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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 19, 2023

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

Columbia celebrates Juneteenth with annual event at Riverwalk Park (MS Maury)

Columbia’s 7th annual Juneteenth celebration was held Saturday at Riverwalk Park with a festival event featuring live music, vendors and educational events.

The City of Columbia officially designated Juneteenth a city holiday in 2020, becoming the first city in the state of Tennessee to do so.

Juneteenth is a combination of the words June and nineteenth,which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, with news of freedom nearly two years after President Abraham Lincoln declared emancipation for enslaved Africans in the country.

More than 250,000 African Americans in Texas embraced freedom by executive decree in what became known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day.

Over generations and migrations of Black people from Texas across the South, and from Southern states to the North, Juneteenth became a holiday celebrating the freedom of more than more than 3.9 million slaves across the U.S. during and after the Civil War.

Event organizers say the celebration event is open to anyone who wishes to come.

“This is not just about us as African Americans in our community. This is a community celebration for all walks of life,” Japera Ray said. “We are here to love everybody and enjoy the day together.”

Food trucks, clothing boutiques, lemonade stands and other vendors lined Riverwalk park for the event. For staff, making sure there is something for everyone is a key to a successful event.

“We have so many different types of things here like our basketball skills challenge, kids zone, informative things and our history hunt,” Jupiter Murphy said. “The history hunt allows kids to get a map and find different things from around the area to help teach them history.”

Opening their gates to any vendors who wish to participate adds to that community feel.

“We’re here to spread love and joy and positivity as well as self-care. We want to have the entire community to be involved with one another,” Ray said. “The goal of this event is to put yourself out there for the community. If you’re a vendor or the local Democratic Party or Republican Party or up for candidacy with the commission or local board of education – whatever it may be – this is a place we want you to be.”

Voter registration was a big part of the event as well because having an informed electorate is something organizers said is important for the future success of the county.

“We are registering voters because we have elections all year long and we want people’s voice to be heard,” Ray added.

As the event has grown over the years, one of its founders, J’lee Gales, said she has been overwhelmed by the support of the community.

“The help we’ve gotten from Day 1 and the support we’ve received has been incredible. Just seeing the community come together to learn more about Juneteenth, that was the goal. It feels good to see what it’s become,” she said.

Columbia, Spring Hill among fastest growing cities in Tennessee (MS Maury)

Both Columbia and Spring Hill have continued to skyrocket in population over the last two years since the most recent census was conducted. Recent estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau reported Columbia is the seventh fastest growing city in the state, while Spring Hill sits at ninth on the list.

Spring Hill is now the state’s 14th largest city, according to the data. Tennessee passed Massachusetts in 2022 to become the nation’s 15th largest state.

“It’s not scary to us that we continue to grow at this pace,” Spring Hill mayor Jim Hagaman said. “We have had meetings at the state and county levels to plan what we are going to do as growth continues to surge in Middle Tennessee.”

Hagaman said he has continued to work on smart growth in the city, and feels as if the city has been able to accomplish that through the Unified Development Code and Spring Hill Rising: 2040 comprehensive plan.

“Those are great guidebooks on how to grow and meet the needs of those moving here,” he said. “As we move forward, we are trying to mitigate the issues upon us and certainly not add to them.”

One of the major issues facing Spring Hill is sewer and wastewater – two things the city and its staff have been working to resolve for several years.

“I’m sorry the issues we have exist, but we are managing them through elected officials and city staff,” Hagaman said. “We are racing to make sure we don’t put future citizens in a bind.”

In recent years, the Maury County portion of Spring Hill has grown at a faster rate than Williamson County, bucking a decade-long trend. Hagaman said thankfully the city can levy impact fees, which lessens the burden on the city’s infrastructure costs.

He said he would like to see the county be able to levy those among developers outside the city limits in the future – something county leaders have been working on passing at the state level for two years now.

“When people build here, they impact everything,” he said. “We have to hire more staff, emergency personnel, equipment and infrastructure. We use those to offset some of the costs. Maury County is growing as well, and I’m surprised the state hasn’t allowed that for them, but they need them.”

For Columbia,the growth in Columbia is not coming as a surprise at all. In fact, the city has actively recruited new residents over the last few years.

Being among the state’s fastest growing communities is something the city has been preparing for in recent years. The West 7th streetscape began a massive downtown paving initiative that is currently making its way through the city’s Arts District. The largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history is beginning with their sewer expansion project as well.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates are based on birth and death records, regional migration information, and building permit data, among other data sets.

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

Mr. Norman Don Garner, 88, retired employee of Industrial Products and resident of Hampshire, died Friday, June 16, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Garner will be conducted Tuesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Worley Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mr. Jerry Dwayne Walters, 71, retired employee of Precision Tubular and resident of Mt. Pleasant died Friday, June 16, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Walters will be conducted Thursday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Arlington 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…

Ogles introduces articles of impeachment (MS Maury)

Maury County Republican Andy Ogles introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last week.

Support for impeachment is limited to a select group of Republicans in the House, and will be an uphill battle for the freshman congressman. Ogles claims Biden “weaponized” the office of the presidency to "shield the business and influence peddling schemes of his family from congressional oversight and public accountability."

Specifically, Rep. Ogles' bill claims companies created by family members of Biden and associates used to "funnel millions of dollars to Biden family members.” He also alleges while serving as Vice President in 2016, Biden requested the Ukrainian President fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma Holdings, a company of which Hunter Biden sat on the board at the time.

“Joe Biden hasn’t just failed the American people with his abysmal excuse for ‘leadership’ – he’s violated his sworn oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Joe Biden has repeatedly abused his position of power, both as vice president and president, to cover up his illicit family business dealings and exploitation of taxpayer resources,” Ogles said in a statement.

“The American people know they can’t depend on the so-called ‘Department of Justice’ to investigate the Biden family’s corruption, and so it’s up to the U.S. Congress to hold him accountable once and for all.”

The second charge cites Biden's handling of the southern border, claiming his actions – or lack thereof – have "endangered the people of the United States." Ogles cites drug seizures at the border and illegal immigrant "encounters" at the border which have resulted in "8 of the 10 highest months ever recorded."

Ogles claims Harris was complicit in the weaponization of the executive office, naming her in the charges as well.

“His accomplice, Vice President Kamala Harris, has demonstrated her extraordinary incompetence time and again,” Ogles’ statement reads. “She has allowed the land invasion at our southern border to continue unchecked, threatening the livelihoods of millions and the lives of thousands who have been murdered at the hands of illegal aliens and died from illicit fentanyl.”

Ogles summarized the bill with, "In all of this, Joseph Robinette Biden has acted in a manner contrary to the public trust and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."

Habitat for Humanity, Human Rights Campaign in attendance at Bonnaroo (MTSU Seigenthaler News Service)

At Bonnaroo, the annual music and arts festival which began Thursday, music is the main attraction, but there’s also plenty of people talking about serious issues, too.

In the middle of the 700-acre farm-turned-entertainment venue is the aptly named Centeroo, where a collection of non-profit organizations have conversations with Bonnaroovians ambling through. These organizations include groups focused on political action and LGBTQ advocacy but Habitat for Humanity, the Human Rights Campaign, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and other groups are also represented.

“This is the first year that Planet Roo has a section called ‘Ally Alley,’ so the LGBTQ organizations have a space where they can come,” said Nashville native Corrine Elise, Associate Director of Engagement and Administration at Nashville Launch Pad, a volunteer organization that provides a safe place for displaced youth to sleep so they don’t end up sleeping on the street.

While some things are new this year, many organizations have returned because of the special nature of the audience at Bonnaroo.

“This is our 13th Bonnaroo, and the reason we keep coming back is because it’s a beautiful mixture of people who’ve come in from different parts of the country but also local,” said Summit, New Jersey native Bob Ferguson, Music Outreach Manager at Oxfam, a global initiative to end poverty.

Many of the organizations that attend are non-partisan and simply have the goal to educate people in certain areas.

“That’s Headcount’s mission is to get as many people to the polls as possible, not in either party and making the voice of the country more inclusive. There’s so many people here, and there’s so much diversity, so why not get everyone registered to vote and get everybody jazzed about democracy,” said Huntsville, Alabama, native Wanda Wesolowsko, volunteer at Headcount.

Bonnaroo is really special to those that keep returning because of the people they have the opportunity to interact with.

“There’s a woman I’ve seen almost every year since I’ve been here, who the first time I saw her, she was pregnant. Next year, she brought her infant, and every year, she comes back with her kid. She asks really interesting questions about what it’s like to live in these different parts. She talks about this in not just a dreamy way. . .but out of concern for humanity,” said Ferguson.

People from all over the country – and often the world – attend Bonnaroo, allowing both national and local organizations to be recognized by more demographics.

“I think it’s important to be in places like Bonnaroo because it attracts a different crowd. We show up every weekend at a pride festival, and those are people who are in our community and are very supportive of our community. Not everyone here might be that way, so just showing up in new and unique spaces and being new people helps,” said Portland, Oregon, native Zach Hasychak, Senior Director of Membership Outreach at the Human Rights Campaign.

While politics tends to follow people everywhere they go, having a so-called “safe space” to discuss certain topics allows people to be more open and learn more.

“I can’t do that at other festivals. The big city festivals, they’re mostly people who are there just for the music, and they come and they’re gone. Here, people seem to show up wanting to learn about issues, wanting to be helpful, and they often have really fantastic ideas that I can take back to our home office,” said Ferguson.

Many at Planet Roo described Bonnaroo in general as a place where people are free to express themselves and their thoughts, allowing creativity and connection to thrive at the advocacy booths in Planet Roo.

Expelled state legislators win primary elections (MS Nashville)

The primary election for the two expelled members of the Tennessee Three was held Thursday in Nashville and Memphis.

Justin Jones (D-Nashville) of District 52 ran unopposed and received 1,508 votes. Jones was expelled April 6 and was returned to the state House of Representatives by Nashville’s Metro Council four days later.

Republican Laura Nelson received 248 votes.

In Shelby County’s District 86, Justin J. Pearson (D-Memphis) received 2,209 votes. Opponent David Page received 125.

Pearson was also expelled April 6 and returned to the statehouse by Memphis lawmakers the following week.

Jones, Pearson and Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) faced expulsion proceedings for their actions during a gun legislation protest at the Capitol on March 30.

Jones and Pearson led the gallery crowd in chants from the House floor podium using a megaphone.

Johnson, who walked to the front of the house with the men, was spared expulsion by one vote.

The special election for Jones’s and Pearson’s seats will take place Aug. 3.

In Nashville, Aug. 3 is also the Metro general election and the special primary for House District 51, which is empty after the death of Rep. Bill Beck (D-Nashville) earlier this month.

As of Thursday morning, Aftyn Behn and Reyn Haun have pulled petitions in the race.

Former La Vergne policeman indicted in shooting (Murfreesboro Post)

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into a shooting incident involving a now-former LaVergne police officer has resulted in an indictment.

On June 6, the Rutherford County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Gavin Thomas Schoeberl, 24, with one count of reckless endangerment – discharge firearm into occupied habitat and one count of aggravated assault.

On June 12, he was arrested and booked into the Rutherford County Jail on a $7,500 bond.

On April 6, at the request of 16th Judicial District Attorney General Jennings Jones, TBI agents began investigating a complaint that Schoeberl fired his weapon inside his apartment. The bullet went through his apartment wall, striking a neighbor, who was treated at a local hospital and released.

According to the TBS news release, Schoeberl is no longer employed by the La Vergne Police Department. He had been suspended in January for four shifts based on his violations of the City of La Vergne Employee Handbook regarding unreported sexual harassment and conduct unbecoming of an officer.

… and now for our final story …

Former healthcare worker, now artist, hosts showing at SH Library (Maury County Source)

Margaret Owens retired from Mercy Community Healthcare in 2021, but she has continued to assist Mercy as they go through the construction of their new 33,000- square-foot, state-of-the-art facility off Mack Hatcher Parkway in Franklin, Tennessee, which is due to be completed later this summer. With a little more free time, she is starting her second act by going back to her first love – Art. Her inaugural showing is taking place at the Spring Hill Library in June and July.

Owens was an art major in college, but those who had graduated before her gave her a bit of advice that caused her to change directions.

“Many with my college major cautioned me regarding the difficulty they had encountered in ‘earning a living’ with an art degree,” said Owens, “so I made the decision to move into Healthcare Administration as a career. I became a Certified Medical Practice Executive through the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified HIPAA Compliance Officer through the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance, Inc.”

In 2006, Margaret Owens settled in Spring Hill with her husband and became the Chief Operations Officer of Mercy Community Healthcare. Previous to coming to Mercy, she served as the administrator for a healthcare practice in Mississippi for 18 years. But her days in healthcare are almost over.

Her style is realism, and her subject matter is moths and birds. Beautiful things in nature inspire her. She enjoys drawing things with great detail, exposing things that most people would normally miss seeing in everyday life.

“The intricacies found in nature are mind-blowing to me upon close examination,” said Owens. “I find this to be true of everything in nature, from the number of spots on a moth to the differences in feathers on the same bird. I enjoy painting and watercolor, but my true love is ink.”

Her series of exacting moth ink drawings called, “Drawn to the Light,” will be on exhibit at the library the entire month of June, and her bird series, “The Waders,” will be displayed during the month of July. Her drawings of different varieties of moths as adults and in their caterpillar stage, as well as her birds in their habitat, remind one of the drawings of famous naturalist John James Audubon with their exacting detail. Or an architectural drawing, which harkens her back to her youth.

Hand drawn architectural renderings show the design elements, as well as the materials used in the development of a building design, both interior and exterior. They may also show the placement of lighting fixtures, furniture, appliances and décor so that clients are able to visualize the end product of their home or business. They are very detailed, noting colors, textures, patterns and other elements of design while giving the room a feeling of life. This background has had a significant influence on her artistic style, which has a feel of activity and movement.

Those wishing to purchase prints of her work will soon be able to do so through Laurel Mercantile Co., of HGTV’s “Home Town” television series fame. She is in the process of being licensed through that company. Until then, they may be purchased directly from her at

The Spring Hill Library is located at 144 Kedron Pkwy, Spring Hill, TN 37174. The library is closed Sundays and Mondays and open 8:30am – 7:30pm Tuesday through Thursdays, 9a, – 5pm on Fridays and 9am – 5pm on Saturdays.

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