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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 10, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Lawrence Fire Investigations (MainStreetMaury)

An investigation by special agent fire investigators with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into two fires in Lawrence County last month has resulted in the arrest of a Summertown man.

On June 29, TBI special agent fire investigators joined the Lawrence County Fire and Rescue and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office in investigating two fire scenes that occurred that month in Summertown. The first fire occurred June 28 on Dukes Park Road, and the second took place June 29 on Davis Street. The investigation revealed that both fires were incendiary. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that indicated Robert Ream was the person responsible for setting the fires.

On July 25, the Lawrence County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Robert Lee Ream, 33, with two counts of arson. Ream was arrested and booked into the Lawrence County Jail on a $30,000 bond.


Bus Safety (MainStreetMaury)

As the upcoming school year is set to begin, local police departments are urging motorists to be aware of both the presence of school buses again, as well as the law on yielding to them.

Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-151 states in part, “The driver of a vehicle upon a highway shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus. The driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated.”

Depending on if you are traveling on a two-lane road, multi-lane road or divided highway will determine if you need to stop or not.

On a two-lane road or a four-lane highway with a center turn lane, everyone stops. If the four-lane has a divider, such as a median or an unpaved area at least five feet wide, traffic in the opposite direction can proceed cautiously. Only traffic behind the bus must stop.

Last year, Spring Hill had five incidents that either directly or indirectly involved a school bus, according to a press release. Mount Pleasant police said there were no incidents involving school buses last year.

“We are very fortunate not to have had any accidents involving school buses last year,” Assistant Chief Jack Burgett said. “That’s a credit to our local motorists for paying attention, and hopefully we won’t have any incidents this year again.”

According to Maury County Public Schools communications director Jack Cobb, there were 13 total incidents involving Maury County school buses last school year, and luckily no injuries were reported.


Cepicky on Special Session (MainStreetMaury)

Two weeks before the long-awaited special called legislative session on public safety, Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) has spoken out about the need for increased mental health services in the state, citing a lack of facilities and beds available.

The Tennessee General Assembly is scheduled to meet beginning Monday, Aug. 21 for a special session focused on strengthening public safety and preserving constitutional rights. 

The session was called by Gov. Bill Lee following the Covenant School shooting in March.

Though legislation is not required to be filed until 48 hours before session, Lee has expressed to members that he intends to submit an order of protection bill, which would allow a judge to revoke gun rights from an individual deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

Cepicky, who has proposed building more inpatient mental health facilities, said he is focusing on what can be done with regards to mental health.

“I think the problem we have right now when you look at mental health, we have over 1.3 million Tennesseans accessing mental health and we have less than 1,000 beds statewide,” he said.

“There’s your problem, we don’t have the ability to get people the help they need and long-term inpatient health.”

Cepicky also cited the rising homeless population in downtown Nashville, stating there are currently over 300 people living under bridges.

“I asked the mental health people, if these people would voluntarily commit themselves to an inpatient facility and get the help they need to turn their lives around, how many of these 300 could turn their lives around? They said 270. If we had a facility for them to get checked into and get the help they need, they could go back to living a normal life.”

Cepicky also noted the importance of receiving the Covenant shooter’s manifesto in order to better understand the shooter’s mental state. Lawmakers have been pushing for the release of the shooter’s writings, while families of the victims have fought to keep them private.

“We’ve got to have that manifesto and toxicology report,” he said. “I need to have law enforcement, psychologists and doctors tell me the mental, physical and medical state of this individual so when we’re passing laws, I know what I’m trying to stop.”

“Nobody aside from the Metro police, TBI and FBI have seen the toxicology report,” Cepicky added. “Everyone is being very tight-lipped about it. “This is the first time something like this has ever happened with a shooting like this, that the information and manifesto have not been released to the public. That’s troubling because as legislators we use that information to figure out what went wrong and how do we fix it. I’m walking in the legislature blindly.”

The Metro Nashville Police Department is currently in possession of the manifesto. In a statement released back in May, Metro Police said the writings will not be released due to pending litigation.

“Due to pending litigation filed this week, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department has been advised by counsel to hold in abeyance the release of records related to the shooting at The Covenant School pending orders or direction of the court,” the statement read.

“I think there are some things we can do in regards to mental health, but we will be very sensitive to the constitution moving forward and making sure we don’t infringe on people’s rights,” Cepicky said, stating he remains focused on protecting the Second Amendment.


City Seeks Grant for Bear Creek (Press Release)

The City of Columbia took a step towards enhancing its road infrastructure by submitting a grant application for the 2023 Statewide Partnership Program. The application seeks funding to undertake the project of widening 7.2 miles of Bear Creek Pike, stretching from Nashville Highway to Interstate 65.


If successful, this initiative would mark one of the most substantial investments in road infrastructure that the city has witnessed in a generation. The project holds immense significance for the City of Columbia and its residents, as it aligns with a long-standing priority and vision for enhanced road connectivity and accessibility. Bear Creek Pike's expansion to a four-lane highway from Florence, AL, to Columbia, TN, subsequently connecting to Interstate 65, underscores its regional importance. City Engineer Glenn Harper commented, “This segment of Bear Creek Pike provides a regional connection to Interstate 65 and is a priority for the City of Columbia due to the impacts that increasing traffic will create regarding safety, congestion, and economic opportunities.” The widening would bring notable efficiencies to the daily commute for countless residents who utilize this route.


Mayor Chaz Molder stated, “I am pleased the City of Columbia, and our City Council have agreed to the most significant partnership investment in city history—$10 million dollars over 10 years to show Columbia’s commitment to the project.”


The timing of this proposal dovetails perfectly with ongoing infrastructure projects. Currently underway is a $29 million enhancement project for the Interstate interchange at I-65 Bear Creek Pike. Furthermore, City Manager Tony Massey noted, “The City has committed $4.5 million for enhancements for the Bear Creek Pike intersection and Nashville Highway intersection.” By integrating these planned improvements into the broader Bear Creek Pike widening project, two major corridor improvements will be achieved.


Molder went on to say, “I am hopeful, if not confident that, with the support of our state legislative delegation, and our community as a whole, that TDOT will fund this application to widen Bear Creek Pike which will have a generational impact on that corridor and our road infrastructure as a whole.”


The City of Columbia eagerly anticipates the response to its grant application and remains committed to propelling the city's progress through strategic investments in its roadwork. With the support of both local and state stakeholders, this endeavor could reshape the future of transportation in the region.


Longevity Chiropractic Opening (WKOM Audio 2:15)

Longevity Chiropractic opened their office yesterday in Thompson Station yesterday. WKOM/WKRM/s Mary Susan Kennedy stopped by the new business to learn more about what they offer their patients…


Spring Hill Bond Renewal (MainStreetMaury)

The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen met alongside the city’s planning commission last week to discuss ways to improve the city’s efficiency in regards to growth and development.

Over the last several years as construction costs have increased, the city has realized a loss on performance bonds for developers, which sparked a discussion on how to safeguard the city from such losses.

One suggestion was adding a bond renewal/accelerator that would allow the staff to look at future bonds and require developers to increase their bond amounts based on the Construction Engineer Index – a standard we also use to increase our impact fees currently.

In order to enact this change, the city’s Unified Development Code would need to be amended, and it would not be applicable to the nearly 160 bonds the city currently holds.

“When we issue bonds, sometimes they may sit for several years as the developer builds out. As we just found out with Bellagio Villas, sometimes the costs go up if we have to call them and repair things ourselves and we don’t have enough money to cover the repairs,” Spring Hill CIP Manager Missy Stahl said.

City Administrator Pam Caskie said the city will be on the hook for about $500,000 with the Bellagio Villas development as costs for repairs and maintenance far exceeded the bonds put up.

“This year, the construction index went up 30%. If you have a normal 2-3% inflation factor in there – you’re still way behind. If you’re talking about bonds issued in 2020, we’re way behind. They’ll cover half of what it’s supposed to be covering,” Caskie said.

Board members suggested several different options on how to keep bonds current, including annual evaluations. What threshold triggers an evaluation – whether it’s the length of time the bond is held, the valuation of the bond or both – is something the board will discuss and then amend the UDC accordingly.

Stahl suggested city staff be able to increase the bonds if necessary without board or planning commission approval due to the high volume of bonds the city typically holds. In order to do that, however, Stahl said another city staff member could be necessary – even if only part time.

“If this is something you guys choose to do, we’ll make it work. It would be beneficial to the city,” she said.

Caskie added, “We’re going to have to eat close to a half million (dollars) or more on Bellagio Villas. Do the staff calculations – if all we did was avoid another one of those, we’re money ahead.”

While the idea seems like a no-brainer, both Commissioner James Golias and planning commission chair Liz Droke said she would be worried developers could simply refuse to update the bond.

The city does, however, hold a few pieces of leverage in those situations – including the ability to withhold Certificates of Occupancy or releasing their bond.

“We have the leverage – I think – to be able to play hardball if (developers) decided to play hardball,” Caskie said. “If you’re going to play hardball, you always want to win.”


Legislative Lunch (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance for a Legislative Lunch featuring Congressman Andy Ogles for a stimulating discussion around the current issues facing our business community and nation. This exclusive event offers the opportunity for you to engage with one of our federal representatives and gain valuable insights into current legislative matters. You may submit questions in advance by emailing them to nperry@mauryalliance.com

The event will take place on August 15th from 11:30-1:00pm at Puckett’s in downtown Columbia located at 15 Public Square. The cost is $25 for Maury Alliance Members and $30 for non-members.


CMYC Applications Coming (MauryCountySource)

Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council (CMYC) applications for the 2023-24 school year are now open. The CMYC is open to all high school students located within Maury County, public, private, and home-schooled. The 2023-24 term will begin in September 2023 and conclude in May 2024.

Mayor Chaz Molder stated, “The Mayor's Youth Council has quicky established itself as one of the more important initiatives we have at City Hall. Not only does it bring youth inside our buildings to learn about important city issues, but I've seen it first-hand plant a seed in these students of love and pride for their community. I look forward to welcoming the upcoming class and would encourage all high school students to apply for what promises to be our best year yet!”


The CMYC’s goal is to foster leadership and community involvement among Columbia’s diverse high-school population and to encourage students to become further interested in local government. The CMYC is composed of Maury County high school students who value academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership. Selected students will have an opportunity to actively participate in various activities and programs, including team building, working with the Mayor and other City officials, addressing issues affecting youth and the community, leading and volunteering in community projects, and learning about City departments and local businesses.


The CMYC members will be selected based on an application process that is made available to all Maury County high school students. The application process will open on August 1st and close on August 25th. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by September 1st. CMYC meetings will be held monthly, in addition to community and volunteer projects.


CMYC applications can be found at www.columbiatn.com/cmyc


9/11 Memorial (Press Release)

Join the City of Columbia and Columbia Fire and Rescue as they conduct their annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. Located at Firefighters Park at 1000 S. Garden Street at 8:00am on Monday September 11th, local leaders will honor the brave men and women of emergency services. The public is invited to attend.


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

James Warren “Jim” Thomas, 89, retired employee of the Department of Justice and resident of Columba, died Sunday, August 6, 2023 at NHC Maury Regional Transitional Care. Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at South Gate Church of Christ. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 3:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the church. Private family burial will be in Morrow cemetery.

Mrs. Betty Ruth Adams Bigsby, 85, retired waitress for Western Sizzlin and resident of Columbia, died Friday, August 4, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.  A graveside service for Mrs. Bigsby will be conducted Saturday, August 12, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. at Rose Hill Cemetery.

Mr. George Gilbert Brazelton, CLU, 91, retired District Manager for Life Insurance Company of Georgia, died Monday, August 7, 2023 at his residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Brazelton will be conducted Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 12:00 P.M. at Graymere Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the church.

Dwight Stephen Stofel, 74, resident of Paris, TN, died Sunday, August 6, 2023. Funeral services for Mr. Stofel will be conducted Sunday, August 13, 2023 at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia, TN. Burial will follow in Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery in Culleoka, TN. The family will visit with friends from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Nolensville Little League Back for Third Try (WilliamsonHerald)

For the third consecutive season, the Nolensville Little League baseball team clinched the Southeast Regional championship. Team leaders Grayson May and Nash Carter weren’t going to have it any other way.

“I'll admit, the rain delays got me for a bit – I hate them,” said May, who pitched a complete-game effort in a 4-1 win over Florida Tuesday despite enduring a more than four-hour weather delay and plenty of slick baseballs. “But, winning another regional championship is just awesome."

“Me and Grayson have already done this, so we wanted to get the rest of our teammates to the (World Series) so they can live the dream with us,” added Carter, who went 1-for-2 with a run scored and made several highlight-reel plays at shortstop.

The two veterans will become the 41st and 42nd 12-year-olds to ever play in repeat Little League World Series tournaments in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As a team, the Nolo boys – and Stella Weaver – are in their third consecutive LLWS, which is a first for teams in the U.S. Weaver is the first girl to ever play in the Nolensville program and will be the 22nd to ever appear in the LLWS.

“We’re making a whole bunch of history,” said Nolensville coach Randy Huth, who is the first coach to ever lead a team back to the LLWS three years in a row. “This team is so special and it’s a very special time for all of us.

“This is unrivaled in sports. There’s no event like this in youth sports, so to be back for a third time is just amazing. There’s no words to describe that.”

The local kids played for the U.S. championship last year, falling to eventual world champion Honolulu, Hawaii, at historic Howard J. Lamade Stadium, which was built way back in 1959.

After a long bus ride back from Georgia Wednesday, the team will turn around for the 13-hour trek back to Williamsport to prepare for the LLWS on Thursday. The tournament begins Aug. 16.

“This means a lot to all of us to be there and for Nash and I – twice is something,” May said. “I think we are going to do well because we have the most experience.”

“Having the experience that Grayson and Nash bring, there’s just no substitute for that,” Huth said. “They put everybody at ease and help everyone stay calm.”

The LLWS begins Wednesday, Aug. 16 in Williamsport. The Nolensville kids will open the tournament on Aug. 18. The LLWS championship game will be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27 and aired on ABC.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Mixed media artist, Sarah Nguyen, has been selected as Cheekwood’s 2023 Artist-in-Residence. Working primarily with paper, Nguyen’s intricate designs often incorporate flora and fauna, bringing together new stories as well as those reminiscent of the past. The residency will culminate with an exhibition within the museum’s temporary exhibition space on view from November 18, 2023, through January 7, 2024.

“Cheekwood is excited to have Sarah Nguyen as this year’s Artist-in-Residence, which offers the opportunity for her to seek inspiration from Cheekwood’s gardens, historic mansion, and surroundings. We look forward to sharing Nguyen’s unique art making process of paper carving with the Nashville community,” says Sarah Sperling, Cheekwood Vice President of Museum Affairs.

Nguyen carves both recognizable and abstract forms out of paper fiber panels which evoke memory, play, and ritual. Her technique is reminiscent of Jewish paper cutting, a sacred tradition that Nguyen participated in as a child.

Sarah Nguyen is based in Columbia, MO where she has worked as an art instructor at the University of Central Missouri for over ten years. She holds a BFA in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Painting from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Learn more at www.cheekwood.org.


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