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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 9, 2023

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

Original sources are cited.

We start with local news…

Columbia Tree Removal/Replacement (CDH)

The city has begun work on a new downtown beautification project, which would remove and/or replace several of its trees downtown, giving it a fresh new look with new plantings.

The project will appear on Columbia City Council's consent agenda this month, where it will officially be approved. This includes funding $33,258 to Treework Arbor Services.

The tree removal was proposed initially in 2021 as a strategic plan objective, and was budgeted at $60,000, Assistant City Administrator Thad Jablonski said. The project will also be conducted in multiple phases, starting with the downtown square.

"We included the public square, but we also included the four corridors coming into the downtown square, one block north, south, east and west," Jablonski said. "That's so that, if the bids came in low enough we might be able to do the second project, or the whole project at once."

The process will involve taking a grinding machine to the remaining stumps once the tree is cut down. The machine will then grind into the soil to remove the stump, while also making room to plant a new sapling.

Jablonski added that Director of Development Services Paul Keltner, who is a licensed arborist, was a valued resource in selecting the right kinds of saplings, including a special kind of elm and oak trees, to take the existing ones' place.

"Paul selected trees that would be the right size, as opposed to what is there now," Jablonski said. "And to give you an example of what this project will look like, outside our Welcome Center, you'll see a young sapling that was planted just a few months ago. We had an opportunity to kind of experiment and take a look at what this process will look like using a similar tool that Treeworks will be using."

City Manager Tony Massey said, following the item's approval, Kellye Murphy, Columbia Marketing and Tourism Director will be submitting the project's plans to the Main Street Association and the Downtown Merchants Association later this month.

"This is long overdue, and something we really, really need," Murphy said.

New Spring Hill Police Station Progressing (CDH)

After many years of planning, relocations, supply issues and other setbacks, the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted a bid to begin construction on a new Spring Hill Police Department headquarters.

However, the estimated $31 million facility wasn't without its share of opinions and concerns, with the final vote resulting in a split 5-4 decision in favor of awarding the contract to Hensel Phelps.

The purpose of Monday's meeting was for BOMA to either accept a contract bid for the police headquarters or let it expire.

Aldermen Hazel Nieves, Brent Murray, Matt Fitterer, John Canepari and Vice Mayor Kevin Gavigan voted in favor. Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman, along with Aldermen Jason Cox, William Pomeroy and Trent Linville voted against.

In 2018, the police headquarters was selected as part of a list of high-priority capital projects to be funded through general fund monies, referred to as the "18-75 projects." Many of these projects, such as the SHPD headquarters, remain to get started.

In the city's 2022 list of capital projects, the police headquarters was considered priority No. 1. The project has nearly a 13-year history and has experienced its share of setbacks, such as the original plans to relocate to the Northfield building, which were scrapped in 2021 when the property was sold to Worldwide Stages.

One concern during Monday night's discussion was how, due to ongoing supply chain and inflation issues, cost estimates are much higher in 2023 than initially estimated in 2018, especially materials like steel used in non-residential development.

"It's just too big of a bite to chew off of right now," Linville said regarding the cost increases.

Since 2019, BOMA has made many strides to increase funding by developing a financing plan for the "18-75" projects. This includes increasing new construction impact fees, updating the city's debt capacity policy and, in a controversial move, voting to increase property taxes.

The BOMA has also voted to increase the city's Adequate Facility Tax on new development, as well as raise the cost of building permits.

Nieves said her reason for support is that the project addresses many dire needs the police department faces at its current facility, such as safety for officers and citizens due to the aging nature of the building. It has also become an inadequate space for all department operations.

"This is not just about a new building, but about taking care of our police department's safety and their ability to do their job to protect citizens and provide top-notch safety services that they do," Nieves said.

"Many citizens do not know about what all the police department does. They not only have to ensure 24/7 safety for our citizens, but they have to do functions that are required, specific and specialized approaches, such as criminal investigations, handling narcotics that are confiscated, firearms, theft property handling and storage, records, equipment, their fleet, a training facility and so much more than what conditions they have to work in."

In his monthly newsletter to citizens, Fitterer said by choosing to accept the bid, BOMA would likely have to decide on any further adjustments to the city's project list, such as delaying additional "18-75" projects.

By denying it, Fitterer said the chances of finding a future bid at the same and/or lower price would be unlikely.

"The police station would remain unbuilt," Fitterer said. "And our law enforcement would remain in a rented building that’s badly outdated, undersized and not built for policing. We would have to rebid at some point in the future. The chances of the future bid being lower than the one in hand aren’t very good."

The current facility is located on the lower level of City Hall, 199 Town Center Pkwy.

Maury County Youth Education Foundation (WKOM Audio 3:29)

Yesterday, the Maury County Youth Education Foundation held a luncheon to raise funds to help Maury County students and schools. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy spoke with foundation member David Baxter to learn more about what the education foundation does for the community’s youth…

Publix Planning in Spring Hill (MainStreetMaury)

The Spring Hill Planning Commission could consider a final plan review for a project that will include a Publix grocery store and an additional 13,600 square feet of retail at Port Royal Road and Jim Warren Road known as Spring Hill Town Crossing, at its next meeting on March 13. 

During its most recent planning meeting, Alderman Matt Fitterer and Commissioner Jonathan Duda raised several concerns regarding the materials planned for the grocery store within their duties as the city’s design-review board.

Don Kendall, president of Development Management Group – the architect firm handling the project – said Publix much prefers a stucco material known as Exterior Insulation Finishing System (referred to as EIFS), and was under the impression the city’s vision book would allow that exterior.

Fitterer and Duda contend the vision for that zoning does not allow, at all, for EIFS materials, but specifically requires one of four materials listed – masonry, fiber cement board, engineered wood products and metal panels.

“Utilizing an EIFS material is something the grocery tenant prefers,” Kendall said. “In the discussions that we had with the master developer, they didn’t seem overly concerned that – while the vision book is silent as to the use of it – they didn’t seem to feel like it was contradictory to the vision of the project that was presented through the (planned development).” 

Duda disagreed, saying the city chose those four elements intentionally for the city. 

“This is a nice Publix that might go well in other communities, but we need to look at this as Spring Hill, Tennessee,” he said. “Natural materials or agricultural basis for a community – farmland, fencing, stackstone – those types of elements are intentional in our community.

“The purpose of the pattern book was to outline the look and to prescribe those for everybody – for end users and the city to know what they’re getting.”

Fitterer also noted the back of the grocery building would face Saturn Parkway, and said it’s important the visual from the highway be aesthetically pleasing. 

“We’ve always been very protective of appropriate materials and appropriate views from the scenic highway,” he said. 

In addition to a Publix, there are plans for 5,600 square feet of retail attached to the grocer and an 8,000 square foot retail building that would be set at the main entrance to the complex, which posed concerns with the view from the entrance.

Kendall said the company fought an internal battle on how to best combat the issue because most customers – in their view – would be coming from inside the complex. 

“We’ve attempted to give you foresighted architecture here, but we’re also understanding the routes of the customers and trying to make sure we are presenting ourselves to where most of the customers are going to come from while still presenting a nice facade for the entrance that backs up to the entry drive,” he said. 

Fitterer and Duda said there was work to be done on that front, but Duda offered a suggestion that has worked in other similar developments, such as The Crossings, with a berm and stone walls. 

Kendall said that would be his team’s approach to shielding the backs of the buildings if that were allowable by the commission.

The planning commission is set to meet on March 13 at city hall to further discuss the development. 

CSCC Reader’s Theater (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s John W. Finney Library is excited to share three Reader’s Theatre events featuring Dr. Jerry Henderson for the month of March.


“This is a wonderful event to engage students and the community through listening to dramatic readings of historical events,” said Anne Scott, Columbia State library director. “It offers a fantastic opportunity to meet Dr. Henderson and ask questions.”

The Reader’s Theatre events will consist of dramatic readings by Henderson, playwright, director and actor, at the Finney Library Reader's Theatre located on the second floor. Some of the works to be featured include “Maplehurst” and “Portrait of Honor,” both about Tennessee history, as well as “Undisturbed Lair,” which is about American impressionist artist Childe Hassam, and “Special Delivery,” which is about the U.S. Postal service in the early 1900s.

A Nashville native, Henderson is a retired former faculty member of Lipscomb University and Pepperdine University, where he served as chair of the theatre department. Henderson has experience directing countless shows and writing plays such as “A Legacy of Fear,” “The Little Box of Winter Seed,” “To Josephine, Everything on Pacific Avenue” and “Over It All a Tent was Spread.” 

“Finney Library Reader’s Theatre is where literature comes to life,” said Scott. “The quaint, up-close setting welcomes the audience to experience the characters’ stories from the page to the stage. We are delighted that playwriter and director Dr. Henderson and six very talented area actors are sharing their talents with Columbia State and the community.”

The Reader’s Theatre events will take place on March 21 at 7 p.m., March 22 at 11 a.m. and March 23 at 1 p.m. The performances are free with RSVPs needed as seating is limited. Seats can be reserved by emailing There will be a Q&A session with Henderson following each performance.

The John W. Finney Memorial Library is located on the Columbia Campus at 1665 Hampshire Pike and is open from Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters. For more information visit

Fire Cadet Program (MauryCountySource)

Are you looking for an exciting and rewarding new career?

Columbia Fire and Rescue’s Fire Cadet Program is a great way to get started on building a fulfilling career in the fire service. Cadets aid in increasing the diversity of Columbia Fire & Rescue by bringing new ideas and problem solving skills to the fire service. Columbia Fire & Rescue strives to develop a department that is reflective of the City of Columbia. This program is for men and women 18 years of age and up.

To qualify, applicants must:

Be at least 18 years of age at the time of testing.

Have a high school diploma or GED

Have a valid Tennessee driver’s license

The purpose of the Fire Cadet program is to help young people make the decision on whether they want to pursue a career in Fire Suppression. The Fire Cadet program is a unique blend of training designed to prepare cadets for the academic, emotional and physical rigors required to be successful in the fire service.

A job as a Fire Cadet is a gateway to a full time firefighting career with Columbia Fire & Rescue. Fire Cadets are part-time employees that perform various support functions while completing training to become a Firefighter.

To find out more information about this great program visit

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

Mr. Thomas Harry Anderson, husband of Columbia native, Josephine Elizabeth (Jo Beth) Folger passed away on March 2, 2023 in Los Altos, California. A graveside service for Mr. Anderson will be held Saturday at 11:00 A.M. at Williamsport Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Substance Abuse Resources (Press Release)

A new substance abuse treatment locator website from the Tennessee Department of Health is available today at This site links individuals directly to care and help if they are struggling with a substance use disorder.

“There is an immediate, critical point, where those struggling with substance abuse and misuse are absolutely ready to receive help,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner, Dr. Ralph Alvarado. ‘’Unfortunately, this point is often at the height of crisis. The website puts addiction and treatment resources within immediate reach, in real-time, when individuals and families don’t know where to turn.” guides individuals to location-based openings and services available at substance use treatment facilities. Site users can search facility listings using up to 60 different features such as the type of treatment needed, insurance programs, payment methods and availability of wrap-around services.

Treatment facilities on regularly update their availability of residential, in-patient, and out-patient services. Since site users also can access a facility’s contact information, they can reach out immediately for treatment.

Facilities on the site are asked to update the availability of their residential, in-patient, and out-patient services regularly to ensure the most current information is available.

“Individuals and their loved ones facing substance abuse disorder have much to endure in finding a way out of addiction,“ said Director Amy Murawski of TDH’s Overdose Response Coordination Office. “Our hope is for to be a source to find relief in an extremely exhausting and immensely stressful situation.”

Currently, 243 Tennessee facilities have listings on and TDH is working with community partners, providers, and stakeholders to include more facilities on the site.

The launch of is the result of a partnership between TDH, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Tennessee Tech University’s iCube program and TAADAS (TN Association of Alcohol, Drug and Other Addiction Services). works in cooperation with TDMHSAS’s Tennessee Redline at 1-800-889-9789, a 24/7/365 resource for substance treatment referrals via phone call or text message.

“Tennessee is blessed with a wealth of substance use treatment resources, and we continue to look for ways to expand options for people even if they have little or no means to pay for it,” said Linda McCorkle, TDMHSAS Director of Treatment and Recovery Services. “We know that treatment works and recovery is real, so we’re excited to have another resource in our state to connect people and families with the help they so desperately need.” is built upon an online platform based with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, a partnership between the KY Department of Health and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.. KIPRC developed the platform in 2018 through a CDC grant to share with states interested in developing locater services for substance abuse treatment.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Bridgestone Arena announced a benefit concert on March 20th.

The event will feature performances by Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, Sheryl Crow, Hayley Williams, Hozier, Jason Isbell and more.

The concert will benefit Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, Out Memphis, and the Tennessee Pride Chamber in partnership with Looking Out Foundation.

Tickets on sale now.

Find tickets at


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