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Teacher puts pedal, ice cream to pavement to make courses legit
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On any given Tuesday, Josh Dumas peddles his icebox trike to the Old Hickory Area Farmer’s Market.

And while it might be an odd sight – a grown man hunkered with foot to the pedal carting a chilled box of 200 hand-crafted cookie ice cream sandwiches – along the side streets of this quaint town, people there throw up a hand to this modern-day ice cream truck neighbor.

His bike, rather trike, is neon blue and is the mode of transportation for Oliver’s Icebox. Easier to navigate than a typical food truck, Dumas can quickly peddle in, set up shop and sell his cold confections. Oliver’s Icebox has a bike and secondary cart and can be found around the area at various farmers markets, festivals and private events.

His ice cream sandwiches evoke the nostalgia of childhood summers, but it still caters to adult tastes. Oliver’s Icebox – named after his great-grandfather, Ollie – is Dumas’s sidekick; a sideline part-time job that has flourished. In fact, an upcoming gig will be a May 14 Nashville Ballet performance at the Ascend Amphitheater.

It all started from an honest heart when he decided it was time to put his teacher lectures to the test. An entrepreneurship and marketing teacher since 2010, Dumas spends weekdays teaching at Beech High School.

“I felt like a fraud teaching my students how to be entrepreneurs,” said Dumas, who is married to his wife, Allison, and they have two young girls. “…I had never truly been an entrepreneur.”

So, he decided he’d better fix it.

Dumas, 33, grew up in a small rural town in Michigan. His dad owned a sports bar and that helped him glean a bit of experience in the food world. His dad is also a retired teacher. Dumas moved to Nashville with the grandeur dream of working in the music industry. He enrolled at Trevecca Nazarene University and soon became woke.

“I quickly realized the lifestyle, the contracts and the unstableness of it all,” said Dumas, who was the lead singer in a progressive alternative rock band back in the day. “So, my second semester I went into the business track.”

He got a teaching degree, specializing in business education and set his career path in stone. He started teaching at Hunter’s Lane High School as an interim teacher and turned that into a full-time position. He taught high school marketing courses there for four years. In 2014, he got the opportunity to start and build a brand new entrepreneurial program at Maplewood High School. It further entrenched in expanding the minds of young people with ideas to be their own bosses.

“Students took core trade skill classes and then came to me at the end to learn entrepreneurial skills,” said Dumas.

In 2015, Metro gave him a position as content lead, and his original program was shared throughout the district. All the while, he was a Distributive Education Clubs of America adviser. DECA is committed to create and maintain a healthy and respectful environment for all emerging leaders and entrepreneurs.

“But, I felt I just didn’t have enough practical experience to truly teach this stuff,” said Dumas.

He wanted more meat in the subject, and that meant getting his hands dirty, so to speak, in the business ownership world.

Best friend, Jarod Usrey, became his business partner. Usrey’s goal was to start 30 businesses in 30 years. One of those was Oliver’s Icebox with Dumas.

“We knew, as a teacher, I had summers off,” said Dumas. “It could be a good part-time deal.”

Their business concept was born at their friend’s wedding in August 2015 in Austin, Texas.

“Jarod just got back from a trip out West and saw all kinds of ice cream bikes on the beach,” said Dumas. “We thought it was a cool little business model. It was when food trucks became a big deal, and I thought, ‘why a big truck?’ Why not bike in and out?”

It filled a big hole in the food vendor market and set up a niche of its own. Their $7,000 startup launched July 4, 2016. And, let’s just say the initial offering sort of fell flat and became soggy.

“My plan was to show up at Centennial Park and give away cookie ice cream sandwiches,” said Dumas.

But, it was July 4, and people had other things to do.

“It was pouring rain,” said Dumas. “I was standing there in the rain kicking myself asking, Why did I ever decide to do this?’”

But, he managed to give away 200 of his ice cream sandwiches and immediately got lots of followers and likes. The secret is prepackaged ice cream sandwiches, not made on the fly, but super cold enough that people could eat with one hand and not melt in two seconds.

“Well, we did stake out an ice cream truck to see what peopled ordered,” he said. “And they were just so messy. So, we streamlined our product.”

Dumas wanted to move the line quickly, offer something manageable at festivals and such and be intentional with sought-after flavors.

“It worked,” said Dumas. “We have a delicious and convenient ice cream sandwich.”

He and several employees hand make, from scratch, the frozen treats. They are made at a shared commissary in Nashville.

“But, I made a whole bunch of cookies at home, trying out cookie flavors and paring them with ice cream,” he said.

Lots of their friends got to be the taste testers, as they honed top-loved pairings. Oliver’s Icebox launched with chocolate chip cookie and vanilla ice cream, mint ice cream and dark chocolate cookie, a peanut butter and jelly ice cream sandwich and red velvet cookie with vanilla ice cream.

Oliver’s Icebox’s presence at Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market – first in the Ace Hardware parking lot and currently at Two River’s Mansion – sealed their celebrity and notoriety with the cold confections. Dumas catered his cousin’s wedding in 2016 and word of mouth spread.

“We had Oliver’s Icebox cater the dessert for our wedding,” said Ryan Tidwell. “If you haven’t taken the time to stop off at the ice cream trike, you are truly missing out.”

In the last five years, he’s catered more than 100 weddings and countless festivals and events. There are currently 15 cookie and ice cream combos that rotate through the selling season. There are lots of unique flavors like maple bacon and bourbon and caramel apple that Dumas springs on fans on occasion.

Dumas currently has some heft behind his classroom lectures. He works his sidekick gig about four nights a week and always has new advice, learned on the job, to share with students.

And, his children get to share the scene, as well.

“They like the mistakes,” said Dumas. “All my broken cookies come home, and that last bit of ice cream in the bucket, I give them, and they combine them.”

It’s a nice perk from their ice cream loving and selling dad.

To book Oliver’s Icebox, visit oliversicebox.com.

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Mayor discusses new capital spending plan
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Nashville Mayor John Cooper released his capital spending plan in February, which focuses primarily on education and transportation.

“This will be most ever invested in education in Nashville’s history. Two-thirds of the $474.6 million budget will go toward education and transportation, which includes construction of two new schools, which will serve to alleviate overcrowding,” Cooper said.

Metro Nashville and Davidson County faced several budget challenges in the last year due to unprecedented growth and the impact of the coronavirus. The mayor stressed the importance to use the resources the city already has without increasing any of the tax burden and focusing on upkeep.

“Because of our budget challenges, we didn’t invest in things like fleet for fire trucks,” Cooper said. “There are ways of skimping and underinvesting, which are never ideal. When the Christmas bombing occurred, the fire station that should have responded was closed because of lack of repair. We’re striving for a better standard of city services, which we can only do because we fixed the budget shortfall.”

The current capital spending plan will mean important improvements and investments for Donelson, Hermitage and Old Hickory. Donelson Middle School will receive some of the $68 million allocated countywide for refurbishments and renovations to existing schools. A new community center is planned for Old Hickory.

Another major development will be the allocation of $6 million to build a ninth police precinct, which will be at 2491 Murfreesboro Pike, the former home of the Nashboro Village Kmart. The new southeast precinct will cover the area currently served by the Hermitage and south precincts, which will result in faster response times for the Hermitage area. The Hermitage and south precincts currently serve an area that covers 160 square miles, which makes response times less than ideal for Hermitage residents.

“The Hermitage precinct current call load is 30% over capacity,” Cooper said.

According to Metro Nashville police’s public affairs office, the Hermitage precinct responded to 32,233 calls last year, and the addition of a ninth precinct will hopefully reduce the number of calls handled by the Hermitage precinct by 33%. The average response time by the Hermitage precinct this year is about 51 minutes.

For more information on the new capital spending plan, visit nashville.gov/News-Media/News-Article/ID/10582/Education-and-Transportation-Front-and-Center-in-Capital-Plan.aspx. To contact Cooper with concerns or suggestions, call 615-862-6000 or email mayor@nashville.gov.

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Person of interest determined in woman’s killing
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Metro Nashville police identified a woman’s body found May 2 in a Donelson parking area and sought to question a person of interest in the case.

Police said the body of Pamela Paz, 44, was found in a small parking area on Pennington Bend near Music Valley Drive. A passerby reported seeing her body. On May 5, the medical examiner found Paz died from apparent strangulation, said police.

The Investigate Team Addressing Neighborhood Shootings officers were on the lookout for a man said to be Paz’s boyfriend at the time of her death. On May 6, Robert Johnson, 31, was charged with failure to appear in court in an unrelated case. Police wanted to question him about Paz’s death.

According to police, Johnson declined to be interviewed by homicide detectives, and the investigation continues.

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TennFold Brewing compassionate toward community during inaugural year
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TennFold Brewing, a popular family owned restaurant and brewery in Donelson, is celebrating its first anniversary in business.

TennFold turned 1 year old after completing a successful year of operations despite opening its doors March 26, soon after an EF-3 tornado ripped through Donelson, and just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to cripple the foodservice industry.

And with the challenges facing the small business during a difficult year, TennFold Brewing was in a constant transition during most of its inaugural year. But it still managed to commit itself to be part of the community and help take care of its neighbors who were hurting.

Sitting at a table in the middle of the busy brewery soon after the lunchtime rush, the first year “was challenging,” said TennFold general manager and beverage manager Erik Woodward. “We kind of already have been three different restaurants within a year.

“Opening up on day one, we couldn’t even open the restaurant. All we could do was sell pizzas out of a window, and we had two beers on draft, and we made it happen with what we could. Then we transitioned into a picnic-style restaurant where you ordered your food, then you went and just sat down, and we came out and cleaned up after you. There was no proper service. And then finally, we transitioned to a full-service restaurant.

“Besides COVID, we had just come out of a hard time because of the tornado. There were a lot of people in need. Obviously you have to keep the lights on and pay the bills, but money is not our primary focus.

“If you put quality of product, hospitality and your guests and staff first, the financial pat will follow. That’s our mindset here – not running it from a profit-and-loss sheet but running it from a guest experience standpoint first.”

Putting people and community first at TennFold was never more noticeable than during the pandemic and holiday season last year. Although facing its own struggles amid shutdowns last summer, TennFold was quick to lend a helping hand to service industry colleagues who had a tough time making ends meet when county mandates all but eliminated restaurant and bar service.

For weeks, TennFold distributed free cheese pizzas to servers and bartenders who wanted it. Woodward said he then extended the generosity to teachers, after some of them at his daughters’ school lost their jobs.

“We opened it up to people who are committed to serving other people but found themselves in a hard situation. We originally thought we were going to put a limit on that, but we just didn’t say no to anybody. We just kept it going,” said Woodward. “It was nice to see some smiles come in the doors during that time.”

Before last Thanksgiving, an exchange of superior customer service occasions between Woodward and Packard Shell Service led to the businesses matching donations to provide free turkey meals for anyone in the community. Neither businessman would reveal how much was donated, although it was described as “very generous.”

“When word got out, we had other businesses come in and drop off money. We almost had more money than we knew what to do with to give back,” said Woodward. “It has always been important for us to give back to the community.”

“Those are top folks over there. I can’t speak enough good things about them,” said Bill Packard, owner of the Shell service station, as his reason for partnering with TennFold to provide free holiday meals.

Packard, a humble and longtime upstanding businessman in the community himself, did not want any attention for his generosity.

“Without them, all of that stuff wouldn’t have happened,” he said, pointing toward the TennFold building catty-corner to his service station. “All I will say is God creates us to be a giving person. It’s up to us to figure out how that works.”

With some funds left over, TennFold decided to provide free meals again at Christmas. This time, it let customers participate in making donations through the sales of pizza-shaped ornaments, similar to an angel tree program, where the value of ornaments sold covered the amount of meals. The program was wildly successful.

“The checks started rolling in so much that we had to partner with other nonprofits to get these meals distributed, because our reach wasn’t big enough to give them all away without help. We partnered with the [Downtown Rescue Mission], churches, a couple of different schools and Nashville Food Project,” said Woodward.

Woodward recalled helping put together more than 1,200 meals for the Nashville Food Project.

“I wish I could say we had the vision for it, but it was something that grew organically. The giving became infectious between our staff, patrons and business partners in the community,” said Woodward.

“The community support that we have received has been just overwhelmingly unbelievable. This neighborhood is very appreciative and supportive of new businesses trying to come in and make the community better. That a lot of us who work here, including myself, we live in the area, so it’s important that we do our very best job to service the community that we live in.”

With one year under its belt and restaurant dining starting to look normal again, TennFold used its anniversary date to expand on the menu and make it the restaurant they really want it to be.

The food menu was small initially, and those early offerings mainly consisted of Neapolitan and New York-style pizzas and a whole-chicken family meal designed for curbside delivery. From the fresh dough and bread to the beer, TennFold prides itself in making fresh, homemade foods and drinks.

“No low-end products of any king are to be found in this restaurant,” said Woodward. “Everything we serve here should be as good as our beer. Everything should have the same love and effort put into it as our head brewer, Chad Mueller, puts into making the beer. Our anniversary was an opportunity to open up as the restaurant we have wanted to be,” he said.

The food selections now boast a larger variety, which includes about 12 new items such as pasta, steak, trout and more salads.

“It was finally our opportunity to say, ‘This is who we actually wanted to be in the beginning.’ One year later, we are going to execute that idea and make it happen,” said Woodward.

When it opened, the brewery only had two beers on tap, Flat Pedal Golden Ale and Curbside Session India Pale Ale, a beer name that was born from all the curbside business TennFold did during the early days of the pandemic.

Currently, 25 beer tap handles line the wall of the full-service bar that pours plenty of beer, a bigger selection of liquors and new craft cocktails. TennFold serves about 13 of its own brewed beers on tap, and the remaining handles are reserved to feature local and regional beers.

“We envision this as a community, not a competition. So, we like to help out a lot of the other Nashville breweries. In this business, you make friends, and we want to support our friends. We wanted to take it to the next step and help out the people we thought were making a great product and needed to be recognized,” said Woodward.

Moving forward, the focus at TennFold is to bring up the ambiance of the place, said Woodward.

Plans are in the works to possibly add some live music, games and include some things to keep younger customers busy, so their parents can enjoy the brewery, said Woodward. Some changes will include a reinvestment into the building by adding a green space, shade and mounting fans to its popular outdoor patio dining area. Another goal for TennFold is to start distributing its own beer to other restaurants and adding merchandise.

“If we can keep our work ethic and service standards where they are, the sky’s the limit. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be the most popular places in Donelson and not stopping there, in Nashville and as a destination for people to travel to get here,” said Woodward.

“Our hardworking staff, I am blown away by the extra efforts and the genuine care they have for the people that walk in the door. They definitely appreciate every single person who walks through those doors. We appreciate all of our guests and the community support we’ve received from the neighborhood folks. Without them, it would have been done by now.”

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Donelson Christian Academy presents co-valedictorian Natalie Smith
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Natalie Smith is the co-valedictorian at Donelson Christian Academy this year.

Graduation will be May 15 at 10 a.m. at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church.

Smith is part of a graduating class of 56.

Smith holds a 4.43 grade-point average and a 34 composite ACT score. She said she plans to major in biological sciences – pre-medicine with a concentration in biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology and neuroscience. She admitted, though, math was her least-favorite subject.

“I’m hoping to become a thoracic surgeon and work toward a cure for lung cancer, as it is something near and dear to my heart,” said Smith. “I’ve always loved science, and I think the human body is one of God’s most fascinating creations.”

Smith said there are two faculty members who most influenced her.

“The first is my cross-country coach, coach [Josh] Bledsoe,” she said. “He was my fifth-grade homeroom teacher and my cross-country coach for five years, and he constantly believed in me and encouraged me to work toward my goals in all areas of my life, not just running. Being on his team made me a better runner and a kinder, more confident, more capable person.”

The second Smith mentioned is her college counselor, Nicole Schierling.

“Her firm faith in God’s ability to work out all things for our good, [even college rejections,] and her care for every individual student have been a consistent encouragement to me and have shown me what it means to love well the people in our lives,” said Smith.

The student who most influenced Smith is her co-valedictorian, Kendall Roy.

“She is one of my dearest friends and one of the most clever, dedicated people I know. She constantly pushes me to work hard and have big dreams for myself,” Smith said. “I endlessly admire how much she wants to make the world a better place.”

This has most likely been a challenging year for DCA students, especially the senior class. A March 3, 2020 EF-3 tornado destroyed much of their school, and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic disrupted in-class instruction, which forced many to learn from home temporarily.

“The biggest way that COVID affected my senior year was in how much harder it made finding community. School, for a while, was most of the hard, draining parts without the social aspects that make it all worthwhile,” she said. “But, DCA worked really hard to give seniors a joyful year in a safe way, and I really appreciate that.”

Smith said the best piece of advice she received her entire high school career came from Bledsoe.

“During my sophomore cross-country season, I was dealing with an injury and didn’t get to actually run at all,” she said. “I was frustrated and discouraged and lots of other things, and he told me this – ‘It is during the most difficult and most disappointing times in our lives that we learn the most and grow the most as people; we gain greater empathy and a greater ability to serve others who are struggling.’”

Smith said it was something she’s carried with her through all of the struggles she’s faced as a high school student, and working through hard times with the perspective they will make her more able to help other people who are hurting helped her find joy even in the hurt.

“The best piece of advice that I can give to upcoming students is [to] make sure that you prioritize working hard and making good friends,” said Smith. “Working hard in high school opens up so many doors for college, and having good friends makes all of the bad days infinitely more bearable.”

Smith’s honors, school and leadership awards and accomplishments are many. Along with earning a spot on the All-Region cross-country team, she was awarded to the top 15 runners in each district at the regional cross-country meet. She was named distinguished scholar, placed on the principal’s list and ranked in the top 5% all through high school. She received honor awards in world history, chemistry and language. She also was awarded for several other scholarly accomplishments.

Smith said she was part of the International Thespian Society and theatre department, volunteered at the Peer Tutoring Center, sat on the Student-Athlete Leadership Council, was part of the Ultimate Frisbee Club, a member of the student council and part of a selective program called Youth Excelling in Learning Leadership, among others.

Her community involvement was extensive and included taking part in canned food drives, volunteering at the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Feed the Children at Green Hill Church and among a dozen more.

When not studying, Smith worked as a nanny, a carhop at Sonic in Lebanon and a private tutor.