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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 1, 2024

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


We start with local news…

Battle Creek High to Get Turf (MSM)

The Maury County School Board last week approved $2.4 million in funding which will go towards turfing the athletic fields at the new Battle Creek High School, which is set to open in time for the 2024-25 school year.

Last summer, the County Commission approved the board’s funding request of $28 million in upgrades to athletic facilities.

“This funding request was for upgrades to athletic facilities, particularly they were going to put in a bunch of field houses,” Commission chairman Eric Previti said. “That said, the school board has asked to change what some of that is going for and they’re looking at doing some Astroturf for some of the ballfields.”

Maury County Public Schools Superintendent of Operations Eric Perryman said indoor facilities were originally looked into, but the per square foot price came back well over their $5 million budget.

“If we go to our largest schools and we spend $8 million dollars, pretty quickly we’ve blown this budget for everyone else, but we still have this need for spaces for our kids,” Perryman said. “Places that people can go, that they can use and practice. In working through that, what we’ve shifted to, and this was through help with some of our coaches in the district, is looking at putting turf at many of our facilities.”

In addition to safety, Perryman said turfing would also freeze up money to go towards other schools.

“Sometimes our middle schools don’t get the attention athletically, sometimes our unit schools fall athletically because the other schools overwhelm them and they’re too big. This will freeze up money for us to move about,” he said.

Though the board only approved turfing Battle Creek High, Perryman said the district and board are in the process of looking at each campus and its athletic facility needs.

“Artificial turf, along with other upgrades, are being looked at site by site. BCHS was addressed at this time due to the construction timeline. Upgrades, including turf options, will begin to be announced in the coming months,” Perryman said in a statement.

Previti said it is ultimately the board’s decision on how they decide to use the funds.

“The school board is an autonomous board,” Previti said. “They’re powered by the state. They can do what they want with the funds once they receive them. Once the county commission gives them the money, it’s their money to spend as they need to do with the facilities.”

Of the $28 million, several other concerns are in the process of being addressed, including the gym at Spring Hill High School, which has been out of compliance with girls softball.

Perryman said one of the mezzanines will be converted into an indoor practice facility for softball, but could also be used for other sports.

“It will have turf on the concrete, a dropdown net for batting and we’re creating a locker room space for them as well,” he said, adding that the other side of the gym will be converted into a wrestling facility.

Additionally, locker rooms and upgrades are being looked at for Spring Hill High School, Mount Pleasant High School, Whitthorne Middle School and equitable locker rooms for Central High’s upper gym, which Perryman said are Title IX and ADA issues.

UAW Workers to Receive Profit Sharing Checks (CDH)

General Motors' Spring Hill workers, along with 45,000 others, who are part of the United Auto Workers Union will receive a profit-sharing check come February, according to the automaker on Tuesday.

The Spring Hill GM plant has more than 3,000 members of the UAW employed at the 11 million square foot plant. They could receive up to $12,250.

For 2023, GM's North America pretax profits were $12.3 billion, down 5% from $12.9 billion a year ago. The amount of the profit-sharing checks is based on $1,000 per every $1 billion in annual earnings before interest and taxes, or pretax profits for North America, the Detroit Free Press reported. The checks are paid out in increments of $250, which is why it is $12,250 and not $12,300, GM spokesman David Caldwell said.

But to make the full payout, an hourly employee must have accrued 1,850 or more compensated hours during 2023. 

The $12,250 that GM's UAW-represented workers will receive is not as much as their 2022 payout of $12,750 the highest since 2016 when it was at $12,000 per employee.

The payout was not just for full-time permanent employees either. For the first time, GM's union-represented temporary employees and those at GM's battery facilities are now eligible for profit-sharing under the new national agreement the union has with GM, a UAW source confirmed.

On Oct. 28, the plant at Spring Hill, GM's largest assembly facility in the country, walked off the assembly line and joined the strike.

“The members have spoken. After years of cutbacks, months of our Stand Up campaign, and weeks on the picket line, we have turned the tide for the American autoworker,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “The Stand Up Strike was just the beginning."

Just a few days later the strike was suspended.

The strikes began on Sept 14 and continued for more than two months. The strike forced contract negotiations with

Raises from at least 33% to over 160% - After COLA and compounded wage increases, members received raises of at least 33% with some of the lowest-paid workers receiving raises of up to 160%. Tens of thousands of autoworkers saw immediate raises of over 40% upon ratification.

Faster progression to top pay - Workers no longer need to wait eight years before seeing wage progression, the union was able to secure a three-year wage progression to the top pay rate.

Blazing the path to a just EV transition - The UAW won commitments at all three automakers that will bring thousands of electric vehicle (EV) and battery jobs.

Improvements in retirement security for all active and retired members - For the first time in 15 years current retirees will receive annual bonuses, a $1.25 billion boost in their benefits. Across all three companies, workers hired before 2007 won an increase to their pension multiplier.

401K contribution increases - Although workers hired after 2007 did not win defined benefit pensions, the employer contribution to their 401(k)s increased by 10%, which will double many members’ annual 401(k) contributions over the life of the contract.

Mt. Pleasant Suggests Moving Boys and Girls Club (MSM)

The Mount Pleasant Recreation Commission has recommended changes to the Boys and Girls Club, which would allow the club a trial run of 120 days to use the west hall of the community center, located at 501 Gray Lane.

The recommendation was brought up during the commission’s Jan. 10 meeting, in which members also agreed for the trial to last from summer to fall break.

“You truly get a sense of how the program will run throughout both,” said commission member Alyshia Busby.

Mount Pleasant City Manager Kate Collier said conversations have been brought up about keeping elementary students at the school, and instead making it a middle and high school.

“They may keep the elementary at the elementary and then do middle school and high school at the center,” Collier said. “Right now there is nothing for middle and high school. That’s their goal and target audience and they’re not hitting it here.”

Collier said the motion will likely go before the full City Commission in February.

“It probably won’t go to the commission this month because we already have that agenda out, but as long as we give them notice by March, it would probably be on the February agenda because we have to tweak that contract,” she said. “They said if we had the information by March it would give them plenty of time.”

The Boys and Girls Club meets from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer and 3-6 p.m. during the school year.

The commission also discussed events and new ideas for the coming year, including painting classes, which were last paid for with a grant. Busby said the commission plans on applying for another grant, with a two-hour class costing $400.

Additional ideas discussed for the year include wine tasting, arts and crafts, cooking and self-defense classes, and a vendors day.

The Recreation Commission will next meet Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m.

Maury County Seeks County Powers Relief Amendment (CDH)

The Maury County Commission is requesting support from the state to ensure greater financial revenue attached to continued rapid population growth.

The commission approved unanimously last week a resolution for state leaders to amend the state's County Powers Relief Act of 2006, which provides adequate facility taxes to communities experiencing rapid growth. With growth comes the increasing need for enhance infrastructure and services like utility services and new schools.

The commission is seeking alternative ways to create revenue to avoid increasing county property taxes to pay for the extra people and services new development brings.

The current Act forbids county government from enacting an impact fee on new developments, though it is not restricted from individual municipalities. The commission's request is that state leaders amend the current law to allow the county the same opportunity.

"Property taxes have been increased more recently in our high-growth counties, happened in Sumner, here, and it's happened in Williamson and Rutherford County," James Dunn, lobbyist in the Tennessee General Assembly, said. "In the future, if you do not wish to increase property taxes and want to protect our existing Maury Countians from any further increase, we've got to figure out how to pay for this growth."

According to the 2020 Census, Maury County is the fastest growing county in Tennessee, while Rutherford ranks among one of the most populated counties.

Dunn added that the deadline to file bills in the State House is Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 in the Senate, which on average can be up to 4,000 bills annually.

Maury County's adequate facilities taxes on new development currently caps off at 50 cents per square foot for residential construction and 30 cents per square foot for commercial property, an amount the commission calls "woefully inadequate" in meeting the demands for additional services the County has experienced. By opting into the County Powers Relief Act, the adequate facilities tax would be forfeited, as the law currently states.

"We've got a bill that would allow you to retain your ability to tax non-residential development that is already in place," Dunn said. "That's future buildouts so we don't put the burden on existing Maury County taxpayers."

The Maury County commission is asking the legislative delegation to support any bills presented to repeal or amend the County Powers Relief Act to allow Maury County "to be placed on a level playing field" with municipalities to have the authority to collect impact fees on new development.

Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, said there are a lot of options currently being discussed at the state level to provide funding assistance for rapidly growing counties, and that while this request could provide relief, it's going to take multiple solutions to make a lasting impact.

"I think it would be disingenuous for anybody to say this whole thing is going to solve the growth problems," Cepicky said. "There is no silver bullet for this, but there are tools we can put in the toolbox to lessen the impact of growth.”

Commissioner Ray Jeter commented saying this is the third attempt at amending the Act, and he hopes this request would act as the start of a "long-term relationship" with state lobbyists fighting on behalf of the local taxpayers, and that this would make a "big difference" to the nearly 100,000 Maury County citizens.

"We definitely need somebody who can fight those battles for us in the trenches," Jeter said. "This commission is a fighting commission, and we'll load up every one of us and go to Nashville to fight in the trenches with you when that times come. We just ask that we be kept in the loop on when those opportunities might be, even if that means four or five times loading up to Nashville. We'll be there."

Commissioner Gabe Howard added that utilizing the help of lobbyists in a growing county is important because the legislation isn't necessarily tied to one partisanship, but is intended for everybody.

"It's legislation that matters for growing communities like ours," Howard said.

National Wear Red Day (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) is encouraging individuals to help promote awareness of cardiovascular disease by participating in National Wear Red Day on Feb. 2.

The annual event provides an opportunity to show support for heart health by wearing red. Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer of both American men and women, accounting for more than 900,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the American Heart Association. Here are more facts:

 ∙ Cardiovascular disease is responsible for more deaths in the U.S. each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined

∙ 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease

∙ Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease

∙ The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men

∙ People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who doesn’t have diabetes.

∙ Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol

“Increasing awareness is imperative to changing these statistics and fighting this disease,” said Maury Regional Health (MRH) CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “Both men and women should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke, as well as their individual risk factors for heart disease. Early detection is also essential to effectively treating heart disease, so discuss screenings with your physician.”

Cardiovascular disease can often lead to heart attacks and strokes, where symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot and can even present themselves differently in women than men.

Warning signs of a heart attack include tightness or pain in the chest, discomfort in other parts of the upper body such as the back or jaw, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue and nausea. Women can be more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, or back or jaw pain.

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other signs include sudden confusion, trouble seeing or blurred vision, dizziness or loss of balance, and a sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Anyone who thinks they might be experiencing heart problems should call 911 immediately. Maury Regional Health’s emergency responders are equipped to begin treatment immediately and relay vital information to the hospital while in route to the Emergency Department. Physicians and staff are then waiting for the patient and can begin treatment immediately. Treatments may include intervention in the cardiac catheterization lab to open the blocked vessel or, in severe cases, patients may be referred for open heart surgery.

MRMC is recognized as a Chest Pain Center with PCI by the American College of Cardiology and holds certification in the treatment of heart failure from The Joint Commission. It also recently received reaccreditation in echocardiography from the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission in the areas of adult transthoracic and adult stress.

Learn more at MauryRegional.com/heart.

Columbia Artist’s Work Featured (Press Release)

A new art exhibit celebrating African American History Month will display in the heart of Downtown Columbia at the Visit Columbia Welcome Center located at 713 N. Main Street. This exhibit will feature local artist Kanytra Bumpas, showcasing her tremendous talent. The exhibit will run throughout February during business hours: Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 4 PM; Saturday 10 AM – 3 PM; Sunday 12 PM – 3 PM. The art pieces will be available for purchase through the artist directly.

Kanytra Bumpas is a visual artist who specializes in acrylics with vibrant colors to show positivity and life. Her style is to layer the paint and typically use about 12 layers on each painting. She enjoys using bright colors to show the liveliness and beauty of black people. Kanytra is passionate about illustrating each piece with a different feeling and mood. She uses realism mixed with her own style. Kanytra has been painting for three years, but she’s been an artist since age eight. Her goal is to spread light and positivity with each piece she creates.

People are encouraged to stop by the Welcome Center to view the exhibit, learn more about Bumpas, her art style, and the stories behind her pieces.

State Eggs and Issues (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance and Breakfast Rotary for their Annual State Eggs & Issues. This event features a panel discussion and Q&A with State Senator Dr. Joey Hensley, Representative Scott Cepicky, and Representative Kip Capley.

The event will take place on Friday Feb 23, 2024 from 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM at the Memorial Building, located at 308 W 7th Street in Columbia.

The cost is $25 for members, $30 for future members

If you are a member of Breakfast Rotary you do not need to purchase a ticket for this event.

To submit a question or topic in advance for consideration, please email egallegos@mauryalliance.com.

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

Mr. Randy Ervin Davidson, 71, retired Machine Operator for Union Carbide and resident of Culleoka, died Saturday, January 27, 2024, at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Davidson will be conducted Friday, February 2, 2024, at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday, February 1, 2024, from 4:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mr. William D. “Buddy” Smith, 76, resident of Columbia, and retired owner and operator of Columbia Fire Equipment, passed away Tuesday at Maury Regional Medical Center. A family graveside service will be conducted Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 11:00 A.M. at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday, February 2, 2024 from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Miss Susan Gail Benderman, 69, former counselor with Centerstone, died Thursday, January 25th at Maury Regional Medical Center. Memorial services will be conducted Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 2:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. The family will visit with friends Saturday, February 3, 2024 from 12:00 P.M. until the time of the services at the funeral home.

James Dillard Irwin, Jr., 74, the loving husband of Reatha Irwin, an Electrician and HVAC specialist for Morgan Brothers Electric and resident of Santa Fe, died Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Irwin will be conducted Sunday, February 4, 2024, at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Fly Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday, February 4, 2024, from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mrs. Nettie Lou Walker Durham, 95, Housekeeper for Maury Regional Medical Center and resident of Columbia, died Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at Life Care Center of Columbia. Funeral services for Mrs. Durham will be conducted Monday, February 5, 2024, at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Henryville Cemetery. The family with friends Sunday, February 4, 2024, from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Gas Prices (MSM)

Gas prices across the state moved more expensive last week, rising eight cents, on average. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $2.79 which is two cents more expensive than one month ago but 49 cents less than one year ago.  

“Gas prices moved higher across the state last week, likely thanks to steady increases in crude oil pricing,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Pump prices are facing additional upward pressure thanks to heightened geopolitical tensions and the lingering impacts of the extremely cold temperatures on refinery production. If crude oil prices remain high it’s likely that drivers can expect pump prices to fluctuate higher again this week.” 

Quick Facts

39% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $2.75

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.56 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.10 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 14th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Watershed Public Theatre (WPT) announced the third production of their 2023-24 season is “Robin Hood & Friends,” an original play written and directed by Columbia resident Beverly Mitchell. Public performances run Feb. 2-3 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 3-4 at 3 p.m. at Cherry Theater, located in the Hickman Building at Columbia State Community College, 1665 Hampshire Pike, Columbia.

According to Mitchell, her adaptation is “A retelling of the legend based on historical facts combined with inept heroes and sarcastic maidens who, somehow, find their happy ending.” Robin Hood, his band of Merry Men – and woman – experience adventure and hijinks as they attempt to rescue Maid Marion from the Sheriff of Nottingham.

For more details or to join WPT’s mailing list, visit watershedpublictheatre.org.


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