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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for July 6, 2023

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

We start with local news…

4th of July (CDH)

Hundreds of families celebrated the Fourth of July annual fireworks show at Maury County Park on Tuesday dressed in their red, white and blue best spread out on blankets, truck beds or in cars trying to secure the best view.

Some newcomers attended the community event for the first time, while others clocked over 20 years attending the celebration.

Angie Osborne, a Columbia native, attended with her family, including Langston Brady, 3, who enjoyed playing on the grass ahead of the big event.

"I've been coming for 20 years. When the kids were growing up, we'd grab a spot at the grills, cookout and make a day of it, lay on the grass and watch the fireworks," Osborne said.

The O'Brien family has also attended the fireworks show for at least seven years. Even though most of their eight children are now grown, they have enjoyed the memories made over the years.

"We moved here so my daughter could attend Mt. Pleasant, which has an arts program," Deanna O'Brien said. "We love Columbia and coming out to see this show every year."

Father Manauel Jones used the opportunity at the park to teach his two sons Roman, 3, and Messiah, 6, how to throw a baseball with their brand new baseball gloves for the occasion.

The family moved back to Columbia from Murfreesboro to be closer to the children's grandparents.

"Columbia has really grown," Karsonya Jones said, who moved with her family to Columbia from Detroit when she was a teenager due to the General Motors plant.

Although the prediction of rain threatened to stop the show, the weather held out for the 9 p.m. performance, delivering its usual red, white and blue fireworks spectacle.

Mulehouse Update (CDH)

News of The Mulehouse music venue's current move toward filing for bankruptcy has made waves through Columbia and the surrounding community, leaving many people wondering about the future of the popular establishment in downtown.

Originally, The Mulehouse had planned to hold a liquidation auction seeking new investors to take a stake in the business. However, the June 26 auction was ultimately canceled once founders Blair and Eric Garner decided the best decision moving forward would be to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

While this gave a glimpse into what's been happening behind the scenes, it was only a fraction of the real Mulehouse story, according to founder Blair Garner.

Garner said while a word like "bankruptcy" might conjure all kinds of thoughts and speculation, it could ultimately be just a chapter in The Mulehouse's story for many years to come.

Ultimately, with little details, Blair's message to Mulehouse patrons and future patrons, amid the response to the impending filing, is — "Hold on."

"There's a lot of smoke in the air right now which can seem really disturbing," Blair Garner said. "So much of that smoke was created by the fastest mode of transportation known to man — The Gossip Bandwagon. Yes, it's the fastest, but it's also the least reliable."

Though Garner didn't go into too much detail regarding the decision to file for bankruptcy, other than "there was an issue with the bank we weren't able to resolve," he said the solution moving forward will require a combination of hard work, community support and prayer.

"With His guiding hand, He has led us to an incredible plan for moving forward. He has even provided us with the financial backing to fully execute that plan," Garner said. "We're merely using our 'time out' to finalize the necessary paperwork. In the end, The Mulehouse will now realize its full vision at a greatly expedited pace."

Garner added that he and Eric will remain The Mulehouse owners during this time and beyond.

Blair insists that shows will go on in the present and future, including most recent bookings, he says are exciting, like country music icon Tanya Tucker.

Most recently, The Mulehouse announced Tanya Tucker will be performing a special "Kiss Breast Cancer Goodbye Concert" on Sunday, Oct. 1 benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Other upcoming Mulehouse events include First Fridays After Dark on July 7, Vinyl Radio on July 8, Laurel Canyon Band celebrating the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on July 13, followed by Resurrection: A Journey Tribute on July 14. July will then wrap up with country hitmaker Tracy Byrd on July 22 and The Beatles tribute band Forever Abbey Road on July 28.

For a full schedule of upcoming events, or to purchase tickets, visit

Hospital Asks for Funding Increase (CDH)

Hospital leaders at Maury Regional Health are requesting an increase in funding of ambulance services due to community growth, according to a letter to the county penned by Maury Regional Medical Center CEO, Dr. Martin Chaney.

The current agreement between the hospital and the county allocates $600,000 per year for ambulance services, according to the letter, but the hospital's needs exceed those funds.

According to the county commission’s one-month extension of services approved June 20, last December, MRMC provided notice to the county that they would not continue its current contract with the county, stating instead an intent to renegotiate terms prior to any contract renewal.

At a May 1 Health and Environment Committee meeting, County Finance Director Doug Lukonen requested and extension to the Maury Regional ambulance contract to push negotiations forward.

“We’ve been hard at work negotiating with Maury Regional on that,” Lukonen said in May. “I talked with Dr. Chaney and in order to continue service, they would be fine extending our current agreement up to three months.”

Lukonen suggested in May that the extension be for one month in order to facilitate an expedited resolution.

The one-month extension to its agreement with MRMC was based on the ambulance contract that began in 1996.The yearly funding allocation portion for ambulances has been set at $600,000 since 2009 and the contract was originally set to expire July 31 based upon the initial extension approved by the budget committee.

The additional extension passed at the recent commission meeting moved the July 31 deadline to provide continuity of county ambulance services until August 31, while negotiations are ongoing.

Currently, July 6 is the date set for a request for proposal from MRMC, wherein any specific new costs would be presented.

In the event that a new contract agreement is not reached with the county, the county would be placed in a position of seeking bids from third party ambulance services to continue that arm of its emergency services, according to Chaney.

“We will respect the decision made by the county,” Chaney wrote. “Should that mean another entity will be providing ambulance service, we are committed to making that transition as seamless as possible," Chaney said in the letter.

Chaney further underscored the need as required by state law to continue funding the services currently offered.

Citing “increased losses” of MRMC ambulance operations, Chaney said costs have “far exceeded revenue received.”

Chaney projected MRMC loses an excess of $4 million – in part due to investment in new ambulances for the community.

“Like organizations across the nation, we are also feeling the impact of inflation and increased supply cost,” Chaney writes.

Additionally, the cost to replace an ambulance for MRMC would be $250,000 per vehicle, according to Chaney’s statement, with an average of two high-mileage ambulance replacements, annually.

District 8 Maury Commissioner and member of the EMS Ambulatory Service Committee, Gabe Howard stated that it is the county’s desire to avoid a third-party ambulance service provider.

“We are committed to providing high quality emergency medical services without burdening our citizens with a significant property tax increase,” Howard wrote in response to Chaney’s letter. Howard acknowledged the static state of annual funding for EMS, saying a review is warranted.

“In light of the July 6 RFP deadline, it is important to find a solution that balances community needs with the financial realities of providing essential services,” Howard said.

The EMS Ambulatory Committee was formed with the specific task to address the contract and is currently working with MRMC to draw up final plans.

Spring Hill Breaks Ground on Firehouse (

The City of Spring Hill broke ground on its future Spring Hill Police headquarters on Monday, June 26.

The 60,000 square-foot building will be located on Hathaway Boulevard off of Port Royal Road. Construction is anticipated to take place over the next 20 months.

The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Alderman approved the $37,500,000 project in their March meeting.

“Thank you, citizens, very much, because we truly believe in you and we truly know that this is what you want and this is what Spring Hill needs,” Mayor Jim Hagaman said.

Maury County Growth (MainStreetMaury)

Maury County’s Regional Planning Commission continued its ongoing efforts to update the Unified Development Plan with a lengthy discussion on rural development last week.

At a work session on June 29, a selected subcommittee looked for ways to balance the continuing growth in Maury County with a desire to maintain the rural feel in unincorporated areas of the county.

Much of the discussion centered on redefining the current zoning designations of areas in the county. The county’s zoning ordinances were adopted in 1985 and while they have been amended since then, those amendments have made the current code difficult to interpret at times, according to In addition, the county’s subdivision regulations have not been significantly updated since 2009.

Building Director Robert Caldiraro indicated after the meeting that planners were hoping to have their task completed in spring 2024. All recommendations will have to be approved by the Planning Commission and the County Commission before taking effect. 

“What are we trying to do now, to enhance what we’re doing now, to make it better? That’s what we’re trying to sell,” Vice Chairman Randall Webster asked the group prior to discussions.

Committee member David Horwath presented the group with an option to combine the county’s current Agricultural Forestry (A-1) and Rural Residential (A-2, A-2A) into one zoning district. Under current zoning, A-1 requires residential lots to be at least two acres in size while A-2 allows for one-acre residential lots.

In preparing the presentation, Horwath said he took examples from Beaufort County, S.C., South Bend, Ind., and Nolensville to create proposed changes.

“We don’t want it to feel like a subdivision going down Carters Creek and you’ve got a large lot. You want it to be traditional, historical, matching the feel,” Horwath said.

The committee agreed to recommend allowing one-acre lots in the newly defined district, which was given the name Residential Rural for purposes of the meeting.

Chairman Harold Delk said he felt the smaller definition was appropriate as most of the county falls under that definition currently.

“If we don’t go down to one acre… we have taken away rights of a majority of the county. I think we’ve got to maintain that,” Delk said.

The newly defined Residential Rural district would, if ultimately approved, apply to single lots and would have a time limit between subdividing the property, lest it become subject to subdivision regulations. Those would be covered under two other proposed districts, which Horwath called Residential General and Residential Neighborhood.

The committee approved recommendations for Residential General that would allow for large-lot subdivisions, defined as no smaller than one acre. Residential Neighborhood would allow for lots as small as one-third of an acre, but would also require that a defined portion of the property be preserved as green space.

“It’s to give the developer options. You can put in more properties but you have to give back something, or you can have bigger lots. I think we win on both ends,” Webster said of the two subdivision proposals.

“This would effectively help protect the rural community,” Caldiraro agreed. “That’s the only way we’re going to protect Maury County. (People) are moving here because we don’t have a state (income) tax. People are going to move here by the groves because they can develop cheap.”

The subcommittee will meet again on July 13 and July 20 to continue discussions on updates to the Unified Development Plan before presenting its current ideas to the full Regional Planning Commission at its July 24 meeting.

Bearded Axe (MainStreetMaury)

Muletown Bearded Axe, the first axe throwing center to open in Columbia, celebrated its grand opening Thursday, June 29. Those in attendance included members of Maury Alliance, Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder and Columbia Vice Mayor Randy McBroom.

Located on Riverside Drive, owner Joshua Ranes purchased the property two years ago after the closing of Frank’s Market, a former grocery and bait shop.

“We looked into re-opening a general store, but after doing the math it didn’t quite make sense,” Ranes said, who opened the business alongside his parents, sisters and fiancé.

Ranes said the idea to turn the newly purchased property into an axe-throwing center came about during a family dinner.

“We wanted to bring more entertainment here to Columbia. My family was having dinner and asked what’s going to add the most value to Columbia and how we can help out the community,” he said.

“That’s how we came up with axe throwing.”

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder expressed his excitement over the new business in town.

“These are popping up all across the county, and now Columbia, Tennessee, can say we are home of one as well. It’s just another indicator among indicators of the positive direction and growth that you see in the City of Columbia,” Molder said, noting the number of ribbon cuttings the city has had this year.

Axe throwing has become a popular form of entertainment over the years. The sport involves throwing an axe at a target and earning points depending on where it lands, known as the bullseye.

Muletown Bearded Axe is open Wednesday-Thursday from 4-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 2-11 p.m. and Sunday from 2-10 p.m. The recreation center takes both walk-ins and reservations and is located at 903 Riverside Drive in Columbia.

New School Funded (MainStreetMaury)

A $4 million purchase by the school system of land near Carters Creek Road for construction of a North Columbia Elementary School received somewhat begrudging approval from the Maury County Commission at its June 20 meeting.

The purchase was approved by a 14-4 vote with one abstention, after commissioners raised concerns over traffic flow in the area and the cost.

“Honestly, I’m feeling bullied that we can’t have discussion, that we can’t have good conversation about our constituents that are reaching out to us, that are concerned about light safety, public safety, fiduciary duty,” said Commissioner Gabe Howard. “We are a funding body. We don’t want to be the micro-manager of the schools’ budget… but we’re sitting here having a funding conversation.”

“I’m already getting calls from the neighborhoods behind that property,” added Commissioner Cindy Hestla. “I think anything near that can-opener bridge… it’s going to make a lot of kids late and there’s going to be a mess if you do anything there.”

Finance Director Doug Lukonen pointed out that Maury County Schools has the funding in place and a lack of approval by the Commission would likely lead to an audit finding from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office.

“The School Board has already voted this through; they’re going to do it. They’ve got everything lined up,” Lukonen said. “If we don’t amend the budget, expenditures exceed budget.”

“A vote to kill this does not kill this… we cannot stop this purchase,” concurred Commission Chairman Eric Previti.

“We looked at just over 15 properties; I think if I would have brought you any property there would have been an issue,” stated Superintendent of Schools Lisa Ventura. “We all know the locations where the schools need to build… we would be remiss if we built a school and have to transport kids 45 minutes to it.”

Ventura said the shape of the property would allow designers to place a long driveway at the new school, keeping traffic off Carters Creek Road.

The Commission also signed off on the county’s 2023-24 budget, which tops $244 million between the county and the school system.

Unlike last year, this budget contains no increase in property taxes, which will remain at $1.91 per $100 value of assessed property.

Commissioners will meet again in July to give the budget final approval after public notice is made in the local newspaper, as required by state law.

The county also gave its blessing to a proposal by Spring Hill to provide $55 million in Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to Brentwood-based developer SouthStar for the development of The Crossings.

A previous study by the Younger Group, an economic development research firm, predicted the development, which is expected to include a United States Tennis Association regional headquarters, will bring in multi-millions of dollars in annual tax revenue.

Commissioners also approved payments of $50 per meeting to the members of the Regional Planning Commission.

Also approved was a resolution approving the construction of Maury County’s new judicial center at a cost of $33,740,982. That figure came in slightly less than the original estimate.

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

Mr. John (Buddy) Thomas Fisher, Jr., age 95, passed away on June 30, 2023. A memorial service for Mr. Fisher will be held Thursday, July 6, 2023 at 1:00 P.M. at First Presbyterian Church. The family will visit with friends Thursday, July 6, 2023 from 11:30 A.M. until service time at the church and again from 2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. at 814 Academy Lane, Columbia, TN 38401. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangement.

Mrs. Diane Martin Weatherford, age 79, died Sunday, July 2, 2023, at home in Franklin, TN. Graveside services for Mrs. Weatherford will be held Friday, July 7, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Glenwood Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements

Mr. Wayne Cathey Delk, age 81, of Hermitage, Tennessee went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. Visitation for Wayne will be on Friday July 7, 2023 from 10:00 A.M. until time of the funeral service at 11:00 A.M. in the chapel at Hermitage Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens, 535 Shute Lane Old Hickory, TN 37138 with Harold Delk officiating. Graveside services will be at 4:00 P.M. in the Delk Cemetery in Maury County with Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in charge of those arrangements.

Mrs. Patricia Faye Ingram Holder, 68, Professional Painter and resident of Pulaski, died Thursday, June 29, 2023 at Meadowbrook. A graveside service for Mrs. Holder will be conducted Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 10:00 A.M. at Wilkes Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

Mrs. Shirley Jean Layne Cochran, 79, retired CPA and resident of Primm Springs, died Thursday, June 29, 2023 at Life Care Center of Columbia. Funeral services for Mrs. Cochran will be conducted Saturday at 6:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home. Graveside services will be conducted Sunday at 12:30 P.M. at Polk Memorial Gardens.

Mr. Robert Lee “Rob” Elliott, Jr., age 58, passed away unexpectedly on June 26, 2023, at his residence in Columbia, Tennessee. A Celebration of Life for Mr. Elliott will be held on Sunday, July 9th from 2-4 pm at the Southern Tre Steakhouse upstairs in the Magnolia Room. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

Tennessee gas prices fell another four cents, on average, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.07 which is 12 cents less expensive than one month ago and $1.36 less than one year ago.  

Tennessee gas prices averaged $4.42 per gallon on July 4, 2022 – a record high for the holiday. Today’s state average of $3.07 is $1.35 less expensive than what driver’s were paying for last year’s holiday. 

“Gas prices are continuing to trend less expensive, which is welcome news for those traveling tomorrow for the Fourth of July,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Barring any major changes in the crude oil market, it’s likely that gas prices will continue to decline through the end of the week.”

Visit the Tennessee AAA Newsroom to view the full 2023 Independence Day holiday travel forecast. 

Quick Facts

49% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.84 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.46 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the third least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Maury Alliance has teamed up with Title Associates of Columbia and RE/MAX Encore to join in the fun and excitement that is Columbia First Fridays and on Friday, July 7th we will be hosting a West 6th block party!

This month we are featuring musical guest Carlisle Wright - a young singer/songwriter from the area. There will also be plenty of food trucks, giveaways, business pop-ups, and more!

We welcome you to stroll on down West 6th Street from 5-8pm, and come say hi, order food, and enjoy the music and camaraderie! 


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