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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 19, 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.

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

Maury County Archives to Expand (CDH)

The Maury County Commission approved unanimously a maximum of $10 million for the expansion of the Maury County Archives at its regular meeting Monday.

The expansion would include upgrading the existing building on East 6th Street and constructing a new wing on the property, increasing the square footage of the facility from 8,500 square feet to over 18,500 square feet.

County finance director Doug Lukonen explained that funds for the project are partially derived from the Maury County Archives document management fee of $5, which generates about $235,000 per year. Since 2019, the fee raised almost $1 million to go toward the project.

Adequate facilities tax revenues, only used for building projects, will also fund some of the debt for the project.

Commissioner Ray Jeter inquired if the archives project would “limit” future capital projects around the county.

Lukonen responded that funding for the project meets the capital goals of the previous commission, which approved $50,000 for an architect last year.

He further explained that $1.7 million in adequate facilities tax revenue is still available to be allocated to other capital projects in the county, including renovations, new buildings and infrastructure projects.

As it now stands, $288,000 in adequate facilities tax revenue will go toward paying debt on the $30 million-plus Maury County Justice Center, while $420,000 would pay debt for the archives project.

Plans for new archives building feature a new research library with multiple microfilm and computer stations, a media presentation room and records conservation lab. Specialized areas will also be constructed for 3-D artifacts, maps and surveys, photography and other records processing divisions.

New insulation, new roof and HVAC systems would be installed at the existing 60-year-old building as well as other updates to the existing structure.

The greatest reason for the expansion is that the archives is bursting at the seams. Maury County is one of the few counties in the state to house all of its original records from the formation of the county in 1807 to the present.

“The archives staff would like to thank the Maury County Commission and County Mayor for seeing the vision and understanding the importance of this incredible collection of historic documents. By funding this important project, they are ensuring the preservation of these documents for generations to come. It’s a gift to the citizens of Maury County, the state, and the nation, because our history tells the complete story like few other places.”

Once construction begins, the project will take 14 to 18 months to complete, and the archives will operate from an alternate location at 1301 S. James Campbell Boulevard. The archives is now located at 201 E. 6th St. in Columbia.

Puckett’s Donates to Boys and Girls Club (CDH)

As longtime supporters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee, Puckett's and A. Marshall Hospitality began this week by presenting a $6,000 check to the nonprofit.

The funds were the result of a recent competition as part of the Boys & Girls Club's culinary program, with the winning dish being added to the Puckett's dessert menu. In addition, Puckett's hosted a "give back day," wherein a portion of sales would also be donated back to the Boys & Girls Club.

The winning dish was the Presley Parfait, which is served in a mason jar filled with layers of crushed vanilla wafers, homemade banana pudding, fresh banana slices, peanut butter mousse and whipped cream.

"It's kind of like a banana pudding, but done in a parfait style," A. Marshall founder Andy Marshall said. "It's very popular."

Marshall said he is always happy to donate to programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, not just for their success in maintaining a 100% graduation rate for its students, but because it was the place he received his early education.

"I was a Boys & Girls Club kid in Memphis," Marshall said. "You go about life being busy and raising your own kids, and at some point you start looking back on how you got here, and Boys & Girls Club was a big part of mine. It came at a time when I needed it the most, spoke a lot of truth to my life and gave me a lot of confidence, and I'm just very proud of what they do and the kids they speak to daily."

Boys & Girls Club CEO Ginny Wright said she and the Boys & Girls Club couldn't be happier with the continued support Marshall and Puckett's have shown, and that much of the program's continued success comes from donations, volunteers and any other form of support.

"Andy and A. Marshall Hospitality have been great supporters for years and years," Wright said. "It's just incredible to have community partners, who are willing to step up every year. It really does amazing things for almost 1,200 kids per year in Maury County, and also Giles County."

The Boys & Girls Club is currently gearing up for its summer events, which includes its Hero of the Year celebration, which encompasses six weeks where participants compete to raise the most funds. The winner will be named at a special ceremony at the UAW Hall in Spring Hill on Thursday, June 8. Tickets are available at

All funds will benefit Spring Hill's youth clubs at Marvin Wright, Spring Hill Elementary, Battle Creek Elementary and Battle Creek Middle Schools, which currently serve more than 350 students each year.

Santa Fe Names New Girls’ Coach (MainStreetMaury)

After eight high school basketball coaching assignments and a pair of collegiate coaching roles over 31 years, John Wild is on the move again.

Wild has been named girls basketball coach and athletics director at Santa Fe Unit School in northwest Maury County, ending a four-year stint at Summit during which his teams won 60 games with three region tournament appearances.

“We interviewed some other people for the position, but you’re just not going to beat the quality coach you can find in John Wild,” Santa Fe principal Randy Hubbell said regarding the 2022 Basketball Coaches of Tennessee (BCAT) Hall of Fame inductee. 

“I just hope that the girls and the parents and the community realize just how fortunate we are, to have somebody of that level coming to run this program for us.”

One of four Tennessee high school coaches to win both boys and girls state championships, the Lipscomb University graduate has 622 career victories over stops with Harpeth and Moore County on the boys side and Bradford, Lawrence County, Franklin County, Riverdale, Wilson Central and Franklin girls prior to his arrival at Summit in 2019.

Wild’s titles came in 1999 with Moore County’s boys, in 2000 with Bradford’s girls and in 2012 with Riverdale’s girls

“The longer I thought about it, it’s a chance for me to get back to my roots, I think,” Wild said. “I started my career in a small school (Harpeth). Susan’s and my kids went to school at a small school. We live in a small town. I went to a small high school, played at a small college. It’s just a chance for me to get back to that.

“I think the ability to have hands on with your middle school, and even your elementary school kids, being that they’re all on the same campus, is something that’s very, very enticing also – just the development of the kids at a young age, bringing them along and seeing them, not just four years, but in this case, six, seven, eight years.”

Based on the enrollment figures that dictated classification for the 2023-25 period, there are only 20 TSSAA member schools smaller than Santa Fe.

“I think coaching’s coaching,” Wild said. “I never looked at it in my 33 years like ‘I’ve got to get to 4A and I’ve got to stay there’. You look at some of the most successful coaches in our state… they’ve all done it at a small school and they’re the people I respect most.

Wild, who also served as a women’s assistant at Evansville and at his collegiate alma mater, will succeed Jonathon Slaughter as girls coach at Santa Fe and fill the AD role vacated by Greg Lusk’s retirement. Lusk is expected to remain on the school faculty.

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.

School Physicals (Press Release)

FREE Sports Physicals are scheduled for Monday, April 24th for boys and Monday, May 1st for girls at Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic in Columbia. 

ALL local athletes attending Maury County Public Schools, Zion Christian Academy, Agathos Classical School, Columbia Academy, and Columbia State Community College are welcome to attend. 

Visit for paperwork and additional details

This is a long-standing tradition in our community (since 1978 to be exact.) We hope to see your athletes on the 24th or the 1st.

Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic is located at 1050 N JAMES CAMPBELL BLVD. STE 200, in COLUMBIA

Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic is devoted to the quality care and health of our patients through focused attention on their orthopedic well-being. Founded in 1975 in Columbia, Tennessee, Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic provides a complete range of orthopedic services including the treatment of fractures, total joint replacement, arthroscopic surgery, spinal surgery, and sports medicine.

Drug Disposal Day (Press Release)

April 22nd is the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Takeback Day. On Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Maury County Sheriff’s Department and the DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs.

For more than a decade, the event has helped Americans easily rid their homes of unneeded medications—those that are old, unwanted, or expired—that too often become a gateway to addiction.

Take Back Day offers free and anonymous disposal of unneeded medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations nationwide.

This year’s event will take place at the RX Compound Center 1515 Hatcher Lane in Columbia.

In partnership with local law enforcement, Take Back Day has removed more than 8,300 tons of medication from circulation since its inception.

For more information and to find a collection site near you, visit

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.

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

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

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…  

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. 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…

Gun Bills Slow Adjournment (TennesseeLookout)

Lawmakers are heading for a showdown over the governor’s extreme risk protection order plan and, possibly, a gun safe storage bill as they try to adjourn for the year before the end of the week.

The National Rifle Association stepped into the arena Tuesday with a statement saying “red flag” laws turn the Second Amendment “into a second-class right” and claiming they allow authorities to confiscate guns using “a mere accusation.”

The Senate and House, meanwhile, are believed to be far apart on passing a bill designed to take guns away from people deemed a risk to themselves and others. But even within Senate leadership, the governor’s order of protection idea is pitting key senators against each other as talks take place between lawmakers and the governor’s office.

For instance, while Senate Speaker Pro Tem Ferrell Haile of Gallatin said Tuesday he hopes to see something in the way of an order of protection bill pass, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson of Franklin is barely broaching the idea publicly. An amendment is said to be floating among the Senate.

But Johnson said Tuesday, “I have seen no bill. I’ve seen no language, and I’m not gonna comment on something I haven’t seen.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Todd Gardenhire, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s “not seeing anything” when it comes to weapons-related bills. 

“I’m not on the team,” Gardenhire, a Chattanooga Republican, said Tuesday.

Gardenhire previously said no gun-related bills would go through his committee. But if legislative leaders want to force a bill through the General Assembly, they could find a way.

A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday he is still working with legislative leaders to bring an “order of protection law” this session to ensure people who intend to harm themselves or others won’t have access to weapons. The measure would require due process and a high burden of proof while preserving constitutional rights.

On the other hand, a $55.6 billion budget plan is expected to coast through the Legislature. It was approved Tuesday in Senate and House finance committees and is to be sent to the floors for Wednesday votes.

Passing a budget is the only constitutionally required task of the General Assembly. But in the wake of the Covenant School shooting that claimed six lives, including three 9-year-olds, lawmakers are being asked to take a new look at gun laws, including a so-called “red flag” measure to keep guns away from dangerous people, and possibly a gun storage bill requiring people to lock weapons in vehicles when left unattended.

A couple of bills dealing with orders or protection could be heard in House committees, but it’s unclear what type of reception they would receive in the Senate, said Democratic state Sen. Jeff Yarbro of Nashville.

“Over the last two weeks, this Legislature has demonstrated its capacity to move quickly when it wants to. The only question right now is whether we have the will to take action,” Yarbro said.

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

Tennessee gas prices continue to rise for the fourth straight week, AAA announced in a news release Monday.

Pump prices across the state rose eight cents, on average, over last week. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.38 which is 26 cents more expensive than one month ago but 46 cents less than one year ago.  

“Higher crude oil prices are continuing to impact the prices that we see at the pump, ” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The U.S. price of crude only rose 2% last week, but it was enough to reach a new 2023 high of $83.26 per barrel. Given this increase, it’s likely that Tennesseans will continue to see pump prices fluctuate higher again this week.”

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Join Folds of Honor Tennessee for a night of Nashville’s hottest musicians, professional athletes, comedians, and influencers going head-to-head in the 3rd Annual Rock ‘N Jock Celebrity Softball Game benefiting Folds of Honor Tennessee. The event will take place on Monday, June 5th at 6:30pm CST at First Horizon Park. You can purchase tickets at to purchase tickets. With tickets on sale now, this is one of the most anticipated events for the organization benefiting the families of America’s injured and fallen service members and first responders.

With confirmed celebrity players including Chris Lane, Brantley Gilbert, Missy Franklin, Jelly Roll, Brett Young, Jimmie Allen, Mitchell Tenpenny, Riley Green, RaeLynn, Charles Esten, Shawn Johnson and Andrew East, this event is one you don’t want to miss. Sarah Duncan, Folds of Honor Regional Development Officer of North Texas, will make an appearance as the guest speaker at the event.


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