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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 19, 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 into the weekend.

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.

All surrounding counties, Giles, Hickman, Lawrence and Lewis, Marshall and Williamson are also closed through the week.

Maury County Offices and City of Columbia Offices will open at 10:00am today.

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

City Garage Renovations (Press Release)

The City of Columbia Downtown Parking Garage will undergo renovations beginning January 29, 2024. During the renovation period, which is expected to last 4 months, the garage will be closed. The renovation project is a necessary undertaking to extend the structural integrity of the parking facility by more than a decade.

Mayor Chaz Molder stated, “I am looking forward to getting these parking garage improvements underway. While it will cause some temporary inconveniences, it will provide long-term stability and longevity for the garage, and is an example of a wise investment in existing downtown parking infrastructure.”

The free parking lot between the garage and the back of City Hall will become a permit-only parking zone that will be monitored by the City's parking enforcement officers Monday-Friday from 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM. The lot will be for those who lease spots in the downtown parking garage, along with the Columbia Police Department. The lot will be available for public use after 4:00 PM on weekdays and all day on weekends.

The 3-hour parking around downtown will not be enforced during the renovation of the parking garage to help alleviate the temporary change in the parking situation. Along with public parking around downtown, there is also public parking available in the Maury County parking lot (corner of E 7th St. and Woodland St.) near the Downtown Square.

For questions regarding the parking garage renovations, please call (931) 560-1510.

Youth Council Takes On Duck River (MSM)

The Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council is working on a fun project. Kids On Stage of Maury County, aka KOS Connects, in partnership with the McEwen Group Real Estate, is proud to present a pioneering challenge featuring students from the Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council.

This initiative, “Policy and Public Engagement for the Duck River,” is designed to empower the brightest young minds of Columbia in addressing the urgent water conservation crisis impacting the Duck River, particularly in the face of rapid urban growth in Maury County.

This project will comprise of five groups of CMYC members who will craft different policies addressing water conservation and create a compelling video to present to the Columbia City Council.

SizeUpMaury (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is committed to supporting the Maury County Business community. They are thrilled to announce the launch of SizeUpMaury!

SizeUpMaury is a robust, interactive business analytics tool designed to support small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of stages, from the entrepreneur looking to start their first business to a seasoned business owner looking to expand their customer base. The available data is current, industry-specific, and hyper local.

Businesses can use SizeUpMaury (at no cost) to discover potential customers and suppliers, optimize marketing to ideal customers, analyze characteristics and spending habits of the consumers in your area, and rank your industry performance across multiple measurements.

Join Maury Alliance on Friday, February 2nd at 8:30am for a virtual demonstration of SizeUpMaury and learn how you can use this tool to support your business. 

For more information, visit www.mauryalliance.com.

Justice Center Time Capsule (Press Release)

The Maury County Historical Society has been granted permission by the Maury County Commission to place a time capsule in the new Maury County Justice Center currently under construction. A selection committee has been created and is ready to receive items. If you have something small and Maury County related you would like to donate, contact Eric Previti at (931) 626-9878 or epreviti@icloud.com.

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.

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. 

One Gen Away Food Pantry (WilliamsonHerald)

One Generation Away is returning to the Columbia State Community College campus to offer free groceries to anyone in need.

The nonprofit’s drive-thru Mobile Pantry will be on campus at 1665 Hampshire Pike on Saturday, and will include fresh produce, dry goods, bakery items, dairy and more.

“We don’t ask any qualifying questions to receive food, and no paperwork is required,” said Chris Whitney, founder and CEO of OneGenAway. “All you have to do is show up, and we’ll take care of the rest.”

Food will be distributed beginning around 8:30 a.m. and continuing until 10 a.m. or until all the food has been given away. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive at 7:30 a.m. to help sort and distribute food. No registration is required to volunteer. It will be cold so bundle up! 

For more information about OneGenAway and its food assistance programs, visit www.OneGenAway.com.

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

Mrs. Patricia Brown Selle, 88, retired businesswoman and long-time resident of Columbia, died Saturday January 13th. Funeral services for Mrs. Selle will be conducted Saturday at 12:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church. 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.

Mrs. Peggy Jean Norman Davis, 75, resident of Williamsport, TN, passed away Thursday, January 18, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

Funeral services will be conducted Monday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Potts Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday from 4:00 P.M. till 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mr. George Allen Clanton, 92, retired employee of Occidental Company and resident of Columbia, died January 12th at Meadowbrook Nursing Home in Pulaski. The family will visit with friends Saturday, January 27th 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…

Weather (Tennessean)

The number of winter weather-related deaths doubled from initial reports, bringing the total to 14 across Tennessee, state officials said.

The Tennessee Department of Health initially reported Tuesday that six people had been killed, while Knoxville Police identified a seventh death.

The Department of Health announced that the number of deaths had risen to 14 Wednesday night.

Five people died in Shelby County, two in Washington, and one person in Hickman, Madison, Carroll, Knox, Van Buren, Lauderdale and Henry Counties, respectively, according to the news release.

The Tennessee Department of Health did not identify the victims by name.

Knoxville Police reported Tuesday that Marlo Jackson, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, was killed when the Budget rental truck he was driving slid in the accumulated snow and rear-ended a tractor trailer. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 66-year-old man in Hickman County died Monday afternoon when he fell through a skylight while trying to brush snow off the roof, county officials said. The Sheriff's Office, nor the county's Emergency Management Agency identified the man.

A hiker at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Van Buren County died after they seemingly fell from a bluff in the park. The Piney Volunteer Fire Department reported they responded to the park about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"Personnel arrived and found tracks in the snow leading into the woods," the department said. "The track was followed to the bluff line overlooking Cane Creek gorge."

A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter found the hiker down a 700 foot bluff using a thermal imaging camera, the department said. Using a rope system, and working overnight, crews were able to recover the hiker's body.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Songwriters at The Harpeth returns on Jan. 25 with a lineup featuring Keith Stegall, Parker Welling, Rafe Van Hoy and Roger Murrah.

The event will take place from 7:30-9 p.m. at Franklin's Harpeth Hotel, with tickets are available online via Eventbrite.

"2023 ended on such a high note with my being inducted in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and I'm so happy to kick off January sharing the stage with legends like Keith and Roger and welcoming new hot talent like Parker Welling,” Van Hoy said in a news release.

The Harpeth Hotel is located at 130 2nd Ave. North in Franklin.


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