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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 7, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Cross Bridges Development Approved (MSM)

The Maury County Regional Planning Commission reapproved by a 4-3 vote last Monday, Feb. 26 a proposed development which would add 115 homes off of South Cross Bridges Road in Mount Pleasant.

Those who voted in favor included Mark Cook, Peder Jensen, Mike Diaz and Chairman Harold Delk. Those who opposed were Meredithe Hyjek, Sam Kennedy and Vice Chairman Randall Webster.

The concept plan for the property, which is currently zoned Rural Residential, was originally approved last October. However, following traffic concerns, staff suggested re-approval under the condition that developer Harpeth Valley Homes work with the Highway Department.

Bruce Peden, who represents the property owners, said the road and highway department had 15 months to request a right-of-way on both sides of the road.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever to support this requirement. In fact, the requirement renders the project totally impossible,” Peden said.

Shelene Lewandowski, who resides on South Cross Bridges Road, expressed safety concerns, stating her children would be affected by the development.

“The right of passage, there is 30 feet from the center of the road,” she said. “It would put my children in danger of the traffic that would move through from those 115 lots.”

Questions were also raised over residents receiving water services.

“I am well aware from a public service standpoint, we had to take fire trucks and had firefighters handing water out to residents of Mount Pleasant,” Commissioner Peder Jenson said, referring to January’s weather-related potable water supply issues.

“That’s a big concern of mine to make sure they have the proper water.”

Jake Wolaver, an attorney at Wolaver & Carter in Columbia, said the roadway will need to be expanded in order to provide emergency services.

“This developer that wants to bring the city 115 homes across the street in a big open field doesn’t want to have to pay and bear the cost to expand that roadway,” Wolaver said. “That roadway is going to need to be expanded because with 115 homes, Maury County is going to have to provide emergency services.”

The commission ultimately reapproved the concept plan under 13 staff recommendations, including coordination with the highway department on off-site road improvements following the analysis of a traffic study. Other conditions include installing fire hydrants at both intersections, provide updated water availability and submitting proof of convenience and necessity for the state, among others.

All changes must be made prior to the preliminary plat being presented to the planning commission.

Mt. Pleasant Receives Grant (Press Release)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter announced yesterday the 50 recipients receiving funding through the Infrastructure Planning Grant (IPG) program.


The $10.7 million in funding is part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Act and will assist communities and utility districts across Tennessee with long-term planning for their water and sewer systems.


"Ensuring all Tennesseans have access to clean water starts with investing in the right infrastructure,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank our General Assembly for funding this program and commend the 50 grantees for stepping up to help our communities strengthen local infrastructure and plan for the future.”


The IPG program is open to utility systems that serve distressed counties and rural communities on the financially distressed utility system referral list. Funds can be used in the following program categories: water system mapping and modeling, water system analysis, sewer system mapping and modeling, sewer system analysis, asset management related activities and regionalization studies. 


“Without strong infrastructure, communities cannot grow or attract business and industry,” said Commissioner McWhorter. “I congratulate those receiving funding through the IPG program and look forward to seeing how these 50 projects will spur future economic growth.”


The grants awarded include the City of Mt. Pleasant, who will receive $405,000.

Polar Plunge Raises Funds (MSM)

Sunday, Feb. 25 was a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 50s and sunny skies perfect for a plunge, a Maury County Special Olympics Polar Plunge.

The event was a rousing success from top to bottom and included 75 individual plungers. The plunge was held at Muletown Rec and was a collaborative event between Maury County Special Olympics, Special Olympics Tennessee and Muletown Rec. The event raised over $13,000 for Maury County Special Olympics, well overshooting the group’s goal of $10,000. The money will go towards providing year-round training and competition for athletes with physical and mental disabilities.

The Polar Plunge consisted of individual plungers and group plungers. The top fundraisers included Special Olympics athlete Halladay White, and plungers included the Kings Daughters School Mules as well as the Muletown Rec Lifeguards.

The biggest draw of the event was a costume contest between the plungers. There were a variety of costumes ranging from superheroes to professional skateboarder Tony Hawk and even a plunger dressed as the famous Tom Hanks character Forrest Gump. Even Muletown Rec marketing director Catherine Davis was dressed as a caped crusader.

The dynamic team who brought the event together consisted of Shannon Neff, Area Director of Special Olympics Maury County, and Catherine Davis, the marketing director of Muletown Rec. Davis’s facilities at Muletown Rec were immaculate and Neff brought out the participants. Together, the two together did a fabulous job hosting the event.

Neff is not only the Maury County Area Director for Special Olympics, but she is also a recreational therapist with the King’s Daughters school in Columbia.

There will be other opportunities to volunteer with Maury County Special Olympics, such as the state basketball tournament held at Lipscomb University from March 8-9 and Spring Games to be held at Columbia Academy on April 26.

If you’re interested any upcoming events, contact Neff via the Special Olympics Tennessee website at by entering Maury County Area 6 in the search bar.

Columbia State Opens New Williamson Facility (CDH)

Columbia State Community College's Williamson Campus celebrated its expanding landscape with the grand opening of its new arts and technology building.

In February, community members, students, faculty, staff and administration gathered at the Franklin campus for a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.

The arts and technology building is the first academic expansion since the original three buildings opened in 2016, creating opportunities for enrollment growth, new community partnerships and additional course offerings.

Dr. Dearl Lampley, Columbia State vice president of the Williamson Campus and external services, described how the new building will help the Williamson Campus.

“I’ve often been asked, ‘what’s the justification for another building?’” Lampley said. “And the answer is pretty simple. We ran out of space.

"All of you are familiar with the growth of Williamson County. Well, that’s correlated with the growth of this campus. It’s no secret that Columbia State is one of the primary choices for higher education for Williamson County graduates.”

The approximately 39,000 square foot building features new classrooms, labs and student engagement space for existing, as well as new workforce-oriented programs that include information technology, networking, cyber defense, data analytics, art and graphic design.

Building features also include a student hub and a flexible instructional space with theater-style seating and a small stage.

In addition, Columbia State has established a collaboration with Tennessee College of Applied Technology Dickson for digital graphic design and practical nursing to be taught at the Williamson Campus starting in May. It also houses the Jackson IT Center and the Pamela Stephens and Tim Kalthoff Innovation Lab, which includes an innovation makers space, arts lab and an electronic gaming room.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to be able to partner with Columbia State,” Laura Travis, Tennessee College of Applied Technology Dickson president, said. “We’re excited for the future. We’re excited for our students and for the partnerships that they’ll have to continue their education if they choose to with Columbia State.”

Columbia State Foundation members and donors were also in attendance to tour and experience the new building. Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president of advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation, thanked them for their support of the project.

“If you are here, you are part of the success,” Lay said. “All of us here today — we are what puts community in our colleges.”

“Columbia State is a phenomenal institution and it does rival any university, not just in Tennessee, but in this country,” said Dr. Flora W. Tydings, Tennessee Board of Regents chancellor. “The quality of education that happens is number one, it cannot be replicated.”

Raffauf Named Shelter Director (MSM)

The Maury County Animal Shelter (MCAS) recently announced the hiring of Kim Raffauf as its new director.

Raffauf began volunteering at the shelter two years ago. She then became volunteer coordinator while also starting a nonprofit, Friends of MCAS, which aims to help the shelter with medical treatment and extra needs. Raffauf also started Playgroups, a program used by many successful shelters which places animals with better adopters by teaching more about their personalities, disposition, likes and dislikes.

“I came in to walk dogs and that was my main focus and quickly you get hooked because you’re very emotionally attached to these animals and you see how much joy it gives them to get out and get enrichment,” Raffauf said.

In January, the shelter parted ways with former director Kaitlyn Stewart after 13 months on the job. Earlier that month, allegations of abuse at the shelter were raised during a meeting of the Maury County Health and Environment Committee. At the time, Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt stood behind Stewart, maintaining that progress was being made.

Raffauf said she immediately began making changes the first day on the job.

“The first day every stray in the back went for outside enrichment time,” she said. “They also have enrichment toys which helps with boredom,” she said. “We also changed cleaning protocols. It was stuff they were always capable of doing, it just needed to be enforced.”

Raffauf said the shelter is also talking about an expansion.

“We are talking with the county and different resources about expanding because they realize there have been no changes to that building since 2004,” she said.

The biggest trend being seen at the shelter is owner surrender, which Raffauf said is due in part to owners being unable to keep their pets because of rentals.

“We have had probably five this week,” she said. “The growth here has really affected us hard.”

Raffauf said the shelter currently has over 100 animals with only 13 employees.

“The public can help by holding strays for us,” she said. “There’s just all different ways you can help,” Raffauf said, adding that the shelter offers training to get started.

“Sharing our posts is always a good way to help,” Raffauf said.

Those interested can also donate to Friends of MCAS by visiting

For adoption information, volunteer information and messages, call (931) 375-1406. The Adoption Center is open seven days a week from noon-5 p.m. and the Intake Center is open Tuesday-Friday from noon-4:30 p.m.

Dems to Hold Convention in March (MSM)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) will hold its quadrennial County Convention on March 16, 2024, when the MCDP will kick off its efforts to re-elect President Biden and support Democratic candidates for state elections at all levels.

The Convention will be held at the Dr. Christa Secrest Martin Recreation Center in Fairview Park, 871 Iron Bridge Road in Columbia, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Doors will open at 11 and business will start at noon. A monthly open meeting of the Maury County Democratic Party will be called to order after the convention.

The MCDP Convention is part of the process for electing “selectors.” Selectors will choose Democratic National Convention delegates on April 6 at the Congressional District Convention. The location and time for the Congressional District Convention will be announced soon.

Maury County is entitled to pick 29 of the 280 selectors for the Fifth Congressional District. These selectors at the Fifth Congressional District Convention will pick five delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

The Tennessee Democratic Party will choose additional at-large delegates on April 27. The Democratic National Convention will be held in August in Chicago.

Candidates for delegate must declare themselves by March 7. Further information for those wishing to be a candidate for delegate can be found at the Tennessee Democratic Party website ( website under “Delegate Selection.”

To participate in the County Convention, you must have voted in the March 5 Democratic Presidential Primary in Maury County. Voters who will turn 18 between March 6 and Nov. 5 are exempt from that requirement. All Democrats must sign a form pledging to support the Party’s presidential nominee.

Democrats are encouraged to pre-register online at The 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.

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…  

Mr. Lecil Jerry Smith, 71, retired from General Electric and Peterbilt, died Tuesday at his residence. Graveside services will be conducted Friday at 2:00 PM at Polk Memorial Gardens. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are in charge of the arrangements.

James Robert Tucker, a lifelong farmer from Shady Grove, passed away on March 1, 2024 at the age of 76. 

There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 11 AM at Edgewood Baptist Church in Duck River, TN. A gathering of friends and family will precede the service starting at 9 AM.

…And now, news from around the state…

Unclaimed Property (Tennessean)

The Tennessee Department of Treasury has some — actually, a lot of — money to give away.

Yes, you heard that correctly. It's not a scam, instead the state Department of Treasury has more than a billion dollars in unclaimed property that is waiting for residents to claim, Tennessee Treasurer David Lillard said.

During the annual Mem2Nash Conference on Feb. 21 in Nashville, Lillard discussed the unclaimed property division, which continues to be a lesser-known program for many residents.

The money is turned over to the state by businesses and organizations unable to locate the rightful owner. The division is a consumer protection program designed to ensure those missing dollars are returned to the correct owners, according to a 2021 column from Lillard.

Lillard said the program saw more that 65,000 claims last fiscal year, which yielded more than $68.7 million in returns for residents.

Unclaimed property is when banks, credit unions, utility companies, governments or other organizations owe you money and they cannot locate you. They report the unclaimed property to the state and the state holds it until you claim it.

Once you go online to the Tennessee Department of Treasury's website at, click to search for unclaimed property. Once there, you will input as much information as you can. It asks for last name, first name, city, ZIP code and property ID. A list will then come up. Search for your name and hit claim.

Lillard reminds people also try searching with their maiden names.

The default period for unclaimed property is three years. This is down from the previous period of five years.

The Tennessee Department of Treasury uses a variety of methods to try and notify you about your unclaimed property. They will mail information to your home and your work, have advertisements and host public events to help people access the unclaimed property. The easiest way to see if you have unclaimed property is by going to its website.

Claimants received payments totaling $68.7 million between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. 65,150 individuals submitted claims during this time period. Holders turned over $154.8 million to the Tennessee Department of Treasury in this period as well.

The largest three categories that unclaimed money comes from are financial institutions, insurance companies and retailers, services, telecommunications and colleges. These three categories make up 82% of all sources for unclaimed money.

Planetary Alignment (Tennessean)

Four planets are set to align in April this year, but will the alignment coincide with the total solar eclipse passing over 13 states next month?

On April 4, 2024, four planets will align on the same side of the sun as Earth. According to Star Walk, an astronomy app and developer, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Neptune will be visible. While full planetary alignments are rare, the alignment or three to six planets happens often. In 2024 and 2025, there will be a total of six planetary alignments consisting of five or more planets.

While the events are not happening on the same day, both astronomical events are occurring days apart from one another.

Planetary alignment is an astronomical term used to describe when several planets gather closely on one side of the sun. The planets will form a line, but it is almost never a straight line as the orbits are not the same.

It is recommended to start viewing an hour before local sunrise as that is when they are most visible.

During this alignment. Mars will be the first visible planet about an hour before sunrise. After Mars, Saturn will rise shortly. Neptune and Venus will be visible about the same time after Saturn.

The total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, April 8. It is set to pass through 13 total states during midday. It is the first total solar eclipse to occur in the United States since the 2017 eclipse. For most localities, the eclipse will peak between 1 and 2 p.m. CST.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Join Muletown Rec for their 2nd annual egg-citing Easter Egg Dive!

Date: Sunday, March 24th

Time: 1pm-3pm

Address: Muletown Rec, 1446 Oak Springs Dr, Columbia, TN

Kids can indulge in fun-filled festivities like searching for eggs in the water and below! The dive will take place in the indoor therapy pool.

Egg-Maddness will take place in the gymnasium area, which will be a tournament-style game played with your decorated egg.

There will also be prizes and pictures with the Easter Bunny!


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