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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 21, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Growth Continues (MainStreetMaury)

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 Mayor Chaz Molder, 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. The city has also budgeted for a special census to be called in the next fiscal year in order to capture the funding that comes along with growth.

“Our community is one of inclusion and progress,” he said. “We want to build a community that grows and thrives as our state grows. The business community and those who are investing in our city see where we are headed and want to go where we’re going.” 

Being among the state’s fastest-growing communities is something Molder and the city have 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. 

“I am fortunate to have inherited a city that was planning for the future, and that’s what we need to continue to do,” Molder said. “We certainly have our challenges and opportunities, but I’d rather live in a community dealing with those caused by growth than the challenges caused by not growing.”

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


Juneteenth Event Draws Crowd (CDH)

Riverwalk Park filled with people, vendor tents and celebratory events Saturday at the 7th annual Maury County Juneteenth celebration, attracting hundreds throughout the day to engage in the festival of freedom and unity.

During a crowning moment, three Maury County youth were designated as pioneering honorees of the first-ever Miss Juneteenth Beauty Pageant.  

Jadai Duke, selected as Miss Juneteenth for Maury County, said she was excited to be among the first of the young women crowned in the new pageant. She said she hopes the honor can motivate and positively influence others.

“I’m really excited to help bring the knowledge and awareness of what Juneteenth actually is,” Duke said. “It’s beautiful, and it’s represented by three beautiful young ladies.”

More than 30 local business vendors braved the heat to prop tents, provide food and foster family fun and games for visitors, organizer, J’Leecia Gales said.

Gales is a co-founder of the event in Columbia, where the city adopted the holiday ahead of the national observance declaration by President Joe Biden in 2021.

Gales, who works for a Nashville charter school, said she had much help putting together the entire day of events.

“We just want to make sure everyone has a good time and feels welcome,” Gales said. “This was probably the most prepared I’ve ever felt with it, but that is because our community has stepped up in so many ways.”

Gales was very thankful she said, for the enormous amount of community support that powered the event, from the local business sponsors to Muscle Men Movers being one of the main setup crews for vendors.

“Just a heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped,” Gales said. “For me this brings awareness to see how far we have come together. It brings unity because we all come out to help each other and want to see each other win and grow together.

“And as it grows, it continues to bring a new life to our community.”

The observation of the slavery abolition holiday is – federally, fairly new, having emerged as a reminder of our nation’s final declaration of an end to slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.

The holiday’s importance was fueled again in recent years as a way to emphasize unity, diversity and justice in the wake of recent social unrest across the country.

President of NAACP of Maury County, Terry Hannah said he has been glad to see progress in the community’s growing diversity.

“The head basketball coach at the high school, the head football coach, Columbia State Community College … we are black individuals who are leaders,” Hannah said. “Diversity in Columbia and the community as a whole – it’s working.”

Hannah says his role with the organization is “a God gift.”

Hannah, who, with his wife Deborah and other members manned a booth to register voters Saturday, said the day is for everyone to celebrate.

“Blacks, whites, Hispanics … everyone here is free,” he said. “We’re trying to do the right thing, and we have got to make sure everybody is here.

“But that’s the good thing about this; we’ve all come a long way.”

The day dropped a spotlight on businesses, local talents and included a one-on-one basketball tournament.

And Father’s Day held a place of honor at the celebration as well, welcoming a panel of dads who engaged a discussion on gun violence.

Attendees in the early evening were treated to a concert showcasing local singer, Johnnisa Sprawling, along with 931Vibez.

This pageant provided opportunities such as scholarships for the school-aged girls who sign up. Contestants for each age group were introduced to the audience, then crowned and given a sash.

Columbia’s younger Miss Juneteenth honorees are sisters.

Little Miss Juneteenth, Eiyara Whitaker, four years old, said she loves ballet and the show, “Wednesday,” even treating the crowd to her take on the “Wednesday Addams Dance” made popular by actress Jenna Ortega on the show, host Jasmine Armstrong told the audience.

Eiyara’s big sister, Ericah was crowned as Junior Miss Juneteenth.

“It’s my hope that I am a good representation for the younger generation,” Ericah Whitaker said. “This is good to help us learn how to grow up representing young black women.”

Little Miss Juneteenth, Eiyara, spoke perhaps the most succinct summary of the day, sharing that Juneteenth means to her, “freedom, choice, change and liberation.”

To stay informed and connected to Juneteenth, visit www.tnjuneteenth.com.


Dems Call For Primary (Press Release)

The Maury County Democrat Party have called for a primary for next year’s local elections. The primary will be held the same day as the March 5, 2024 presidential preference primary, and the cost to the taxpayer should be minimal. Voters in this primary will pick Democrat nominees for the August 2024 general election.

The deadline to file for local offices (including school board) will move from April 2024 to December 14, 2023 at noon. This affect candidates of all parties (Democrat, Republican, and Independent) equally.

Anyone who is interested in running for school board in Maury County, or for circuit court judge in the 22nd Judicial District, should plan to pull their petition this fall, rather than waiting until the spring.


Food Trucks and Fireworks (MauryCountySource)

There will be something fun for everyone at Food Trucks & Fireworks in Spring Hill, TN! This year, the Food Trucks and Fireworks event is happening on Sunday, July 2, 2023—festivities start at 6pm and last until the fireworks show at sundown. Get ready for a family-friendly community gathering filled with mouthwatering food, endless fun, and a mind-blowing fireworks display by the Downtown Nashville Fireworks Show, Pyro Inc. Oh, and the best part? The admission is free!

Mark the date in your calendar, share it with your friends, and plan on attending Food Trucks & Fireworks at 305 Parkfield Loop S, Spring Hill, for a celebration you won’t forget. When the sun starts to dip, prepare to be dazzled by an awe-inspiring fireworks show that’ll leave everyone in awe, no matter their age.

What about the “Food” part of Food Trucks and Fireworks? There will be 30 or more local food trucks. Whether you’re into savory or sweet, there will be something for everyone.

Kids will enjoy bounce houses, and the young-at-heart can engage in some friendly competition with classic summer games like cornhole and frisbee. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Throughout the event, there will be games and giveaways to keep the festive vibes going strong.

To make sure everyone can join in the fun, there are three parking options. The on-site Red Lot that is available for a small fee, the free Blue Lot with a complimentary shuttle service, and the Yellow Lot, free on-site handicap parking making sure that everyone can easily access the event.

For all event details, including the full lineup of food trucks and entertainment, head over to www.FoodTrucksAndFireworks.com.


OneGenAway Returns (Press Release)

One Generation Away is returning to Columbia State Community College (1665 Hampshire Pike) to share free groceries with the residents of Columbia and surrounding communities.

The nonprofit’s Mobile Pantry will set up in the parking lot on Saturday, June 24, to distribute fresh produce, pantry staples, baked goods, dairy products and more at the drive-thru event with anyone who would like to receive it — no questions asked.

“We love our Columbia friends, and we always look forward to coming together as a community to support one another through difficult seasons,” said Chris Whitney, founder and CEO of OneGenAway. “Thank you to Columbia State for always being a loyal host for these events.”

The event will begin around 8:30 a.m., but folks are encouraged to line up early, as the food is first come, first served. Food distribution will conclude around 10 a.m. or when all the food has been given away.

Volunteers should arrive at 7:30 a.m. to help sort and distribute the food. No registration is required to volunteer or to receive food.

For more information about OneGenAway, visit www.OneGenAway.com.

One Generation Away is 510(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on wiping hunger off the face of America. Founded in 2013 , the nonprofit rescues and receives high-quality food and distributes it free-of-charge to those experiencing food insecurity in Middle Tennessee, North Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. Learn more at www.OneGenAway.com.


Spring Hill Tourism Exhibit (Press Release)

The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce its highly anticipated annual extravaganza, Experience Spring Hill, The Event presented by Liberty Federal Credit Union. The family-friendly, free event will take place on Saturday, June 24, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Summit High School. Featuring over 100 vendors offering a diverse range of products and services, Experience Spring Hill, The Event will showcase the vibrant community of Spring Hill in one convenient location.

The event will also offer a plethora of activities to delight all ages, including a touch-a-truck display, an exhilarating bounce house, an engaging golf simulator, an exciting video gaming area, an immersive virtual reality station, lively dance demonstrations from local studios, appearances by beloved "famous" characters, and a medley of entertaining games with fabulous prizes. Furthermore, the City of Spring Hill's library, parks, police, fire, and administrative services will be present, providing valuable community information on-site.

Rebecca Melton, the Executive Director of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce, expressed her enthusiasm for the return of the annual eat, shop, and play event. She stated, "Our organization's mission is to positively influence the business culture to create a better Spring Hill, and this event allows us to showcase the many local businesses and organizations that embody our mission.”

Bringing together representatives from the Spring Hill Welcome Center, Visit Franklin, Experience Maury, Visit Columbia, and South Central Tennessee Tourism Association under one roof, a new attraction at the event will be a "Tennessee Travels" exhibit area, featuring the very best in the area's local tourism, attractions, hidden gems and adventures.

"We are thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of Experience Spring Hill, The Event once again this year," said Chris Wagner of Liberty Federal Credit Union in Spring Hill. "Participating in this event allows us to connect with and wholeheartedly support the Spring Hill community in a meaningful and impactful way.”

For further information about the event, please visit the official website at www.experiencespringhill.com/experience-spring-hill-event.


Tennessee Reconnect (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host virtual Tennessee Reconnect information sessions during the month of June.

 

Tennessee Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship that provides free tuition for adults to attend a community college. The initiative is designed to help adults enter college to gain new skills, advance in the workplace and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or credential.

 

“We are thankful to be able to provide the local community with easy access to information about Tennessee Reconnect by hosting virtual information sessions,” said Joni Allison, Columbia State coordinator of Adult Student Services. “Tennessee Reconnect provides a wonderful opportunity for eligible adults to retool their skills and attend Columbia State tuition-free.”

 

To be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, students must meet the following requirements:

Haven’t earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Have been a Tennessee resident for at least one year.

Complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid and be determined as an independent student.

Be admitted to Columbia State and enroll in a degree or certificate program.

Must attend at least part-time (6 credit hours).

 

To view the full list of steps to apply, or to sign up for an information session, please visit www.ColumbiaState.edu/Reconnect.

 

June 22 2 – 3 p.m.

And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols 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.


Mrs. Sheryl Kathleen Ragsdale Wray, 73, retired caregiver for CPS, died Friday, June 16, 2023 at her residence in Pulaski. Funeral services for Mrs. Wray will be conducted Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday, June 21, 2023 from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

New NFL Stadium Progresses (Tennessean)

The East Bank NFL stadium is on the fast track to becoming a reality, with Metro Nashville Sports Authority gearing up to vote on a monumental $760 million bond issuance as early as next month.

The funding stream, alongside contributions from the Tennessee Titans and the state, will cover the estimated $2.1 billion needed to transform Nissan Stadium parking lots A, B, C, and D into a state-of-the-art enclosed stadium.

The Metro Council has already given its stamp of approval, and now it's up to the Sports Authority, the stadium's owner and operator, to decide whether to issue the revenue bonds — government loans that will be repaid using future project income and a 1% countywide hotel tax.

While Mayor John Cooper and Titans leadership hail this plan as an innovative way for Metro to expand its tax base and fund more public services, several mayoral candidates in the August election are decidedly against the deal because of the municipal bond financing contribution.

Jeff Oldham, bond counsel and partner in the Bass Berry & Sims law firm told Sports Authority members that the deal's structure will enhance the county's financial position. He said the bond resolution and related exhibits would be presented at the July Sports Authority meeting.

A balloon-financing plan will allow Metro to make minimal payments initially and invest the bulk of the funds to generate returns and pay down the debt faster, Oldham said.

"Short-term interest rates are between 4-5%, but we can put less than $760 million into the project fund until it's needed," Oldham said. "Then we can put the remaining in an interest-bearing account to pay debt service."

Interest rates are factored into the bond cost, which is capped at $760 million for Metro, he said. The county will use a 1% hotel tax, ticket taxes and fees to pay off the debt.

The Tennessee Titans are contributing $840 million and are responsible for any overages.

The state will contribute the remaining $500 million in bonds.

"We're coordinating with the state on a weekly basis because they've got to issue $500 million in bonds," Oldham said. "They have been very helpful. They're motivated to get this done on time.

The Titans, in partnership with Metro, launched a website to seek and receive proposals for design, architecture, and construction work.

During a June 15 meeting, Sports Authority members agreed to engage a credit-rating agency to assign a bond rating for the stadium.

General contractors have been hired for the work, but a variety of subcontractors are still being sought. They are currently accepting proposals from companies to install a Wi-Fi network.

In May, Atlanta-based TVS Architecture & Design was selected by the Tennessee Titans and Metro Sports Authority to turn large-scale designs into construction plans for the enclosed stadium.


New Flight Service to Cancun (Tennessean)

Santa on a beach in Cancun? That's a possibility now with American Airline's new nonstop flights from Nashville.

Beginning Dec. 9, American will operate flights to Cancun on Saturdays through March.

According to the airline, the expansion to Nashville International Airport is part of an effort to increase flight availability to Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America this winter by 10%. The company also plans to add nonstop service from Cincinnati and expand the number of existing flights from Charlotte, Miami, Austin, Texas, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

“This coming winter, we're looking forward to adding more service to the destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean that our customers want to visit, including popular spots like Cancun, Montego Bay and Punta Cana, as well as our newest destination, Tortola,” said José A. Freig, vice president of operations and commercial for Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America. “We are proud to strengthen our lead as the largest U.S. airline in the region, with more flights and seats to more destinations than any other single carrier or partnership.”

With the additions, American will operate more than 2,250 weekly flights to 90 destinations in the region.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Visitors to the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will have until Sunday, June 25, to see the exhibition “Chris Stapleton: Since 1978”, presented by Ram Trucks. The exhibit, which opened last July, chronicles the course of Stapleton’s multi-faceted musical career, from his Kentucky roots and success as a Nashville songwriter to his rise to stardom as one of country music’s most powerful and unique voices.

A dynamic singer, songwriter and musician, Stapleton has collaborated with artists ranging from Country Music Hall of Fame member Bobby Bare and Carlos Santana to pop stars Justin Timberlake and Pink. Before his breakout success in 2015 with his quadruple-platinum album Traveller, he proved his musical mettle for more than a decade as an in-demand songwriter in Nashville. In addition to Stapleton’s own hit recordings, more than 170 of his songs have been recorded by a diverse roster of artists, including Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Alison Krauss & Union Station, George Strait, Sheryl Crow, Thomas Rhett, Lee Ann Womack and many more.

Items featured in the exhibit include instruments, awards, stage and screen costumes and personal artifacts.

For more information, visit www.countrymusichalloffame.org.


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