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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 1, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Justice Center Plans Progress (MauryCountySource)

With initial architectural renderings for the new Maury County Judicial Center being presented to the Maury County Building Committee in early February and demolition of the former Daily Herald building completed, construction of the two-story, 55,000-square foot, all-encompassing almost $34 million judicial center is heading forward. It is a need that was initially discussed all the way back in 1994. Between county growth and the old county courthouse not being able to fulfill today’s demands for equitable access and service to all citizens within the county, it is a much-needed update.

The Building Committee presented a $30 million plan, and a secondary plan calling for a 42,000-square-foot building that would not include juvenile courts or a grand jury room, which had an estimated cost of more than $23 million. It was determined that in the end, splitting the courts would cost much more than the $7 million savings because it would require duplicate staffs, additional police to secure two buildings, moving people back and forth and the old court building is still not Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design compliant. One of the pressing needs of a new courthouse.

Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti told The Daily Herald last year, when he was Chairman of the Maury County Building Committee, “This is not just about compliance. This is also about getting everybody into one building rather than transporting people from one building to another. Everybody we talked to has asked us to get everyone into one building.” He said in the same article, “this project is going to allow the county to move all of the courtrooms, support staff, grand jury and holding areas to a new building, leaving the historic courthouse empty for the time being.”

There have been comments that this should have been done 30 years ago, but the road to approval has been rocky.

Plans for the new Judicial Center began with the concept of purchasing the old Daily Herald building that was built in 1968 and 3.17 acres adjacent to it and converting the old building into a new center by adding a second floor. Initially, plans were approved to spend about $2 million to purchase and prep the property for building, and then $8 million to convert the older building into the Judicial Center. The feasibility of this plan was not worked out in advance, and it was later found that this plan was not going to fulfill the needs of the county.

Last year, the commission approved $30 million for the design and construction of the new facility, but total project costs have increased. The first phase costs have increased to $2,177,430 from the initial estimate, causing the budget to be increased to $33.9 million. The more than $2 million covered the cost of demolition of the old building, site grading, utility installation and prepping the land pad for the next phase. The second phase will cost $8.9 million and it will cover the cost of asphalt paving, site concrete and additional bond, insurance and construction costs.

Total costs will firm up after approval of the completed architectural design, but these are times with fluctuating materials costs. The good thing is, the county was able to lock in costs on certain building materials.

Even with the rising costs, taxpayers are still not expected to have to cover any of the bill. Monies voted in by the commission from American Rescue Plan Act funds, which is intended to help with the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, will cover the majority of the costs. The remainder of the funding will come from litigation funds.

This will actually be the fourth courthouse for Maury County. The first was built in 1810 out of brick. It was followed by one built in 1846 that fell into disrepair after the Civil War when there was little to no money to repair and maintain the building. The 1846 building was razed in 1904 and the current building was completed in 1906.

With the recent growth of the county and the projections for future population increases, the new judicial center will prepare the county for the future. There are already between 3,500 and 5,000 people who come to the current courthouse per month. While it is hard to see traffic leave the downtown area, at the same time the courthouse just can’t accommodate the number already passing through. And that number will only increase.

Already there is not enough space for those awaiting trials, for those testifying or for private meetings between lawyers and their clients, which often take place in congested hallways. This is a problem that many cities in the area have gone through with all of the population growth, and have been able to solve the issue with a new judicial center designed specifically to solve the problems of the community. That is what is going into the planning of the Maury County Judicial Center.

June Lake Delays (MauryCountySource)

Delays in the project schedule of the June Lake Interchange in Spring Hill have caused the anticipated completion date to be pushed back from this summer to the winter.

According to the contractor, Bell Construction, various pre-construction activities like acquiring permits and Right of Way acquisitions among other things took longer than expected forcing some construction activities into the wetter, colder months, slowing production and limiting available workdays.

The contractor will be assessed $15,000 in liquidated damages for each day past the contract completion date.

Motorists are advised to plan for extra travel time and slow down while in a work zone.

New FNP and PA Join Maury Regional (Press Release)

Family Nurse Practitioner Kristen Clay, FNP-BC, and Physician’s Assistant Colleen St.John, PA-C, have joined separate primary care locations within Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG).

 Kristen Clay, FNP-BC will provide services at MRMG Primary Care in Columbia. She is joining Dr. Thomas Farmer, Dr. Ben Gardner, Dr. John Roberts and PA Brian Lovely, PA-C. MRMG Primary Care is in suite 403 of the Maury Regional Medical Plaza in Columbia. For more information, call 931.380.0075 or visit

 Clay received both her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Before her family nurse practitioner work, Clay had nearly 13 years of nursing experience, with the most recent at Marshall Medical Center in Lewisburg, where she was a nursing supervisor in the Emergency Department. In addition to her clinical experience, Clay has been in management roles and a clinical instructor at South College in Nashville, Tennessee.

 Colleen St.John, PA-C will provide services at MRMG Primary Care in Spring Hill. She joins Dr. Sean Cannady, Dr. Nathanael Lafferty and PA Teresa Pisani. The practice is located at 5421 Main Street in Spring Hill. For more information, call 931.486.2500 or visit

 St.John received both her master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy in Detroit, Michigan. St.John joins MRMG with nearly two years of work as a physician’s assistant. She has clinical experience in various areas of practice, including obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics.

In addition, Dr. Gavin Pinkston, is now a part of Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care and Pediatrics in Columbia.

 Dr. Pinkston received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Medicine in Memphis, Tennessee. He completed both his residency and internship in family medicine at Self Regional

Family Medicine in Greenwood, South Carolina. Dr. Pinkston is board certified in family medicine.

 MRMG Primary Care and Pediatrics services include annual wellness exams and physicals, treatment of illness, chronic disease management, adult vaccines, newborn and child immunizations, men's health and women's health.

 Dr. Pinkston joins Dr. Andrew Nielson, Dr. Pinky Chugani and Brooke Miller, FNP-BC at the practice. MRMG Primary Care and Pediatrics is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Thursday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. They are located at 1222 Trotwood Avenue, Suite 108 in Columbia. For more information, call 931.380.4066 or visit

Mulehouse on Mule Day (Press Release)

Columbia’s powerhouse music venue, The Mulehouse, is taking the party outdoors for its inaugural, supersized live music event series and you’re invited. On Friday, March 31st, The Mulehouse is transforming its backlot into a mega music party featuring multi-platinum headliner Chris Janson and rising star Shane Profitt. The festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. and promise to hype all the senses with incredible live music, food trucks, a beer garden, multiple bars, and exclusive Mulehouse Party merchandise for purchase. General admission tickets are just $39 and available at Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Apr 1st, the party continues after the annual Mule Day parade ends. At 12:30 p.m. local favorite bands take the stage: Reeves Bros, Wentzel Bros, Yonder Grove, and Buck Sixx. The party isn’t complete without the return of the food trucks, a beer garden, multiple bars, cornhole, and Mulehouse Party merchandise. Gates open at 11:30am. For Saturday’s party, admission is FREE and open to the public.

Chris Janson is a “live legacy in the making” (Rolling Stone). Breakout country star Janson is a platinum-selling recording artist, high-octane entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, award-winning singer/songwriter and Grand Ole Opry member. The ACM award-winner has collected prestigious accolades that place him among country music greats. 

Shane Profitt is a hometown favorite, an emerging Country star from Columbia now signed to Big Machine Label Group Records/Harpeth 60 Records. This 22-year old is rocking sold out crowds at the historic Ryman Auditorium, touring with his chart-topping hero, Chris Janson, and writing modern Country tunes.

This off-the-charts weekend of party events is designed to complement what’s already happening during Columbia’s annual Mule Day event. “We remain in awe of what the Bridle & Saddle Club created as Mule Day so many years ago.  Even more impressive is how they have continued to build and sustain those efforts over the course over time,” stated Blair Garner, Founder of The Mulehouse. “I can’t imagine any other annual event, so beloved by the people of this town, that could even approach the positive impact Mule Day has on our community and local businesses.” Garner went on to say “Our humble hope is that The Mulehouse Backlot Concert Series becomes one more reason folks visit our beloved Columbia.  This year we have the great fortune to bring both Shane Profitt and Chris Janson here for this first new outdoor series.  We are so blessed to call Columbia our home, and so grateful for our amazing community that has shown nothing but support for The Mulehouse.”



Located in historic downtown Columbia, TN, just 40 minutes south of Nashville, The Mulehouse is America's ultimate music resort, designed for music and entertainment within the restored walls of an old historic church. The Mulehouse is a 55,500 sq. ft. multi-use entertainment venue owned by Blair Garner, a Country music industry veteran and host of multiple award-winning syndicated radio shows. The adaptive reuse project, formally a historic church dating back to 1936, aims to elevate what artists and their fans can expect from a venue.  The result is a live event experience like no other for both in-person guests and those watching globally through the venue’s top-of-the-line live streaming technology. For more information visit

Spring Hill Alderman Mulls BFT Contract (CDH)

The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen revisited one of the city's most historic sites this month, and determined whether it should continue its partnership with the Battle of Franklin Trust.

In May of 2021, the city entered into a partnership with the BOFT, who was appointed to oversee Historic Rippavilla. The initial contract, which was set up for three years, was at the stipulation that Rippavilla one day becomes a self-sustaining entity.

However, Rippavilla has not been able to become self-sufficient during that time. A new contract presented to the BOMA would be good for another three years and would include an annual $50,000 allotment from the city to be used for things like maintenance, repairs and daily needs.

BOFT Director Eric Jacobson said, while Rippavilla hasn't reached its self-sustaining goal, it could likely break even by the end of the contract's third year. In addition, attendance at Rippavilla remains to be better than ever, despite the fact much of the home's interior items and furniture were removed prior to the BOFT taking over operations.

"Our attendance during the first full year of the contract was higher than the site has ever had, revenues higher from tourism than the site has ever had," Jacobson said. "Our attendance is approaching what Carter House was 20 years ago. I can't imagine what it will be in 10-20 years."

There have also been a number of structural repairs required, such as water damage, replacing copper wiring, which was another major expense during the contract's first year.

As far as programming, Rippavilla has also expanded its tours, which now includes telling the story of the enslaved people who once lived there, which has been a topic the BOFT and many others have felt hasn't been properly addressed over the years.

"The story of the enslaved is finally getting it's long, often ignored attention, and I hope we can keep the bar moving forward," Jacobson said.

While the BOMA ultimately approved the contract, some aldermen were not willing to support it, namely Aldermen William Pomeroy and John Canepari.

To them, the contract has not been sufficiently met in terms of Rippavilla becoming self-sufficient. This was also a stipulation that might have caused potential bidders to back out when it came time to find a new managing organization for the property.

Since being self-sufficient is not necessarily a requirement, their thoughts were whether to put Rippavilla's management duties up for bid and if a new organization can be brought on to take over the BOFT's duties.

"I believe that scared off some potential bidders from Rippavilla to manage it. I believe if they knew if they came back to the city to ask for more funds, we might have had more bidders come in to manage Rippavilla," Pomeroy said. "I'd like to maybe open it back up to bidding, and let it be known that you don't have to be self-sustaining. That's not part of it."

Alderman Matt Fitterer argued that finding a new partner at this time might not be beneficial for the city or the site, and that despite setbacks and not meeting what was originally intended in the initial contract, the BOFT has proven to be a worthy partner.

"It is, in my opinion, extremely short sighted to think we can potentially chase a better partner, when we have a proven partner who's executing at a high level standing in front of us," Fitterer said.

The item was ultimately approved with a 5-3 vote, with Canepari, Pomeroy and Alderman Brent Murray opposing.

CSCC Portraits of Hope Exhibit (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Pryor Art Gallery will feature the traveling exhibit “Portraits of Hope: Inspirational Stories from the Lovelady Center.” The exhibit, which portrays women and staff from the Lovelady Center in Birmingham, Alabama, will be open to the public from March 13 until April 7. 


The Lovelady Center is a faith-based, drug and alcohol addiction program for women in Birmingham founded by Brenda Lovelady Spahn in 2004 with the goal of giving back hope to women affected by addiction. It started with just a few women leaving prison and entering Spahn’s home for rehabilitation. Today, it serves 400 women and 90 of their children. The Lovelady Center resides in a converted hospital that has dorm-style rooms, play areas and school rooms for the children, a worship center, classrooms, counseling areas and onsite work opportunities. A book has been published about Spahn’s story, titled “Miss Brenda and the Loveladies,” which will soon be made into a major motion picture.

“The Lovelady Center program was affordable and completely changed the life of a family member very dear to me,” said Lisa Hoffman, Pryor Art Gallery curator, who has personally visited and volunteered at the center multiple times. “Her accomplishments throughout the program, and post-graduation, are impressive—I pinch myself every day.” 

The exhibition will display 43 oil portraits by 40 nationally and internationally renowned artists. Beverly McNeil of Portraits, Inc., in Birmingham wanted to help support and bring exposure to the Lovelady Center. Using her connections in the fine art realm, McNeil organized the award-winning portrait artists who donated their time to paint the recovered women, their children and the faithful staff. The exhibit has since traveled to the Salmagundi Club in New York City and the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, before arriving at the Pryor Art Gallery.


Included in the exhibit is Spahn’s portrait by John Howard Sanden, a Connecticut-based master portraitist who passed in 2022. Sanden, one of the nation’s leading portrait artists for four decades, served as the art director for Billy Graham prior to launching his career as a portraitist. Sanden received the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement Award and painted the official White House portraits of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. His depiction of McNeil displays her gentle nature and warmth. 

Two of the accomplished artists in the exhibit are Middle Tennessee natives, Michael Shane Neal and Dawn E. Whitelaw, both of whom are Lipscomb University graduates. Neal has painted Sandra Day O’Connor, George H.W. Bush and Richard Thomas from “The Waltons.” Whitelaw is with On Track Studios in Franklin and is an award-winning plein air artist. She is a member of Portrait Society of America, Oil Painters of America and Plein Air Painters of the Southeast. 

“The caliber of oil paintings in this exhibition normally are only seen in private collections, museums and places like the White House,” Hoffman stated. “We are thrilled to have this exhibition in our own backyard of Columbia to serve our students and community.”   

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Pryor Art Gallery is in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus located at 1665 Hampshire Pike and is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

The opening reception, which is also free and open to the public, will be March 16 from 5 – 7 p.m. in conjunction with the Performance Series Appalachian Road Show concert. For information about the First Farmers Performance Series and tickets, please visit

For additional information about this exhibit, please visit or on Facebook at ColumbiaStatePAG.

For more information about the Pryor Art Gallery, contact Hoffman at 931.540.2883 or

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

Mrs. Griffitha Glasser “Griffie” Cook, 79, a resident of Columbia, passed away on February 24th. The funeral service celebrating Griffie’s life will be held at Zion Presbyterian Church, located at 2322 Zion Road in Columbia, on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 1:00 P.M. Burial will follow in Zion Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Fentanyl Taken at BNA (MauryCountySource)

A man is in jail after a large amount of fentanyl was found by K-9 officers at Nashville International Airport on February 27, 2023, according to WSMV.

Narcotics detectives at BNA seized approximately 11 pounds of blue M30 pills consistent with fentanyl when conducting a search of a man’s luggage.

The man was identified as 22-year-old Michael Chandler.

Detectives later determined that Chandler did not arrive at BNA with the narcotics, but was there to pick them up, reports WSMV.

Chandler has been charged with a felony possession with the intent to sell. He remains in custody on $150,000 bond.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Thompson Station’s FirstBank Amphitheater has announced their 2023 spring and summer concert lineup following the venue’s fall 2021 opening.

May 3: Breaking Benjamin with special guests Bush and Another Day Dawns

May 11: Kenny Loggins: This Is It! His Final Tour 2023 with special guest Yacht Rock Revue

May 23: Godsmack with I Prevail

June 6: Dermot Kennedy ‘Sonder’ North American Tour 2023

June 25: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Garbage with special guest Metric

July 13: Dwight Yoakam with special guests The Mavericks

July 28: Kidz Bop

July 30: Jason Mraz and His Super Band -- The Mystical Magical Rhythmical Radical Ride

August 25: Goo Goo Dolls The Big Night Out Tour with special guest O.A.R. 

Sept. 3: The Australian Pink Floyd Show -- Darkside 50 Tour 


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