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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 22, 2024


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


We start with local news…

Maury County Schools Closed (Press Release)

With the freezing temperatures and the snow and ice accumulations from last week, many roads in Maury County are too dangerous for our students, families, or buses. Due to these conditions and to keep all students safe, there will be no school on Monday, January 22. Monday's closure includes all Boys & Girls Club locations; however, the Wayne Street BGC location will be open. Athletic practices and after-school activities will be at the principals' discretion, with no penalties if students cannot attend. However, there will be no travel for athletics or games. 

Maury County Schools will make a decision as early as possible regarding Tuesday. Please be patient and have backup plans regarding childcare. 

All surrounding county schools are also closed today.

All Maury County Government Offices will open at 10:00am.

Boys and Girls Club Event (WKOM Audio 2:26)

The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee held their annual luncheon on Saturday in Columbia. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the meeting and spoke to Boys and Girls Clubs CEO Jennie Wright and this year’s two youth leadership award recipients…

Maury and Rutherford Plan for Growth (CDH)

Rutherford and Maury counties join seven other Middle Tennessee counties, ranking in the state's top 10 for growth of wealth, a SmartAsset study shows.

The study measured the increase in median income, investment income and home value growth over the past 10 years in each of Tennessee's 95 counties to find the places where wealth has climbed the most, according to a press release.

Williamson topped the list with median home value increase of $503,604, median income increase of $26,713 and median investment increase of $24,000. Davidson, which includes the large county seat of Nashville, was runner up followed by Wilson at third.

Maury County slid into fourth place for growth in wealth, which also coincides with its ranking as the fastest growing county in Tennessee, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Sumner came in fifth; Rutherford, sixth; Blount, seventh, an East Tennessee county and only one outside of Middle Tennessee in ranking; Marshall, eighth; Cheatham, ninth; and Dickson, 10th.

The growth of median home values in Middle Tennessee does not surprise Scott Abernathy, the past president and remaining board member for the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors in Murfreesboro.

"The more demand you have for real estate the more expensive it’s going to be," Abernathy said.

Rutherford, another fast-growing county in the state, offers the most affordable housing among the doughnut counties that surround Nashville, said Abernathy, a Murfreesboro-based property manager serving owners of rental houses and tenants.

Many people are moving to Rutherford and other Middle Tennessee counties to pursue careers, Abernathy said.

"It's the opportunities," Abernathy said. "You have opportunity here to advance yourself with the jobs."

People also are moving to Rutherford, Maury and other Middle Tennessee counties from high-tax states, Abernathy said.

Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt said she was not surprised to learn her county ranked fourth in growth of wealth with a median home value increase of $240,062, median income of $21,017 and median investment income of $9,000.

"We understand that some people are fleeing some of the blue states, the high income tax states, because of the high cost of living and high taxes," said Butt, a Republican, who ran an independent after former mayor and U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles dropped out of the Republican-nominated spot, won her seat August 2022.

"People are coming and paying cash for houses at higher prices."

Butt said a family member gained equity in a house purchased in 2018 for $435,000.

"Now that house would be worth $600,000 to $625,000," Butt said.

Butt said she recalled meeting people who had moved to Maury County while she campaigned during the First Friday events with music, dining and shopping on Public Square in Columbia. About every 10th person moved from California, Illinois or another blue state, she said.

"They love the charm of Maury County," Butt said. "They love the friendliness. They love so many things."

Many of the people moving to Maury from high tax states are buying much larger beautiful homes with more property, Butt said.

"Or they can buy the same (sized) house and pocket a lot of cash," Butt said.

During her campaign for mayor and during her first term, Butt has stayed consistent about advocating for more revenue in the county to pay for news schools and infrastructure, as almost 15,000 new homes are planned to be constructed over the next several years in Columbia.

Butt still continues talking with state legislators and the Maury County Commission to come to a resolution other than raising property taxes.

The two counties mirror much of the same needs.

Rutherford's sixth ranking comes with increases of median home value of $226,300, median income of $17,584 and investment income of $8,000.

The growth of wealth is influenced by more people wanting to move to Rutherford and needing more schools, roads and other services that the county must fund, said Mayor Joe Carr, a Republican who won his seat August 2022.

"I feel it’s just another indicator of the growth that Rutherford County is experiencing that makes it necessary for Rutherford County to have the same authority to fund that growth that other counties and cities already have," Carr said.

The Rutherford mayor crafted a resolution that the County Commission adopted in December to tell state lawmakers that "growth should pay for itself" by allowing the local government to have the same authority on development taxes and impact fees that governments for Williamson, Wilson, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, La Vergne and Eagleville possess.

Carr wants the Tennessee General Assembly to permit Rutherford to have the same authority Williamson County has in enforcing impact fees and development taxes. The Williamson County Educational Impact Fee, enacted in 2016, generates about $30.8 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal budget year, according to 2023 report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).

Rutherford County needs funds in particular to build schools for a district that typically adds more than 1,000 students annually. The county serves nearly 52,000 students at 50 schools and depends on 179 portable classrooms among overcrowded campuses.

The Rutherford County Board of Education expects to spend $280 million in the next three years to open three new schools.

"Yesterday is when we need them," Sullivan said.

The burden to pay for the new schools, roads and other infrastructure has mostly been on the existing property taxpayers, Carr said.

Carr wants to avoid another property tax increase like the nearly 16.2% hike he recommended to the Rutherford County Commission in his first year as mayor to eliminate a $64 million budget deficit he now contends came from paying for growth.

Like Carr, Maury County Mayor Butt agrees that her county should have the authority that neighboring Williamson has on impact fees for new development.

"Joe Carr and I are on the same page 100%," said Butt, who previously served with him as a former Republican state representative in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Maury has an adequate facilities tax of 50 cents per square foot on residential development and 30 cents on accessory buildings and commercial development, Butt said.

Maury's taxes on development date back to winning state approval in 1991 and 2000. These growth taxes generated about $3.7 million in revenues in 2021-22, according to the TACIR report.

Maury's adequate facilities taxes, however, are inadequate in providing sufficient revenue for growth, Butt said.

"These people are coming in, moving here, and they immediately need services," said Butt, who views her county's adequate facilities tax as being out of date. "Like other counties in the state, there was a time we were begging for people to come to the county."

Residents and leaders in rural West Tennessee counties, near BlueOval City where Ford automotive is building a factory to manufacture electric cars and batteries, will experience what Maury, Rutherford and other Middle Tennessee counties are experiencing in relation to growth, Butt said.

Butt said when those counties start growing, they might be left unprepared, and unknowing that such impact fees could benefit them in the future.

Given Republican state lawmakers value local control rather than federal control, Butt wants to see the same stance pertaining to the fast-growing counties on growth taxes.

"Let us decide how we can pay for the need of services that go with that growth," Butt said. "They are coming. We are putting it back on the property owners to pay for it, who have lived here there whole lives."

MRMC Receives Echocardiography Reaccreditation (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) has been granted a three-year term of reaccreditation by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in echocardiography in the areas of adult transthoracic and adult stress.

An echocardiogram — sometimes called a cardiac ultrasound — is a test that evaluates the heart using ultrasound technology. Echocardiography is used to detect heart disease or signs of serious cardiovascular conditions.

 

“This reaccreditation is reflective of the commitment we have to providing outstanding heart care to our patients at Maury Regional Medical Center,” said Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “High-quality, non-invasive imaging of heart structures and function is a vital tool in treating heart disease, and I’m proud of the lifesaving work our heart team does every day.”

The reaccreditation means MRMC has undergone an intensive application and review process and is found to be compliant with the published standards thus demonstrating a commitment to quality patient care in echocardiography. Comprised of a detailed self-evaluation followed by a thorough review by a panel of medical experts, the IAC accreditation process enables both the critical operational and technical components of the applicant facility to be assessed, including representative case studies and their corresponding final reports.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, followed closely by stroke as the fourth highest cause of death.

Echocardiography is one of several diagnostic tools available in the Heart Center at MRMC, in addition to calcium CT scoring, cardiac catheterization, carotid ultrasound, electrocardiography, stress tests and more. It’s important to understand your risk factors for heart disease and discuss diagnostic testing with your physician.

Learn more about heart services offered at Maury Regional Health at MauryRegional.com/Heart.

CPWS Receives Recognition (Press Release)

The Columbia Power & Water Systems (CPWS) board of directors is proud to announce CPWS has once again been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting. This marks 18 straight years that CPWS has earned this achievement. 

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. 

“Ashley Maddux, our chief financial officer, continues to demonstrate unwavering dedication, meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to transparency that has set an exemplary standard in financial reporting,” said Jonathan Hardin, President and CEO at CPWS. “The CPWS board of directors and I want to thank Ashley and each member of the Accounting department for their hard work, expertise and relentless pursuit of excellence. CPWS takes our commitment to ratepayers very seriously, and we are committed to upholding the highest standards of financial stewardship.”

The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report. The most recent recognition was for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022.

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About CPWS

Columbia Power & Water Systems is a public utility owned by the residents of Columbia and Maury County, Tenn. Based on the belief local ownership investment is good for any utility and community, CPWS’ local direction and control puts their community’s interests first above all else. Serving customers since 1939, Columbia Power & Water Systems operates under the Board of Public Utilities of the City of Columbia, Tenn. For more about CPWS, visit cpws.com.

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.

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

Mr. Court Young “Corky” White III, 73, resident of Columbia, TN, passed away Thursday, January 18, 2024 at his residence. Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, January 23, 2024 at 2:00 P.M. at First Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Tuesday, January 23, 2024 from 12:00 P.M. until the time of service at First Baptist Church.

Mrs. Lynda June Coffey Briggs, 82, resident of Columbia, TN, and retired secretary for Highland Church of Christ, passed away Friday, January 19, 2024 at NHC Columbia.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, January 27, 2024 at 10:00 A.M.at Highland Church of Christ. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday, January 26, 2024 from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 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…

Death Toll Hits 25 (Tennessean)

Tennessee emergency officials have identified six more deaths from the winter weather system that began moving through the state on Jan. 14.

The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed that 25 people from across the state died as a result of the storms, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said Saturday night. The department confirmed three additional deaths in Knox County and one each in Coffee, Marion and Anderson counties.

The agency did not identify the victims by name in its news release.

TEMA in the news release asked that people limit their time outdoors. Warming centers are open in several counties across the state; you can view a list of them here. In Nashville, the city is operating a 24-hour cold weather shelter at 3230 Brick Church Pike when temperatures stay below 32 degrees.

State officials ask that people limit their power consumption if they are able to as demand on the power grid has "significantly increased" during the cold weather. The power grid is still stable, and only 300 outages were reported statewide Saturday afternoon, TEMA said.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Reba McEntire is slated to perform the national anthem for Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas. The Super Bowl will take place at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 11 and will air on CBS.

The performance will mark a full circle moment for Reba, who was discovered 50 years ago at the 1974 National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma when she sang the national anthem, launching her iconic career.

“I’m honored to be part of something as big and historic as the Super Bowl coming to Las Vegas for the first time,” Reba said. “2024 marks 50 years since I was discovered singing the National Anthem at the National Finals Rodeo, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that anniversary.”

Along with Reba, pre-game talent for the Super Bowl includes Post Malone and Andra Day with Usher performing at halftime.

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