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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 20, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Theft (MauryCountySource)

Maury County Deputies are searching for an alleged thief. On April 16, 2023, an individual entered a property on Rock Springs Road and stole several items.

The individual was seen on camera carrying the items to the front of the property and loading them into what appears to be a mid to early 1990’s red Chevrolet single cab pickup truck.

The truck then leaves heading south on Rock Springs road toward Sowell Mill Pike.

It is believed the same individual returned on Monday the 17th and stole a 16 foot dove tail trailer. The trailer had white wheels on it and diamond tread on the dove tail.

If you have any information, you are asked to contact Detective Steve Kindler at the Maury County Sheriff’s Department (931)375-8694 or (931)388-5151 or skindler@maurycounty-tn.gov with any information.

Nieves Honored (CDH)

The big topic of Monday's Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting wasn't exactly an agenda item, but recognizing Ward 4 Alderman Hazel Nieves, who is stepping down after four years of service.

Nieves' seat was one of four seats up for election during the city's recent April 13 election, although she was the sole incumbent not seeking another four years on the board. Her spot, which officially expires April 30, will be filled by former alderman and one-time mayoral candidate Vincent Fuqua, who now serves on the Maury County Commission.

Monday's meeting began with Mayor Jim Hagaman recognizing Nieves for her service, not just as a colleague, but a friend, even if that sometimes resulted in debates and disagreements regarding city business.

"She has served dutifully and faithfully on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for the past four years, and it is our pleasure to honor her rightly so, both out of respect and out of want," Hagaman said. "I thank you personally for your service, the city thanks you for your service and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen respect you for your service."

Hagaman then presented Nieves with a commemorative plaque.

Vice Mayor Kevin Gavigan acknowledged Nieves as his "counterpart and sidekick" and someone who managed to always maintain integrity during her time of service. She was also someone not afraid to speak up when it came to city issues.

"I'm going to miss her here next to me," Gavigan told Nieves. "It's hard to make it out of politics with your honor and integrity fully intact, but you have found a way to do that. I hope this isn't the end of your civil service and wish you the best of luck in whatever you get your hands mixed up in next."

Alderman William Pomeroy applauded Nieves' role as having an independent voice and someone who "was never afraid to stand up, even if it meant being one vote versus eight."

Alderman Trent Linville said having Nieves on the BOMA has "made all of us sharper for being here and that "Spring Hill is better for you being here."

In addition to her time on BOMA, Nieves has served and been an advocate for many causes and organizations, including Kiwanis of Spring Hill & Thompson's Station, as well as the founder of Spring Hill FRESH and the former Pay It Forward Festival. Her contributions as a city leader have included her advocacy for the preservation of the city's historical Town Center and Old Town districts.

Prior to Monday's meeting, Nieves posted a message to her Alderman Hazel Nieves Facebook page, where she encouraged citizens to take a stronger interest in their local government and the importance of being aware of how the city spends taxpayers' money.

"It is my hope I have somehow encouraged each of you to recognize the importance of ensuring your elected officials are interested in understanding and acting upon citizens’ needs and priorities," Nieves wrote. "Local governments that operate in deciding and funding services based on their own requirements and processes instead of the needs of the people they serve, has to stop."

"Your voice is more powerful than you think. Folks, get more involved with decisions being made for our city. If you don't, someone else will do it for you ... as has certainly been the case."


First Phase of Buckner Lane Complete (TheNewsTN)

The first phase of Spring Hill’s Buckner Lane widening and realignment project has been completed.

According to a news release from Southeast Venture, who is managing the project, the traffic shift onto the newly realigned Buckner Lane was scheduled to take place yesterday, April 19th. 

The Buckner Lane realignment project is a key component for the overall June Lake development plan and the new I-65 interchange, which is set to open later this year. 

The construction, which is being led by Brentwood-based Bell Construction, includes the widening of Buckner Lane from two lanes to four lanes with a landscaped median, realigning the intersection of Buckner Lane and Thompson’s Station Road East, installing new permanent traffic signals, and improving pedestrian and bicycle access, all with the aim of "enhancing traffic flow and increasing safety in the area while accommodating increased traffic volume" in preparation for the projects being completed. 

"The Buckner Lane project is a critical piece of infrastructure that will serve as a vital connection between the various components of June Lake," Southeast Venture Project Manager Don Alexander said. "The realignment will greatly improve traffic flow in the area, making it safer and more efficient for drivers and pedestrians alike."

Forthcoming road improvements include the further widening of Buckner Lane south of Buckner Road by the City of Spring Hill, the extension of Buckner Road (to be renamed June Lake Boulevard upon completion) between Buckner Lane and Lewisburg Pike, and the completion of a new I-65/June Lake Boulevard interchange.

Once completed, the new interchange will provide direct access from I-65 to Spring Hill and alleviate traffic congestion along major north-south corridors throughout the area.


Kid’s Place Opens New Location (MainStreetMaury)

Local officials gathered last Wednesday to recognize April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month with a proclamation held in front of the Columbia courthouse.

The proclamation followed the relocation of child advocacy center Kid’s Place from Maury Hills Church to 800 Hatcher Lane in Columbia.

The center, which opened in 1999, also serves Giles, Lawrence and Wayne Counties. The first physical location in Maury County opened in 2011. Charlsi Legendre, executive director of Kid’s Place, said an increase of service led the non-profit to seek standalone space.

“We knew we needed to provide more privacy than what we had,” Legendre said of the new location, which has been open and operating since March. “To have a better presence and gain the support we need is really important,” she said, while adding that the majority of clients are in Maury County.

A Kid’s Place serves children and families when there are allegations of severe child abuse, specifically child sexual abuse. Forensic interviewers gather details from the child and record the interviews, which Legendre said is to ensure that the child doesn’t have to retell the history. Advocates are also assigned to walk with caregivers through every step of the process, while therapists work one-on-one with the child to minimize the symptoms of trauma.

“Our goal is to reduce or eliminate those trauma symptoms so that the abusive situation no longer defines the child,” Legendre said.

The center also has a community awareness program in place, which provides information about body safety to kids at local schools.

“If we teach them how to keep themselves safe and out of harmful situations, then we produce safer children,” Legendre said.

Staff members at Kid’s Place, which includes mental health counselors and professionals, also train adults on the signs and symptoms of abuse and what to look for.

Legendre said the center works with CPS (Child Protection Services), local law enforcement officers and the District Attorney, forming a child protective investigation team.

A fundraising event for Kid’s Place will be held April 28 at the UAW Hall in Spring Hill. To learn more about the event, those interested can visit kpcac.org.


Spring Hill Election (MainStreetMaury)

Spring Hill held its 2023 city elections last week despite having just one candidate on the ballot for each spot on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

State law required the election be held regardless, according to the Maury County Election Commission.

Turnout was dismally low at 0.58 percent, with only 211 of the city’s 36,552 voters casting a ballot in the April 13 election.

Three incumbents were unopposed for re-election with John Canepari winning the Ward 1 seat, Matt Fitterer winning in Ward 2 and Brent Murray winning in Ward 3. In Ward 4, former alderman Vincent Fuqua took the seat being vacated by Hazel Nieves. Fuqua was elected to the Maury County Commission last August representing District 5 and previously told Main Street Maury he intended to serve in both positions.

At the city’s request, the state Attorney General had issued an opinion that there is no conflict of interest for Fuqua.

The Maury County Election Commission is scheduled to certify the election on April 24.

This election could be the final one in which Spring Hill voters are allowed to choose candidates from each of the city’s wards, rather than just the one in which they reside. A bill making its way through the Tennessee legislature would prohibit such elections starting in 2024.

Senate Bill 0526, sponsored by Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), was scheduled to be taken up by the Senate on Monday, April 17. Its companion bill has already passed the Tennessee House by a 73-20 margin. According to the bill summary, present law generally prohibits, subject to local approval, the election of a member of the legislative body of a municipality, a popularly elected school board, or any other similarly constituted and elected board or commission of a county or municipality through an election procedure requiring candidates to be nominated from a district and elected at-large. However, certain counties and municipalities are exempted based on population. The bill would remove that exemption.


Maury County Archives to Expand (CDH)

The Maury County Commission approved unanimously a maximum of $10 million for the expansion of the Maury County Archives at its regular meeting Monday.

The expansion would include upgrading the existing building on East 6th Street and constructing a new wing on the property, increasing the square footage of the facility from 8,500 square feet to over 18,500 square feet.

County finance director Doug Lukonen explained that funds for the project are partially derived from the Maury County Archives document management fee of $5, which generates about $235,000 per year. Since 2019, the fee raised almost $1 million to go toward the project.

Adequate facilities tax revenues, only used for building projects, will also fund some of the debt for the project.

Commissioner Ray Jeter inquired if the archives project would “limit” future capital projects around the county.

Lukonen responded that funding for the project meets the capital goals of the previous commission, which approved $50,000 for an architect last year.

He further explained that $1.7 million in adequate facilities tax revenue is still available to be allocated to other capital projects in the county, including renovations, new buildings and infrastructure projects.

As it now stands, $288,000 in adequate facilities tax revenue will go toward paying debt on the $30 million-plus Maury County Justice Center, while $420,000 would pay debt for the archives project.

Plans for new archives building feature a new research library with multiple microfilm and computer stations, a media presentation room and records conservation lab. Specialized areas will also be constructed for 3-D artifacts, maps and surveys, photography and other records processing divisions.

New insulation, new roof and HVAC systems would be installed at the existing 60-year-old building as well as other updates to the existing structure.

The greatest reason for the expansion is that the archives is bursting at the seams. Maury County is one of the few counties in the state to house all of its original records from the formation of the county in 1807 to the present.

“The archives staff would like to thank the Maury County Commission and County Mayor for seeing the vision and understanding the importance of this incredible collection of historic documents. By funding this important project, they are ensuring the preservation of these documents for generations to come. It’s a gift to the citizens of Maury County, the state, and the nation, because our history tells the complete story like few other places.”

Once construction begins, the project will take 14 to 18 months to complete, and the archives will operate from an alternate location at 1301 S. James Campbell Boulevard. The archives is now located at 201 E. 6th St. in Columbia.


Puckett’s Donates to Boys and Girls Club (CDH)

As longtime supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee, Puckett's and A. Marshall Hospitality began this week by presenting a $6,000 check to the nonprofit.

The funds were the result of a recent competition as part of the Boys & Girls Club's culinary program, with the winning dish being added to the Puckett's dessert menu. In addition, Puckett's hosted a "give back day," wherein a portion of sales would also be donated back to the Boys & Girls Club.

The winning dish was the Presley Parfait, which is served in a mason jar filled with layers of crushed vanilla wafers, homemade banana pudding, fresh banana slices, peanut butter mousse and whipped cream.

"It's kind of like a banana pudding, but done in a parfait style," A. Marshall founder Andy Marshall said. "It's very popular."

Marshall said he is always happy to donate to programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, not just for their success in maintaining a 100% graduation rate for its students, but because it was the place he received his early education.

"I was a Boys & Girls Club kid in Memphis," Marshall said. "You go about life being busy and raising your own kids, and at some point you start looking back on how you got here, and Boys & Girls Club was a big part of mine. It came at a time when I needed it the most, spoke a lot of truth to my life and gave me a lot of confidence, and I'm just very proud of what they do and the kids they speak to daily."

Boys & Girls Club CEO Ginny Wright said she and the Boys & Girls Club couldn't be happier with the continued support Marshall and Puckett's have shown, and that much of the program's continued success comes from donations, volunteers and any other form of support.

"Andy and A. Marshall Hospitality have been great supporters for years and years," Wright said. "It's just incredible to have community partners, who are willing to step up every year. It really does amazing things for almost 1,200 kids per year in Maury County, and also Giles County."

The Boys & Girls Club is currently gearing up for its summer events, which includes its Hero of the Year celebration, which encompasses six weeks where participants compete to raise the most funds. The winner will be named at a special ceremony at the UAW Hall in Spring Hill on Thursday, June 8. Tickets are available at www.GiveSmart.com.

All funds will benefit Spring Hill's youth clubs at Marvin Wright, Spring Hill Elementary, Battle Creek Elementary and Battle Creek Middle Schools, which currently serve more than 350 students each year.


School Physicals (Press Release)

FREE Sports Physicals are scheduled for Monday, April 24th for boys and Monday, May 1st for girls at Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic in Columbia. 



ALL local athletes attending Maury County Public Schools, Zion Christian Academy, Agathos Classical School, Columbia Academy, and Columbia State Community College are welcome to attend. 

Visit mtbj.net/physicals for paperwork and additional details


This is a long-standing tradition in our community (since 1978 to be exact.) We hope to see your athletes on the 24th or the 1st.

Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic is located at 1050 N JAMES CAMPBELL BLVD. STE 200, in COLUMBIA


Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic is devoted to the quality care and health of our patients through focused attention on their orthopedic well-being. Founded in 1975 in Columbia, Tennessee, Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic provides a complete range of orthopedic services including the treatment of fractures, total joint replacement, arthroscopic surgery, spinal surgery, and sports medicine.


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

Mrs. Lois Poe Gilliam, 95, retired secretary and wife of Boyd Gilliam, died Saturday at her residence. Funeral services for Mrs. Gilliam will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens.


Mr. William Lee Barron, 88, retired educator and a longtime resident of Columbia, died Saturday at his son’s residence in Manchester. Funeral services are incomplete and will be announced later by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Governor Pushes for Last-Minute Gun Bill (Tennessean)

In an 11th-hour push, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is backing legislation for an order of protection law, which would allow courts and law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from people for up to 180 days if a judge finds a person poses a "current and ongoing" risk of serious harm to themselves or others.

Lee on Wednesday called for lawmakers to vote on the bill before wrapping finishing the current legislative session, saying "we owe Tennesseans a vote" in the wake of the Covenant school shooting that killed three children and three staff members.

"To be specific, I’m proposing that we improve our state’s law so that it protects more Tennesseans andreaches more individuals who are struggling and in need of mental health support," Lee said. "There is broad agreement that this is the right approach. It should be that simple. But sadly, it’s not."

In a video address, Lee said "political groups began drawing their battle lines before the bill was even completed."

Lawmakers are now racing toward a session end after weeks of contentious gun-reform protests at the state Capitol, with both chambers expected to pass the budget on Wednesday. The majority of Republican lawmakers have been hesitant of, if not outright opposed to, significant gun access legislation.

Still, they could choose to stay longer to deal with gun legislation that has been called for by bipartisan communities in Nashville and beyond.

"These are the moments for which the people of Tennessee elected us to listen and to act," Lee said. "I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible when we’re talking about the safety of our children, our teachers and innocent lives. The only thing standing in our way is politics – on both sides of the aisle."

The proposal does not include emergency "ex parte" hearings, the mechanism many other states use when determining emergency firearm revocation, according to a copy of proposed legislation obtained by The Tennessean on Wednesday.

The legislation would instead allow law enforcement to file a court petition for a temporary mental health order if someone has threatened or attempted suicide or homicide, or "places another in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm." If the order is granted, the court must require relevant mental health treatment.

In the proposed bill, a court hearing must be held between three and five days after the court petition is received, except in limited circumstances. In no event should the hearing be held more than 10 days after the petition is filed. Court-appointed attorneys are written into the proposed bill, and the respondent would have a chance to challenge the allegations in court.

The person would also be required to undergo a mental health evaluation prior to the hearing.

If the court finds an order should be issued, the respondent would be required to "terminate physical possession of all firearms" within 48 hours and would also be blocked from purchasing firearms and ammunition for the length of the court order.

The proposal mirrors existing legal framework found in Tennessee code in other limited circumstances, including domestic violence crimes.

"In Tennessee right now, if a husband threatens to hurt his wife, an order of protection would temporarily restrict his access to weapons to protect the spouse," Lee said. "If that same man threatens to shoot himself or a church or a mall, our proposal will provide that same level of protection to the broader public."

Advocates against domestic violence have in recent years called for stronger order of protection laws in Tennessee, arguing a legal loophole exists when the court orders a person to give up their guns, but law enforcement don't follow up to confirm if they actually have done so.

The law doesn't require a person turn over their firearms to law enforcement but rather to any third party, and the person would be subject to a new hearing if they don't turn firearm "dispossession" paperwork in under proposed time limits.

Under the new proposal, it would be a Class E felony for a third party to return the firearms or purchase new firearms for a person they know is under a mental health order of protection.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Believe it or not, it's been five years since the primetime TV series "Nashville" — the country music drama that helped usher in a boom of tourism and transplants in the real Music City — aired its final episode.

But here's some great news for diehard fans: "Nashville" is coming back. Not to the screen, but the stage.

Cast members Clare Bowen, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson and Sam Palladio will play a reunion concert at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on September 25.

"I’m thrilled to be reuniting on stage with these wonderful Nashville friends here in the U.S.," Esten wrote on social media, also noting that the Ryman was where the show's final scene took place.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Friday via Ryman.com. 

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