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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 7, 2023


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 Man Charged (MainStreetMaury)

Spring Hill police have arrested John Hogue, 58, of Spring Hill, after an investigation into the sexual assault of two children at Walmart.

Officers were called to Walmart on Aug. 3, to investigate an alleged sexual assault of two children who are siblings ages 11 and 13.

The complainant told officers that the suspect was still in the parking lot. Officers located the suspect’s vehicle and were able to detain him for an interview.

During the course of the investigation, officers developed probable cause to arrest Hogue, and he was charged with aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery and assault.

The alleged assault occurred inside the store while the family was shopping. Hogue was transported to the Williamson County Jail for booking.


Lawrenceburg Deputies Up on Federal Charges (MainStreetMaury)

A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on July 24 charging two Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses stemming from their use of unlawful force during the arrest of a 61-year-old man.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Henry C. Leventis for the Middle District of Tennessee, Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta made the announcement.

According to the indictment, on Oct. 5, 2020, in Giles County, Sherriff’s Investigator Zach Ferguson and Deputy Eric Caperton threw the victim to the ground, struck him multiple times in the head and caused his head to strike the pavement. As a result of these actions, the victim suffered serious injuries.

The indictment further alleges that the defendants attempted to cover up their misconduct by filing false reports. Finally, the indictment alleges the defendants obstructed justice by falsely telling criminal investigators that the victim’s upper body never touched the ground during the arrest and falsely claiming that the victim’s injuries were caused by punches that Ferguson delivered while the arrestee was still inside his van.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the excessive force charge and up to 20 years in prison for the obstruction charges. A federal district court judge would determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Memphis Field Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rascoe Dean and Special Litigation Counsel Michael J. Songer of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.


Preservation Park (CDH)

Columbia City council revisited plans for a project to reflect the city's presidential history, while updating a piece of land into a new landmark for citizens to visit.

The Polks at Preservation Park project was first introduced in 2019, where a lease agreement was approved by the Maury County Commission. The project, however, was delayed the following year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has since been scheduled to start sometime in 2023.

The idea was to take Preservation Park, located at the intersection of West 7th and North High Streets (across from the James K. Polk Home & Museum), and give it an upgrade, with a little more to commemorate its location in regard to Columbia's history.

This includes replacing the park's benches and fountain, redoing the brickwork, as well as memorializing James and Sarah Polk as bronze statues commissioned to local sculptor Jennifer Grisham.

"We are looking to update that corner, take out the old brick and put in some new brick along the wall surrounding the park, replacing the fountain, as well as landscaping and installing city historical markers," City Manager Tony Massey said.

Preservation Park was originally donated to the city in 1995 by the Maury County Historical Society.

The council will vote later this month on the project's lease agreement, which carries a term of 25 years at a cost of $1 per year.

"That wall will have a veneer stone added to the face of it on both sides, as well as a capstone," Public Works Director Jeff DeWire said. "We plan to incorporate that same veneer stone with what's currently under the existing fountain, because now what you see is just raw concrete that's exposed along the perimeter of the circular wall. Everything will match and tie in nicely."

DeWire added that the stone will be similar to the fountain located at the intersection of North Main and 6th Streets.

Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy said she hopes the project will move swiftly, and that an official opening can be organized later this year to commemorate the park.

"We are hoping to have the bronze statues completed so that we can have some sort of opening at the first part of November around the President's birthday," Murphy said.



Kitrell’s Cars Opening (WKOM Audio 2:36)

On Friday, Kitrell’s Cars held their 40th anniversary in Mt. Pleasant. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the event and learned about this history of the business.


Spring Hill State of the City (MainStreetMaury)

Decked out in his Air Force bomber jacket, motorcycle helmet and Aviator sunglasses, Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman delivered a brief synopsis on the state of the City of Spring Hill to the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce last week as if he were Maverick of “Top Gun.”

Following a movie trailer-like introduction, the mayor spoke on topics such as infrastructure improvements and capital projects, among others. With traffic being top of mind for anyone who has even an arms-length relationship with the city, Hagaman updated business owners on six projects the city is working to improve.

Among the projects updated were the Interstate 65 interchange, widening of Buckner Lane and Main Street. 

“One of the issues the city is working to resolve is traffic congestion,” Hagaman said. “We want the best flow of traffic there can be.”

One of the ways to accomplish the best flow of traffic on an interchange is to use the diverging diamond design, which is what will be used at the June Lake exit. Additionally, improvements will be made to US 431 to go along with what has already been completed at Buckner Lane.

Over the next couple of years, Buckner Lane will continue to be upgraded all the way to Duplex Road with five lanes, a multi-use path on one side and sidewalk on the other. 

“It is well-planned, it is funded and bid opening for the north section from Buckner Road to (Austin’s Way) at Summit High School will be Aug. 16, 2023. The next section from Summit High School south to Duplex Road bid opening will be in November 2024,” Hagaman said. “I am known around the office as a ‘smart growth guy.’ This is smart growth because we can’t do everything at once, [but rather] as funds are spread out – this is incredibly well-planned.” 

There is $35 million budgeted for the project, but Hagaman warned inflation could increase those costs, but noted the city has planned for that as well. 

As for the update to Main Street (U.S. 31), he reiterated the road is a state road and the city cannot control anything in regards to improvements other than contributing funds.

“Tennessee Department of Transportation has the authority to disburse funds statewide. Memphis has their own Highway 31, Chattanooga has their own 31 . . . This is a lot where politics come into place,” he said. “Who gets the priority? We have people that are constantly approaching them to tell them Spring Hill needs this done. We are confident that it is going to get done, but it takes time and effort.”

The city receives funding from federal dollars each year for road projects and has consistently placed them into the funding balance to be used on that project. Hagaman said the fund is at $3.1 million.

“We are going to use that for design and rights-of-way acquisition cost,” he said. 

Before the presentation, while updating business owners about the progress being made on housing developments, Jack Maher of John Maher Builders pledged up to $100,000 for the completion of the weight room at the new Spring Hill Police Headquarters building.

The weight room was cut from the initial building due to budget concerns, but Maher said they were excited to be able to give back to the department.

“It’s amazing how well Chief (Don) Brite has been able to keep our city safe with the amount of growth we’ve seen over the years, and they deserve this,” Jack said as he shook Brite’s hand. 

Growth has not only skyrocketed with residents, but Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rebecca Melton also noted the Chamber grew to more than 500 members over the last month. Maher said his dad, John, recalled being at Chamber meetings around a dinner table with only a handful of other members. 

Spring Hill is estimated to have more than 55,000 residents in 2023 after the 2020 census counted more than 50,000. 


CSCC Performance Series (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College is pleased to announce the artist roster for the 2023-2024 First Farmers Performance Series season.

 

“We are excited to share this stellar line up of talent for the 2023-2024 Performance Series!” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “We've crafted this season with you in mind, and we cannot wait to present these world-class musicians and artists to you and our community.” 

“This season's Performance Series is a fabulous mixture of different genres—all with the goal of providing family-friendly opportunities to explore the arts,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation.

Opening night, Oct. 19, features The Great DuBois. The Great DuBois’ variety show is a fast-paced, hilarious performance for all ages! It showcases incredible feats of juggling, hula hoops, unicycle, aerial, circus stunts, contortion, magic, and audience interaction. Simply put this is the most unique two-person variety show you will ever see! Bring the family for a fun night!

Nov. 9 will showcase The Doo Wop Project. The Doo Wop Project, the dynamic celebration of a beloved music genre, features five engaging stars from smash Broadway hits and their all-star band. Bring the family and get ready to experience a fantastic evening of the greatest music in American pop history!

On Dec. 14, Jake Shimabukuro will ring in the holidays. Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele master and jolly ambassador of aloha, and his talented team will share a musical gift for all this holiday season! Bring the family and join in the celebration.

Performing Feb. 15 is Steep Canyon Rangers. The Steep Canyon Rangers are big players in the bluegrass and Americana music scene today, and their performance is sure to be unforgettable. Bring your family and experience this talented team of musicians.

March 14 Shane Profitt will perform. Country singer-songwriter Shane Profitt went from punching the clock for the City of Columbia to rocking sold-out crowds at the Ryman and standing ovations at the Grand Ole Opry. Bring your family for a hometown celebration of Shane and his music.

Closing the series April 18 is John Oates. John Oates, member of the Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame and best-selling singer-songwriter, will share an acoustic evening of songs and stories. Bring the family and experience John's world-renowned talent.

Tickets go on sale online Aug. 21, at 9 a.m. at www.ColumbiaState.edu/PerformanceSeries. Tickets for each performance are $35 each, which includes all fees. Individuals may also contact the Performance Series ticket line at 931.540.2879, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On performance nights, the box office opens at 6 p.m. in the Kenneth and Ramona Cherry Theater, located in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and all shows begin at 7 p.m. The Columbia Campus is located at 1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia.

For more information, visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/PerformanceSeries.


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.



Entrepreneur Boot Camp (Press Release)

Maury Alliance and Cowork Inc. have partnered together to offer a 12-week bootcamp led by PITON Consulting designed for entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to the next level.

The MuleForce Entrepreneur Bootcamp is a transformative program designed to equip you with the essential tools and skills necessary to propel your business to new heights. During this business development program, PITON Coaching will guide you through a thought-provoking journey that will help you grow your business from infancy to expansion. By the end of this program, you will have the tools you need to become a more efficient and effective business owner with greater levels of impact and influence.

SESSION DATES are August 15th - October 24th Every Tuesday from 9am - 12pm at the Maury Alliance building located at 106 West 6th Street in Columbia. The cost is $300; $150 will be refunded back upon completion of the course

Go to mauryalliance.com/muleforce for more info and to apply!


Maury County Fair (MauryCountySource)

The Maury County Fair will return on Thursday, August 31st and run until Monday, September 4th, 2023.

All the family fun and entertainment you love will soon be back!

This year, the fair festivities begins with a Rodeo, taking place on Thursday of Fair Week. Several other popular events will be happening like the junk car jump and run and the Saturday motocross races.

In addition to the back arena fun, all your favorite animal shows and exhibitor competitions are back this year too! The kids zone will see a variety of live, exotic animals and science shows that will amaze kids of every age.

For more on the fair and updates, visit maurycountyfair.com.

Address: Maury County Fair & Exposition

1018 Maury County Park Dr. Columbia, TN 38401


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

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 will be conducted Saturday, August 12, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. at Rose Hill Cemetery.

Oakes and Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangments.


…And now, news from around the state…

Pearson and Jones Win Seats Back (WilliamsonHerald)

Tennessee Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, who became Democratic heroes as members of the "Tennessee Three," reclaimed their legislative seats Thursday after they were expelled for involvement in a gun control protest on the House floor.

The young Black lawmakers were reinstated by local officials after being booted from the GOP-dominated Statehouse, but only on an interim basis. They advanced Thursday through a special election to fully reclaim their positions. Both faced opponents in districts that heavily favor Democrats and easily defeated them according to unofficial results from the Tennessee's Secretary of State's office.

Jones, who lives in Nashville, was up against Republican candidate Laura Nelson. Meanwhile, Pearson, from Memphis, faced independent candidate Jeff Johnston.

"I think if we keep running this race, there will be victory after victory after victory," Pearson said to supporters on Thursday. He stressed that his victory was largely possible due to Black women and the organizing work they had done to make him and other politicians successful.

Thursday's election came as lawmakers are preparing to return to Nashville later this month for a special session to address possibly changing the state's gun control laws. While Jones and Pearson's reelection to their old posts won't make a significant dent to the Republican supermajority inside the Legislature, they are expected to push back heavily against some of their GOP colleagues' policies.

Jones and Pearson were elected to the Statehouse last year. Both lawmakers flew relatively under the radar, even as they criticized their Republican colleagues' policies. It wasn't until this spring that their political careers received a boost when they joined fellow Democrat Rep. Gloria Johnson in a protest for more gun control on the House floor.

The demonstration took place just days after a fatal shooting in Nashville at a private Christian school where a shooter killed three children and three adults. As thousands of protesters flooded the Capitol building to demand that the Republican supermajority enact some sort of restrictions on firearms, the three lawmakers approached the front of the House chamber with a bullhorn, and joined the protesters' chants and cries for action.

Republican lawmakers quickly declared that their actions violated House rules and moved to expel their three colleagues — an extraordinary move that's been taken only a handful of times since the Civil War.

The move briefly left about 140,000 voters in primarily Black districts in Nashville and Memphis with no representation in the Tennessee House.

Ultimately, Johnson, who is white, narrowly avoided expulsion while Pearson and Jones were booted.

House Republican leaders have repeatedly denied that race was a factor in the expulsion hearings. Democrats have disagreed, with Johnson countering that the only reason that she wasn't expelled was due to her being white.

The expulsions drew national support for the newly dubbed "Tennessee Three," especially for Pearson and Jones' campaign fundraising. The two raised more than $2 million combined through about 70,400 campaign donations from across the country. The amount is well beyond the norm for Tennessee's Republican legislative leaders and virtually unheard of for two freshman Democrats in a superminority.

Meanwhile, more than 15 Republican lawmakers had funneled cash to fund campaign efforts of Jones' Republican opponent, Nelson. Nelson has raised more than $34,000 for the race. Pearson's opponent, Johnston, raised less than $400 for the contest.

Thursday's election will also influence two other legislative seats.

In Nashville, community organizer Aftyn Behn and former Metro Councilmember Anthony Davis were vying to advance to the general election for a House seat in a district in the city's northeastern region that opened after Democratic Rep. Bill Beck died in June.

Meanwhile in eastern Tennessee, Republican Timothy Hill faced Democrat Lori Love in a general election for Republican-leaning District 3. The seat was left empty when former Republican Rep. Scotty Campbell resigned following a finding that he had violated the Legislature's workplace discrimination and harassment policy.

Hill served in the state House from 2012 until 2020 and rose to the position of majority whip. He later left his seat to run for an open U.S. House seat in 2020, but lost in a crowded primary to current Republican U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Parnassus Books will be hosting former NFL player and author Michael Oher for a book signing event on Thursday, Aug. 10

Oher will be signing copies of his latest book, When Your Back's Against the Wall: Fame, Football, and Lessons Learned Through a Lifetime of Adversity, starting at 6:30 p.m. Admittance to the line will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and the line will begin forming at 6 p.m.

Tickets, which admit one person to the signing line, are $31 each and include a signed/personalized copy of When Your Back's Against the Wall. No other items will be signed, and additional copies of the book will be for sale.  

When Your Back's Against the Wall is described as "an inspiring and motivating book on overcoming any obstacle, no matter how tough the odds." It is his second book, following his 2011 memoir I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond. 

Many people know Oher as the subject of Michael Lewis' 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and the subsequent hit 2011 movie adaptation The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock in an Oscar-winning performance. 

Oher was named an All-American at Ole Miss as a junior and was then drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens during his rookie season. 

After five seasons with the Ravens, Oher signed a four-year, $20-million contract with the Tennessee Titans. However, he only played one season with the Titans and two with the Panthers before retiring. 

Oher now lives in Nashville with his wife Tiffany and their four children. 

Learn more and get tickets at www.parnassusbooks.net.


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