SOUTHERN MIDDLE TENNESSEE TODAY 1/27/23
Updated: Jan 27
All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.
We start with local news…
Spring Hill Fireworks (MainStreetMaury)
Alderman Hazel Nieves conceded the current code in Spring Hill in regards to fireworks is acceptable, but following a presentation from fire chief Graig Temple at the most recent Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting, the outgoing Ward 4 representative could not hold back on her thoughts. Nieves, who recently announced she would not seek a second term as alderman, said placing more restrictions on fireworks in the city is an overreach of government. “One of the things about Tennessee is it reminds me of the grassroots of what this country stood and stands for,” she said. “Allowing individuals to be responsible for themselves rather than the government having a say about everything we do, I think is one of the beautiful things that’s still here in this state, although I do see that eroding.” A native of Oklahoma, Nieves said she moved to California where the regulations from the government left her “firework deprived.” “I come from a state that had a lot of regulations. I think we have citizens here that are adult enough to pay taxes and invest enough in the city, they are also adult enough to conduct themselves as well as possible,” she said. Her objections are on the heels of a proposed change to the city’s Title 7 code, which includes fire protection and fireworks. Temple removed several dates when fireworks are allowed to be publicly displayed, including Memorial Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. “Those are not the typical dates that the community would celebrate with fireworks. Pretty much everyone looks at July 4 as being a large event and New Year’s Eve,” he said. “The other ones were holidays that were popular outdoor holidays. They’re in the summer months or the spring months, but beyond that there was no reason to have those dates. “We added a section for religious ceremonial events for a special permit for those.” Temple said the removal of those dates is to control the threat of fire, as well as injuries. He noted many municipalities don’t allow individual display of fireworks at all. “Fireworks are dangerous. They’re great for celebration. A lot of communities focus more on holding a singular event versus allowing individuals to go out and do it at their homes,” he said. Temple did not have data available on the number of fire calls to which the department was dispatched during the meeting. Nieves added she did not believe there was a large problem in the city with regards to fire safety when it comes to fireworks, adding that when citizens choose to shoot fireworks it isn’t simply to annoy neighbors or scare pets. “We’ve not really had any major issues with safety. What I’m hearing from citizens here is that people want to be able to celebrate,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that here in the city – we don’t have a lot of recreation. They want to be able to celebrate; it’s a meaningful thing to them.” Temple said the fire department fields a number of complaints for fireworks. He said the language in the proposed ordinance would limit the time, but would not be too restrictive, saying if not there could be someone partying as hard at 3 a.m. as they have all night, which could disturb others. Alderman John Canepari asked Nieves where to draw the line when it comes to fireworks and when they should be allowed in the city. “If we take Alderman Nieves’ philosophy down the track a little bit, we shouldn’t have any restrictions,” he said. “You have the personal freedom, you live in Tennessee – why not shoot them off whenever you feel like it?”
Challenge at the Mount (CDH)
Mount Pleasant Middle School hosted area teams for the VEX Robotics Challenge last week, or “Challenge at the Mount,” with a total of 11 Mount Pleasant Middle School students competing for a chance to advance to the state competition in March. A couple of the home teams walked away with state-qualifying wins for Mt. Pleasant Middle students for the year, said MPMS teacher Audrey Bryant, who hosted the event and is a Teacher of the Year winner at the school.
STEM schools place a sharp focus on subjects that prepare students for the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Bryant said. Mt. Pleasant elementary, middle and high schools were the first designated STEM schools in the county.
Bryant, who has helped prepare students for the contest for multiple years said she won a grant for herschool in 2018 to allow students to pursue robotics. But at the time, she was new to the subject.
Her work with students established the middle school as an event partner with VEX Robotics, Bryant said, the only event of its kind in this part of the state.
With a previous competition in October and the qualifiers last week, Bryant said Mt. Pleasant students are in the midst of their “biggest season yet.”
Taking top recognition for the academic year is Mt. Pleasant’s team 38474B, which secured its third qualifier for the season that will send them to the state competition in March. The team won a Design Award on Jan. 14, excelling them in key markers during the competition.
“It always feels good to have a successful tournament day, but it’s even more special to know you did a good job at your own tournament, Mt. Pleasant sixth grader,” Tollan Anteau said.
The students have a goal of continuing to improve before the state championship and perhaps qualify for the world championship in May.
“I’m most proud of how we’ve improved our robot’s ability to shoot discs into the scoring zones,” Mt. Pleasant seventh grader Max White said. “It’s not perfect yet, but we’ve come a long way. I enjoy robotics because I love problem solving and trying new things.”
Students must design a robot that can score points based on disc placements around the board, which is dependent on writing effective code that controls the robots’ ability to project discs.
“Collaboration is a key component of the robotics experience,” Bryant said. “Within a team, students have to assign roles and communicate constantly to bring their working robot together.”
Another of the three Mt. Pleasant teams – 38474A, finished Challenge at the Mount, ranking third in Robot Skills.
“Robotics teaches teamwork, leadership, and communication,” said Mt. Pleasant sixth grader with the A team, Elijah Wisniewski. “It’s a great way for people to come together and challenge themselves to gain new skills.”
The emphasis on teamwork during the competitions is apparent and pairs with other skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.
“Brainstorming design concepts, building, coding, troubleshooting, driving, documenting their design process in their engineering notebook, and developing game strategies are all tasks that team members must delegate to each other throughout the process,” Bryant said.
If students qualify at the state competitions in March, they will advance to world championships in May.
Columbia Arts District (MainStreetMaury)
Columbia’s arts district is thriving while also undergoing a makeover that will undoubtedly create a welcoming environment for both locals and visitors to the “dimple of the universe.” A $2.1 million Streetscape project on Garden Street – set to include paving, utility relocation and additional space for community art visibility – coupled with the $830,000 sidewalk project on South High Street will transform an already vibrant neighborhood into another unique place to be for local events, shopping and eating, in addition to the city’s booming downtown. “There has been a lot of commitment from the city and continues to be made,” Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said. “If you look at the whole body of work over time, where we are today is a long way from where we started, but we still have a long way to go.” The district – established in 2016 – allows additional property rights for owners and tenants for properties within the special zoning overlay limited for use of artists/artisans and the establishment of artistic and creative enterprises, workshops, and retail and living spaces regardless of existing zoning classifications. Because of that distinction, the number of businesses and housing projects in the district have skyrocketed, which has caught the attention of national brands, such as Bradley Mountain – a San Diego business that has since relocated to the district. “We were hunting for a place that had a lot of growth potential, a lot of excitement around it, and we just love the character,” Bradley Mountain owner Tyler Axtell said. Bradley Mountain will soon open its doors to the public on Garden Street with American-made leather goods in the retail shop, but also serving coffee, beer and cocktails. Business owners are being drawn to the district for the vibe businesses and shoppers have created over the last few years. Travis Mitchell, who recently opened his hairstyling shop inside Cult Persona, located on the top floor of the Columbia Arts Building, said being around other creatives is what drew he and his wife to the district for their business. “I’m a hairstylist – I cut men’s hair, women’s hair – and for me, it is art. Creating shapes and silhouettes,” he said. “What better place to submerge yourself in that type of work than around other creatives and other artists? “Being around people who paint, who do sculpture, metalwork and woodworking – it’s really inspiring.” There are a number of new businesses – as well as home renovations – popping up in the district, which Molder says is vital to the success of the arts district. The city has installed covered trolley stops inside the district, while expanding the designation to include the James K. Polk home and The Mulehouse. “If you look at the big picture at where the arts district sits today versus where it sat when it first began, there have been a lot of changes – primarily changes for the positive in my opinion,” Molder added. “We know that we as a government can only do so much to help spur the growth and the vitality of the district. Most of that has to come from the business owners, the residents and and the owners of the other properties.” The Columbia Arts Building has a number of tenants, including the popular sandwich shop Ollie & Finn’s and Bad Idea Brewing, but also features shopping on the first floor as well, though according to Butler Stationary owner Jonathan Butler that is one of the better-kept secrets in town. “A lot of people don’t realize there is a first floor, they think the first floor is upstairs where the food is. Other than that, we have quite a few vendors down here and we all get along. It kind of has its own little built-in community,” he said. Butler opened his shop where he sells high-end stationary inside the collaborative space as a way to see if his business is viable like others have done before moving out of the C.A.B. and into more prominent locations around the city. “I’ve never found a place where you could go in and try (stationary) out. Everything is online, and it’s no fun to shop online,” he said. “The main appeal for me in the CAB is it’s a good place to test the idea. The price is right, the location is decent, but it’s a smaller store. It worked out well to help us see if it’s a viable idea or not.” While the arts district is continuing to grow and become a more vibrant sector inside the city, Molder said he believes on a personal level the district is something that can unite Columbia residents with a common thread. “It’s a different part of town that attracts different types of people. It’s attractive across the spectrum,” he said. “I want to live in a hometown that has a little something for everyone. I want to live in a hometown that has something that my kids will want to come back to – or if they don’t, that they have a fond piece of their mind that brings them back here in some form or fashion.” While the downtown square and the spokes from that area get much-deserved recognition, this is where the city can show off its personality. “We are trying to find ways to connect downtown with the arts district so that when folks visit our downtown they don’t just leave and they visit the arts district or go to The Factory on the other side of town,” he said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a vibrant community that doesn’t also have vibrant quality of life amenities. I think having vibrant outdoor community space is important for a community. “Art brings people together. I want to live in a community that is united by what brings them together rather than divided by what separates them.”
Sandy Hook Bridge Wins Awards (Press Release)
The BRIDGE HUNTER'S CHRONICLE 2022 INTERNATIONAL CONTEST has awarded the endangered Sandy Hook Bridge in Maury County three gold medal awards, a silver medal and the editor’s choice award.
The Sandy Hook bridge has five concrete arches with parapets and was built by W.B. King in 1916. Maury County, who owns the bridge, originally planned to remove the structure for safety reasons last year, but local residents have put up a fight to ensure that the bridge is not demolished, but is instead restored as a pedestrian bridge. Now the group has three gold medals and a silver to add to their argument that the bridge is historically significant. The Sandy Hook Arch Bridge won in three categories: Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge and Bridge of the Year, both by wide margins. In the category Best Bridge Photo, there were two different photos of the bridge, both of them received the top two finishes and will be showcased in the Chronicles’ website online as well as its facebook page for the next six months.
The efforts to save the bridge have been embattled. The preservation group's attorneys filed a complaint on January 4 against Maury County Highway Superintendant Van Boshers and the Maury County Highway Department for failing to follow state statute 54-10-216 pertaining to procedures for closing bridges or roads. If there is no reply by the county attorney by February 3rd, an injunction will be filed. Steve Slocum and Brian Paddock are the attorneys for the Sandy Hook Bridge group. The complaint is on file with the Maury County Chancery Court.
Columbia Factory Has New Owners (CDH)
After Darrell Lynn, a Columbia native, revitalized an old 1950s shirt factory in Columbia in 2018, The Factory at Columbia on North James Campbell Boulevard has become an incubator for almost 20 small businesses and counting, as well as the largest event venue in Maury County.
After an unexpected family situation, Lynn said he recently sold his beloved renovated 67,000 sq. ft. building to two couples, who he believes will carry his vision of growth and expansion forward.
"It was the time," Lynn said. "We originally wanted another several years before selling."
Lynn, a current Franklin resident and graduate of Columbia Central High School, returned to his hometown after retiring from his private industrial construction business, bringing a world-traveler perspective and business acumen to create a community gathering place where Columbians can grab coffee, pizza, baked goods, a historic book, antique or piece of fine art.
Last week, Lynn said he has passed the torch, selling The Factory to couples John and Ashley Pomeroy of Franklin and Chris and Christy Poché of Spring Hill, who will also be new tenants, bringing their 8,000 sq. ft. interior design business, Dwell Boutique to the building.
The Pomeroys and Pochés will also take over Lynn's antique businesses Vintique.com and LeatherBooks.com, both of which are housed at The Factory and accessible online. Ashley Pomeroy and Christy Poché have almost 20 years experience in retail and design, while John Pomeroy and Chris Poché work in corporate IT and the finance industries.
"These are two incredible couples with a phenomenal plan to take The Factory forward into the future with more events, tenants and upgrades," Lynn said.
John Pomeroy said the excitement of the current direction of The Factory and its future potential piqued the interest of the couples as their next venture.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to serve the community," Pomeroy said.
Lynn will serve as a consultant for The Factory for a year.
"It's been five years and an absolute joy to watch Columbia grow during that time," Lynn said. "It's been great to see the businesses thrive and expand with The Factory as their home base."
From only a few tenants in 2018 with some of the first being — Nashville Tea Company, B's Salty Sweet Bakery and Wear it Well Consignment — The Factory has grown to house over 20 tenants from food to retail, art, antiques and world class cobblers Potter & Sons shoe repair.
Today, the parking lot is almost full everyday, Lynn said, drawing over 1,000 visitors during weekend events like A Very Maury Christmas bizarre to 500 guests at galas.
"We are excited to join the foundation and community that Darrell Lynn has created," Chris Poché said.
The Pomeroys and Pochés plan to make cosmetic upgrades to The Factory, offer more events and vendor fairs, using an event planner and draw more tenants to the space.
"We believe in The Factory and its potential, and we certainly believe in Columbia" Pomeroy said. "The foundation is here."
He said Columbia's explosive growth drew them to open a business in the city and purchase The Factory.
"The big draw of The Factory is that families can spend a half-day here," Pomeroy said. "They can shop, eat breakfast, have pizza or a taco and even freshly squeezed lemonade.
"We are very excited to carry the vision forward."
And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home…
Mrs. Lula Mai Rochelle Riley, 86, of Columbia, passed away on Monday, January 23, 2023 at NHC-Maury Regional Transitional Care Center. Funeral services for Mrs. Riley will be conducted Friday, January 27 at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens.
Mr. David L. Edwards, Sr., 91, died Friday, January 20, 2023, at his home in the Southern Oaks Senior Living Community in Henderson, TN. Funeral services for Mr. Edwards will be conducted Friday, January 27, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.
Mr. Elmer Dwayne (E.D.) Brewer 78, resident of Murfreesboro TN, died Monday December 19 in his home. A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, January 28 , 2023 at 12:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Inurnment will follow at Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.
…And now, news from around the state…
Capley Appointed to Committees (MainStreet Maury)
State Rep. Kip Capley, R-Summertown, has been appointed to serve on four committees for the 113th Tennessee General Assembly.
Capley, who was elected in November, will serve on the Civil Justice Committee, Civil Justice Subcommittee, Insurance Committee and Insurance Subcommittee.
“As the youngest House member, Kip Capley brings new perspectives to the House Civil Justice and House Insurance Committees and Subcommittees,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton. “Rep. Capley has already proven he is an effective leader for his community; I know he will be incredibly successful, and his dedication to service will benefit the citizens of Wayne, Hardin, Lawrence and Maury Counties, and all of Tennessee.”
The 113th Tennessee General Assembly officially convened on Jan. 10. Committee assignments were announced on Jan. 12.
“I am deeply honored by the trust that Speaker Sexton has placed in me with these important committee assignments,” Capley said. “Passing sound policy that benefits all Tennesseans is my top priority. I look forward to working alongside my fellow committee members to ensure that our state’s success continues for generations to come.”
Kroger Union Sues (Tennessean)
The union representing Kroger employees in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the supermarket chain has not paid employees for all the hours they worked, including overtime wages.
United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 Union, representing about 13,000 Kroger workers, filed the lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It lists four plaintiffs from Virginia and West Virginia but seeks to make the filing into a class-action lawsuit.
The union claims it has received more than 1,000 complaints from workers who say they have received incomplete paychecks and that the company has improperly deducted taxes and health care premiums. The issues are related to a new payroll system called “MyTime,” which the company launched last year, according to the union.
“This is wage theft, plain and simple," said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici in a news release. "When you work for an employer, you should be compensated completely and correctly for every minute you work, and if you aren’t, then your employer is stealing from you.”
Final Story of the Day (MauryCountySource)
It's that time of year to start preparing for a festive summer wedding season, which is why The Factory at Columbia invites brides-to-be to its annual Bridal Show this weekend.
The event will run from noon to 5 p.m. at the 101 N. James M. Campbell site, where guests may also shop among the many growing selection of shops, restaurants and more.
Sunday's Bridal Show will include opportunities for multiple wedding vendors to showcase the latest in fashion, venues, food, photography, planning and all the other many details that go into prepping for "The Big Day."
The Bridal show is also free to attend, with updates, photos and more available at The Factory at Columbia's Facebook and other social media outlets.
It may be cold and wintery outside, but that doesn't mean you can't still pick up lots of fresh produce, smoked meats and other locally sourced goodies.
Columbia's Farmers Fresh Market continues to draw dozens of vendors and farm-to-table enthusiasts each week, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at the Farmers Market pavilion at Riverwalk Park.