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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 8, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Trotwood Development (CDH)

One of the largest proposed residential developments continues to draw concerns from nearby residents facing the possibility of having nearly 800 homes constructed off Trotwood Avenue near Ridley Park.

The proposed planned unit development of which the first of two readings currently sits before Columbia City Council under multiple ordinances, has had somewhat of a controversial history since it was initially introduced to include nearly 1,000 homes.

The revised master plan currently shows 765 homes proposed to be built over 415 acres, as well as 189 acres of dedicated open space, 31 acres dedicated to Ridley Park and approximately three miles of hiking/biking trails. There are also plans to install two additional traffic lights on Trotwood to aid traffic flow. If approved, the construction timeline estimates the development to be completed by 2033.

While the decreased number of lots and increases in open space have been commended by city leaders for compromising with the concerns brought forth by citizens, some believe it still isn't enough.

The council will vote on the first of two readings regarding the development, including annexation of the land into the city limits, rezonings and approving the master plan, with the second reading appearing in June. Preliminary and final site plans will come at a later time, pending the initial approvals.

During the council's Thursday's study session meeting, four citizens spoke out against the current plans, citing traffic as the main issue, as well as how bringing that many homes to the area could affect overcrowding at local schools.

Campbell Ridley, who was first to speak, said he operates a grain farm near the development, which during harvest season requires multiple trucks to travel down two-lane Trotwood, which could be another potential traffic hazard to consider.

"I've got about 60,000 bushels of grain storage there and 60 semis that come in when we are harvesting," Ridley said. "For every 1,000 bushels, it requires two trips, and another two when you take it to harvest. It amounts to about 240 trips in and out of my driveway, and so I just want the council to be aware that certain times of the year, there's a lot of traffic there, and they should take it into consideration."

Randy Butler, another nearby resident, also addressed potential traffic concerns, particularly the amount of cars 765 homes could bring. Assuming there would be an average of two cars per household, that could mean nearly 1,500 additional drivers, he estimated. Butler was also concerned that adding two additional stoplights could slow the flow of traffic.

"I'm on that road every day, and during the high traffic hours between 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m., it already takes 18 minutes, on average, to get from Mt. Pleasant to the [Maury Regional Medical Center] hospital," Boyd said. "Even if we have half of the extra cars, around 700, you've got an added 10 minutes one way, every day going to work and back home. This road is overtaxed now, and now we're going to say we're going to put that many cars on it. That's a big concern for us."

John White suggested a need for additional lighting from Foster Lane to Ridley Park.

"They need lights, because that park is dark when you come out of there at night," White said. "If we add four more lights to the poles that are there, we can at least solve some of the travelers' problems."

Linda Stephenson, who was last to speak, also spoke about traffic concerns, but also addressed the issue of potentially overcrowding schools.

"You're going to have to build three new schools, elementary, middle and high school in order to house all of these kids, because they are going to grow," Stephenson said.

Columbia Police Announces 100% CIT Trained

In 2021, the Columbia Police Department set a goal to have 100% of the Columbia Police Officers certified in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training by the end of 2025. In July of 2021, the Columbia Police Department partnered with the West Tennessee Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and began a proactive approach by hosting their first CIT certification class. Now, they are proud to announce that that goal has been met well in advance of the original projected date of 2025. As of today, 100% of responding Columbia Police Officers are Crisis Intervention Training certified.

Columbia Police Officers regularly respond to calls involving some sort of mental health crisis. While some of these calls are readily identifiable as a mental health crisis, many involve officers assessing the situation and determining a mental crisis facet exists and is contributing to the situation.

Law enforcement officers serve as the first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters.

In over 2,700 communities nationwide, CIT programs create connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families. Through collaborative community partnerships and intensive training, CIT improves communication, identifies mental health resources for those in crisis and increases the possibility of officer and community safety.

The Columbia Police Department will continue to host bi-annual CIT program certification classes to train the newly hired officers and maintain this one hundred percent status. This training has already proven beneficial by better equipping officers to recognize and appropriately respond to varying aspects of mental crisis situations.

Advanced crisis intervention training is not a standard requirement for law enforcement agencies; however, the leadership of the Columbia Police Department feels that this training is paramount in today’s society. CIT provides officers with tools and resources for responding more safely and compassionately to people with mental illness’ in a crisis.

“I am always proud of the Columbia Police Department and the Officers we have, but I am especially proud today. Crisis intervention training is an invaluable tool that we can give our officers to assist with the increasing number of situations that involve persons in crisis,” said Chief of Police Jeremy Alsup.

Mt. Pleasant Downtown Revitalization (MainStreetMaury)

Most of the time, in order to get rewards, we have to go through some pain. This concept is part of several religious teachings and dates back many years. The goal is to concentrate on the positive reward and not the painful process it takes to get to the “better place.”

Well, Mount Pleasant will be going through some growing pains over the next year. All for the better, but we will need to remind ourselves often to look beyond the pain and know there is the reward. 

The city is in the process in May of bidding out the Downtown Revitalization Project, which will span from the front of the Mount Pleasant Grille to Church Street (Post Office) on both sides of the street, including the square in front of City Hall. If all goes as planned, the City Commission will award the bid no later than June of this year.

Once bids are let, contracts are signed and then construction will begin. Construction means tearing up streets and sidewalks, but the work will be done in a carefully planned manner, disrupting small areas at a time. If all goes as planned, all of the construction should be completed before the end of 2024. The new look and the new square will be so exciting for this city. Traffic patterns will also change to assist motorists who continually drive in front of City Hall in the wrong direction. 

Next, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is completely replacing the bridge on N. Main over Sugar Creek. This project is planned to be bid and let in November and December 2023. Then construction will begin very quickly. The state will completely close N. Main Street here and direct traffic onto Highway 43, with signs at 1st Avenue suggesting exiting and entering there to avoid the closure. Because the road will be closed completely, this project should be completed in six months. Leaving a lane open would take the project roughly 18 months to complete.  

So, the summer of 2024 should show a lot of good changes in Mount Pleasant. Remember, keep the eye on the prize and not the pain to get there!

CSCC Graduation (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College celebrated 307 degree and certificate candidates as they crossed the stage during the spring commencement ceremonies in the Webster Athletic Center on Saturday, May 6.


Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president, opened the ceremony by welcoming degree and certificate candidates, faculty, staff and guests.

“Today is a special day for several reasons,” Smith said. “First and foremost, it is a day of celebration of accomplishments. It is a day of recognition that these soon to be graduates set a goal and accomplished it.”

Smith introduced graduates Jaeden Kennedy, Annaleisa Matzirakis and Makayla Ogilvie as the guest speakers for the spring commencement ceremonies. Kennedy and Matzirakis delivered the commencement address for the first ceremony while Ogilvie delivered the address for the second ceremony.

For his address, Kennedy chose to focus on servant leadership. He implored his fellow graduates to use their skills and knowledge to make a difference through leadership. He also detailed that leadership extends beyond the workplace, into their communities and daily lives.

“I genuinely believe that our generation of scholars is marked to be different,” Kennedy said. “We are destined to make a drastic impact on this earth, and we do that by serving others before ourselves. So, graduates, I challenge you. Be bold, stand out and don't conform to the standards of this world. Live authentically and be great leaders.”


For her address, Matzirakis chose to focus on memories from her time at Columbia State, such as her first day of class as an eager dual enrollment student. She described how she was greeted with kindness from faculty and her peers, and how as a collective group they adapted to the pressures of the pandemic. She described Columbia State as having an “unrivaled sense of community and belonging.”

“I think it is safe to say that we have all learned so much more at Columbia State than only what was detailed in our course syllabi,” Matzirakis said. “Moreover, we are all so blessed and lucky to have made both personal and professional connections here that will last a lifetime. We are also lucky to have each other, because whether we realize it or not, all of our paths have somehow crossed and intertwined to put us in this very moment together.”

For the second ceremony’s address, Ogilvie chose to connect with students through similar experiences. She congratulated her fellow graduates for persevering through any challenges they might have faced, and advised them to learn to handle failure with grace. 

“You have the power to change the game,” Ogilvie said. “Don't count yourself out based on the cards you have in your hand. It's not about what or how much you have, but instead about how you are able to appreciate and utilize what you've been given. You have greatness inside of you. Go out and do something that has never been done before, disrupt the normal pattern, and try something new.”


Closing the ceremony, the alumni induction of new graduates at the first ceremony was presented by Tracey Hines, Columbia State assistant professor of biology and Columbia State alum, and Miranda Hart, spring 2023 graduate and member of the President’s Leadership Society and the Student Government Association. At the second ceremony, the alumni induction was presented by Shelly McMullan, Columbia State technician for veterinary technology and Columbia State alum, and Elizabeth Kay Beasley, spring 2023 graduate.


President’s Leadership Society graduates were also honored with a medallion at the commencement ceremony.

“The establishment of this society was based on the belief that leadership is inherent to our lives and that we all have leadership roles,” Smith said. “The President’s Leadership Society is open to all students at Columbia State and requires only their commitment to involvement for learning, participation, and helping others.” 

Formed in spring 2011, PLS is a free leadership training program focused on developing a student’s unique leadership skills from their first semester through graduation. The program focuses on participation in college-sponsored programs that promote educational attainment, career choices, volunteerism and civic responsibility.

During the course of the program, students will attend a leadership retreat, enjoy exposure to the arts, participate in workshops and campus life, develop civic understanding and give back to the community through volunteerism.

Maury Parks Groundbreaking (CDH)

Yanahli Park in Columbia will soon be the scenic home of new offices for the Maury County University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension department and Maury County Parks and Recreation.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week at the park, making way for the 5,000 square foot facility, costing $2.9 million, drawn from the county's adequate facilities tax.

Parks director of 21 years Al Ray said the site is ideal for UT Ag Extension and the Parks offices due to the departments' heavy emphasis on agriculture and nature-based programming.

The extension provides educational programs in the areas of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, community resource development and 4-H Youth Development. It also takes a leading role in organizing the agriculture programs at the Maury County Fair & Exposition.

The Ag Extension office is currently located at Public Square, while the Parks office is housed in a small building at Maury County Park.

"The county needs office space," Maury County Commission chairman of the board Eric Previti said, who led the groundbreaking ceremony. "This can serve as a meeting space, work space and pavilion. Farmers can better pull in with their trucks and livestock, rather than trying to park in the square."

The new facility will also serve as an event site for weddings, receptions and other celebrations.

The construction of the new offices is part of the 475-acre Yanahli Park master plan conceived in 2015.

Starla Hardin, county director of UT Ag Extension, said she is most looking forward to having outdoor classrooms for educational programming and to accommodate Master Gardener classes and 4-H wildlife and forestry teams.

"We couldn't be more thankful and grateful for this opportunity to move our office here to Yanahli. [When commissioner Eric Previti] asked me if I could move the offices anywhere in the county, where would it be, I said Yanahli Park. He made it happen.

"This is a huge part of our future."

Ray said he is looking forward to extending Parks programming and connecting children to nature through the new location.

"We are bursting at the seams at our offices now," Ray said. "We envisioned this center and the extension of this park as part of our Yanahli Park Master Plan back in 2015. I can't wait for the facility to open and see the plan come to fruition."

Construction will take up to 18 months county officials said.

After the ceremony, generational beef cattle farmer Trevor Pennington of 1822 Farms, provided hamburgers from his farm and refreshments for dozens of elected officials, county staff and community members in attendance.

Opening in 2019, Yanahli Park is home to multiple ecosystems, diverse flora and fauna, unique geologic and hydrological features and habitat for potential rare, threatened, and endangered species. The 475-acre park also provides connectivity to the 12,000-acre Yanahli Wildlife Management Area.

Yanahli is a Chickasaw word meaning "to flow through." It is the county's largest public park.

"Our goal is to improve the lives of all Maury County citizens," Hardin said.

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 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.

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

Mr. Timothy Alan “Tim” Riddle, 62, died unexpectedly Friday, April 28, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri while on a business trip for the County of Volusia, Florida where he served as the Ocean Center Director. Graveside services for Mr. Riddle will be conducted Monday, May 8, 2023, at 2:30 P.M. at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Monday May 8, 2023, from 12:00 noon until 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Ms. Janice Mae Woodard Farrell, 75, Event Director for Marriott Corporation, died Friday, May 5, 2023 at her residence in Smyrna. Funeral services for Ms. Farrell will be conducted Tuesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Friendship Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Monday from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mrs. Irene Wertz Race, 79, retired employee of Vanderbilt University, died Friday, May 5, 2023, at her home.  A memorial service for Mrs. Race will be conducted Saturday, May 13, at 3:00 P.M. with visitation from 1:00-3:00 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Oprah Delivers TSU Address (

On Saturday, over 600 students from Tennessee State University were awarded their bachelor's degrees, marking a significant milestone in their lives.

The ceremony was graced by TSU alumna, media mogul, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, who delivered an inspiring commencement speech to the graduates.

In her speech, Oprah emphasized the importance of making choices that reflect one's aspirations and not succumbing to fear.

She quoted Nelson Mandela, stating, "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

Oprah encouraged the graduates to trust their intuition and find their own paths in life. "When you can get quiet enough to listen, you can begin to instill the still small voice which is always representing the truth of you; from the noise of the world," Winfrey said.

Many of the graduates had overcome significant obstacles to reach this point in their academic journey.

41-year-old Ciarra Butler, is a single parent of two children. She said having a low GPA in high school and community college caused several universities to reject her.

However, TSU gave her a chance, and with determination, she achieved more than she could have imagined, becoming a member of several honor societies.

Oprah's speech resonated with Thomas Nase, who stated, "She gave a lot of people hope."

Ciarra Butler added, "You have to have faith in yourself when no one else has faith in you. You have to build yourself up in case no one else will."

Oprah's message of self-belief and perseverance echoed the sentiment of the graduates, who agreed that hard work pays off, and that one should never give up.

The university also took the opportunity to honor the class of 1973 alongside the 2023 graduates.

TSU's President, Glenda Glover, recognized Oprah's achievements and her love for humanity by presenting her with an honorary doctorate degree.

The gesture was a warm welcome back to her Alma mater. Oprah concluded her speech by encouraging the graduates to "step in love" as they embark on their new journeys, emphasizing that it is through love that one can change the world.

Oprah's words of wisdom and encouragement will undoubtedly remain with them as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The City of Spring Hill will host Hill Fest on Saturday, June 3, featuring hot air balloon rides, food trucks, bounce houses, kite flying, fireworks and more.

The free event will take place at Fischer Park from 2-7 p.m.

While the event itself is free, some activities will have a fee, including the tethered hot air balloon rides by Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures LLC, which will see proceeds donated to Spring Hill’s Willow Bend Nature Center.

A variety of food trucks will be on site including Brenner Brothers Quick Bites, The Spice is Right, Joe Dean’s Eats-N-Treats and Ooh La La New Orleans Style Shaved Ice.

More information about the festival can be found at


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