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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 4-29-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for April 29, 2024

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

We start with local news…

First Responders Receive Star of Life (MSM)

The Maury County Fire Department is honored to announce that 10 heroic first responders have been awarded the 2024 Star of Life Award in the region.

This award recognized their exceptional response to a cardiac arrest call in July 2023. The actions of this team saved the life of a Maury County resident who continues to enjoy life due to their response.

They will be further celebrated at the annual Childrens’ Emergency Care Alliance of TN Star of Life award ceremony on May 2.

The Star of Life team shared, “The recipients of these awards have been selected through a rigorous nomination and evaluation process by a committee comprised of EMS leaders and community representatives.”

Congratulations to Savannah Maddison, Sydney McCray, Blake Gay, Chris Allen, Tim Turner, Luke Smith and Fabian Oden of the Maury County Fire Department, and to Ashlind James, Jamie Roan and William Miles of Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

CSCC Leadership Program (CDH)

Columbia State Community College’s Office of Workforce and Continuing Education recently hosted a reception for the inaugural cohort of its Leadership for Operational Excellence program.

The program benefits new and emerging leaders by helping them develop the necessary skills and a toolkit of resources to help them excel as they move and grow in their leadership roles.

“Upon joining Columbia State nearly five years ago, it became apparent through engagement with local businesses that a need existed for enhanced leadership and soft skills,” said Melody Murphy, Columbia State Workforce and Continuing Education director. “While we have consistently offered customized leadership training to our valued business partners, we recognized a growing demand for a more comprehensive leadership development initiative. Luckily, Dr. Deb Macfarlan Enright was available to help us make that a reality as lead facilitator of this program.”

The Leadership for Operational Excellence program nurtures success and provides participants with the skills and resources for them to excel as leaders within their organizations. Topics covered include leadership styles, generations and teams, employee engagement and productivity, communication and leading your team, business finance and budgets, presentation skills and networking as well as delivering outcomes and managing change.

“Leadership for Operational Excellence was designed to provide value above the traditional leadership programs,” said Dr. Dearl Lampley, Columbia State vice president of the Williamson Campus and external services. “Melody and Dr. Enright had a shared vision for a skills-based approach that would serve the graduates throughout their careers. As a result, the end product is comparable to a mini MBA.”

The first cohort included participants Priya-darshini Barka-kati, Kiran Kanth Reddy Bollampally, Barry Choisser, Sai Sumanth Edara, Daniel Garrett, Sandeep Wajapey, Cora Hageman, Allen McNeece, Terrance Taylor and Arshell Walke.

Participant Terrance Taylor spoke at the reception about his experience in the program.

“This leadership course has been transformative for me, pushing me out of my comfort zone and enabling me to grow both personally and professionally,” Taylor said. “I've learned the importance of listening, communication, and taking proactive steps to address challenges. By embracing these principles, I've been able to make a positive impact in my workplace and contribute to meaningful change.”

“Leadership isn't just about titles—it's about the choices we make and the impact we have on others,” Murphy said. “Let us strive to cultivate a culture of true leadership that inspires, empowers, and fosters growth for all.”

Registration for the Fall Cohort of the Leadership for Operational Excellence program is now open at

For more information on the Columbia State Office of Workforce and Continuing Education, visit

Farm City Breakfast (WKOM Audio 2:00)

On Friday, the Potts-Biffle Farm was honored as this year’s century farm at the annual Farm City Breakfast, sponsored by the Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the event and spoke to Melissa Potts about her family farm…

Spring Hill Dev Change Orders (MSM)

Some costly change orders totaling approximately $475,000 were discussed during the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s meeting last week.

One of the proposals discussed was in relation to authorizing a task order extension for a water and sewer capacity study.

“The largest source of the change is that as we were going through the process on intergrading the three main datasets,” Assistant City Administrator Dan Allen said. “There were a number of inconsistencies, and it took a significant amount of time to clean that up.

“By the time we realized that that’s what they were actually doing, they had already burned a substantial amount of budget.”

He said that he thought the overrun was about $200,000.

The change order proposal was for $95,000 with the city and company each “eating half of it,” Allen said.

Next was a resolution to authorize a task order for design modifications and bidding services to the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s proposed headworks and equalization basin.

“In reviewing the construction documents that were prepared, it is clear that some staff made a decision to change location of the EQ basin/future oxidation ditch without consulting with senior staff or the board, and as a result, the plans were carried forward to 90 percent completion with that facility in the wrong location,” Allen said. “So, this task order is a change order to correct all the plans and the process piping and everything else to put it back where it is supposed to be, which is on top of the public works facility.”

He said the persons responsible for these actions are no longer employed with the city.

“To that same end, this was done without any authorization,” City Administrator Pam Caskie said. “I was informed about it three months after I got here when all the work was already done, and there was nothing to do but to just say, ‘Stop.’ ”

When asked about the price tag of the change order, Allen said about $380,000, to which the board agreed for the order to be put into the form of a resolution.

The board also discussed a resolution to adopt the Spring Hill Water and Sewer models and capacity studies’ final report.

“You may not fully understand it, but it is a tremendous tool,” Allen said. “And very few cities have something like this. 

“So, on behalf of the utility’s team, we are happy to present this and hope it will be used regularly to help the city engage in good, sound, smart growth practices going forward.”

Allen summarized the gravity interceptor concept that would serve the east side of I-65.

“We’ve developed a concept that doesn’t require pump stations, it’s all gravity flow,” he said.

It was then discussed that the board was ready for the design phase of the project.

“I believe that staff’s position is that we have enough economic development opportunities that are on the near horizon that we need to be ready to go so that the lack of sewer isn’t an impediment to the opportunities that are becoming available when the interchange opens on that side…,” Caskie said. “We’ve invested the money to build that infrastructure, we might as well take advantage of it.

“And to that end, that we need to be prepared to enter into some sort of public-private partnership to accomplish that.”

The water and sewer rate adjustment package was also briefly discussed with Allen informing the board that links were provided to ordinances from 2019 for those increases.

Commission Approves Hospital Sale for Hotel (MSM)

The Maury County Commission approved at its Monday, April 15 meeting the sale of 6.5 acres for approximately $2.95 million by Maury Regional Medical Center to eventually build a hotel.

The sale of the property, which would be located on Trotwood Avenue, was originally presented to the county’s Health and Environment Committee on April 1.

Pursuant to the Private Acts of 1996, the commission must approve by a two-thirds vote any sale or disposition of real property by Maury Regional that exceeds $1 million.

Commissioners were largely in favor of the sale of the property, though some expressed concerns over parking, traffic and foundation money that has been put into The Retreat, a hospitality house that provides daytime accommodations for cancer patients.

“This has been a very thoughtful process on the part of the hospital,” said Dr. Martin Chaney, CEO of Maury Regional. “It was the parking concern and the retreat that were somewhat of the questions and holdups.”

Chaney said a phased approach will be used for the parking growth plan.

“This is a total revamp of our parking in front of Maury Regional that will gain an additional 189 parking spaces,” he said. “We’re completely reorienting the parking spots, so that we will get a lot better access, including a road that will run all the way in front of all of our facilities to guide access to each of our buildings in a controlled way, yet allow parking to be expanded.”

Chaney said the positioning of the parking deck, ambulatory care and medical building would prevent reasonable access from a road standpoint from the main campus onto the property.

“To use the property for parking would mean we would either have to create a service road along Trotwood, or any parking would have to go out on Trotwood Avenue to access into this property,” he said, adding that the James Campbell Trotwood parking lot would bring 114 spaces.

Additional spaces would include a row of parking by urgent care along Trotwood, which would gain 28 spaces.

When speaking on The Retreat, which the hospital has owned since 1982, Chaney said several contingency plans are in the works, including building a new retreat with foundation support. The second option would include allowing patients to stay in the new hotel.

“The interim will be the challenge,” Chaney said. “We are looking to find an alternate place if the property sells and the hotel is being built.”

Commissioner Ray Jeter expressed his support for the proposed hotel, stating the opportunity for additional revenue to be brought back into the county.

“That’s the reason I support this measure and I appreciate the hospital doing this,” Jeter said. “It doesn’t benefit them in any way to own this property.”

Commissioner Connie Green said she was concerned over the increase in traffic.

“If you’re going to have a hotel, you’re going to have laundry service, a pool and a restaurant,” Green said. “You’re going to have semi-trucks coming in and out of that property, plus the guests.”

Chaney said part of the hospital’s plan is to improve ingress and egress of the campus.

“We are doing what we can on our side of the fence so to speak to improve the traffic on Trotwood,” he said, stating that there will be a single entrance onto the campus.

The hospital also plans on applying for a stop light at the Blythewood intersection, which Chaney said would be contingent across the street where the new entrance will be.

“We do have a plan to address the traffic in front of the medical center,” he said. “I don’t necessarily have the traffic plan if it becomes a hotel, but I have seen some options there.”

Commissioner Gary Stovall stated his support of the project.

“People of Maury County, traffic is already here, so we don’t need to be worrying about it.”

The Commission ultimately passed the resolution in a 19-1 vote.

Spring Hill Appoints Committee Chairs for Healthcare (CDH)

Following TriStar Health's announcement last week proposing a $250 million full-service, acute care hospital in Spring Hill, a grassroots group has formed to support its efforts.

Spring Hill Tomorrow, a new initiative of Maury Tomorrow, has announced its new leaders, who are supporting greater health care access in Spring Hill. Former Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham and Spring Hill Chamber Board Chair Jaimee Davis were named to serve as the group's co-chairs.

TriStar will host an informational community meeting from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at Community Baptist Church, 1001 Parkway Drive.

TriStar Health announced last week plans to build a full-service, acute care hospital in Spring Hill. The health care provider is pursuing a Certificate of Need with the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission.

If approved, the $250 million community hospital would be built on the same site as the existing TriStar Spring Hill ER.

The proposed hospital in Spring Hill would offer a wide range of services including:

68 beds

Intensive Care Unit

Labor and Delivery Unit

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

4 operating rooms

Cardiac catheterization services

Imaging services, including MRI

“We are proud to have served thousands of patients in Spring Hill and surrounding communities over the past 10 years with convenient emergency care,” said Mitch Edgeworth, president of HCA Healthcare TriStar Division in a previous press release. “As Spring Hill’s population continues to grow, it is time for the community to have access to essential healthcare services at a full-service hospital closer to where they live, work and play.”

Spring Hill’s population increased from just under 9,000 residents in 2000 to more than 50,000 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census.

In the next five years, the population is expected to continue to grow to around 64,000 residents, according to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.

Currently, Spring Hill is Tennessee’s largest city without a hospital.

“I fully support a full-service Spring Hill Hospital,” said Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman. “Our city needs access to care and the economic impact of the proposed hospital in the first five years of operation will result in nearly $870 million and more than 3,000 new jobs to Spring Hill. This is the right move at the right time for our city." 

Co-chairs of Spring Hill Tomorrow Davis and Graham voiced support for the project.

“In 2006, our city asked TriStar Health to solve our lack of comprehensive healthcare due to our rapid growth,” Graham said in a press release.

“They answered our call then, but our efforts were blocked. It’s now 2024, and we’ve tripled our number of community members since then. We need this hospital, and we need it now. At what point will we be able to earn our own care?” 

"As individuals throughout the country increasingly look to make Spring Hill their home, the need for a hospital in this city has never been more critical," a Spring Hill Tomorrow press release states.

“There are more than 15,000 children in Spring Hill, which is 25 percent of our city’s population,” Davis said. “This is an opportunity for us to take care of our children’s healthcare needs without leaving Spring Hill.” 

For more information about the proposed hospital or to sign a letter of support, visit

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

Sandra Jean Kinavey MacGregor, 59, died Wednesday, April 24, 2024 at her residence.

No services are scheduled at this time. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home are assisting the family with arrangements.

Willie Oscar “Sonny” Thomas, Jr., 83, a resident of Columbia, died Thursday, April 25, 2024.

Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, April 30, 2024 at 1:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.  Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens with a Masonic service provided by the Columbia Lodge #31 F & AM. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.   

Mrs. Laurie Watson Moss, 79, resident of Columbia, died Friday at Maury Regional Medical Center. Graveside services for Mrs. Moss will be conducted Wednesday, May 1 at 2:30 PM at Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

AG Defends Ed Commissioner in Opinion (Tennessean)

The Tennessee governor has "unchecked authority" to name a state education commissioner who doesn't have to be certified to teach, according to an attorney's general opinion published this week in response to queries regarding embattled Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds.

In an opinion published on Tuesday, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti outlines his legal opinion for why the law stating commissioners be "qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority" does not mean the Tennessee education commissioner has to be certified to teach with a teaching license.

In the 10-page opinion, Skrmetti points to laws established in 1919 and 1925. Skrmetti argues the requirement imposes a "general standing" that establishes the "education, experience, and strength of character necessary to teach" rather than a specific legal certification.

Skrmetti notes several times that early 20th century General Assemblies chose to give the governor "unchecked power" to appoint commissioners without legislative approval, giving the governor power to "unilaterally judge who had the attainments necessary to lead the State’s Department of Education."

Rep. Caleb Hemmer, D-Nashville, requested the formal opinion from Skrmetti earlier this year as reports emerged that Reynolds may not meet qualifications for the job. Democrats have called for her resignation.

According to Tennessee state code, the education commissioner "shall" have experience in school administration and be qualified to teach at a high school level. Reynolds, who has experience in school choice nonprofits and the Texas education department, does not appear to have ever taught in a classroom as a teacher or served in local K-12 administration.

In a statement, Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said Skrmetti's opinion "attempts to tap dance around the clear and plain language of a century-old statute in an attempt to protect the governor's clearly unqualified appointee who is being paid over $255,000 a year."

The General Assembly likely lacks any viable route to removing the Commissioner of Education from office through litigation.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department (WCPR) proudly presents the 38th Annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival May 4-27, 2024.

Travel back to 16th-century England where the Village of Covington Glen comes alive with the bustle of a Renaissance Marketplace. Artisans from all over the country display their wares from silks and swords; to jewels and unique forms of art. A variety of flavors, aromas and tastes greet festivalgoers as the voices of renaissance musicians and merrymakers echo through the trees. Enjoy the revelry and pageantry of the joust, along with tea and a special visit with Her Majesty, the Queen. This year’s event features a variety of additions including new entertainers, merchants, a role-playing game experience, and a new special event, The Queen’s Promenade – an exquisite dance course designed for the distinguished few who wish to master the art of Regency Dance. 

Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in May (4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, and 26) and on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. Daily General Admission Tickets start at $25 per adult; $5 for children ages 3-12; and children ages 2 and younger are admitted for free. Royal Court and Season Passes, good for admission on all nine days of the event, range from $100-$200 (depending on package benefits); and parking is free.

The festival is held at Castle Park, 2135 New Castle Rd., in Arrington. For detailed information on this year’s festival, admission options, and to purchase tickets, visit


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