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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 29, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Mulehouse Update (CDH)

The Mulehouse's current financial position regarding its impending liquidation and foreclosure underwent a few changes this week after its owners decided the venue will now file for bankruptcy.

Initially, The Mulehouse announced earlier this month its plans to hold a liquidation auction Monday, inviting potential investors to seek future ownership of the 812 S. High St. venue. However, once it came time for Monday's auction, spectators were met with news of owners Blair and Eric Garner's decision to instead file for bankruptcy.

This meant Monday's auction would be canceled until further notice, auctioneer Ron Ramsey said.

"We knew from the very beginning that this would be possible," Ramsey said. "Any time you have a foreclosure like this, you have the right to either pay it off before the foreclosure or file for bankruptcy. What this means is they go before a bankruptcy judge and come up with a plan on how to repay. It's hard to see what'll happen because of this."

Ramsey added that, despite the decision to cancel the auction in lieu of the impending bankruptcy, he believes the Garners have a well-thought-out plan in place, but in the end it is still a business which struggles to make ends meet.

"They seem like super nice people just from talking with others and seeing their Facebook posts. I believe that with 100% of my heart, but still you've got to make your payments," Ramsey said.

"They have a great vision, but you've still got to balance your checkbook. Hopefully, they get something worked out, and we may be back. There are lots of things that could happen here, but the bottom line is there won't be an auction today."

City Manager Tony Massey, who was in attendance during Monday's would-be auction, said he and city staff remain curious as to who will take over ownership of the building, which despite changing hands would remain a music venue per The Mulehouse's 10-year operating contract.

"We're curious to see what's going to happen, with the auction being forecast, but it was announced that the Garners have declared bankruptcy," Massey said.

Since the foreclosure announcement, the former First Baptist Church's marquee has read "Ain't Goin' Nowhere," and currently has shows and events scheduled through the fall months.

For a complete schedule of upcoming Mulehouse events, visit TheMulehouse.com

Since opening in May of 2021, The Mulehouse has hosted a slew of performances, comedians and special events, including artists such as Columbia's own "American Idol" Top 10 finalist Cassandra Coleman, Miranda Lambert, Uncle Cracker, comedian Killer Beaz. Craig Campbell and Jim Messina of famed 1970s duo Loggins & Messina, just to name a few.

The Mulehouse is also Columbia's first state-of-the-art venue to feature live streaming broadcasts around the world, as well as top-notch lighting and sound provided by teams, who have worked with top touring artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.

In May of 2022, The Mulehouse also hosted a special marker dedication as the venue was featured on Tennessee Music Pathways, which identifies venues and sites around Tennessee that hold a particular significance to the state's arts and music history.


Tom J. Hitch Bridge to Be Repaired (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Commission approved a resolution approving an agreement between Maury County and Collier Engineering to repair the Tom J. Hitch Bridge.

The Maury County Commission approved last Tuesday, June 20, a resolution approving an agreement between Maury County and Collier Engineering to repair and rehabilitate the north side of the bridge on Tom J. Hitch Parkway. 

This will allow the county to be able to repair both ends of the bridge at the same time according to Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti. 

“Knowing the north side of the bridge needs to be repaired also, it’s our desire to do the entire job at once instead of closing it for this and then closing for that,” Previti said. “It was the intent of the commission to go ahead and initiate the study with Collier Engineering to get the information on what it’s going to take to fix it.”

In the 2021-22 budget, the county dedicated $500,000 of the highway budget for bridge construction. 

This resolution allows the county to use general fund dollars not to exceed $150,000 to fund the study, as Previti claims it would be illegal for county road dollars to be used on a city road. 

“We approached county road superintendent Van Boshears and he couldn’t work on it because technically that line is in the city of Columbia. By state law, he is not allowed to work on something that is inside city property,” Previti said.

The topic of which entity is responsible for the property has been up for debate. 

“There are those who say it belongs to the City of Columbia and those who say it belongs to Maury County. The county believes it was annexed by the city several years ago and they disagree with that,” Previti said.

Nonetheless, Previti said it’s important to make sure that Maury County travelers are safe, which is why the county is taking both sides of the bridge at this point.  

“In the interest of public safety, the county is taking the measures necessary to get it fixed now and get it all fixed at the same time,” Previti said.

The study is scheduled to be complete and bids having been let by the end of September.


Political Parties Vote to Hold Primaries (MainStreetMaury)

Both Maury County Republicans and Democrats have voted to use a primary format in the upcoming election cycle, which includes all offices placed on the ballot for the general election on Aug. 1, 2024.

The primary also includes county vacancies and the 22nd Judicial District Part V circuit judge race.

Both parties were required to submit their decision to the Maury County Election Commission by Tuesday, June 20 in order to make the March 5 primary.

Maury County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Bridenbaugh said he was not surprised both parties voted in favor of a primary as opposed to a convention.

“I was expecting both the Republicans and Democrats to move in that direction. It just seemed to be the will of the membership of both parties,” he said.

Bridenbaugh said last January’s decision to hold a convention for county commission and odd-numbered school board seats left some dissatisfied.

“Comments were made to me that the desire of the majority of the members of our party was to move to a primary rather than a convention,” he said.

“The bylaws of the Maury County Republican Party and State Republican Party put the responsibilities to decide whether to have a primary or convention on the shoulders of the County Executive Committee. While it’s our job to make that decision and notify the board of elections of that, we understand that as a board of ten members, we did not want to speak for the entire party when there was such a wide range of opinions.”

Bridenbaugh said the party’s decision to vote so early on the issue was to avoid additional costs to the taxpayer.

“That was the driving factor in getting it done so early because we were not about to make the decision later and then put the expense of running a primary solely on the backs of the county. That was not an option and it was never going to be an option and this way we can tag on to the nationwide Super Tuesday Primary at little to no expense to the county.”

Maury County Democratic Chairman James Dallas shared the same sentiments.

“Since it’s already election day, we no longer have to justify the cost to the taxpayer,” Dallas said.

The only local partisan elections in the upcoming cycle are for even numbered district school board seats.

“Historically school board races were not partisan until last year,” Dallas said. “As a consequence, parties now have the option to nominate members for the school board. This time around creates an interesting situation because primary elections for school board members are held the same as presidential primaries.”

State law gives both Democrats and Republicans the right to call a primary. 

The deadline for candidates to file is Dec. 14, 2023.

If the parties change their minds regarding the call of a primary, the executive committee must rescind the call of the primary no later than the 90th day before the qualifying deadline. The deadline to rescind a county primary called for March 5, 2024 falls on Sept. 15, 2023.


Experience Spring Hill Draws Thousands (MainStreetMaury)

Nearly 3,500 people turned out Saturday at Summit High School to get a sampling of what Spring Hill has to offer at 2023’s “Experience Spring Hill: The Event.” Hosted by the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce, the event featured over 100 vendors offering a diverse range of products and services available to residents.

“We are so happy to host ‘Experience Spring Hill, The Event’ each year,” said Rebecca Melton, the Executive Director of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. “This is a valuable community event that unifies the various facets of our growing community. We take pride in this event’s ability to introduce our local businesses, whose impressive booths were particularly notable this year, to our new and long-standing residents. It serves not only as an enjoyable event but an educational one as well.” 


Spring Hill Budget (MainStreetMaury)

A commitment of more than $10 million of its 2023-24 budget was approved by the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week for future uses.

The board voted 5-2 against staff recommendations to set aside $600,000 for a future sportsplex and 6-1 to match the $3.5 million from 2022-23 for Fire Station No. 4, $4.5 million into a Rainy Day Fund and $1.5 million for park land acquisition.

Alderman Kevin Gavigan raised concerns about committing funds in the beginning of the budgeting process, voting against all four of the amended resolutions.

“These resolutions are committing GF balance for a certain purpose and I just think this is inappropriate to do at this time,” he said. “I think we take the win today with approving the budget, and when it’s time next year, we take up these items. 

“I don’t particularly object or support any of these – I think they could be good projects, but I don’t want to send a signal out to the world of Spring Hill that this board has fully committed and supported all these projects in any order against any other projects.”

The approved funds can be uncommitted by the board if necessary.

“Anything that is committed by you can be uncommitted by you. It is a designation of an intention for a specific purpose, not an obligation,” city administrator Pam Caskie reassured. 

Fitterer recalled some of the early advice from Cumberland Securities, a budget consulting firm, was to leave around $20 million of unencumbered fund balance. Committing these funds would still leave the budget close to that number.

One project, though, was top of mind for Fitterer.

“I hope at some point this year we will unencumber the funds associated with (Fire Station No. 4) and start that project,” he said. 

Gavigan stood strong in his convictions with a steady vote against the commitments, noting that if the funds could be uncommitted at any time, they could be committed at any time.

“I think these are huge items that deserve more attention and dedication than what we’re planning,” he said. 

Pay rate increase approved 

Spring Hill’s Board of Mayor and Alderman unanimously approved a pay rate increase for all city employees at its most recent meeting at a cost of $930,000 – $20,000 under the number the board was prepared to spend.

The resolution increased all city pay rates by 2 percent for general employees and the fire department, which saw a rate increase in December. The police department ranges increased 8 percent. 

All employees with satisfactory performance will receive a 5 percent pay rate increase. 

“We made some significant moves in the police department costs last year thinking we’d done really well, and it turns out we were still 8 percent behind when everybody else was just about 2 percent behind,” Caskie said. 

Caskie said other cities are doing five or six percent increases, and it’s important for the city to keep up with neighboring municipalities.

“Obviously, I would like to see us pay our employees as well as possible. I think it gives us the best ability to recruit,” she said. “We are challenged against some of the wealthier communities that don’t have the kind of issues we have with capital needs.”


Kissing House Changing Biz Focus (MainStreetMaury)

Bill Benedict’s crusade to keep history alive in Spring Hill took a step back in recent months, but he has certainly made up for lost time with a brand-new way to keep the property known as The Kissing House relevant with a new concept – or two.

“We’ve had some new opportunities, and we’re excited to bring something new to the community,” he said. “We are looking at two new concepts – a day time concept with food and an after hours concept.”

A new restaurant will be entering the space with California restaurateur Josh Batovsky bringing his homestyle – but upscale – brunch concept into the former I Love Juice Bar location.

“My background is brunch and being community forward. We want a collective concept with small brunch plates, fresh coffee and juice – everybody loved that and we want to keep some of the stuff they loved,” he said. 

Batovsky and his wife, Pamela, currently have a boutique space in Columbia, but are looking to bring it all together in their new space with a unique vibe. 

“We’ll have fresh flowers that you can buy by the stem and create bouquets, while we bring an aspect of the boutique options we currently have in Columbia here so you can eat and shop and have the whole immersive experience,” he added.

The daytime option will have a coastal vibe with a family-friendly atmosphere. Outdoor seating with yard games will offer something for everyone to enjoy. 

Along with the community-minded daytime eatery, Benedict has a secondary plan for after hours and weekends that will target a unique demographic in Spring Hill not yet reached.

While I Love Juice Bar was ultimately shuttered due to a corporate sale and restructure, keeping the Kissing House open to the public was paramount for Benedict, who is a member of the city’s historic commission and town center development group. 

“The concept of adaptive reuse was fundamental to all the decisions we made here,” Benedict said. “Keeping the Kissing House open to the community was important for us, and it’s been a little sad since we closed, so we are so excited to open it back up and share the history.”

Collaboration and understanding of the space was vital to the agreement between the two concepts. 

“As we went through the process of deciding what to do here, Josh and I had the same idea about how to be collaborative. The previous concept we had was a franchise and so this opens up what we can do,” Benedict said. 

With that, he decided the after hours concept with a fire pit and lounging beer garden vibe was the best use for the space on the evenings and weekends. 

“For those who know me, you know I appreciate a good beer from time to time. I really think this location in the heart of downtown has the ability to create a sense of self and gathering,” he said. “People are looking for that, and they’re going to Franklin or other communities, and this will give them a place in their city to do that.”

The restaurant is set to open this week with the beer garden concept to come later in the summer. 


Columbia Fireworks Rules (MauryCountySource)

The City of Columbia wants to remind citizens that fireworks are only allowed to be used within the city limits on July 3rd, 4th, and 5th from 10am to 10pm.

Also, it is unlawful for any person to possess, sell or use:

Mortars (single or multiple tubes) larger than 1 1/2 inches in diameter or

Bottle rockets of any kind

For more information, visit www.columbiatn.com.


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

Mr. Garland Dean Hill, 75, retired employee of Bridgestone Tire Company, died Monday, June 26 at Williamson Medical Center. A graveside service for Mr. Hill will be conducted Thursday at 2:30 P.M. at Johnson Chapel Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.


Mr. Billy Dale “Bill” Edwards, 78, retired Machinist for Brooks Machine Works for thirty-years and resident of Columbia, died Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Edwards will be conducted Friday at 2:00 P.M.at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 1:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.


Mr. Russell Scott Troope, 52, electrician with General Motors, Inc., died unexpectedly Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at his residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Troope will be conducted Saturday, July 1, 2023, 11:00 AM at Parkway Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Maury Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday from 3:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Parkway Baptist Church, 1500 Tom J Hitch Pkwy, Columbia, TN. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements. 


…And now, news from around the state…

TSU Starts Hockey Program (thenewstn.com)

Tennessee State University will made a milestone announcement Wednesday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena, as the school will become the first historically Black university to introduce ice hockey at the collegiate level.

The news was shared with the hockey world just a few hours before the start of the NHL Entry Draft at Bridgestone, which got underway at 6 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN.

Tennessee State will begin hockey with a club program during the 2024-25 season, with the possibility of raising the level of the sport at some point in the future. The school’s football and basketball programs compete in the NCAA’s Division I Ohio Valley Conference.

TSU hinted at the hockey news coming Wednesday with a tweet from a Tennessee State Hockey account, quoting the lyrics from "The Hockey Song:" “Hello out there, were’ on the air, `It’s Hockey Night’ tonight.”

That Twitter account also promoted “The first HBCU Ice Hockey Team … Coming in 2024.”

As first reported by the Nashville Post, groundwork for the Tennessee State University hockey initiative began in 2021 when a feasibility study, funded through the NHL and the NHL Players’ Assocation’s Industry Growth Fund, began to explore the viability of hockey at the school — and what the school would require to put a team on the ice.

The Nashville Predators and College Hockey Inc., a nonprofit entity dedicated to promoting NCAA Division I men's hockey, also supported the effort.

"The idea of establishing a collegiate hockey program at TSU is a tremendous opportunity as the nation's first HBCU to take on this endeavor," TSU president Glenda Glover said at the time. "This allows us to expand the sport, increase diversity and introduce a new fan base."

It appears the NHL, NHLPA and the Predators remain involved with the launching of TSU’s hockey program, per ESPN.

The Predators have long had a relationship with TSU and helped the school raise more than $1.7 million in 2021 for merit-based and needs-based scholarships for students.

"The passion and vision of President Glover, [TSU athletic director Mikki] Allen and all of Tennessee State University's leadership in pushing to make hockey a more diverse and inclusive sport through this feasibility study is both inspiring and humbling," Predators president and CEO Sean Henry said at the time the hockey feasibility study began. "Through their passion and track record, [TSU] will be able to create another success story for other schools and communities to chase and ideally emulate.”


Franklin’s New School Central Office (Tennessean)

Ground was broken Wednesday on a long-planned, nearly $30 million central office facility for the Franklin Special School District. 

The over 38,000-square-foot, two-story facility will be located at 205 Eddy Lane, less than a mile south of The Factory district. The facility includes more multifunctional space for school board meetings and professional learning, according to district leaders. 

“We are excited to offer a more innovative and modernized space to work, gather and welcome the community,” said David Snowden, the district's director of schools. “Having all of our district staff in one place will improve efficiency and communication as well as foster our organizational community as we continue to do the important work of providing a world-class education for our students.”

Construction is expected to be completed in early 2025. The facility will also include an open-air courtyard and a 2,800-square-foot assembly space with integrated audiovisual technology. Every workspace will have direct access to natural lighting as well as a fully equipped kitchen and cafeteria space, loading and storage areas and a wellness area.

New construction at the site will also include repurposing an existing metal building into a renovated, 12,400-square-foot Facilities and Transportation Center. This building will include the facilities and transportation administrative offices, a drivers lounge, a meeting area, space and equipment for maintenance of vehicles and generous storage.

Brentwood-based Wold Architects and Engineers provided design and construction administration services on the facility, and Nabholz Construction is the project’s construction manager. 

“We’re honored to be a part of this special project and are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the Franklin Special School District,” said Steve Griffin, principal at Wold Architects and Engineers.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Eastern Kentucky Bluegrass artist Bobby Osborne has died..

Osborne was 91 years old. Bobby was one half of the Osborne Brothers who debuted in 1953 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

He was known for his recording of “Rocky Top”, a song written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant from Leipers Fork.

In 1982, “Rocky Top” became the state song for Tennessee and the unofficial anthem for the University of Tennessee.

Osborne has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964. In 1994, he became a member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.


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