Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 6, 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 To Build New Park (CDH)
Columbia’s city park system could be getting a new addition or two as the city is considering a feasibility study to determine a location for a new skate park and splash pad.
The study, which will be overseen by Kimley-Horn and Associates, will cost approximately $43,200 and go before a Columbia City Council vote this month. Ultimately, it will determine whether a skate park and splash pad can be constructed, as well as its location, cost and design.
Parks and Recreation Director Mack Reagan said a major element to the study will be gathering public input.
"This is a strategic planning goal from last year, which basically will give us all of the information, public input other evaluations to make sure we are good stewards of [taxpayer] money," Reagan said. "It will give the public a chance to say what they would like to see moving forward. That way we can make sure what we are doing is what the public wants."
Reagan added that there will be opportunities in the future for citizens to meet with Kimley-Horn representatives, most likely at a future council meeting, to discuss details of the study.
"They will come in and give the public a chance to speak for or against it, just opening it up to the general public," Reagan said. "A lot of these meetings, from my experience in the past, are people who want a certain design, feature or what they would like to see. For example, with skate parks there are a lot of different designs, some with dramatic differences in cost."
Councilman Danny Coleman said having the public give its input is very important to the design process.
"I know there is a Facebook group that's all about 'Columbia needs a skate park,' and so there are a lot of people ready to give their input," Coleman said.
Reagan concluded saying that his department hopes to gather any public input "from anywhere possible."
"We'll do whatever is best for the city of Columbia and its population," Reagan said.
New Talent Campaign (CDH)
Commissioned in response to the needs of both new and existing employers in Maury County, a new talent attraction campaign was launched to welcome, hire and support new residents and workers.
The campaign, created by the Maury County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Alliance, the county's chamber and economic department, also focuses on how the area is sparking innovation, growing small businesses and offering unique cultural, recreational and educational opportunities.
“Maury County is the ideal place to move, find a successful career and have a great quality of life,” said Maury Alliance President Wil Evans. “We’re eager to promote Maury County—the job opportunities that are here, the ability to grow, the high quality of life—to people who may be looking to move.”
As one of the state’s fastest-growing counties, Maury County, Tenn., has already seen an influx of new people along with billions of dollars in economic investment. The campaign’s theme, “We’re Ready,” showcases this momentum and how the county has prepared for growth.
“'We’re Ready’ is the ideal way to describe Maury County and the momentum that’s been building here,” Evans said. “We’re truly ready as a community to grow and welcome new residents from all over the world.”
The campaign is aimed at new talent but built around people who have made Maury County what it is—ranging from educators and artists to entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
“Maury County is desirable because of the people who already call it home,” Evans said. “This campaign recognizes how we’ve become the ideal place to work and live while also eying the future.”
The campaign—which is one piece of ALIGN Maury, Maury Alliance’s larger workforce development initiative—also showcases amenities and the quality-of-life perks county residents enjoy.
“We have a top-rated healthcare system, great schools and a vibrant business community,” said Russ Adcox, 2022 chair of the Alliance’s ALIGN Maury steering committee. “We also have some of the greatest natural resources around and, most importantly, a strong sense of community. It’s easy to be known and get involved.”
After reviewing the results of a workforce alignment study conducted in 2020 by Boyette Strategic Advisors, the steering committee singled out the talent attraction campaign as one of the top priorities.
“Workforce development has always been a focus of the Maury Alliance, but we realized we also needed to attract new talent to Maury County,” Adcox said. “Our employers are hiring and they are looking for people willing to relocate to our community.”
Maury Alliance Vice President of Economic Development Travis Groth, said the county and its communities—including Columbia, Mount Pleasant and Spring Hill—offer a mix of city and country life.
“I relocated here myself and have lived in a lot of different places. This is a goldilocks community,” he said. “It’s close to Nashville, so you have the amenities and can get to the airport, but just far enough that you have a more relaxed pace. You can breathe. People are kind, friendly. It’s a real community.”
The campaign’s primary audience is workers who can help service the county’s growing advanced manufacturing and healthcare industries.
CNC machine operators, industrial maintenance technicians, welders and nurses, Groth said, are in particularly high demand, as are K-12 teachers, engineers and leaders at all levels.
Groth said the county’s already thriving community of local restaurants, event venues, retail shops and other businesses will grow alongside industry.
The campaign will feature storytelling about Maury County and its people on a variety of platforms as well as targeted advertising, outreach efforts and a dedicated campaign website: mauryisready.com.
Spearman Art Featured (Press Release)
A new art exhibit recognizing Black History Month is now on display in the Columbia Welcome Center located at 713 N. Main Street. The exhibit, featuring local artist James Spearman, will be on display through the month of February. It is free to view the exhibit and open to the public during operating hours: Monday – Friday 10 AM – 4 PM; Saturday 10 AM – 3 PM; Sunday 12 PM – 3 PM. Art can be purchased directly through the artist.
James 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 Ohio, in partnership with Ford Motor Company and The Arts League of Michigan, to paint a piece entitled “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. Martin L. King Jr., which is on permanent display in the main lobby of the Southfield Library in Southfield Michigan. 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, Michigan. 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, Tennessee 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 James Spearman by visiting the exhibit or see samples of his work online at www.jamesspearmangallery.com
Annual Soup and Bowl Fundraiser (Press Release)
Here is an opportunity to support a great organization in Columbia! Harvest Share Food Pantry is holding their annual Soup-n-Bowl event on Saturday, February 11th, at the Memorial Building from 11:00am - 2:00pm. Adult tickets are $10 and child tickets (ages 5-10) are $5. Enjoy wonderful food from local restaurants, take home a free soup bowl, and bid on your favorite items during the silent auction.
Tickets can be purchased at the Harvest Share Food Pantry (419 W. 9th St.), at the door the day of the event, or you can call Amanda Taylor at (260) 350-1119. Please join us in helping Harvest Share continue their work in Columbia.
Name the Snowplow (MauryCountySource)
The City of Columbia Public Works Department is hosting a ‘Name A Snowplow’ contest!
The public is invited to submit the best and most creative names for 4 of the City’s snowplows. Submit your entry via email at email@example.com.
The winning names will be assigned to the snowplows at the City of Columbia Public Works facility. Winners will receive a $25 gift card, an opportunity to have your photo made with your winning snowplow and be recognized at the Columbia City Council meeting to be held on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.
• One entry per person
• Entries are limited to no more than 30 characters (including letters and spaces), and one to two words.
• Entries will be accepted in order received and duplicated names/entries will be excluded
• Members and staff of the City of Columbia are not eligible to enter
• No profanity or inappropriate language
• No politically inspired names
• Voting period is now – 02/09/2023 at 3:30 p.m.
• Public Works employees will vote on submissions names
• Winning names will be announced Friday, February 17th
• Winners will be notified by phone or email taken from entry form
• Each of winner will receive a $25 gift card
• Winners will be recognized at the March 09, 2023 City Council meeting
• Elementary school winners will have an opportunity to have their winning snowplow appear at their school
• Winners will be published on Facebook, Instagram and the City of Columbia website
Design Competition for City Flag (MainStreetMaury)
The City of Columbia has established a design competition to create an official city flag and Columbia residents are invited to take part in the process by submitting their original flag designs from now through March 15th.
The final, winning design will be announced on April 20. The City is excited to give the public an opportunity to participate in the design process, as it will reflect and symbolize our community. Designs can be submitted on the City’s website at www.columbiatn.com/727/Columbia-Flag-Project.
All entries will be judged based on flag criteria presented in the competition guidelines then narrowed down to three final designs. The public will have a chance to vote, from April 1-15, on the final three designs chosen by the Columbia Arts Council. The winning design will reflect Columbia's pride, rich history, promising future and embody what makes Columbia special and unique, using meaningful symbolism and minimal color & design features.
“I couldn't be more excited about this flag design competition that will result in the first official flag for the city of Columbia,” said Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder. “A flag creates identity, establishes symbolism, and promotes unity, and I can't wait to see the final product. Our community is full of creative individuals from all walks of life, and I am particularly pleased that this will be a public driven process. And, I am also excited that this project is being led, in part, by Nathaniel Bliss, a local Scout with Troop 111, who brought forward the idea as part of his Eagle Scout project. I encourage all members of the community to participate in what will be a project that will be historic in nature given its long term, lasting effects.”
Nathaniel Bliss is eager to see the end result of this process.
"I chose the flag design competition as my Eagle Scout project because I am interested in flags and what they represent, as well as the impact they have on a community,” stated Bliss. “I recognized that Columbia did not have a flag and felt it was time our city got one. A flag symbolizes a city, its history, culture, and people of all backgrounds. It unifies the community and provides something to rally around. As a proud resident of Columbia, I thought our historic city deserved such an important symbol."
Basic rules and guidelines include but are not limited to: (1) Submit an original flag design by March 15, 2023; (2) Competition is limited to Columbia residents only; (3) No compensation will be given for any designs submitted; (4) Only one entry per resident; and (5) All ages and skill levels are welcome to participate.
For a complete list of rules and information regarding the Columbia Flag Project, visit the City’s website at www.columbiatn.com/727/Columbia-Flag-Project.
Columbia State Performance Series (Press Release)
Columbia State Community College welcomes Aubrey Logan to the Cherry Theater on February 9 as part of the First Farmers Performance Series.
She’s a singer, trombone player, songwriter and performer. It would have been a lot easier if Aubrey Logan would have just picked one, but she’s never been one to be pigeon-holed. She lives her life outside of the box and that makes her difficult to define. That’s okay with her because she purposely defies definition. She’s still known as a world-class singer-instrumentalist, but she’s revealed that there’s so much more.
“We expect this show to be fun with great energy,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation. “Bring your Valentine for an enjoyable night of entertainment.”
Individual tickets are on sale for $30 each plus tax for adults and $20 each plus tax for Columbia State students. To charge tickets by phone using a major credit card, call 931.540.2879 or purchase them in person in Room 113 of the Pryor Administration Building on the Columbia Campus, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
On the night of the performance, the box office opens at 6 p.m. in the Kenneth and Ramona Cherry Theater, located in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus. Theater doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Columbia Campus is located at 1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia.
For more information, visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/Performance-Series.
…And now, news from around the state…
State Republicans Seek to Gain Power at Metro Level (Tennessean)
Tennessee Republicans filed bills Tuesday to exert their control over the governing boards for Nashville's airport, Nissan Stadium, Bridgestone Arena and other Music City landmarks.
The new bills would remake the boards and give state lawmakers and the governor the power to appoint the majority of the members.
The legislation comes as the battle between Democratic-led Nashville and legislative Republicans continues to heat up and as the city's politics experience a major shakeup. Nashville Mayor John Cooper this week announced he would not run for reelection, setting the stage for a wide open August mayoral election.
Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, introduced a bill to defund Music City Center — another venue whose board of directors is currently appointed by the mayor — and another bill by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, could shrink the size of the 40-member Metro Council to no more than 20 members.
Lamberth said in a statement the new bills would "improve the makeup" of the boards to "reflect the interest of all Tennessee taxpayers."
"The people of this state have a compelling interest in protecting their investments and this bill will provide them with more oversight and better representation," Lamberth said.
The airport is largely privately funded with airline ticket and parking fees. But it does receive federal and state grants on occasion.
Nashville International Airport President and CEO Doug Kreulen sent a statement on behalf of the board reiterating their continued professionalism amid political upheaval.
"Since 1970, the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority has operated effectively and independently to serve Middle Tennessee and surrounding counties. As a major economic engine for the region, Nashville International Airport and John C. Tune Airport generate more than $10 billion in annual economic impact," Kreulen said.
"Regarding the proposed state legislation, the Airport Authority is respectful of the legislative process and will engage with lawmakers to gain insight concerning this bill. As one of the fastest growing airports in the country, BNA remains committed to serving our community through best-in-class facilities, air service and customer experience."
Nashville officials are planning to fight the state in court if the bill passes, Metro Law Director Wallace Dietz said in a statement Wednesday.
"There is no rational basis to create different rules that apply solely to Metro Nashville," Dietz said. "Any legislation that does so can create grounds for litigation."
Hickman Environmental Group Fighting (Tennessean)
A lawsuit to obtain public records has been filed in the ongoing fight to preserve the Lick Creek waterway in Hickman County.
Friends of Lick Creek, a community environmental group based in Hickman working to preserve the Lick Creek waterway from a proposed sewage treatment plant, announced Tuesday that it filed a lawsuit to obtain public records from the Water Authority of Dickson County after the company did not comply to “several records requests.”
The requested records involve public documents detailing the water authority's proposed sewage treatment plant in Hickman County and its plans to discharge waste into Lick Creek.
Concerns over the plant gained momentum last year, when it was discovered that the plant has the potential to discharge up to 12 million gallons of waste a day into Lick Creek — raising concerns over possible flooding, contaminated wells, and environmental damage.
According to a statement from Friends of Lick Creek, the lawsuit alleges that water authority erected hurdles and imposed conditions on access to its records, effectively denying the Friends of Lick Creek the public records.
Friends of Lick Creek is asking the court to order the water authority to produce the requested public records.
The Water Authority of Dickson County declined to comment on the pending litigation, but in a statement Wednesday, executive director Michael Adams said the utility has been in communication with Save Lick Creek's attorney regarding the records and has "responded in good faith to his request for public records falling under" open records laws.
"Given the matter is now before the court, the Water Authority of Dickson County cannot comment about pending litigation," Adams said.
The law firm of Butler Snow, LLP filed the petition in the Chancery Court of Dickson County on behalf Friends of Lick Creek.
Rodes Hart, Friends of Lick Creek co-founder, said he is not surprised by the water authority's resistance to complying with the public records requests.
“Transparency has been a problem since the beginning,” Hart said in a statement. “For example, the WADC did not properly disclose their intent to build a sewage treatment plant in Hickman County and has continuously kept vital information from the public including a potential site for the new plant. If the WADC insists on dumping waste from neighboring counties into an Exceptional Tennessee Water, it could at least abide by the law.”
Tennessee Coalition for Open Government supports of the group’s efforts.
“For the sake of citizen’s trust and confidence in organizations, transparency and respect for the law is of the utmost importance,” said Deborah Fisher, the open government group's executive director.
The wastewater treatment facility was proposed by the Water Authority of Dickson County following the increasing strain Middle Tennessee’s booming population is putting on the agency's three other treatment centers.
The water agency has stated that its three other wastewater treatment plants in Dickson and Williamson counties are all nearing 95% capacity, and that a plant in east Hickman is critical for population growth over the next two decades.
While an exact location for the treatment plant has yet to be determined, Lick Creek has been eyed as the best option because of its size as a large tributary. Other options, such as expanding current facilities or building a pipeline under Interstate 40 to the Cumberland River, would be too costly and wouldn’t be enough for future growth, the agency has said.
But a large number of Hickman County residents disagree, advocating for the preservation of Lick Creek, which empties into the Duck River — a major water supply for much of the rural county’s farmlands, and a river labeled as one of the most biodiverse in North America.
Hickman County commissioners have stated that they were never consulted on the potential project.
As of December, the water district’s permit application was pending approval by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees permits for pollution discharge into waterways.
The approval process requires a public hearing where opponents can raise concerns. A hearing date has yet to be set.
Final Story of the Day (MauryCountySource)
The CoolSprings Galleria is spreading love by giving away $300 worth of gift cards.
You can take a photo in front of the Love display on the upper level next to Auntie Anne’s, then scan the QR code to enter or text the word Valentine to 615-823-2660.
The mall shared, “Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so we want to spread the love and treat you to $300 in gift cards so you can celebrate with a cute outfit, a gift, and a nice meal – date optional!”
These are the gift cards you will receive.
$100 to Connor’s Steak & Seafood
$100 to Pandora
$50 to Altar’d State
$50 to Edelweiss Boutique