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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 5, 2024

WKOM/WKRM RadioSouthern Middle Tennessee TodayNews Copy for April 5, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Car Crash (MauryCountySource)

One person has died following a crash Thursday morning.

At 5:54 am on Thursday, Maury County Fire Department was alerted to a two vehicle, head-on collision in the 1400 Block of Tom J Hitch Parkway. Units arrived and found one driver entrapped and one driver out of a vehicle in critical condition.

The entrapped driver was pronounced dead at the scene.

The MCFD operated on scene for 1 hour and 45 minutes performing extrication, clearing the roadway of an extensive debris field, and controlling fluid leaks on the roadway.

The Maury County Sheriff’s Office and Columbia Police Department closed Tom J Hitch Parkway for approximately 3 hours to allow for the accident investigation and cleanup to take place.

The crash is under investigation.

Mule Day (CDH)

Mule Day in Columbia has officially begun as the festival's annual wagon train of mules, horses and riders once again took the multi-day trek across the region and into Maury County Park.

Mule Day's 50th anniversary and weeklong festivities are highlighted by Saturday's parade, as well as popular events like the Liar's Contest, dog shows, live music, and keystone mule competitions, food and more. Though for many, the Mule Day Wagon Train is one of the most special and authentic events, which sets the mood, serving as a beacon signaling festivalgoers that Muletown fun has only just begun.

This year's wagon train featured about 21 wagons, which traversed many miles starting in Santa Fe Monday. Organizers say that this year's trip went "fairly smoothly," although Tuesday's inclement weather caused the train to stall for a day out of safety reasons for the riders and animals.

"The Wagon Train is definitely my favorite thing, as well as the parade. This year, we stayed in Santa Fe at the Coon Hunter's Club, and we did 16 miles Monday," Wagon Train Director Makenzie English said. "With the risk of tornados [Tuesday], I didn't want all of those people out with the possibility for that. We tried to keep everybody safe."

Though it's her first year as the wagon train director, English said her family has a long history with Mule Day going back to the 1970s. As a generational participant herself, part of the joy each year is seeing the tradition passed down to children and young people. Passing down the tradition is not only so they experience Mule Day as a youth, but that one day they too might find themselves carrying on the tradition of leading the annual wagon train into town.

"I want to keep it going and get more young people involved," she said.

Tuesday's delay was only a minor setback, however, as the train resumed its path into Columbia, making its final destination at Maury County Park at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"We hated not getting to ride Tuesday, but it's one of those unfortunate incidents that happens every once in a while, and it wouldn't be Mule Day without this kind of weather," Assistant Wagon Train Director Allen Potete said. "We're definitely excited about this year, especially once we get up here and everybody starts shuffling in this time of the week. It all starts filling up."

Potete added that riding into the park in celebration of Mule Day's 50th anniversary since its 1974 revival has added an extra level of excitement, and this is just the beginning of what's bound to be a week of reunions, events, good food, and celebrating Mule Day's longstanding tradition.

"The 50th year on anything is always big, and I personally feel like it's a big thing for Mule Day, the wagon train and Columbia," Potete said. "We were afraid for a time back when COVID made us not have it for a year or two, and we didn't know if they weren't going to have it anymore at all. Luckily, we're back on track and doing good."

For more information on this year's Mule Day, a schedule of events and more, visit

Joey’s Italian Ices (WKOM Audio 1:43)

Yesterday, Joey’s Italian Ices opened in downtown Columbia. Our own Delk Kennedy stopped by the grand opening and spoke to proprietor Joey Curry about all the delicious products they offer…

Construction Fee Progresses (MSM, WKOM)

A temporary solution to Maury County’s desire for an impact fee moved a step closer to final passage in the General Assembly.

House Bill 2426, previously touted by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) as a compromise with builders and Realtors, was approved by a House subcommittee without opposition, then was heard by the Finance, Ways & Means Committee at its April 2 meeting, and will now be taken up for consideration on the floor on April 11th.

The bill would allow counties that meet specific criteria – which includes Maury – to temporarily increase their adequate facilities tax on new residential and commercial construction, up to $1.50 per square foot. Such changes would require a two-thirds vote of the county’s legislative body in two consecutive meetings. After four years a county could increase the adequate facilities tax by up to 10 percent, again by a two-thirds vote.

Maury County’s current rates are 50 cents per square foot for residential construction and 30 cents for non-residential. County officials have said Maury is losing out on millions of dollars in revenue and suffering as a result.

Eligible counties would be those which saw a 20 percent increase in population between the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2020 Census, or those which saw a 9 percent increase over the last four years as determined by a special census. A county could use annual census estimates to maintain eligibility if it fits one of the initial criteria.

Maury County saw a 24.7 percent increase in its population from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census numbers. The most recent census estimate had the county’s population on July 1, 2023 at 110,760 – a 9.69 percent increase in that three-year span.

“House Bill 2426 makes changes to the County Powers Relief Act to further assist counties financially,” bill sponsor Rep. Tim Hicks (R-Gray) told the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee during its March 27 meeting. “All we’re doing is setting this up for the counties to be able to do this their way.”

During questioning, the subcommittee was advised by legal counsel that a county’s changes to its adequate facilities tax would have to be at two regularly scheduled meetings and that a called meeting could not be utilized.

Initially, the bill was written to apply to Maury, Montgomery, Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson counties. Rep. Sam Whitson (R-Franklin) asked if Williamson could be removed via amendment and was told by Hicks that as amended, both Williamson and Wilson would be removed.

“Those counties currently are Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale, Maury and Montgomery counties,” Hicks said in referring to which counties would be eligible under the bill, if ultimately approved.

Also on March 27, the Senate State & Local Government Committee approved its version of the bill by a 7-2 vote, moving it forward to that chamber’s Finance, Ways & Means Committee. Adam Lowe (R-Calhoun) and Sara Kyle (D-Memphis) voted against the bill.

Another amendment would limit the ability of a commercial building to be taxed to 150,000 square feet, regardless of its ultimate size. That concession was made in order to get the builders on board, noted Sen. Shane Reeves (R-Murfreesboro), who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

When the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee will take up the bill was not immediately known.

Local officials, including County Mayor Sheila Butt, have said HB 2426 would help but is only a temporary fix to a long-term problem.

“The legislation simply gives local government elected officials one option to help pay for growth. I am convinced that if we can’t get more ‘buy in’ to our community from developers that the quality of life for all of Maury Countians will suffer,” Butt said in a previous statement.

Mt. Pleasant Teachers Honored (MSM)

A ceremony was held on Saturday, March 16, at Mt. Pleasant Middle School’s auditorium for five of Mount Pleasant’s most distinguished educators, each of whom bore a connection to the Clarke Training School.

The event was organized by Jeffery Webster. The crowd included some of the countless students these teachers impacted, as well as the teachers’ families. Part of the beauty of the event came from how much the community supported these women: Irish Jean Mayes, Ella Chavers, L. Marcia Armstrong, Ruth Harwell and Curtis Karen Lockridge.

The Clarke Hill Training School was the Mt. Pleasant area’s African American school during the days of segregation and operated from 1922 to 1969.

Two themes that were consistent when each of the women spoke were faith and perseverance. Mayes began her speech with a strong proclamation of faith and spoke on how she was raised by her grandmother and her four aunts after her mother had passed away when Mayes was seven years old.

Mayes stated, “Without those four ladies there is no history for me.”

After thanking her family, Mayes expressed gratitude to the teachers at Clarke who molded her into who she is today. They included M.S Philip, who taught her to read her first book “The Little Red Hen,” M.S Feld, who pulled her aside and taught her the spiritual hymn “I Come To The Garden Alone,” M.S Johnson, who encouraged her to write her poetry as she still does to this day.

Mayes has written many poems for people who were in the audience. She said these gifts of steadfast faith and exuberant perseverance make her who she is today, and they were given to her within the walls of Clarke School.

Chavers began with a proclamation of faith and thanked God for all He has done for her and all he is currently doing in her life.

“Never would have made it without God,” she said.

Each of the teachers consistently noted that when the waves of systemic racism pulled onto them, what kept them grounded was faith. An old John H Yates hymn was referenced that rings true to the stories of these women, “Faith is the Victory,” which in its refrain states, “Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.”

Marcia Armstrong was a graduate of Tennessee State University in 1968 and later attended Middle Tennessee State University for graduate school, which she used to grow herself as an educator. She highlighted her upbringing in the Sandy Hook Colored School and thanked teachers like Freida Rogers for inspiring her to become an educator.

Armstrong had extreme resilience in the face of racism as she pushed through and gained her degree. She cited Charles Albert Tindley’s famous gospel hymn “We Shall Overcome,” which states in part, “Oh deep in the heart I believe we shall overcome.” She noted that it was the boldness to stare oppressive forces in the face and tell them that you have the faith to overcome them that helped lead to what were then radical changes in communities.

Lockridge is known to several generations of families in Maury County, as she taught ELA for several years. She began her teaching career at such a young age that she had two sisters who were still in school, one in the eighth grade and the other a high school senior.

She stated that she knew her time for teaching was up when a student said, “My Nana said you taught her.”

Lockridge said she was offered to leave teaching altogether at one point and stayed because of her love of the profession. Through her perseverance and dedication to education, she has inspired many generations of students to become who they are today and has laid the educational groundwork for many young writers in Maury County.

Harwell, when asked what her advice was to the future generations of teachers, said, “We need to put more emphasis on education; that’s what we need to succeed.”

Each of the ladies noted a society that deems the suffering of black and brown individuals something of the past and that it is increasingly important to teach the next generation that we are not that far removed from it.

“We will succeed if the children know of the great leaders like Fred Hampton, Angela Davis and John Lewis. While the kids often learn about Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to know more leaders in the struggle for freedom,” it was stated.

CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Columbia Campus is excited to announce summer camps for 2024. 

The Game Design Unity Camp will run from June 10 - 14 for rising 6th through 8th grade students. Campers will craft virtual worlds, master optimization techniques and bring their video games to life with sounds and animations. Join us for an adventure in creativity and technology!

Rhythm Retreat – Music Camp will run from June 24 - 27 for rising 4th through 6th graders. Student participants will experience drumming, comprehend new piano skills, enjoy music games and take part in choral singing.

Innovate & Illuminate will run from July 8 – 12 for rising 6th through 8th graders. Participants will learn to make fun and useful projects using the fundamentals of circuit building and microcontroller programing.

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

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 or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.

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

Mrs. Lavinia Clark Bell, 83, resident of Columbia, TN, passed away Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be conducted Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday from 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mrs. Lydia Cathy McDade Foster, 70, a resident of Columbia, died Wednesday, April 3, 2024 at NHC HealthCare Columbia. Funeral services will be conducted Monday, April 8, 2024 at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Pleasant Gardens Cemetery in Summertown. The family will visit with friends Monday from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

And now, news from around the state…

Renaissance Festival Returns (TheNewsTN)

The Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department (WCPR) announced that the 38th annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival will take place May 4-27.

The event, which takes place at Castle Park in Arrington, will be open every Saturday and Sunday in May, as well as on Memorial Day. The festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. 

Parking is free, and the parking gates open at 8 a.m., with ticket scanning beginning at 9. General admission tickets are $25 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12, and free for children ages 2 and younger.

Royal Court passes will be on sale until April 22 and will cost $200, while season passes will be on sale until May 3 at $100. Both are good for admission on all nine days of the event. Tickets can be purchased at

"As we embark on another year hosting the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, we are excited to welcome everyone back to the festival grounds at Castle Park," WCPR department director Gordon Hampton said in a news release. "Our staff has worked tremendously hard on updating sections of the park and adding new experiences to this time-honored, beloved event. We look forward to seeing you this spring at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.”

According to the release, attendees will "travel back to 16th Century England where the Village of Covington Glen comes alive with the bustle of a Renaissance Marketplace."

The festival will feature the usual attractions such as jousting, knife throwing, tea time and meet-and-greats with the queen, and a variety of medieval food and crafts, this year's event will also have several new additions including a role-playing game experience and The Queen’s Promenade, "an exquisite dance course designed for the distinguished few who wish to master the art of Regency dance."

For detailed information on this year’s festival, admission options, and to purchase tickets, visit

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The 50th annual Mule Day will kick into full force starting Friday with events happening in and around Maury County Park.

This includes some of the long-standing traditional mule shows and competitions, as well as live music and other events, with the annual Mule Day Parade taking place starting at 11 a.m. Saturday in the heart of downtown Columbia.

Be sure not to miss some of Mule Day's annual favorites such as the State Auctioneer's Contest, The Liar's Contest, even cowboy-style line dancing on Saturday night.

In addition to this weekend's main Mule Day events, the annual festival will also include other events, such as First Fridays, where downtown shops will be open late.

For the full schedule of this year's Mule Day events, visit


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