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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 10, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Hotel Feasibility Study (MauryCountySource)

The City of Columbia contracted with Core Distinction Group to conduct a Hotel Market Feasibility Study for Columbia. The recently completed study indicated the greatest need in the area is in downtown for this community of 43,000 people located just 45 minutes south of Nashville, Tennessee.

“The City Council identified a downtown hotel as a strategic priority given the lack of a centrally located hotel in Columbia,” said Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski. “The City’s retail recruitment consultants, Retail Strategies, recommended that the City work with Core Distinction Group, the two companies having worked on numerous projects together. The study provides the City, prospective developers, and other stakeholders with data on the feasibility of a downtown hotel.”

Columbia City Council took the initiative to invest in a Hotel Market Feasibility Study as a priority action item of the city’s annual strategic plan. The Feasibility Study, completed by Core Distinction Group in 2022, indicated a need for an Upper Midscale to Upscale hotel with 90-100 recommended guestrooms. They also indicated the property should offer amenities such as complimentary breakfast, fitness center, meeting room, pool, and on-site convenience shop.

“Columbia has many possible locations for a new hotel, but the beautiful downtown area has great potential to be the ideal spot for a new hotel,” stated Jessica Junker, Managing Partner at Core Distinction Group, LLC. “The community of Columbia attracts a great deal of both business and leisure travelers to the area and is currently losing those travelers to neighboring communities. This local, economic loss can be recaptured with a new, upper scale hotel product.”

Core Distinction Group specializes in comprehensive, Hotel Market Feasibility Studies. With more than 600 Hotel Market Feasibility Studies complete, their more than fifty years of hands-on industry experience offers clients a valuable knowledge and understanding of each unique community. A one-size-fits-all approach will never produce a productive and precise outcome. Core Distinction Group delivers custom solutions, tailored to the community’s specific needs. Additionally, clients return to Core Distinction Group for help with convention or conference center feasibility studies, restaurant feasibility studies, marketing and much more. Colleagues in the hotel industry turn to Core Distinction Group expert knowledge for training, sales, revenue, marketing, and operations management consulting.

The City of Columbia is currently encouraging inquiries from interested developers, particularly those with experience with projects on scale of the recommendations in the Core Distinction Group feasibility study. Please contact Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski with the City of Columbia if you have interest in learning more about the potential hotel project:

Townsend Scholarship at CSCC (Press Release)

The Columbia State Community College Foundation recently established a new scholarship endowment from Joe Townsend in memory of his wife, Shirley Reed Townsend, and daughter, Stephanie Townsend.

In February, Joe created the Stephanie, Shirley Reed and Joe (J.W.) Townsend Endowment scholarship fund to honor the memory of his late wife and daughter. While he now resides in Murfreesboro, Joe was born and raised in Lawrence County. He and his wife always aspired to financially assist high school graduates in Lawrence County to further their education.

“This endowment will go into the future positively impacting students and bring to remembrance the Townsend family’s connections to Lawrence County,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation. “We appreciate the support and encouragement it will provide to students.”

The scholarship is available for Lawrence County high school graduates attending Columbia State.

The Columbia State Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports and partners with the college to positively impact student success and the communities in which it serves.

TriGreen Equipment Opening (WKOM Audio 2:00)

On Friday, Tri-Green Equipment held their grand opening. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the ribbon cutting to see that they have to offer…

Mt. Pleasant Downtown Revitalization (MainStreetMaury)

Mount Pleasant announced that it received a Notice to Proceed with Construction from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in late March, which moves the project to the bidding phase. The project is Phase I of a Downtown Revitalization Project that will include new accessible sidewalks, ADA compliant pedestrian ramps, new pedestrian lighting and amenities including benches, trash receptacles and bike racks.

TDOT awarded the city $1.25 million in Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant funds in 2018 for the pedestrian improvements. As part of the grant agreement, the city must provide a minimum match of 20 percent to receive those funds. In an effort to do a comprehensive project, the city has worked with the Water and Sewer Department to conduct water and sewer rehabilitation simultaneously.

Mount Pleasant Power is also assisting the city in funding the lighting and traffic signalization portion of the project. In total, the project construction is expected to cost about $2.5 million.

“This project has been in the making for many years. It started with a Downtown Master Plan, continued with a grant application to TDOT, then years of coordination and going through TDOT’s required processes. We are thrilled to finally put this project out to bid!” said City Manager Kate Collier.

The bidding process is expected to be initiated over the next several weeks, with a bid opening in early May. More approvals and coordination with TDOT will have to take place before a formal award is made. However, the city hopes to be able to begin construction later this summer and the project complete by the fall of 2024.

The schedule of implementation of the Phase I project is timely, given that the city was awarded approximately $1.85 million in a 2022 TAP grant for the pedestrian improvements in the Phase II project area. This is part of the city’s ongoing commitment to implement the master plan for revitalization of Mount Pleasant’s downtown.

Wellness Fair (Press Release)

The Tennessee Department of Health and the Faith-based community is offering the “Bringing Health to You” Health and Welness Fair. The event will take place on April 29th from 10am-1pm at the Madedonia Church of Christ located at 123 Clinch Drive in Columbia. The fair will offer hands-on health check-ups with on-site local health professionals, community resources on health education, testing, and vaccines, real-time dental appointment scheduling on site, and free healthy recipes and samples. Participating organizations include the Maury Regional Medical Center Mobile Medical Unit, the Women’s Center, the Cancer Center, the Tennessee Depart of Health, Meharry Medical Center, Clinical Research Associates, Department of Children’s Services, Behavioral Health Group, Brittany Pye, LMT, and Chef Juels. For more information you can email or call or text 931-800-8344.

Donate Blood on National Volunteer Month (MainStreetMaury)

Blood Assurance and Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder are calling on residents to donate the gift of life during National Volunteer Month.

Since 1991, the month of April has been dedicated to honoring all volunteers throughout the United States, as well as encouraging volunteerism, like giving blood.

In recognition of the occasion, Molder is featured in a new Public Service Announcement produced by Blood Assurance.

“This is an opportunity to answer the call and give back,” Molder said in the promotional video. “Knowing that it will go on to help someone who needs it, I can’t imagine a more important calling.”

Blood Assurance is the sole supplier of blood and blood products to the city’s only hospital, Maury Regional Medical Center. The nonprofit has a donation center at 1412 Trotwood Ave.

“It’s important that our blood supply levels remain at a point that doesn’t get crucial for our community,” noted Molder. “I’m grateful for Blood Assurance and what they mean for our community as far as giving back.”

Donors can schedule an appointment online at, call (800) 962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 999777. Walk-ins are also accepted.

All individuals who donate from April 1-30, will receive a commemorate Super Donor t-shirt.

Senior Salute Day (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools invites area industries and businesses to their Senior Salute Day and Strive to Drive giveaway on Thursday, April 20, from 9 am to 1 pm at the Columbia Central High School Football Stadium at Maury County Park. During this event, one lucky senior will win a 2023 Jeep Compass from Columbia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat!

In addition to the Jeep Compass giveaway, this event will showcase seniors from every MCPS high school and allow area businesses to meet over 800 students and share with them what your business has to offer.

If you are interested in participating in the Senior Salute Day career fair event, you can email

Where’s Maury the Mule? (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance kicked off their annual shop local passport adventure, “Where’s Maury the Mule?” last week. This event, presented by Stan McNabb Chevrolet of Columbia, encourages people to discover, explore, and support small businesses across Maury County.

Maury Alliance launched this event in 2016 to support local businesses and provide a fun activity for families during spring break and Mule week. “Where’s Maury the Mule?” is just one initiative from the Maury Alliance to help support the small business community, but it is one that both people and businesses look forward to each year. The event has grown every year since its inception and is now a two-week event with 35 participating businesses.

“I’ve lived in Maury County my whole life and discovered many new businesses while participating in Where’s Maury the Mule last year. It was my first time to participate in that event and me and a friend went to 30 businesses in a single day!” said Marvin Russel, the 2022 grand-prize winner.

Those interested in joining the search for Maury the Mule this year can pick up a passport from event sponsor Stan McNabb Chevrolet of Columbia, Maury Alliance, or any of the 35 participating businesses. Once you have a passport, visit as many local businesses as possible, find the Maury the Mule image hidden at each business, and get your passport stamped or signed by an employee.

Visiting at least five businesses will enter you into a participation drawing for Local First gift cards.

Visiting 20 businesses qualifies you for the grand-prize drawing. If you visit 25 businesses, you will get a double entry into the grand prize drawing, and if you visit 30 businesses, you will get at triple entry into the grand prize drawing.

To be entered into the grand prize drawing, passports must be turned in at the Maury Alliance office by Tuesday, April 11 at 5 pm. Winners will be randomly selected on Tuesday, April 12. Two lucky people will win the Grand Prize – which is $450 in gift cards from participating businesses. Maury Alliance’s Local First Gift Cards will also be given away.

Visit for more information.

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

Mrs. Wendy Elizabeth Hall McLouth, 47, Senior Compensation Analyst at Brookdale Senior Living and resident of Culleoka, died Thursday, April 6, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.  A memorial service for Mrs. McLouth will be conducted Monday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. The family will visit with friends Monday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.


Ms. Alexie Shai Hargrove, 27, a resident of Gene Fitzgerald Road in Columbia, died Thursday, April 6, 2023 at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Funeral services Alexie will be Wednesday April 12, 2023 at 12:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will in West Point Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday, April 11, 2023 from 3:00 P.M - 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home. 


Mr. Bobby Wayne White, Sr.,86, retired employee of Columbia Dailey Herald and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, April 8, 2023 at NHC Maury Regional Transitional Care. Funeral services for Mr. White are incomplete and will be announced later by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors. 

…And now, news from around the state…

VP Surprise Visit to Nashville (Tennessean)

Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday praised three Tennessee Democratic lawmakers who staged a protest in favor of gun control on the statehouse floor in an act of defiance that led angry Republicans to expel two of them from the General Assembly.

In a surprise trip to Nashville, Harris said the three Democrats – Reps. Justin Jones of Nashville, Justin Pearson of Memphis and Gloria Johnson of Knoxville – showed courage in pushing for gun reform following a mass shooting at a Nashville private Christian school that killed six people.

“It wasn’t about these three leaders – it was about what they were representing,” she said during an event at Fisk University. “It’s about whose voices they were channeling. Is that not what a democracy allows?”

House Republicans voted Thursday to expel Jones and Pearson, both of whom are Black, for their role in the protest. Johnson, who is white, dodged an expulsion by one vote.

“That is not a democracy,” Harris said of the expulsions. In a democracy, she said, "you don’t silence the people, you do not stifle the people, you do not turn off their microphones when they are speaking about the importance of life and liberty."

President Joe Biden also spoke to the three Democrats, who have become known as the "Tennessee Three," during a conference call Friday ahead of Harris' visit. He thanked them for their leadership in seeking to ban assault weapons and standing up for democratic values, the White House said. He also invited them to the White House in the near future.

Harris' hastily arranged trip to Nashville came after Tennessee House Republicans voted overwhelmingly Thursday to expel Jones and Pearson. Jones was expelled on 72-25 vote. The vote to remove Pearce was 69-26. The expulsions have become a national flashpoint on the issues of gun control and race.

Upon arriving in Nashville, Harris met privately with the three Democrats at Fisk, which hosted a gathering of community leaders to support the expelled lawmakers. Afterward, she met with other Tennessee Democratic lawmakers and Nashville Mayor John Cooper. 

Pearson was met with raucous applause and cheers as he arrived for the event. “They thought they could expel democracy,” he said, addressing the crowd from a stone platform. “But we’re still here!”

In her remarks, Harris also praised students and other young leaders who converged upon the state Capitol en masse to push for gun control after the school shooting but haven't swayed the state's Republican majority. She encouraged them to continue the fight.

"I do believe that every generation has its calling, that there are moments in time that find you and require and depend on your leadership," she said. "And so, in particular to all the young people, this issue is going to require your leadership."

Harris renewed Biden's call for Congress to pass a nationwide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Assault weapons "were designed to kill a lot of people quickly" and have "no place on the streets of the civil society," she said.

The trio of lawmakers were accused by Republican leadership of breaching decorum and floor rules for speaking at the House podium on March 30 without recognition.

New Historic Monument Commission Bill Progresses (TennesseeLookout)

A bill to create a new “Tennessee Monuments and Memorials Commission” to review any petitions to remove or relocate historical memorials on public property advanced in the legislature on Tuesday.

The measure (SB1100/HB1025) by Sen. Janice Bowling, R.-Tullahoma and Rep. Ed Butler, R-Rickman would create a new nine-member volunteer commission appointed by the governor, Senate and House speakers to review any requests to remove memorials.

The new entity would take over the duties of the current 24-member Tennessee Historical Commission in reviewing waivers under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act.  

The 2013 act generally prohibits the removal of historic memorials on public property; however waivers can be sought to remove historical monuments — a mechanism that has been used in recent years to remove a bust of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forest from the state capitol and reject efforts by Nashville Parks officials to remove a statue of a confederate soldier from Centennial Park.  

The commission has made controversial decisions both in favor and against removing Confederal memorials, but the law creating it specifies its decisions may be reviewed by Davidson County Chancery Court. The new bill does not contain any appeals language and it’s unclear how parties could appeal the proposed new commission’s decisions.

If enacted, the Historical Commission would continue to review the waivers it has received to date — and to retain its other duties, including maintaining state historic sites, erecting historic markers and preserving historic cemeteries.

The measure passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing Tuesday on a 7-2 vote along party lines, with only Democrats voting ‘no.’

Warwick Book Released This Week (WilliamsonHerald)

Williamson County historian Rick Warwick’s latest book, “Four Blocks on Main Street,” has finally arrived. 

Warwick will host a presentation on the book and the photos inside on Tuesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the Franklin Theatre. Admission is free and doors will open at 6 p.m.

"Four Blocks on Main Street" is a pictorial tour of Franklin’s now famous Main Street before it was “charming" and a destination. 

“The purpose of this book is to show the Main Street today is not the same as it was 30 years ago,” said Warwick. “There’s been a great change in the buildings and the businesses. I’m treating [this book] as a trip down Memory Lane for old Franklin and a history lesson for newcomers.”

Photos Warwick found from the late 1980s and early 1990s will show Franklin wasn’t so charming. Renovations and updates in the 1960s covered the original architecture and charm of the buildings. Twenty years later, businesses were moving to the new strip malls along Murfreesboro Road/ Highway 96. With construction on a mall in the Cool Springs area about to begin, members of the Downtown Franklin Association realized downtown could become a ghost town. 

“[Thirty years ago] businesses [on Main Street] were in dire need of customers,” said Warwick. “Main Street didn’t look like much until the DFA started the rehabilitation project taking down the facades put up in the 1960s.”

In the early 1990s the DFA, working with business owners, spearheaded a plan to revitalize Main Street and return the charm Franklin had back in the 1930s when it was the center of life for Williamson County. 

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Nashville musicians and songwriters stand with The Covenant School and Covenant Church for a night of joy, restoration, music, and memory. Taking place on Wednesday, April 12th at Belmont University’s Fisher Center, tickets are available at here. 

Join in and add your voice to honor the victims and their families, the church, staff, and the first responders. Hosted by Annie F. Downs (Author/Speaker), an extraordinary group of Nashville-based artists have gathered to lend their voices and talents in support.

Performers include:

Chris Tomlin

Colony House

Ketch Secor

Lady A

Sixpence None the Richer

The Warren Brothers

Thomas Rhett

Carrie Underwood and more…


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