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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 11, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Mega Dump (WKOM Audio 2:22)

Yesterday, the Maury/Marshall County Solid Waste Board met to discuss the Trinity Business Group’s plan to create a mega-dump in Columbia. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the meeting and spoke with county attorney Daniel Murphy…

Drug Disposal Day (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will offer an opportunity to dispose of expired, unused or unneeded prescription drugs safely and anonymously on Saturday, April 22.

 The free drug take-back event will be held in front of the MRMC Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

 The event will feature a convenient drive-through disposal process. Staff members will be present to safely receive items from drivers in their vehicles. The service is free and anonymous with no information required.

 “Once again, we are excited to offer our community members a convenient way to safely dispose of unused and unneeded medications,” MRMC Security Director Michael Johnson said. “We highly encourage all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to dispose of unused medications.”

 For numerous safety and health precautions, safely disposing of unused medications is extremely important. Medication should not be flushed down a toilet or tossed in the trash. In addition, medicines that are kept in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that most misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including medications taken from home medicine cabinets.

 Only medications in pill or patch form should be brought to the upcoming event. The site cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. Items should be in their original container, if possible.

Packard Playhouse Opening (WKOM Audio 2:20)

Yesterday, the Conservatory of Annie Moses opened their Packard Playhouse. Our own Delk Kennedy attended their ribbon cutting to learn more about what the new theater has to offer…

CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College is excited to announce summer camps at each of its campuses for 2023.

The Columbia Campus is hosting a 3D Printing Makerspace camp. This is a five-day camp designed to help students learn how to design and manufacture a product in addition to learning about marketing and selling a product. At the end of the camp, students will make a presentation to showcase their experience. Students do not need to have knowledge of AutoCAD or web design, but do need to feel comfortable using computers. During this camp, students will have fun while learning to work as a team.

Also hosted by the Columbia Campus is the Music from Around the World: A Choir Extravaganza camp. In this four-day camp, students will experience drumming, comprehend new piano skills, enjoy music games and take part in choral singing all while learning music from around the world.

The Clifton and Lawrence Campuses are hosting a Charger Science Camp. Students will participate in a week of science exploration. Each day they will explore a different field of science with hands-on learning and fun. Activities to explore include orienteering, ecology, dissection, ubiquity, fermentation, microscopy, forensics, physiology, body systems, as well as wildlife/animal science, life science and soil science.

The Williamson and Lawrence Campuses are hosting a Raspberry Pi Makerspace camp. Campers will learn basics for code in Python and use LED lights, buttons, sensors and motors to complete exciting projects. Students do not need prior coding experience. This camp is designed for beginners, and Columbia State will provide all the necessary instruction and support. Over the course of the camp, campers will work in groups to learn basic skills and practices with the Raspberry Pi. The groups will then be tasked with building a project for showcase by the end of the camp. Students will learn valuable coding and circuit skills while having fun.

The Lewisburg and Williamson campuses are hosting a Battle Bots Robotics Camp. This is a four and a half day Youth Robotic Camp for middle school students. The primary goal is to promote excitement for science, technology, engineering and math. Goals of the camp are learning concepts of programming, engineering practices, and teamwork. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Education Kits and program development environment will be used for hands-on building and programming activities. Participants will build several robots during the camp, modifying and programming one for a BattleBot competition. The first four days will be allocated to learning basic LEGO robot build techniques and programming commands for movement, turning, sensing and decision-making, along with combining the commands into sequences for solving problems. For the fifth day, participants will run a robot of their own design and build in the competition. Parents are encouraged to attend the competition on the final day.

Also hosted by the Williamson Campus is a From Script to Screen camp. This three-week conservatory camp will provide students with hands-on experience with professional film and video production equipment and processes. Topics will include pre-production process (writing, planning, etc.), the production process, (grip & electric, lighting, camera operation, sound, etc.) and post-production (media management, editing, color grading and delivery). In addition, the camp participants will produce, film and edit a 10-minute documentary on the first feature film to be produced in Tennessee. This year is the 100th anniversary of the first feature made in Tennessee, The Human Mill, which was filmed in Franklin. The camp will produce a documentary on the film, which will be shown at the Tennessee International Indie Film Festival in August of 2023.

For more information and to sign up, visit

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.

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… 

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 Daily Herald and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, April 8, 2023 at NHC Maury Regional Transitional Care. Funeral services for Mr. White will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 4:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Rep. Jones Reappointed (Tennessean)

Rep. Justin Jones left the Tennessee Capitol on April 6, expelled from the House of Representatives for leading a gun-control protest from the floor following a deadly Nashville school shooting. On Monday, hundreds of jubilant supporters marched alongside him as he walked up the Capitol steps to take back his seat.

"I want to welcome the people back to the people's house. I want to welcome democracy back to the people's house," Jones said in his first remarks back on the floor. "Last Thursday, members tried to crucify democracy, but today we have a resurrection."

In one of its first legislative actions following a shooting at a Nashville elementary school that killed six people, the House Republican supermajority ejected Jones with a 72-25 vote for defying House decorum — making Jones the first House member in state history to be removed from elected office for a decorum violation.

Members of the House called for the expulsion of Jones, D-Nashville, Rep. Justin Pearson, D-Memphis, and Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville — dubbed the "Tennessee Three" — after they approached the House podium between bills during the session without being recognized, breaking chamber rules.

Jones and Pearson used a megaphone to lead protesters in chants for gun reform, sparking calls from Republican leadership to expel the trio to protect the integrity of House rules. The House supermajority expelled Jones and Pearson after hours of fierce debate, but failed by one vote to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to oust Johnson.

Nashville's progressive-leaning council, responsible for filling the Nashville vacancy, unanimously voted Jones back into the District 52 House seat Monday afternoon in a move intended to send "a strong message to our state government and across the country that we will not tolerate threats to our democracy," Council member Delishia Porterfield said.

Jones will serve as an interim representative until a special election can be held to permanently fill the position. He is eligible to run for reelection.

Pearson joined Jones and the throng of supporters on the short walk from the historic Metro Nashville Courthouse to the Capitol steps, where Jones picked up a megaphone.

"Today we sent a clear message to Speaker Cameron Sexton that the people will not allow his crimes against democracy to happen without challenge," he said. "This is not about one person. It's not about one position. It's about a movement of people empowered to restore the soul of what this building should represent and that is democracy."

Chancellor I'Ashea L. Myles led Jones in his oath on the steps of the Capitol as cheers erupted from the crowd. When he was done, Jones raised his fist into the air.

Minutes later, Jones walked arm-in-arm with Johnson back into the chamber to raucous cheers from supporters in the galleries. He took his seat just after the House gaveled into session. He had not missed any bill votes since his expulsion Thursday.

Sexton, R-Crossville, who was among those leading the charge for the trio's expulsion, called on Jones to speak soon after he reclaimed his seat.

“Today, 78,000 people have a voice in this chamber once again,” Jones said. "No expulsion, no attempt to silence us will stop us, but only galvanize and strengthen our movement. We continue to show up in the people's house. Power to the people!"

Sexton gaveled onlookers in the gallery to order twice before Jones finished his speech.

In Shelby County, at least one of 13 county commissioners has vowed to similarly reappoint Pearson to his house seat. The commission will meet Wednesday to consider the matter.

Biden Approves Disaster Funding (Tennessean)

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in Tennessee after tornadoes touched down in West and Middle Tennessee, destroying homes and causing 15 deaths from March 31 to April 1.

With the disaster declaration, federal funding is available to affected individuals and eligible local governments. Certain nonprofits are also eligible in the following counties: Cannon, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lewis, Macon, McNairy, Rutherford, Tipton and Wayne.

Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Andrew Friend of FEMA has been appointed to coordinate federal recovery operations in affected areas.

Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are completed.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can apply for assistance at, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) or use the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others can give FEMA the number for that service. 

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has made recovery resources available for impacted Tennesseans to find key resources and support. Visit for more information.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

There are several excellent concerts coming up this week in Nashville starting with Luke Combs, who will be playing on Saturday, April 15, 5:45 pm at Nissan Stadium, in Nashville

Luke Combs released his latest album Getting Old. Specials guests will be Lainey Wilson, Riley Green, Cody Johnson, and more.

Find tickets at

UP and coming country artist Morgan Wade will be playing on Thursday, April 13, 7:30pm at the Ryman Auditorium

Find tickets at

And finally, old school R&B Pop Band New Edition is coming to town Sunday, April 16, 7 pm at Bridgestone Arena, 501 Broadway, Nashville

NEW EDITION is returning with the LEGACY TOUR with KEITH SWEAT and special guest TANK.

Find tickets at


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