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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 13, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Columbia Fire Chief Fired (CDH)

Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb has reportedly been terminated from his position as of Tuesday.

The termination was confirmed by City Manager Tony Massey and Mayor Chaz Molder, though no details have been provided thus far.

"I can confirm that he was terminated today, effective at 11 a.m. March 12," Molder said. "Beyond that, I would refer any further information to our city manager or human resources department."

The termination comes a little over four months after Cobb was previously suspended for 30 days without pay in late October. A city letter, obtained by The Daily Herald at the time, said the decision was based on "insubordination." No further details were provided in the letter.

In addition to the 30-day suspension through November, Cobb was also placed on a year's probation set to expire Nov. 27 of this year.

Cobb gave a brief statement to The Daily Herald Tuesday following the termination.

"My legal counsel will be giving a statement within the next few days," Cobb said.

Cobb was first hired on as chief following the death of former Fire Chief Tommy Hemphill, officially being sworn in July 1, 2017.

Since becoming chief, Cobb was also instrumental in obtaining and maintaining, the department's ISO Class 1 rating, making Columbia Fire & Rescue the first Class 1 Department in the State of Tennessee. He was later awarded Fire Chief of the Year in Tennessee in 2023.

City Manager Tony Massey also confirmed Cobb’s release and indicated that he would be making an official statement on Wednedsday.

Columbia Special Census (CDH)

Columbia City Council approved plans for a special census to be conducted later this year, a project which could net millions of additional dollars in annual revenue.

Council members met Thursday for their monthly study session, while also conducting a special-called meeting to vote on the proposed special census. The reason for the special meeting was for the council to approve the submission of $928,069 to the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB), City Manager Tony Massey said.

"It would essentially be another regular census [conducted through the US Census Bureau] starting in the summer and going through the fall," Massey said. "That way it can be completed in time for us to send the new census numbers for the fiscal year 2025-2026 budget, and the state shared taxes that we would receive from the new special census."

Massey added that the US Census Bureau has forecasted Columbia's growth to be an estimated 6,800 people since 2020, a methodology he describes as being "about 94% accurate."

The purpose of the census, as has been the case in Spring Hill who has conducted a few similar processes over the last few years, is to track population growth, which could then equate into multiple benefits to the city, namely increased annual revenue.

If the numbers are correct, or in fact higher as population growth continues, it could net approximately $1.2 million in new annual revenue, or about $6 million by the 2030 census.

"From my perspective, I see this as a good move by council to approve as a business investment, because we should get our money back within the first year," Massey said. "And then over the next few years that amount goes forward."

Tracking the increased growth since the previous 2020 census could also award new grant opportunities, as well as establish Columbia's status as an "entitlement city" if Columbia's population meets or exceeds 50,000 people, Assistant City Manager and Financial Officer Thad Jablonski said.

"For some cities, given the variables that go into that calculation as an entitlement city, it's what you receive each year," Jablonski said. "Whether that makes sense to you, it might make sense to some older communities like us who have low-income census tracks as designated by the U.S. Census Bureau. Like our sister city to the north, Spring Hill, it would make a little less sense ... but as we approach that 50,000 threshold, that's something we can evaluate and take a look at."

Cars Stolen In Lawrenceburg (

It’s one of the biggest thefts that longtime Lawrenceburg officers can remember.

Three expensive vehicles were allegedly stolen from a local dealership, including a brand new corvette driven right off the showroom floor.

Surveillance cameras caught the robbery as it happened.

Police Chief Terry Beecham stated that the three vehicles are worth more than $300,000. That includes a $148,000 brand new Z06 Corvette.

The heist happened at around 3 a.m. Friday, March 1.

Surveillance footage showed the suspects breaking into the Heritage Automotive Dealership.

Detectives said the men knocked in a window in the service bay, found a crow bar, and then went into offices where they found keys and license plates.

Video from the showroom shows the thieves backing the expensive 2024 Corvette out of the showroom.

According to police, the thieves also stole a 2024 GMC Sierra HD 2500 Denali pickup truck valued at close to $80,000. A 2022 GMC Yukon was also stolen.

“They busted a window out of the service lane where you bring your car in when you are getting it worked on, and once inside the building, used a crow bar to break into the lock box where the keys are,” Det. Jeff Renfro with the Lawrenceburg Police Department said.

According to detectives, the suspects left the show room at 3:05 a.m. and were seen at a Giles County convenience store buying gas about 20 minutes later.

The driver of the stolen Corvette was covered head to toe, but police said a second thief, the man who stole the Yukon, walked in and showed his face.

“We had been told they could not get far. They only kept like a gallon’s worth of gas, maybe 20 miles worth of fuel in that Corvette,” Renfro said.

Interestingly, the thieves reportedly stole the Corvette with the top down and drove it with the top remaining down despite the cold temperatures that night.

“I don’t know if they didn’t know how to put the top up or he just wanted to ride with the top down,” a detective told News 2.

Police were able to track the thieves using OnStar until the tracking system was disabled.

“My guess is maybe they are taking these vehicles further south, maybe Georgia, and they are going to re-vin these vehicles and someone is going to think they are getting a real good bargain on them. Pretty sophisticated bunch, I believe,” Renfro said.

Later that same day, police said that the Yukon was recovered in Birmingham, Alabama. It was found with a flat tire behind an abandoned house. Investigators swabbed the vehicle for DNA and submitted the sample to the lab for possible suspect matches.

Meanwhile, the Corvette and pickup truck are still missing, as well as the three suspects.

Police are asking anyone with information to call the Lawrenceburg Police Department at 931-762-2276.

Investigators said the theft matches similar crimes at dealerships in West Tennessee.

Survive to Arrive Program (Press Release)

General Motors and the Maury Regional Healthcare Foundation have partnered with Columbia Fire & Rescue to develop the Survive to Arrive Safe Driving Program for local Maury County Public Schools juniors and seniors! This campaign targets teenage drivers and focuses

on the dangers of distracted and impaired driving, the importance of seatbelt usage and the consequenses of failing to obey the rules of the road. This will be the third year the Survive to Arrive Safe Driving Program has been held at Maury County Public Schools.

Columbia Fire & Rescue has partnered with Tennessee Highway Patrol over the past two years to present this program to students. The program has expanded this year to include multiple first responding agencies. Maury County Emergency Medical Services, Maury County 911, Vanderbilt LifeFlight, Columbia Police Department, Maury County Sheriff’s Department SRO’s, Mt. Pleasant Fire Department, and Mt. Pleasant Police Department have all joined forces this year to make this program even more impactful on our vulnerable young driving population by incorporating a mock crash event. Mock crash events are set to be held following the Survive to Arrive presentations at Columbia Central High and Mt. Pleasant High School on March 15th and


A mock crash event allows students to see first-hand the consequences of irresponsible driving by witnessing a live dramatization of a wreck scene caused by a distracted, impaired driver. Wrecked vehicles donated by D & D Towing & Recovery are to be staged on school property

with local performers from Watershed Public Theater acting out the roles of those involved in the crash. Students will get to witness the consequences of dangerous driving habits watching local first responders work the wreck scene in real time.

The goal of the Survive to Arrive Safe Driving Program encourage local, young drivers to permantly adopt safe driving practices and ultimately save lives.

Gallery 48 Opening (WKOM Audio 2:48)

Yesterday afternoon, the new fine art gallery called Gallery 48 held their grand opening. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy stopped by the business’ ribbon cutting and spoke to the gallery owner Joanna Kica…

Polk Museum Exhibition (Press Release)

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum is pleased to announce that the exhibition “Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness” will open at Polk Presidential Hall on March 23, 2024. This exhibition features the work of

three Middle Tennessee artists responding to stories of Middle Tennesseans whose contributions to regional and national history are less well known. Featured artists are Bernice Davidson, Jemma Perran,

and Michael McBride. “Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness” is funded through a grant from theTennessee Arts Commission.

The exhibit is an extension of Bernice Davidson’s Unsung Heroes project of art installations throughout Middle Tennessee. Davidson’s work for this exhibition pays tribute to the enslaved on the Polk family’s

properties as well as nine other unsung heroes including Z. Alexander Looby, Will Evans, Sequoyah, and Rev. Mack Pinkleton. Jemma Perran’s work for this exhibition incorporates the Adinkra symbols,

meaningful African symbols that were often incorporated into the work of enslaved artisans. Michael McBride’s work explores the life of Elias Polk, enslaved by the Polk family and later voting rights activist.

Polk Home curator Kate Gunn stated, "Breaking the Chains of Forgetfulness is a powerful exhibit which tells the story of people who are forgotten in our history books. We hope that through art we can make

history come to life, and we are looking forward for people getting to know persons such as Sequoyah, Nanye'hi, and Elias Polk." Executive Director Rachel Helvering said, “We are excited for the opportunity

to bring people to life, through these beautiful pieces of art, that have been forgotten, or overlooked in the past. We are grateful to the Tennessee Arts Commission for funding this exhibition.”

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum preserves the legacy of the nation’s 11th President.

Guided tours of the Polk Ancestral Home on W. 7th Street are available year round, Monday through Sunday. The Polk Home welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world each year. Group tours

and field trips are available, and the Polk Home offers year-round educational activities including summer camps, lectures, homeschool days, and social events.

Admission to the exhibition is included with regular Polk Home admission or can be purchased separately for $5 per adult. The public is invited to an opening reception at Polk Presidential Hall on

Friday, March 22, 2024, at 5pm. For more information about the exhibition and featured artists, as well as supporting events, please visit

Maury County Clerk Satellite Office (Press Release)

The Maury County Clerk’s office can now help residents with renewals of license plates or placards each Wednesday from 8am to 3:30pm at the Maury County Senior Center located at 1020 Maury County Park Dr.

Please drive around to the back of the building and look for the car tag renewal sign near the back door.

Forms of payment include credit/debit card or check – no cash.

Any Maury County Resident can use this office.

All other transactions will still need to be done through the main office located at 10 Public Square.

Also, you can renew online at or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.

Cruisin’ On The Square (Press Release)

Car enthusiasts, start your engines! The highly anticipated Main

Street Car Show is set for Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, on March

16th, showcasing a dazzling array of classic, vintage, and exotic

automobiles. This family-friendly event promises an afternoon

filled with automotive marvels, entertainment, a kid zone, and

community spirit.

Date: March 16th

Time: 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Location: Main Street, Mount Pleasant, TN

Car Shows in Mount Pleasant have been a beloved tradition in

our community, bringing together car aficionados, families, and

friends for an afternoon.

Attendees can expect to feast their eyes on various vehicles, from

meticulously restored classics to sleek modern cars. Whether

you're looking for an afternoon outing with your family or just love

the beauty of well-maintained automobiles, there will be

something for everyone at this year's show.

In addition to the impressive lineup of cars, the event will feature

live entertainment, food vendors, and activities for children,

making it a perfect outing for the entire family. Local businesses

will also participate, offering special promotions and discounts

during the event.

"We're thrilled to host Cruzin’ on the Square with Kittrell Kars in

Mount Pleasant," said Haverly Pennington, the Main Street

Director "It's a fantastic opportunity for our community to come

together, celebrate our shared love for cars, and enjoy a day filled

with family fun!”

Car enthusiasts interested in showcasing their vehicles at the

Main Street Car Show can start lining up at 2 pm. Early

registration is encouraged.

Don't miss out on the Main Street Car Show – mark your

calendars for March 16th and join us for an unforgettable

afternoon of automotive bliss!

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

Mrs. Barbara King Norton, 86, resident of Orange Park, Florida, died Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at her residence. Funeral services for Mrs. Norton will be conducted Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 10:00 AM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday, March 15, 2024 from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Justice Wagner Confirmed (Tennessean)

The Tennessee General Assembly confirmed Mary L. Wagner to be the next justice on the state's highest court Monday night.

Wagner, a Shelby County Circuit Court judge, is Gov. Bill Lee's third appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court since taking office in 2019. Once Wagner takes the bench, Lee will have selected a majority of the justices on the five-member court.

Wagner's confirmation passed the Tennessee House of Representatives 94-3 and the Senate 32-0 during a brief joint session of the General Assembly that began at 5:30 p.m. CT Monday. After the votes were cast, lawmakers gave a standing ovation to Wagner, who was in the chamber with her family.

Wagner will take the seat after Justice Roger A. Page retires on Aug. 31, 2024. Under a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution, a governor makes the appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which then require legislative approval. Justices then face retention elections every eight years.

Lee selected Wagner on Feb. 1 from a pool of three finalists, including Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judges Camille R. McMullen and J. Ross Dyer. In his announcement, Lee applauded Wagner's "understanding and respect for the rule of law" and commitment to judicial restraint.

Members of the Tennessee Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved her selection last week, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hailing her as an excellent choice for the court. During the hearing, Wagner described herself to committee members as “both an originalist and a textualist" and said overturning precedents should be done "sparingly and cautiously."

"I may not agree with the law at issue. I may not believe its application necessarily produces a 'fair' result. Regardless, I do and will apply the law as written without regard to my personal feelings or beliefs," Wagner wrote in her application to the Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments.

Former Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Wagner to her current position as circuit court judge in 2016, and she won elections for the seat in 2018 and 2022. She is a member of the Memphis chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization.

Wagner graduated from the University of Colorado in 2006 with a degree in political science before earning her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

As an attorney, Wagner worked at the Memphis law firm Rice, Amundsen and Caperton, where she mainly handled family law, personal injury and commercial disputes, according to her application.

Wagner will be 40 when taking the bench, making her the court's youngest member.

Wagner's confirmation also means that the majority of the five-member court's justices will again be women. The court has been majority female before, when Justices Holly Kirby, Cornelia Clark and Sharon Lee served together from 2013 to 2021, and when Kirby, Lee and Justice Sarah Campbell served together from 2022 to 2023. Lee retired and was replace by Justice Dwight E. Tarwater.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Following the announcement of his sixth solo album Orgy of the Damned, due out May 17 on Gibson Records, the iconic, GRAMMY®-winning guitarist and songwriter SLASH, has confirmed a North American tour in celebration of the Blues this summer.

SLASH’s newly announced S.E.R.P.E.N.T. festival, an anagram that stands for Solidarity, Engagement, Restore, Peace, Equality N’ Tolerance will kick off on July 5 in Bonner, Montana, and stop in Franklin at FirstBank Amphitheater on August 14th.

General on sale for tickets begins Friday, March 15 at 10am local time. For pre-sales, visit


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