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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 18, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Missing Juvenile (Press Release)

The Columbia Police Department is trying to locate 15-year-old missing juvenile Eduardo Rafae-Perez. Eduardo was last seen in the area of Creek Trail in Columbia on 04/16/2023. Eduardo is 5’04” tall, weighing 140 lbs. with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue hoodie, black and gray shorts, and gray Crocs.

Also missing is 17-year-old missing juvenile Ty Harrington. Ty was last seen in the area of Chestnut Drive in Columbia on 04/17/2023. Ty is 6’03” tall, weighing 150 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a multicolored hoodie.

Any person with additional information that may assist in this or any other investigation is encouraged to contact Columbia Police Department Dispatch (24 hours) at 931-388-2727, Maury County Crime stoppers at 931-381-4900, or Columbia Police SAFE Tip Email to SafeTips@ColumbiaTN.Com

Columbia Downtown Tree Update (CDH)

The downtown streetscape along 7th Street might've looked a bit bare this week to passersby, who noticed a significant lack of foliage.

However, city leaders tell residents not to worry. The lush beauty of downtown will return this spring with a refreshed look.

After Columbia city crews uprooted approximately 60 trees around Public Square and 7th Street downtown as part of a city beautification project, new "urban trees' are in the process of being planted in their place as part of a downtown tree-scape project.

According to city manager Tony Massey, the previous mature trees lining the main thoroughfare of historic 7th Street were causing damage to the sidewalks, the city sewer and the historic building facades.

"The roots of the previous trees were causing the sidewalks to buckle and led to a few pedestrian injuries," Massey said. "The limbs were also causing damage to the historic buildings along 7th Street."

For a while, downtown merchants have been requesting that the city do something about the trees, Massey explained.

New trees, mostly birch and elms, will be planted along the streetscape, or smaller "urban trees" that have smaller trunks and a smaller root base, protecting sidewalks from damage.

The tree removal was proposed initially in 2021 as a strategic plan objective. The project will be conducted in multiple phases, starting with the downtown square. The process involves using a grinding machine to remove the remaining stumps once a tree is cut down. The machine will then grind into the soil to remove the stop, while also making room to plant a new sapling.

The project cost the city approximately $35,000, Massey said.

"Some people have told us they like it better without the trees already because they can now see the buildings," he said.

The next city projects to watch for are the new wastewater plant set to begin construction next year and the new streetscape on South Garden Street in the Arts District.

Columbia City Pay Increase (CDH)

In its continued effort to support and properly compensate its employees, Columbia City Council approved the first of two readings to increase city employee salaries by 5% across the board.

The second and final reading will appear on the council's May agenda. If approved, the pay increase would take effect in June. Once approved, the raise would be part of a 22.5% cumulative increase in employee compensation rates since 2018.

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said the increase is due to a recent study indicating that the pay rate for many staff positions was found to be under the average market value, and that it was "the right thing to do for our employees."

"One of the troubling things was where we stood as a city in terms of our employees being sort of 'under market,'" Molder said. "But the good thing in that trouble is that we are solving that problem, and we are correcting the issue, and we will go from having 73% of our employees being basically under market to having none of our employees being paid below market."

City Finance Director Thad Jablonski said the pay increase would amount to a total cost of just over $2.2 million, which he said is unprecedented in the city's history.

"We've never done $1 million in one year as far as increases in compensation," Jablonski said.

Jablonski added that much of the market research was conducted comparing Columbia to other cities and municipalities, such as Franklin, Spring Hill, as well as private sectors in the case of engineers, accountants and other comparative positions.

"As of July 1, we're going to be competitive within our market," Jablonski said. "That's where we want to be, and I'm pretty pleased to be able to say that."

In addition to the 5% pay increase, the council's May agenda will also include the first of two readings for an ordinance to establish a new employee pay scale, which Jablonski said could include additional adjustments based on today's market averages.

Molder also touched on the 22.5% cumulative increase, and that had the city not taken action sooner, the new increases likely would not have been possible.

"Had we not been doing this incrementally over the last several years, then we would find ourselves in a much more difficult position of trying to get our employees caught up to where they need to be," Molder said.

"Even though this is a significant budget item for us, I'm very thankful that it isn't more than what it is, and that's because we have had these incremental increases. Overall, I think it does send a signal to our employees that we hear them, and more importantly that we appreciate them."

CSCC EMS Instructor Event (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host an Annual Tennessee Emergency Medical Services Instructor Update event that is approved by the Tennessee State EMS Office on May 12. 


“Until recently, EMS educators have only had a few options to obtain their annual instructor update required under Tennessee law,” said Greg Johnson, Columbia State program director and assistant professor of emergency medical services. “This offering gives a one-day option for our educators that may better fit their schedules. I am excited about the lineup of speakers at the conference. Each are respected in their field and promote excellence in EMS education.”

Through the efforts of Columbia State’s EMS Academy and the Workforce & Continuing Education Department, the Annual TN EMS Instructor Update event has been approved by the Tennessee State EMS Office to satisfy the TCA 1200-01-12 rules for renewal related to attendance at annual instructor updates or conferences and includes 8 contact hours. 

The event will be headlined by Heather Davis, director of student assessment at David Gefen School of Medicine at UCLA. Other notable speakers at the event include, but are not limited to, Steve Joiner, dean of Lipscomb University College Of Leadership And Public Service; Ginney Massey-Holt, Columbia State associate professor of nursing; Brandon Ward, state EMS director; Jay Burks, I/C training manager at Wayne County EMS; Randy White, program director at Middle Tennessee State University EMS education; Paul Pollack, EMS supervisor at WMC EMS; and Gregory S. Johnson, Columbia State program director and assistant professor of emergency medical services. 

The conference will take place at the Columbia Campus in the Cherry Theater from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and will provide participants with 8 contact hours. Registration for the event is $125, with lunch provided at the event along with a reception the night before at the Hampton Inn in Spring Hill. The reception will be at 6 p.m. and offers attendees time to network while enjoying refreshments.

For more information, contact

McCreary’s Opens in Columbia (CDH)

It's traditional on St. Patrick's Day to say that "Everybody's got a little Irish in them," but what if you could share the sentiment every week in historic downtown Columbia?

A downtown Franklin staple for many years, McCreary's Irish Pub recently opened its second location in Mule Town earlier this year, taking over the former Vanh Dy's location at 814 South Main St.

While the announcement that Columbia's popular Asian fusion restaurant would be closing its doors last year left many customers sad, the announcement of the new Irish pub/eatery created a buzz almost immediately.

Now operating since February, the city along with the Maury County Chamber of Commerce celebrated the business with an official grand opening and ribbon cutting Thursday. This was a chance for citizens and city leaders alike to take a tour of the two-story building, meet the staff and indulge on some warm, gourmet bread pudding. And for some, maybe a few cold pints of Guinness.

"This is an exciting day, not just for this business, but for all of downtown Columbia, and this building has a really important history that goes way back," Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said. "The point is that [McCreary's] is now in here and able to shine brightly while being a nice asset to our downtown community and the community as a whole. I'm grateful I was able to come in today, because I tried to come on St. Patrick's Day and it was about a two-and-a-half hour wait."

Owner Natasha Hendrix, who has overseen operations at the Franklin location for more than a decade, said she had her eye on opening a new location in Columbia for quite some time, she just needed the right spot to become available. When Vanh Dy's announced its imminent closure, she knew it would be the perfect spot.

"Over the last 10 years, we have been looking to open a location in Columbia, and so it's been an ongoing starting, and stopping, process," Hendrix said. "My contractor is actually family with the Vanh Dy's people, and it all just kind of came together where they were ready to retire, take some time with family ... and we were still looking for a location. When things are right, they're right, and it all just happened very quickly."

And being a family business, Hendrix said she wanted to keep the love of Vanh Dy's alive by keeping on many of its former staff that customers have come to know and love.

Before becoming manager of the pub/eatery, Hendrix said she was initially on a different career path, one that actually brought her to Columbia many years ago as an intern.

"I was actually getting my journalism degree, and I did my internship at The Daily Herald," Hendrix said. "But then they offered me this opportunity and I thought, 'You know, I can own a pub,' and I took over McCreary's. My sister had also just graduated and came down, started waiting tables and we turned it into this sort of collaborative thing."

In addition to Hendrix taking the helm of the ship, she is joined by her sister and brother-in-law, Ashley and Alex Farmer, with Ashley running the front of the house and Alex overseeing the kitchen and menu.

The McCreary's menu features many Irish staples, such as cottage pie, corned beef and cabbage, Bangers and Mash or fish and chips. Customers can also start their meals with an order of O'Shannon salmon dip or battered cheese curds.

McCreary's also offer's non-Irish items like burgers, such as the Irishman featuring hand-patted ground beef topped with Gouda cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo and mustard on a pretzel bun.

"We do have an Irish flair, but we're also in America," Alex said. "I pride myself on our corned beef and cabbage. It's amazing. The corned beef and cabbage egg roll is to die for."

In addition to good food and drinks, McCreary's wishes to become another great gathering spot downtown, with special events and live music, which is featured every Thursday-Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights are also trivia nights.

"We try to mix live music with the Irish Celtic genre, but also open it up on some nights to other types of bands, bluegrass or anything with a good, community, sing-a-long vibe," Hendrix said.

Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. For more information, to view the menu and place online orders, visit

Congressional Art Competition (Press Release)

Congressman Andy Ogles (TN-05) announced that his Columbia District Office is now accepting submissions for the 2023 Congressional Art Competition.

Each year, high school students across the country participate in this contest to have their artwork displayed in the nation’s Capitol for the year. One piece is selected for each congressional district. All high school students in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District are encouraged to participate!

“I am confident that the 5th District has some of the most talented young artists in our nation and I look forward to seeing each and every piece that is entered,” said Congressman Ogles in a press release.

Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate U.S. copyright laws. For more information on competition guidelines, please visit

The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 21, 2023, at 5 p.m. All entries must schedule a drop-off or pickup with Amy Lewis at All teachers are encouraged to make scheduled arrangements 2-5 days before the April 21 deadline.

Singing and Swinging Golf Tournament (Press Release)

Join award winning songwriters Mark Alan Springer, Mark Nessler and more for a round of golf and a fun time Singin’ & Swingin’, to benefit the Tennessee Children’s Home.

For over 20 years Tennessee Children's Home has put on a golf fundraiser successful in attaining the resources that change the lives of at-risk children and youth in Middle Tennessee. They are grateful for all the community support and love for the vulnerable and hopeless. We invite you to help make an impact on at-risk children and youth in Tennessee. Be a part of this work by being a sponsor or player for the event on June 5th!

For more information contact Chris Doughtie 931.486.2274 x218 or

CSCC Performance Series (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College welcomes Bob Eubanks: “Backstage with The Beatles” to the Cherry Theater on April 20 as part of the First Farmers Performance Series.


Bob Eubanks: “Backstage with The Beatles” offers a huge entertainment value for both Beatles fans and music lovers alike. The show consists of never heard stories experienced by Bob Eubanks during The Beatles tour in America in the early ‘60s, rare video footage, still images, special effects and merchandise to help embrace what it must have been like to experience The Beatles in concert. All of Bob’s stories lead into a hit song that best represents the subject discussed and the time period of when the story took place. 

“It will be fun to hear first- hand stories of The Beatles arrival in America and, of course, to hear musicperformed live by a stellar tribute band,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State Foundation. “You are invited to join us for a great evening as we wrap up the 20th season of the Performance Series.”

Individual tickets are on sale for $30 each plus tax for adults and $20 each plus tax for Columbia State students. To charge tickets by phone using a major credit card, call 931.540.2879 or purchase them in person in Room 113 of the Pryor Administration Building on the Columbia Campus, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

On the night of the performance, the box office opens at 6 p.m. in the Kenneth and Ramona Cherry Theater, located in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus. Theater doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Columbia Campus is located at 1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia.

For more information, visit

Homestead Festival (Press Release)

The second annual Homestead Festival will be held June 2 & 3 in Columbia on Rory Feek’s farm.

Now until April 21st you can take advantage of a buy-one-get-one-free ticket offer. With your purchase, you will be able to attend the event for both days.

Combining music and meaning, the two-day affair features musical performances, from Rory Feek, Collin Raye, Craig Campbell, and Paul Overstreet, as well as masterclass lectures by prominent homesteading community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Jill Winger, and many others.

Buy tickets at

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

Mr. Dennis Glenn Thurman, 62, retired employee of Tennessee Farm Bureau for 24 years and resident of Columbia, died Friday, April 14, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Funeral services for Mr. Thurman will be conducted Tuesday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mrs. Lois Poe Gilliam, 95, retired secretary and wife of Boyd Gilliam, died Saturday at her residence. Funeral services for Mrs. Gilliam will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM at the funeral home.

Mr. Archie “Bubba” Russell Jr., 76, retired employee of Vaught Aircraft Industries, Grand Fire Protection, and Williamson County Highway Department, died Saturday, April 15, 2023. Funeral services for Mr. Russell will be conducted Wednesday at 2:00 P.M. at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin, Tennessee. Burial will follow in Green Cemetery in Primm Springs. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M – 8:00 P.M. at Williamson Memorial Funeral Home. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

Mr. William Lee Barron, 88, retired educator and a longtime resident of Columbia, died Saturday at his son’s residence in Manchester. Funeral services are incomplete and will be announced later by Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

BNA Evacuated (MauryCountySource)

Several people at the Nashville International Airport (BNA) evacuated due to a noxious odor on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

It happened in Concourse C shortly before 2:45 p.m.

According to reports, the Nashville Fire Department responded to the concourse due to “something airborne causing breathing problems.” Emergency crews were seen inside the airport with masks and oxygen tanks.

After emergency responders took chemical samples, it was determined the substance was Buto-xy-ethyl Acetate, a solvent commonly used in lacquers, varnishes, enamels, and resins.

The fire department later determined there were no air contaminants after testing the air quality inside the building.

As of 4:35 p.m., Concourse C had reopened and was deemed safe.

Unfortunately, six flights were canceled and over 160 flights were delayed at the airport.

Officials are still investigating to determine what caused the solvent to spread around the concourse

Lyrid Meteor Shower (Tennessean)

April's night sky will light up this weekend in Nashville as the year's first meteor shower will zoom by — beginning Saturday.

For peak viewing of the Lyrid meteor shower, gaze the stars on the nights of April 21-22.

The American Meteor Society describes the Lyrids as a "medium strength shower" that produces good rates of meteors for about three nights centered on the peak. NASA stated the meteors don't often leave long, glowing trains of dust as they streak through the night sky, but may produce bright flashes called fireballs.

So, roll out a blanket, maybe at Long Hunter State Park (2910 Hobson Pk., Nashville), Bledsoe Creek State Park (400 Zieglers Fort Rd., Gallatin) or Edgar Evins State Park (1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd., Silver Point) if you're willing to travel to enjoy the beauty of nature.

John Cohen, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Nashville, said onlookers should face Northeast in the sky and find a dark area.

Meteors are pieces of space debris left over from comets and/or asteroids that interact with our atmosphere when Earth passes through the debris trails left from comets coming around the sun, according to NASA.

The debris that created the Lyrids come from Comet C/1861 G1, also known as Comet Thatcher.

The Lyrids will be active from now- April 29.

NASA expects the shower to peak April 21-22. The peak of the meteor shower is when people can see the most meteors. Generally, about 10 to 20 meteors are visible when the Lyrids peak.

On April 22, the peak night for the Lyrid meteor shower, optimal viewing is expected at 10:31 p.m. local time, according to the Farmer's almanac.

The Lyrids can be observed until dawn, allowing plenty of time for observers to catch a glimpse, according to NASA.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, TN, will host the much-anticipated 39th Annual Main Street Festival, sponsored by First Horizon, to be held in Historic Downtown Franklin from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, and on Sunday, April 23.

The first of the three annual festivals organized and operated by the Heritage Foundation, the Main Street Festival has continually grown in stature and anticipation with the 2022 Festival attracting more than 140,000 attendees.

The family-friendly arts and crafts street festival is free to the public. Along with the heralded assortment of local shops and destinations the downtown corridor is known for, guests will enjoy local food and drink vendors, children’s activities, live music, and arts and crafts.

For more information about Main Street Festival, visit


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