likely next November.

A nearly identical resolution was proposed by Ward 5 Alderman Darrell Woodcock in December of 2019, but fell short of the nine votes needed to pass. Several candidates for aldermen in 2020 pledged to revisit the issue.

The revised resolution cleared its first hurdle Sept. 14 when the city’s General Committee voted unanimously to recommend it to BOMA.

Two members of that committee, Jonathan Hayes of Ward 5 and Steve Brown of Ward 4 had voted against the measure in 2019.

Ward 6 Alderman Jim Waters, who brought the issue up for a vote this time around, noted that in 2019 the proposed legislation had just four sponsors. On Tuesday, every BOMA member asked to be listed as a sponsor of the legislation.

Waters noted that aldermen will debate the merits of term limits after the state legislature amends the city’s charter to allow for it.

“All we’re voting on tonight is the request to the General Assembly,” he said.

Unlike two years ago, no one spoke in opposition to the measure.

Hendersonville resident Beth Wettengel, who researched the legislation and asked Woodcock to sponsor it in 2019, urged leaders once again to allow voters to decide.

“We’re asking you to allow the first hurdle to be cleared,” she said. “It’s not about your personal belief about term limits.”

Wettengel noted that there are 4,400 more registered voters in Hendersonville than there were less than two years ago.

“Allowing voters to speak at the ballot box is the most democratic position that you as an elected official can do,” she said. “We’re not blazing a trail here. Gallatin has already allowed its citizens to vote … while we’re not pioneers, we could be trendsetters and I think that would excite everybody.”

The city of Gallatin passed a similar measure in 2018. Once on the ballot, the measure to limit that city’s council members and mayor to three consecutive, four-year terms passed with 79.8 percent of the vote.

According to state law, a measure must be put on the ballot not more than 75 days before an election. City leaders will need to get approval from the legislature and pass an ordinance by mid-August in order to get it on the November, 2022 general election ballot.