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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 30, 2024

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


We start with local news…

Mt. Pleasant Water Limit (MSM)

The City of Mount Pleasant issued a request Friday morning asking all customers to reduce their water usage in hopes of avoiding a boil order.

On Friday, Jan. 26, the city issued a statement stating in part, “The last two (2) weeks of snow, ice, and rain have taken a toll on the system and we are currently experiencing major mechanical issues at our water plant as a result. The system operators, with help from outside agencies, are working diligently to make sure our system stays online.”

Customer Service Supervisor Ashley Simpson stated that the city had already been forced to cut off service for some industrial facilities as of 11 a.m. Friday in an effort to conserve water.

“We’re asking the citizens to conserve water at this point…There’s a lot of mechanical issues, water levels are low in the tanks. So to avoid us more or less running out of water, we have asked everybody to conserve, don’t use anything you don’t have to.”

Simpson said the request would go through the weekend and the city would reevaluate the situation this week.

“Your cooperation is important and all users are urged, whenever possible, to defer activities which may use large amounts of water until this conservation order is lifted. We will announce the end of this water conservation period as soon as we have found and repaired any leaks, made plant repairs, and have restored our water storage to normal levels,” the city stated.

As per the City of Mt Pleasant Website, the most current statement reads:

OUR WATER TANK LEVELS AND OPERATIONS HAVE STABILIZED FOR NOW.

WE ARE GOING TO ALLOW FOR INDUSTRIES AND BUSINESS TO RETURN TO NORMAL.

WE ASK FOR ALL CUSTOMERS TO CONTINUE TO CONSERVE WATER AS WE ARE ACTIVELY SEARCHING FOR LEAKS WITHIN THE SYSTEM.

A number of Middle Tennessee utilities have issued boil water advisories in the aftermath of the recent snow and ice, including in Giles and Lawrence counties.

Those needing further information on this matter are asked to call (931) 379-7717.

State Eggs and Issues (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance and Breakfast Rotary for their Annual State Eggs & Issues. This event features a panel discussion and Q&A with State Senator Dr. Joey Hensley, Representative Scott Cepicky, and Representative Kip Capley.

The event will take place on Friday Feb 23, 2024 from 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM at the Memorial Building, located at 308 W 7th Street in Columbia.

The cost is $25 for members, $30 for future members

If you are a member of Breakfast Rotary you do not need to purchase a ticket for this event.

To submit a question or topic in advance for consideration, please email egallegos@mauryalliance.com.

Marcy Jo’s To Close (MauryCountySource)

Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse and Bakery announced it will close for business.

The restaurant, formerly an abandoned general store built in 1891, was first opened by Rory Feek’s wife, Joey and his sister Marcy in Columbia in 2007. The restaurant is located at 4205 US 431, Columbia.

On social media, they shared the news that after 17 years, the doors to the restaurant will permanently closed.

Stating, “A ‘Closed’ sign was originally put on the door last week temporarily, just until the broken pipes inside could be fixed, but unfortunately it’s not going to come down. Between the residual impact on the business from the pandemic, soaring food prices, the deteriorating building and a hundred other factors, what worked before just doesn’t work anymore. We made the decision a few days ago that the restaurant is closed for good and the land & building will be going up for sale soon.”

Rory Feek shared memories about Marcy Jo’s in a blog post. “It’s the spot where I made my first real storytelling video, and later where we filmed fifty-something cooking segments for our TV show from 2012-2014.”

Continuing, “We’ve made music videos there. Overstock.com commercials. It’s been featured on Tennessee Crossroads and in dozens of magazine articles. It was the setting for a funny long-forgotten TV pilot we made, and another one that Heidi Klum and Seal filmed in 2011 that never came out. It’s where we first hosted the popular songwriter nights that we still do. People have gotten married there. Gotten engaged. We’ve prayed with customers and grieved over them when they passed. It’s been bitterly cold inside in the winter and brutally hot in the summer. The floorboards have holes in them and lean hard to south, just like the building. When a truck ran into the side of Marcy Jo’s in 2009, it just shook a couple of times and leaned the other way. That old restaurant is a piece of history, that is now a piece of our history.”

In the next couple of weeks, items from the restaurant will be for sale. Follow Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse and Bakery on social media for updates. If anyone is interested in purchasing the property, you can contact Keith at Keith@hardisonmill.com.

Website Asks for Signatures About Hwy. 31 Work (MSM)

Spring Hill residents have found a way to answer the calls of Tennessee Department of Transportation leaders following the release of the most recent 10-year construction plan. Widen31.com, a website produced by an anonymous source has a pre-written statement and the ability to sign your name and email address.

The form sends a message to local representatives.

“When TDOT came and spoke to us in November, they said the best thing citizens can do is to be in constant communication with their representatives about important road projects,” Alderman Matt Fitterer said. “Widen31.com just makes that really easy to do.”

The Transportation Modernization Act (TMA) plan was released late 2023, which is the result of an investment strategy for the $3 billion general fund transfer approved in April 2023 that evenly distributed funds across all four TDOT regions to advance critical transportation projects.

A November Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting with TDOT officials yielded additional information, and the project now has secured funding, though it is not scheduled for construction until 2033.

Jay Klein, Legislative Director for TDOT, said, “We want to call our (new motto) ‘What we start, we finish.’ I think that should be important to this body, particularly in light of that project. Previously, we’ve had two iterations of our three-year plan that have been generated with this philosophy in mind. (U.S. 31 widening) did appear on the three-year plan prior to that change in philosophy.

The website’s letter lays out some of the most important claims from traffic issues in the city.

“Over the years, our region has experienced significant population growth and increased economic activity, leading to a surge in traffic along State Route 6 / Highway 31,” it reads. “This has resulted in congestion, longer commute times, and a strain on the existing infrastructure. To alleviate these challenges and promote safer, more efficient transportation, I fully endorse immediate widening.

“The proposed widening would not only enhance the flow of traffic but also improve safety conditions for commuters. With the increased capacity, the risk of accidents and traffic-related incidents is likely to decrease, contributing to a safer and more reliable transportation network.”

TDOT officials said the cost of the project would top $110-120 million dollars in construction fees alone, not including right of way acquisition or utility movement costs. The city has contributed more than $3 million in funding already, before the project was placed on the 10-year plan.

Being placed on the 10-year plan, however, does secure funding, though it is not scheduled for construction until 2033.

Mid-State Classic Tickets (Press Release)

Tickets for the 8th Annual Midstate Classic Collegiate Softball Tournament, happening on April 2, 2024, are now on sale. Hosted by the City of Columbia, the Midstate Classic is held annually at Ridley Sports Complex, one of the top recreational complexes in the state. This year's Midstate Classic will feature the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers facing off against the University of Memphis Tigers at 5:30 PM. Earlier that day, Columbia Central softball will play Spring Hill High School softball at 10:00 AM. Also, Columbia State Community College Lady Chargers will be playing the University of Tennessee Southern Lady Firehawks at 1:30 PM. Tickets to the Midstate Classic are $10 and will cover admission to all three games. Tickets can be purchased in advance at https://www.columbiatn.com/686/Midstate-Classic.

UT and Columbia State have been participating in the Midstate Classic since 2014, making this their eighth appearance. This annual event at Ridley Sports Complex has become a staple in the community's calendar, drawing support from locals and fans across the state. It provides the opportunity for fans to experience collegiate-level softball at all ages.

For questions regarding the Midstate Classic, please call (931) 388-8119.

SizeUpMaury (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is launching SizeUpMaury on its website on February 2nd making powerful market research and business intelligence available to all local businesses.

Businesses in Maury County can now access industry-specific and hyperlocal information to help them grow and make smarter decisions using Big Data analysis. The research is individually customized for each company. By using SizeUpMaury local businesses are able to:

 

Rank their business performance compared to industry competitors

Discover potential customers, suppliers, and better understand their competitive landscape

Optimize advertising to target ideal customer segments

SizeUpMaury helps to level the competitive business playing field by providing small businesses with market research that typically only large corporations could afford to access by contracting multinational management consulting companies or hiring internal research analysts.

“In today’s information economy, if you don’t have access to information your business is at a significant disadvantage. With the launch of SizeUpMaury on our website, we are empowering small businesses in Maury County to be able to make data-driven decisions,” said Wil Evans, President & CEO of Maury Alliance. 

SizeUp uses big data, cloud computing, and computer algorithms to deliver custom analysis for local businesses. The data comes from hundreds of public and proprietary data sources covering firmographic, demographic, geographic, labor, wage, cost, consumer spending, transportation, and more.

“Maury Alliance is committed to helping locally-owned businesses succeed. They are the foundation of our local economy, employ our residents, create new jobs, and make our community a more prosperous place. Launching SizeUpMaury on our website is just one more way we are supporting local businesses and hopefully setting them up for success,” said Wil Evans, President & CEO of Maury Alliance. 

This new service provided by Maury Alliance is completely free for local businesses to use and is available anytime through the Maury Alliance website at www.mauryalliance.com. For a demonstration of SizeUpMaury, you are invited to the official Launch Event on February 2nd at 8:30 am. Visit www.mauryalliance.com/sizeupmaury to register.

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.

Spring Hill Census (CDH)

Spring Hill has launched a new special census for citizens with the goal of generating enough population numbers to receive up to $2 million in additional annual federal funding.

Residents can participate in the census by logging onto the city's website at www.SpringHillTN.org.

Earlier this month, Mayor Jim Hagaman commented on the importance of the census during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen's Jan. 2 work session meeting.

"I would ask that you citizens take it seriously and fill it out, which is incredibly simple. You go to our website and simply type in how many people live in your house, and your done, just like that," Hagaman said. "It's very important because it will translate into dollars that we get in our coffers to do projects we need to do and/or want to do."

The city last conducted a special census in 2020, and the decision to launch a new one is due to the continued exponential growth Spring Hill has generated over the last four years. It will also play a vital role in accomplishing much-needed projects, hiring more staff members and more.

"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," The city's website states.

If the estimated numbers are met with the new census, the additional moneys could be used for things like:

Hiring additional firefighters and public safety staff

Street maintenance

Infrastructure improvements

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.”

Maury County citizens will have from now until March 22nd 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. Florence Valeria Westmoreland Burns, 87, homemaker and long-time resident of Fly Road in Santa Fe, died Saturday, January 27, 2024, at her residence in Culleoka. Funeral services for Mrs. Burn will be conducted Wednesday, January 31, 2024, at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Knob Creek Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday, January 30, 2024, from 4:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mr. Randy Ervin Davidson, 71, retired Machine Operator for Union Carbide and resident of Culleoka, died Saturday, January 27, 2024, at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Davidson will be conducted Friday, February 2, 2024, at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday, February 1, 2024, from 4:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Miss Susan Gail Benderman, 69, former counselor with Centerstone, died Thursday, January 25th at Maury Regional Medical Center. Memorial services will be conducted Saturday, February 3rd at 2:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. The family will visit with friends Saturday, February 3rd from 12 noon until the time of the services at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Why Did TN Account for 1/3 of Winter Storm Deaths? (Tennessean)

Tennesseans were hit particularly hard during the recent winter storm as it brought several inches of snow, ice and frigid temperatures to the region.

More than a third of the 91 people killed by the storm in the U.S. died in Tennessee. Hardest hit was Shelby County with 11 of the state's 36 deaths, followed by Knox County with seven. In recent years, the Superstorm of 1993 was the deadliest winter weather event to strike Tennessee. It wreaked havoc from Alabama to Maine, killing 13 in Tennessee and 200 nationwide.

Why Tennessee had so many winter deaths in this month's storms remains a mystery, and state agencies remain silent on what drove it.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency community relations officer Kristin Coulter said the agency does not track details on weather-related fatalities. She said it only reports on data received from Tennessee Department of Health, and TEMA could not speculate as to whether there was a pattern or reason behind the number of winter-related deaths.

"The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency continues to stress the importance of winter weather preparedness. The recent extreme cold temperatures are a reminder to Tennesseans to take action to be prepared ahead of winter weather. We encourage everyone to check on friends, family, and neighbors as well as staying informed through local officials during extreme cold events," Coulter said in a statement.

The Tennessee Department of Health also declined to say what led to so many winter-related deaths. Agency spokesman Bill Christian said additional information on deaths due to winter weather would come from local authorities.

"We cannot speculate on why we’ve had a large number of weather-related deaths during this recent winter storm," Christian said. "We have no additional details to provide regarding the weather-related fatalities, and TDH does not release specific details about deaths given privacy concerns over releasing individually identifiable information."

Any information collected about the deaths was done so through numerous calls and emails to a variety of local agencies in each county, he said.

National Weather Service Nashville Meteorologist-in-Charge Krissy Hurley said weather-related fatalities are separated into two categories: direct and indirect.

Direct fatalities include deaths due to things like cold weather exposure, avalanches and icicles falling, Hurley said.

Because reporting from local and state agencies has been stagnant, it remains unclear how many Tennesseans died due to direct contact with the weather.

In Henry County, Sheriff Josh Frey said 64-year-old Aaron Hoover was found dead beside his vehicle last week. Deputies believe Hoover slipped while getting out of his car and was unable to get back up. He died from exposure.

Indirect fatalities include things like heart attacks from shoveling, car crashes due to poor road conditions and sledding accidents, Hurley said.

Car crashes have accounted for several of Tennessee's deaths.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Middle Tennessee State football will be well represented in Super Bowl 58 on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Four former Blue Raiders are on Super Bowl rosters, with three on the Kansas City Chiefs roster − Darius Harris (played for MTSU from 2015-18), Richie James (2015-17) and Izaiah Gathings (2021-22) − while Charvarius Ward (2016-17) is a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

This will be Ward's third Super Bowl and an opportunity to win his second with two different squads. He was a member of the Kansas City team that won Super Bowl 54 and was on the Chiefs team that reached Super Bowl 55.


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