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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 3, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Mule Day A Success (CDH)

Crowd-goers of all ages gathered for the 49th annual Mule Day parade in Columbia Saturday. After a violent storm on Friday night, forcing some campers to seek cover, sunshine reigned over the keynote event during the four-day celebration.

Farm animals were plenty, with its star — the sturdy, loyal mule — bringing delight to parade attendees.

Onlookers were also excited to see the parade led by Grand Marshal Mike Wolfe, creator of History Channel’s American Pickers.

Friday night's weather might have spelled trouble for Columbia's biggest event, but the sun was shining and the people were smiling once it came time for this year's Mule Day Parade.

Thousands of people lined the streets of West 7th and Highway 31, kids blew toy horns, and there was a sense of excitement that maybe, just maybe, all of the troubles of the past week would dissipate, allowing a community celebration of Columbia's defining mascot, the mule.

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said early predictions estimate that nearly 100,000 people attended this year's Mule Day events, with the bulk of them showing up Saturday morning for the annual parade. As the second year returning since the COVID-19 pandemic, Molder said this year's Mule Day can be considered as successful as it has ever been.

"Last year being the first year back, we were all a little worried whether the crowd would still show and would Mule Day be the same. And one thing we learned that, sort of doubled down today, is the fact that Mule Day is back, and it's better and stronger than ever before," Molder said.

"From my own eyes, this was bigger than last year, and last year was one of the biggest crowds I could remember."

His third year riding in the parade as mayor, Molder added that there was a very special guest sitting alongside him in his float,

"I invited Bitty Crozier, and Bitty was in the very first Mule Day Parade in 1934, where she rode her pony at the head of the parade," Molder said. "Eighty-nine years later she's back riding with the mayor of Columbia, Tennessee. But the biggest part of today was just so much positivity, which gives me optimism for the way Columbia is headed."

Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy was also onsite during the parade, taking photos and enjoying the warm weather much like many of the other spectators.

"It was off the charts this year, the weather was perfect and the crowd was unbelievable," Murphy said. "It's more people than I have ever seen. Between the floats, the mules and everything else, this was exactly what you would want a Mule Day Parade to be."

For more information, visit

Justice Sarah Campbell (WKOM Audio 2:09)

The newest member of the Tennessee Supreme Court, Justice Sarah Campbell paid a visit to Columbia, and spoke to the Kiwanis Club. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy spoke with Justice Campbell following her remarks…

Auctioneer’s Competition (WKOM Audio 2:00)

Columbia Breakfast Rotary hosted an auctioneer’s competition to fund scholarships. Our own Delk Kennedy attended the event and made this report…

CSCC Highschool Competition (Press Release)

On March 24, 203 high school students participated in Columbia State Community College’s annual High School Competition when students from 10 southern Middle Tennessee high schools competed in different academic areas, including creative writing, vocal performance, algebra and sociology.


“Columbia State’s 2023 High School Competition was a tremendous success,” said Daniel Kelley, Columbia State Associate Professor of English. “For the first time since spring of 2020, we met and competed in-person! Over 200 students from high schools in our service area competed in academic contests, toured our campus and enjoyed spring-like weather on the plaza by the Hickman Building. Our Columbia State family welcomed them warmly and helped make this year’s competition a triumph.”

Dating back to the 1980s, the competition continues to focus on humanities disciplines and has since added math components.

Senator Blackburn in Columbia (WKOM/WKRM Audio 1:47)

Sen. Marsha Blackburn was in Columbia for the Mule Day festivities. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy caught up with the senator to get her impression of Mule Day and to talk about what she has been working on in Washington…

Columbia Tree Replacement (Press Release)

The City of Columbia will begin a downtown tree replacement project on Monday, April 3rd, 2023 to remove and replace 58 trees within the downtown area. After a thorough bid process, Tree Worx was awarded the contract to complete the work. The City of Columbia is committed to maintaining a vibrant, healthy tree canopy in the city and this project will help to achieve that goal.

“I am excited to see the implementation of the tree replacement project in the downtown district,” stated Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder. “This project has been a long time coming and is the result of collaboration and communication with interested partners. Another example of moving forward with input from our residents, and solving an issue that has become more pressing over the last few years, while maintaining the beauty and integrity of our historic downtown.”

The City of Columbia Public Works Department will be first on the scene to remove the existing trees each day during the morning hours, working in small sections. Tree Worx will follow Public Works, planting the new trees. Pedestrian and vehicular traffic will remain open during the work process, but parking areas will be temporarily blocked in the sections where work is taking place.

Work will begin on West 7th Street, moving east to the Public Square, continuing down South Main Street and back to the Public Square. Work will continue around the Public Square to North Main Street and back, ending on the northwest quadrant of the Public Square.

A mix of three urban-tolerant species of trees will be planted. These trees are well-suited to the urban environment and will provide shade, beauty, and environmental benefits. The dedication plaques that are currently in place beside some of the existing trees will be secured in their same place with the newly-planted trees. The replacement project is estimated to be completed in 7-9 days.

The City of Columbia would like to thank the residents and downtown businesses for their patience and understanding during this project. The new trees will be a beautiful addition to downtown and will provide many benefits for years to come. Questions can be emailed to

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

Hunter Cemetery Saved (MainStreetMaury)

The city of Mount Pleasant will honor the African American Hunter Cemetery Committee by proclaiming Sunday, April 2, as “African American Hunter Cemetery Committee Day.”

The African American Hunter Cemetery is the black cemetery in Mount Pleasant where most citizens of color were buried before integration. The committee members are in an ongoing effort to maintain and beautify this eternal resting place.

“This committee was organized a few years ago because this burial ground was not being maintained and was in an unsuitable state for anyone to visit. We have bought it up to a reasonable state of maintenance and wish to continue to improve its appearance. We have been able to do this through community fundraisers, local church donations and the generosity of individual donors, especially those who have family members and friends buried in this cemetery,” said committee member George Cannon.

The Hunter Cemetery Committee will hold its annual Easter Service to benefit maintenance of the Hunter Cemetery on Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m. at Railroad Street Original Church of God, located at 315 Railroad St. in Mount Pleasant. This year’s theme will be “Jesus Christ- 7 LAST WORDS” and the music will be rendered by the Mount Pleasant Community Choir.

All local churches are being asked to participate by making a church donation or taking up a “love donation.” Donations may be brought to the annual Easter Church Service or dropped off during the service to an usher who will be collecting donations on the sidewalk of the church. Donations can also be mailed to Hunter Cemetery Committee, PO Box 305, Mount Pleasant TN 38474. For more information, call Cannon at (931) 797-6031.

“The Hunter Cemetery Committee has been maintaining the black Hunter Cemetery for the past five years through the generous donations of our churches and individuals in the Mount Pleasant community. We thank you for your previous donations and ask you for your continued support to keep this community cemetery a well-kept resting place for our past, present, and future community members who are buried or wish to be buried in this cemetery. We will be accepting individual donations during this service,” Cannon noted.


The Hunter Cemetery Committee will also be selling fish and rib sandwiches, plates and racks on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. in the parking lot of Roundtree, Napier and Ogilvie Funeral Home, located at 115 Columbian Ave in Mount Pleasant.

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…

Mr. J. Charles “Charlie” Honeycutt, age 94, died on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at home in Columbia, TN. Funeral services for Mr. Honeycutt will be conducted Tuesday at 6:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church in Columbia. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. until service time at the church. Burial will be held at a later date privately with family at Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

Mrs. Sheila Ann Wood Moore, 68, homemaker and resident of Mt. Pleasant, died Friday, March 31, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. There are no services scheduled at this time for Mrs. Moore. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assistant the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Storm Recap (Tennessean)

Melissa Keller ran to her bathroom to hide as the blasts of wind grew into the sound of a train barreling down on the community where she's lived with her family for nearly 50 years.

She was one of the lucky ones in Lewis County. Her house was still standing Saturday morning after a massive storm tore across the South, wreaking havoc and killing 21 people, including 10 people in West Tennessee.

The Nashville Weather Service confirmed an EF2 tornado touched ground in Lewis County. The same cell also struck communities just over the Rutherford County line, which is still being assessed by weather crews to determine if it was a tornado and its strength.

"I've never seen nothing like this," Keller said. "It moved that building over 15 foot."

But dozens of structures have been destroyed following a possible tornado and storms that ravages parts of southern and southwestern Middle Tennessee.

Cannon, Lewis, Macon, Marshall, Rutherford and Wayne counties sustained devastating damage Friday night into early Saturday morning. National Weather Service officials were still determining whether any of the harsh wind gusts were actually tornadoes in all of the areas.

Lewis County is in southcentral Middle Tennessee with its county seat in Hohenwald. Officials reported about 10 homes lost there early Saturday. Many more were damaged as emergency crews continue to assess the destruction from overnight storms.

"It destroyed my sister’s house out on that peak," Keller said. "They just built it last year."

In Readyville, volunteers searched and cleared debris, while dangerous winds continued to gust through the area.

Beloved and historic properties were destroyed, including the Readyville Mill, built in 1812 and rebuilt after it was flattened in the Civil War.

Idyllic event venue The Corners on Stones River in a large brick home built in 1829, and Russell's Market, known for its bologna sandwiches, were expected to be near-total losses.

The roof was torn up at the Readyville Post Office, which serves a community by the border of Cannon and Rutherford counties.

Utility crews with Middle Tennessee Electric blocked roads to repair downed power lines and poles, while neighbors used chainsaws to cut up trees that fell in large numbers.

Readyville resident Cameron Bailey helped neighbors after the tornado that arrived just before 2 a.m. It passed through the community without damaging his home while his family sought shelter in their basement.

"When we came out, we had neighbors calling us for help," Bailey said. "People were trapped under their homes. I got my friend's family out of their cellar."

Rutherford County Mayor Joe Carr asked Gov. Bill Lee to declare a state of emergency and provide state assistance for the "wiped out" Readyville community, according to a press release from Rutherford County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lisa Marchesoni.

“It looked like a bomb went off,” Carr said in the press release.

Some residents had minor injuries.

The storm also destroyed numerous homes on Readyville Street and the Tilford Lumber Co. building, the mayor said.

“Some homes eerily were left untouched,” said Carr, who met with Cannon County Mayor Greg Mitchell to support the rescue efforts in both counties.

Some homes suffered damage on U.S. Highway 70 South, known as John Bragg Highway.

Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Clark sent a letter to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to request the state of the emergency declaration.

“The request will make sure rescue and recovery efforts are not hindered,” Clark said.

Emergency responders searched for residents in the dark and continued the rescue operations after daylight.

The tornado struck just before 2 a.m., drawing response by Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Rutherford County Fire & Rescue, Kittrell Volunteer Fire Department, Rutherford County Emergency Medical Services, Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency and Murfreesboro Fire Rescue.

“They showed compassion and kindness at a time of great loss,” Carr said. “We don’t know how good our people are until they rise to the occasion. I could not be more proud.”

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Silverbelly Whiskey, the premium spirit distilled exclusively for and hand-selected by Country Music Hall of Fame member Alan Jackson, has earned an impressive 89-point bronze medal by the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC). This is Silverbelly’s first major award.

Established in 1969, IWSC is one of the most respected international wine and spirits competitions, with a mission to champion the best spirits from around the world. 

The “classic” whiskey draws its name from the color of the country icon’s signature Stetson cowboy hat.

To celebrate Jackson’s historic career, each batch of the spirit is chronologically named after his 35 career chart-topping hit songs, making each bottle a collector’s item for country music fans and a perfect addition to whiskey fans’ shelves at an affordable price (MSRP $39.99).

Silverbelly recently announced its third label release, named after Jackson’s fan-favorite song “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” which follows the first two successful batch releases “Here In The Real World” and “Wanted.” The new bottles are available for pre-order at and will begin shipping in April


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