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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 18, 2024

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


We start with local news…

Weather (CDH and WKOM)

After a warmer than typical winter season, snow has fallen onto Maury County, with temperatures dropping to single digits throughout the week.

The early week's snowfall accumulation was estimated to be approximately 6 inches, exceeding the average 4.7 inches recorded in 2020, according to the National Weather Service in Nashville.

And while the major downfall has expected to be complete, colder temperatures and further dustings are expected to hit the Middle Tennessee area later this week.

In Maury County, Public Works crews and first responders have been actively at work to clear roads, as well as service motorists who've found themselves stranded in areas. Though there have not been any major accidents thus far, according to Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb.

"We don't expect to see what we've seen on Monday and the day before, but it could be more," Cobb said. "I think the county has been busier than we have, a few structure fires.

"We've had some minor fires, alarm activations from those types of issues. We've worked a bunch of motor vehicle accidents with or without injuries."

Cobb added that the call volume has been less due to motorists staying home and off the roads.

"Most people have listened to the warnings and have just stayed home," Cobb said. "It was a holiday too and most things were canceled. When I was out on the road there were very few people out, which I think made a huge difference."

Cobb also provided a few tips for situations such as this, especially when temperatures are expected to drop into the single digits.

"You never know when you'll have a power outage, and so make sure your phone is fully charged, that you have a flashlight that's fully charged," Cobb said. "Just in case the power goes out, you have light at night. That's very important, and also proper footwear if you are going to get out, even as simple as going to check the mail, because we see a lot of slips, trips and falls with ice, snow and black ice."

Cobb ended by saying citizens can always call the 911 dispatch system or the (931) 388-2525 non-emergency line for assistance.

"Also be sure to wear warm clothing, because if you were to fall and are unable to call or get attention, you want to make sure your body stays warm until help arrives," Cobb said. "But I don't think we've had any power outages or anything major. The public should always be prepared for when those situations were to happen."

Maury County Schools will remain closed for rest of the week. This includes all Boys and Girls Club locations. All athletic events are cancelled until Monday.

For surrounding counties, Giles County, Lawrence and Lewis will be closed the rest of the week. Marshall and Williamson are closed through Thursday.

Temperatures are dipping dangerously low across middle Tennessee over the next few days, with lows getting into the single digits. Maury County Emergency Management shares information regarding two warming stations that are available during this cold snap.

The Family Center

921 S. Beckett St, Columbia

Open 7pm – 7am

Will remain open until January 21st

The People’s Table at Methodist Church

222 West 7th Street, Columbia

Open:

-Friday 01/19 from 6 AM- 3:30 PM

City Council Denies Rezoning (MSM)

In a 4-3 vote, the Columbia City Council rejected a proposed rezoning of 30 acres located at 6218 Cayce Lane following concerns over traffic and a potential increase in car accidents.

Votes to reject the proposal were cast by Davena Hardison, Debbie Wiles, Tony Greene and Kenny Marshall. Votes in favor came from Mayor Chaz Molder, Vice Mayor Randy McBroom and Danny Coleman.

The vote, which was held during the council’s regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11, followed several public comments by residents of Cayce Lane who expressed their concerns over the rezoning, which would rezone a parcel located on the east side of Cayce Lane from rural character district to neighborhood large lot character district, with a concept plan of 61 lots.

Susan Shuff, who is an adjacent property owner located on Cayce Lane, said she was opposed to the rezone due to its dangerous location, which she said would only increase if changed.

“As stated previously, this property is located between an active railroad crossing. This area is also very narrow with two lanes,” she said. “I have lived in Columbia for 60-plus years and this section of road has always been known as dangerous and the danger has only increased. Accidents are a direct reflection of the safety problems on this section.”

Though a traffic study is not allowed unless there is a minimum of 75 units, Director of Development Services Paul Keltner said the Planning Commission requested a study and safety audit following comments from residents.

“The improvements are pretty minor which is why we typically don’t see traffic improvement studies done until 75-plus units,” Keltner said. “Normally you’re just not going to see a big increase in that to warrant those improvements.”

Keltner said there were more minor suggestions made for the safety audit than the traffic study improvement.

“Should it move forward into the preliminary plat, that would be a part of that package going to Planning Commission,” he said.

Council member Coleman said the city could endanger themselves with lawsuits by not following the data.

“We’re aware of the issue, we’re aware of the fact that it’s not being worsened by this. However, being aware of the issue, we can take steps to address this,” he said.

Mayor Molder voted against the motion to deny, stating that the issues of growth are never easy.

“There are always people on both sides of it and unfortunately one side always walks by a little deflated and maybe even somewhat upset,” Molder said, adding that the developer originally requested 120 homes.

“We said no. That was too much for that space. It has now come back as a CD-3 (Neighborhood Character District) and we said we’d like to see it at a CD-3L (Neighborhood Large Lot Character District) which has seemingly continued to go in a direction that you’d want it to go if you’re trying to find a happy medium for all persons concerned.”

Cepicky to Introduce Teacher Childcare Bill (MSM)

A bill which would provide childcare to teachers is set to be introduced by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) following the start of the 2024 legislative session, which began last Tuesday, Jan. 9.

House Bill 1709 would authorize local education agencies (LEAs) and public charter schools to reimburse teachers for childcare expenses paid by the teacher each month for the teacher’s child to receive services through a childcare program. The program would be certified by the Department of Education or a childcare agency licensed by the Department of Human Services.

The state would also be required to reimburse LEAs and public charter schools a portion of any such monthly reimbursement amount paid by the LEA or public charter school.

“The childcare bill is basically to try to incentivize more teachers to one, become teachers, and two, when they have a child, to be able to get back in the classroom as quickly as possible to help our students,” Cepicky said.

“What we find right now is because the cost of daycare is so expensive, when teachers have children they tend to just put their license on hold and they raise their children until they get to be around five to six years old, then they come back to the classroom.”

Cepicky said the childcare bill would also be an economic boon for counties.

“They don’t have to go out and find another teacher, they can get the ones they have back in the classroom and teachers who want to teach can go back and earn their living now,” he said.

The bill’s introduction is currently on hold as members await whether it will be added to Gov. Lee’s school choice bill.

Introduced last November, the Education Freedom Scholarship Act of 2024 would establish statewide universal school choice.

“This legislation aims to provide every Tennessee parent with the opportunity to choose the right education for their child, while prioritizing families with the greatest need,” according to last year’s press release.

Cepicky said he expects the bill to be the biggest hurdle during the legislative session.

“If parents feel like the public schools are not meeting the needs of their child, they should have recourse to it. They should not be stuck in a failing school just because of their zip code.”

In addition, Rep. Kip Capley (R-Summertown) has introduced legislation that would require written driver’s license exams to be administered in English.

Capley’s proposal, House Bill 1730, will apply to applicants for driver’s licenses and intermediate driver’s licenses. The legislation will prohibit the use of translation dictionaries, electronic devices and interpreters for assistance with the exam’s administration.

“All Tennesseans want to feel safe on the road,” Capley said in a press statement. “The ability to understand signs and warnings is important for the protection of other drivers. Not being able to do so can pose a real danger to public safety. If you have to take a written driver exam in a language other than English in order to pass, it’s my view that you shouldn’t receive a Tennessee driver’s license until you’re able to pass in the official and legal language of our state. The test will still be available for disabled Tennessee citizens who need modifications.”

Currently, applicants are able to take the written driver examinations online or in person in English, Spanish, Korean, German and Japanese, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

St. Jude Home in June Lake (MSM)

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital dream home giveaway has chosen the June Lake development in Spring Hill as one of 40 nationwide locations.

For $100 per ticket, one can win a brand-new home in the development thanks to builder Signature Homes. In addition to the home, smaller “milestone” prizes are awarded as well as tickets are sold. Last year, those prizes included a $5,000 Visa gift card, gas and groceries valued at $10,000 and a trip for two to see Cody Johnson in concert.

The 2023 Middle Tennessee home was located in Franklin at an estimated value of $900,000. The four-bedroom, three-bath house in the St. Marlo community was won by Andrew Hutcheson of Clarksville.

June Lake is a large, mixed-use development planned along Buckner Lane just off the new I-65 interchange, and is set to have millions of dollars worth of economic impact on the Spring Hill community.

Plans for the site include 3.9 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.3 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 400 hotel rooms. Hy-Vee grocery chain has announced it will anchor one of the main shopping centers inside the development.

A total of 2,150 multi-family residential units and 775 single-family residential units are planned for the project. Those will be built around several miles of greenway and walking trails across the property.

The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) initially approved the revised zoning for the first phase of the project – located in the northwest corner of the property — in August 2020.

The 775-acre development is poised to become the “Gateway to Spring Hill.”

To be eligible to purchase a ticket and win any prize, you must be at least 18 years old or the age of majority in your jurisdiction of residence, whichever is older as of the date of entry, and a living resident of the United States. For more information on how to enter, visit www.stjude.org/give/dream-home.html.

All of the proceeds benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Since 2005, the giveaway has garnered more than $25 million in donations. The drawing typically takes place in June of each year.

New Doctor at MRMC (Press Release)

 Julian Blaseio, MD, a family medicine provider, has joined Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) and will see patients on an appointment basis at Maury Regional Urgent Care in North Columbia.

Dr. Blaseio received his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Iselin, New Jersey and completed his residency at California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Throughout residency, Dr. Blaseio created curriculum, taught courses and provided lessons in clinical medicine for hospital staff, nurses and fire and police departments. Dr. Blaseio’s clinical interest consists of early disease detection and preventative care.

At Maury Regional Urgent Care in North Columbia, Dr. Blaseio will operate on an appointment basis with hours of operation Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. His treatment includes but is not limited to, adult and geriatric medicine, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol management and physical exams. Dr. Blaseio is a primary care provider, seeing patients aged five years and above.

In addition to Dr. Blaseio accepting appointments with patients, Reiley Eilermann, MSN, RN, CPN, and Nicole Grinnell, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, will continue caring for walk-in patients. For walk-in patients, the hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Maury Regional Urgent Care in North Columbia is located at 2478 Nashville Highway, Suite A in Columbia. For more information, call 931.398.6590 or visit MauryRegional.com.

First Farmers Names New CBO (Press Release)

First Farmers and Merchants Corporation (OTC Pink: FFMH), the holding company for First Farmers and Merchants Bank, today announced that Rory A. Mallard was named to the newly created position as Chief Banking Officer. Mallard has served as Chief Commercial Banking Officer of First Farmers since 2021.

“Rory Mallard joined First Farmers in 2011 as the Manager of our Cool Springs Branch. He later helped plan and launch the bank’s second Cool Springs Financial Center on McEwen Drive,” stated Brian K. Williams, First Farmers’ Chairman and CEO. “He was promoted to Senior Commercial Banking Officer in 2017 and then promoted to Chief Commercial Banking Officer in 2021. Under his dynamic leadership, we have experienced remarkable growth in our commercial lending and deposit areas. Additionally, he has spearheaded the development of a comprehensive suite of Treasury Management products that have contributed significantly to the expansion of our commercial accounts, all while upholding our exceptionally high credit standards.

“As Chief Banking Officer, Rory will be responsible for the strategic direction, growth, delivery, profitability, operational efficiency, and overall performance of the commercial, treasury management and retail banking business lines. His duties will include executive oversight for meeting budget targets for growth and profitability; assembling, supporting, evaluating and developing team members; ensuring that our product and service array remains current, competitive, relevant and profitable; supporting the risk culture of the Bank through monitoring of the loan portfolio including adherence to credit policy and sound portfolio management practices; and directing the Bank’s growth strategy,” concluded Williams.

Prior to joining First Farmers, Mallard was with Fifth Third Bank where he spent six years managing their Music Row financial center. He was inducted into Fifth Third’s President’s Circle in recognition of his outstanding performance and contributions to the bank. Prior to Fifth Third, Mallard was a senior personal banker at Bank of America. He has worked with the United Way of Williamson County and is a former board member of the Williamson County Better Business Bureau. Mallard is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

About First Farmers and Merchants Corporation and First Farmers and Merchants Bank

First Farmers and Merchants Corporation is the holding company for First Farmers and Merchants Bank, a community bank serving the Middle Tennessee area through 22 offices in seven Middle Tennessee counties. As of September 30, 2023, First Farmers reported total assets of approximately $1.9 billion, total shareholders’ equity of approximately $99 million, and administered trust assets of $5.4 billion. For more information about First Farmers, visit us on the Web at www.myfirstfarmers.com.

Blood Needed (MauryCountySource)

The winter weather event has significantly impacted local blood donations to organizations like the American Red Cross and Blood Assurance. Blood donations are already affected during the winter months and more so when severe weather rolls in, closing donation centers and canceling blood drives.

“December and January are always detrimental for community blood centers due to holiday travel, frigid weather, and illnesses, such as the flu,” according to J.B. Gaskins, CEO of Blood Assurance.

Since the start of January, approximately 200 Red Cross blood drives across 27 states have been canceled due to winter weather, causing more than 6,000 lifesaving blood and platelet donations to go uncollected, the American Red Cross reports.

“The storm is occurring at a critical time, as the community blood center only has a one-day supply of most blood types on its shelves. Blood Assurance needs around 400 donors a day to adequately supply local hospitals,” Blood Assurance says.

When it is safe to do so, these organizations are asking people to sign up and donate to help replenish the supply.

Find information on American Red Cross blood donation opportunities at www.redcrossblood.org.

“Our non-profit is still experiencing one of the largest shortages we’ve seen in five decades,” said Gaskins. “We hope our community understands the importance of donating before, during and after National Blood Donor Month, by recognizing that blood isn’t something that can be manufactured. A single blood donation can save three lives.”

Donors can give back by scheduling an appointment at www.bloodassurance.org/schedule, calling 800- 962-0628, or texting BAGIVE to 999777. 

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

Patricia Brown Selle, 88, retired businesswoman and long-time resident of Columbia, Tennessee died peacefully on January 13, 2024. Funeral services for Mrs. Selle will be conducted Saturday, January 20, 2024, at 12:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church, 222 West 7th Street, Columbia, Tennessee. A private burial will be held at Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will meet with friends on Saturday before the service from 10:00 A.M. – 12:00P.M. at First United Methodist Church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

Mr. George Allen Clanton, 92, retired employee of Occidental Company and resident of Columbia, died January 12, 2024, at Meadowbrook Nursing Home in Pulaski, Tennessee. The family will visit with friends Saturday, January 27, 2024, at 11:00 A.M. followed by a memorial service at 11:30 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Quaker Oats Recall (Press Release)

The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding consumers not to eat any of the recently recalled Quaker Oats products. The Quaker Oats Company has announced an expansion to the December 15, 2023 recall to also include additional cereals, bars and snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The recalled products can be found at:

Home | Quaker Granola Recall (quakerrecallusa.com) and include:

Quaker Granola Bars

Quaker Cereal

Cap’n Crunch Treat Bars, Cereal, Instant Oatmeals

Gamesa Marias Cereal

Gatorade Protein Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Munchies Mix Munch Mix

The products included in the recall list are sold throughout the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and Saipan. Consumers should check their pantries for any of the products listed in the recall and dispose of them.

Additionally, consumers with any product noted on the recall can contact Quaker Consumer Relations (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST, Mon.-Fri.) at 1-800-492-9322 or visit www.QuakerRecallUSA.comExternal Link Disclaimer for additional information or product reimbursement.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Contact your health provider if you or anyone in your family has consumed the recalled Quaker Oats products and are experiencing symptoms associated with Salmonella infection, including fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

For the sixth consecutive year, orchids are set to take over the Mansion Loggia at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. 

Starting Feb. 10 and continuing through March 10, guests can view the annual orchid displays. Tickets can be purchased at cheekwood.org

According to a news release, this year’s design "takes an artistic perspective on the epiphytes’ natural growth habit." Epiphytes, such as orchids, are a plant that grows on another plant. They are found on trees or other substrate. 

This year's showcase will also feature a new display in the Botanic Hall atrium. 

The Cheekwood Winter Concert Series will also return later this month with a trio performances at Massey Auditorium inside Botanic Hall. All shows will begin at 7 p.m., and tickets can be purchased here. 


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