Buc-ee's? Trash Mountain? What's coming to Coffee County?

Chase Matheson - November 10, 2023
COFFEE COUNTY, TN -- Is Coffee County Getting a Buc-ees? Located just 35 miles down the road from Murfreesboro, Coffee County, TN is a rural community with a growing population of over 59,000 people that is quickly turning into the next "it" place to live in Tennessee. 

Lower taxes, manufacturing jobs, and conservative-leaning schools make Coffee County the ideal home for the Native Nashvillian moving away from the Urban Sprawl. So, is Coffee County getting a Buc-ees? Unlikely, but there are some questions that need to be asked after the latest proposal from Coffee County Mayor Judd Matheny.
On November 14, 2023 there is a regularly scheduled meeting of the County Commission, but with a not-so-usual twist. Five members of the Planning Commission are being targeting for termination. Who is targeting them? It appears the Mayor himself. 

According to documents contained within the Agenda, the Mayor doesn’t have the power to do remove the members by himself. Removing members of the Board would require a vote of the legislative body, in this case, the County Commission. How would they vote? Well, we wont have to wait long to see. Why are they being targeted? The Mayor alleges, improper training/training documents.

The Mayor’s proposal claims that several members of the Planning commission have failed to keep up with their legally required training. But is that the case? 
It doesn’t seem so. It seems that the issues with the training are with the specificity of the training logs. Though there is plenty of documentation that the members attended the training, they were not necessarily documented with all the correct specificities on the sign in logs--an issue that is not necessarily the fault of the attendees, but that could create liability with developers in the future. It is unknown for how long these record keeping procedures have been flawed.

Also submitted with the agenda were text messages between County Commissioner Dennis Hunt and Mayor Matheny.
Letter to one of the commissioners obtained by the Patriot punk network
The text messages appear to show Hunt alerting the Mayor to some major flaws in his plan to “shake up” the county commission. He addresses the legal method of terminating the board, and alerts Matheny that he should “let it die on the vine” instead of allowing it to have a “negative impact on his administration.” “Only other option is Dissolve the whole thing and reappoint with 9” says Matheny in one text message. “I’ll be fine no matter what and we will be in the right posture.”

Matheny goes on to communicate that "[if] everything [is] done with no behind the scenes debates then I move on, and yea the legislative body will hold the hearings  Chancery court is the appeals,"
This discussion about removing members of the board was occurring in closed text messages, not in a public meeting. If decisions were made behind closed doors that would be a violation of Tennessee Sunshine laws. It does appear the Mayor himself provided these messages based on the format of them, but they were not public until ~40 days after the discussions were had. 
The Patriot Punk Network was able to speak with Planning Committee Chairman Steve Cunningham after the agenda was released. Mr. Cunningham indicated he was one of the members being targeted, and that he feels the method of termination here is not above board.  
“The Mayor can legitimately replace (2) members of the board in January 2024, so why the rush?” says Cunningham. “We are going to find out Tuesday which [County] Commissioners think for themselves, and which don't.”

It seems it would be much easier to publicly amend the training documentation to include the necessary information, rather than terminate 5 members of the board because of incomplete paperwork. Is there another reason the Mayor wants these members out?

The Patriot Punk Network did a little digging and found a few interesting points of note. Judd Matheny’s LinkedIn account lists him as “Partner at Southern Central Waste Services of Coffee County.” 

He served for 16 years on the in the Tennessee House of Representatives, 8 of which overlapped with Rutherford County politico and current member of the State Election Commission, Donna Barrett. Donna Barrett served until 2010, while Matheny left in 2018. Matheny chaired the House Standing Committee on Consumer and Employee Affairs while Barrett was the Secretary, and their districts are right next to each other.

An article from 2015, which involved then State Representative Judd Matheny and Sate Election Commissioner Donna Barrett, discusses the disputed removal of the Republican members of the Cannon County Election Commission--eerily similar to the Hostile Takeover of the Benton County Election Commission to End Paper Ballots 
Screenshot from judd matheny's linkedin account november 10, 2023
Recently there has been a lot of speculation coming out of Rutherford County, TN that the infamous Trash Mountain has overstayed it’s welcome. It’s no secret that with Coffee County being such a short distance down the I-24 corridor it could be a proposed new home for this hazardous hill some have dubbed Mt. Trashmore. 

Is there some conspiracy by the powers that be to bring mountains of trash to Coffee County? Or are we getting a Buc-ees? I vote for Buc-ees. If you want to know the truth, I suggest showing up Tuesday night to the County Commission meeting.

Tuesday November 14, 2023
Coffee County Administrative Building
1329 McArthur St, Manchester, TN 37355
6:00 PM

image from state of tennessee general assembly website
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