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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 27, 2023


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


We start with local news…

3-Car Crash Lands One in Custody (MauryCountySource)

One person was taken into custody last week after a three vehicle crash in Maury County.

MCFD responded to the crash on New Lewisburg Hwy near Seavy Hight Rd.

Units arrived to find a victim trapped in an overturned vehicle and stabilized the vehicle with struts and removed glass to allow the occupant to walk out. Officials also removed the door of another vehicle.

All vehicle occupants were able to walk away from the accident with minor injuries.

THP was on scene and placed one driver in custody.

The Well Feeds 1000 For Thanksgiving (CDH)

More than 1,000 families were served through Spring Hill's The Well Outreach food pantry in July reaching two consecutive months of serving 1,000-plus, a number that has spiked over the past few months, according to The Well executive director Shelly Sassen.

Throughout the Thanksgiving season, the number of those in need continues to rise.

On Sunday, volunteers at The Well's Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway served over 450 local families in need, donating all the fixings, including turkey, pie, and sides.

Thompson Station Church sponsored the giveaway event, sending over 100 volunteers to help, plus community volunteers also donated their time on Sunday to hand-deliver Thanksgiving dinners to families.

"You were all the hands and feet of Christ today walking alongside those in need," Sassen said after the giveaway. "It is such an honor to be part of such a giving community. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving from our Well family to yours."

Throughout the Thanksgiving season, The Well is providing groceries to over 1,600 families that would otherwise go without.

"This is only possible because of the generosity of volunteers and supporters sacrificing their time and resources so that those facing hunger in our community know the gift of food this holiday season," Sassen said.

June Lake Features St. Jude Home (CDH)

The ongoing June Lake mixed-use development, which will feature a variety of homes, businesses, office space and hotels, will in addition feature the 2024 St. Jude Dream Home.

The approximately 3,278 square-foot home is estimated to cost an estimated $386,500 and will be located in what will be known as the Saddlewalk subdivision, according to a Spring Hill city staff report. This will also be the first St. Jude home built in Spring Hill.

Signature Homes, the company overseeing the St. Jude Home brought the project before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this last seeking a waiver to the home's building permit and other related fees, which would total about $5,855. This would include things like grading, blasting, plumbing and mechanical permits, adequate facilities tax and June Lake assessment fees.

"Signature Homes has been chosen to build the St. Jude Dream Home again this year, and we have not only enthusiastically accepted, but will be donating 100% of our overhead and profit of this home," Signature Homes Project Coordinator Heather Pace stated in an email to city staff. "There is a tremendous amount of community support for St. Jude in Southern Middle Tennessee."

In addition, Signature Homes requested a waiver of fees associated with a traffic impact study, as well as water and sewer tap and reserve fees.

The latter two fees may not be waivered, according to the resolution, but the city would allocate funding equal to $3,361 for the traffic study and $3,335.65 for water and sewer.

"Signature Homes' primary goals in partnering with the St. Jude Dream Home program is to build the home at the lowest possible cost, and help to raise childhood cancer awareness," Pace said. "This will allow us to maximize the amount of money that will be sent to St. Jude."

The request was ultimately approved by BOMA members, but came with a few amendments, particularly regarding the traffic study and water and sewer funding by the city.

City Administrator Pam Caskie said the reason the traffic, water and sewer were listed separately is due to the state law preventing them from being waived. The proposed city funds would then be used to pay for the fee instead, Caskie said.

"In this case, what we are proposing to do is to basically take revenues we were going to spend out of the appropriate fund on legitimate traffic, water and sewer impacts anyway and divert them through the impact fee on behalf of the St. Jude's Home, thus fulfilling their commitment to being paid," Caskie said. "This is an acceptable approach, and probably the only legal way to do it."

Alderman Trent Linville said he had no issue with the legal aspect of this approach, but described the intention as being the city taking an "affirmative action" to a particular organization, when there are many others who do not receive a subsidy from the city.

"I think St. Jude is an incredible organization with an amazing charitable purpose, but we can say that about hundreds, if not thousands of other organizations that we currently don't subsidize," Linville said. "I would support the waiver of the fees, but not the city taking those affirmative actions to essentially pay money on behalf of St. Jude. This would be the city affirmatively putting money toward the project, rather than us simply waiving and not accepting the fees."

Linville later moved to amend the resolution to remove the traffic, water and sewer funds, which passed 7-1 prior to the final vote, which was approved unanimously.

Tri-Star Promotes Three (MSM)

Ted Williams, President and CEO of TriStar Bank, recently announced new roles for Jason Epley, Michael Franks and Mack Garvin.

Williams commented, “Our bank is blessed to have great local talent serving our teams and clients. These three men go the extra mile to achieve our mission of superior service. I am excited about our bank’s future with our senior leadership team.”

Epley has been promoted to Chief Retail Officer. He also currently serves as the bank’s Dickson County President.

Epley has over 17 years of banking experience with the last 10 of those being with TriStar Bank. He is a graduate of Dickson County High School and received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Belmont University. He graduated in 2017 from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU and previously completed the Southeastern School of Banking.

In 2019, he was included in the ICBA Emerging Community Bank Leaders, 40 under 40 young innovators. He currently serves as a councilman and Vice Mayor for the City of Dickson.

Epley stated, “The heart of community banking is built on relationships and exceptional service. Leading our retail efforts will afford me the opportunity to expand and strengthen connections while ensuring that we are delivering superior service in meeting needs and finding solutions for our clients, shareholders, and community. I am excited and look forward to serving in this capacity.”

Franks has been promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer and will continue to serve as the bank’s Maury County President.

Franks graduated from Battle Ground Academy and Middle Tennessee State University, where he earned his degree in Business Administration. After completing various schools through the Tennessee Bankers Association, he graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU in 2010. Franks is an active supporter and Board Member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee, serves as a Board Ambassador for the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and is a member of the Board of Trustees at Columbia State Community College. Additionally, he is a current member of the Leadership Middle Tennessee Class of 2024.

Franks commented, “I am honored to assume the role of Chief Lending Officer for TriStar Bank while continuing to serve as Maury County President. I look forward to what the future holds for our bank and our clients.”

Garvin has been named the Chief Mortgage Officer and serves as the bank’s Security Officer. Garvin started his career in mortgage lending 18 years ago. He has completed the Tennessee Bankers Association’s Southeastern School of Banking. He currently serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors at Columbia Academy. He also serves on the Legislative Committee for Southern Middle Tennessee Associations of Realtors and is a Kiwanis Club Member in Columbia. He is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Maury and currently serves on the Chamber Membership Committee and Chamber Agribusiness Committee.

Garvin commented, “Over the course of my career I’ve had many roles, but I have always kept my focus on what’s important to me which is helping people. As the Chief Mortgage Officer, I will be able to directly help home buyers/owners, continue to nurture my realtor relationships, and still have time to be active in my community.”

McDonald’s Donates to Schools (MSM)

Local McDonald’s owner-operator Gina Wolfe donated $1,608 to Maury County Schools last Monday, Nov. 13 as part of the “Fries for School Supplies” fundraiser. The schools included Highland Park Elementary, J.R. Baker Elementary, Spring Hill Elementary and Mt. Pleasant Elementary.

The fundraiser, which was launched by the McDonald’s Greater Tennessee Valley Owners-Operators Association (GTVOA), began in 2021. Over 230 McDonald’s restaurants across the Business Unit participate by donating 10 percent of proceeds from sales over a week to local schools or school districts. Each owner-operator chooses the school or school district to donate proceeds.

David Robbins, PR Account Executive for McDonald’s, said the funds will be used to meet the immediate needs of the local of the local schools and educators, such as providing hand sanitizer, whiteboards, or markers for students.

“Gina Wolfe (Owner-operator) is grateful for the opportunity to support her community and the teachers who make a difference in the lives of students,” Robbins said.

In total, this year’s Fries for School Supplies fundraiser raised over $84,000 for local schools across the Greater Tennessee Valley region, with funds benefiting local schools and teachers to fund classroom supplies.

Columbia Christmas Tree Lighting (Press Release)

Columbia Main Street Corporation, in partnership with the City of Columbia, will host the 37th Annual Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting on Saturday, December 2, 2023, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM in Columbia’s Historic Downtown.

With a record number of over 120 participants this year, the parade begins at 6:00 PM and marches east down West 7th Street into Downtown Columbia. At the conclusion of the parade, festivities kick off for the lighting of Columbia’s 40-foot Christmas tree topper around 7:15 PM on the courthouse steps, hosted by DJ Amped. This year’s parade & tree lighting is made possible by our generous community partners and Grand Marshal Sponsor Stan McNabb Chevrolet Columbia.

The parade lasts about an hour and features holiday-themed illuminated floats, marching bands, holiday characters, scout groups, dance troupes, local churches, businesses, civic groups, non-profit organizations, and an array of construction vehicles, tractors, and classic cars. Retired Colonel Ashley Brown leads this year’s parade as the Grand Marshal in honor of his commitment to the Maury County community through his years of civic and professional accomplishments. After the parade, the tree lighting ceremony takes center stage with Santa lighting the Christmas tree topper, musical entertainment by DJ Amped, an original song by Marta Albarracin, and the presentation of trophies for the “best of” parade winners.

Columbia Main Street Manager Kelli Johnson stated, “Kicking off the holiday season with the Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting truly warms your heart and puts a smile on your face. I am thrilled for the community and businesses to be a part of this annual event because it shows how magical and unique our town truly is! I encourage all to come early and stay late for this festive event that takes place in the heart of Historic Downtown Columbia.”

“I am so excited for this year’s Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting celebration–37 years and going strong,” stated Mayor Chaz Molder. “I can’t wait to welcome our residents and visitors alike in what will be a magical night in Columbia. I am also excited for this year’s Grand Marshal, Ashley Brown, one of the best-known, well-respected individuals in our community.”

A rain date is set for December 9, 2023. Find all of the information regarding the Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting at https://www.visitcolumbiatn.com/events.

Harmony Homeschool Choir Concert (Press Release)

Harmony Homeschool Choir is thrilled to announce its upcoming Christmas concert, "Merry & Bright," featuring 105 talented homeschool students ranging in age from 8-18. The concert will take place on December 11 at 6:00 pm at the Cherry Theater, located at Columbia State Community College.

The "Merry & Bright" concert promises to be a delightful evening of festive music and heartwarming performances, showcasing the exceptional vocal skills and dedication of the Harmony Homeschool Choir. Attendees can expect a captivating blend of traditional holiday favorites and modern arrangements, all presented by the talented young voices of the choir.

"We are excited to bring the joy of the holiday season to the community through our 'Merry & Bright' Christmas concert," said Sarah Latch, Director of Harmony Homeschool Choir. "Our students have been working tirelessly to deliver a memorable and enchanting musical experience for all our guests."

This is a free event open to the community. For more information, please visit the Harmony Homeschool Choir website at harmonyhomeschoolchoir.com or follow on Facebook.

Harmony Homeschool Choir began in 2019, rehearsing in Cornersville, TN with 13 young but dedicated singers under the direction of Sarah Latch and with Sharon Pennington accompanying on piano. We have now grown to six separate choirs, a theory course and over 100 participating students rehearsing in Columbia and Lewisburg.

Don't miss this opportunity to celebrate the magic of the season with Harmony Homeschool Choir's "Merry & Bright" Christmas concert on December 11 at the Cherry Theater. Join us for an evening of music, merriment, and cherished holiday traditions. The evening ends with a congregational hymn singing of cherished Christmas hymns by candle-light.

King’s Daughters Christmas Drive (CDH)

The King’s Daughters’ School and Heritage Bank & Trust are once again seeking help to make many Christmas wishes come true with the 23rd annual Santa's Mailbox gift drive.

The annual drive will run through Thursday, Dec. 14.

Wish letters can be picked up from Santa’s Mailbox at Heritage Bank & Trust branches in Columbia and Mt. Pleasant. The letters are from disadvantaged King’s Daughters’ students and state-custody kids who will be spending Christmas on campus.

Students have written down their Christmas wishes in letters to Santa.

"Santa’s Mailbox should be easy to spot when you walk into a Heritage Bank & Trust lobby. Each letter contains one Christmas wish item for a student," a press release states.

“We are so grateful to Heritage Bank & Trust for their support of our Santa’s Mailbox program. Many of our students cannot go home for the holidays, so the contributions of the bank, their customers, and our entire community make their Christmas wishes come true,” KDS Executive Director Shauna Pounders said.

Once gifts are returned, they will be wrapped by the King’s Daughters’ staff members and placed in Santa’s bag ready for delivery at the KDS campus Christmas Eve.

"The school and bank members thank you ahead of time for helping make Christmas special for each and every child at KDS," the press release states.

Heritage Bank & Trust is resuming hosting duties this year as a continued valued partner to KDS.

"Heritage Bank & Trust is proud to be a part of the wonderful work being done by The King's Daughters' School," says Shelli Golden, KDS Board Member and EVP, Chief Risk Officer of Heritage Bank & Trust.

"Over the years, I have served on the Board of Directors of The King's Daughters' School, and I continue to be impressed with the care and compassion given to each student to make their lives the best that it can be. Heritage is honored to partner with an organization making such a great impact on our community." Santa’s Mailboxes are located in two Maury County Heritage Bank & Trust lobbies: 217 South James Campbell Blvd., and 109 South Main St. in Mt. Pleasant.

The King’s Daughters’ School is a nonprofit residential school that has provided academic, vocational, and life-skills training to students with developmental delays for over 60 years.

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

Mr. Billy Gene White, 84, retired security guard for Farm Bureau, died Tuesday, November 21 at Nashville VA Medical Center.Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, November 28, at 2:00 P.M. at St. Catherine Catholic Church. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Monday from 3:00 – 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mr. Waymon Logan Hickman passed away peacefully at home on November 25, 2023 at the age of 89. Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 12pm at Columbia First United Methodist Church. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 10am until the time of the service at Columbia First United Methodist Church. There will be a private family burial.

Mrs. Judith Ann Shearin, 64, resident of Columbia, and Loan Processor for Mortgage Investment Group, died November 21, 2023 at her home. Oakes and Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements. No services are scheduled at this time.

Mr. Claude Edward Roberts, Jr., 53, resident of Columbia, died November 24, 2023 at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West. Oakes and Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements. No services are scheduled at this time.

…And now, news from around the state…

Senate Map to be Redrawn (Tennessean)

The Tennessee General Assembly must redraw its state Senate map by January following a Tuesday ruling by a three-judge panel that found the district boundaries unconstitutional.

Three voters, backed by the state Democratic party, sued Tennessee in 2022 over allegations that legislative Republicans unconstitutionally drew House and Senate maps to further entrench the GOP supermajority in the legislature.

The plaintiffs accused Republicans of excessively dividing cities and counties when redrawing state House maps and failing to follow a provision in the Tennessee Constitution that requires Senate districts in counties with several districts be numbered consecutively. The districts in question are Davidson County's four state Senate districts, which are numbered 17, 19, 20 and 21.

The judicial panel sided with the state on the House map, with two of the three judges ruling it met constitutional requirements.

The ruling means Tennessee lawmakers will need to immediately address the Senate maps when they return to session on Jan. 9. The legislature must adopt a new map by Jan. 31.

"Senate leadership is reviewing the decision and evaluating next steps," Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said in a statement. "Based on the thorough and compelling dissent from Judge (Steven) Maroney, I personally believe an appeal is a very viable option.”

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, and Minority Caucus Chair Sen. London Lamar, D-Memphis, called the ruling a "clear win for the Tennessee Constitution."

"Even when a political party has a supermajority in the legislature, its members must still follow the law," the Democratic senators said. "In the days ahead, Senate Democrats will once again be advocating for a fair map and transparent process that keeps communities whole and reflects who we are as a state."

Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Hendrell Remus said the party would continue its fight.

“The justice system has once again had to step in to correct the unconstitutional actions of the Tennessee GOP supermajority," Remus said in a statement. "We are demanding a fair and open process as the State Senate map is redrawn. We will also provide an alternative map to be considered. 

"Our fight for a constitutional State House map is not over.”

Separately, a group of voters in August filed a federal lawsuit against the state over the same 2022 redistricting effort, alleging the effort intentionally targeted Black voters and illegally dilutes the voting power of communities of color. That lawsuit remains pending.

Toll Lanes Coming to TN (MSM)

Tennessee’s Department of Transportation met with Gov. Bill Lee’s budget team last week but its larger long-term plan is on schedule to be released in December, Commissioner Butch Eley said.

The December plan announcement for the state’s Transportation Modernization Act implementation will include a proposal to spend $3.3 billion in state funds for road work given to the department last year along with the proposal to implement toll lanes into highway plan.

The toll lane plan will allow the department to negotiate deals for private companies to add lanes to Tennessee highways and make those toll lanes, with the private company collecting tolls to recoup their portion of negotiated project costs.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Multi-GRAMMY® and Oscar® winner Jon Batiste announced his Uneasy Tour: Purifying The Airwaves For The People in support of his newly Grammy nominated album World Music Radio, out now.

Batiste’s first-ever headlining tour will kick off February 16 in Portland, OR, and stop at The Ryman on February 28th.

Tickets on sale now. Additional ticket information is available at www.jonbatiste.com.


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