All news stories are aggregated from various sources and modified for time and content. Original sources are cited.
We start with local news…
Flight Sim Company Coming to Maury (Press Release)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter announced today SGB Enterprises, Inc. will invest $1.7 million to relocate its headquarters and expand its design and manufacturing operations in Tennessee.
Through the project, SGB will create 41 new jobs in Columbia.
The move will position SGB in closer proximity to its primary customer base across the Southeast and will be a driving force in allowing SGB to expand its products and services for the commercial and military simulation training sectors.
Founded more than 30 years ago, SGB Enterprises, Inc. specializes in designing and manufacturing procedural training systems, flight simulators, maintenance trainers and other simulated avionics and control components for the aerospace industry. SGB will more than double its employment by expanding to Tennessee.
Since 2019, TNECD has supported nearly 15 economic development projects in Maury County, resulting in approximately 3,500 job commitments and $4.8 billion in capital investment.
“Tennessee’s unmatched workforce and strong business climate continue to attract top-notch companies to our state. I thank SGB for its decision to relocate to Tennessee and look forward to the opportunities these 41 new jobs will create for Tennesseans across Maury County.” – Gov. Bill Lee
“We are proud to partner with SGB as the company relocates its headquarters and expands its manufacturing in Tennessee. Our state is home to top research and development assets, which when combined with our strong background in manufacturing, will create the perfect climate to support companies like SGB in the aerospace industry.” – TNECD Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter
“We are very excited about our expansion as Columbia is just a short drive up I-65 from our largest customer. The decision to relocate our headquarters in Tennessee is strategic and significant for our company and our core customers. Tennessee, Maury County and the City of Columbia offer a skilled and talented workforce, great resources for manufacturing and a supportive business environment that will allow us to continue to grow and to evolve our product and service offerings.” – Joe Padula, president and CEO, SGB Enterprises
Spring Hill Fire Admin Brings Millions (MauryCountySource)
Millions of dollars in federal funding are coming to the City of Spring Hill thanks to continued efforts by the City of Spring Hill Fire Administration.
On Monday, October 2, the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved Resolution 23-200 to accept the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).
Spring Hill Fire Administration applied for the $3.1 million grant back in March and was awarded the grant on September 15.
The purpose of the SAFER Grant Program is to provide funding directly to fire departments to assist in increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards, and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments.
“With the award of this much-needed SAFER Grant, Spring Hill Fire Department will operate more safely and efficiently by increasing and maintaining a minimum staffing of four persons on each fire apparatus which meets national standards and industry best practices,” said Spring Hill Fire Chief Graig Temple.
The $3.1 million grant will cover all pay and benefits for 13 newly hired firefighters during the operational period. This is projected to cover the current staffing deficit within the department.
Duck River Symposium (MSM)
During the month of October, the Maury County Public Library will host a symposium on different aspects of the Duck River.
The Duck River’s 284 miles flow through seven Middle Tennessee counties and it is the longest river in the United States that is contained entirely in one state. National Geographic has stated that the Duck River is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world. Fifty species of freshwater mussels and 151 different fish species make the Duck River their home.
On Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., Doug Murphy, Executive Director of Duck River Agency, and Jonathan Hardin, interim president and CEO of Columbia Power & Water Systems, will discuss water conservation as it relates to Maury and neighboring counties.
Amanda Rosenberger, PhD, will be speaking about the variety of freshwater life in the Duck River at 6 p.m. on Oct. 24.
There will also be a display featuring different aspects of the river. TWRA has made fishing equipment sets available to those 16 and under. A door prize of a float trip on the Duck will be drawn at each program.
Spring Hill Votes on UGB (CDH)
The Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted this week on the latest updates to the city's proposed urban growth boundary for the first time in more than 20 years.
The subject of updating the urban growth boundary, which is required to be updated every 20 years, has spawned differing opinions over the last few months, especially by property owners wishing not to be included. This includes areas east of I-65 and northwest of the Spring Hill city limits.
Though the requests were approved, they will not go into effect until being reviewed by the Williamson County UGB committee, who is also considering areas of Thompson's Station. The process initially began in October of 2021.
The requests were to consider removing all areas east of I-65 and a portion of the northwest quadrant after citizens expressed concerns at multiple meetings, many in fear that the changes could lead to annexation. However, the UGB updates would not enact any annexation unless requested by the property owners.
"They want to remain rural in the county, and they feel like Spring Hill is setting them up to take their property for eminent domain to build an airport and roadways,” Williamson County commissioner Judy Herbert said. "Spring Hill residents have complained about the overdevelopment and traffic, and expanding this UGB will create even more. Most cities are only allowing a small amount of the UGB addition, and you all can do that too."
Henry Haffner, a property owner with farmland off Owl Hollow Road, also expressed concerns for future development in the area, and that while the UGB does not guarantee annexation, it won't stop developers from pressuring landowners.
"This is a rural area and these are generational farms, and my family has lived here for almost 70 years," Haffner said. "We don't want to be in the line of fire of predatory developers and surrounded anymore than we already are by development. We encourage that you listen to the voices of the citizens."
After multiple other citizens spoke Monday, the BOMA's discussion mainly consisted of considering multiple options, with some removing portions of the proposed UGB. This was the option that seemed to be most in agreement with the citizen requests, while also providing an update.
Alderman Matt Fitterer said, when it comes to worries of eminent domain, that could be a possibility with or without the UGB status. He also reiterated the fact that annexation could not be possible without the property owner's consent, per state law.
"We have absolutely no ability as a city to annex property without the property owner's consent," Fitterer said. "We have donut holes in the middle of Spring Hill surrounded on all four sides by city property where county residents utilize our roads, utilize our public services, our parks, our library, they get first-responders from us through mutual aid. If we had the ability to annex, we would have annexed those donut holes years ago."
The final votes approved by the BOMA were first to remove a portion of the eastern UGB area, but to include areas South of the existing city limits extending to Lewisburg Pike. This is with the intent to manage associated growth and development for future road alignments in association with June Lake Boulevard and the new I-65 interchange.
The second resolution regarding the northwest portion was to significantly reduce the proposed UGB, but not entirely, with the bulk of the area remaining rural Williamson County land.
Another Spring Hill Development (MSM)
The Spring Hill Planning Commission discussed proposals for a future mixed-use development on Wall Street at its most recent study session, that included on-street parking along Wall Street and up to 180 residential units atop 49,830 square feet of commercial space off Fitts Street.
City staff noted the number of residential units would exceed both what the code allows and previous planning commission approvals, but Greg Gamble of Gamble Design noted the commission has approved higher density in similar areas in the past.
“You have approved density in context, and this is one location that the context makes sense. Your zoning ordinance set it up this way and we’re following that prescription. We believe that we have a successful plan that staff can support and get behind,” Gamble said.
The city approved 13 units per acre at Port Royal Commercial and South Pointe Square, but the maximum density allowed in the city is 18 units per acre in the R-7 zone.
Planning Commission chairperson Liz Droke said she was concerned about the density mainly due to the additional strain that number of cars would put on Main Street.
“When I think about multiple cars for 180 units that makes my chest hurt when I think about what that’s going to do to Main Street in the middle of town. I would hope for maybe one-fourth of that in residential units to be able to get behind this,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with mixed-use in the area, but right now it’s just too much.”
The design included on-street parking as part of the plan along Wall Street, but city staff balked at the idea because – as currently constructed – the collector road is essentially being utilized as an alternative route for Main Street drivers.
“I understand Mr. Gamble’s approach to creating traffic calming and creating a pedestrian-intensive activity. I would ask you to consider if Wall Street, in this sort of heavy commercialized strip of the city, is the kind of environment that you want to create,” City Administrator Pam Caskie – speaking on behalf of Public Works Director Tyler Scroggins – said. “There are reasons for those situations to be used like that, to take a road that is being used heavily as an arterial (road) almost, and try to turn it into something that – while desirable – I think is an issue.”
While the city awaits the return of US 31 to the state’s upgrade plan list, the city does not want to mitigate traffic flow in the few places available to help with congestion.
“I don’t care how long we wait for (Highway) 31 – we’d all like for it to have been done already, it’s probably not going to be done for about five years or so, we need to maintain every bit of alternative traffic patterns that we can get,” Caskie said.
Gamble said he did not intend to fight city staff on the issue but noted the city’s own plans do call for that type of development.
“We don’t have any intentions to fight staff on this issue. We know that on-street parking provides traffic calming in an area where we want to encourage pedestrian activity,” Gamble said. “Your ordinance and land use plan talks a lot about that. On-street parking helps promote sustainability for those commercial uses that are on the ground floor. If it’s the planning commission’s opinion that the parking spaces need to be taken off, we’ll take them off the plan – no problem.”
Caskie added, “We would discourage pedestrian activity and discourage the kind of development that would support pedestrian activity in this location.”
Gamble, however, said the idea of the C-4 zoning is something he and other developers are excited about using to create a sense of community within otherwise commercialized areas.
“We, as planners, are excited about using your new zoning ordinance to achieve these true mixed-use developments that bring vibrancy and create place-making opportunities in Spring Hill. We believe this location is an excellent opportunity to do that,” he said. “That’s what the zoning ordinance was designed to do in the C-4 district.”
Whole Hog Festival (Press Release)
JOIN The Well Outreach THIS SATURDAY OCT. 7th FROM 10 AM - 5 PM for their Whole Hog Festival!
This is Spring Hill’s largest community festival!
It’s a great day and fun for all ages, plus all proceeds go to support The Well Outreach Food Pantry, feeding local families in need. Have fun and help your community all at the same time
There’s something for everyone including a HUGE Kid’s Zone with all FREE activities, an antique Tractor Show, a Regional Crafts Fair, a Petting Zoo, a Children’s Circus, great LIVE MUSIC all day-long plus lots of yummy Pork-Themed Food!
Tickets are $5/person with children 5 and under FREE and are available at the door. Please join The Well Outreach from 10 am - 5 pm on Saturday, October 7th at Oaklawn Mansion
(3331 Denning Lane, Spring Hill TN)
for a great, family-friendly day!
Farmland Legacy Workshop (Press Release)
The South-Central Extension Team will be conducting a Farmland Legacy Workshop. The two-night workshop will be held October 17th and October 19th from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center Columbia State Community College 169 Southern Tennessee Lane Lawrenceburg, TN.
Farmland Legacy workshops are designed primarily to assist farm families with estate planning, to provide for an orderly succession of farm properties, and maintain family farms for future generations. However, the classes are open to anyone interested in estate planning. Qualified experts including estate planning attorneys, Extension Specialists, and other professionals will conduct the workshop.
The cost for the program is $25 per person or $40 per couple and meals will be provided both nights. Participants will also receive a workbook and publications to help them get started in estate planning.
For more information and to register, contact the UT Extension office at (931) 762-5506 or visit tiny.utk.edu/FarmlandLegacyWorkshop.
Oktoberfest Recap (CDH)
Folks dressed up and gathered together to celebrate Oktoberfest last Friday at Columbia's Riverside Park. Featured events included dog races, keg tosses, as well as food vendors and live music.
The festival, now in its fourth year, serves as one of the largest fundraisers for Columbia's local Room In The Inn nonprofit, which provides housing, food and transitional programs for the homeless and their families.
Founder Pastor Jeff Kane said he has enjoyed seeing the festival grow year after year, and that it can now be hosted in a public park. Funds from the festival have also helped pave the way for Room In The Inn's goal to open its own permanent shelter, which Kane said is "in the final stages" of hopefully opening off Mapleash Avenue later this year.
"It's awesome that we've been able to keep this going for four years, and the turnout, the atmosphere and camaraderie is just so exciting. People believe in this ministry and our mission to help out," Kane said. "I wait all year for this event, and we've had a great night, beautiful weather and we always work hard to make this fun for everyone."
And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home…
Gary Wayne Poe, 73, musician, entertainer, and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Maury Regional Medical Center.
Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Reverend Jeff Kane officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Friday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.
Alvin Moore, 94, passed away on September 29, 2023, at his home in Columbia, Tennessee, surrounded by his family. Mr. Moore was a long-time employee of Tennessee Farm Bureau
A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church with Reverend Tommy Vann and Reverend Frank Smith officiating. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.
…And now, news from around the state…
Jones Sues Speaker Sexton (Tennessean)
Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville, sued the state and House Speaker Cameron Sexton on Tuesday, alleging the House Republican efforts to expel Jones last spring and enact new rules to limit debate during the August special session were unconstitutional and illegal.
House Republicans expelled Jones and his freshman colleague Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, in April after the two broke House rules and mounted brief gun reform chants on the chamber floor. The pair were frustrated with the lack of legislative action in the wake of the Covenant School shooting just days before, in which six people were killed.
Jones was quickly reappointed to his seat by the Nashville Metro council, and he later easily won reelection.
The Nashville Democrat now argues the expulsion "robbed" him of committee appointments and washed out his legislative tenure of a few months, which could affect his standing for benefits in the Tennessee retirement system. Jones also argues he was forced to spend $70,000 and resources to mount a second election campaign after his expulsion.
The lawsuit also alleges the expulsion proceedings violated the Fourteenth Amendment as they lacked "due process." Though the expulsion proceedings were legislative in nature, and not a judicial process, Jones' lawsuit argues the time period between his expulsion notice on April 3 and the expulsion hearings on April 6 deprived him of adequate time and resources to prepare a proper defense.
The lawsuit states the House was acting in a judicial capacity during the expulsion and argues the proceedings were "rigged against them from the start."
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Nashville, Jones also alleges the new rules established in the special session are unconstitutional.
Republicans adopted the rules over the objections of Democrats as lawmakers began a contentious session over public safety issues in the wake of the March Covenant School shooting.
The rules allowed the House to block a lawmaker from speaking in committees and on the House floor if they cause a substantial disruption, or "impugn the reputation" of another House member. The new rules also banned members of the public from carrying signs in House galleries and committee meetings, which has long been allowed.
The rules sparked major controversy and roiled public opinion within days, as members of the public and mothers advocating for increased gun safety regulations were kicked out of a committee meeting for carrying signs.
House Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the chamber, also later voted to silence Jones after Sexton ruled he had twice spoken out of order. The vote moved the Democratic caucus to walk off the floor en masse and protest what they viewed as an unequitable application of the rules Republicans established and wield with little oversight.
Justice Kirby Calls for Attorney Pay Hike (Tennessean)
The chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court said this week the state must raise the reimbursement rate for attorneys who represent impoverished defendants.
Chief Justice Holly Kirby said Tuesday the court would seek legislative budget funding to support an $80 hourly reimbursement rate for attorneys in the coming year, though at least one attorney said the changes "fall short" of fixing endemic issues within Tennessee's indigent defense system.
The Tennessean in September reported the state's rate, the lowest in the nation, has squeezed Tennessee's judicial system to a “breaking point,” as judges struggle to find attorneys to appoint to case that lawyers are hesitant to take on.
People who can't afford an attorney have a constitutional right to legal representation, but Tennessee lawyers say they are now losing money defending clients for an hourly rate has only been raised $20 in the last 42 years.
Nearly half of all indigent cases involve families and child welfare in juvenile court, according to the Administrative Office of Courts. Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway stated last month juvenile courts struggle to keep up with federally mandated case schedules as court staff scramble to convince attorneys to take on cases.
Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens has announced that its annual Holiday LIGHTS festivities will return on Nov. 18.
LIGHTS will run through Jan. 7, and tickets go on sale Oct. 16.
More than one million lights will be on display throughout the grounds.
“This year’s Holiday LIGHTS is brighter than ever,” Cheekwood President and CEO Jane MacLeod said in a release.
“Each year we add a little something new, while still offering the traditional displays our guests have come to know and love. An equally festive experience awaits guests inside the historic Mansion where this year’s theme of candy canes and gingerbread will bring cheer to visitors of all ages.”
For more information, including about ticket packages, visit www.cheekwood.org.