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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 2, 2024

WKOM/WKRM RadioSouthern Middle Tennessee TodayNews Copy for April 2, 2024

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

We start with local news…


Spring Hill Gas Leak (MauryCountySource)

A gas leak was reported near Summit Hill High School in Spring Hill on Monday afternoon.

Authorities responded to the incident on Buckner Lane in front of the school.

Police say contractors struck a gas line, causing the leak.

A shelter in place was not put into effect at Summit High School. Traffic was back to normal by 2:30.

School Closings (WKOM)

Due to the potential for some severe weather today, there are some school closings. In the Southern Middle Tennessee area, Giles and Hickman County schools will close at 11:30. Lawrence County Schools will close at 11:45.


MidState Classic Canceled (WKOM Radio)

The 10th Annual Midstate Classic softball tournament, a hit-or-miss proposition since its 2014 inception, will yet again not take place today.

A scheduled college softball contest at Ridley Park between national power Tennessee and Memphis – anchoring a three-game extravaganza also set to include local high school rivals Columbia Central and Spring Hill as well as Columbia State and the UT-Southern junior varsity – was canceled Monday morning in light of a severe weather forecast.

“We have been closely monitoring the National Weather forecast projections the last several days. The forecast has consistently predicted thunderstorms and high winds throughout (Tuesday),” Columbia city manager Tony Massey said in a release.

“We really hate to cancel the softball games. However, it’s unlikely any of the games, including Tennessee vs. Memphis, would be played. Player safety and fan safety always come first.”

Ranked fourth in the country, Tennessee (28-5) had its 20-game win streak snapped in its last outing, falling 4-1 at Auburn in its Southeastern Conference series finale Sunday. UT will resume play Friday, opening a three-game SEC series against visiting Georgia.

Over the Midstate Classic’s 11-year history, the game has actually been played on six occasions – most recently last spring, when the Lady Vols defeated Austin Peay 6-1 en route to a semifinal berth in the Women’s College World Series.

Tennessee has played in, and won, each of the five prior games.

Massey also announced UT will play Eastern Kentucky in the 2025 Midstate Classic, which has been set for March 18.

According to Columbia State coach Samantha King, the Lady Chargers’ matchup with UT-Southern will not be rescheduled. Neither Columbia Central’s Jon McDonald nor Spring Hill’s Bill Hardwick responded to queries regarding a makeup date for their District 10-4A contest.

The city will refund all tickets. For information on ticket refunds for the 2024 Midstate Classic, contact the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department at 931-388-8119.

Ultium Produces First Cells (Press Release)


On Thursday, March 21, 2024, the Ultium Cells plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee successfully shipped its first battery cells to its customer, General Motors. This milestone represents the culmination of two and a half years of work.

The facility, which spans a half mile along Highway 31 between Spring Hill and Columbia, will continue to produce millions of battery cells for General Motors’ Ultium Platform electric vehicles, including the Cadillac Lyriq produced at GM’s neighboring Spring Hill Assembly plant. Shipments to other General Motors plants will increase in volume and frequency as the plant commissions additional production lines.

“This moment has been years in the making, and I’m grateful to the thousands of contractors, community partners, and team members who have worked tirelessly to make this moment a reality. We’ve built a great team here in Spring Hill, and we’re proud of this world-class facility,” said Chris Desautels, Plant Director

Youngduk Kim, Regional Director Dispatched from LG Energy Solution said, “Ultium Cells – Tennessee creates incredible synergies by combining the operational expertise of GM and the validated, state of the art battery processes and equipment technology of LG Energy Solution to make benchmark battery cells for our customer General Motors.”

Ultium Cells continues to seek well-qualified applicants to join their launch team. Interested applicants can visit www.ultiumcell.com to learn more about Ultium Cells or apply for career openings. Spring Hill is Ultium Cells’ second battery cell manufacturing plant to reach regular production, after the Warren, OH plant, which started regular production in November 2022.

Ultium Cells is a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution that will mass-produce Ultium battery cells to advance the push for a zero-emissions, all-electric future. Ultium Cells will provide battery cell capacity to support GM's North American electric vehicle assembly capacity of more than 1 million units by mid-decade, while supporting GM plans to supply other automotive companies and other industries including rail, aerospace, heavy trucking and marine customers. For more information about Ultium Cells, please visit www.ultiumcell.com.


Mule Day Queen Shares Crown (CDH)

One of the big highlights of Mule Day is crowning the annual Mule Day Queen, and this year the tradition will include a little something extra special.

After being crowned 2024’s Mule Day Queen, Anissa Grimes approached the Mule Day board with an idea, one that would not only keep up the years-long tradition but also create a new space for an honorary Mule Day Queen.

The honor to wear the banner for the first time, while also commemorating Mule Day’s 50th anniversary, went to 20-yearold Carly McGee.

“My goal this year was to make my mark on Mule Day history, something that people will remember and that Mule Day Queens of the future can make their own,” Grimes said. “I thought this was a great idea, and I’m getting to share this experience with someone else who truly does deserve it.”

McGee said she is looking forward to this year’s festivities, as well as riding in the Mule Day parade for the first time.

Reigning as Mule Day Honorary Queen is also a chance to take part in something positive, considering McGee’s story over the last couple of years battling a rare form of cancer.

“I’m excited, because I was thinking about doing it [competing to be Mule Day Queen] this year, but then I got sick,” McGee said. “It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, so when I was asked I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Growing up in Maury County, McGee had always loved the idea of participating in local pageants, but those dreams were stalled when she became sick in 2022.

McGee was diagnosed with Stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma cancer, a rare form which develops in soft tissue. After multiple visits with doctors at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, it was discovered that the cancer had spread, now forming multiple tumors inside the brain.

“They were able to remove the front tumor, which was the largest,” April Prince, McGee’s mother, said. “At that point, we had a very hard conversation, because when the cancer spreads to the brain there is no cure. But she has kept faith like no other, knows that God is the ultimate physician, and we believe that.”

McGee is currently on a chemotherapy regimen, which includes a daily pill, though she still struggles with platelet levels in her blood.

“She gets immunocompromised if it gets too low, and so she takes weekly injections to try and keep her white blood cells high, and a platelet injection to keep her platelets high,” Prince said. “She has disease evaluations every two weeks.”

Her experience has also inspired a potential career path. Having a passion for healthcare, McGee said she hopes to one day pursue an education in oncology.

“I’ve been so inspired by all of it that I thought it would be cool to be an oncologist, or a nurse, which was originally what I wanted to be,” McGee said. “I’ve always been drawn to the health care field.”

McGee is also a state champion sharpshooter while a student at Santa Fe Unit School.

“When people hear about that, they say, ‘There’s no way she can shoot that,” Prince said.

Part of McGee’s journey has been by telling her story on social media, primarily through her Carly’s Cancer Journey Facebook page.

Grimes said McGee being so open about sharing her journey as well as her own personal experience dealing with a family member’s battle with cancer inspired her to include her as the honorary queen.

“Her story really touched me, as I am the daughter of a parent who has passed away from brain cancer, my father,” Grimes said. “It really hit me in the heart, and I wanted to give her this experience. I never thought it would happen to me, and it’s been so amazing, something I think every girl deserves to have.”

McGee and her family say that the online support, as well as the care given by St. Jude, has been a big help, and that remaining positive throughout all of the doctor visits, surgeries and therapy, while also getting to take part in her community’s largest event, has made all the difference.

“People have shown me so much love and have been praying,” McGee said. “It’s been a great way to bring awareness about childhood cancer and what we have to go through.”

Her mother also hopes her daughter’s story is a way for others to relate, especially parents with children going through similar situations.

“It’s very personal to put out your information about what’s going on, but we thought it would be a good idea to turn some form of purpose out of this pain,” Prince said. “We thought it could bring a lot of good out of some of what she was experiencing.”


Capley Proposes Tougher Penalty Legislation (MSM)

State Rep. Kip Capley (R-Summertown) proposed legislation enhancing the penalty for assaulting police officers from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony.

House Bill 1881 would make the offense of assault against a law enforcement officer a Class E felony punishable by a mandatory minimum 60-day sentence and a $10,000 fine.

“Police officers put their lives on the line every day and they deserve our respect, honor and support,” Capley said. “Threatening and assaulting law enforcement is a villainous act and should be punished as such. This bill holds some of the worst among us accountable for their actions and will hopefully make people think twice before attacking police officers in this state.”

Over the last five years, there was an average of 440 arrests for simple assault against law enforcement officers, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

If approved, House Bill 1881 would take effect July 1.

Capley represents House District 71, which includes Wayne County and part of Hardin, Lawrence and Maury counties.

Maury Regional Hosts Coaches Clinic (Press Release)

Maury Regional Health athletic trainers will host a coaches clinic for all sports coaches in the area to learn more about preparing athletes for their season.

The clinic will be held April 13 at 9 a.m. at the Maury Regional Annex, which is across the street from Maury Regional Medical Center at 1223 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia. It is meant for coaches of any age group (youth, middle school, high school, college or volunteer) or for anyone else who wants to learn about coaching, leadership, athlete safety and more.

 A group of speakers are slated to present, including:

·         Brigadier General Steven Turner, assistant adjutant general with the Tennessee Army National Guard will present on leadership, ownership and mentorship.

·         Andrew K. Nielsen, MD, a specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics with Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care & Pediatrics, will present on nutrition and hydration.

·         Andrea Bain, PT, a physical therapist with Maury Regional Medical Center, will present on proper warm-up techniques and injury prevention.

·         Amanda Cothran, MSN, RN, CEN, the stroke, trauma and chest pain center coordinator for Maury Regional Medical Center, will present on pre-hospital management of athletic injuries. 

 After the speaker session, CPR training will be provided for anyone interested. It will not serve as a certification course though it will count toward Bronze-level CPR/AED training for the Tennessee Safe Stars Act. Coaches from Maury County Public Schools will also receive in-service credit for attending.

 The clinic is free to attend. Registration is not required, but anyone attending is asked to RSVP by emailing dhightower@mauryregional.com.


Where is Maury the Mule (Press Release)

Maury the Mule is LOST in Maury County and we need your help to find him!

Find Maury the Mule hidden in businesses across Maury County for a chance to win $500 and other great prizes.Maury Alliance’s annual “Where’s Maury the Mule?” shop local passport adventure is happening now. The rules are simple: pick up a passport, find Maury the Mule hidden in as many businesses as possible, and turn your passport in at the Maury Alliance office by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, April 9th. Share your adventure on social media using #maurythemule so everyone can follow along!

This year’s event was made possible by the generosity of Harmon Scrap Metal in Columbia, TN. Harmon Scrap Metal is a premier scrap metal recycling company and has been family owned and operated since 1985. Learn more at https://www.harmonscrapmetal.com/.

Maury County Clerk Satellite Office (Press Release)

The Maury County Clerk’s office can now help residents with renewals of license plates or placards each Wednesday from 8am to 3:30pm at the Maury County Senior Center located at 1020 Maury County Park Dr.

Please drive around to the back of the building and look for the car tag renewal sign near the back door.

Forms of payment include credit/debit card or check – no cash.

Any Maury County Resident can use this office.

All other transactions will still need to be done through the main office located at 10 Public Square.

Also, you can renew online at TNCountyClerk.com or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.

Mule Kick 5K (Press Release)

Hosted by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and presented by First Farmers and Merchants Bank, the annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will take place Saturday, April 6, at Riverwalk Park in Columbia.

Proceeds from the 2024 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot provide funding for Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which delivers health care services to at-risk and underserved individuals throughout southern Middle Tennessee by providing basic health screenings, education and resources. A portion of the proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, the Maury County school with the most participation in the event will receive a donation to their P.E. program from the Foundation.

“The Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot is a great tradition for both Maury County and the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation that helps support our mission of providing important health care services for individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain care,” Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore said. “We are excited to host the Mule Kick 5K and look forward to an exciting race!”

On Saturday, April 6, the race will begin at Riverwalk Park in Columbia with an 8 a.m. start time for the 5K and a 9:15 a.m. start time for the 1-Mile Trot. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Participants may register for the race online at runsignup.com/MuleKick5K.

“First Farmers is pleased to continue our ongoing partnership with the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation for this year's Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot. We are proud to support the vital work of the Foundation which exemplifies our dedication to fostering well-being in our region,” said Brian K. Williams, chairman and CEO of First Farmers.

In addition to presenting sponsor First Farmers and Merchants Bank, sponsorships ranging from $350 to $2,500 are still available for those who are interested in marketing exposure at this event. For additional information, contact the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation at 931.381.1111, ext. 1012.

To learn more about the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation, the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot or to make a direct gift to support the mobile medical unit fund, visit MauryRegional.com/Foundation.


And now, news from around the state…

Public Health Week (Press Release)

The work of Tennessee’s public health professional’s impacts lives every day. The Tennessee Department of Health is proud to recognize the hard work and dedication of these public health heroes during National Public Health Week.‘’As Tennessee’s Health Commissioner, I see first-hand the hard work and dedication of our TDH staff members, but also the many others working in public health in our state,’’ said Tennessee Health Commissioner Ralph Alvarado, MD, FACP. ‘’I think it’s extremely important to recognize these health professionals for the great work they are doing.’’Local health departments across the state offer many services to the public including primary care and dental services; care coordination through the Community Health Access and Navigation, or CHANT program; GIFTS, Tennessee’s new pregnancy smoking cessation program; TNSTRONG, youth-led program advocating for tobacco-free lifestyles; Women, Infants and Children, WIC, supplemental nutrition for mothers and young children; and, access to immunizations and vital records information.“Local health departments and other health organizations are doing their part to improve public health every day by providing important health care to all Tennesseans. All too often this hard work goes unnoticed,” Commissioner Alvarado said. “This week let us all remember the great work that’s happening in public health to keep everyone healthy where you live and across the state.”Find and contact your local health department for more information on the many important services it provides in your community.The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to Protect, promote, and improve the health and well-being of all people in Tennessee.Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Official Tennessee Books Bill (TheNewsTN)

The General Assembly recently approved legislation designating several pieces of literature with ties to Tennessee as official state symbols. 

House Bill 1828, sponsored by District 61 Rep. Gino Bulso, R-Brentwood, designates 10 different works with historic, social and cultural importance to the Volunteer State as the first official state books. 

“These books have great literary merit and represent the culture and fabric of the Volunteer State,” Bulso said. “Tennesseans have played pivotal roles in American history, and the works included in this list are representative of our state’s contributions to the country. I encourage all Tennesseans to study the story of this great state and I thank my colleagues for their support of this bill.”

House Bill 1828 passed the House on Feb. 22 and the Senate on March 25. The bill now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk to be signed into law. 

The following works will be designated as official state books:

  • “Farewell Address to the American People” by George Washington (1796)

  • “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville (1835, 1840)

  • Aitken Bible (1782) 

  • “The Papers of Andrew Jackson” 

  • “Roots” by Alex Haley (1977)

  • “A Death in the Family” by James Agee (1958)

  • “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren (1947)

  • “American Lion” by Jon Meacham (2009)

  • “The Civil War: A Narrative” by Shelby Foote (1958-1974)

  • “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton (2016) 

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Black Keys are set to embark on a 2024 North American headline tour, the International Players Tour, in support of their new album, "Ohio Players," which releases April 5.

The 31-date tour kicks off in Tulsa, OK, on Sept. 17 and travels across the country to cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, with a Nashville stop at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 18. The Head and The Heart will be joining the tour for select shows, including Nashville. Presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general on-sale beginning Fri., April 5 at 10 a.m. local time. Find tickets at ticketmaster.com.


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