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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for December 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…

Spring Hill Recreation Expansion Proposed (MSM)

Spring Hill Parks and Recreation director Kayce Williams brought the most recent plans for the expansion of the Walnut Street Skate Park to the city’s planning commission last week, which includes the addition of four pickleball courts.

Along with the pickleball courts, a building that will contain restrooms was proposed, but city staff and engineers have concerns that will need to be addressed.

Currently, the restroom building’s height is not tall enough to meet code at just over 12 feet. The city’s Unified Development Code requires buildings to be 14 feet, under the current zoning.

“I think it’s appropriate, even though it is a restroom, that we are consistent with making sure we build to city standards,” city development director Peter Hughes said.

Hughes also asked if the building was planned to be used as a storm shelter, which Williams said it would not, at least not to her knowledge.

Commissioner Jonathan Duda asked if the park would have any lighting, but currently city parks close at dark, which would presume there would be no need for lighting at the park. Williams, however, did state that lighting could be part of future plans for the park.

Spring Hill will enhance the Walnut Street Skate Park with a $300,000 grant that will fund these additions and improve Fischer Park at Port Royal by adding a small Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant mobility track with cornhole, lighting, irrigation and field restoration.

The grant is part of the $7.6M awarded to communities throughout the state from the Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program. The state is also awarding $1.9M in grants from the Recreation Trails Program (RTP).

“Parks are a very important part of our communities, and I am very pleased these funds are available for this project,” Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, said. “They serve as a wonderful outdoor space for our residents, improving the quality of life for our citizens and promoting outdoor activity. I congratulate our local officials who were instrumental in helping secure these funds.”

“These recreation amenities will enhance the quality of life in our community, but it will also give residents with disabilities greater access to our parks,” Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, said.  “I thank our city leaders for their partnership and for submitting a successful application for these very worthy projects. It was an honor to support their efforts, and I appreciate TDEC’s investment in Spring Hill.”

The LPRF program provides state funding for the purchase of land for parks, natural areas, greenways and recreational facilities. LPRF funds also may be used for trail development and capital projects in parks, natural areas and greenways. The LWCF program provides grants to states to administer to state and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The grants require a 50 percent match.

The RTP is a federally funded, state administered grant program, providing funds for land acquisition for trails, trail maintenance, trail construction, trail rehabilitation and trail head support facilities. These grants are distributed in the form of an 80 percent grant with a 20 percent match.

Ogles Fined for Campaign Funds Violations (TheNewsTN)

U.S. Rep Andy Ogles has paid a $5,750 civil penalty for multiple campaign finance violations incurred during the 2021-2022 election cycle, an Federal Election Commission spokesperson confirmed. The commission agreed to the fine in early October after assessing Ogles’ campaign with multiple penalties for missing and late-filed reports, illegal contributions and insufficient reporting documents.

The Ogles campaign blamed its compliance issues on “internal miscommunication,” according to the publicly released settlement terms. In addition to the fine, Ogles’ campaign has until Jan. 2 to set up a specific tracking and reporting process with the FEC and must undergo additional training with the FEC by October.

An FEC audit from March found more than 10 campaign finance violations from Ogles’ 2022 campaign. The report details $90,000 in unreported receipts from October 2022 and an undisclosed $50,000 transfer between political committees. Letters from the FEC also name former Ogles treasurer Lee Beaman and Thomas Datwyler, a Wisconsin-based compliance consultant associated with multiple instances of improper bookkeeping for Republican candidates across the country.

Elected mayor of Maury County in 2018, Ogles built a reputation among Tennessee’s far right by opposing COVID precautions and gun control. Last year, Ogles won the Republican nomination for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District over former speaker of the Tennessee House Beth Harwell and retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, both viewed as moderate alternatives to Ogles. In November 2022, he comfortably beat Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell, for the seat. The district previously contained all of Davidson County and was represented by centrist Democrat Jim Cooper before state lawmakers split up Nashville into three congressional districts. 

Rep. Ogles’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

Fire Station No. 1 Renovation (CDH)

Columbia Fire & Rescue's Station No. 1 is prepped to undergo a long-awaited renovation, which would not only update the existing facility, but expand it and provide additional services to employees.

Plans for the renovations were first presented to Columbia City Council in July of 2022, and were revisited Thursday during the board's Dec. 7 study session, which included comments from main architect George Nuber.

"We are excited, as well as our crews to get this project underway," Fire Chief Ty Cobb said.

The project is estimated to cost approximately $4.8 million and will be overseen by Nuber and Brindley Construction.

"It took a season of time for us to wait for the opportune time to put this project together," Nuber said. "We took advantage of that time at numerous meetings to discuss the expectations of what they are looking for with this building."

The renovations plan to not only upgrade the current 13,675 square-foot 1000 S. Garden St. facility but expand it as well. This includes adding an east and west wing that would add sections for men and women dorms, a training center and bringing the facility up to the modern energy code standards.

"This facility is tired, and basically we have to gut the interior to make the upgrades, which include electrical, Wi-Fi, not to mention design changes and staff expectations," Nuber said. "We took a lot of liberties in beefing up this building's thermal ratings. That will help the lifecycle costs when it comes to heating and cooling the facility."

In addition, the building will also be designed to withstand an F3 level tornado, which would allow the command center and IT to remain in place in the case of severe weather, if such an event were to occur.

The renovations will also include a 35-person training/community room, upgrades to the kitchen and is designed in a way that is segregated from the rest of the facility, which Nuber said is for security reasons. Parking will also be added to the rear of the building, as well as a new roof with an estimated 30-year lifespan.

"The good news about this building is that we are gutting just about everything, and so all of the 'surprises' will be gone potentially," Nuber said. "We believe, structurally, it's a very sound building, so there shouldn't be a lot of surprises. But our responsibility as professionals is to monitor the work every month, if not multiple times a month. We will make sure that what we inspect is what's being installed."

If approved at the Council's Dec.14 regular meeting, Nuber said the project is expected to take an estimated 12 months to complete.

"This is a great report, and very exciting to see this project come to its next phase," Mayor Chaz Molder said.

Spring Hill Christmas Parade Postponed (MauryCountySource)

Due to the severe weather on Saturday, the City of Spring Hill postponed the Christmas Parade from Saturday, December 9, to Saturday, December 16, 2023. The parade will begin at 5 p.m. and all logistics will remain the same.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact the City of Spring Hill at commdept@springhilltn.org.

Master Gardener Program (Press Release)

The 2024 Class for the Tennessee Extension Master Gardeners (TEMG) is now open for registration. The TEMG program is so much more than a home horticulture class, it requires the class participants to make a commitment to the local Master Gardener Association, to community service, and to assist the UT Extension staff with the educational efforts within Maury County. Please return your completed application and payment as soon as possible. The class will be held to a manageable size and seats will be held on an as paid basis. For more information and an application, visit www.maury.tennessee.edu. The final application and payment deadline has been extended to Friday December 15, 2023.

Sobriety Checkpoint (Press Release)

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting sobriety roadside safety checkpoints during the week of December 15th on State Hwy 7 .1 miles south of Knob Creek in Maury County starting at 10:00pm.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures 305,000 people every year in the United States.

King’s Daughters Christmas Drive (CDH)

The King’s Daughters’ School and Heritage Bank & Trust are once again seeking help to make many Christmas wishes come true with the 23rd annual Santa's Mailbox gift drive.

The annual drive will run through Thursday, Dec. 14.

Wish letters can be picked up from Santa’s Mailbox at Heritage Bank & Trust branches in Columbia and Mt. Pleasant. The letters are from disadvantaged King’s Daughters’ students and state-custody kids who will be spending Christmas on campus.

Students have written down their Christmas wishes in letters to Santa.

"Santa’s Mailbox should be easy to spot when you walk into a Heritage Bank & Trust lobby. Each letter contains one Christmas wish item for a student," a press release states.

“We are so grateful to Heritage Bank & Trust for their support of our Santa’s Mailbox program. Many of our students cannot go home for the holidays, so the contributions of the bank, their customers, and our entire community make their Christmas wishes come true,” KDS Executive Director Shauna Pounders said.

Once gifts are returned, they will be wrapped by the King’s Daughters’ staff members and placed in Santa’s bag ready for delivery at the KDS campus Christmas Eve.

"The school and bank members thank you ahead of time for helping make Christmas special for each and every child at KDS," the press release states.

Heritage Bank & Trust is resuming hosting duties this year as a continued valued partner to KDS.

"Heritage Bank & Trust is proud to be a part of the wonderful work being done by The King's Daughters' School," says Shelli Golden, KDS Board Member and EVP, Chief Risk Officer of Heritage Bank & Trust.

"Over the years, I have served on the Board of Directors of The King's Daughters' School, and I continue to be impressed with the care and compassion given to each student to make their lives the best that it can be. Heritage is honored to partner with an organization making such a great impact on our community." Santa’s Mailboxes are located in two Maury County Heritage Bank & Trust lobbies: 217 South James Campbell Blvd., and 109 South Main St. in Mt. Pleasant.

The King’s Daughters’ School is a nonprofit residential school that has provided academic, vocational, and life-skills training to students with developmental delays for over 60 years.

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

David Olan Malone passed away peacefully in his home, on December 6, 2023 at the age of 84. 

The family will visit with friends for service on Thursday, December 14 , 2023 from 4 P.M. to 5 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols funeral home in Columbia, TN. A celebration of life will follow immediately at the Rebel in Columbia.

Harvey Sherman Burkins, Jr., 71, retired millwright for General Motors, and resident of Columbia, died Thursday, December 7, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 12:00 P.M. to 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Johnny N. Wooten, 86, a resident of Columbia, TN passed away on December 7, 2023.

Visitation will be held at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia, TN on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. A memorial service will follow on Saturday, January 6, 2024, at 10:00 A.M., also at Oakes and Nichols Funeral Home. Johnny will be laid to rest at Rose Hill Cemetery.

David Allen Dyer, 80, retired bus driver for Maury County schools and resident of Columbia, died on December 10, 2023 at his residence.

A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family. Online condolences may be extended at www.oakesandnichols.com.

…And now, news from around the state…

Governor Takes Lead in Organization (TheNewsTN)

The Republican Governors Association Friday announced Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has been elected to serve as RGA chair for 2024.

According to a release, Lee will replace Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will serve as RGA vice chair.

The election occurred at the end of RGA’s recently held 2023 Annual Conference, and both governors will assume their positions immediately, serving for a one-year term.

There are 26 states with Republican governors.

“Republican governors are reminding the nation that common sense, conservative policies drive economic prosperity and expand opportunity, security and freedom — changing lives for the better,” Lee said in the release. “I thank Governor Kim Reynolds for her exceptional leadership as RGA Chair over the past year, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to support incumbent Republican governors and elect more to our ranks.”

In addition, and joining Lee, Kemp and Reynolds, the following will serve on RGA’s 2024 executive committee: Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will serve as policy chair.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Enjoy the Holiday Lights in the Park starting this week! The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department have lit up the parks this holiday season.

Holiday lights at Riverwalk, Woodland and Fairview Parks run through December 31, 2022. Woodland and Fairview Park are drive-through displays.

Riverwalk Park is a walk-through display.

Woodland Park: 821 W 9th St, Columbia, TN 38401

Fairview Park: 871 Iron Bridge Rd, Columbia, TN 38401

Riverwalk Park: 102 Riverside Dr, Columbia, TN 38401

The lights will display every evening from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm.

Woodland Park will have only one way traffic entering via the bridge from West 9th Street during these times.

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