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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 17, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Development Passes First Reading (CDH)

A proposed 765-home planned unit development, which for more than a year has received criticism from local residents regarding its location off Trotwood Avenue, has passed its first of two readings.

The Columbia City Council adopted the proposed development earlier this month, which appeared under several ordinances regarding topics like annexation, rezoning and preliminary design plans. This comes after many months of revisions, resubmittals and several long discussions among city staff, the Municipal Planning Commission and the council.

Although the current revisions differ greatly from the original proposal, which would have included more than 900 homes, residents, particularly those living in nearby Ashwood Manor, still believe the area is not ready for such a large-sized development.

However, despite the ongoing concerns from citizens, some admit that the developer has been nothing but cordial when it comes to hearing and considering the public input. This was made evident by the multiple revisions to decrease the number of lots by more than 200, as well as dedicating more than half of the 415-acre property as open space.

"At the first meeting for this, I'll admit my desire was to have zero lots behind my home because of what the property taxes will be because of this development," Michael White, a nearby resident, said. "But [the developer] has been nothing but professional. Along with other neighbors, I've met with them via Zoom, in person at City Hall and even with residents at our neighborhood."

White added that the concerns currently regard potential traffic safety issues, and that in addition to potentially adding hundreds of cars to Trotwood Avenue, one area he wishes changed is a proposed entrance off nearby Yeatman Lane.

Cheryl Holly, another Ashwood Manor resident, requested additional buffering between her neighborhood and the new lots. She was also concerned about the additional traffic, especially during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, as well as school traffic.

"These people deserve a good quality of life, and this is not good quality of life," Holly said. "Sure, there are walking trails, a swimming pool, although one pool for 765 units isn't enough pool. This will be a burden on Trotwood and a burden on the Old Zion community as a whole."

Mayor Chaz Molder spoke in support of the project, and reminded citizens that it does include a 10-year buildout plan over multiple phases. This would not necessarily mean 1,000 additional cars will be added to Trotwood Avenue, and that things like the real estate market can change from year to year, meaning there is no guarantee that 765 homes will be built.

"This project has been in the works for quite some time, and one thing that I am proud about this project is how it has evolved over a period of time," Molder said. "I look at this project and see it lowering its density by over 200 units, that in a lot of ways it is paying for itself."

This is made possible through a new water and sewer impact fee, which Molder said is estimated to generate more than $1 million from this project alone. This will help partially fund things like the city's wastewater treatment expansion project, as well as hiring additional city development staff.

Prior to the vote, Molder amended the ordinance regarding the proposed Yeatman Lane entrance. The amendment would only allow construction of the entrance if 80% of Ashwood Manor collectively agree they want it.

If it is accepted during the project's timeline, the developer would also fund the entrance. If there is a need for it after the project is complete, construction would have to be funded by the residents.

The final vote was 5-1, with DaVeena Hardison opposing. The second and final reading regarding the development will appear during the council's June round of meetings.

Hutton Family Dentistry (WKOM Audio 3:25)

Yesterday, Hutton Family Dentistry held their grand opening. Our own Delk Kennedy stopped by the ribbon cutting and spoke with Dr.’s Sam and Emily Hutton, the proprietors of the new facility on Hatcher Lane in Columbia.


Maury Regional Medical Center Cardiologist, Dr. Jessica Joseph-Alexis, D.O., has treated some of her patients for the post-COVID illness Post Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS, a newer malady that seems to be affecting some almost as an aftershock to the body, many times following a bout of COVID-19.

According to Joseph-Alexis, who was a cardiology specialist at Vanderbilt Medical Center prior to her move to MRMC, a person is five times more likely to develop POTS following a bout of COVID-19.

She also said the condition primarily affects younger women, following a round with COVID-19.

Still, the illness she says, is not very common, as an article from National Institute of Health indicates that only .2% of the population has confirmed as POTS positive.

As reported recently with the story of former Maury Regional radiology nurse, Megan Heichelbech, the illness is debilitating and produces many symptoms, according to Dr. Joseph-Alexis, mimicking some other illnesses.

Heichelbech after finding a correct diagnosis left her full-time status with MRMC to take a break and find proper time for healing and treatment of her illness. 

Just months ago, she published her faith-inspired journey about her experience to help others, who are also walking the difficult road of POTS. 

Despite the confusing list of symptoms one is common with all POTS patients, Joseph-Alexis said.

A rapid heart rate, typical of tachycardia, is a symptom that presents itself in all cases. For example, Heichelbech's heart rate would reach as high as 160 beats per minute, going from standing to sitting.

It is still unclear, Joseph-Alexis said, exactly how POTS develops and so prominently in COVID-19 patients, but added that the COVID vaccine is being studied as a potential catalyst, though no link is confirmed yet.

The disease is on the radar of the medical community now, however, as cases have been increasing.

One of the first complaints and key indicators that usually brings POTS patients to the doctor is the heart rate increase and syncope, or feeling faint, Joseph-Alexis said, which can result from moving around a lot or simply going from a sitting to a standing position.

Medications for POTS address the symptoms individually, Joseph-Alexis said, with exercise and diet factoring heavily into treatment as well.

A couple of medications that Joseph-Alexis said she considers are beta blockers and the category of antidepressants known as SSRIs.

As in Heichelbech’s case, the tachycardia presents in patients who have had no prior cardiac issues.

While Joseph-Alexis said the illness is relatively new to the medical community, large research hospitals like Johns Hopkins Medical Center are in the process of collecting data and tracking cases.

Jospeh-Alexis said it was an article from a study at the renowned hospital that was potentially tracking a small association with the COVID-19 vaccine.

As for local cases, Joseph-Alexis says there has been a slight trend upward in the number of cases since COVID has waned in its dominance within the population.

“Though we don’t know the exact number, the numbers are going up,” Joseph-Alexis said. “It’s harder to confirm POTS with symptoms being so varied and non-specific.”

Still, it’s important to not dismiss noticeable patterns in your own health, she cautions.

For example, Joseph-Alexis said other key factors to watch for besides higher heart rates are weeks-long drops in blood pressure — by at least 20 points and if someone is noticing some regular dehydration.

The orthostatic vitals are what to pay most attention to, she says. These include your blood pressure, pulse and related symptoms.

The wait to confirm POTS may be the most difficult part, as these orthostatic vitals are measured for a three-month period before a positive diagnosis is confirmed.

For many, the illness will demand the body not engage in much physical activity, will likely mean a period away from work and conditioning your body to the state that it is in, knowing limitations.

What is the long-term outcome for POTS?

“It’s hard to tell,” Jospeh-Alexis said. “We are still learning about this one as we go.”

Another three years out, she said, it is hoped that more stable and consistent data will give better and more solid answers.

“Only time will tell,” Jospeh-Alexis said. “It is day by day.”

As for Heichelbech, she is back to work at a smaller doctor’s clinic in Columbia, though it is an adjustment from what she had been used to prior to the illness.

What Heichelbech does to cope lines up with Joseph-Alexis recommendations.

"Make sure to stay hydrated, eat plenty of meals and incorporate a slow and cautious walking routine. Watch for overdoing the exercise," she said.

In the meantime, doctors like Joseph-Alexis do not take an alarmist tone, nor do they discount the debilitating symptoms.

“These symptoms are very real,” she said. “We want to make sure we do the best job we can to treat everyone experiencing this.”

Columbia Main Street Accreditation (Press Release)

Columbia Main Street has been designated as an Accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards. Each year, Main Street America and its partners announce the accredited programs to recognize their exceptional commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach™.


Columbia Main Street’s performance is measured annually by the City of Columbia and Columbia Main Street Corporation which works in partnership with Main Street America™ to identify the local programs that meet national performance standards. To qualify for Accreditation status, communities must meet a set of rigorous standards that include commitments to building grassroots revitalization programs, fostering strong public-private partnerships, nurturing economic opportunity for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and actively preserving historic places, spaces, and cultural assets.

“In 2022, our downtown saw over 5 million dollars in private investment for our beloved buildings. We saw 17 new businesses, 120 new jobs, and over 200,000 in attendance for community-inspired events,” said Kelli Messmer Johnson, the Columbia Main Street Manager. “Downtown Columbia is growing with new resident and visitors, bringing momentum and passion to our downtown events and projects, plus, it’s driving new commerce and building projects due to its popularity. Visitors and future residents who chose to travel to Columbia feel the energy and love of those that work to make this town great.” 


“Columbia continues its tradition of excellence with its involvement with Main Street America,” states Columbia Main Street Board Chairman Montee Sneed. “We were on the ground near the very beginning of the movement in the early 1980s.  Columbia has benefitted tremendously from our participation in the restoration of historic Downtown. While much has been done, much remains to do.” 


In 2022, Main Street America™ programs generated $6.2 billion in local reinvestment, helped open 7,657 new businesses, facilitated the creation of 29,174 new jobs, catalyzed the rehabilitation of 10,688 historic buildings, and leveraged 1,528,535 volunteer hours. On average, for every dollar that a Main Street program spent to support its operations, it generated $24.07 of new investment back into its downtown communities. Collectively, 2 million people live or work within the boundaries of designated Main Street America districts. An estimated workforce of 1.1 million people contributes their skills and expertise to advancing the missions of these historic downtowns and commercial corridors.


“We are very proud to acknowledge this year’s 862 Accredited Main Street America™ programs and their steadfast dedication to nurturing economically and culturally vibrant downtown districts,” said Hannah White, Interim President & CEO of Main Street America. “The increase in the size and impact of our network speaks volumes to the power of the Main Street movement to respond to the needs of local communities and drive innovative solutions.”

Meredith’s Toy Drive (Press Release)

Meredith's Toy Box is hosting its Barbies and Hot Wheels annual toy drive through May 31 benefitting Kid's Place: A Child Advocacy Center, which services children and their families affected by abuse in Maury, Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne counties.

Drop-off locations are:

Faith Fellowship Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.

Columbia Farm Supply during normal business hours

Betty's Parkway Restaurant during normal business hours

Online donations can be made at Meredith's Toy Box on the special events tab at

For all items shipped, mail to 614 West Point Rd., Lawrenceburg, TN 38464.

The toy drive is in memory of Meredith Campbell-Bybee.

Breakfast With the Mayor (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance upstairs at Puckett's in downtown Columbia on Wednesday, June 7th at 8am for Breakfast with Maury County Mayor, Sheila Butt, sponsored by Caledonian Financial. This is part of an ongoing Breakfast with the Mayor Series.

During this event Maury Alliance President, Wil Evans will lead an informative Q&A discussion with Mayor Butt about the current state of Maury County.

 To submit a question or topic in advance, email 

Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.

For more information, visit

Santa Fe School To Celebrate Centennial (WKOM)

Santa Fe School in rural Maury County will be celebrating their 100th birthday this year on Saturday, May 20th from 2-5pm. A parade of classes through the years will start at 2:00 and come through Santa Fe, down Fly Road and by the school. Organizers are expecting many former alumni to participate. Everyone is invited to come watch the parade and join in on the fun afterwards. The event is free. There will be bounce houses, cupcakes, food trucks, guest speakers and school tours. Once the event is over at 5:00 everyone who would like can make their way to the gym for the Santa Fe Alumni Basketball game starting at 5:30. The cost of the alumni game will be $5. 

“I went to Santa Fe School K-12th grade and I am so excited to be back teaching here. All of my family went to SFS, my parents, grandparents, me and now my own children”, said teacher Rachel Kennedy. “There really is something special about this town and this school. I feel that the school is what holds this community together. There is something we say ‘Once a wildcat, always a wildcat!’ and that is so true. If you ever attend a basketball game you will certainly see that. We bleed black and gold here. 

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

Mr. Neal Fraser Blair, 90, retired accountant with Dupont/Spontex, died Saturday at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville. Funeral services for Mr. Blair will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will be at Polk Memorial Gardens.

Litter Study (Press Release)

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Keep Tennessee Beautiful (KTNB) today released data from its 2022 Tennessee Statewide Litter Study. Engineering firm Burns & McDonnell conducted the study to provide a comprehensive understanding of quantity, composition, and sources of litter along the state’s public roadways. The 2022 study is a follow-up from studies conducted in 2016 and 2006, building on TDOT’s data-driven research that offers insights for abatement strategies and resource allocation.


In addition to providing a detailed comparison to the 2016 study, the current research leverages results from the 2020 Keep America Beautiful Nationwide Litter Study to identify how litter has changed over time, determine the relationship between roadside litter and site characteristics, and assess the impact of nearby infrastructure and socioeconomic factors. 


“The 2022 study is one of several research products that helps TDOT evaluate progress on litter abatement and make the most effective use of future litter prevention and cleanup resources,” said TDOT Transportation Supervisor, Denise Baker. “Overall, we learned that in the past six years, there has been a 12 percent reduction of litter on Tennessee roadways. While encouraging, there are still more than 88 million pieces of litter on public roads at any given time.”


The study’s methodology included the random selection of 120 roadway locations split equitably among the following four roadway classifications in both urban and rural areas of Tennessee: Interstate, U.S. Highway, State Highway, and Local Roads. The sampling plan included designated litter hot spots in the cities of Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, as well as at-risk and distressed locations.


The key findings include:

·       88.5 million pieces of litter exist on Tennessee roadsides at any given time, down from 100 million in 2016.

·       U.S. Highways had the lowest litter-per-mile (7,386 litter items per mile) however, local roads account for the most road miles (82,538 miles) in the state. In aggregate, local roads had the highest percentage (80%) of total litter items by roadway type.

·       Most of the litter on Tennessee roadways is smaller than four inches. An estimated 679.7 million pieces, or 88 percent, items of litter were 4 inches or smaller in size; however, there is still a significant quantity (88.5 million pieces or 12%) of larger, and often more visible, litter on Tennessee roadways.

·       Intentional litter increased by about 18 percent due, in part, to changes in product packaging and classification differences between the 2016 study and the 2022 study.

·       The number of cigarette butts observed per site decreased for Interstate and U.S. Highway roadway classifications.

·       Plastic and paper items compose most litter items.

·       Motorists were determined to be the leading sources of litter on Tennessee roadways.


To review the full report including methodology, litter prevalence and composition, litter heatmap, key findings, and litter abatement strategies, visit:

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Loretta Lynn’s family and estate will release a new book she completed just before her passing; A SONG AND A PRAYER, on May 23, 2023 from Worthy Books.

“Originally slated to come out in December, mom worked all summer to complete this book. It was so important to her because she had never devoted an entire book to her faith. Mom was always open about her faith but it was a deeply personal matter to her, one in which we knew at the core was the most important thing in her life. Her passing has made this project all the more special to us and we know her fans will feel the same way,” said her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell.

It’s been over 60 years since the late Loretta Lynn first rose to stardom, transforming from a coal miner’s daughter to the Queen of Country Music. 

Her final offering, A Song and A Prayer, is a collection of prayers combined with song lyrics inspired by her songwriting sessions with fellow hit songwriter and co-author, ordained minister Dr. Kim McLean.

“My writing sessions with Loretta were inspired by our friendship and faith,” said Kim.

Loretta Lynn has produced multiple gold albums and boasts an impressive 60-year country music track record, during which she has sold over 45 million albums and produced 16 #1 hit singles and 11 #1 albums.


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