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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 8, 2024

WKOM/WKRM RadioSouthern Middle Tennessee TodayNews Copy for April 8, 2024

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 (CDH)

Mule Day crowd-goers in Columbia enjoyed a multitude of festivities throughout the week with weather marked by beautiful spring temperatures and plenty of sun.

The Mule Day Wagon Train rolled into town on Wednesday kicking off festivities as covered wagons and wagoneers continued the age-old tradition dating back to the 1840s.

On Friday, as part of the Mule Day festivities, the auctioneer contest took place which benefits the Breakfast Rotary to help fund their scholarship program. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the event and spoke to Darrell Ailshie to learn more about how the contest worked…(WKOM Audio 3:15)

On Mule Day morning, Farm Bureau held their annual breakfast gathering. This year, U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty attended the event. Our own Delk Kennedy got a chance to speak to the senator to get his impressions of Mule Day, and about some of the legislation that has been pending in Congress…(WKOM Audio 2:18)

Saturday marked the culmination of the week's keystone event — the much awaited annual Mule Day Parade on West 7th Street, where crowds swarmed to see farm animals, decorated floats, the Mule Day Queen and her court, locally elected officials and acclaimed country music artist and parade Grand Marshal, Clay Walker.

Mules and farm animals stole the show as usual at numerous competitive events at Maury County Park Saturday and Sunday during the 50th Anniversary of Mule Day from log pulling to mini mule races and even a pet show.

A country line dancing flash mob performed on Saturday, while a Mule Day church service helped close events on Sunday.

Johnson to Take on Ogles in Primary (Tennessean)

Nashville Metro Council member Courtney Johnston is running for Congress, challenging U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District.

Johnston sharply criticized Ogles while outlining her own conservative credentials in a formal campaign announcement on Friday. 

“I support President Trump, I’m pro-life, I’m for immediately securing the border, and fully funding law enforcement,” Johnston said. “Andy Ogles says he believes all that too — but he’s a totally ineffective politician who’s getting nothing done. He hasn’t passed a single bill into law. We need a real conservative leader who will deliver results, not a do-nothing grandstander who just chases headlines. That’s why I’m running.”

Johnston and Ogles will battle it out in the Aug. 1 GOP primary with Tom Guarente, a Brentwood cybersecurity executive. 

Meanwhile, Nashville advocate and chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission Maryam Abolfazli qualified on the Democratic primary ballot, alongside Kiran Sreepada and Arnie Malham.

Johnston currently serves as a council member representing the Crieve Hall, Paragon Mills and other neighborhoods in South Nashville, stretching down toward Brentwood on Davidson County's southern border. Johnston has represented District 26 since 2019, securing her second term in 2023 unopposed. She is among the more conservative members of the generally progressive-leaning 40-member body.

Johnston was one of a 10-member minority in the summer 2022 to vote in favor of a draft agreement that would have paved the way for Nashville's consideration as a host city for the 2024 Republican National Convention, which ultimately went to Milwaukee.

She has been a staunch supporter of law enforcement throughout her council tenure. In 2022, Johnston carried a bill that paved the way for the launch of Nashville's first license plate reader pilot, despite opposition from multiple community groups over the technology's implications for minorities and risks to individual rights and safety. Following the pilot program, she was one of 24 council members to greenlight LPR expansion.

Johnston, a fiscal conservative, has served on the council's Covid-19 Financial Oversight Committee and Audit Committee, among others.

Johnston is a real estate agent with a background in entrepreneurship and finance. She holds a bachelor's degree in finance from Louisiana State University.

Circuit Court Judge Needed (MSM)

The Trial Court Vacancy Commission is accepting applications for a Circuit Court Judge in the 22nd Judicial District, which covers Maury County. This vacancy will be created by the upcoming retirement of Judge David Allen on Aug. 3, 2024.

Qualified applicants must be licensed attorneys who are at least 30 years of age, residents of the state for five years and residents of the 22nd Judicial District. The Commission is committed to encouraging a diverse judiciary and welcomes all qualified attorneys to apply.

Interested applicants must complete the Trial Court Vacancy Commission Application and submit it to the Administrative Office of the Courts by noon CDT on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. Applicants must submit by the deadline: (1) the original signed (unbound) applications; and (2) a digital copy of the applications, in order to be placed on the list of candidates for consideration for the judicial vacancy.

The Commission will hold a public hearing to consider applicants on Monday, May 20, at Columbia Central High School located at 921 Lion Parkway, Columbia, TN 38401 at 9 a.m. CDT.

For more information, visit:  (

Democratic Candidates Have Qualified (Press Release)

Democratic challengers have qualified for the ballot in all of Maury County’s state legislative races this year.

The following candidates qualified for the August 1 Democratic Party primary:

House District 64 (currently held by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka)):

• Alex Pierce of Columbia.

• Eileen Wilson-Longstreet of Spring Hill.

House District 71 (currently held by Rep. Kip Capley (R-Summertown)):

• Tim Coy of Clifton, Wayne County.

Senate District 28 (currently held by Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald):

• James Dallas of Columbia.

Greg Hanners of Columbia will also appear on the August 1 general election ballot. He secured the Democratic nomination for School Board in District 8 in the March 5 local primary.

Across Tennessee, Democrats are running in 12 of 16 state senate races and 74 of 99 state house races.

This is the largest class of Democratic candidates running in a presidential election year since 2004, according to the Tennessee Democratic Party.

More information about our candidates will be posted on our website, Contact information for these candidates may also be obtained through the Maury County Democratic Party.

Spring Hill Library Pitches Expansion (CDH)

Spring Hill Public Library presented its annual report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, addressing the facility nearing its capacity for space, while also being short staffed and growing in memberships.

Library Director Dana Juriew presented the annual report Monday. Juriew shared many examples of how, while Spring Hill's library maintains a Level 5 status, or a library that serves a population greater than 50,000, it falls below the state standards in many areas.

For example, Spring Hill's library space is approximately 17,000 square feet, while other Tennessee Level 5 libraries in cities like Johnson City, Kingsport, Brentwood and others range between 26,000 and 55,000, with some also being multiple stories in height.

"If we had the square footage that some of these other libraries have, there's no doubt we would have things like HOA meetings in our facility, more scout troops," Juriew said. "We would have more businesses using our makers space and our other areas."

Staffing also falls below the standards, which requires 15.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees. Spring Hill currently has 12, lacking two full-time clerks, as well as one full-time computer maintenance/training person.

This has prompted library staff to find a solution by requesting two new self-checkout stations for members to curb the staffing shortage, as well as 10 laptops for computer instruction. There is also a need for additional shelving, which Juriew said is "at its capacity."

"The additional shelving gives us one last row, because it's all we can fit," Juriew said. "After that, ADA would have a problem with us not leaving space for wheelchairs to get through, and carts and strollers. We no longer have room for new materials that the public is demanding."

While square footage, daily visits and employee numbers remain at the bottom when it comes to level 5 libraries, Spring Hill ranks among the top for circulation.

According to data presented Monday, Spring Hill ranks third with 365,067 items checked out annually behind Brentwood at 465,479 and Johnson City at 507,940.

"Even though we have fewer people come in, we are the 'home school library,'" Juriew said. "They check out up to 30 items a week, and we process all of those that come in and come out. It's quite a dramatic number there."

And those numbers are just physical circulation, not including online transactions and other services the library provides. This includes more than 365,067 print, DVD, audio and CD checkouts, as well as 115,171 e-book, e-audio and streaming checkouts in 2023.

Additional services include rentals of Wi-Fi hotspots, computers, video games, memory kits for those experiencing dementia, and even a car charger in the event customers might need a jump. "It happens more than you would expect," Juriew said.

These services amounted to 5,177 checkouts last year.

Another aspect of the library Juriew touched on was its services and programs for early childhood learning.

This is another area she hopes to see grow as the city's population increases, and that while space is definitely a need, providing a well-rounded education program to future generations is also testament.

"Early literacy is, of course, our bread and butter, our children, our homeschool community," she said. "Our targets are providing programs for literacy from birth, all the way from baby time to high school."

This includes programs like partnering with the Boys & Girls Club to visit schools and provide tutoring for students struggling with reading skills.

The future of the Spring Hill Public Library has been a major topic for many years amongst the BOMA in a search to address its expansion needs, at one point being considered for relocation to the Northfield Development Center building. When it came time to discuss Monday's presentation, board members seemed in support of the requests, given that it would provide a solution of some kind, even if it isn't the ultimate goal of having a new building.

Alderman Matt Fitterer suggested the notion of implementing a fee for members who are not Spring Hill residents, which is typical in other libraries, while locals would generate funding via local property taxes. The library does currently charge a $25 membership fee, but only to residents outside Williamson and Maury Counties, Juriew said.

Fitterer said it's a suggestion he has made in the past but was never adopted, and that the library board should revisit the idea.

"I know the Level 5 is based on the population you serve, not necessarily the population of the city, because I think we know we have a lot of people outside of the city limits who come and use the public library," Fitterer said. "That's fine and I think it's fair to welcome in, but I also think it's fair to ask them to help financially support the library and the services they aren't paying for through property taxes."

Alderman John Canepari said the non-resident fee would likely only generate the $26,000 Williamson County currently allots each year, and so might not be the best solution.

Canepari concluded saying part of the library's continued progress has been through straying away from cost increases, while also having employees working overtime to remain within the annual budget.

The main goal should remain in the design and progress in creating a larger, more modern facility to meet the state standards, as well as fall in line with the other Level 5 state libraries. This includes a design proposal to be included in the upcoming fiscal budget, which will go before the BOMA in June.

"It's coming, a new building is coming as long as I'm sitting here," Canepari said. "I'm going to keep my eye on the budget."

And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by 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.

Mr. William “Billy” Fowler Ridley, 55, a self-employed carpenter and resident of Columbia, died Thursday, April 4, 2024 in Columbia.

Funeral services for Mr. Ridley will be conducted Thursday at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Greg Daimwood officiating. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

And now, news from around the state…

Spring Turkey Season (Press Release)

Tennessee’s statewide spring turkey hunting season opens Saturday, April 13 and continues through Sunday, May 26. According to Roger Shields, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Wild Turkey Program Coordinator, hunter success may depend on what area of the state you will be hunting.

“I think with the early spring we appear to be having, we should have a decent season, depending on which part of the state you will be hunting,” he said. “West Tennessee has seen a few years of really good production, and I suspect they will see the best numbers along with the central portion of the state. Productivity in the northeast has not been as good the past couple of years.”

In 2023, the spring harvest was 31,802 birds, a 6 percent increase from 2022 and 2 percent decrease over the previous 5-year average (32,495). Harvest during the beginning of the season was extremely high and decreased as the season progressed. A total of 25,500 hunters harvested at least one turkey, 20 percent greater than the 5-year average of successful hunters.

All 95 counties are open this year with the same hunting season dates. The spring turkey bag limit is one bearded turkey per day, not to exceed two per season and only one can be a jake. An adult gobbler is defined by having one of the following: wing feathers having white barring all the way to the tip, tail feathers all the same length, beard is longer than 6 inches, or a spur at least ½-inch long.

Hunters are reminded about “Tag Before You Drag” where hunters tag their big game animal in the field prior to moving. Hunters can use the “TWRA on the Go” app to simply E-tag and report their harvest in the field in one easy step, with or without cell phone service, prior to moving.

If a hunter does not have a phone, attach one of the temporary transportation tags printed at the bottom of your license, and complete your check in online at or at one of several manned check stations by midnight on the same day of the harvest (or before leaving the state). Temporary transportation tags can also be obtained by logging in at

More information on the 2024 spring turkey season, regulations, and license requirements can be found in the 2023-24 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide. The guide is online at and available at TWRA offices and license agents. To purchase a license online, go to

Hunting hours are 30 minutes prior to legal sunrise until legal sunset. Legal hunting equipment includes shotguns using ammunition loaded with No. 4 shot or smaller, longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows.

Firearms and archery equipment may have sighting devices, except those devices utilizing an artificial light capable of locating wildlife.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Looking for a quick getaway across the pond and beyond?

Nashville International Airport's direct flights have expanded service on popular routes to London, in addition to several new service options starting this spring and summer.

This month, British Airways began flying passengers on larger Boeing 777-200ER jets. The new aircraft increases passenger loads from 214 to 272 people per flight. Why? The airline had been running packed flights. The new planes also add business-class seats.

Other new and expanded routes coming to BNA are:

  • April 9: Southwest Airlines starts service to Buffalo, New York.

  • April 10: Spirit Airlines service to Dallas Forth Worth and LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

  • April 21: Frontier Airlines launches four-times-a-week flights to Dallas Fort Worth.

  • April 22: Delta Airlines begins three-times daily flights to Austin, Texas.

  • May 1: Air Canada resumes three-times weekly service to Montreal and Quebec.

  • May 2: WestJet starts twice-weekly flights to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


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