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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 26, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Judicial Center Budget Passes (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Building Committee sent the county commission a recommendation of approval to move forward with the judicial center at its most recent meeting, with the cost coming in $159,018 under the budgeted amount of $33.9 million.

Jamie Spencer, with the development firm Hewlett Spencer, said one of the major reasons the job was able to come in under the budgeted amount was due to the early-release packages.

“The Commission in making that decision saved over $300,000 by approving that early-release package,” he said. “We didn’t have a full set of plans to work with at that time, so we started piecing the project and the pricing together, which is not how we normally do it.”

The first early-release package cost $2.17 million, while the second package came in at $8.9 million. With this final phase, the total cost will be around $33.7 million.

“We recognize and appreciate the efforts by this commission for allowing us to approve this project in this manner,” Spencer said. “There was a small celebration with our team this afternoon.”

Commission Chair Eric Previti was pleased the project is under budget, especially in this economy, though some of the cosmetic features had to be removed from the package.

“You’ve seen the economy, this is what’s going to happen,” he said. “(Prices) won’t go up – they can’t go up, it’s guaranteed. When we get closer to the end, if there’s some money left over we might be able to add in some of the cosmetic things we cut. 

“There will not be any additions. Absolutely not.” 

Spencer added that some of the cosmetic features in the project were also managed in order to fit the numbers.

“There were things we put in the building to help us reach our budget that aren’t extravagant,” he said. 

The parking structure was a major part of the project, and Rick Bruining, project executive with Bell Construction, said they made some adjustments to make sure the price point could be met. 

“We have different types of gates that open and shut. Some swing, some are rolling gates,” he said. “There was a rolling gate that opened and shut, and if we were to put it in like that, it would actually take up a parking spot, so we switched it to a collapsible gate. (There will be) 80-90 public, front-entry, main parking and a secure staff parking lot with the same number.”

The County Commission ratified the proposal at its Tuesday, June 20, meeting, the judicial center will soon be under construction. Previti said he hopes this will be something the people of Maury County will look forward to seeing completed.

“I’m very pleased we’ve come under budget,” he said. “I hope that future negativity will cease because this is for the safety and growth of the county. Let’s move on.”


County Archives Moving to Temporary Location (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Commission unanimously approved $218,538 plus expenses for an 18-month long contract between Baxter Enterprises and the Maury County Archives building for the temporary lodging of the extensive collection of historical documents and operations.

In April, the Budget Committee approved a maximum price of $10 million for the expansion of the building, which will total 18,644 square feet and include a new research library, paper conservation lab, and public programming space.

Meanwhile, the collection will be moved out of its current space at 201 E. Sixth Street in Columbia to the Muletown Rec building, located at 1445 Oak Springs Drive and owned by Baxter Enterprises.

The Archives will be closing to the public starting on July 3rd so that the archives staff can begin packing the collection for its move to the temporary location. The archives hopes to open back up to the public at the Oak Springs Drive location in early to mid-September while construction on the new facility is taking place. The construction is expected to take between 14 and 18 months to complete.

The Maury County Archives houses millions of records dating back to the formation of the county in 1807. The collection consists of official county records such as deeds, marriage records and court records as well as personal papers, organizational records, and school records. Maury County is one of just a few counties in the entire state that has all of the records of the county.

Although the facility will be closed temporarily, the public can still contact the archives by calling 931-375-1501.


Dems Hold Annual Meeting (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Democratic Party held its 20th annual Heritage Dinner on Saturday, June 3, at the UAW Local 1853 Hall in Spring Hill. The event was co-sponsored by the UAW CAP Committee. Over 225 people attended, giving them an opportunity to network with like-minded Democrats.

State Senator Heidi Campbell and Representative John Ray Clemmons, the Democratic Caucus Chair, were guest speakers. Senator Campbell encouraged members to increase their activism in all levels of government. Representative Clemmons called for Democrats to work to elect legislators who will focus on making the lives of Tennesseans better, no matter their party or stance on cultural issues. He stressed using tax dollars to help those who need it the most, and the importance of attracting young people to the Democratic Party. Both speakers were given standing ovations for their dynamic calls to action.

Awards were given to the following Democratic Party members:

• Judy Ashmore (The Life of the Party Award)

• Lukas Liam Banks (The Ty Cobb Young Democrat Award)

• Stephanie Sparks-Newland (The Judge Jimmy Matthews Community Service Award)

• Jameson Manor (The H.O. Porter Education and Citizenship Award)

• James York (The Jerry and Linda Colley True Democrat Award)

The MCDP Executive Committee was pleased that a significant number of young Democrats attended the dinner for the first time.

MCDP Chairperson James Dallas said, “We were very pleased with the turnout at the Heritage Dinner this year and are looking forward to carrying this enthusiasm into the 2024 election cycle. Thank you to all of the volunteers and to our speakers.”

The Heritage Dinner is a fundraiser for the MCDP. The MCDP appreciates the sponsors and donors who made the dinner possible.


Spring Hill Adopts Budget (CDH)

The city of Spring Hill, after numerous meetings, changes and amendments, has adopted its latest 2023-2024 fiscal year budget.

The budget, which consists of approximately $88.7 million in the city's general fund, went before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen its final reading this week. Prior to the final vote, BOMA members issued requests for several additional amendments for various funding needs and projects.

This year's budget also included no changes to the city's property tax rate.

Of all the projects budgeted to receive funding this year, 80% of operating costs are being designated to street/road projects, public safety and utilities. This includes projects such as the ongoing Buckner Lane and Buckner Road widenings in conjunction with the new I-65 interchange, construction of a new Spring Hill Police headquarters and finding solutions to the city's water capacity concerns.

A few of the proposed amendments approved Monday included:

$10,000 for a Spring Hill Visitors Center (from tourism funds)

$40,000 for roof repairs at Historic Rippavilla (from tourism funds)

$272,500 for bridge improvements at Jim Warren Road

$38,500 for design costs for Port Royal Road widening

$100,000 for professional services for improvements to Kedron Road from Main Street to Saturn Parkway

$7,600 for a part-time Mental Health Specialist position

One item that was absent from the 2023-2024 budget was funding for a new Spring Hill fire station, which was a topic of discussion at previous budget talks. The estimated $11 million project remains a top priority for city leaders, but there wasn't enough revenue in the budget to cover it next fiscal year.

In his monthly newsletter, Alderman Matt Fitterer said construction of Fire Station 4 is a priority BOMA takes very seriously, and that while its funding won't appear in this year's budget, there are other efforts being made to ensure the project moves forward.

"The vast majority of BOMA clearly supports Fire Station 4 as the most important facility capital project not currently underway. There simply isn't resources to do so with current revenue levels," Fitterer stated.

"However, two things simultaneously occurring should allow BOMA some room to move forward with Fire Station 4 this year anyways. The Budget and Finance Committee recently met with the city's municipal bond council with the goal of identifying alternative lending or debt instruments that will allow Spring Hill to gain some additional capacities."

Fitterer added that Fire Station 4 is not the only priority facility project to address the city's growing needs, and that in addition to a new fire hall, there is the ongoing need for a new library, city hall, additional park land and renovations to Fire Station 1.


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.


Remote Area Medical in Columbia (MauryCountySource)

Remote Area Medical – RAM® – a major nonprofit provider of pop-up clinics delivering free, quality dental, vision and medical care to those in need – will hold a free, two-day clinic in Columbia on July 8-9.

RAM will be set up at the E.A. Cox Middle School, located at 633 Bear Creek Pike, Columbia, for two days only. This clinic is in collaboration with the Filipino American International Organization in Tennessee.

All Remote Area Medical services are free, and no ID is required. Free dental, vision and medical services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The patient parking lot will open no later than 11:59 p.m. (midnight) on Friday night, July 7, and remain open for the duration of the clinic. Once in the parking lot, additional information regarding clinic-opening processes and next steps will be provided. Clinic doors open at 6 a.m.

Due to time constraints, patients should be prepared to choose between DENTAL and VISION services.

Medical services are offered, in addition to dental or vision services, free to every patient attending the clinic.

For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.ramusa.org or call 865-579-1530. 

Services available at the free Remote Area Medical clinic include dental cleanings, dental fillings, dental extractions, dental X- rays, eye exams, eye health exams, eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglasses made on-site, women’s health exams and general medical exams.

In some situations outside of Remote Area Medical’s control, such as inclement weather, volunteer cancellations or other circumstances, the parking lot may open earlier or a smaller number of patients may be served. Remote Area Medical encourages everyone who would like services, especially dental services, to arrive as early as possible. Clinic closing time may vary based on each service area’s daily capacity. For more information, visit www.ramusa.org


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 24 10 – 11 a.m.

June 26 6 – 7 p.m.

June 29 2 – 3 p.m.


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

Mr. Dennis Wayne Dungy, 69, died Thursday, June 22, 2023 at his residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Dungy will be conducted Tuesday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Andrews Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Monday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Republican Leaders Get Tainted Mail (WPLN)

Members of the Tennessee House Republican leadership received letters Thursday morning containing an unknown white powder.

Republican Caucus press secretary Jennifer Easton was in the building when it was discovered.

“The letters contained an obvious threat made by a liberal activist, specifically targeting Republicans. The sixth floor of the Cordell Hull building is on lockdown currently, while Homeland Security investigates,” Easton said at 1 p.m.

Cordell Hull houses the offices for all elected state lawmakers. The sixth floor includes House leadership, such as House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Majority Leader William Lamberth.

“It was a white powdery substance that I am told is like an over-the-counter, perhaps, pain reliever or something like that. That was supposedly determined after testing,” said Ken Jobe, the Democratic Caucus press secretary.

Jobe said the letters were sent to several members of the Tennessee House, but mentioned that letters containing a white substance were also sent to Kansas lawmakers earlier in the week.

Everyone in the building was safe following the incident. Just after 2 p.m., lawmakers on the sixth floor were given the all-clear, allowing them to leave after more than two hours in place.

The FBI confirmed that it has taken over the investigation from local and state law enforcement.

“Laboratory testing is ongoing but at this time has not indicated a risk to public safety,” the bureau said in a press release Thursday afternoon. “The FBI would also like to remind everyone to exercise care in handling mail, especially from unrecognized senders. If you see something suspicious, please contact law enforcement immediately.”


Tourism’s Top Spots (Tennessean)

Are you a local trying to explore more of what your home state has to offer? Lucky for you, there is no shortage of tourist destinations in Tennessee.

In a state rich in history, entertainment, art, culture and music, the list of sites to visit is lengthy. But where to start?

Real estate site TNRealEstate used Tripadvisor ratings, online search data and annual online article mentions to determine the most popular tourist destinations in the state.

The top three spots?

Graceland, Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Graceland, the mansion and home of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, is one of the most-visited private homes in the United States, welcoming 500,000 visitors annually. In the past year alone, Graceland was mentioned 50,835 times in online articles, more than any other attraction in the state.

“These findings are a testament to the ever-lasting popularity of Graceland, which has undoubtedly only skyrocketed recently due to the release of Baz Luhrmann’s hit biopic 'Elvis' and should only continue to increase along with the release of Sofia Coppola’s upcoming film Priscilla," said a TNRealEstate spokesperson.

Dollywood, the theme park owned by Tennessee treasure Dolly Parton, ranks as the runner-up for most popular tourist hot spot in Tennessee. Dollywood receives 269,000 average monthly searches and has had 18,506 article mentions in the last year. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park ranks as the third most popular destination statewide. The park receives an average of 49,000 Google searches a month throughout the country and welcomes over 11 million visits annually.

Also included in the list are various Nashville destinations, such as the Ryman, Centennial Park and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The findings revealed that the Ryman Auditorium ranks fourth. The music venue is considered one of the most influential in the country and receives 70,000 average monthly searches, as well as holding a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Tripadvisor. 

Centennial Park ranks as the fifth most popular tourist spot in Tennessee. A popular destination for both locals and tourists, the park is also home to the historic Nashville Parthenon. Centennial Park receives an average of 25,000 Google searches a month across the country and had 13,094 online article mentions in the last year.

 Graceland (Memphis)

 Dollywood (Pigeon Forge)

 Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Gatlinburg)

 Ryman Auditorium (Nashville)

 Centennial Park (Nashville)

 Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge)

 Lookout Mountain (Chattanooga)

 National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis)

 Ruby Falls (Chattanooga)

 Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Nashville)


TN Land Conservation (MauryCountySource)

TennGreen Land Conservancy, a leading Tennessee environmental nonprofit, announced that it has reached a historic milestone: protecting over 50,000 acres of land across the state and Mid-South region.

The organization’s conservation efforts, both past and future, will benefit Tennesseans and wildlife at a time when Tennessee’s natural world faces unprecedented risks.

Some of TennGreen Land Conservancy’s notable achievements over the years include conserving land for public enjoyment at Virgin Falls State Natural Area, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Rock Island State Park, South Cumberland State Park, Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park, the future Ducks Unlimited Park, and more.

In total, TennGreen Land Conservancy has completed 153 conservation projects—with more than a third of those projects completed in the past five years. This astonishing pace is reflective of people in communities across Tennessee seeking to protect their natural assets.

“Often, our parks and outdoor areas serve as centers for community, which is essential for a flourishing society,” continued Hudson Pell. “Without these shared natural spaces to convene, we risk losing opportunities to connect with nature and with each other. Also, conserved land can create outdoor recreation opportunities, such as hiking, fishing, and camping, which drives tourism and enhances the quality of life for all of us living and working here in Tennessee.”

To learn more about TennGreen Land Conservancy’s ongoing conservation efforts and how you can get involved, visit tenngreen.org.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

In recognition of his standing as one of country music’s most innovative talents, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has invited 10-time Grammy nominee Eric Church to be its 18th artist-in-residence.

The museum’s annual artist-in-residence series spotlights an artist with an exemplary body of work and asks the featured artist to create one-of-a-kind performances over multiple evenings. The museum offers its intimate CMA Theater as a blank canvas, with the understanding that the artist will curate shows that inspire appreciation for their talents and vision – often incorporating different themes and special guests.

Church will produce and perform two shows, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, and Wednesday, Aug. 30, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets to each performance range from $75 to $500 (plus ticketing fees) with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit museum’s educational mission. Tickets to both shows are available to the public on the museum’s website, www.countrymusichalloffame.org. Sales are limited to four tickets per transaction on a first-come, first-served basis and are non-refundable.


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