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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 4-18-24

WKOM/WKRM RadioSouthern Middle Tennessee TodayNews Copy for April 18, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Gas Leak in Spring Hill (MauryCountySource)

 The Spring Hill Fire Department was on the scene of a gas leak near the area of Buckner Lane and Stewart Campbell Pointe, yesterday afternoon.

SHPD posted the notice at 1:51pm. Thru traffic was not allowed on Buckner Lane. The closure was lifted by no incidents were reported as a result, and normal traffic resumed by 3:00pm.

I-840 Bridge Closure (TheNewsTN)

The Interstate 840 eastbound bridge at mile marker 28 in Williamson County will be reduced to a single lane for an estimated three months after the bridge was damaged on Tuesday.

The bridge was damaged after a CSX excavator working on the railroad tracks under the bridge struck the underside of the bridge.

Emergency crews shut down the interstate and diverted traffic, and hours later, the Tennessee Department of Transportation announced an “emergency bridge repair contract” with Bell and Associates Construction.

“After a thorough inspection, they deemed the untouched portion of the bridge safe to cross, but the right lane of the road will remain closed until the necessary repairs can be made,” TDOT said in a news release.

“One lane of travel will remain open for most of the project, aside from some temporary, short-term full closures of the bridge during work.”

TDOT is asking drivers to slow down and exercise caution in the work area. Travelers can also call 511 for statewide travel information and see the latest construction activity traffic updates by using the TDOT SmartWay map.

Bear Creek Rezoning Denied (MSM)

After being deferred from a previous agenda, annexation of 410 acres of land located at 400 Bear Creek Pike was brought before the Columbia Planning Commission last week and eventually rejected. 

A motion to deny on the grounds that the conditions of the area have not changed enough to warrant the rezoning process was seconded and put to vote. The motion to deny passed 4-2 with Danny Coleman, Chaz Molder, James Shannon and Charlie Goatz for and Christa Martin and James Sloan against. 

The request of annexation included a plan of services and zoning to PUD-R (planned unit development residential) under a preliminary PUD site development plan.

City Planner Kevin McCarthy said that nearly all the land is located outside the city and a small portion is located in the city off of Bear Creek, between Bear Creek itself and Bear Creek Pike.

The proposed development is 800 units and a daycare, he said, adding that the structures will “vary in size of lots and homes.”

“A portion of the property is intended to serve active adults, so it’d be limited to people 55 and older,” McCarthy said.

He said that the project would include six phases with over 400 units being built from north to south in the first half, and the second half of development including the completion of a road from Bear Creek Pike to Iron Bridge Road.

The Spine Road would also have a “multiuse” trail with a bike lane, McCarthy said.

He said that the revised plans included the elimination of cul-de-sacs to reduce grading near streams flowing into the Duck River.

Other changes, revisions and/or proposals included consolidating from two pump stations to one in the southern portion of the property; pulling away from the river and changing their grading plan to move some of their tree preservation area and meeting the requirement for that preservation in the zoning ordinance; proposal to provide about 85 acres of civic and open space; a walking trail dedicated to the city of Columbia’s park and recreation department; and the requested deviations from default PUD-R standards, McCarthy said.

The commission was presented with the structure types which included active adult single family; large-lot homes; townhomes; courtyard homes; and single-family alley loaded, along with the proposed daycare facility and amenity building.

After McCarthy’s presentation, the commission allowed public comments.

County Commissioner Jerry Strahan said that he assisted in the organization of a neighbor meeting when the development was first proposed over a year ago.

“I set my sights on trying to stop this development with 1,400 houses, density issues and traffic,” Strahan said. “The result of that, I attended many of your planning commission meetings, I attended many of the council meetings, I learned somewhat how the planning committee works, how the planning engineers work, and was amazed.

“I watched your team of city planners with the developers work together to make this development the desirable development that it is.”

Will Rainey, a retired registered professional engineer and seventh-generation Maury County resident, also spoke.

“As far as my assessment of this, I see it purely and simply a matter of money,” Rainey said. “A developer is trying to develop this as cheaply as possible to put as much money into his pocket.

“The city and county are looking to raise the tax base, money on both sides.”

There were several more public comments. McCarthy said 30 letters and about 10 emails had also been received.

Chairman Goatz said he does not “see right now at this time and moment that that area has changed so much that we need to annex a piece of property now and approve it for additional homes.”

“I’m struggling with that,” Goatz said. “I don’t see the need at this particular moment that we’re busting at the seams, and we need to annex another piece of property in that area for the density that is being requested here today.”

There was a clarification that in order for property to be annexed into the city the annexation had to be requested by the property owner.

Goatz said the vote was only for the recommendation from the commission to go to city council, and that the applicant could still make the request to city council.

Haucke Appointed to School Board (CDH)

The Maury County Commission voted this week to appoint Justin Haucke to fill the unexpired term for District 5 School Board member Laura Nutt, who recently resigned from the position.

Haucke's term will run from now until August, when the position will be open once again for election. Prior to the vote, District 7 Commissioner Aaron Miller said Haucke was also endorsed by outgoing member Nutt to serve as her replacement.

Other nominees included David Moore, who previously served District 5 on the school board, but was defeated in his 2022 race for re-election by Nutt.

Prior to the vote, the floor was opened to the public and the nominees for comments.

This included former Maury County Commission Chairman Michael Fulbright, who endorsed Moore as the right choice based on his past work experience alongside him. Fulbright also served three years as school board chairman during Moore's tenure.

"Any time I had any questions with what was going on with the school board, David was going to be able to answer it," Fulbright said. "We are very blessed to have two people who have volunteered to serve in this role. That is something we should be very proud of, and whoever is nominated we will be blessed to have that person."

Former commissioner Sue Stephenson suggested that, oftentimes, an outgoing board members' role is filled by their spouse, or the person named at the member's request. Since Haucke was the replacement Nutt had endorsed, Stephenson also endorsed him as the proper candidate.

"The school board needs fresh minds, and has struggled over the past years, particularly with audit findings," Stephenson said. "David served on the school board for two terms already. I support Justin and think he will do a good job ... and this is something that has been taking place for a number of years. Filling unexpired terms is a pretty rare event, but when it does happen, it is very important."

Following public comment, both Moore and Haucke were provided time to speak on their nominations.

Moore argued that his two-term experience on the board would bring an advantage, such as overcoming the initial learning curve of serving, as well as his personal attachment to the schools. This includes not only bringing his children up through the Maury County system, but also preparing for his first grandchild's early education experience.

"There is a bit of a learning curve, and I hope my experience can get past that, especially going into the budget season coming on very quickly," Moore said. "To be able to step right in, I can start doing my homework and be able to fill the seat as the 11th member to be able to move forward with that board."

About Maury County opening a charter school, a recent controversy which failed to pass twice, as well as at the state level, Moore said, "it remains an open topic worthy of discussion," but that he could not state his support or opposition.

Haucke, a 14-year Spring Hill resident, said he has experience in budgeting, and wants Maury County to set better long-term goals. This way the schools can grow and develop in conjunction with the county's overall growth.

"When people ask, 'If something isn't broken, why try to fix it?' I like to say, well if it isn't broken, can you not make it better?" Haucke said. "Of course, nobody on the school board is going to agree on all of the same things, but you can get things done by talking it out, being civil."

Haucke added that he is also in support of Maury County opening a charter school, if that were to reappear as a topic of discussion.

"I have zero problem with us having a charter school in this county," Haucke said. "As far as I know from what I've seen, it's kind of a lottery, while some people say it's not and that they pick and choose. That is not how I've been informed on how a charter school works, and so if we had a charter school I'm sure I'd apply for at least one of my children to go there."

In the end, Haucke received 12 votes against Moore, who received seven votes.

AAHSMC To Host Lecture (MSM)

Continuing the theme “African Americans Making History” in the field of sports, the April speakers of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County will be Bernard Childress and Chris Poynter.

The lecture will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at the Maury County Archives, 1446 Oak Springs Dr. Suite 100 in Columbia.

Childress was named the Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) in 2009. A native of Columbia, Childress graduated from Columbia Central High School. While at Central, he served as the vice president of the Student Council and was a member of the basketball team.

In 1978, Childress received a Bachelor of Science from Belmont University, where he was a member of the basketball team for four years. Continuing his education, he received a master’s degree from Trevecca University.

He began his career in education as a teacher and coach at Columbia Central High School. In 1985, he was the assistant basketball coach at Middle Tennessee State University. He returned to Columbia and was the assistant principal of Columbia Central High School for five years before becoming the Principal of Whitthorne Middle School. In 1995, he was named the Assistant Executive Director of the TSSAA.

Childress was inducted in the Belmont University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2005, he was honored for his contributions to high school athletics as a recipient of the prestigious National Federation of State High School Associations Citation Award. This citation is one the most highly regarded achievements in high school activities.

Poynter was named the District Athletic Director of Maury County Public Schools in 2017, becoming the first African American appointed to this position. A native of Columbia, Poynter graduated from Columbia Central High School.

In 2005, Poynter received a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University, where he received All-America and Ohio Valley Conference baseball honors. Continuing his education, he received his master’s degree in 2008 from Austin Peay State University.

Again, the lecture will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at the Maury County Archives, 1446 Oak Springs Dr. Suite 100 in Columbia.

Farm City Breakfast (Press Release)

The Maury Alliance Agribusiness Committee invites you to their annual Farm City Breakfast honoring the agriculture and agribusiness industry of Maury County.

This year's Farm City Breakfast will be held on Friday, April 26th at the Ridley 4-H Center. The breakfast line opens at 6:45 am with the program beginning at 7:00 am and concluding by 8:30 am. 

The Keynote Speaker is Mr. Eric Mayberry, President of Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and we will be honoring the Biffle Potts Farm in Hampshire as a Century Farm.

There is no charge to attend the breakfast, however we will be collecting donations during the event for our 2024 Farm City Scholarship Memorial Fund. This year scholarships will be given in memory of Dee Cee Neeley.

Learn more about the scholarship opportunities by visiting

Spring Hill Citizens Academy (MauryCountySource)

The SHPD is currently taking applications for the 2024 session of the Citizens Police Academy (CPA).

The CPA is an excellent opportunity to learn about your local police department and what goes on behind the scenes. The academy will cover topics such as the use of force, patrol operations, traffic enforcement, criminal investigations, firearms training, and more.

The CPA is open to all individuals 21 years of age or older and reside or work within the municipal city limits of Spring Hill. Persons may apply outside of the municipal city limits; however, precedence will be given to those within the municipal city limits.

For more information, please get in touch with Officer Michael Stewart at

CA Baseball Coach Wins 700th (MSM)

Columbia Academy’s Richie Estep didn’t believe in himself. Thrust into a head coaching role as a young man, he never dreamed he’d still be doing this job nearly 25 years later. 

On Monday night at his alma mater, Estep celebrated a 12-2 win over University School of Nashville, but more than just his team’s 20th win of the season, it was Estep’s 700th career victory. 

“Every hundredth kind of hits me a little bit; I never dreamed I would have been around to do this. As a young head coach, I didn’t believe in myself that I could be one for a long time. I have to give credit where it’s due – the players are the ones who play,” he said. 

His Bulldogs overcame an early 2-0 deficit after some small-ball tactics worked in favor of the visiting Tigers. Pitcher Gunner Skelton settled in nicely and worked quickly the rest of the contest. 

On offense, the Bulldogs piled on runs in the third, kicked off by a CJ Durrough single to left brought home a run and then Skelton cleared the bases with a two-run single to give CA the 3-2 lead, one it would never relinquish. 

Andy Reed was 3-for-3 for the Dawgs, with a pair of RBI as well.

Estep, who was among the inaugural members of the CA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, directed Goodpasture to four state championships and one runner-up team in 14 seasons, compiling a 462-119 record. Ten of his teams advanced to the state tournament.

Since leaving to return to his alma mater, where he was the Mid-State Baseball “Player of the Year” in 1992, played basketball and was quarterback of the Bulldogs’ football team, Estep has guided Columbia Academy to one state championship (2018) as well. 

Athletics Director Pernell Knox also serves as an assistant coach on the team, but played with Estep most of his life as a teammate and even an opponent. The two longtime pals were forced on one another in a way, but the truth is neither of them would trade the time they’ve spent together. 

“I tell everybody I know that Richie is the best athlete I’ve played with or against,” Knox said. “Knowing he wanted me here helping him and having played with him since the age of nine, it’s cool to see 600 and 700.”

“Last year, we were out of coaches and I kind of forced Pernell to help me, but it’s like we’ve coached together forever. We’re like brothers; I don’t ever want him to go,” Estep said. 

Estep shared the milestone with former player, now pitching coach, Alex Huey as well. Huey, who left Freed-Hardeman as the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts and wins, is in his first year helping the program. Being able to be a part of this win was surreal for the former Bulldog.

“It means everything to me to be here. It is nice that it comes full circle because getting to work under a guy like him is special,” he said. “He deserves a lot more credit than he gets on this team, and I’m forever grateful for the coach and role model he is.”

While Estep is quick to shower praise on his players and assistants, including that Huey has taken the pitching staff off his plate and allowed him to focus on managing the game, every person in the program has a word of praise for the skipper. 

Knox wasn’t surprised when he reached this milestone, in fact, it didn’t take as long to get to this double zero as one might think. 

“With his resume, you knew that if he did it long enough that this would come,” he said. “IThe day we shut down for Covid was his 600th win, and now this is here. It’s well-deserved and not surprising at all. 

“Hopefully I can keep him around long enough to see 1,000. I think it’s just around the corner, I really do.”

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

Kerry Blaine Huckaby, 57, died Monday, April 8, 2024 in Columbia.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church.  Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens.  The family will visit with friends Friday, April 19, 2024 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home and Saturday from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM in the Atrium at First United Methodist Church.  Online condolences may be extended at

Mrs. Janie Nicholson, 83, died Thurs April 11 at her residence.  The body will lie in state on Thursday from 12-6 with family present from 5 to 6 at Baxter Bros Funeral Home.  Visitation will take place on Friday from 11 to 12 at White Springs United Primitive Baptist Church with funeral to follow at 12.  Burial will follow at Pinecrest Cemetery.

And now, news from around the state…Cicadas Coming (Tennessean)

Summertime brings hotter temperatures, lake days, barbeques - and droves of cicadas producing that piercing, screeching sound most southerners have gotten used to.

2024 will see the emergence of Brood XIX cicadas, which have been dormant for the past 13 years. The cicadas will be emerging in the trillions due to a rare, double-brood event, what many are calling, "cicada-geddon." Cicada-geddon will include the 13-year brood Brood XIX and the 17-year Brood XIII.

Brood XIX will be found in 14 states including Tennessee and Brood XIII will be emerge in the Midwest. The two broods will likely overlap in Iowa and Illinois, according to Tennessee will not see any overlap of the two cicada groups.

Brood XIX cicadas will emerge around mid-May in Tennessee through mid-June as the insects try to find mates before hibernating once again. Exact timing however, is weather dependant.

Male cicadas "scream" in order to attract mates. Females lack the structures known as tybals that produce sound, so only the males will "scream." Male cicadas begin screaming four or five days after they emerge. 

Each species of cicada has a distinctive song they produce said the University of Illinois, and according to the National Institute of Health, the mating calls can reach over 90 decibels, as loud as a lawnmower, motorcycle or tractor.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

On Monday, Boyz II Men announced their 2024 tour with DJ Robin Thicke. The group will hit the stage at Nashville's Ascend Amphitheater on Friday, Aug. 2.

The R&B vocal group, comprised of Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman, is currently on tour in Europe. In May, they will head back to America and start the American stint of their 2024 tour in Newark, NJ.

The R&B group began in '85 in Philadelphia when Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson started singing together in high school.

From there, the group has gone on to win four Grammy Awards and release hits "End Of The Road," "I'll Make Love To You" and "On Bended Knee."

For more information about the group and their newest tunes, head to


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