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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 10, 2024

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


We start with local news…

Ogles Under Ethics Investigation (NewsChannel5)

A nonpartisan watchdog group has asked a federal ethics agency to investigate Tennessee Congressman Andy Ogles over $1 million of discrepancies in financial disclosures he was required to file with the U.S. House.

The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) repeatedly cites NewsChannel 5's reporting in the complaint that was filed Tuesday with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), comparing Ogles' conduct to disgraced New York Congressman George Santos.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered that, like Santos, Ogles has misrepresented his educational and business credentials.

"The expulsion of Representative George Santos for filing false financial disclosure statements and other ethics violations demonstrates why investigations of significant discrepancies in a candidate’s financial reporting are warranted," the CLC complaint says.

"Unexplained inconsistencies in Rep. Ogles’ reported finances and allegations of him misrepresenting his background raise fundamental questions for voters about the transparency of their elected representative."

Campaign Legal Center was founded in 2002 by its current president, Trevor Potter, a former GOP commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

The federal Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent agency created by the U.S. House of Representatives to review allegations of misconduct and, when appropriate, to refer those matters to the House Ethics Committee.

Specifically, in its complaint, the CLC notes the Maury County Republican's claim to have personally loaned $320,0000 to his 2022 campaign for Congress, "but Rep. Ogles’ financial disclosure reports do not disclose assets that would allow him to make this loan."

As NewsChannel 5 previously reported, on financial disclosures filed with the U.S. House of Representatives, Ogles did not disclose any checking or savings accounts.

In a footnote, the CLC acknowledged that "bank accounts only must be reported in a candidate or member's financial disclosure report if they are interest bearing."

The Campaign Legal Center also urges the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Ogles' failure to disclose a $700,000 line of credit with FirstBank that was discovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

It cites NewsChannel 5's revelation that Ogles misrepresented his educational and professional credentials, including his claims to be an economist, a trained law enforcement officer and an expert in "international sex crimes."

The Tennessee Republican has also been fined $5,750 by the Federal Election Commission for multiple reporting violations associated with his campaign account.

"Although Rep. Ogles’ statements about his background and the prior FEC complaints against him are not the subject of this complaint, these matters demonstrate a pattern of inaccurate information on the public record supporting an investigation of his substantial financial disclosure discrepancies," the CLC complaint concludes.

Rep. Ogles has not publicly released a statement concerning this investigation.

Fire Station 1 Renovations Begun (MauryCountySource)

Columbia Fire & Rescue announced that the Station 1 remodel has begun!

The Administrative Office has temporarily moved to Fire Station 3 at 705 Firefighters Drive where it will remain until the Station 1 remodel project is complete!

If you require a fire report, burn permit, or any other administrative assistance, please head to Station 3 until further notice.

Buckner Interchange Delayed (Fox17.com)

A major project on Interstate 65 in Middle Tennessee is now delayed by one year.

The Buckner Road interchange project in Spring Hill was originally set to open in April 2023. Now, leaders with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) say the interchange won't open to drivers until later this spring.

TDOT stated that crucial items contributing to the extended project duration include right-of-way acquisitions, environmental permits, and existing soil conditions.

"Additionally, to mitigate as much of the delays as possible the contractor has adjusted their schedule to have multiple activities being worked on concurrently and allocating additional resources to the project," a spokesperson said.

The new exit will provide direct access from I-65 to Spring Hill and alleviate congestion along the north and south corridors in the area. The project includes a diverging diamond interchange at Buckner Road. It also entails a 2.25-mile extension of Bucker Road, which will be named June Lake Boulevard once completed.

TDOT expects around 17,000 daily trips at the new interchange within the first year. That number is projected to reach 44,000 over the next 20 years.

"TDOT acknowledges the inconveniences of roadway projects and appreciates your patience in dealing with the construction. The finished project will bring a new gateway to Spring Hill that will improve traffic for the citizens and businesses."

The interchange is funded by the City of Spring Hill with the help of a $25 million grant from the federal government.

Pulmonary Suite Renovated (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Pulmonary has returned to Suite 503 of the Maury Regional Medical Office Building in Columbia following important renovations.

 The practice moved in September one floor up in the same building while renovations to its space in Suite 503 were completed. The Maury Regional Medical Office building is located at 1222 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia adjacent to Maury Regional Medical Center.

 The newly remodeled suite has expanded its square footage from 4,000 to 6,000, while the number of exam rooms has more than doubled from six to 14.

 “In addition to expanding our physical space, we have continued to recruit physicians as more patients choose MRMG for their care, and we are typically able to see patients two weeks after their referral,” MRMG President Nathan Miller said. “We’re thrilled with how the renovated suite promotes better patient flow, and we’re excited to continue providing exceptional care to our patients.”

 MRMG Pulmonary has five specialists in pulmonology who see patients by referral only, including Dr’s. John Forstall, DO; Jon L. Freels, MD; J. Spencer Jensen, MD; Brett C. Norman, MD, MPH; and Nurse Practitioner Brian Beck, NP. They are specially trained to diagnose and treat a range of conditions affecting the lungs and pulmonary system, including asthma, allergies, COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis.

 MRMG Pulmonary’s hours are Monday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For a complete list of services and more information, or to refer a patient, call 931.490.7775 or visit MauryRegional.com/Pulmonary.

Second Saturdays (MauryCountySource)

This Saturday, January 13, is the first “second Saturday” of 2024. And that means a big celebration at The Factory at Columbia.

Second Saturdays is a re-occurring event each month, showcasing artisans, crafters, bakers and other creative local talent.

The event takes place Saturday, January 13 from 11am – 3pm.

The February “Second Saturday” will take place on February 10th.

If you sell original handmade artwork or goods and can be available on-site during the event, come showcase your talent to our local community by applying at www.factoryatcolumbia.com/secondsaturdays.

The Factory at Columbia is located at 101 N James M Campbell Blvd, Columbia.

Maury Alliance Annual Meeting (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance on Tuesday, January 30th for their most anticipated event of the year as they celebrate their accomplishments for 2023 and recognize the transition of their volunteer leadership. 

This will be a lively night of entertainment and networking celebrating business and industry in Maury County with dinner and beverages by It's Chef Jess and live music featuring The Velvet Troubadours.

Purchase tickets to the Maury Alliance Annual Meeting now to guarantee a seat at their biggest event of the year!!

The event will take place from 5-8pm on January 30th at the Memorial Building, located at 308 W. 7th Street in Columbia.

For more information visit www.mauryalliance.com.

Spring Hill Census (Press Release)

Following years of exponential growth in the City of Spring Hill and surrounding areas, the City is now conducting a special census to get an up-to-date population count.

A special census is a process outlined in Tennessee statutes to update the population of a Tennessee county or municipality in the years following the U.S. Census Bureau’s counts collected at the beginning of each decade.

In Tennessee, certain revenues collected by the state are distributed to counties and municipalities based on the population reported annually in the Certified Population of Tennessee Incorporated Municipalities and Counties. Unless a special census has been conducted and subsequently certified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the population count from the latest decennial census is used.

Since the 2020 Census, the City of Spring Hill is estimated to have increased in population by roughly 10,000 people which could earn the City an additional $2 million in funding. That is money that could be put toward:

Hiring additional firefighters and public safety staff

Street maintenance, and

Infrastructure improvements

Make sure you and your family are counted in the City of Spring Hill 2024 Special Census. You can submit your information by following the link that you can find on the City of Spring Hill’s website at www.springhilltn.org/civicalerts, as well as on the City of Spring Hill’s Facebook page.

Tennessee Reconnect (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host virtual Tennessee Reconnect information sessions in January.

Tennessee Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship that provides free tuition for adults to attend a community college. The initiative is designed to help adults enter college to gain new skills, advance in the workplace and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or credential.

“Tennessee Reconnect provides a wonderful opportunity for eligible adult learners to attend Columbia State tuition-free,” said Joni Allison, Columbia State coordinator of Adult Student Services. “We offer multiple information session dates each month to allow easy access for prospective students who would like to begin or return to college.”

To be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, students must meet the following requirements:

Haven’t earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Have been a Tennessee resident for at least one year.

Complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid and be determined as an independent student.

Be admitted to Columbia State and enroll in a degree or certificate program.

Must attend at least part-time (6 credit hours).

Jan 11 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 18 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 22 from 6 - 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 29 from 6 - 7 p.m.

To view the full list of steps to apply, or to sign up for an information session, please visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/Reconnect.

Courthouse Commemorating 120 Years (Press Release)

Maury County Government has been awarded a $5,000 matching grant from the South Central Tennessee Development District.

The Arts Build Communities, or “ABC,” grant will help the county commemorate the historic Maury County Courthouse as it celebrates 120 years of service to the community in 2024.

The grant will fund a community juried art competition open to Maury County citizens of all ages.

According to a press release, the theme will focus on "What does the courthouse represent to its citizens?" Citizens are invited to use their artistic abilities to design an original piece of art (all genres are welcome) that interprets what the Maury County Courthouse means.

“The Maury County Courthouse is an iconic and historic structure for the state of Tennessee.”

“Built by local architect J.E.R. Carpenter, before he went on to great fame as one of the leading architects of luxury high-rise living in New York City, this building has been the central focus of Maury County since it was built in 1904. It symbolizes much to our community. This grant is a wonderful opportunity to allow the citizens of the county to interpret and express what the building represents.”

The contest will start with a commemoration ceremony honoring the courthouse, which will include a proclamation by Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt, followed by an overview focusing on the history of the Maury County Courthouse by me, Tom Price starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan 11.

Maury County citizens will have from Jan. 11 to March 22 to submit their artwork to the Maury County Archives' temporary location at 1446 Oak Springs Drive, Suite 100 (the far end of Muletown Rec).

Art will be juried in four age categories: elementary, secondary, high school and adults ages 18 and over. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place for each category, and one grand-prize winner will be announced during Mule Day on April 6, 2024.

Rules for artist submissions include:

Artwork must be original.

All art intended for wall-mounting (drawings/paintings etc.) in the 18+ category must be submitted in a frame and wired for hanging.

All submitted art must be accompanied by a card with the artist's name, contact information, category, title and medium.

All art must be submitted by 3 p.m. Friday, March 22.

Art will be juried by five esteemed artists which include local photographers Sarah Gilliam and Ross Jaynes, as well as painters James Spearman and Margaret Warfield and sculptor Jennifer Grisham.

The winning submissions will be displayed at the courthouse during the 2024 Mule Day festivities. All submitted artwork will be placed on display at the Pryor Art Gallery at Columbia State Community College from May 13th-June 14th. The exhibit will open with be a gallery reception on May 13th.

For more information about the contest, contact the Maury County Archives at (931) 375-1500.

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

Mrs. Ann McCormack Reddick, 91, of Columbia, TN, passed away on January 7, 2024. Funeral services for Mrs. Reddick will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 5:00 P.M. till 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mrs. Juanita Ann Overbey Taylor, 93, resident of Columbia, passed away Saturday, January 6, 2024 at NHC Columbia. Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Greg Gwin officiating. The family will visit with friends from 12:00 P.M. till the time of service at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Condolences may be extended online at www.oakesandnichols.com.

…And now, news from around the state…

Gallery Restrictions at Capitol (Tennessean)

The public faced new restrictions on watching the proceedings of Tennessee House of Representatives — a last-minute ticketing requirement to sit in a public Capitol gallery — as lawmakers returned Tuesday to begin the 2024 legislative session.

State troopers and House Sergeants at Arms turned spectators away from the west House gallery ahead of the start of session on Tuesday, citing a new policy requiring tickets issued by lawmakers that was never publicly announced. Under the policy, as best understood by members of the public, lawmakers, and those enforcing it, lawmakers were allowed to give out a single spectator ticket to sit in the House gallery.

The rule, established by House Speaker Cameron Sexton. R-Crossville, effectively slashes public access to House proceedings by half.

It's unclear when the speaker created the new policy, as minutes before the session began, lawmakers — including GOP leadership — seemed unaware of its origin.

Connor Grady, Sexton's new spokesperson, told The Tennessean that he could not speak to the origin of the policy, why members of the public were being prevented from observing the public proceedings, when the policy was created, who created it, or why tickets would be required to access a public area of the building. Grady has not yet responded to a written request for details.

House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, deferred to the House Speaker's office when asked whether the new ticketing policy is written down.

House Democrats sharply criticized the new policy in Tuesday's floor proceedings. Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said he was surprised to learn of the policy less than an hour before the session began.

"We strongly oppose this new policy that was unilaterally decided by the Speaker and/or his office, which effectively bars people from the 'People's House,'" Clemmons said.

Whitney Weaver, a Brentwood resident, was turned away from the gallery and told to contact her lawmaker to obtain a ticket. When she and her friend did so, the legislative assistants who answered the phone were unaware of the ticketing policy.

The policy is one of several apparent crowd-control measures enacted after the intense protests of last spring, with an increased trooper presence still present in the Capitol. Members of the public and lobbyists, many of whom were also vocally upset by the new gallery policy, are now sequestered within a warren of stanchions in the Capitol rotunda and wide hallway outside the Senate and House chambers. The area was entirely open to the public a year ago.

“If you don't maintain decorum, then it doesn’t become anybody’s house except the people who scream the loudest. The only way it can be the people's house is if you follow the rules,” House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, told The Tennessean. “It's whoever's screaming the loudest's House right now, and that's not okay. That’s not how you govern.”

Gas Prices (MSM)

Tennessee drivers saw another week of falling prices at the gas pump. Over last week, gas prices fell five cents, on average. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $2.70 which is 14 cents less expensive than one month ago and 28 cents less than one year ago.  

“Strong refinery activity and seasonally low demand are helping to keep gas prices low for now,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Oil prices rose slightly last week over concerns of the possibility of widening conflict in the Middle East. If crude oil prices continue to trend higher this week, it’s likely we could start to see some volatility in our pump prices.” 

Quick Facts

70% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $2.75

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.44 for regular unleaded 

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

Tennessee remains the 9th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The 700-acre farm in Manchester that comes alive each June is set to jam once again with the announcement of the 2024 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival lineup.

Headliners for the 2024 event include Pretty Lights, Fisher, Post Malone, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fred Again. Additional performers include Cage the Elephant, Megan Thee Stallion, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Diplo and T-Pain.

The presale begins Thursday, Jan. 11 at 10 am (CT), and fans can sign up now for a presale passcode exclusively via www.bonnaroo.com/tickets. A public on-sale will follow if tickets remain. 2024 ticket options include 4-Day General Admission, 4-Day GA+, 4-Day VIP, 4-Day Platinum, along with a variety of camping and parking options starting at just $25 down with a payment plan. 


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