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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 12, 2023


All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.


We start with local news…

Concrete Plant (CDH)

Walking down Old Lewisburg Highway, the quiet tree-dotted country road is picturesque, with small rolling hills, sparsely spread out homes and a silence only broken by occasional traffic along Highway 50.

Residents of a mobile home park nestled off the Highway at 874 Blue Springs Road are raising concerns over a proposed concrete plant that could disturb almost 50 residents in the park through increased large vehicle traffic, possible air pollution, and noise.

Indiana-based, Irving Materials Inc. has requested “special exception zoning,” to consolidate two other Columbia concrete plants into one on 12 acres adjacent to the park, which is currently zoned as A2 rural residential.

A special exception rezoning request application was filed this year by Scott Nichols with Irving Materials Inc. to build the concrete plant.

Notice was sent to residents only days before the meeting, though plans had been in the works at least since December, according to mobile home park owner Wesley Walker.

“No one in the mobile home park knew about it,” Walker said, adding that he could lose tenants over the proposed development. “At the bare minimum, I would have appreciated the time to properly notify my tenants.”

Walker along with vocal homeowners, Michael West, Jeff Newsome, and Jessica Beard, among others, spoke against the plant at the first county Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

Applicant Nichols and local truck company and property owner Scott McCanless would sell the land to IMI, which would in turn use it as a production plant to benefit from the convenience of nearby rock quarry supplier, Rogers Group.

Evergreen trees and mounds of that same rock close to the quarry separate the road from any potential industrial eyesores and provide a buffer for the sound.          

Walker’s concerns also stem from possible dust particle exposure for some residents, who have debilitating health problems.

Concrete production can potentially fill the air with a fine powder known as silica dust as one by-product of concrete mixing, according to recent literature Walker says.

Some of Walker’s residents are on oxygen and some have illnesses that could potentially limit their mobility.

National Institute of Health, Centers for Disease Control, and American Lung Association all warn of the dangers of breathing the silica dust, which causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs and is produced from breaking down rock, sand and quartz.

The long-term risks can lead to serious health concerns like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and lung cancer, according to the institute.

Carl Lanius, one of Walker’s tenants, is a double amputee.

Lanius and his wife, Sherry were among residents, who were blindsided by the news of a potential upheaval to their safe, quiet home life.

“The air is hard enough to breathe, but this dust [would be] a concern,” Carl Lanius said. “So far this has been a quaint little neighborhood.”

The neighborhood, or residents near Blue Springs Road and Old Lewisburg Highway soon signed a petition, opposing the concrete plant in addition to attending the zoning board meeting to oppose the concrete plant.

At the time, the February BZA meeting room at Public Square was packed with residents, opposed to the development.

The Board of Zoning Appeals meeting in February was packed with residents opposed to the development. Plans to further the application approval process halted due to a host of residential opposition and stipulations that stonewalled IMI efforts to move forward.

IMI representatives at the meeting estimated a pace of approximately 20 heavy truck trips in and out of the area per day.

Occasionally, West and other residents say that a daytime rock quarry blast might rattle a few pictures.  

“We live with [Rogers Group], and it’s not a big deal at this point,” Michael West said, who is wondering if disruptions would get worse with the IMI plant.

The major roadblock for IMI currently, is a 5,000-foot distance requirement for industrial facilities to be placed in such an area. At the February meeting, the company’s proposal overlaps the requirement, only extending around 4,000 feet from the closest residence, according to the application.

Project principal for IMI, Allen O’Leary of Columbia said the applicant was not aware of the 5,000-foot residential setback for industrial projects the county passed in December.

Temporary reprieve was granted as IMI left the most recent Board of Zoning Appeals meeting with the hefty homework of addressing the multiplicity of concerns.

Originally agreeing in February to schedule their updated information meeting with BZA on April 12, the most recent agenda has removed any mention of the IMI proposal.

Jessica Beard lives with her husband and a bundle of kids on the property she has known for 40 years, where her kids play outside often.

She worries about the heavy trucks, passing by her home and a possible increase of more to come.

Beard and her husband Thomas live in what was formerly Beard’s grandparents’ house, and she said they might have as many as six people at a time at the house with all their kids.

“This affects everything for us,” Beard said. “My kids basically live outside.”

Beard’s concern is not only for the health and safety of her children, but her two stepchildren with autism, who are sensitive to sound.

West, a respiratory therapist, said his concern is that the silica dust would cause problems for his patients.

“This is something I see with my work,” West said. “It really scares me. The information I found from OSHA, shows that there is something called a fallout zone. This zone is really close to my house.”

West said silica dust is too fine to be caught or filtered properly, even though the applicants claimed otherwise.

“If you take a strand of hair and cut it seven times, you have an idea of how fine this dust is,” West said. “That is a big concern for me and my family.”

CJ and Jennifer Allen, who both work at SRM Concrete in Columbia, also opposed the plan as employees who have worked in concrete.

CJ Allen began by speaking of the noise problems, he felt would result from the proposal.

“Stop by a concrete plant. Just stop by,” CJ Allen said. “You don’t want that around your house, do you?”

Jennifer Allen said she had worked through nine years of company changes and opposed any new site.

“I do work around it,” Jennifer Allen said. “I know how dusty it is and the potentials of that and what it can do. I never had asthma until seven years ago.”

Legal representation for IMI, Art Fisher said during the meeting that the company’s dust control equipment was 99.9% effective, though the type of dust was not specified.

The proposal will be heard next at the May county commission board of zoning and appeals meeting.


Scout Luncheon (WKOM Audio 1:38)

Yesterday, the annual Scout Luncheon took place. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the luncheon to learn how Scouting is doing in Middle Tennessee…


MegaDump Voted Down by Maury/Marshall (WKOM)

The Marshall/Maury Municipal Solid Waste Regional Planning Board on Monday, drove, what could be a final stake in the heart of efforts to place a landfill near the Duck River.

In a meeting at Henry Horton State Park, the board voted to deny Barge Design Solutions’ application on behalf of Remedial Holdings and Star Hill Eco Park to place a landfill on site of the old Monsanto factory.

“It is part of the TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation) by which these applications to turn a six-acre landfill into 384 acres (with) a different type of solid waste materials from all over the region and all over Middle Tennessee,” Maury County Attorney Daniel Murphy our own Delk Kennedy in a radio interview. “It technically stops it for now. There is an appeals process where they can go to Chancery Court in Davidson County, or they can still proceed with TDEC through the permitting process.”

Maury County officials have been unwavering in their opposition to the proposed landfill, with the County Commission passing a resolution asking the Tennessee legislature to take action. State Rep. Scott Cepicky’s bill to designate that portion of the Duck River as a Class II scenic river has passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support and is now awaiting Gov. Bill Lee’s signature.

“Hopefully, with the scenic river bill being passed and hopefully signed by the governor, that process will stop and hopefully this nonsense will go away,” Murphy said.

Attorneys with the developer have reportedly sent notice to lawmakers that they intend to take legal action if Cepicky’s bill becomes law.

Additionally, both the County Commission and the cities of Columbia and Spring Hill passed what is known as the “Jackson Law,” which requires approval by both a county and municipality to place a landfill within a particular jurisdiction.

Barge contended the site’s use predates the law’s passing, which precludes the site from local jurisdiction. The application states the proposed expansion meets the criteria laid out by the regional planning board.

“The proposed expansion meets all of these criteria largely because it is located on a site historically used for heavy industrial activities, including ancillary uses but not limited to waste disposal, and is not on a new, undisturbed greenfield,” the application read in part.

The 1,373-acre site’s conceptual plan includes a compost facility, solar farming, waste tire processing, material recovery facilities (MRF), wetland mitigation and enhancement along the Duck River and metals recycling. 

“These folks don’t want to engage the county; they haven’t engaged the county even though that’s what they’ve said publicly,” Murphy said. “They don’t think the Jackson Law applies.”

Murphy expressed his appreciation for those who attended the board’s meeting to oppose the application.

“Thank you for everyone who came out today and let their wishes be known to this board, and we thank the board for their service and their decision,” Murphy said.


5G Connectivity (MauryCountySource)

AT&T has expanded its 5G network in Maury County, the company states via press release.  A new cell tower will enhance the area’s coverage and capacity.

“This new site will enhance AT&T’s coverage and capacity in the vicinity of U.S. Highways 412 and 31 and in the area’s residential neighborhoods,” reads a statement from AT&T.

“As a physician, I’ve seen first-hand the importance of connectivity as patients communicate with their healthcare provider, access their records, or simply research information,” said state Sen Joey Hensley (District 28). “With people increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to connect to the Internet wherever they are when the need arises, continuing growth of the wireless network is welcome. Announcements like this show the Legislature’s work to encourage private investment in advanced technology is paying off for the people of Tennessee.”

The new site also brings Band 14 spectrum to the area. Band 14 is a nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet. “We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane,” states AT&T. In an emergency, this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers. When not in use by FirstNet subscribers, AT&T customers can enjoy Band 14’s added coverage and capacity.

“We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected,” said Kathy Sager, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T Tennessee. “AT&T 5G brings fast, reliable and secure connectivity to more than 281 million people in over 22,000 cities and towns nationwide, including in Middle Tennessee. This helps residents and businesses get the best possible experience over the AT&T network wherever they live, work and play.”

For more information about the value FirstNet is bringing to public safety, check out FirstNet.com.


Drug Disposal Day (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will offer an opportunity to dispose of expired, unused or unneeded prescription drugs safely and anonymously on Saturday, April 22.

 The free drug take-back event will be held in front of the MRMC Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

 The event will feature a convenient drive-through disposal process. Staff members will be present to safely receive items from drivers in their vehicles. The service is free and anonymous with no information required.

 “Once again, we are excited to offer our community members a convenient way to safely dispose of unused and unneeded medications,” MRMC Security Director Michael Johnson said. “We highly encourage all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to dispose of unused medications.”

 For numerous safety and health precautions, safely disposing of unused medications is extremely important. Medication should not be flushed down a toilet or tossed in the trash. In addition, medicines that are kept in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that most misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including medications taken from home medicine cabinets.

 Only medications in pill or patch form should be brought to the upcoming event. The site cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. Items should be in their original container, if possible.


Homestead Festival (Press Release)

The second annual Homestead Festival will be held June 2 & 3 in Columbia on Rory Feek’s farm.

Now until April 21st you can take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free ticket offer. With your purchase, you will be able to attend the event for both days.

Combining music and meaning, the two-day affair features musical performances, from Rory Feek, Collin Raye, Craig Campbell, and Paul Overstreet, as well as masterclass lectures by prominent homesteading community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Jill Winger, and many others.

Buy tickets at www.hardisonmill.com/thehomesteadfestival.


And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home… 

Ms. Alexie Shai Hargrove, 27, a resident of Gene Fitzgerald Road in Columbia, died Thursday, April 6, 2023 at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Funeral services Alexie will be Wednesday at 12:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will in West Point Cemetery.

 

Mr. Bobby Wayne White, Sr.,86, retired employee of Columbia Daily Herald and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, April 8, 2023 at NHC Maury Regional Transitional Care. Funeral services for Mr. White will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 4:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


Mr. David Jonathan Bates, 60, former Agriculture teacher for Columbia Central High School and employee of Kings Firearms, died Sunday, April 9, 2023 at his residence in Mt. Pleasant. Funeral services for Mr. Bates will be conducted Friday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Pleasant Mount Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Governor Calls for Tightened Gun Control (Tennessean)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at strengthening background checks for firearm purchases, in addition to calling for lawmakers to pass an order of protection law to keep guns away from people who present a danger to themselves or others.

"I’m asking the General Assembly to bring forward an order of protection law," Lee told reporters at a police precinct in Nashville. "A new, strong order of protection law will provide the broader population cover, safety, from those who are a danger to themselves or the population."

“This is our moment to lead and to give the people of Tennessee what they deserve," Lee said.

The executive order sets a 72-hour period for reporting new criminal activity and court mental health information to the Tennessee Instant Check System, the background check system operated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The order also directs the TBI to issue a report in two months to Lee's office and the General Assembly on "any barriers to complete, accurate, and timely reporting of information that is accessible in TICS."

“The existing background-check process for purchasing a firearm only works when there is accurate and timely information that's available,” Lee said.

Four days after the Covenant shooting, the deadliest school shooting in state history, Lee told The Tennessean he believes people who are a danger to themselves or to others should not have access to weapons, a position he reiterated a few days later when announcing a slate of school safety measures with Republican legislative leaders.

The school safety package, which focused on hardening school security and did not address gun reform, received bipartisan passage in the House last week. Lee has reiterated he has directly asked General Assembly leadership to bring forward order of protection legislation, though he declined to say Tuesday if he had received pledges of sponsorship from lawmakers.

But Lee's comments on Tuesday were his strongest yet that he believes new legislation can be passed this session, which is expected to wrap up within weeks. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, was among the first Republicans openly supporting an extreme risk protection order. While House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, has not openly opposed it, he's expressed skepticism that such an order could contain appropriate due process protections.

Republican lawmakers in recent years have broadened access to firearms. Some Republicans this session attempted to expand a permit-less carry measure to long guns prior to the Covenant shooting, a move sharply criticized by Democrats.

Democrats announced a legislative slate on April 5 in response to the Covenant shooting.

"In this moment, our families deserve action to stop future gun violence," Senate Minority Leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, said following Lee's Tuesday remarks. "The governor is right to make this a priority before session ends."

The Democratic legislation includes a proposed ban on bump stock conversion kits and high-capacity magazines, citing the Covenant shooter's ability to fire 152 rounds inside the school in about 15 minutes. Senate Bill 1564 would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a civil court for an extreme risk protection order, which would allow law enforcement to temporarily remove weapons from a person deemed a risk to themselves or others.

"These are smart and effective solutions to keep kids and families safe," Akbari said. "We are ready to work with the governor and the supermajority to get something done."


Breast Cancer Awareness Plate (Press Release)

The Tennessee Department of Health continues its efforts to promote breast cancer awareness today with the premier of a new design for a motor vehicle passenger license plate devoted to raising funds for breast cancer screening services.


The Driving to a Cure license plate supports TDH’s Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program which helps uninsured and underinsured women access breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services.


“Early cancer detection can often mean beating a cancer diagnosis,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner Ralph Alvarado, MD, FACP. “This specialty license plate adds another component to our intervention efforts to prevent breast cancer deaths in Tennessee.”


Tennessee drivers who currently have a Driving to a Cure plate can receive the new plate design when they renew their vehicle registration online at www.tncountyclerk.com. New registrations for the Driving to a Cure specialty plate can be made in-person at any Tennessee County Clerk’s office. 


The fee for the plate is $61.50 annually and the new plate design is available now.


In 2022, the Driving to a Cure plate raised $145,000 in proceeds to provide breast cancer screenings for TBCSP-eligible women.


The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Tennessee Craft Fair, the annual celebration and sale of one-of-a-kind craft art by local and regional artists, will be May 5-7 at Nashville's Centennial Park on the Parthenon lawn. The juried show will include awards for best of show, best of Tennessee and best new exhibitor.

The craft fair will include a demonstration tent with local artists from The Clay Lady’s Campus, the Tennessee Association of Woodturners, and Betty Turner’s This Little Light Creative Glass Art.

The kids' tent offers opportunities for kids to make their own creations to take home.

And finally, the emerging makers tent features artists who are just starting out in their careers.

Fair hours are 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. May 5-6 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 7.

Go to tennesseecraft.org/springfair for more information.


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