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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 4, 2024

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

We start with local news…

The Drake (CDH)

Construction is underway downtown set to bring multiple projects to life along the East 6th Street, including downtown's first high-rise apartment complex, The Drake.

Anyone who has walked or driven along East 6th Street near the Woodland Street intersection might have noticed construction crews taking residence over the last few weeks. And while construction might create some inconvenience, the combined finished projects aim to add another layer to downtown's growing tapestry of businesses, modern residential options and historic preservation.

The Drake will offer 293 rooms, a parking garage (not public), ground-level retail space, courtyard and other amenities.

Franklin-based Bristol Development is overseeing the project, which is estimated to be completed in early 2026.

"They have closed on their property and submitted all of their building and construction plans to our development services staff, who are reviewing all of that now, but we went ahead and gave them the demo permit to begin site prep and demolition," city manager Tony Massey said. "They didn't waste any time at all getting all of that stuff knocked down and gone."

Adjacent to the apartment project, construction to expand the Maury County Archives has been underway for six months, which should be near completion by the end of September.

The archives expansion will add an additional 18,500 square feet to its current 8,500-square foot facility, which will add a much-needed space to preserve and make accessible, the historic documents of Maury County.

Down one block at East 6th Street and North Main Street two more projects, including new restaurants and a butcher are being constructed, adding to the changing landscape.

There are also plans to construct a museum dedicated to the city's automotive history, though Massey said details of that project are limited at this time.

"I don't know much about that, but that it's going to be next to where the downtown apartments are going," Massey said. "There is a lot of synergy going on downtown right now."

The Drake apartments will consist of four stories, with an additional lower level serving as a basement, with units ranging from one, two and three bedrooms.

In addition to its private garage parking, other Drake amenities will consist of a courtyard area with a pool, dog park and pet spa, a bike lounge, fitness center, as well as a music/podcast studio.

There are also plans to open retail space at the facility's frontage onto Woodland Street.

"It's pretty much got all of the bells and whistles that a modern apartment community can have," Bristol principal Charles Carlisle said. "There are a lot of people that love these little urban areas, and so we always want to attract people that could have bought a home, but want to live in a downtown area, having all of the amenities without having to maintain their own space. That's the target market that we are aiming for."

The Drake will also provide what's called a "co-working space" which is a gathering spot set up like a coffee shop for meetings and networking.

"It feels and looks like a coffee shop, with drinks and coffee available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Carlisle said. "There will be tables, chairs and little offices set up where people can come down and either be by themselves, or maybe have a small meeting down there. That's a big deal today with a lot of people working from home."

Carlisle said what attracted his company to build in Columbia was the thriving atmosphere of growth, small businesses and retail, as well as its integrity in maintaining its history and why his company hopes to bring "a new and exciting chapter" to downtown Columbia's continued growth.

"It's about keeping the trend of revitalizing the downtown, and I think this will really enhance that, because people living downtown is a really important thing to have," Carlisle said. "It's really exciting to see."

The Shops at Trotwood Square (WKOM Audio 2:00)

On Friday, the Shops at Trotwood Square opened for business. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to the proprietors of the three new businesses…

New Doc Joins MRMC (Press Release)

Michael Blanco, MD, has joined Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Mid-South Gastroenterology. Dr. Blanco will initially see patients at the Columbia location before transitioning full-time to the practice’s new Spring Hill location in May.

In addition to upper endoscopy, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, Dr. Blanco performs hemorrhoidal banding, endoscopic mucosal resection, variceal banding and Botox injection for esophageal motility disorders. He will perform procedures at Spring Hill Surgery Center, Maury Regional Medical Center and Maury Regional Mid-South Endoscopy Center.

Dr. Blanco brings a wealth of knowledge and has practiced gastroenterology for the past four years. He received his medical degree from Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Science in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Blanco completed his residency at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, and a fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He is board certified in internal medicine and gastroenterology.

In addition, Dr. Blanco is associated with several medical societies, including the American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, American College of Gastroenterology and National Hispanic Medical Association. He is fluent in English and Spanish, has published research in peer-reviewed journals and has conducted numerous clinical presentations.

In addition to Dr. Blanco, providers at MRMG Mid-South Gastroenterology include Dr.’s Amit A. Choksi, MD; Dayaker R. Mallipeddi, MD; Robert W. McClure, MD; Srikar S. Reddy, MD; and Nurse Practitioner Timothy Dickey, FNP, who were formerly Mid-South Gastroenterology Associates prior to joining Maury Regional Medical Group on January 1.

The Columbia office is in the Maury Regional Medical Office Building, Suite 501, at 1222 Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. The Spring Hill office will be located at 1003 Reserve Boulevard, Suite 220, in Spring Hill. Office hours are Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. A physician’s order is required to make an appointment.

For a complete list of services and more information, call 931.388.8302 or visit

Star Dancer Studio (WKOM Audio 2:12)

A new dance studio opened in Spring Hill on Friday. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by the ribbon cutting and spoke to Savannah Livy to learn more about Star Dancer Studio.

Spring Hill Innovation Series (Press Release)

The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce "Innovation Lives Here: A Thought Leader Speaker Series for Middle Tennessee." Inspired by the globally acclaimed TED® talks, the series will commence with its first event on March 20, followed by additional events on July 24 and Oct. 16, 2024, each running from 10 a.m. to noon at Thompson Station Church located at 2604 Thompson's Station Rd E in Thompson's Station.

The first event within the series on March 20 will feature distinguished speakers including Yesenia Sevilla, Director, Strategic Engagement & Ecosystem Development with The Wond'ry at Vanderbilt University; Dr. Joyce Thompson Heames, Dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University; and John Woerner, notable lighting innovator and business owner of J Squared Systems.

“The Spring Hill Chamber witnesses examples of extraordinary innovation in our area every day,” said Executive Director Rebecca Melton. “We are thrilled to unveil an event that not only embodies our spirit of innovation, but will also inspire the entire Middle Tennessee community. Because this series will cover a wide range of topics across technology, education, healthcare, arts, and business, we encourage all professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovation enthusiasts to join us as we explore transformative ideas that will shape our future.”


For event and registration information, visit The speaker series is presented by Premier Design Build of Spring Hill.

Kids’ Place Fundraiser (Press Release)

Join the Kids’ Place Child Advocacy Center for the 5th Annual Kid's Place Shine Gala, a Roaring 20s Ball inspired by the Great Gatsby. This year's theme, "Together We Shine," celebrates the shared commitment to the work done at Kid's Place and the successes they have achieved. They are excited to present an exceptional program that promises to be both engaging and entertaining. 

Get ready to bring your glam game! The dress code is semi-formal with a touch of 20's Gatsby style. The talented chefs at Keestone Resort will be whipping up light hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour beginning at 6pm. For dinner, savor the deliciousness of filet medallions and coconut shrimp, with a side of roasted baby potatoes and fresh asparagus. And for the grand finale, choose between a berry or turtle cheesecake that will make your taste buds dance! 

All proceeds raised from this event will go towards the continued training and services the Kid’s Place provides. Their free services include Forensic Interviews, Trauma Focused Therapy, Family Advocacy, and Preventative Education and Community Awareness.  

There will be live music, a local speaker, and they look forward to sharing how they are growing! You will also get to hear about how you can help in the fight against Child Abuse.  

If you sign up as a monthly donor from the donate page at before the Gala, you can help Kid’s Place reach their goal for the evening! 

$30/month – 2 drink tickets - recognized as Help Partner

$50/month – 4 drink tickets - recognized as Hope Partner

$75/month – 6 drink tickets - recognized as Healing Partner

Can’t attend, that’s ok – you can still SHINE!

You can become a monthly Help, Hope, or Healing partner, or make a one-time donation of $250, $500, or $1000. 

The event will take place at 6:00pm on March 22nd at the Keestone Resort located at 150 Club House Drive, in Loretto, TN.

Duck River Electric Workshop (Press Release)

Reserve your seat now at Duck River Electric’s FREE Home Energy Workshop!

The Home Energy Workshop will be held in Maury County on Tuesday, March 12th at 6 PM at the Duck River office located at 798 New Lewisburg Highway in Columbia.

DREMC’s Residential Energy Advisor shares advice for improving the energy efficiency of your home, and you’ll learn about the programs, services, and rebates available to assist with energy efficiency improvements.

The workshop includes a light supper, plus, each participating household will receive a FREE energy-saving starter kit.

Due to limited space, reserve your seat today. Call DREMC at 931-680-5880 or sign up online at

Justice Center Time Capsule (Press Release)

The Maury County Historical Society has been granted permission by the Maury County Commission to place a time capsule in the new Maury County Justice Center currently under construction. A selection committee has been created and is ready to receive items. If you have something small and Maury County related you would like to donate, contact Eric Previti at (931) 626-9878 or

TN Guard Deploying to Texas Border (Tennessean)

Tennessee will deploy two waves of National Guard troops to the border through the spring as Republican governors across the country continue to back Texas in its ongoing feud with federal authorities over immigration enforcement.

Gov. Bill Lee and first lady Maria Lee met with deploying National Guard members in Millington, Tennessee on Saturday, weeks after the governor traveled to the border and pledged to support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with an escalating and increasingly politicized border crisis.

"Gov. Abbott has made the decision to utilize Texas' resources to secure that border and to keep that traffic from coming into his state," Lee said. "But it's an overwhelming task, and he asked governors to join him because each one of us recognizes that."

The Texas National Guard earlier this year seized control of a popular border crossing in Eagle Pass, and Texas began blocking federal immigration officials and Border Patrol agents from the area. The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled the state could not block federal access, upholding longstanding precedent that the federal government, not states, control border enforcement.

Tennessee National Guard Maj. Gen. Warner Ross would not comment specifically on where Tennessee's contingent will be sent. Tennessee deployed 125 soldiers last year to McAllen, Texas.

The new deployment consists of about 50 soldiers, authorities said Saturday, deployed through March, with another wave replacing them later in the spring.

The governor and first lady traveled to West Tennessee on Saturday to meet with the deploying guard members ahead of their deployment.

Lee said “most of America has come to realize” the ongoing border issues are “a true crisis for our country.” The governor on Saturday cited concerns with human and drug trafficking in unauthorized border crossings.

“You realize what is happening and what has been happening there has to change," Lee told the guard members. "You are part of that change."

A recent Gallup poll shows Americans believe immigration is the top issue facing the U.S., the first time the issue has topped the list since 2018. The border is clearly emerging as a defining topic of the 2024 presidential elections, as President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump each made a stop at the Texas border on Thursday.

Republicans have accused Biden of reversing Trump-era policies that stemmed the flow of border crossings, though USA Today reports the number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border more than doubled during the Trump administration by 2019 after a brief dip in 2017. Migration did fall significantly in 2020, largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic that led to widespread travel restrictions across the world.

Border encounters have risen during the Biden administration as pandemic restrictions were rescinded. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 1.7 million migrant encounters at the Southwest border in fiscal 2021, 2.4 million in fiscal 2022 and an additional 2.5 million in fiscal 2023.

Meanwhile, Republicans last month torpedoed a bipartisan U.S. Senate border security package, which included more conservative border policies initially backed by both Democrats and the GOP, after Trump whipped opposition to the bill.

In Texas, Abbott has characterized the border issue as an "invasion" in legal filings in the effort to assert state sovereignty over federal immigration authority. Texas has argued it has a right to supersede federal law to act on immigration as the state sees fit. A federal judge this week ruled otherwise, temporarily blocking a Texas law to expand state immigration enforcement powers. U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra wrote immigration surges do not constitute an “invasion,” nor is Texas “engaging in war.”

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Grand Ole Opry is set to mark Women’s History Month spotlighting the female trailblazers, legends and women of country music who have contributed some of the biggest songs and most memorable moments in the history of country music and the Opry.

Among female artists scheduled to appear on the Opry during the month are Lauren Alaina, Crystal Gayle, Chapel Hart, Mickey Guyton, Kathy Mattea, Ashley McBryde, Lorrie Morgan, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, and more.

Tickets for Opry shows and backstage tours, including the special Women of Country backstage tour, are on sale now at (615) 871-OPRY and


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