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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 14, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Shop Lifter Sought (MauryCountySource)

Detectives want to identify a person who allegedly attempted to steal several iPhones from the Spring Hill Walmart on January 22nd.

The person, whose picture you can view at, allegedly attempted to gain access to a display case containing several phones using a screwdriver. The person was interrupted by store employees and left the parking lot in a white Chrysler Town and Country van.

Walmart employees told the responding officer that this person was also a suspect in several other thefts from Walmarts in the area.

If you can identify this person, please contact Detective Josh Weber at 931.451.0758 | You can also submit an anonymous tip at

Armada Nutrition Expands in Spring Hill (Press Release)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter and Armada Nutrition LLC officials announced yesterday the company will invest $5 million to expand production in Spring Hill, Tennessee.


The leading contract manufacturer will create 50 new jobs in Maury County to support the company’s increased demand in nutraceuticals.


Armada Nutrition LLC is a subsidiary of Nagase & Co., Ltd., which is based in Japan. Armada Nutrition specializes in manufacturing high quality nutritional powders for national and global nutrition brands. Today, the company develops, processes and packages its multi-ingredient powder solutions from its sole location in Spring Hill.


Since 2020, TNECD has supported nearly 15 economic development projects in Maury County, resulting in approximately 3,400 job commitments and $4.8 billion in capital investment.



“I thank Armada Nutrition for its commitment to creating 50 new jobs for families in Spring Hill and Maury County. The exceptional workforce across this region will greatly benefit from these highly skilled positions, and we look forward to seeing the success that follows this expansion.” – Gov. Bill Lee


“We are proud to have Armada Nutrition in Tennessee. This is a company that develops, processes and packages its goods globally from its sole location in Maury County, and we hope to continue supporting this great brand to ensure its continued growth in the future.” – TNECD Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter


“At Armada Nutrition, we're passionate about delivering high-quality nutritional products that empower people to live healthier lives. This expansion signifies our dedication to continuous innovation and meeting the growing demand for premium nutritional solutions. But this investment isn't just about expanding our capacity, it's about investing in people. Creating 50 new jobs with excellent career opportunities brings us immense pride. We're confident this expansion will further solidify Armada Nutrition's role as a major economic partner in Spring Hill and beyond.” – Josh Lanagan, president, Armada Nutrition


“Today’s announcement by Armada Nutrition is great news for Maury County. The expansion of their operations in Spring Hill not only signifies economic growth but also underscores our commitment to fostering innovation and job creation. With 50 new jobs and a $5 million investment, this move showcases our region’s appeal as a hub for cutting edge manufacturing. We welcome this expansion and look forward to the continued success of Armada Nutrition.” – Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald)


“Armada Nutrition is a valuable member of Spring Hill’s business community. I was excited to learn of their expansion, which is going to create dozens of new jobs in Maury County. It’s a great thing when thriving businesses grow, and I’m proud Armada Nutrition is continuing to invest in our area.” – Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka)

Wall Street Clear Blue Development (CDH)

Spring Hill city planners approved Monday concept plans for a project called Wall Street Clear Blue, a mixed-use live-work development located off Wall Street and north of Fitts Street.

The project, presented by Gamble Design Collaborative, initially consisted of 180 units, and was reduced to 162 units prior to the vote. The project also includes about 49,830 square feet of retail/commercial space.

While the Spring Hill Planning Commission ultimately approved the proposal, many planners stated they were not entirely in favor of it.

"I'm going to vote 'yes' on this tonight, not because I like it, because I don't," Planning Chair Elizabeth Droke said. "I don't think it is a good placement for that type of density. I think it's a terrible placement right now, but that is a weak spot in our code, and I am trusting our aldermen to fix it shortly."

Alderman Trent Linville agreed, saying he "doesn't think this is responsible development" based on the location and proposed density, which would be about 18 units per acre.

"I think it is using our 'by right' system to its maximum, and maybe even flexing that," Linville said. "Based on the advice of council, I think this is a weak part of our code, but I'll be voting to approve it because it checks off all of the other remaining boxes."

Planning Vice Chair James Golias said that one good thing about the project is that it falls in line with many other previously proposed live/work projects, and that he is anxious to see one of them get built.

"In concept, I think these are great ideas, and I'd really like to see how it works here in Spring Hill," Golias said. "What I would say is this location, just because of what's in the surrounding areas, I do think it would be a good fit for that with the commercial and residential versus being in the middle of a neighborhood. For that, reason I do like it."

In the end, the request was approved unanimously.

Towne Coffee (CDH)

When childhood best friends David and Betsy Wood made the decision to upgrade and relocate their restaurant from Mt. Pleasant to Columbia, they wanted to be sure they had a concept that would set them apart from other coffee shop locations in town.

Right away upon walking into the restaurant, it’s clear the local bistro is not just a coffee shop, but a place where customers can get fresh and tasty food, masterfully prepared with flavor and quality as the norm.

In December, Towne Coffee re-opened in its new Columbia location off Nashville Highway and has had a steady stream of customers ever since.

But don’t let their name fool you, as their freshly prepared, whole foods-driven menu offers enough variety to give customers the option of a light or hearty breakfast or lunch.

The new-to-Columbia bistro was based out of Mt. Pleasant since March 2021, but Betsy and David said the business was ready to move to the next level.

While many of their Mt. Pleasant regulars have made their way to the new North Columbia location, moving the business, Betsy said, has given them a whole new family of happy customers.

“Lots of our regulars have made the transition,” Betsy said. “Some of our customers we even see a lot more of because they live closer to the new location.”

The shop that proudly displays “Caffeine and Cuisine” contains the best of both culinary offerings.

With plenty of flavored hot lattes and the option for hot drip or cold brew coffee, Towne Coffee’s menu also presents a variety of original menu items that include homemade breakfast burritos, quiche, avocado toast, chicken salad, Warm Bacon and Chicken salad in a bowl among many other varied options.

From the tomatoes that life-long chef and restauranteur David Wood chops in back-of-house for their homemade pico de gallo, to the Black River Roasters organic coffee that he personally selected for the shop's house drip brews, the couple takes great care to select their food and drink ingredients.

Top-selling items include hot lattes available in a variety of different flavors, the bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich or the classic club as well as the warm chicken and bacon salad and the meaty steak wrap.

Lifelong friends who met in New Jersey in Kindergarten, the Woods found themselves on much different paths following a childhood growing up together. Going through school, always close friends, life took Betsy and David on separate paths for a while, but never forgot about each other.

David Wood trained at a culinary arts school in Ireland, while Betsy worked in corporate marketing as a graphic designer for large companies from Liz Claiborne to Mattel’s Barbie and Discovery Communications. Her business travels took her to New York City, London and Paris, just to name a few.

Betsy said Towne Coffee is in every way, a “perfect marriage” created by her and husband, David marrying their skill sets after finally marrying each other.

David has 35 years of experience as a chef and Betsy has seen more than 30 years in marketing and product development.

Apart for 25 years, Betsy and David lived lives that took them all over the world but found each other again in 2018 through social media. Both had a couple of kids in tow by that point. Both were single parents.

But the stage was set for their next chapters as a weekend in Florida sealed the deal for the couple. David flew from Ireland to see Betsy (who was not interested in dating at the time), kept persisting and eventually won her over.

After Betsy “fell in love with Tennessee,” following her 2007 move here, the couple planted roots and launched Towne Coffee for the first time in Mt. Pleasant in 2021.

David paired his business management degree with experience at Towne Deli in Summit, New Jersey, the inspiration for the bistro's namesake. The deli was the start of his success where he became skilled in increasing profits and was soon a sought after business-minded chef with a great resume.

Betsy brought her graphic design and marketing knowledge to the table, while her husband David’s love for great food and coffee inspired the product they are now serving up to the community.

“David loves a great cup of coffee,” Betsy said. “But I don’t even drink coffee.”

But not liking the taste of coffee doesn’t stop her enthusiasm for their menu items from shining through.

“Our focus is using fresh food and fabulous coffee,” Betsy said. “David makes many of our menu items in house, from scratch with his own recipes.”

The results have yielded a very positive customer response, Betsy said.

“The first two and a half years in business, we earned over 60 five-star reviews and were able to solidify our menu and operations,” she said.

Still the challenges can be many for local business owner-operators to keep producing a product and environment that entice local customers to visit over franchises and chains.

“The major challenges in the restaurant business are the fluctuations in food pricing and difficulties with supply chain management,” Betsy said.

Betsy said their desire to serve extends beyond cooking up a great product.

“It is our goal to be an integral part of the community, not just a place for great food, but also to celebrate and give back to the community,” Betsy said, referencing their February-long promotion with Thrift Love.

From now through Feb. 29, Towne Coffee is offering a few ways to partner with the local nonprofit thrift shop, Thrift Love, which also provides employment for special needs adults.

Betsy said there are a few different ways to help the cause:

Towne Coffee customers can show their receipt and receive a 10% discount on their purchases at Thrift Love and vice versa. Customers can show their donation receipt at Towne Coffee, and 10% of that purchase will be donated to Thrift Love.

Customers from Thrift Love can also show their receipt at Towne Coffee and 10% of their food and beverage purchase will be donated to Thrift Love.

“We are excited to be open in Columbia and thrilled to be able to partner with Thrift Love to help serve their cause,” Betsy said. “Our [February] promotion with Thrift Love is a wonderful example of how we hope to give back.”

Towne Coffee is located at 1201 N. Commerce Ct. in Columbia. For more information visit

Clanton Named Student Services Director (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Lisa Ventura proudly announces Mr. Jon-Micah Clanton as the new Director of Student Services.

Mr. Clanton started working for Maury County Public Schools in 2007 as Assistant Principal at Whitthorne Middle School, a position he remained in for nine years. After his tenure at Whitthorne, he transitioned to Principal at J.R. Baker Elementary and attained his Educational Specialist degree from Lipscomb University. He has served at J.R. Baker for the past eight years.

    Mr. Clanton grew up in Truckee, CA, where he attended Truckee Elementary, Sierra Nevada Middle School, and Truckee High School before moving to Grass Valley, CA, during his junior year. Clanton graduated from Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. After graduating from Nevada Union, Clanton went to Yuba Jr. College in Marysville, CA, where he played two years of football and graduated with an Associate's Degree in Science. Mr. Clanton then traveled to Searcy, Arkansas, where he attended Harding University, played two years of football for the Bison, and majored in Special Education and Elementary Education. While at Harding, Jon-Micah met his wife, Allison, whom he has been married to for 26 years. After Allison's graduation, the family moved to Fresno, CA, where he received his Master's in Educational Administration and Supervision from Fresno State University.

    Mr. Clanton's education career started at Tehipite Middle School in Fresno, CA, where he taught special education and coached wrestling for two years. He then moved to Sunnyside High School, where he taught Special Education and coached Football and Wrestling as an assistant coach.

In 2004, Clanton moved to Tennessee and continued working as a Department Chair for the Special Education department at Independence High School in Thompson Station, TN. He was at Independence High School for three years before settling in with Maury County Public Schools. Mr. Clanton and his wife, Allison, have three children, Caleb, Carson, and Hadley, who all attend Maury County Public Schools---their oldest is a Senior at Central High School, and their younger two are students at Whitthorne Middle School.

    Upon accepting the director of student services position, Mr. Clanton stated, "This is bittersweet for me in my professional career. Eight years ago, I became the Principal of Baker Elementary School, and it has been one of the most fun and rewarding jobs I have had in my professional career. The Baker community, students, and teachers are great people, and I will miss working with them daily.

I am thankful for this opportunity and honored to join the team at the Central Office. I look forward to working with families, administrators, and students throughout Maury County."

Superintendent Ventura shared, "Mr. Clanton comes to us with the heart of a parent, a teacher & an administrator. I could not be more excited to work with him in a district-wide role. This role requires working with multiple stakeholder groups within the community, and Mr. Clanton's attention to detail, while always putting students first, will bring immeasurable value."

For more information about Maury County Public Schools, please visit

Experience Tennessee Partners with Spring Hill Chamber (Press Release)

Experience Tennessee is excited to launch the “Experience Tennessee Community Tourism Project” in Spring Hill with a FREE, business-wide tourism workshop at 10 a.m., Feb. 21 at the Holiday Inn Express Spring Hill, 3003 Longford Drive in Spring Hill. This is a comprehensive tourism development partnership between the Spring Hill Chamber and South Central Tennessee Tourism Association, dba Experience Tennessee. The program is open to all Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce members and those who are interested in being members of the organization.


"We value our partnership with South Central Tennessee Tourism Association, and we are enthusiastic about this opportunity to come together, collaborate, and share resources for the benefit of our business community,” said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the Spring Hill Chamber. “We encourage all Spring Hill tourism-ready businesses to participate in this informative workshop."


The Experience Tennessee Community Tourism Project will be facilitated by the South Central Tennessee Tourism Association at no cost. The initiative is designed to help businesses in the attractions, eat & drink, lodging and shopping sectors become more "tourism-ready" by tapping into resources available to them at the local, regional, and state levels. The programming includes workshops designed to focus on tourism and travel trends and marketing strategies targeting the travel demographic. Lori Grimes, director of business strategy for South Central Tennessee Tourism, will facilitate the program in Spring Hill. 

“The South Central Tennessee Tourism Association is dedicated to assisting local businesses absorb the full impact of visitor spending, which generates more than $24 billion for Tennessee’s economy,” Grimes said. “By leveraging our toolkit and educational workshops, businesses will be better equipped to make the most of tourism, Tennessee’s second largest industry.” 

Pre-registration is not required. 

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

Mr. Charles Errette “Pop” Morton III, 82, died February 13, 2024 at his residence on Booker Farm Road in Hampshire Community. Funeral services for Mr. Morton will be conducted Friday at 11:00 AM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Worley Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM and Friday from 10:00 AM until time of the services at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Tennessee Senators Vote Against Aid Package (TheNewsTN)

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty joined a minority of colleagues Tuesday morning in a vote against foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel. The $95.3 billion package — which passed the Senate 70 to 29 early on Tuesday — approves military aid for Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel through the end of 2024, as well as humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza.

Congress has struggled for months to approve additional aid for American allies amid ongoing military campaigns in occupied Ukraine as well as Gaza, where Israel has fought accusations of genocide against Palestinians. The aid package also shows the U.S. bracing for a looming Chinese conflict in Taiwan and funds heavily stipulated humanitarian relief for Palestinian civilians. As Israel’s military campaign escalates through Palestinian territory, the United States has been increasingly embroiled in related regional violence in Yemen and Jordan, where a drone strike in January killed three American service members. A fiery American response has included bombings and a drone strike targeting Iran and Iraq.

In their opposition to military aid, both Tennessee senators joined a GOP faction rallied by conservative Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who circulated anti-aid talking points on Monday. Ranking Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and John Thune backed the bill, which now heads toward contentious debate in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

Addressing Senate colleagues, Blackburn decried “the drug trafficking, the human trafficking, the sex trafficking that is taking place every single day,” which, she suggested, prevented her from voting on Tuesday’s foreign aid package. In a series of posts on X, Blackburn called for a “full accounting” of spending in Ukraine and warned that humanitarian funding would fall into the hands of “Hamas terrorists.” 

“Our border must come first,” she said on X. “I introduced numerous measures to improve the legislation, none of which were even considered.”

Hagerty also justified his no vote with a series of posts on X criticizing domestic border policies. 

​​"This national security bill should require Joe Biden to secure our nation before sending billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars overseas," wrote Hagerty.

Last week, Blackburn and Hagerty helped kill a bipartisan border-security bill.

Blackburn holds a healthy fundraising lead over potential challenger Gloria Johnson, a Knoxville Democrat serving her fourth term in the state House, in this year’s U.S. Senate race.

Cannabis Legislation (Tennessean)

Michael Soloman, one of Tennessee's leading sellers of legal cannabis, believes the state is engaging in a regulatory bait and switch.

On the one hand, a new law went into effect last year, regulating the sale of hemp-derived products to those 21 and older, seemingly cementing into place what had already become a growing, Tennessee-based industry of legalized non-marijuana cannabis. After all, such products have been legal nationally since 2018.

On the other, the state's Department of Agriculture, which is drafting specific rules for the new law, is considering restrictions on a chemical in certain hemp products, THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). THC-A is legal but mimics the effects of a traditional marijuana "high" when it's burned or turned into certain edible products.

THC-A products are, by far, the most popular products being sold now in Tennessee, Soloman said, and people want them for a variety of reasons. And, a state ban on sales, he added, wouldn't prohibit a Tennessean from buying these products online.

But it could impact Nashville business owners.

"It's really just killing the local industry," said Soloman, the owner of a chain of legal cannabis shops in Tennessee known as The Holistic Connection. He also owns Buds and Brews, a cannabis-themed restaurant in Nashville, and Tri-Star Medical & Craft Cannabis. 

"It's not making these products illegal. It's just going to make these products illegal to sell (in Tennessee). "These products are some of the most sought-after products that the people want for many different reasons."

No such restriction on THC-A was written into the law itself, so many hemp product supporters feel betrayed by the state and believe it could ruin the burgeoning Tennessee industry.

Meanwhile, those products are still federally legal, thus obtainable through the mail.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Justin Timberlake announced a World Tour on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on Thursday evening – his first tour in five years.

While the first announced tour dates did not include Nashville, a Nashville show has now been added. Mark your calendars for Thursday, December 12 at Bridgestone Arena!

The Forget Tomorrow World Tour kicks off in April. Ahead of the tour, Timberlake will release his sixth studio album Everything I Thought It Was, out March 15th.

Tickets will be available through


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