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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 15, 2023

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

We start with local news…

City Waives Fees for County (CDH)

Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti recently paid a visit to Columbia City Hall, requesting councilmen to waive utility connection fees and building permits for an estimated $150,000 in savings on the Maury County Judicial Center as site work continues.

Following a joint letter from Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt and Chairman Previti to Columbia City Manager, Tony Massey, the council voted unanimously at its regular meeting Thursday to waive the fees in an effort to help.

“This is a perfect example of 'Team Maury,' with the county and city working together,” Previti said.

Massey weighed in on the vote, saying the city grants similar waivers in other situations and that this one showed the council members’ support for the future center.

“At the end of the day, we’re all Maury County citizens,” Massey said. “We felt it was appropriate to make this happen.”

Last week, a new rendering was released, giving a more detailed look at the facade and posterior of the in-process facility, touted as a boon to ADA non-compliance given the current courthouse's limited access and a lack of downtown parking.

The judicial center's initial cost was $30 million, an amount that was approved by the commission last fall.

In late January, the commission approved the release of funds to begin Phase 2 of the project, which upped the cost on the center by $3.9 million, marking phase 2 of the project with a new grand total of $33.9 million. Still, upon that same approval, savings of $267,000 were secured by acting in time to lock prices for the cost of phase 2 materials and documents for design and construction.

With the new city-approved utility waivers, the total savings comes in at a current $417,000.

Last year, the previous commission made their final major vote with the approval of the center, lauding its passage without another property tax increase. A previous property tax increase passed last summer hit homeowners this fiscal year.

Given the cost of development caught under the multi-tiered conundrum of 2022’s rapid inflation, supply chain holdups and a state-level failed builder impact fee, some commissioners pressed the matter to avoid an even higher cost that would bring to impasse a facility already mired in a saga of continuances.

The new justice center will be located at the site of the old Daily Herald building on South Main Street, which is approximately four blocks south of the current courthouse.

Woodard Elementary STEAM Program (WKOM Audio 4:25)

Yesterday, Woodard Elementary School had a STEAM workshop day. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy visited the school to see what the kids were working on…

Legacy Coffee (CDH)

Joshua Merrill was already brewing up a vision for his community when his local shop, Legacy Coffee Company won $10,000 in the WIRED small business contest, a competition last August hosted by the Maury County and Spring Hill chambers of commerce.

And that vision is beginning to take hold, including more growth and new partnerships as Merrill puts the grant funding to use.

Last year, 10 businesses competing for best small business pitch were narrowed to two, with favored entrepreneurs Legacy Coffee in Neapolis taking home $10,000, and Old Stone Creamery at Cleburne Farm in Spring Hill, taking the second prize of $4,000.

Donations to fund the grant came from other local businesses willing to invest in the program, which helped make the funds a reality for the finalists. Hosted by Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance and Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce, the pitch competition was one that Merrill said he enjoyed and could see being turned into a reality television show, bringing to mind the popular business pitch program, Shark Tank.

Merrill said he appreciates the supportive structure and mentorship that came with the grants, explaining that contest winners do not just take the money and go home, but they will have at their disposal a network of coaching.

Merrill said he hopes as future contests repeat, he can serve on a team of judges or as support to other businesses.

“This is help from people who are savvy to impart knowledge to the next generations,” Merrill said.

Merrill said a successful business owner is going to recognize where they need help and the program is designed to provide tips for growth and innovation.

“The financial side of business was not my strong suit,” said Merrill, whose expertise comes from years of coffee knowledge. “I had never put together a Powerpoint presentation, but I had friends who could help.”

After creating a short video with the help of a longtime friend to tell the Legacy story, he began to more clearly develop extra parts of his business that naturally spring from his love of people.

“We believe every community will have a need for strong leaders and quality coffee,” Merrill said of his vision. “If you create a culture – not just of making coffee, but seek to build leaders and invest in people, there’s always a return on that.”

Citing what he says is an oft-used phrasing, the business holds a goal of “pouring into people.”

“We want to add value to the community,” Merrill said.

In October, another long awaited dream came to fruition for sisters, Laura Campbell Purtle and Susan Campbell Martin, as they opened a market to local farming and craft vendors that now hosts more than 20 independent producers and makers.

Recently, the sisters added Friday hours to their standard Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. operation and have used their $4,000 grant to buy extra coolers for more product and also bring in a new helper.

Laura Purtle said the grant allowed a plan to offer a Spring Hill High School student an internship to help with social media promotions at the 150 year-old dairy and angus farm in North Maury County.

Along with husbands, Dane Purtle and Chris Martin, the sisters live on the land that has seen generations of success and hardship, while all working other jobs and sharing business responsibilities.

The property that has stayed with the Campbell family since the post-Civil War era when a Scottish Highlands-born cabinet member for President James Madison and Russian ambassador, George Washington Campbell bought up large swaths of land in Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Purtle and Martin families have relished the opportunity to pour into their community by allowing a hub for other farming neighbors, even teaching Laura’s son Campbell Purtle how to run a cash register and watch as customers find a one-stop spot for supporting a burgeoning farm and homestead environment that echoes times long past.

At Legacy, Merrill said in addition to a shelving system that has drastically improved workflow and efficiency, the grant allowed coffee inventory increase that has led to a partnership out of Honduras.

As they continue to offer their biodegradable green pods for K-Cups their coffee partners share more than a love of coffee. The name of their partners? "Legacy Farms" in Honduras, which has no connection to the local coffee shop but shares products from decidedly choice coffee berries.

Future growth will expand Legacy's reach to a shared location off Nashville Highway 31 with an aptly named 431 Ministries, which is linked with Haven House to help single mothers find their way with a variety of resources. At that location, Legacy also plans to house a roastery with hopes of growing the Legacy brand.

Hearkening back to the mentors that will offer business guidance and coaching, Edward Jones financial advisor, Will Tenpenny aided the Maury Alliance competition, saying Merrill has much passion and promise.

“… Josh Merrill’s passion and love for coffee and community is evident in every cup he creates,” Tenpenny said. “We are excited about the ideas he has to grow his business and look forward to continuing to partner with him in the future.”

All 10 business applicants were chosen by Amelia Bozeman, Director of Tennessee Small Business Development Center which offers no-cost consulting and training for business owners.

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 Senator Dr. Joey Hensley, Representative Scott Cepicky, and Representative Kip Capley. The event will take place on February 24th from 6:45-8:00am at the Memorial Building located at 308 W. 7th Street in Columbia.

Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers, and include breakfast.

Members of Breakfast Rotary do not need to purchase a ticket to attend.

To submit a question or topic in advance for consideration, please email

For more information, contact Maury Alliance at

Spearman Art at Columbia Welcome Center (MainStreetMaury)

A new art exhibit recognizing Black History Month and featuring local artist James Spearman is now on display in the Columbia Welcome Center.

Located at 713 N. Main Street, the exhibit will be on display through the month of February. It is free to view the exhibit and open to the public during operating hours, which are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday noon-3 p.m. Art can be purchased directly through the artist.

Spearman received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Wayne State University, specializing in Interior Architectural Design and Space Planning. He was commissioned by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, in partnership with Ford Motor Company and The Arts League of Michigan, to paint “Soul of Rock “in 2004. The image was selected as the signature piece for their brochure and traveling exhibit. He was commissioned by the Martin L. King Jr. Task Force, Southfield Michigan, in 2015 to sculpture and create a bronze metal bust of Dr. King, which is on permanent display in the main lobby of the Southfield Library in Southfield, Mich.

He has received commissions to paint many portraits and subjects of interest and has exhibited in several cities nationally. His work is owned by many collectors. He and his wife owned and managed “Del Gallery”, an art gallery in Lathrup Village, Mich. His teaching experience includes more than 18 years teaching live art workshops for the Arts League of Michigan. After he and his wife moved to Columbia in 2007, he has taught live and virtual art workshops with the “Healing Arts Project, Inc.”

Spearman says he considers himself a “realist” using a primary medium of oil on canvas. His preferred subject is figurative, but he enjoys painting portraits, landscapes, and animals with an emphasis on sensitivity, strength, and beauty in his images.

You can find out more about Spearman by visiting the exhibit or see samples of his work online at

Music Video Features CFD (MauryCountySource)

Rising country artist, Josh Ross recently released the video for his song “Trouble” with the help of the Maury County Fire Department.

The fire department shared on social media, “We were honored to be featured in Universal Music recording artist Josh Ross’ “Trouble” music video. Thank you Josh for using this video shoot as an opportunity to promote the work of our first responders!”

“Trouble” was featured in the January 5th episode of Fox’s hit TV series “Welcome To Flatch” available to watch on Fox and Hulu. Ross celebrated the release of “Trouble” by joining his friend Bailey Zimmerman as the opener for three sold-out shows.

Ross was announced as one of Spotify’s Hot Country Artists To Watch 2023. On the touring side, he will be joining Lee Brice and Tenille Arts in April on the Beer Drinking Opportunity Tour and an extensive North American tour alongside Nickleback and Brantley Gilbert on the Get Rollin’ Tour, kicking off in June 2023.

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

Mr. Shane Clark,62, passed away on Friday, February 10 at his residence in Columbia, TN. Visitation the family of Mr. Clark will be held at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 15 from 4-8 pm. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Mrs. Earlene Phaye Fowler Pipkin, 77, homemaker and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, February 11, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. A graveside service for Mrs. Pipkin will be conducted Thursday at 2:00 P.M. at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 5:00 P.M – 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mr. Dan U. Harmon, 80, retired architectural illustrator, long-time resident of Atlanta, GA and Columbia, TN, died Sunday, February 12, 2023 at his residence. A celebration of life service for Mr. Harmon will be held Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia TN. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Thursday from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Tennessee Air/Water Not Affected by Ohio (Tennessean)

Chemicals released last week after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, will not affect Nashville's air quality or waterways, NWS Nashville senior forecaster Scott Unger said.

On Monday, some Nashville residents received alerts that air quality was poor in the area, spurring questions about if it was connected to the derailment. However, the alert stemmed from a glitch in data reporting earlier, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

"Air quality is normal here," Unger said. "What's going on in Ohio is not going to affect us here in Middle Tennessee."

Current air quality data can be found at

Unger said there is also no threat to Tennessee or Nashville waterways after the train derailment and subsequent "controlled release" of vinyl chloride from the tanker cars. The release was a measure to prevent a larger explosion, officials said.

Contaminants from the derailed tanker cars spilled into some waterways and were toxic to fish, officials confirmed. Thousands of fish were found dead in nearby waterways. However, data so far indicates the drinking water is protected.

Either way, Unger said, those waterways are so far from Nashville that, even if chemicals did reach the region, they would take years to arrive and would be so diluted they'd have little to no effect.

East Palestine sits near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, roughly halfway between Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Ohio River Basin spans more than 200,000 miles across 14 states and a population of nearly 25 million people, according to Ohio University. It includes major cities like Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis and Nashville.

Unger said it's important to rely on official sources when concerns like this arise, like NWS Nashville or the state environment and conservation agency.

"Even if were going to start having effects, that would be put out through official channels," he said.

An evacuation order in East Palestine lifted on Feb. 9 after extensive, around-the-clock testing in the area, said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representative James Justice.

"Hundreds and hundreds of data points we've collected over the time show the air quality is safe," Justice said last week.

Testing on rivers, streams, and drinking water wells will continue throughout the area and in the nearby Ohio River, officials said.

Child Care Costs (Tennessean)

With the cost of quality child care often exceeding in-state tuition bills at Tennessee colleges, two lawmakers filed legislation Monday to create a state government program to offer child care scholarships to low- and middle-income families.

Dubbed Promising Futures, the program would use tax revenue from the state’s growing sports betting industry, most of which currently goes into a lottery education fund that supports the popular HOPE and Tennessee Promise college scholarships.

The bill comes after a 2022 study found that Tennessee businesses and taxpayers are losing $2.6 billion annually in earnings and revenue because parents have problems accessing child care.

Those numbers amount to a crisis, say state Sen. Becky Massey and Rep. Mark White, who are sponsoring the legislation.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

There are a couple of great concerts going on this week you won’t want to miss…

Wednesday-Thursday, February 15-16, 8 pm

Ashley McBride, who just won a GRAMMY, will be performing at The Ryman this week with special guests Aaron Raitiere, Benjy Davis, Brandy Clark, Caylee Hammack (2/15 Only), Pillbox Patti, TJ Osborne and bandleader John Osborne.

Find tickets at

Sunday, February 19, 7 pm

Bridgestone Arena, 501 Broadway, Nashville

TobyMac is bringing his Hits Deep Tour to Nashville with special guests Crowder, Cochren & Co, Tasha Layton, Jon Reddick & Terrian.

Find tickets at


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