Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 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…
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.
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.
Pulaski Receives ARP Funds (MainStreetMaury)
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) last week announced 102 grants totaling $232,709,981 from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, part of which TDEC is administering in the form of drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grants. Since August, TDEC has awarded and announced $634,404,544 in grant funds through ARP programming.
Of the 102 grants announced today, 17 are collaborative grants and 85 are non-collaborative grants. Collaborative grants involve multiple entities (cities, counties, or water utilities) partnering on projects to work toward a shared purpose. The awards announced include funding for 132 individual drinking water, wastewater and/or stormwater infrastructure projects.
The City of Pulaski will leverage $1,751,814 in ARP funds and additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to address critical wastewater needs including aging infrastructure and excessive inflow and infiltration as part of the City’s Capital Improvements Master Plan. Projects will meet requirements in the City’s Consent Order and Assessment and include the rehabilitation of approximately 25 main trunk line manholes, 5,931 linear feet of gravity sewer renovation, sewer service connections, and closed-circuit TV inspection of approximately 5,784 linear feet of gravity sewer.
Tennessee received $3.725 billion from the ARP, and the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group dedicated $1.35 billion of those funds to TDEC to support water projects in communities throughout Tennessee. Of the $1.35 billion, approximately $1 billion was designated for non-competitive formula-based grants offered to counties and eligible cities to address critical systems needs. Those include developing Asset Management Plans, addressing significant non-compliance, updating aging infrastructure, mitigating water loss for drinking water systems, and reducing inflow and infiltration for wastewater systems.
The grants announced are part of the $1 billion non-competitive grant program. The remaining funds ($269 million) will go to state-initiated projects and competitive grants.
“These grants will address important water infrastructure needs for local communities across Tennessee,” Gov. Bill Lee said. “We look forward to the improvements these projects will bring, and we commend the communities who have gone through the application process.”
“More than ever, infrastructure is critically important to our local communities,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “This money will allow cities and towns to address deficiencies and make improvements that will pay dividends not just in the present but in the years to come as well. I greatly appreciate the work of the governor and my colleagues on the Fiscal Accountability Group for their work in making sure these funds were spent appropriately and efficiently.”
“We continue experiencing considerable growth across the state, and many of our communities require additional resources to address their evolving needs,” said Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “These grants will play a major role in ensuring cities and towns have access to infrastructure solutions that will enable them to continue thriving so Tennessee remains a preferred destination for both businesses and families.”
“We are grateful to the local applicants, and we anticipate excellent results from these grants,” said TDEC Commissioner David Salyers. “This shows that Tennessee recognizes the need for improved water infrastructure, and we are grateful for the leadership of Governor Lee and the General Assembly in seeing that communities get this assistance.”
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 EMS Instructor Event (Press Release)
Columbia State Community College will host an Annual Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Instructor Update event that is approved by the Tennessee State EMS Office on May 12.
“Until recently, EMS educators have only had a few options to obtain their annual instructor update required under Tennessee law,” said Greg Johnson, Columbia State program director and assistant professor of emergency medical services. “This offering gives a one-day option for our educators that may better fit their schedules. I am excited about the lineup of speakers at the conference. Each are respected in their field and promote excellence in EMS education.”
Through the efforts of Columbia State’s EMS Academy and the Workforce & Continuing Education Department, the Annual TN EMS Instructor Update event has been approved by the Tennessee State EMS Office to satisfy the TCA 1200-01-12 rules for renewal related to attendance at annual instructor updates or conferences and includes 8 contact hours.
The event will be headlined by Heather Davis, director of student assessment at David Gefen School of Medicine at UCLA. Other notable speakers at the event include, but are not limited to, Steve Joiner, dean of Lipscomb University College Of Leadership And Public Service; Ginney Massey-Holt, Columbia State associate professor of nursing; Brandon Ward, state EMS director; Jay Burks, I/C training manager at Wayne County EMS; Randy White, program director at Middle Tennessee State University EMS education; Paul Pollack, EMS supervisor at WMC EMS; and Gregory S. Johnson, Columbia State program director and assistant professor of emergency medical services.
The conference will take place at the Columbia Campus in the Cherry Theater from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and will provide participants with 8 contact hours. Registration for the event is $125, with lunch provided at the event along with a reception the night before at the Hampton Inn in Spring Hill. The reception will be at 6 p.m. and offers attendees time to network while enjoying refreshments.
For more information, contact WorkforceDev@columbiastate.edu.
MCDP Heritage Dinner (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 speakers State Representative Justin Jones and Senator Heidi Campbell.
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.
And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols 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…
Governor Calls for Gun Special Session (Tennessean)
Tennessee lawmakers will return to Nashville on Aug. 21 for a special session on potential gun reform legislation.
“After speaking with members of the General Assembly, I am calling for a special session on August 21 to continue our important discussion about solutions to keep Tennessee communities safe and preserve the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Republican Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement announcing the special session.
“There is broad agreement that action is needed, and in the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to listen to Tennesseans and pursue thoughtful, practical measures that strengthen the safety of Tennesseans, preserve Second Amendment rights, prioritize due process protections, support law enforcement and address mental health.”
In the final days of the legislative session that adjourned last month, Lee made an 11th-hour pitch for lawmakers to pass a limited extreme risk protection order law designed to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who pose an immediate risk of harm to themselves or others.
Lee's proposal would expand existing state code around gun dispossession, which courts can currently require of certain domestic violence cases. Some advocates have said lethal loopholes exist in the domestic violence law, which requires people to voluntarily turn over their firearms but doesn't have an enforcement mechanism.
Lee pushed for the legislation following the deadly Covenant school shooting and weeks of heated gun reform protests at the state Capitol. The governor had for weeks called for lawmakers to bring him potential gun reform legislation before floating his own proposal as Republican lawmakers accelerated the end of session after weeks of emotional protests and political missteps.
Republican leadership balked at the proposal, which some decried as a "red flag law." The House Republican Caucus released a statement calling red flag laws "a non-starter" in the lower chamber, though Lee maintains his proposed law is not a red flag law.
Still, a wide range of bipartisan political polling indicates a large majority of Tennesseans agree with some additional gun reform, including a version of a red flag law and gun storage laws, which Democrats had proposed prior to the Covenant shooting but the Republican supermajority batted down.
Leadership suggested they needed more time to discuss potential proposals with stakeholders and the public, and lawmakers will now have the summer to to do so.
In calling the special session, Lee said he is seeking feedback from Tennesseans and opened up a website to solicit feedback.
TVA Blackouts Cost Millions (Tennessean)
The December storm that led to the Tennessee Valley Authority's first rolling blackouts in its history cost the federal utility about $170 million, according to a TVA-produced report.
The report released May 5 by TVA not only describes the breakdowns that led to the rolling blackouts in the bitter cold days before Christmas, but lists weaknesses in TVA's system that must be addressed as climate change increases the chances of severe weather and the demand for electricity continues to rise.
The rolling blackouts across TVA's seven-state region on Dec. 23 and 24 led to an outcry from customers and state and federal lawmakers who challenged TVA's longstanding claims of reliability in serving 153 local power companies, over 750,000 businesses and about 10 million people.
"When you think about an outcome never, ever do we want to have to curtail load for our customers but to keep this system stable, so that it was a short duration outage versus what could have been a very long duration outage, those steps being effective was just critical to success," Don Moul, TVA's chief operating officer, told Knox News in an interview this week about the report.
Since the rolling blackouts occurred, TVA has released pieces of information explaining what happened, including at the utility's February board meeting and in interviews with Knox News. TVA officials have met with lawmakers, customers and local power companies to explain what led to the rolling blackouts and learn what impact it had.
TVA created a team internally that collected and reviewed actions taken during the storm and also put together a panel including former Sen. Bob Corker, former American Public Power Association President Joy Ditto and retired Electric Power Research Institute CEO Mike Howard to consult on its actions after the storm.
Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)
The 50th anniversary of CMA Fest keeps getting better! Adding to the star-studded lineup, CMA Fest announces the return of the Hard Rock Stage at Hard Rock Cafe and reveals additional performers for the free outdoor daytime stages. Located in the heart of downtown Nashville, the Hard Rock Stage will feature live performances Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, June 11 from 10:15 AM – 4:40 PM daily.
Additionally, reigning CMA New Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year Lainey Wilson will open the fan-favorite Chevy Riverfront Stage Thursday, June 8 at 10:15 AM, kicking off four-days of live music on the Cumberland River. Prior to Wilson’s performance, the award-winning Tennessee State University (TSU) Marching Band will march across the John Siegenthaler Pedestrian Bridge before taking the Chevy Riverfront Stage to perform songs from their Grammy-winning album The Urban Hymnal.
Featuring some of Country’s hottest up-and-coming acts, the Hard Rock Stage includes performances by Roman Alexander, Skyelor Anderson, Graham Barham, BoomTown Saints, Aidan Canfield, “Country Proud” with artists Brooke Eden, Shelly Fairchild, Chris Housman, Angie K and Adam Mac, Logan Crosby, Shelby Darrall, Tyler Dial, Melanie Dyer, and more.
All CMA Fest stage lineups are available in the Official CMA Fest App and on CMAfest.com.