Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 22, 2023
All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.
We start with local news…
Maury Fire (MauryCountySource)
Early Monday morning, Maury County Fire Units responded to a possible structure fire in the area of Les Robinson Road.
The call originated as a potential electrical fire in the wall of the home. Upon arrival, responding units reported visible flames on the exterior of the home and quickly acted to contain the fire using a water can.
The quick actions of responding Maury County firefighters and Maury County Sheriff officers saved the home from what could have been disastrous.
Duck River Bill (CDH)
Concerned Maury Countians bussed to the Capitol last week to rally to protect the health of the Duck River, unifying an otherwise unlikely electorate, while leaders hope to punctuate efforts to support the House's approval of a bill that would extend Class II Pastoral River protections.
House Bill 0447 will be heard by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee this morning at 9 a.m. after being delayed last week in committee.
Last week, nearly 300 Maury County residents, environmental advocates and elected officials attended the committee meeting to hear the fate of the Duck River. Packing the committee room, many wore T-shirts and green buttons labeled, "Vote Yes" to protect the Duck River.
The bill would extend the Duck River's Class II Pastoral River status, protecting it from intrusive development, such as a currently proposed solid waste landfill by Baton Rouge-based Trinity Business Group. The scenic protection designation would extend several miles along the Duck River’s western side from Industrial Park Road to the Hickman County line.
Trinity Business Group has filed three permit applications to construct solid waste processing facilities at the former Monsanto Company chemical plant Superfund site — to be called "Star Hill Echo Park" — that would include a tire incinerator, sorting and shredding of demolition waste and an energy recovery processing facility, according to the permit applications submitted last summer to the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation.
However, TDEC states that TBG does not adequately describe what kind of "energy recovery" will be conducted at the site nor addresses how it will handle liquid that drains from solid waste.
In Sept. 9 correspondence between TDEC and Trinity's consultant Barge Design Solutions, Inc., TDEC addressed Trinity's lack of an explanation regarding how it will dispose of liquid contaminants.
"Adequate detail on how liquids will be directed to a wastewater treatment facility were not provided," TDEC correspondence says in the application.
Barge Solutions responded, saying “Should treatment be necessary, the water will be pumped and hauled to the local POTW or disposed of through the City of Columbia sewer system under an industrial discharge permit or treated on site under NPDES permit TN0001538 once modified to address the additional inflow characteristics.”
Maury County residents are fighting alongside Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, to keep the river clean for drinking and recreation — and out of range of landfill development.
Supporters of the bill have sent more than 1,000 emails, made flyers and in growing number, continue to make the drive to Nashville to attend committee hearings and talk to legislators.
Almost 200 supporters of the bill attended the House committee meeting last week. Just as many are planning to attend the session this morning.
“The people of Maury County have a vested interest,” Cepicky said. “This is not just some ordinary river.”
The Duck River has been named one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world, containing rare species of aquatic life, more than all rivers in Europe combined, according to environmental reports.
Cepicky, said Friday in his five years as state representative, he has never seen such a high turnout of constituency for a bill.
In the Senate, the companion bill SB 0464 passed unanimously, 33-0, on March 13, with no opposition. Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, serves as its sponsor.
In a previous committee hearing on the bill, owner and founder of TBG, or the applicant, Sidney Brian spoke before the committee with attorney Tom White, pressing the committee to uphold his existing land owner rights on the property in order to allow his company to restore use of an inactive landfill on 305 acres.
Cepicky criticized TBG for basing some of its permit applications on an old map from which they determined their distance from Columbia and the Duck River.
Some of TBG's permits have been questioned by city and county elected officials as falling under the state statute dubbed "The Jackson Law," which could thwart the development of the proposed landfills.
The Jackson Law requires city and county approval before a solid waste landfill can be constructed within a mile of that city. The city enacted the law several years ago, while the county approved it last fall.
Brian and White argue the Jackson Law is not applicable to landfills existing prior to the law’s passage, as marked on the application.
TBG maintains that the location of the landfill would be convenient and help process waste, which is becoming more difficult as landfills reach capacity in Middle Tennessee, according to a letter attached to the permit application, also claiming that the facility would lead to cost savings for the public.
"This is your classic battle of the people versus big industry," Cepicky said.
Nashville-based firm, Barge Design Solutions, Inc., Trinity’s subsidiary Remedial Holdings, LLC, filed a letter with their application on Jan. 17, appealing to Marshall/Maury Co. waste management members and TDEC representatives.
In the letter from Barge Division Lead C. Jason Repsher, Trinity addressed the Marshall/Maury Municipal Solid Waste Planning Regional Board, explaining why a massive waste management site is needed as landfills fill up across Middle Tennessee.
Star Hill Eco Park, could be set on as many as 1,373 acres, according to the company’s application with TDEC. The area falls in and around Monsanto federal superfund sites, tasked for clean-up and rehabilitation, managed by TDEC.
The landfill park in question would be located at or near 2262 Monsanto Road, and possibly fall within the TDEC 1,000-foot distance from a body of water rule for land developers.
TBG permits are pending with TDEC.
Duck River advocates, elected leaders and other Maury County land owners worry that the positioning of this landfill could potentially undo 60 years of pollutant cleanup.
Sam Kennedy, Maury County generational farm owner, spoke last week about his concern for his family's farm that has been in Maury Co. for almost eight generations.
“I’m here to represent my family farm on the Duck River, but also Maury County landowners for a scenic Duck River,” Kennedy said.
“My children are the eighth generation to live, work and play beside the river. The land has been cared for 212 years, and I’m already making plans to ensure that legacy makes it to 300.”
Spring Hill Historic Sites (CDH)
The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted this week to identify four sites within the city that are considered historically significant.
Each of these sites were presented per the city's policy for identifying historical sites adopted last year, as found in the city's municipal code. The policy states the BOMA can approve these sites based on recommendations from the Spring Hill Historical Commission, as well as the property owner.
The policy does not state any plans to preserve or renovate the proposed sites, but merely designates them as historically significant as a means to "provide a sense of commitment and continuity between the past and present through the encouragement of preservation and protection of historically significant sites and structures; and to foster civic pride and historic recognition through the preservation of the city’s heritage."
"There was a lot of work put into this by the historical commission to reach out to these landowners and have them apply," Alderman William Pomeroy, who also serves on the historical commission, said.
The four sites identified Monday include property at 407 McClemore, known as Old City Hall and fire station, property in which the city has ownership.
The second site is located at 5326 Main Street, known as the J.S. and Charlie Odil House, which is estimated to date back to the year 1900. John S. Odil was also part owner of the first grocery store in Spring Hill before dying in 1920.
The third site located at 5276 Main Street is the Mount Hope Baptist Church, the deed of which dates back to 1831. The building was later used as a school primarily for young black children, where it remained active until the early 1900s.
The fourth site was not a building, house or former government office, but the old metal arched Kedron Pike Bridge located at McCutcheon Creek, dating back to the 1930s.
"If you want to see the bridge, you only have a few weeks before it gets all covered up in leaves," Pomeroy said. "It's your only chance until next October or November."
All of these sites were adopted unanimously by BOMA members.
Remains Identified (Press Release)
In November of 2020, human remains were discovered in a wooded area off of Hood Road in rural Maury County. The remains were collected and sent to the medical examiner’s office. No cause of death could be determined. However, forensic anthropologists were able to give investigators a potential timeline and profile of the Jane Doe. Maury County investigators were able to rule out reported missing females from across the state. In November of 2021, the Sheriff’s office began working with a private lab in Texas to obtain a DNA sample for genealogy processing. In November of 2022, information was received listing possible ancestors several generations back for the Jane Doe. Using that information, the sheriff’s office was able to make contact with living descendants, and began to construct a family tree. In January of 2023, with the help of local genetic genealogist Gina Wrather, a potential identification of the Jane Doe was identified. After locating a nearest relative and collecting DNA, a sample was sent to the lab for comparison. On January 26th, confirmation was received positively identifying the Jane Doe as Amanda Newcomb.
The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with information or who had contact with or knew of any associates of Amanda Newcomb between February 2018 and early 2020, to please contact the Maury County Sheriff’s office at 931-388-5151.
Pleasant Home and Gifts Grand Opening (WKOM Audio 1:45)
Yesterday, a ribbon cutting was held for Pleasant Home and Gifts in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee in Maury County. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke with proprietor Kendra Nolen…
CSCC Parners with GM (Press Release)
Columbia State Community College has been selected for a partnership grant from General Motors through the American Association of Community Colleges to support the advanced manufacturing credentialing program.
I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Columbia State to increase our partnership with General Motors,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “It's looking forward to identifying the training needs and programs for a changing manufacturing industry. We're excited to work alongside of GM and to be one of the seven community colleges nationally selected to participate.”
The partnership includes seven other community colleges across the country that will share the best practices for integrating advanced manufacturing credentials. General Motors Corporate Giving is donating a $600,000 grant to the American Association of Community Colleges who will then administer $40,000 to each of the colleges involved.
“We're innovating forward, and I think it's a really good opportunity for us to have this partnership,” said Anton Busuttil, general director of operations, revenue growth and efficiency-focused leadership at General Motors. “This grant allows the American Association of Community Colleges to study and share best practices on manufacturing nationwide. I'm very excited for the opportunity to strengthen this partnership as we move forward.”
Colleges receiving the grant will participate in an initial study to launch students into a higher skill set bringing elevated wage opportunities. AACC will provide technical assistance as well as develop collateral for the colleges to offer thorough programs to elevate skills training for advanced manufacturing.
“Our community colleges are the key link between students and meaningful career paths,” said Walter Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Working with respected leaders in the manufacturing industry such as General Motors will allow us to ensure that there is a solid bridge between skills education and the skills needed to succeed in today’s modern manufacturing facilities.”
Clement to Speak at Clement (Press Release)
Columbia State Community College will host former congressman Bob Clement for a special presentation on March 30 at 4 p.m.
“Like his father, Congressman Bob Clement has enjoyed a remarkable life and career in public service,” said Dr. Barry Gidcomb, Columbia State professor of history. “Because it was Governor Clement and his commissioner of education, J. Howard Warf, who created the community college system in Tennessee, we thought it fitting to invite the congressman to speak at Tennessee's first community college and in Columbia State’s building named for Governor Clement.”
The presentation is an opportunity for the community to visit with and listen to the former congressman, who has a unique connection to Columbia State.
“We're looking forward to hearing what Congressman Clement has to say about his life and career and the legacy of his father,” Gidcomb said.
The presentation is free and open to the public. It will take place on March 30 at 4 p.m. in the Ledbetter Auditorium located in the Clement building on the Columbia Campus.
Breakfast With The Mayor Series (Press Release)
Maury Alliance is kicking off their 2023 Breakfast with the Mayor series in Spring Hill with Mayor Jim Hagaman. This series will feature a different Mayor each quarter on their home turf for a Q&A led by Maury Alliance President, Wil Evans.
The event with Mayor Hagaman will take place in the Dining Atrium at Worldwide Stages on Wednesday, March 22nd at 8am.
To submit a question or topic in advance, email email@example.com.
Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.
Mule Kick 5K (Press Release)
Hosted by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and presented by First Farmers and Merchants Bank, the annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will take place Saturday, April 1, at Riverwalk Park in Columbia.
Proceeds from the 2023 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot provide funding for Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which delivers health care services to at-risk and underserved individuals throughout southern Middle Tennessee by providing basic health screenings, education and resources. A portion of the proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, the Maury County school with the most participation in the event will receive a donation to their P.E. program from the Foundation.
“The Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot is a great tradition for both Maury County and the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation that helps support our mission of providing important health care services for individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain care,” Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore said. “We are excited to host the Mule Kick 5K and look forward to an exciting race!”
On Saturday, April 1, the race will begin at Riverwalk Park in Columbia with an 8 a.m. start time for the 5K and a 9:15 a.m. start time for the 1-Mile Trot. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Participants may register for the race online at runsignup.com/MuleKick5K.
…And now, news from around the state…
Governor’s Transportation Bill Passes (Tennessean)
The Tennessee Senate on Monday green lit a transportation plan backed by Gov. Bill Lee that would funnel more than $3 billion into infrastructure projects in the state.
If the plan is given final passage, each of the Tennessee Department of Transportation's four regions would receive $750 million to cover infrastructure issues.
Though some opponents of the plan have criticized the distribution by region, arguing the equal pots of money should be distributed on a per capita basis to account for higher populations and related congestion issues, the legislation received largely bipartisan votes through the committee process this year.
Senators voted 26-5 for the plan, with a mix of Republicans and Democrats opposed to the measure.
The House version of the bill, HB 321, could be up for its final committee vote on Tuesday, possibly clearing the way for final passage by the end of the month for one of Lee's major 2023 priorities.
The bill institutes new electric vehicles fees to offset lost gas taxes, to be paid with vehicle registrations, that would start at $200 until 2027 and then rise to $274. The statute could adjust the fee to match inflation thereafter.
Lee's plan also calls for "public-private partnership" to establish toll lanes, or what Lee's administration calls "choice lanes," which would be express lanes that charge drivers usage fees. Sen. Becky Massey, R-Knoxville, argued the choice lanes are different than toll roads as a driver will have an option to pay for an express lane or drive on an existing lane for free.
"It is similar to TSA Pre-check or Disney Fast Pass where you can decide if you want to do it or not," Massey said. "Fees are never charged in a general purpose lanes and the number of free lanes are never reduced."
Sen. Brent Taylor, R-Memphis, said Tennesseans could face a 93-cent gas tax increase to similarly fund road updates without Lee's transportation plan.
"This is a good step forward. We cannot keep having conversations about roads — we have to be innovative," Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, said in support of the bill. "This is a good first step."
At least two Republicans expressed opposition to partnerships with private companies from foreign countries. Massey said any country on the U.S. sanctions list would not be allowed to contract with TDOT.
"A private firm may enter into a lease agreement with TDOT, but note Tennessee will always own the road," Massey said.
Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)
After a moderate price hike heading into last week, gas prices across the state are once again trending lower and fell an average of six cents over last week. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.09 which is a penny less expensive than one month ago and 95 cents less than one year ago.
“Gas prices are continuing to fluctuate across the state, but it’s not all bad news for drivers. Significant losses in the oil market last week helped push pump prices lower across the state,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Typically when we experience times of increased demand alongside tighter gasoline supplies we would expect pump prices to trend higher; however, lower crude oil prices seem to have mitigated this effect. Unless market fundamentals rebound this week, lower crude oil prices could likely be an indicator that pump prices will move lower again this week.”
Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)
Nearly everyone knows the music of The Temptations – hits like “My Girl,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” are part of our collective musical lexicon. The eponymous Broadway smash “Ain’t Too Proud –The Life and Times of The Temptations,” which plays at TPAC March 21-26, tells the story of the group’s journey from its rocky beginnings in Detroit to its rise to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
You can see the show at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 505 Deaderick St., Nashville. Tickets range from $45-$130 and can be purchased at www.tpac.org.