All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.
We start with local news…
School Funding Halted (CDH)
The Maury County Budget Committee, in their May meeting, voted 7-0, not to consider a $50 million request to construct a new elementary school in Spring Hill.
Some commissioners expressed their concern over the high-dollar funding and a decrease in growth numbers in MCPS overall.
According to Eric Perryman, assistant superintendent of operations, a new elementary school is needed in north Columbia to accommodate growth for a slew of new developments under construction, where Columbia meets Spring Hill.
MCPS Superintendent Lisa Ventura emphasized the district's need to fund its capital projects requests, including the elementary school, new buses and athletic projects.
"We have worked on these requests for multiple years. These requests don't come to you willy-nilly. These requests don't come on a whim," Ventura said. "We have had a five-year plan in Maury County for multiple years."
The fastest-growing elementary school is Battle Creek Elementary, which will need to be rezoned fairly soon, Perryman said.
"We looked at population patterns to determine the need for a school in the area of Spring Hill. We monitor [a growth] map from year to year, a heat map that shows how many children are in each household," Perryman said.
The number of developments is growing along Nashville Highway in northern Columbia and Spring Hill, including 700-unit plus developments like Carter's Station, the Drumright property, new developments along Greens Mill Road and new apartment complexes.
Although some of the developments are still under construction, Perryman emphasized that in two to three years, families with children will be living there.
Commissioner Gabe Howard said he is concerned about a decrease in the MCPS student population as a whole, in contrast with the growth in Spring Hill. A current district growth report shows a reduction of students, or almost a 1 to 2% decrease in growth, over the past few years.
"The most alarming thing is our schools are barely growing at all. ... The district retracted by .65% in student population last year."
For example, Whitthorne Middle School had 1,400 seats and is now down to 1,000 seats, or a 25% reduction.
"That's a massive reduction in a school site," Howard said.
Commissioner Ray Jeter pointed out that the student populations at private schools are growing across the county, as well as homeschool. Columbia Academy had 24% growth over three years, for example.
"It is my recommendation to not approve the $50 million today because I don't think you are ready for it," Howard said.
Howard made a motion not to consider the $50 million capital request for an elementary school in Spring Hill, and the other committee members agreed unanimously.
Howard also said he prefers to have a maximum price cited for the school, instead of fluctuating funding like the judicial center under construction that has reached $30 million.
"We do not have a guaranteed maximum price in the Judicial Center. I want to move away from that," Howard said.
On June 6, the school board will consider a $4 million resolution to purchase more than 25 acres in northern Columbia to build the new elementary school. If the funding is approved, architecture plans and construction bidding for the property could take place as early as next March with a target opening date of August 2025.
Perryman said the new elementary school in Spring Hill, when designed, will serve as a model, or template for all elementary schools in the county with a capacity of 900, allowing for more seats than elementary schools in the past.
"If we open a school, and it's full in the next five years, that's a failure," Perryman said.
He also explained that new school buildings need to be built with a larger capacity.
"We went through a not-fun task of closing an elementary school [McDowell Elementary, one of the oldest school buildings] in Columbia," Perryman said. "Schools are built for a 50 to 60-year lifecycle. Baker Elementary School is aging, 63 years. Brown is 57 years old. They look nice and feel nice and smell nice, but they are underneath the surface are not in the best of shape."
Baker also has a two-inch water line that serves the whole building.
"We look at how much longer can that school age? When do those buildings age out? Is it fair for children and adults to work in those buildings. We have lots of little schools that hold 300 kids. They have the same administrative staff than in the schools that hold 900."
The population of MCPS is 12,296 students as of May 18.
"I understand these decisions are hard. I hope that our spirit of collaboration shows through. I hope you understand we are working hard for children every day," Ventura said to budget committee members before leaving the May meeting to attend a high school graduation.
Maury GOP Mulling Caucus (MainStreetMaury)
Maury County’s Republican Party will decide at next month’s meeting how it will choose its local candidates for the 2024 election cycle.
At the May 25 regular monthly meeting, party members debated whether holding a primary election or a caucus would be the better choice and better use of funds. The Maury GOP must inform the state’s Election Commission by June 20 which way it will go.
“We had a caucus in January of 2022. The Republican Party has only had one primary in the past. It was a standalone primary,” Maury GOP chairman Jerry Bridenbaugh said.
“We’re not going to do that again. If we do have a primary, we’ll tag onto Super Tuesday so that it’ll be very little expense to the county because we can tag onto the state and national election ballot.”
Bridenbaugh said with only even-numbered school board seats up for grabs at the local level in 2024, he felt it did not make sense to saddle Maury taxpayers with the cost of a primary election. Maury County’s assessor of property and superintendent of roads positions will be up for election in 2024, but those are not contested on a partisan basis.
The March 2020 primary saw just 4,919 voters cast ballots in local races. In comparison, a sales tax referendum on the same ballot had 11,676 voters participate, according to official results on the Maury County Election Commission’s website.
Election Commission officials were not able to provide an estimate of how much holding a county primary costs.
“The decision we have to make in the next three weeks is to first, whether or not to have a caucus or a primary and second, to place the primary on the March 5 Super Tuesday ballot,” Bridenbaugh said.
Bridenbaugh stated that the mood of the room was about 50/50 either way when debating the options.
“Last night we put the question before the membership and asked for their opinions. Our secretary was taking notes as quickly as he could… It was pretty close to being a 50/50 split. We had several people speak in favor of primary, several for caucus. So we have a decision to make.”
Food Truck Regs (CDH)
Columbia's growing food truck scene continues to thrive week after week, but one of the struggles has been establishing proper regulations for how they conduct business within the city.
The city initially adopted an ordinance to regulate mobile vending in June of 2018, which has been met with much debate from city leaders, as well as those in the food truck industry. Updates to the current ordinance are now being considered by Columbia City Council, which received approval at the ordinance's first reading in May.
According to City Planner Kevin McCarthy, the updated regulations would include:
Properly identify a vehicle's use as a food truck versus other types of mobile vending
Defining "push carts" or "cantina trucks" versus other mobile vending
Eliminate the plot application for where the vendor will be operating
Eliminate the owner permission form to acquire an operating permit
Allow vending in a property's right of way
A map showing where mobile vending can be allowed in certain districts
Establish standards for mobile ice cream trucks
Permits will be valid for a year upon being issued
Allow vending to operate on unpaved surfaces
Eliminate the four-day operating rule
Mobile vendors operating more than four hours should have access to restrooms within 300 feet
The ordinance was originally put together using input from individuals in the food truck industry. Of the proposed changes, McCarthy said the biggest request has been eliminating the excess permit regulations, as well as the four-day operating rule.
In addition, the city's planning commission is also recommending the council create a new land use specifically for food truck vending.
"This was something also requested by mobile vendors, which we based primarily on Knoxville and some other cities outside of Tennessee," McCarthy said. "That allows the use of the property, or the transitional use of a vacant property, that allows for food trucks to gather and people to go enjoy them, and in a variety of different options."
The council will discuss the proposed revisions and updates at its Thursday study session, followed by the second and final vote next Thursday, June 8 during the council's June regular meeting.
Santa Fe School at 100 (CDH)
Past and present students of Santa Fe Unit School lined the parade route on May 20 as the town watched confetti and candy fly through the air. Citizens lounged in lawn chairs, tailgate parties took place and locals rallied to celebrate the K-12 school that turned 100 years old.
With a current enrollment of 535 students and many programs that help guide students into their post-graduation years, the school celebrated its history that remains robust today.
Maury County Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura, County Commission Chairman Eric Previti and former class of 1994 Santa Fe student, Sheriff Bucky Rowland all attended to help usher in the first-ever Santa Fe School Day.
Following a convoy of vehicles donning banners from classes all the way back to the 1940s, Ventura shared her sentiment with the crowd once everyone had gathered for the formal ceremony inside the school’s recently renovated gymnasium.
“People ask, why unit schools,” Ventura said, signaling to the crowd, “This right here, y’all … this is why unit schools.”
Ventura said that many other schools had long looked to Santa Fe as a model of longevity and success, demonstrating their hard work and dedication.
This status reached outside of the county, she said, as Santa Fe has often been recognized as one of the best schools in the state.
Ventura said Maury County Public Schools has three of only five unit schools still left in the state.
The crowd cheered as moments of history were shared amidst joy and emotion leading up to Commissioner Previti reading an official proclamation to the crowd that the day now belonged to Santa Fe Unit School, later signed into effect by County Mayor Sheila Butt.
Another homecoming was in store for class of 1994 graduate, Sheriff Rowland who shared memories of former classmates and joked about how many trips to the principal he made.
Rowland ended by presenting flowers to the eldest graduate, Class of 1947’s Colleen Baker. The 94-year-old Baker said she loved her school and her community, adding “you never forget where you came from.”
Former Principal, Cathy Cook who served as a grand marshal for the celebration was assistant principal for two years before serving five years in the lead position until 2012.
Cook said that it was a wonderful feeling returning home to the celebration.
“I told someone when I came down the hill from Columbia, it was like entering Happy Valley,” Cook said. “This is just such a community school with very active parents, kids and teachers.”
Cook mentioned that she liked noticing that some of the kids she taught had returned to their home school to teach.
Kenneth Jackson, another former Santa Fe principal shared stories about the origin of the school that made him pause and get a little teary-eyed at times, reflecting on some of his “buddies,” that weren’t there with him for the celebration.
Current principal Randy Hubbell and Sandra Warf Adkison recognized past faculty and staff and presented the school with a special gift during the ceremony of a patchwork quilt featuring pictures of the school’s history.“This day is not about a building or a location,” Hubbell said. “It’s about you.”
Hubbell shared the perseverance of the school including the school fire in 1964 and the year that the school began serving meals in 1938.
Laughter followed mention of the “glorious day” the school first received in-house lavatories.
Current assistant principal Jerry Potts wrapped up the ceremony with an invite to continue the celebration following the ceremony with a student-faculty basketball game.
Jackson, the known storyteller of the day, told about what he called a “God moment,” when his grandfather R.H. Jackson accepted a donation from the townspeople all the way back in post-Depression era Santa Fe – a donation of only $3,500.
That donation would end up as seed funding for the school to open.
“The person who received that and put it in the Santa Fe Bank was my grandfather,” Jackson said. “To me, that’s a God moment.”
Following a few anecdotes from his own past with the school, Jackson got emotional again before ending his time at the podium with a hearty, but teary, “Go Wildcats!”
Alzheimers Walk (Press Release)
Alzheimer’s Tennessee invites you to join them for their second annual walk to support families impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. The 2023 Maury County Walk will be held on Saturday June 3rd at Maury County Park and Senior Center 1016 Maury County Park drive in Columbia. The festivities begin at 9:00AM with music from Chris Yow, line dancing, children’s activities and a pet area. Kona Ice and Munch’s food trucks will be on site. Dress up your furry friend and enter them in the best dressed/ most purple pet contest. Register on their website www.alztennessee.org/maurywalk . We hope to see you there as we Walk to Make Alzheimer’s a Memory! And remember, all funds raised stay local!
Columbia Lions Football Camp
The Columbia Central Lions Football program is hosting a youth football camp on Saturday June 10th for kids ages 5-12. The University of Tennessee football players and 1 cheerleader will be coming to help all the coaches with the camp.
The cost of the camp is $50 and will take place at Eva Gilbert Park located at 120 Cord Drive in Columbia. Registration will take place on the 10th from 9-10am, the camp will last from 10-12 and will feature skills and agility training. There are 150 spots reserved for football players ages 5-12 and 50 spots reserved for cheerleaders ages 5-12. From Noon-1:00 kids will get to have autographs signed by UT players Dayne Davis, Squirrel White, and Austin Lewis and cheerleader Willow Martinez.
From 1-4, will be family fun day with food, a dunk tank, and water slide.
For more information, you can visit www.cyaalions.com.
Breakfast With the Mayor (Press Release)
Join Maury Alliance upstairs at Puckett's in downtown Columbia on Wednesday, June 7th at 8am for Breakfast with Maury County Mayor, Sheila Butt, sponsored by Caledonian Financial. This is part of an ongoing Breakfast with the Mayor Series.
During this event Maury Alliance President, Wil Evans will lead an informative Q&A discussion with Mayor Butt about the current state of Maury County.
To submit a question or topic in advance, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.
For more information, visit www.mauryalliance.com.
Homestead Festival (Press Release)
The second annual Homestead Festival will be held June 2 & 3 in Columbia on Rory Feek’s farm.
Combining music and meaning, the two-day affair features musical performances, from Rory Feek, Collin Raye, Craig Campbell, and Paul Overstreet, as well as masterclass lectures by prominent homesteading community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Jill Winger, and many others.
Buy tickets at www.hardisonmill.com/thehomesteadfestival.
And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home…
Mrs. Jessie Lee Harris Burt, 90, died Thursday, May 25, 2023 at her residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mrs. Burt will be conducted Thursday at 11:00 AM, June 1, 2023 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends on Thursday from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM at the funeral home.
Sandra Peery Pogue, 84, retired Cafeteria Manager for Hampshire Unit School for 30 years and resident of Hampshire, died Monday, May 29, 2023 at West Meade Place in Nashville.
Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Stephen Kelley officiating. Burial will follow in Worley Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Friday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.
Some GOP Legislators Oppose Special Session (MainStreetNashville)
An East Tennessee Republican representative is asking Gov. Bill Lee to abandon the Aug. 21 special session.
Bryan Richey (R-Maryville) penned an open letter to the governor, calling the special session “an expensive, disruptive, futile and counter-productive publicity stunt.”
He pointed out that the General Assembly, which has a Republican supermajority, already refused to enact red flag laws this session and that a red flag law would not have averted the shooting at The Covenant School on March 27.
“Your proposed special session is a solution in search of a problem,” he wrote.
Richey also said the special session will lead to disruptive protests and will require heavy security.
While Lee can call a special session, Richey wrote, it was inappropriate when the legislature, which is the same party as the governor, had already adjourned.
“The Governor has already proposed and we have already disposed,” he wrote.
When Richey initially sent out the letter, it appeared that Representatives Ed Butler (R-Rickman) and Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) had signed on to the letter.
However, Butler’s name was later removed. In a statement, Butler said he had neither read nor endorsed the letter.
“I have been out of town. I look forward to working on behalf of my district to find sensible solutions that address our mental health crisis and protect citizens’ Second Amendment rights. I will stand with the citizens of House District 41 on this issue.”
Senator Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) signed on to the letter later in the afternoon.
On Twitter, Richey called for other “state legislatures” to sign on.
Other Republican legislators have previously taken to Twitter to show their lack of support of a red flag law.
In a statement, House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) said House Republicans will be ready to discuss any issue in a special session.
“If our Governor calls the legislature into a special session to discuss any issue, the Republican Caucus will certainly be ready, willing and able to debate the best way forward for our state, just as we have done in five previous special sessions. We will continue to defend and preserve civil rights while ensuring every community is safer than it is today.”
Faison has previously called for the writings of The Covenant School shooter to be released before the General Assembly takes action.
Neither Maury County Reps. Scott Cepicky nor Kip Capley responded to questions from Main Street Maury regarding their stance on whether the special session should be called off.
House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons (Nashville) said Democrats are ready for the session.
“Tennesseans overwhelmingly support gun safety laws to better protect our children and communities and want legislative action. Democrats agree and stand ready to get to work. As usual, the only thing standing in the way to public safety is the Republican supermajority.”
Democratic Senator Jeff Yarbro (Nashville) tweeted that he’d be willing to work with anyone on any side of the aisle on almost any idea except for cancellation of the special session.
“Just giving up without even trying is immoral & unacceptable. It’s literally our job to make policies that help keep people safe,” he said.
A Vanderbilt poll released earlier this month and conducted after the shooting found bipartisan support for gun regulations, including red flag laws.
Lee, whose wife lost two friends in the shooting, has said the goal of the special session will strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights.
Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)
Guns N’ Roses announced on social media they added new shows to their World Tour.
The band previously announced a show in Nashville at Geodis Park. Today, they announced a special guest, Carrie Underwood will open for the band in August.
Underwood performed with Axl Rose at Stagecoach in 2022, then again on her recent tour stop in LA. She’s been a longtime fan of the band and often will have one of Guns N Roses songs in her setlist.
Other special guests on the tour will include The Pretenders, Dirty Honey, The Warning, and Alice in Chains.
Find tickets at ticketmaster.com to the show at Geodis Park.