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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 6, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Duck River Bills (CDH)

After a state House subcommittee's unanimous vote Tuesday in favor of expanding protections to the Duck River, cautious optimism is settling in for county and state elected leaders hoping to keep waters clean for the “most biodiverse river in the world."

But lingering questions are keeping community advocates vigilant.

House Bill 0447, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, would expand the state’s Class II Scenic status along the river in Maury County, acting as a guardrail of protection.

With Maury County commissioners in tow Tuesday, Cepicky stood before the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee advocating for the expansion of protective boundaries for the Duck River under the bill.

Subcommittee chairman, Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, said Tuesday, the committee had seen a large run of contentious bills in the past couple of weeks, but none with such support as the bill to protect Duck River.

“I never got as many emails as I got from your people in Maury County,” Hulsey told Cepicky.

Cepicky told committee members that there was a time when the river was not the most biodiverse, referring to when pollution from the former Monsanto Chemical Company imperiled the river.

“It’s taken a long time to get this river back to where it was,” Cepicky said. “We have already protected the eastern side as a class II pastoral scenic waterway,” Cepicky said. “We’re asking to protect its western side.”

Also leaning on the river’s use for outdoor recreation, Cepicky punctuated his comments with the importance of protecting the fastest-growing county in Tennessee — Maury County’s water source for “the next hundred years.”

Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti, along with Mayor Sheila Butt and other commissioners present at the subcommittee meeting in Nashville, said “hats off” to citizens who voiced support for the bill by sending almost 1,000 emails to elected leaders.

Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, raised questions Tuesday about how expanding the river's scenic status could create limitations to agriculture under the new protections, though the bill would protect existing agriculture developments with some exceptions.

While highlighting decades of progress to keep water protected from pollutants, Todd said his other concern was property rights.

“Protecting this resource is very important,” Todd said. “But I’m always concerned about property rights and how something is going to affect someone else.”

Todd asked Cepicky about further ramifications for property owners regarding land use and discharge of materials into rivers.

Cepicky deferred to TDEC's goal of maintaining water quality, stating “their job is not to prohibit business or land use, but to protect the water’s pristine nature.”

While the bill’s language focused on waterway protections, language for the designation of Class II rivers prohibits activity such as mining, timber harvesting and building of roads. 

Meanwhile in the Maury County community, some questions remain about a lingering solid waste landfill proposal by Baton Rouge-based Trinity Business Group, which has applied for multiple building permits on the former Monsanto Chemical Company site through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Last fall, community advocates moved swiftly to rally against the solid waste landfill, including a tire recycling center, that would be located approximately two miles from the Duck River at the Monsanto site. The old Monsanto property is designated as a Superfund site, which is mandated for EPA rehabilitation due to the presence of hazardous waste.

According to de facto expert and former Maury County Commissioner Sue Stephenson, the Monsanto property contains four buried capped pits containing phosphorus.

Elected leaders hope that the legislation will thwart landfill developments, that could cause pollution of the biodiverse river.

Last fall, the Maury County Commission added further protections to the Duck River by adopting the Jackson Law, a state law that would prohibit the construction of landfills without the approval of city and county government.

Jeremy Hooper, TDEC Solid Waste Management representative, spoke before the committee Tuesday, explaining that the bill would expand the scenic status, which could in-turn challenge landfill development.

“I can speak to solid waste management,” Hooper said. “There is a two-mile buffer [from the Duck River], in which solid waste landfills cannot be permitted. If this [status] is extended to that, we’d have to consider that in the permitting process.”

County Mayor Sheila Butt recently made five new appointments to the existing Maury-Marshall Solid Waste Board at February’s commission meeting, which will begin to seek solutions for new landfill sites.

The bill will be heard by the full House committee on March 8.

County Commission Approves Civil Service Amendment (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Commission voted last week to approve a resolution which would remove the hiring and promoting aspect from the Civil Service Board for the Maury County Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Bucky Rowland requested that the commission amend Chapter 26 of the Private Acts of 2007 to remove the hiring component but leave the grievance in the Private Act.

According to Chapter 26 of the Private Acts, the Civil Service Board for the Maury County Sheriff’s Department hold a number of powers, including reassignments and investigations. The board also has the power to hold exams “for the purpose of establishing lists of eligible candidates for the various positions in the classified service as often as required by the office of sheriff.”

The commission initially voted on whether to abolish the Civil Service Board altogether, but that vote failed by an 11-8 margin.

District 8 Commissioner Ray Jeter voiced his concerns over the act.

“It hinders the sheriff and his ability to hire, fire, and promote, which causes public safety issues if the sheriff remains unstaffed,” Jeter said. “Historically, the civil service board has been more political than anything I’ve ever seen.”

Jeter also said the board has been weaponized against the sheriff for political purposes.

Jerry Williams, chairman of the Civil Service Board, which is made up of five members, said the board has no political agenda.

“I can assure you this board has the best interest of the Maury County Sheriff’s Department and its employees,” Williams said.

Rowland said it was not his intention to abolish the board, noting he has nothing but respect for the current individuals serving.

“Even with the people we have, we still need to expedite the hiring and promoting side of things,” Rowland said.

The resolution is set to go to Nashville where it will be brought before the General Assembly. It must pass the legislature before taking effect.

CSCC Performance Series (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College welcomes Appalachian Road Show to the Cherry Theater on March 16 as part of the First Farmers Performance Series.


Appalachian Road Show is a visionary acoustic ensemble, bringing new-generation interpretations of traditional Americana, bluegrass and folk songs, as well as offering innovative original music, all presented with a common thread tied directly to the heart of the Appalachian regions of the United States. Appalachian Road Show invites us to come and sit a spell on its porch as the band shares its dynamic musicianship through songs and stories emanating from the mountains and hollers of North Carolina and Virginia to the coal mines of West Virginia and Kentucky. 

“We are excited to welcome this talented group of musicians to our Performance Series,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation. “Their authentic bluegrass sound is beloved by many, and tickets are selling fast! Don't miss the opportunity to join the celebration of genuine Appalachian music.”

Individual tickets are on sale for $30 each plus tax for adults and $20 each plus tax for Columbia State students. To charge tickets by phone using a major credit card, call 931.540.2879 or purchase them in person in Room 113 of the Pryor Administration Building on the Columbia Campus, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

On the night of the performance, the box office opens at 6 p.m. in the Kenneth and Ramona Cherry Theater, located in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus. Theater doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Columbia Campus is located at 1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia.

For more information, visit

Maury Regional Partners with People’s Table (Press Release)

Maury Regional Health (MRH) has found a new way to make the most out of its food not consumed by patients and staff on a daily basis.

Starting in January, the organization has used a partnership with The People’s Table to feed those less fortunate in the community. The idea was born out of an initiative through Morrison Healthcare, a Compass One Healthcare company that partners with MRH to provide food and nutrition services.

The People’s Table is a local soup kitchen organized by a collective of local churches and held each Tuesday and Friday at Columbia First United Methodist Church. The organization makes weekly visits to Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) to collect meals that would otherwise go to waste.

“The process has worked really well so far,” said Jerry Coulter, director of food and nutrition at MRH. “We’re thrilled that we can help our community members who are less fortunate. Our employees really have taken this initiative on in full force.”

The MRMC Food & Nutrition team packages food for families of four, as well as individual plates, in tin containers that are picked up by The People’s Table. The tin containers allow the food to be placed right into the oven, and the meals are labeled by what’s included and who prepared it. The People’s Table takes any excess meals to Harvest Share, a food pantry in Columbia.

“We’ve increased from providing probably 135 meals to about 165 meals weekly with the help of Maury Regional,” said David Barnett, director of The People’s Table. “It’s really awesome because it helps our meals go further and helps more people in our community.”

Not only does MRH get the satisfaction of helping the community, but it’s also turned into a learning tool for the Food & Nutrition team. Employees can track what foods they are donating most often, teaching them where they can cut back and what they can use more of in the future.

“It really is a win-win situation for us, and we’re so happy to be able to help our community,” said Kevin Kimmel, assistant director of food and nutrition at MRH. “We use it as a learning tool to discover what foods are left over most often while at the same time helping a local organization that is doing a lot of good for our community.”

In addition to handling meals for patients and operating the cafeteria on the ground floor of the main hospital building and the Java Junction coffee shop on the first floor, the MRMC Food & Nutrition team also oversees the Maury Regional Food Pantry. Since it was established in 2012, it has served more than 4,600 families, now helping 60-70 families per month.

The cafeteria is open daily from 6:30-9:30 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. for lunch Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. for lunch Saturday and Sunday. The Java Junction is open from 6 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Menus, catering options and more information on the dining options at MRMC, Marshall Medical Center and Wayne Medical Center can be found at

Classic Car Dealership to Open (MainStreetMaury)

Car culture in Middle Tennessee is getting a mighty boost as an expansive, brand-new classic automotive dealership will be opening in Columbia in the near future.

Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage (JHG) has announced that groundbreaking has begun on a vast, 22,000-square foot facility, and while the permanent location is taking shape, the dealership will be opening on a smaller scale in a freshly renovated building – also in Columbia.

“I’ve been a collector of classics and sports cars for a long time,” said Jason Johnson, the visionary and owner behind the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage brand. “It’s something that has always interested me, and it’s something I enjoy sharing with others. Car culture in this part of the country is flourishing, and it’s something that brings all types of people together. We see the JHG dealership as another positive addition to the community, and we’re looking forward to opening the doors to the public with an assortment of really unique vehicles available for purchase.”

Johnson has a long history in the automotive industry that began in auto salvage, auctions and high-quality rebuilds, and over the years, his eye for the best has become increasingly sharp. The brick-and-mortar dealership showroom will offer ever-evolving inventory that speaks to the demand of the market, and Johnson and his team will actively seek the best offerings across the country to populate the JHG dealership with thoughtfully selected vehicles. The facility is set up to offer distinct and ready-to-cruise vehicles including classic cars, modern muscle cars and sports cars and trucks.

The community can also expect an up-close look at vehicles from the dealership as they are on display at local car shows and meet-ups in Middle Tennessee. Once the initial location is open to the public, will allow those outside of the area to peruse the current inventory and arrange purchase.

“This dealership has been a dream for a long time, and to finally be breaking ground and moving forward on it is very exciting,” said Johnson. “To be able to build something like this in Columbia and contribute to the growth of this town makes it even better.”

Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage expects to open the doors of the initial location in mid-spring of 2023, with the permanent location slated for a 2025 opening.

Democratic Caucus To Be Held (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) will be holding its biennial reorganization convention on Saturday, March 11 at the Maury County Senior Citizen Center (1020 Maury County Park Dr., in Columbia). New officers will be elected, and new bylaws will be discussed at this convention.

All Maury County registered voters who are Democrats are eligible to participate in the convention. Party volunteers will check the voter registration and voting history of attendees to ensure the eligibility of participants. Others (non-residents, non-voters and non-Democrats, including members of the press) may attend as non-participating guests.

The Democratic Party does not charge dues and includes any voter who has voted in recent Democratic Party primaries or identifies with the party’s values as members.

Doors will open at 9 a.m., and attendees must be in line by 9:45 a.m. to participate in the convention. The convention program will start at 10 a.m. and should take about two hours to complete. Light refreshments will be provided.

The last county party convention was held in August 2021, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Conventions are normally held in the spring of odd years.

Democrats will pick a county chair, three vice-chairs, a secretary, and a treasurer; the party will also select two district representatives from each of Maury County’s 11 county commission districts to serve on the county party’s executive committee.

MCDP Chair James Dallas said “We look forward to meeting our Democratic friends and neighbors and discussing the future of our party in Maury County. We hope that this event will encourage and energize Democrats as we prepare for the 2024 election cycle.”

Chairman Dallas encourages Democrats to RSVP and pre-register for the event online. Links to the Facebook Event page and the pre-registration form are available on the MCDP website,

Maury County Democratic Party is the local county affiliate of the Tennessee Democratic Party and represents the interests of tens of thousands of Democratic-leaning voters in the county.

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.”

…And now, news from around the state…

High Winds Cause Deaths (Tennessean)

High winds on Friday claimed the lives of three people in Middle Tennessee — all due to fallen trees — according to authorities.

Most recently, a high school student in Gallatin died after a tree fell on her, according to Liberty Creek High School in a Facebook post Saturday evening. The student, Aleya Brooks, was in the hospital in critical condition on Friday and Saturday before passing, according to Liberty Creek and the Sumner County Sheriff's Office.

Liberty Creek organized a time of prayer for Brooks on Saturday afternoon.

In Hendersonville, a woman who lives in the 200 block of Lake Terrace Drive was walking back to her home with a neighbor when a tree fell, according to a news release from the city. Further information wasn’t immediately available.

Sustained winds caused downed trees and power lines throughout Hendersonville. Winds also caused havoc with traffic lights, which were reported out on East Main Street from Cherokee Road to Shutes Lane and along Indian Lake Boulevard from Vietnam Veterans Parkway to Main Street.

A person was killed in Humphreys County on Friday after a tree hit a vehicle, according to Humphreys County authorities.

The weather-related death occurred between the 900 and 1000 block of Little Blue Creek Road, according to the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office.

A male was killed based on a report the Humphreys County Emergency Management Agency received.

No further information about the cause of death was immediately disclosed.

Storms Friday triggered tens of thousands of power outages, downed trees, broke power poles and caused structural damage all across Middle Tennessee.

Much of the region experienced wind gusts of 50 miles per hour and higher on Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Clarksville had a wind gust that measured 79 mph and Springfield reached 74 mph, according to NWS.

The storms started through Middle Tennessee around 9 a.m. and raced through the Nashville area just after 11:30 a.m. A number of school systems closed ahead of the high winds and storms.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Icon Entertainment Group’s Johnny Cash Museum – which has become a staple of Nashville, country music and Johnny Cash culture – has been voted Best Music Museum in the 2023 USA Today/10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.

The revered Music City attraction, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, was one of 20 museums around the United States nominated for the awards by a panel of travel experts earlier this year, and it garnered the top spot after four weeks of public voting that concluded on February 13. 

“It’s a testament to Johnny Cash’s lasting legacy that ten years after his museum opened, it has been named the number one music museum in America by USA Today and 10Best readers nationwide,” said Bill Miller, Icon Entertainment Group’s founder and CEO. “We are honored and gratified by this important accolade, which makes this milestone anniversary year all the more special, and we thank all of those around the country who cast their votes for the Johnny Cash Museum.”

Opened in 2013, the museum was the first component of Icon Entertainment Group’s extensive presence in downtown Nashville, which now includes more than 100,000 square feet of commercial real estate and more than 500 employees.


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