All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.
We start with local news…
Fire Chief Cobb Suspended (MSM)
There was some breaking news yesterday, Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb has been suspended from duty as of the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 1.
City Manager Tony Massey confirmed the suspension to Main Street Maury and Kennedy Broadcasting but declined to comment further, saying, “I don’t discuss personnel matters.”
Cobb could not be immediately reached for comment. He has served as Columbia’s fire chief since 2017.
The reason for the suspension was not given. Cobb requested last month that the City of Columbia launch an internal investigation into the city’s response to the May 3 Central High School shooting hoax. In that request, Cobb cited concern for the safety of his employees. This is a developing story, and we’ll have more information as we learn it.
Arson Arrest Made (MSM)
A man has been charged in connection with a Columbia house fire which occurred at 2800 Belle Meade Place on Monday, Oct. 23.
Daniel Hood, 37, was charged with reckless endangerment, arson and public intoxication, according to an arrest warrant obtained from the Maury County General Sessions Court.
The warrant states that officers encountered Hood at his residence “standing outside his garage while the driveway was on fire.”
“During investigation, after being Mirandized, Hood advised that he did set his garage on fire with the blowtorch that was laying in the driveway nearby him. Hood’s house became fully engulfed in flames and placed the nearby residences and the occupants in danger of serious bodily injury or death,” the warrant reads.
The warrant states that Hood “kept attempting to walk back up to the residence to get beer in the driveway, placing himself in danger of serious bodily injury or death.”
Hood was booked into the Maury County Jail on Oct. 23. He posted bond on Saturday, Oct. 28, although the amount of bond was not immediately known.
In a press release, Columbia Fire & Rescue said crews were dispatched around 1:06 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 23 to a residential structure fire on Belle Meade Place.
“Truck five immediately responded and, upon arrival, found a single family home engulfed in flames. CFR crews along with crews from Spring Hill Fire worked to successfully extinguish the fire. Maury Regional EMS, Columbia Police, and Columbia Power and Water Systems all responded to the scene,” the statement read.
According to public records, Hood has a long criminal history dating back to 2014, with charges of drug possession, vandalism and criminal trespassing, which all occurred in Davidson County.
Hood is set to appear in General Sessions Court at the Maury County Courthouse on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
CPJI Legacy Luncheon (WKOM Audio 2:47)
Yesterday, the Columbia Peace and Justice Initiative held their annual legacy luncheon. The event honored native Columbian and former head of the TSSAA, Bernard Childress. Front Porch Radio’s Clayton Harris attended the event and got to speak with the honored guest.
Breakfast with the Mayor (CDH)
Growth, planning and what's being done to put Columbia on the national map was the focus of Tuesday's Breakfast with The Mayor, presented by the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance.
The Breakfast with the Mayor series typically features a one-on-one Q&A style of presentation. However, as its final breakfast event of the year, the city chose to do things a little differently by including city representatives to discuss tourism and growth.
Tuesday's panel consisted of Mayor Chaz Molder, Director of Development Services Paul Keltner and Columbia Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy, with Maury Alliance President Wil Evans moderating.
A tradition of each Breakfast with The Mayor begins with the question: What is Columbia's greatest opportunity and greatest challenge moving forward?
One of the top advantages Molder said he sees is the opportunity for Columbia to truly envision its future as a city through its strategic plans, which include potential for future housing, roadway and other associated infrastructure projects, as well as opportunities for small businesses to thrive.
Some of the major projects are also designed in a way to not only benefit Columbia, but the county and region as a whole, such as the long-awaited widening of Bear Creek Pike.
"There are a number of opportunities we have as a city ... infrastructure for example. We are certainly all for the widening of Bear Creek Pike and it's an example of a collaborative project with our state officials, as well as local," Molder said. "There's an opportunity there and we feel well positioned that we are going to obtain the funding for that. We've applied for the funding and are still in it and feel really good about the prospects."
Keltner added that the city is currently seeing an average of 600 building permit approvals per year since 2019-2020, which has not only created a much greater economic growth, but has presented its own share of challenges.
"The market can change much faster than we can change, and admittedly so we'll be behind on a few things, but we now have a lot more staff in our department, added multiple planners, engineers and building inspectors," Keltner said. "We're looking at how to modernize our department more, be more efficient and be more forthcoming in presenting information."
Regarding additional challenges, Molder said maintaining adequate infrastructure to keep up with the city's growth is at the top of the list, among other topics.
"You've always got to think outside of the box, look to other peer communities so you can set a benchmark for yourself and take away some of the good things," Molder said. "Challenges are good, but it's how you deal with those challenges ... if you are being proactive and seeing how other communities are doing it where you get a good trajectory moving forward."
The discussion also included talks of what defines a city's infrastructure, and how its leaders are addressing the challenge of keeping up with growth.
Molder said Columbia is not necessarily where it needs to be "right now" in infrastructure but said the city would be as plans continue to move forward.
He emphasized that although almost 15,000 homes are slated to be built, it won't all happen at one time. Some developments take 10 years to build, Keltner added.
In addition to multiple road projects, part of that infrastructure need includes utilities such as wastewater, another top priority which includes plans for a new wastewater facility. Keltner said that project is currently in its design phase.
"We are working on getting the physical design, as well as the zonings in place," Keltner said. "They are capitalizing on having a program or company now that can model that out for them. So, when we say they'll have 200 homes, we can average out the amount of usage in each home and factor that into the draw they have from the Duck River."
Molder added that wastewater, while not the most exciting topic, is just as vital as other projects associated with growth. After all, it's a system that everyone uses, and having the right capacity for residential homes, businesses and other properties is important.
"That will be the most significant capital improvement project that the city has ever undertaken, and will ensure that we have adequate sewer infrastructure for at least the next 25 years," Molder said. "If we weren't working on that, then in the next 3-5 years we would probably have some issues."
While growth and progress on the local level has been a large part of the story, promoting Columbia as a tourism destination has also played a big role.
This has included establishing the Visit Columbia Welcome Center, which is approaching its second year off North Main Street located next to Columbia Police Department. Tourism has also proven to be a large economic generator for small businesses, particularly in the downtown district.
"Maury County breaks down to about $127 million, and for us that's up $10 million from the previous year," Murphy said. "Tourism is still the No. 2 industry in the state behind agriculture, which is pretty impressive."
According to data from statistical analysis group Placer, the downtown district generated approximately $110 million in 2022.
"We'll continue to do more events that will impact those numbers," Murphy said. "Our focus isn't just about reaching out and bringing visitors here. It's about destination development as well, how we can help promote that. Whatever we can do to help you do your job better is what we are here to do."
In addition, the city has been awarded several grants and funding opportunities, such as the city's hotel/motel tax, which have helped achieve projects like Ridley Park's expansion, roadway beautification projects in the Columbia Arts District and, most recently, the Polks at Preservation Park sculpture project set to be unveiled Friday across from the James K. Polk Home & Museum.
"The foot traffic downtown has also been really great for our small businesses, and we cannot forget the small businesses of our community as we see this unprecedented growth," Molder said.
"We're seeing new businesses, larger commercial entities that are coming to Columbia, but we have to remember that the true backbone for Columbia is our small business community. It makes me happy seeing our downtown booming on a Saturday morning because I know that as a result of this boom, our small businesses will boom."
Miracle League Hits Funding Mark (MSM)
Miracle League of Columbia held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially announce the plans for the park, located at the former Babe Ruth league field at Maury County Park.
A rendering of the future project has been placed at the site depicting the ballfield as well as the all-inclusive playground equipment that will be built at the site.
Juli Beck, board member of The Miracle League of Columbia at Maury County Park, said this was the celebration following the organization meeting its fundraising goal.
“When Robin Estep asked me to come on board two years ago, we immediately started fundraising. We have raised more funds in the least amount of time than any other Miracle League has ever done,” Beck said.
Estep fell in love with the program through her time watching her nephew Taye Ramer participate in the Murfreesboro league.
“My nephew Taye means the world to me. He’s such a bright light to everyone,” Estep said. “I would love to see something like (Miracle League) closer to home for not only Taye, but for all the other children who could use it.”
Miracle League baseball fields are custom designed with cushioned rubberized surfaces to help prevent injuries. The fields are completely flat to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair-bound or visually impaired players. The complexes also feature wheelchair-accessible dugouts, restrooms, concession stands and picnic pavilions.
Unfortunately, despite the quick work in fundraising, prices for construction have risen in that timeframe, which means fundraising is still ongoing, but that won’t stop the group from getting started on the project.
Beck said the generosity of the community has been overwhelming, especially following the annual Benefit Ball, which raised $100,000 for Miracle League to get them over the top of that initial goal.
The Benefit Ball began in 1972 as The Military Ball to support Columbia Military Academy. In 1980-81 the organization took the current name (Maury County Historic Benefit Association) and became a 501(c)3 in its own right. Annual proceeds are awarded by application exclusively to other Maury County charitable organizations.
In addition to the baseball field, the all-inclusive playground is likely to see many visitors.
“We’ve got the baseball field, but the big attraction on the playground is the zip lines. Any child – regardless of their ability – can ride the zipline, Beck said. “Most Miracle League playgrounds only have two zip lines, but they’re the most popular so there are always lines. Every time we go to see a playground, there is a line for the ziplines, so we decided to do four ziplines.
“We have swings, a tilt-a-whirl, we have slides and roller slides – a slow incline slide for those with limited ability. Because the playground is so close to the ballpark, you can have families playing ball and maybe another part of the family can be on the playground.”
Once the project breaks ground, Beck said she believes it could be from nine months to a year before the project is complete, but the entire board is working toward that day, including Mike and Dan Uggla.
Dan, a former Major League Baseball player, pledged a donation that will allow the field to bear his name.
“This is the stuff that’s really cool. The kids who need help to do these kinds of things, it’s character building, loving kids, loving other people, people who are different from you,” he said at the initial launch in November 2021. “Helping people and giving them a chance to play a game they love, but didn’t have a place to do it before is really cool.”
A new era of baseball at Maury County Park will begin with this project.
“Maury County families grew up playing baseball at this park – the Ugglas grew up playing at this park. It’s a major part of our community’s fabric, and to have a new generation of Maury County children making memories here is going to be a blessing,” Beck said.
Veteran’s Day Parade (MSM)
Maury County’s Veteran’s Day Parade is right around the corner, and the grand marshals have been announced as hometown heroes Beverly Williams, who served in Vietnam, and Dale Winston Riggs, who served in the Korean War.
This year’s parade, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 11, will be the county’s first in recent years. Veteran Services Officer Lisa Von Hagen said the county last held a parade years ago, but it is not known when it began and when it ended.
Raised in California, Williams received her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1966 and later received her master’s degree in health care management in 1977.
Williams began active duty in 1966 where she was assigned to MAC Scott Air Force Base in Illinois to hospital nursing. She then served in Danang, Vietnam, 22nd CSF (Casualty Staging Flight) from April 15, 1968 to April 15, 1969.
Upon being promoted to the rank of captain, Williams’ assignment was to treat and prepare causalities from all branches in Northern I Corps for evacuation for additional care.
After returning home, Williams joined the California Air National Guard, becoming part of the 146th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Van Nuys, Calif., before graduating from flight school in 1971.
According to a biography provided by the Maury County Veterans Service Office, Williams became inactive after marrying, but remained on reserve status until she was honorably discharged in 1987.
Williams, who has resided in Spring Hill since 2010, said she is excited and humbled to serve as one of the grand marshals in the Parade.
“My heart is always with Gold Star families and our returning vets, in varying needs of ongoing services provided by Lisa and her staff at the Vet Service Office,” she said.
Also set to be in attendance as the second grand marshal is Korean War veteran Dale Winston Riggs.
Born in 1933 during the Great Depression, Riggs enlisted in the Army at only 16 years old. He served as a Combat Infantry Medic in the 9th Infantry 2nd Division, known as “Greybeard,” from 1950-53.
Originally from upstate New York, Riggs moved to Spring Hill in 2020.
Riggs said he believes he was born to fight for his country, while adding another factor in his decision to enlist was the condition he was living in at the time. One of nine children, Riggs said he didn’t have his own bed or pair of shoes growing up.
“Generationally, men of my age enlisted in swarms because it provided three square meals a day, your own pair of shoes, and a bed to sleep in,” Riggs said, adding that his brothers also served.
Riggs said he was first assigned to a medical battalion.
“When they found out I knew how to drive, I was the medic in the ambulance taking wounded POWs back to the base,” he said. “I volunteered to go into the infantry next. I was assigned as a rifle company medic on the front lines, serving in the 9th Infantry 2nd Division Indian Heads.”
Of all of his battles, Riggs said his hardest was Hill 365, known as the “old baldie.”
“There was nothing left up there,” he said. “Just tree stumps and holes when we got done with them.”
Coming home was the difference between “daylight and dark,” Riggs said.
“I did get married and have kids, but you ask any veteran and it never leaves you,” he said. “I am an 89, soon to be 90-year-old man and every night I sleep, I dream of climbing the mountain and all the nameless faces of boys I lost in my arms. I couldn’t save them all.”
For his service, Riggs received the Combat Medical Badge, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Riggs was also one of 13 men to sign the petition for the creation of the Korean War Monument in D.C. Riggs is also the founding member of the KWVA (Korean War Veterans Association) organization, which was founded in 1984.
Riggs said he doesn’t take being a grand marshal lightly.
“Much like the medals in my display case, I didn’t do any of this for recognition,” he said. “I did it for my country. You never forget it.”
Maury County’s Veteran’s Day Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. The parade will start at Columbia Plaza on West 7th Street, passing the Memorial Building before turning at the Polk Home onto S. High Street and ending at the Mulehouse.
And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home…
Mrs. Jean Gwaltney Worley, 96, a long time resident of Dry Fork Road in Hampshire, died Sunday, October 29, 2023 at The Fountains of Franklin. Funeral services for Mrs. Worley will be conducted Saturday, Nov. 4, at 11:00 a.m. at West 7th Street Church of Christ. Burial will follow in the Worley Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols, and on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. prior to the service at West 7th Street Church of Christ. Condolences may be extended online at www.oakesandnichols.com.
Mr. Charles Henry Fraser, 97, former resident of Columbia, died Saturday, October 28, 2023 at Stone’s River Manor in Murfreesboro. Graveside services will be conducted Saturday, November 4, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Arlington Cemetery in Mt. Pleasant. Online condolences may be extended at www.oakesandnichols.com.
…And now, news from around the state…
Jubilee Singers Name Director (Tennessean)
After a year-long search, Fisk University has chosen a familiar face to be the next director for the world-renowned Jubilee Singers.
G. Preston Wilson, Jr., will take on the role in January, the University said in a news release Tuesday. Wilson comes after legendary director Paul T. Kwami, who taught Wilson while he was a member of the ensemble, died in September 2022.
Founded in 1871, the Jubilee Singers were the first to introduce “negro spirituals” to an international audience. Under Kwami's leadership, they won their first Grammy, and entered the Grammy and Gospel Halls of Fame.
A native of Durham, North Carolina, Wilson graduated from Fisk with a bachelor's in music education in 2010. While Wilson performed with the group, the Jubilee Singers were honored with the National Medal of the Arts presented by President George Bush.
Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)
Christmas 4 Kids is a not-for-profit organization that has been in existence for 40 years. Each year, the organization provides hundreds of underprivileged children in Middle Tennessee with their very own Christmas shopping spree.
Christmas 4 Kids (C4K) revealed the lineup for its 2023 benefit concert, set for Monday, November 20 at 7:00 PM at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. This year’s big show will feature performances by Shenandoah, Phil Vassar, Chapel Hart, HunterGirl and Mikayla Lane.
“Christmas 4 Kids is celebrating our 41st year of making Christmas special for kids in Middle Tennessee,” says C4K President Linda O’Connell. “We’ve got adult volunteers who shopped with us as children. They remember how special it was for them as children and want to pass it forward! This year we plan to shop with 480 kids, ages 6 to 13, and we couldn’t do it without these wonderfully talented musicians who come together to help us continue year after year.”
In addition to headlining this year’s concert, Shenandoah will host the show.
Tickets are $50.00 and $30.00 and are available for purchase now via ryman.com. All proceeds generated from the concert go to the Christmas 4 Kids organization.