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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 24, 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 Shooting (MauryCountySource)

One person has died and a second is currently in critical condition following a shooting on Beech Street on the evening of Monday, May 22, Columbia Police Department officials reported.

CPD responded to reports of a shooting incident at approximately 6 p.m., according to a press release issued by the department Tuesday morning.

While officers were responding, multiple individuals reportedly arrived at area hospitals with gunshot wounds.

One of the victims, 19-year-old Thomas Jack Keiser, was pronounced dead at Maury Regional Medical Center. A second victim, a 19-year-old male whose name was not released, was flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center in critical condition. Three additional individuals were also treated for non-life threatening injuries.

An initial investigation found that an altercation had occurred between eight individuals, who were all known to each other. The altercation reportedly led to the gunfire.

19-year-old I’Yauntis Jamel Miller was arrested for second-degree murder and aggravated assault leading to death. Miller is currently being held without bond at the Maury County Jail. A court date was not immediately available.

CPD said additional arrests may be forthcoming but declined to comment further.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Columbia Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division at (931) 560-1670.


New CHS Coach Named

We have some local breaking news this morning: Coach Bobby Sharp has resigned from Columbia Central’s football program. Tra’Darius Goff is being promoted as interim head coach. The 2010 state championship game MVP is the first African American head coach in the history of Columbia Central. We’ll have more on this as the story develops.


New Spring Hill Fire Station (CDH)

Final site plans for the new Fire Station No. 4, to be located off Duplex Road, is currently being considered by Spring Hill city planners.

The proposed structure, estimated to cost about $6 million, will include a 17,300 -square-foot station, along with 44 parking spaces.

The Spring Hill Fire Department is currently facing many needs, one being the need for a new station, as well as a need for hiring new firefighters, funds for necessary equipment, as well as pay for current firefighters working overtime.

The new 17,023 square-foot station's proposed design, created by Renaissance Group consulting firm, will keep the traditional fire hall look and feel, but with many more resources available for staff, as well as office space for Spring Hill Police personnel. This includes individual dorm rooms for staff, four drive-thru bays, spaces for training and an in-house gym.

Other features include a commercial kitchen, as well as a conference room that doubles as an emergency storm shelter.

If approved, Fire Station No. 4 is set to be operational by late 2024.

James Kelly, representing applicant Renaissance Group, said one of the main issues at this point is in regards to landscaping and fencing around the perimeter.

As far as the site's design, Fire Chief Graig Temple said the new station will be of high quality. It will also be founded in honor of former firefighter Mitchell Earwood, who died May 3, 2020 while off duty. His tribute includes an "eternal flame" that will be kept in a fire pit/gathering area in the back.

"There's going to be an eternal flame that is gas-fed, and that's because one of the things he liked to do was to cook out and be with friends," Temple said. "So we are encouraging all of our staff, since this will be a gathering point when people aren't out on calls, to be out in his remembrance."

Since Monday's planning commission meeting was a work session, no votes were taken on the site plan, but it will reappear at the board's June 12 regular meeting.


Police Memorial Service (MainStreetMaury)

A memorial service was held last week at Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Columbia to remember law enforcement officers who have fallen in the line of duty.

The annual event, which was attended by a number of local officials, Columbia Police Department retirees and family members, was part of National Police Week.

Columbia Police Chief Jeremy Alsup spoke on the significance of each law enforcement agency across the country.

“These stories are unique to each other, each life, each situation and each loved one left behind,” Alsup said. “What is not unique about these heroes or their sacrifice is that every one of the fallen knew the risk. They knew the danger their chosen profession presented them every day, but even knowing, every one of them suited up for work on their last day and went out to make a difference.”

As part of the service, the names of local officers killed in the line of duty were read aloud, including most recently that of Maury County Reserve Deputy Brad Miller.

Miller, who served for 19 years, died on assignment last December after a vehicle crashed into his patrol car while he was providing security for construction detail.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland, along with several other deputies, recently went to the national memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor Miller.

“We always want to honor their memory, service and sacrifice,” Rowland said.

In total, 18 officers were remembered during the service, including Maury County Sheriff’s Deputy John Rush, who suffered a fatal heart attack in the mid-1940s while arresting a suspect. Rowland said it was only recently that the discovery was made.

“We were able to go back and research that with the Maury County Archives,” Rowland said, adding that Rush was also honored on the national and local wall, which was placed in 2018. “We also want to honor their memory, service and sacrifice.”

Circuit Court Judge Caleb Bayless, who represents the 22nd Judicial District, gave the keynote speech.

“The legacy of these individuals will never be lost or forgotten,” Bayless said. “It takes a special kind of bravery to wake up every day and hug and kiss your loved ones goodbye with the realization it could be your last. I can think of no truer definition of a hero.”

LIST OF HONOREES included 18 officers dating back to the first death of Officer Tom Crawford in 1862 and ending with Deputy Officer Brad Miller in 2022.

TCAP Scores In (MainStreetMaury)

School districts across Tennessee were awaiting Friday the expected release of the first batch of TCAP test scores amid concerns over the state’s new third-grade retention law. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Education later stated that districts received the information by approximately 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Maury County Public Schools Communications Director Jack Cobb stated that MCPS received its test scores late Friday afternoon. “MCPS is currently looking at retesting 60% of our third graders for possible retention or needs for tutoring next year,” Cobb said via email.

Further study of the data from TDOE revised that number to 63 percent, with 37.5 percent of MCPS third graders scoring “approaching expectations” and 25.9 percent scoring “below expectations.” MCPS scored 27.4 percent of third graders “meet expectations” and just 9.1 percent scored as “exceeds expectations.”

Parents were to be notified this week if their child would need to retake the test or attend a summer reading camp. The state’s testing window runs from now until June 5 and MCPS is supposed to begin its summer program on June 5, Cobb said.

Currently, a state law passed in 2021 will require third graders who score below “met” or “exceeded expectations” on the English/Language Arts portion of TCAP to either repeat the grade or attend a summer reading camp or tutoring program. Lawmakers passed the retention law during a special session aimed at boosting literacy rates after pandemic-related closures.

Based on 2022 test results, around 65 percent of third-grade students statewide failed to score highly enough on TCAP testing to not be affected by the new law.

There are several exceptions to the rule for students with disabilities, students who have previously been retained and students with English as a second language. Students can also take a summer reading bridge camp – where they must have 90% attendance – and maintain a state-funded tutor during fourth grade to advance. Students can also re-take the TCAP test to advance.


Spring Hill Tourism Exhibit (Press Release)

The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce its highly anticipated annual extravaganza, Experience Spring Hill, The Event presented by Liberty Federal Credit Union. The family-friendly, free event will take place on Saturday, June 24, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Summit High School. Featuring over 100 vendors offering a diverse range of products and services, Experience Spring Hill, The Event will showcase the vibrant community of Spring Hill in one convenient location.

The event will also offer a plethora of activities to delight all ages, including a touch-a-truck display, an exhilarating bounce house, an engaging golf simulator, an exciting video gaming area, an immersive virtual reality station, lively dance demonstrations from local studios, appearances by beloved "famous" characters, and a medley of entertaining games with fabulous prizes. Furthermore, the City of Spring Hill's library, parks, police, fire, and administrative services will be present, providing valuable community information on-site.

Rebecca Melton, the Executive Director of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce, expressed her enthusiasm for the return of the annual eat, shop, and play event. She stated, "Our organization's mission is to positively influence the business culture to create a better Spring Hill, and this event allows us to showcase the many local businesses and organizations that embody our mission.”

Bringing together representatives from the Spring Hill Welcome Center, Visit Franklin, Experience Maury, Visit Columbia, and South Central Tennessee Tourism Association under one roof, a new attraction at the event will be a "Tennessee Travels" exhibit area, featuring the very best in the area's local tourism, attractions, hidden gems and adventures.

"We are thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of Experience Spring Hill, The Event once again this year," said Chris Wagner of Liberty Federal Credit Union in Spring Hill. "Participating in this event allows us to connect with and wholeheartedly support the Spring Hill community in a meaningful and impactful way.”

For further information about the event, please visit the official website at www.experiencespringhill.com/experience-spring-hill-event.



AAHSMC Fundraiser (Press Release)

The African American Heritage Society of Maury County announces a fundraising luncheon for the creation of an African American museum and cultural center in Columbia.

The fundraising luncheon is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, 2023, at 11:45am at West 7th Church of Christ, located at 405 West 7th Street in Columbia. Tickets to the luncheon are free, though a $10 donation for the catered lunch is suggested.

Funds raised from this event will help establish an African American museum and cultural center in Maury County. Jo Ann McClellan, President of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County, serves as the featured speaker for this event. Her presentation is titled “Making a Way for Themselves: Faith, Family, Education, and Entrepreneurship” and showcases the courageous stories of African Americans in Maury County. The event is co-sponsored by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Columbia.

“The Society’s vision is an indoor museum space to tell the stories of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans," said McClellan. "The exhibits and programming will include stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to build the African American community by establishing churches, schools, businesses, and benevolent organizations."

Other presenters at the event include Representative Scott Cepicky, the Reverend Father Chris Bowhay from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and Bishop Phoebe Roaf from the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.

“St. Peter’s is delighted to be a part of raising the voices and stories of resilience, success, and influence in the African American community in Columbia, both before and after the Civil War,” said Bowhay. “The experience of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been particularly important to the African American Community in Maury County and has played a vital role not only in religion but also in education.”

To register for the event, please visit www.saintpeterscolumbia.org/aahsmc by May 15, 2023.

Founded in 2012, the African American Heritage Society of Maury County is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to preserve the heritage and history of African Americans of Maury County, Tennessee.


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 kpcac.org

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 nperry@mauryalliance.com. 

Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.

For more information, visit www.mauryalliance.com.


Homestead Festival (Press Release)

The second annual Homestead Festival will be held June 2 & 3 in Columbia on Rory Feek’s farm.

Combining music and meaning, the two-day affair features musical performances, from Rory Feek, Collin Raye, Craig Campbell, and Paul Overstreet, as well as masterclass lectures by prominent homesteading community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Jill Winger, and many others.

Buy tickets at www.hardisonmill.com/thehomesteadfestival.


Maury County Democrat Meeting (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) and the UAW Local 1853 Community Action Program (CAP) will co-sponsor their 20th annual Heritage Dinner on Saturday, June 3, at the UAW Local 1853 Hall, 125 Stephen P. Yokich Parkway, Spring Hill. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a social hour. Speeches and dinner will follow.

The MCDP will welcome the following speakers:

• State Representative and Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons; and

• State Senator Heidi Campbell, who is also currently a leading candidate for Nashville mayor.

The Heritage Dinner is a fundraiser for the MCDP. Attendees will network with like-minded Democrats, enjoy music while mingling and dine together.

Tickets are available to anyone who wants to attend. The price is $40 for individuals, $75 for couples, or $300 for a table for eight. They can be purchased through the MCDP website, https://maurydems.org. Tickets include beer, wine and a buffet dinner catered by Golden Weddings and Events. Local musician Michael Fair will perform.

“This will be our 20th Heritage Dinner, and we are bringing back some awards that have not been given out since before the COVID pandemic, such as the Young Democrat Award and the Democratic Women Award. This is truly symbolic of our commitment to renewing and re-growing the Democratic Party in Maury County,” said local Democrat Party, James Dallas.

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.


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

Frances Mae Davis Love, 74. A resident of Les Chappell Road in Spring Hill, passed away Saturday, May 20, 2023. 

Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Terry Jones officiating. Burial will follow in Love Cemetery.


…And now, news from around the state…

CBD Regulations Take Effect July 1 (Tennessean)

Hemp-derived CANNAbinoid products including delta-8 will soon be illegal to sell to anyone under the age of 21, as Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed a new law to regulate and tax the products for the first time in the state.

Since the 2018 federal farm bill broadly legalized hemp-derived CANNAbinoid products – including those that can produce a high similar to marijuana – the products have been legal to sell and purchase in Tennessee at any age. 

Federal legalization has led to a boom in the sale of products containing cannabiDIol (CBD), delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, and other hemp-derived compounds.

Unlike several other states, Tennessee had not adopted any regulations on the state’s $200 million hemp-derived goods industry – until last month.

“Right now, a child could walk into a gas station and buy as much delta-8 product – in gummies or edibles or vapes – that they could ever use, and many are overdosing on these products, not fatal overdoses, but still serious negative medical effects to both children and adults,” House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, told The Tennessean in an interview. 

Lamberth and Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, sponsored a bill this year to regulate and tax hemp-derived cannabis products, and prohibit their sale to individuals under 21. 

Now signed into law, it will also require stores to move hemp-derived products behind the counter, establish new product testing and packaging requirements, and impose a 6% state tax on the products. 

Age restrictions, product location requirements and sales tax will take effect on July 1, while businesses and government agencies have until next year to implement some other regulations. 

The new law follows an unsuccessful effort last year by Briggs and Lamberth to ban hemp-derived products entirely.  

“There just wasn’t enough support there to make this broad range of products illegal,” Lamberth said. “We looked at how could we properly regulate them so that we keep these products away from children – so that adults 21 and up, if they purchase these products, there's good labeling there, there's good testing.” 

During debate in the legislature, several Democrats argued the state should also legalize marijuana statewide – or if not, that alcohol should also be banned, as it can be more damaging than otherwise legal hemp-derived cannabis products. Despite the arguments, the bill passed with nearly unanimous support in both chambers. 

Lamberth said lawmakers set the age requirement to buy the products at 21 to be consistent with other intoxicating substances like alcohol. 

Illegal sale of hemp derived products to someone under 21 will be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $2,500 fine. 

The new law will also: 

Require sellers and distributors to check proof of age.

Penalize individuals who try to use fake IDs or help underage people obtain restricted products. 

Prohibit sales and samples of restricted products on streets, sidewalks, and parks.

Prohibit sale of hemp derived products within 1,000 feet of any K-12 school.

Prohibit retailers from marketing appeals to those under 21, including any ads that feature comic book, video game, television, or movie characters, superheroes, unicorns or other mythical creatures.

Prohibit ingestibles from being formed in the shape of animal or cartoon characters.

Proper labeling and product testing is aimed at setting apart legal hemp-derived products from illegal marijuana. 

“It makes it clear that if you have something derived from hemp, it has to have the proper labeling, it has to have the testing it has to have come from, you know, a legitimate source,” Lamberth said. “That way when folks are at least buying these products, they'll know that they're not purchasing something that isn't an illegal product. We don't want someone to inadvertently wind up afoul of the law because they purchased a product they thought was legal, and it turned out it wasn't.”

Currently, there are 421 hemp producers licensed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and more than 2,900 acres of land registered with the department for hemp production. 

Lamberth said lawmakers consulted with business owners in the industry while drafting the regulations. 

“The ones that truly were already doing it the right way where they refuse to sell to minors, they make sure that their products were tested properly, and that their customers knew exactly what they were buying – those business owners were eager to work with us on making sure that we had proper regulations in place,” Lamberth said. “It separated the good from the bad actors.” 

Beginning next year, manufacturers and sellers of hemp-derived cannabis products will be required to have a valid license issued by the Department of Agriculture. To qualify for a license, producers must follow state regulations, pay a fee of up to $500, consent to reasonable inspection and sampling, and undergo criminal background checks. Individuals are not eligible for licensure within 10 years of any drug-related felony conviction.

State agencies will conduct random unannounced inspections of manufacturing facilities and seize any non-compliant products. 

Tennessee will begin to levy a 6% tax on the retail sale of any hemp-derived cannabis product beginning July 1. Revenue from the new tax will go to the Departments of Revenue and Agriculture to be used toward regulation of hemp-derived products. 

The two departments will be required to submit an annual report to the legislature describing industry compliance and enforcement efforts. 


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

City of Columbia Parks & Recreation Department is hosting a Cardboard Boat Challenge next month.

It will be held at the Fairview Park Pool Saturday, June 17th 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Boats must be made entirely out of corrugated cardboard and duct tape. Boats made of other materials will be disqualified.

Boats will be inspected upon entry. Individual races will start at 10:30 a.m.

A prize and trophy will be awarded to the first place winner.

Call 931-560-1447 for more details


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