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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 25, 2024

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


We start with local news…

Bomb Threat (Maury County Source)

On Saturday evening at about 6:00pm, officers from Spring Hill Police Department responded to a report of a bomb threat at 5000 Northfield Lane in Spring Hill, which is the large-scale entertainment venue, Worldwide Stages. Reportedly, officials received a call from a person who said they placed several bombs inside the building. 

The Worldwide Stages Instagram account showed that a boxing event was scheduled to take place Saturday evening. Police reported that all event attendees were evacuated and Columbia Police and the Tennessee Highway Patrol Bomb Squad were also called on the scene.

Police report that this case appears to be a ‘swatting’ call.’ Swatting is a form of harassment to deceive an emergency service provider into sending a police and emergency service response team to another person’s address due to the false reporting of a serious law enforcement emergency. The individuals who engage in this activity use technology, such as caller ID spoofing, social engineering, TTY, and prank calls to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone. Traditionally, law enforcement has seen swatters directing their actions toward individuals and residences. Increasingly, the FBI sees swatters targeting public places such as airports, schools, and businesses. Another recent trend is so-called celebrity swatting, where the targeted victims are well-known personalities.

SHPD will work with state and federal law enforcement partners to determine the origin of this call.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Spring Hill Fire Department World Wide Stages Security, Columbia Police Department, Tennessee and Nashville International Airport Police, and FBI Nashville Field Office all assisted with this case.

Spring Hill Police Department reports that the “unattended item” that prompted the evacuation was determined safe by THP bomb squad techs. Around 8:30pm, the building search was completed and spectators were allowed back into the building.

Landmark Ceramics (WKOM Audio 3:12)

On Friday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter and Landmark Ceramics UST, Inc. officials announced the company is investing $71.9 million to expand its tile production in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee.

 

Landmark Ceramics plans to create an additional 78 new jobs at its North Main Street location.

 

The expansion in Maury County increases Landmark Ceramics’ footprint by more than 400,000 square feet and increases its installed production capacity to 80 million square feet a year.

 

In addition, the project includes the creation of a new logistics hub, which will be modern, highly automated and equipped with state-of-the-art technology to enhance quality, efficiency, accuracy and precision for all Landmark Ceramics’ logistics services.

 

A subsidiary of Italian-based Gruppo Concorde, Landmark Ceramics UST, Inc. is a 100-percent American ceramic tile company that specializes in the production and marketing of high-quality porcelain tile from its sole location in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee. 

 

Since 2020, TNECD has supported nearly 15 economic development projects in Maury County, resulting in approximately 3,400 job commitments and $4.8 billion in capital investment.

WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the announcement ceremony and got to speak with Governor Lee to learn more about what the expansion means to Maury County and the State…

Mt. Pleasant City Manager Position Moves Forward (MSM)

The Mount Pleasant City Commission voted unanimously to move forward with applications for the new city manager position during a special called meeting held March 7.

Out of 12 applicants, four were approved to move on to be interviewed. The interviews will take place at a publicly noticed open meeting.

Mount Pleasant Mayor Bill White said the city received applicants from a vast array of locations including Texas, Michigan and Virginia.

“In my opinion, we have a wealth of information here and from my point of view we have the correct number of applicants and we can start now deciding who we would like to move forward with,” White said.

Nominees for the position include Mount Pleasant Fire Chief Phillip Grooms, Mount Pleasant Assistant Police Chief Jack Burgett, Steven Cross, Fire Management Consultant with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service, and Spring Hill Assistant City Manager Dan Allen.

Commissioner Mike Davis, who nominated Allen, said he was his No. 1 pick.

“The reason I’m saying that is because of what he’s been involved in with the cities before him,” Davis said.

Vice-Mayor Jacqueline Grandberry nominated former Columbia attorney Rhonda Hooks, though she received no additional votes.

The interviews are set to be held on Tuesday, March 26. When a candidate is decided upon is yet to be determined.

Dallas to Run for State Senate (WKOM 2:34)

On Friday, the chair of the Maury County Democratic Party, James Dallas, announced that he will be running for the 28th District seat in the state senate. His run will pit him against long-time incumbent Dr. Joey Hensley. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy spoke to Mr. Dallas about his political outlook and his background…

Bear Creek Development (CDH)

A proposed project to build 800 homes, a day care and other amenities off Bear Creek Pike has drawn differing opinions, such as if it would embody smart growth within Columbia's urban growth boundary.

The proposed Columbia Bluffs planned unit development project, led by Florida-based real estate firm Kolter Group, which has been reviewed several times over the last couple of years, was ultimately deferred by the Columbia Planning Commission earlier this month.

While the item did not receive approval or denial, there was a lengthy discussion regarding the project's newest changes, as well as many citizens sharing their concerns.

The request, made by applicant Gamble Design, was to annex approximately 410 acres of land, seek approval of the preliminary plat and to rezone the property to allow a planned unit development. The land currently resides within Columbia's urban growth boundary in Maury County, but not the city limits of Columbia, hence the annexation request.

"It's my opinion that this newly proposed plan is vastly improved and is truly unique to this property," Greg Gamble of Gamble Design said. "It creates some economic diversity within this neighborhood. This is not to be a one size fits all, but to provide diversity and options to the residents of Columbia."

The Columbia Bluffs project aims to be one of the largest developments in recent history, and while it aims to provide housing options for Columbia's growing population, its location has drawn concerns.

Bear Creek Pike remains one of the most traveled roads in the city, with multiple roadway projects either underway or awaiting approval, such as the I-65 interchange enhancements and the long-awaited Bear Creek widening project, which did not receive Tennessee Department of Transportation approval last year.

The ongoing traffic woes with bringing 800 homes to the area raised many concerns from citizens, with no less than 10 signing up to speak during the March 13 meeting. While traffic was a common theme, other issues included the potential impact it would have on local utilities, such as water and sewer.

"I've lived on my road for 17 years now, and I have seen several fatalities literally across the street from my house," Scott Prince, a nearby Columbia resident said. "The unintended consequences of increased traffic up and down our road is just getting to be too much. Without further improvements and infrastructure, I'm afraid that we're just going to be another Baker Road before too long, with people cutting through towards Bear Creek Pike. It's a problem that's just not going to be able to be solved."

Maury County District 8 Commissioner Gabe Howard, also voiced his concerns, primarily speaking on behalf of the concerned citizens, property owners and others against the proposed annexation.

"This is something that the people don't want, and there's lots of great speakers who have spoken on the technical specifics of it. But I think this body did a great job of all the reasons why it doesn't fit," Howard said. "At the end of the day, you err on the side of the people, and the people spoke multiple times in this regard."

The residential portion of Columbia Bluffs would consist of a mix of townhomes, single-family homes, as well as a section for active senior adults. Amenities would include a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail, which would include a bike lane.

More than 50% of the property is also being dedicated for park space/civic gathering areas. The planned 10 park spaces would include a clubhouse with two swimming pools, pickle ball courts, five playgrounds, two dog parks, multi-purpose fields for youth sports and a community garden.

The townhomes would also be maintenance free, meaning residents would not be responsible for yardwork and outside upkeep.

Preservation of the existing land, as well as the nearby Duck River, local flood planes and other natural drainage areas was another key focus in the latest design, Gamble added.

"Open spaces should be identified and preserved with this specific goal in mind," Gamble said. "The property should be developed using conservation, design concepts where low impact is proposed, and where conservation is top priority around environmental features in order to protect them."

After the lengthy discussion, presentations and the many citizens who signed up to speak, the planning commission ultimately deferred the item.

Given the project's scope, the varying opinions and recent updates to its preliminary designs, planning chair Charlie Goatz recommended the deferral, and that it was "too soon" to make a final decision.

"There is a lot that's new here, and a lot to take in, and we've heard a lot from concerned citizens. So this is a lot for me to absorb," Goatz said. "I do have concerns ... and it sounds like there are going to be lots of open communication between now and the next month for what's being presented here tonight."

Mayor Chaz Molder commented on the project, the fact that it has been ongoing for a number of years and how it applies to the city's approach to "smart growth."

"I don't know what the definition of smart growth is, but I do know that what has been presented this evening ... the density has been reduced by 500, removed the multi-family and added the senior living, which is what we requested, added to the parks portfolio and [is] voluntarily agreeing to an impact fee," Molder said.

"Those are factors, if you take outside biases away on how you feel about the development and where it's located, that any reasonable person can agree are positive factors of a development of this nature."

Gamble agreed that a deferral would be appropriate at this time.

"We believe that this proposed development raises the bar in Columbia, and we want to be a part of that process in raising the bar in Columbia," Gamble said. "We're excited about it."

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

Joyce Ernestine Shelby Cochran, 80, and resident of Duck River, TN, Passed away Friday, March 22, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center. 

Funeral Services will be conducted Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 12:00 PM at Highland church of Christ. Burial will follow at Stand Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM at Highland church of Christ.

…And now, news from around the state…

Opioid Abatement (TheNewsTN)

The Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council has announced its first round of community grant recipients with $81 million set to be distributed throughout the state. 

Applications for the grants opened in September. Organizations proposed projects that fit into a set of remediation strategies determined by the council. Treatment programs received the highest subset of money statewide, at $32.8 million. The next highest was recovery support, at $19 million. The remaining categories were primary prevention ($12.2 million), and around $8 million each for education and training and harm reduction, with the smallest number awarded for research and evaluation, $752,508. 

Out of 396 proposals, the council approved 116 grants. The council is set to receive more than $600 million in the next 18 years from various lawsuits against companies that made, distributed or sold opioid painkillers, including Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Walmart.

Planting Time (Tennessean)

Spring is here and it's time to get your spring garden started.

March 19 marks the first day of spring and if you haven't started, now is the time to plan what you want in your spring and summer garden. Timing is a big part of making sure you have a harvest ready when you want it.

Tennessee's climate is variable across the state so start times may differ if you live in Knoxville compared to Memphis or Nashville. For the most part, now is the time to start early seeds (like kale or lettuce), and prep your materials for gardening and getting seedlings into the ground after the last frost, according to the University of Tennessee Extension.

Tomatoes are sun-loving plants that are not fond of cold temperatures or frost.

The Farmer's Almanac suggests people who are starting tomatoes from seed, start them indoors six weeks before the last expected spring frost date. For East and Middle Tennessee you should keep them indoors until the second or third week in April, that is when the last frost is expected for this part of the state. West Tennessee will probably see its last frost toward the end of March though.

Seedlings can be planted outdoors about two weeks after that date or when temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range both day and night, according to the Almanac.

Once you get them planted in the ground, or a container, it can take anywhere from 60 to 100 days for a plant to mature, depending on the variety.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Nashville Symphony’s April 2024 schedule features classical concerts with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet concluding the centennial celebration of Rhapsody in Blue with a performance of the work alongside pieces by Florence Price and William Dawson; cellist Zuill Bailey performs Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 on a bill also featuring two Beethoven symphonies; live-to-film performances of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; and FREE concerts from the Tennessee Youth Symphony and a National Pathways Side-by-Side concert featuring the Nashville Symphony and 60 pre-college musicians of color.

Learn more about all the upcoming concerts and get your tickets by visiting www.nashvillesymphony.org.


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