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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 13, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Drug Distribution Busted (MauryCoutySource)

Twenty one individuals charged with distributing substantial amounts of controlled substances in and around Maury County and Lewis County, Tennessee, have pleaded guilty to federal drug distribution charges, announced United States Attorney Henry C. Leventis.

An indictment returned in December 2021 charged the following individuals with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine, between March 2018 and September 2019:

Brandon Dailey, 40; Henry Davis, 43; Vincent Conner, 38; Derrick Nixon, 55; Shanika Odom, 32; Terry Strayhorn, 42; and Samuel Abernathy, 45, all of Mount Pleasant, Tenn.; Brent Burns, 39; and Tristen Tisby, 31, both of Columbia, Tenn.

In another indictment, Charles Lowe-Kelley, 31, of Columbia, was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute controlled substances, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, and oxycodone, between October 2017 and November 2020:

A third indictment charged Keadrick Duke, 41, of Columbia, Tenn., with distribution of crack cocaine in November 2018.

Every defendant charged across these three indictments has now pleaded guilty.

Many of these defendants face mandatory minimum prison terms of five, ten, or fifteen years, and up to life in prison when they are sentenced later this year.

This case is the result of a multi-agency investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Columbia Police Department; the Hohenwald Police Department; the Spring Hill Police Department; and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert S. Levine and Nani Gilkerson are prosecuting these cases.

Zion Development Deferred (CDH)

After more than two years of discussions, revisions and consistent concerns expressed by the public, approval of the proposed 765-lot development off Trotwood Avenue will have to wait a little longer.

The development, now known as the Old Zion PUD (planned unit development), went before Columbia City Council last week for its final vote, where it was met with a packed house of concerned residents, county commissioners and public safety officers, The concerns weren't necessarily in regard to housing density, or the development’s proximity to Ridley Park, but rather how it would affect traffic on Trotwood Avenue.

The Old Zion PUD appeared under six separate ordinances, which included requests for annexation, rezoning and approval that it could be designed as a planned unit development, rather than a traditional neighborhood or subdivision.

A planned unit development is typically designated for developments that include more than just housing and associated amenities, which can involve special code requirements and regulations to follow. Approval of these requests would not mean approval of construction. The PUD would have to then enter the preliminary engineering and design phases, which would require additional approvals by the city's planning commission and council per each phase of the estimated 10-year project.

Prior to the council's vote, Thursday's meeting began with six public hearings regarding the six proposed ordinances. This included many comments from county leaders, beginning with Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti.

"Trotwood just can't handle it, and we've been at our house out there since 1977," Previti said. "It used to be easy to get home, but with a lot of the growth spurts that have happened in the county over the past eight years we are getting congested."

Previti added that the plan states that the Tennessee Department of Transportation may look into widening Trotwood sometime in the next 10-15 years, though he and many others believe that would be "impossible," especially during the duration of this project's timeline, which is estimated to be about 10 years following final site plan approval.

"I don't think that's going to happen in our lifetime period. It's just not feasibly possible because there is no right of way, you've got parking lots and places where businesses start," Previti said. "I just think we are already full."

In response to the increasing traffic concerns, one major portion of the proposed Old Zion development’s plan is to incorporate multiple traffic and roadway improvements.

This includes installing four new stoplights along Trotwood, additional curb cuts, as well as improving the road shoulders and right of way at the portion of the road that fronts the neighborhood. There was also a proposed connection from the neighborhood to Yeatman Lane, which was met with much pushback from nearby Ashwood Manor residents.

After a brief discussion about the roadway concerns, Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb was called to the podium to weigh in on his concerns when it came to public safety and emergency vehicle access in the event of a roadway accident.

In short, Cobb said he was not entirely in support of the project as it stands, and that it would create more safety hazards on Trotwood for emergency responders, who already have difficulty on the two-lane road.

"When you get to Ridley Park, the road really gets narrow and there is only two feet of shoulder, and so it is harder for emergency vehicles to get around. If a vehicle is broken down, they'll be in the way of traffic, and that is a safety issue to me," Cobb said. "I think that needs to be addressed, and that public safety is a top priority."

Mayor Chaz Molder said he was taken aback by Cobb's comments, given it was the first time he had shared them with the council after all this time. Cobb had previously submitted multiple plans of services addressing emergency response to incidents, but Cobb said the plan only referred to the development, not the road.

"If you had concern about your ability to safely access emergency, that should be something considered in the report you provide to the planning commission and council, which we are relying upon," Molder told Cobb. "Now, on second consideration you bring up a concern that we've yet to hear you express."

Council member Debbie Wiles said she commended Cobb on sharing his opinion, and that to keep in mind this all comes down to public safety for citizens and drivers.

"I commend Chief Ty Cobb for giving us his professional response about public safety," Wiles said. "He bravely responded when called to point, and I appreciate his service."

After more discussion about the fire chief's concerns, it was decided that it is too soon to approve the request. Vice Mayor Randy McBroom then motioned to defer the item to July in order to assess Cobb's comments, and how the developer plans to address them.

"I would not want to vote on it, because I don't think it's fair to the developers," McBroom said. "I know they don't want to hear it since this has been a two-year process, but I make a motion to defer. That's so the chief could tell us what he wants, [the developer] can show us what they are going to do and then we can get back and really look at it."

Makky Kaylor, Tennessee Troubadour (CDH)

Perhaps one of the biggest things an artist can achieve is validation for the work they do, whether it is by fans, supporters, or, in Makky Kaylor's case, Tennessee's state leadership.

Kaylor, a Memphis native, is the recent recipient of a proclamation and resolution presented by the Tennessee General Assembly for his "contributions to the music industry as a "Tennessee Troubadour."

Kaylor, who operates his Southern Roots Radio digital network in downtown Columbia, said he had no idea when arriving at the State Capitol on Monday, April 10 that he would be receiving such a recognition. To him, he thought he was just invited to the State Capitol to perform his song, "Tennessee, In My Dreams."

"What really resonated with me are two things. One, it designates me as a Tennessee Troubadour, because I love Tennessee and wouldn't want to live anywhere else," Kaylor said. "And now I've just started to put together a Tennessee Troubadour Show where I highlight each area of Tennessee musically, and also my music."

What's interesting is that "Tennessee, In My Dreams" didn't exactly start as a tune which honored Kaylor's love for the Volunteer State.

"Originally the song was called 'Louisiana, In My Dreams,' and I had it for several years and it got a decent amount of traction," Kaylor said. "But, it wasn't resonating so much with me because I'm not from Louisiana. I've lived in Tennessee my whole life, and it's my state, and I figured if I really wanted to reflect my art with what's in my soul I want to change it."

After performing the song at Puckett's, Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt approached Kaylor saying, "The state needs to hear this song." And it just so happened the chairman of the Education Committee, Jon Lundberg was a longtime fan.

Kaylor describes the experience as both "humbling and inspiring." It's humbling because he was shown love by the state he has called home his whole life and is another achievement he doesn't take for granted. In addition to having undergone open-heart surgery earlier in life, Kaylor suffered two strokes in 2019.

"It's something I think about every day, and I was thinking about it then, that I'm not even supposed to be breathing now," Kaylor said. "This little poor kid from Memphis standing up there at the State Capitol was pretty emotional, but awesome. The most humbling part is having busted it in the trenches of Music Row for so many years, singing demos with some of the most amazing singers in the world, to even be considered for this kind of thing is truly shocking."

Kaylor will now pay it forward as a troubadour by continuing to develop his aforementioned Tennessee Troubadour Show, which he hopes will become a multi-media variety of entertainment and performances showcasing each region's unique styles and influence, such as the Memphis blues and soul, Nashville country, as well as the Smokey Mountain influence of East Tennessee.

"Like a page out of a good Southern book, it'll read from left to right, starting at the 'mighty' Mississippi and Memphis where I grew up, and then into the classic Nashville stuff and then touch on the Smokeys of East Tennessee," Kaylor said.

And, of course, he couldn't leave out his hometown of Columbia, or what he dubs "The Mule Town Sound." However, the idea is still in the very, very early stages, he said.

In the meantime, Kaylor continues to build his Southern Roots Radio brand, which now has an app for listeners to tune in on-the-go. Listeners may also access Southern Roots Radio online at The brand's programming also continues to grow, now featuring more shows including a Visit Columbia tourism hour.

The Southern Roots crew, which mainly consists of fellow hosts Brenda Lynn Allen and Jack "JP Plant, has also been taking it to the road each month, visiting historic Tennessee sites, towns, and events. It's latest will be covering the opening of the new, not to mention largest, Buc-ee's gas station megastore in Sevierville later this month.

"Some of these things are just falling in our lap, which is beautiful," Kaylor said. "Our goal, since we work with tourism a lot, is to represent our town well, whether we are in town or out of town. We've got a good team, and we're just doing our own thing, and it seems to really be gaining traction."

Housing Costs (CDH)

While residential and commercial developments continue to break ground across Maury County, coupled with a steady rise in population growth, the side-effects can often create many issues for longtime residents.

One of the issues many longtime residents have sounded off about is that living in Maury County is becoming too expensive, especially for blue collar workers, small business owners and first-time home buyers.

According to recent real estate reports, the average cost of a home 10 years ago might have been around the $100,000-$200,000 price point, now, the median price of a home in Maury County is approximately $400,000, according to an April report by the Southern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors, compiled by the RealTracs website.

"About 10 years ago, the average sale price was $167,000, and today the average sale price is $451,000," Robert Pogue of Town & Country Realtors of Columbia said about what he is currently experiencing. "Even in 2018, it was only $244,000, and so you can see where the sales prices have gone."

County Assessor Bobby Daniels said, while many home prices continue to increase in certain areas, the local market has become more competitive for sellers.

"Prices are still extremely high for 'out in the county' properties, while subdivision properties have become very competitive," Daniels said. "So, if there is any price decline, like 4% to 6%, it's in the developed subdivisions. They are having to compete for a buyer now, whereas a stand-alone house in the county is still selling at a premium."

Premium pricing is also steady for raw land, which is currently selling between $15,000 and $23,000 per acre, though Daniels added that in some cases developers are paying upwards of $50,000 to $60,000 per acre.

"I find that interesting that our prices continue to be holding above the true market value for out in the county versus the internal subdivisions," Daniels said.

Some might say that the trend holds true for many new residents seeking out Maury County for its rural environment.

During a talk at the annual Farm City Breakfast in Columbia hosted by Maury Alliance, UT Ag Extension agent Darrell Ailshie, stressed that greenspace draws many to the county.

"People come to Maury County for the greenspace. It's an asset to Maury County," he said.

Daniels added that one trend he has seen over the years is many people will purchase a home initially, then work their way to affording the premium rural properties. This can be tied to things like fatigue from over population, traffic and wishing to live in a more rural, open landscape, he said.

And while these premium prices might continue to force longtime or low-income housing residents out to more affordable communities, such as Santa Fe, Culleoka or Mt. Pleasant, a recent study from Smart Asset named Maury County as the eighth wealthiest county in the state, with a median household income of $66,353.

Over the years, many large residential developments have been approved and/or are currently under construction, including some neighborhoods with upwards of 1,000 units.

These developments are often met with pushback from nearby residents, whether it is the potential increase in traffic or public safety hazards.

There is also the concern among homeowners about how nearby growth will affect their home's property value. 

Daniels said there really isn't a clear answer, and that values are primarily determined by the market.

"When a neighborhood comes on board, they find their per square-foot price point, and it will hold true to that unless there is a downturn in the economy," Daniels said. "When they start reselling is when we know what the affects might be."

As the increase in home and property prices continue to show increases compared to yesteryear's market, there remains a need for affordable housing.

Or rather, what used to be considered "affordable" in terms of homes for low-income families, retirees and others who might have spent their whole lives in Maury County. While organizations like the Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Corporation have not only provided hundreds of affordable units, there remains a long wait list for anyone hoping to live in one.

To Daniels, the definition of "affordable," might be a thing of the past given the county's unprecedented growth over the last decade.

"It's very seldom in today's environment to find anything the average person would consider to be 'affordable housing,' and that's based off how the rents are and the cost to build," Daniels said. "An investor has to have some kind of return on investment, or it's simply someone stepping up like the government or a private entity to subsidize it. That's really the only way you're going to see affordable housing, because it's just too expensive in Maury County to make those kinds of investments."

But, like the real estate market itself, it could change at any time.

"The only thing that stays the same is that it doesn't stay the same," Pogue said. "It's a very optimistic time, and I think things are positive for this area. The growth is positive, and I believe it's being managed as well as it can be."

Flag Raising Ceremony (Press Release)

The City of Columbia is pleased to announce the highly anticipated flag raising ceremony to celebrate its first official city flag. The event will take place on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, at 8:00 AM at Columbia City Hall.

The flag raising ceremony marks an important milestone in Columbia's rich history as it proudly presents its very own city flag for the first time. The flag design represents the unity, heritage, and vibrant spirit of the city's residents, capturing the essence of Columbia's past, present, and future.

During the ceremony, city officials and community members will come together to share in this momentous occasion. The program will feature speeches from city leaders, including City Mayor Chaz Molder and flag designee Byson Leach highlighting the significance of the flag and its symbolism to the city's identity. The City looks forward to this event as we celebrate the raising of Columbia's first official city flag.

Blood Assurance Donor Appreciation Day (Press Release)

Blood Assurance will be hosting its annual Donor Appreciation Day on Saturday, June 17th from 8am-2pm at their location at 1412 Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. There will be food, music, and giveaways. To sign up, visit

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

Mrs. Sharon Brown Bailey, age 80, passed away peacefully on June 8, 2023 surrounded by her family. Funeral services for Mrs. Bailey will be conducted Tuesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens.

Mrs. Anne Lindsey Baker, retired Office Administrator for Maury County Water System and resident of Leoma, died Friday, June 9, 2023 at Southern Tennessee Regional Health Systems. Funeral services for Mrs. Baker will be conducted Wednesday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mrs. Sandra White Dugger, 80, retired unit secretary for Maury Regional Medical Center, died Friday, June 9, 2023 at Brookdale Assisted Living. Funeral services for Mrs. Dugger will be conducted Wednesday at 10:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Friendship Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mrs. Patsy Gail Chumbley Fox, 53, training and client specialist for 30 years for Tennessee Farm Bureau and resident of Culleoka, died Friday, June 9, 2023 at St. Thomas West. Funeral services for Mrs. Fox will be conducted Thursday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Friendship Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

CMA Fest Biggest Yet (Tennessean)

Severe weather and rain did not dampen the 50th CMA Fest even as stage sets were cut short due to lightning.

Over the course of the four-day country music festival, more than 90,000 visited the stage shows and Fan Fair X each day.

And with four nights of shows at Nissan Stadium featuring artists like Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Keith Urban, CMA Fest organizer said the festival reached its largest stadium audience in history.

The four nights of concerts featured capacities at Nissan Stadium of approximately 50,000 fans.

Fans came far and wide, from all 50 states and 51 international countries, to see country music's biggest acts and rising stars.

The four-day event raised $2.5 million for music education.

A three-hour special of CMA Fest, Hosted by Dierks Bentley, Elle King and Lainey Wilson will air July 19 on ABC.

"What a weekend! As we’ve spent the past year reflecting on this milestone celebration, one theme has persisted—the incredible connection between Country Music fans and the artists,” Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer said in a release. "It’s magical because it still matters after all these years.

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

One year ago today, Tennesseans were paying an average of $4.64 per gallon – the highest recorded average price for the state. Fortunately, the gas prices seen across the state today are nowhere near the record highs of last year. Over last week, Tennessee gas prices fell an average of four cents. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.14 which is two cents less expensive than one month ago and $1.50 less than one year ago.  

“We’re still seeing quite a bit of volatility in gas prices across the country, but thankfully for us here in Tennessee the fluctuations have been favorable for drivers,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Even though Summer hasn’t officially begun, the driving season is off to a roaring start. Gasoline demand figures over the last few weeks have been stronger than what we saw at this same time last year. Despite increased demand, it’s likely that pump price increases could be held in check if the cost of crude oil remains low.”

Quick Facts

17% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.93 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.47 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 5th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

There are some big shows happening this week in Nashville, if you are looking for some entertainment. Tonight, Duran Duran will be playing Bridgstone Arena. The icons of British music are continuing to perform to huge concert audiences around the world since the band first formed in 1980, their career has seen more than 100 million record sales worldwide. 

Kristin Chenoweth will be at TPAC on Friday, June 16th at 8pm. Chenoweth is an Emmy & Tony Award winning actor and singer whose career spans film, TV, voiceover, and stage. 

The band Styx will be playing at the Ryman Auditorium on Saturday, June 17, 7:30 pm. With over four decades of barn-burning chart hits, joyous singalongs, and hard-driving deep cuts, the STYX show is promising to be one to remember.

Tickets to these shows are available at


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