top of page

Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 15, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Commerce Center Moves Ahead with County (MSM)

In a 4-1 vote, the Maury County Admin Committee voted last Tuesday, Feb. 6 to move a proposed 500-acre development to the budget committee for further discussion.

The South Nashville Commerce Center development would occupy 500 acres on the eastern side of I-65 and would feature industrial, warehouse, hospitality and retail space. The proposal includes 5.7 million square feet to be built over time which would be utilized through Jim Warren to Port Royal Road and back to Saturn Parkway.

Phil Pastan, president of developer The Richmond Company, said the journey began three years ago when the property was purchased by the entity GV Spring Hill LLC.

“This project will create thousands of jobs from multiple uses of the property,” Pastan said.

“Over the last 24 months, we’ve received approvals from the planning staff at Spring Hill, the BOMA and IDB from Spring Hill for the proposal,” he said, which would segment an area to allow for a TIF (Tax Increment Financing).

“This would give us the opportunity to develop this by bringing utilities to these development sites,” Pastan said, adding that the lack of roads and bridges over I-65 are not currently suited for the proposal. “We have plans that we’ve been working on to build a new bridge, keeping the access over I-65 current and creating a new road with the right utilities in it.”

Pastan said the proposed project would add 4,500 direct and indirect jobs with average wages greater than $57,000 and $260 million in annual wages. Just under $21 million would be geared to schools over the next 20 years.

“There will be $89 million in new tax revenue with the TIF, you have $14 million in debt service and then there’s that 60/40 split with just under $21 million going to the schools for their budget,” he said. “The balance would be used for the infrastructure water, sewer, electric and roads.”

County Commission Chairman Eric Previti questioned the estimate of wages.

“I want to know who the company is, who the clients are and where you’re getting this estimate of $57,000 in wages, because these look like warehouse jobs to me,” he said. “I think it’s misleading when you sit here and say there’s no residential impact. There is going to be a residential impact because in Maury County, we only have 3 percent unemployment, so there’s not many people looking for jobs right now. In other words, it’s going to be people coming in.”

District 8 Commissioner Ray Jeter voiced his concern over losing more farmland.

“Maury County is losing more and more farmland and it is a concern,” he said. “I think the piece of this that we don’t ever consider is it’s the farmers that are selling this land to the developers.”

In order to move forward with the development, the TIF must be approved by the County Commission. Pastan said the goal is to receive approval by the end of the month before starting construction in late spring. Improvements to the bridge on I-65 and Rutherford Creek would soon be followed.

“Growth pays for growth, and in this particular situation, we’re sort of in the perfect situation to provide that,” Pastan said.

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


Judicial Center Update (MSM)

Maury County’s long-awaited new judicial center, which is on track to open in October, will receive two courthouse benches in an effort to preserve history from the old courthouse.

The Building Committee, which met last Monday, Feb. 5, approved the item unanimously following comments from County Commission Chairman Eric Previti.

“There was a lot of concern about preserving history and memories from the old courthouse,” Previti said, adding that the benches will be refinished and possibly named after previous judges.

Previti said discussions will also be held in the next 60 days over naming the new meeting rooms.

“If a decision is made to name those rooms, it does need to be done soon just because we’re getting those plaques one time if they’re bought,” he said.

The benches, which would be brought out of the circuit courtroom, would be used for the concourse for the clerk as a historic marker while bringing in a savings of approximately $4,000.

Previti said he would like to see the first floor of the old courthouse turned into a county museum which would display artifacts of Maury County history. In an effort to free up room on the square, the second floor would become the County Commission’s meeting room.

“The rest of the second floor would become the mayor’s office, plus meeting rooms and ADA-compliant bathrooms,” he said. “The third floor would become offices for the circuit court clerk staff.”

The idea will now be passed to the full commission to be voted on. The process of design and funding will begin upon approval. The Commission is scheduled to meet next on Feb. 20.

Spring Hill Rejects Williamson Growth Plan (MSM)

The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously rejected the proposed Williamson County Growth Plan last week.

City Administrator Pam Caskie, Alderman Trent Linville and Vice Mayor William Pomeroy each said they believe the plan recommended by the Williamson County Growth Plan Coordinating Committee failed to follow state law. They cited the lack of expanded urban growth boundaries for the City of Spring Hill.

“We quoted the TCA standards on the urban growth boundaries as not having been followed (utilities, growth, road planning etc.),” Caskie explained. “The legislation requires us to suggest an alternative. We went back with a map that said we want the northwest segment negotiated with the residents of the northwest and the city, it’s a very small section of properties. That we wanted the entirety of the east of 65 west of the Lewisburg Pike from the southern boundary of our city limits now to the Maury County line. That has been our stance from the beginning.”

Caskie said the city’s alternative also included the addition of a parcel on the east side of Lewisburg Pike where the owner of the property had specifically requested to be in the UGB.

Linville said he didn’t think the plan complies with state law and he would be voting to reject it. 

Pomeroy wanted the public to understand how other city’s requests to the coordinating committee had been handled.

“All the other municipalities in Williamson County, with the exception of a small portion of Thompson Station — Fairview, Nolensville, Brentwood, Franklin — they got most of their UGB requested from the growth planning committee,” Pomeroy said. “I understand there is heartburn for residents east of I-65 from here. I get that but we have a duty for the City of Spring Hill to protect our investments and ensure the coordinating committee follow the law.” 

The entire board voted against the proposed plan.

Culleoka Park Progresses (MSM)

Parks & Recreation Director Al Ray presented an update on a $750,000 grant the county has received from the state for improvements to Culleoka Community Park during the February meeting of Maury County’s Health & Environment Committee.

Maury County acquired 16 acres on Mooresville Pike for a planned park in 2021. The undeveloped land, bordering a stream, sits just west of the community’s center near the Culleoka Post Office and Culleoka Unit School. 

Included in the planned improvements via the Local Parks & Recreation Fund are utilities, parking, signage, lighting, paving, a picnic shelter, playground, restroom and a walking trail with three picnic pads/tables. With a local match and consultant fees, the project is expected to cost just over $1.26 million and the county has three years to complete the project.

A budget amendment related to the grant was sent on to the Budget Committee and should come before the full Commission later this month.

Ray also said his department was working to update its master plan, which was last done in 2019. Public input meetings will be part of the process and those meetings will be announced at a later date.

Steve Thomas, executive director of Maury County Senior Citizens, Inc., presented a request that the county fund the My Ride Maury program for the remainder of the 2023-24 fiscal year and fully fund the program for FY 24-25. The total cost for the remainder of the current fiscal year was estimated at $17,372.

“This program ceased operations in July 2023 because of lack of funding after the grant ran out,” Thomas said. “. Mayor Butt called me and said, ‘Let’s talk about this.’ She tasked Doug (Lukonen) and I with creating a proposal.”

The My Ride Maury program offered rides to seniors 60 and over who paid a $25 annual fee with a cost of $4 per trip. Rides required three-day notice and were offered Monday through Friday. Volunteers used their personal vehicles and were paid mileage.

From July 2022 through June 2023, My Ride Maury served 42 total clients, with a waiting list of over 60, and made 1,986 total trips covering 26,312 total miles. Most trips were to doctors’ offices or other health care providers.

The request was advanced to the Budget Commitee for further consideration. If moved on to the full Commission, it would come for a vote in March.

A brief update on Maury County’s beleaguered animal shelter was also presented by the interim director.

Makayla Vandiver has been serving as interim director since Kaitlyn Stewart was relieved of her position in late January. The county is currently taking applications for a full-time director.

At the committee’s January meeting, allegations of abuse and negligence at the Maury County Animal Shelter were presented by a former volunteer. County Mayor Sheila Butt said at the time she felt the shelter staff was working to improve conditions and needed time to make those improvements.

Butt did not comment during the meeting on her decision to remove the director.

Of 62 total calls in January, Vandiver’s report indicated that 32 were in unincorporated areas of Maury County and 23 in Columbia.

Vandiver said the animal shelter had received a $2,000 grant from Best Friends that would be used to pay for drugs and medical supplies. Vandiver also said the shelter could be eligible for up to $20,000 in grant funding next year.

Irene Dugger Passes (MSM)

One of the caretakers of Mount Pleasant’s historical legacy now rests as part of that legacy with the passing of Irene Dugger.

Dugger, who passed away at the age of 87 on Jan. 22, 2024, was one of the co-founders of the Mount Pleasant Museum of Local History and served on the board as Vice President and later President from the museum’s inception in 1991 until the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Dugger, along with her husband Jimmy, served over the years as the museum’s manager, a role now held by her daughter, Sheri Hardison.

“My mother, my father and a group of friends got together to discuss what they could do to make sure the history of the town and the history of the phosphate era could be told and live on,” Hardison said. “It went from a small, two-room corner store to now in the former First Farmers and Merchant Bank.”

Hardison said her mother had a knack for finding items of historical interest and talking the owners into either donating or lending them to the museum, which today is located at 108 Public Square in downtown Mount Pleasant.

Dugger also had a passion for preserving the town’s educational history via the Clarke Training School, which served as the community’s African American school prior to desegregation, and the Hay Long Grammar School.

“People need a place to preserve history. As the generations come and go, they are less interested in saving history,” Hardison said. “Most of what we had from Clarke burned (in 1993). It was so important to the first board members who came together and said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to save history.’ “

Dugger’s love of history spread to the written word as well, as she authored four books on the area’s history, including “Mt. Pleasant and Its Neighbors.”

Born in Summertown in 1936, Dugger grew up in Summertown as the middle child of five girls where she excelled at sports before dropping out to help support her younger siblings. She would later earn her GED and during the 1980s earned an associate degree in business from Columbia State.

Aside from her historical interests, Dugger served on various boards and committees, including the Maury County Democratic Council, the local Tree Drive and as a sponsor, chaperone and mentors of Mount Pleasant’s Teen Youth Inc during the 1960s. She was also well-known in the community for her support of the local athletics teams, helping raise funds when needed.

“She devoted her life to helping others, trying to do whatever she could,” Hardison said of her mother. “She was just an amazing woman and everyone would tell you that.”

Dugger also spent 39 years working in the Maury County court system, working her way up to Chief Deputy of the General Sessions II court, which is located in Mount Pleasant. During her tenure, Dugger was given the nickname of “The Governor” by then-Judge Ed Workman for her dedication and knowledge of the court’s workings.

“I was in my 20s when I first started here and she was in General Sessions. I didn’t get to work side by side with her very much, but she did a great job in her leadership role,” Maury County Circuit Court Clerk Sandy McLain said of Dugger.

Mule Kick 5K (Press Release)

Hosted by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and presented by First Farmers and Merchants Bank, the annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will take place Saturday, April 6, at Riverwalk Park in Columbia.

Proceeds from the 2024 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot provide funding for Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which delivers health care services to at-risk and underserved individuals throughout southern Middle Tennessee by providing basic health screenings, education and resources. A portion of the proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, the Maury County school with the most participation in the event will receive a donation to their P.E. program from the Foundation.

“The Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot is a great tradition for both Maury County and the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation that helps support our mission of providing important health care services for individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain care,” Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore said. “We are excited to host the Mule Kick 5K and look forward to an exciting race!”

On Saturday, April 6, the race will begin at Riverwalk Park in Columbia with an 8 a.m. start time for the 5K and a 9:15 a.m. start time for the 1-Mile Trot. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Participants may register for the race online at

“First Farmers is pleased to continue our ongoing partnership with the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation for this year's Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot. We are proud to support the vital work of the Foundation which exemplifies our dedication to fostering well-being in our region,” said Brian K. Williams, chairman and CEO of First Farmers.

In addition to presenting sponsor First Farmers and Merchants Bank, sponsorships ranging from $350 to $2,500 are still available for those who are interested in marketing exposure at this event. For additional information, contact the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation at 931.381.1111, ext. 1012.

To learn more about the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation, the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot or to make a direct gift to support the mobile medical unit fund, visit

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…

Honor Vote (Press Release)

As the early voting period for the Presidential Preference Primary begins this week, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett reminded all voters about an opportunity to honor Tennessee’s and our nation’s heroes through the Honor Vote program.

Free and open to all registered voters in Tennessee, Honor Vote allows voters to dedicate their vote to anyone currently serving in or a veteran of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or Tennessee National Guard.

“Our heroic service members and veterans have fought to preserve our many freedoms and constitutional rights – including our right to vote,” said Secretary Hargett. “Signing up for Honor Vote and casting a ballot during the 2024 election cycle is one small way that all registered Tennessee voters can thank those who have served and those continuing to serve.”

Honor Vote participants will receive an information guide and an official 2024 Honor Vote button that they can wear while casting their ballot.

“We are incredibly grateful to all who serve, as well as our veterans for their dedication to Tennessee and our nation,” said State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins. “Through Honor Vote, and by voting during the 2024 election cycle, all registered Tennesseans have an opportunity to express their gratitude to these heroic individuals for the extraordinary sacrifices they make.”

All Honor Vote dedications are posted on the official Tennessee Honor Vote List on Participants are encouraged to share their dedication on their social media accounts as well, using the hashtags #TNHonorVote and #GoVoteTN.

Early voting runs through Feb. 27. For more information or to register your vote dedication, visit

Pothole Patching (TheNewsTN)

The State of Tennessee has used more than 5 million pounds of asphalt patch following last month's record-setting snow storm.

According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, approximately 5,426,562 pounds of hot mix and cold patch has been used state-wide from Jan. 22 through Feb. 11, approximately 2,015,500 pounds of which was used in Region 3, which encompasses Nashville and much of Middle Tennessee.

TDOT reports that it has patched 50 percent more potholes in January 2024 than in January 2022 and 2023, and it's continuing to work to address potholes across the state, with some patching and paving projects expected to continue into the spring and early summer, weather dependent.

“Drivers should be prepared for short-term traffic delays during these pothole repair operations,” TDOT said in a news release. “While every effort will be made to perform repairs during off-peak travel times (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays) some lane closures may extend into the late afternoon, evening, and weekends. We ask drivers to be patient and to watch out for TDOT crews on interstates and state highways. Work with us – move over, slow down.”

Drivers can report potholes by calling the 833-TDOTFIX or by submitting an online maintenance request form, where you can also find information on how to file a claim for damages caused to vehicles by potholes.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Storybook Trail, located along the Nature Trail in Maury County Park in Columbia, hosts monthly, seasonal stories that the entire family can enjoy.

The March story is “The Hike” by Alison Farrel. With lyrical language that captures the majesty of the natural world coupled with fun narrative featured throughout, this spirited picture book tells the victorious story of three girls’ friendship – and their tribulations and triumphs in the great outdoors. Here is the best and worst of any hike: from picnics to puffing and panting, deer-sighting to detours. And it proves, as if proof were needed, what epic things can happen right in your own backyard.

To access the trail: Enter Maury County Park and continue straight on the main park road. Pass the Kids’ Kingdom playground on the right, and continue straight up the hill. Halfway up the hill, there is a trailhead with parking on the right.

The Storybook Trail features storybooks presented on child-height panels, along a short accessible trail to promote adult-child interaction around books and nature in a healthy, outdoor activity. Books are rotated monthly, so there is always a new, seasonal story to enjoy. Maury County Park is located at 1018 Maury County Park Dr, Columbia.


bottom of page