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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for April 9, 2024

WKOM/WKRM RadioSouthern Middle Tennessee TodayNews Copy for April 9, 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)

Columbia's 50th Mule Day went off without a hitch, so to speak, once again drawing thousands to the Southern Middle Tennessee community for a week of competitions, parades, food and more.

As always, Mule Day officially kicked off last Monday as the annual Mule Day Wagon Train lined up and began its miles long journey to Maury County Park, arriving Wednesday afternoon along with other fellow campers, vendors and volunteers.

The festival continued throughout the weekend, with stormy weather earlier in the week clearing just in time for the crowds to show up, with the aroma of fried corn, turkey legs and livestock filling the air. It also allowed Saturday's parade to be pulled off on a warm, sunny day.

This year's parade was led by country artist Clay Walker, who served as the 2024 grand marshal.

Following Walker was a tribute to longtime Mule Day organizer and supporter Dave Skillington, as well as Mule Day Queen Anissa Grimes and her court, which included the first honorary Mule Day Queen Carly McGee. Other parade leaders included the second annual Mule Man, Bernis White and his family.

"We've had really good attendance this year, though it was a little chilly, but we had a great crowd," Mandy Mills of The Mule Day Office said. "It's always like seeing your family again, your Mule Day family."

The origins of Mule Day date back a century when Columbia was considered the mule trading capital of the nation.

However, Mule Day as we know it today was re-introduced in 1974, following a long hiatus due to World War II. And it started, as many local events and projects do, through a collaboration of community groups, sponsors and supporters. This included the Maury County Bridle & Saddle Club, who was only a few years old at the time.

Even The Daily Herald and local radio stations contributed to backing this new Mule Day revival initiative.

The 1974 Mule Day revival was organized starting with a budget of only $500. Columbia's government, as well as the Maury County Chamber of Commerce soon came on board to also show their support.

The first Mule Day consisted of the parade, a mule pulling and mule show, as well as a square dance.

"The Maury County Park was different then compared to now," Bridle & Saddle Club President Harv Spann said. "Now, the facilities are better. We have two arenas, covered bars, enclosed metal buildings and bathrooms, several bathrooms."

Some of those old traditions are still celebrated to this day, while others have been created throughout the years to become their own annual "must-do" annual activities, especially if you've got an empty stomach.

The Maury County Senior Center, for example, has hosted its white bean and country ham day dating back to the beginning back when the facility was founded nearly 50 years ago. The event not only raises funds for the center's programming but has created bonds and memories over the years while sharing a downhome Southern-cooked meal.

"On Friday, people always plan for their lunch at the Senior Center," MCSC Executive Director Steve Thomas said. "The menu is pretty solid."

It's also a tradition that has been shared by multi-generations over the years, and that sometimes a good old-fashioned meal is more than just food on a plate, but a memory. It could be those years as a youngster growing up in the country, a loved one who has passed on or simply part of the annual tradition which gives back to the community's elderly.

"The guy who sells pork chops and turkey legs, he and I have become friends over the years. I try to invite all the vendors because this is always a big day for us," Thomas said. "He told me, 'Steve, I'll be there, because my daddy loved white beans and he's gone now, so I can eat that lunch and think about him. I thought that was pretty nice, really nice."

Another popular aspect of Mule Day throughout the years are events such as the Liar's Contest or the Auctioneer's Contest, each of which continue to draw more contestants year after year.

For the 50th, this year's auctioneer's contest featured a new category, inviting young people to now take part in the longstanding Mule Day tradition, which organizers say has grown in popularity to rival the official state competition.

"This is our 13th year and yesterday was a booming success with 34 auctioneers from 10 states, and our new youth contest had eight kids from about three states, and we had a great time with that," Jimmy Duggar of Crye-Leike said. "The most important thing is that this is for Breakfast Rotary Club, and all of the money from yesterday's proceeds go to our scholarship program. It has fully funded our scholarship program since we started 13 years ago, and we're over $80,000, not counting yesterday, for this program we've done every year."

Other new favorites returning this year was the third annual Mule Day Dog Show, as well as the second annual little Miss Mule Day Pageant.

This year also marked the first for a new program aimed at education scholarships. The Mule Day WORKS program provides career and technical education (CTE) and vocational training scholarships for students. This will provide funding for things like tuition, books and other materials.

For more information on the Mule Day WORKS scholarship program, visit

Santa Fe Coach Wild Resigns (MSM)

Less than a year after accepting the girls basketball coaching position at Santa Fe, John Wild has resigned.

Wild, who has won 633 career games and three Tennessee state championships over 10 high school stops in 32 seasons, has been named girls coach at Forrest in Chapel Hill, where he resides.

Forrest principal Angie Phifer confirmed the appointment Monday morning.

“With the experience level he’s at and the success factor he’s had, we felt like he’d be a good fit for our program,” Phifer said.

Santa Fe finished 11-17 and advanced to the Region 5-1A tournament quarterfinals under Wild, who succeeded Jonathon Slaughter in that role. The win total marked a high for the Lady Wildcats since going 14-12 in 2016-17.

Wild’s short stint at Santa Fe – where he also held the title of athletics director – follows a four-year reign at Summit, during which his teams won 60 games and made three region tourney appearances. 

Prior to that, the Basketball Coaches Association of Tennessee’s Hall of Fame inductee spent time at Franklin, Wilson Central, Riverdale, Franklin County, Lawrence County and Bradford on the girls side along with boys coaching stops at Harpeth and Moore County. He also served as an assistant at the University of Evansville and at Lipscomb University, his alma mater.

He is one of four high school coaches to win Tennessee boys and girls state titles, having done so with Moore County’s 1999 boys, Bradford’s 2000 girls and Riverdale’s 2012 girls.

At Forrest, Wild succeeds Shane Chapman. The Lady Rockets went 4-18, losing their last 17 contests in Chapman’s only season at the helm, after moving over from the boys side to fill the vacancy created when Hal Murrell departed last spring to replace Wild at Summit.

Habitat Applications Open (MSM)

Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury is thrilled to announce the opening of applications for its Homeownership Program. The program offers eligible individuals the opportunity to achieve the dream of homeownership through a collaborative and supportive process.

“We help families and individuals buy their first home by removing the down payment and customizing mortgage payments to never be more than 30 percent of their income. With that kind of financial stability, kids can put down roots and parents can start planning for the future. We bridge the gap between renting and buying a home the traditional way,” shared Hannah Seegmiller, HFHWM Homeowner Services Manager.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must meet three basic criteria; need for safe, affordable housing, ability to pay a monthly mortgage and willingness to be an active partner for the duration of the process. For full details on program qualifications, please visit

Once approved, families will help build their own homes alongside volunteers and community partners. Those homes are then sold with affordable financing to the families. Program participants will complete budget coaching and homebuyer education to prepare for the responsibilities that come with homeownership.

“Our path to homeownership is an important and in-depth process that requires hard work, time, and dedication. But this helps ensure the long-term success of our partner families,” said Seegmiller.

Nobody is a better testament to the transformative power of Habitat homeownership than Carrika Washington. From Habitat homeowner to HFHWM board member, the trajectory of her life has changed since becoming a homeowner.

“I received my Habitat home eight years ago. I was a 30-year-old single mother and never thought I would have a safe and secure home for me and my son. The budgeting classes and the first-time homeowner classes helped me so much and I continue to use the budgeting class to this day,” Washington said. “Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury started the stepping stones for my career and my ability to provide for my son in the way that I didn’t think I would.”

By offering a hand up, not a handout, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury is committed to empowering families to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. The organization invites individuals and families who meet the eligibility criteria to apply for the Homeownership Program and take the first step towards homeownership.

For those interested in applying or learning more about the Homeownership Program, please visit or contact

Mule Day 5k Results (Press Release)

A total of 700 runners and walkers participated in the 2024 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot, presented by First Farmers Bank, at Riverwalk Park on Saturday, April 6, raising a record $64,344 for the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation thanks to contributions from racers and local sponsors.

Proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot help to support Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which serves at-risk and uninsured patients throughout the region and has touched the lives of thousands of individuals since 2017. Proceeds also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment, the city of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and the physical education program at Brown Elementary, the area school with the most race participants.

“This year, the Foundation’s annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot topped our fundraising record once again,” said Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “This would not be possible without the generosity of our community and the outstanding efforts of Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore, Development Specialist Courtney Lewandowski and Department Support Coordinator Leah Henry. I would like to thank presenting sponsor First Farmers Bank and all of our sponsors, runners, walkers and volunteers who make this event possible. The funds raised from this event will support at-risk and underserved populations through services like the Maury Regional Mobile Medical Unit.”

David Hudson had the fastest run of the day in the 5K, finishing first overall in 18:34, while Sienna Anderson was first overall for the women with a time of 19:29. In the master category, Ethan Kreul was first for the men in 19:10, and Andrea Rich finished in 23:42 to lead the women. David Craig and Carol Mosher went home winners in the super grand master category, finishing respectively in 29:37 and 34:50.

The top three female finishers in the 1-Mile Trot included Hannah TuckerKenzie Calabrese and Emersyn Teele, while the top three male finishers were Ezekiel StewartAxel Spare and Dean Turner.

A full overview of all the winners from the male and female age group categories is available at, where all 5K racers can also view their individual times and download their finisher certificates. Photos from the 2024 event will soon be available at

To learn more about the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation or to make a gift to the mobile medical unit, visit For information about sponsoring the 2025 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot, email or call 931.380.4075.

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:  (

KDS Lunch and Learn (Press Release)

Join the King’s Daughters’ School for their “About Autism Lunch and Learn, called ‘See Beyond the Spectrum.’” The program will feature Anette Hatfield, the director of the Center for Autism to learn about Autism and how we can partner as a community to provide safe places and inclusion for everyone. The event will take place on April 16th at 11:30am at The King’s Daugheters’ School Craig Hall, located at 401 W. 9th Street in Columbia. You can RSP by emailing tiffany wright at

The Kings’ Daughters’ School promotes independence through educational, residential, and community services for individuals with developmental disabilities, continuing a 100-years legacy of service.

O-Negative Donors Gets Rewarded (Press Release)

Now through Wednesday, April 10th Blood Assurance will be offering their O-NEGATIVE DONORS ONLY a $25 e-gift card. This gift card will be emailed to all O-negative donors who have a correct email address on file. The email will be sent at the end of next week from Tango Rewards. They can go online to redeem their gift card at several vendors including Walmart, Target, Amazon, Bass Pro, restaurants, fast food chains, and more.  

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.

And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols 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.

Nell Broadway Gilliam, 95, former longtime resident of Columbia and retired co-owner and operator of Gilliam Bros. Grocery, died Monday, April 8, 2024 at The Arbors at Willow Springs in Spring Hill.

Funeral services will be conducted Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 3:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.  Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery.  The family will visit with friends Thursday from 1:00 PM until 3:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Online condolences may be extended at

And now, news from around the state…

Firearms Education Bill Progresses (Tennessean)

A bill to require public schools in Tennessee to teach children age-appropriate firearms safety concepts as early as pre-kindergarten is going to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk after a final Senate vote Thursday. 

Members of the Tennessee Senate passed House Bill 2882 in a party-line vote of 24 to 3 on Thursday morning. It passed the House of Representatives in February

If signed, school children would be taught “age-appropriate and grade-appropriate” concepts about guns beginning in the 2025-26 school year. Proponents of the safety concepts training have likened it to mandatory school fire drills. 

“This curriculum would be developed to instruct children on how to properly stay away from a firearm if they happen to see a firearm, and what to do as far as reporting if they find a firearm,” said Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta. 

Republicans voted down an amendment Thursday that would have allowed parents to opt their children out of the instruction.

Training would be conducted through viewing of videos and online content. Live ammunition, live fire and live firearms would be prohibited. The bill does not specifically prohibit non-functional model weapons. 

Parameters for the curriculum, and appropriate ages for it to be taught, would be determined by the Tennessee Department of Education, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Schools would be required to provide instruction on: 

  • Safe storage of firearms.

  • Safety relating to firearms.

  • How to avoid injury if a student finds a firearm.

  • Never to touch a found firearm.

  • To immediately notify an adult of the location of a found firearm.

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, argued Thursday that the training requirement represents a hurried effort to address the symptom of a systemic problem, and lawmakers should be doing more to address the root cause. 

Sen. Charlane Oliver, D-Nashville, argued the state should allow parents to opt their children out of the firearms training.

Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, said the state does not require parental permission or allow parents to opt children out of mandatory school fire drills or active shooter drills. Briggs called the legislation "one of the most important bills we have, that could potentially save lives."

The bill requires that instruction be “viewpoint neutral on political topics, such as gun rights, gun violence, and the Second Amendment.” School districts could determine what day and time the instruction would occur. 

Bailey worked with House sponsor Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County – who voted against a bill last year that would have required safe storage concepts to be included in state-approved handgun safety courses. The bill, which became law despite Todd's opposition, also directed the state to provide free gun locks to Tennessee residents on request and exempted gun safes from sales tax.

The bill now awaits Gov. Lee's signature.

Welcome back to Southern Middle Tennessee Today!

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Franklin resident Quintavious Johnson, known simply by his stage name Quintavious, competed in the Top 24 round of season 22 of singing competition show American Idol on Sunday night. 

Johnson performed in part one of the two-part Top-24 episode, which is taking place at Aulani, a Disney resort in Ko Olina, Hawaii. The competitors were mentored by Grammy-winner and Idol alum Tori Kelly.

The 21-year-old sang "Something in the Water,” a Grammy-winning song from fellow Franklin resident Carrie Underwood. 

Johnson will now await the first audience vote of the season, which fill determine which contestants will advance to the Top 20 round. The Top 20 reveal will take place on April 14, and it will air at 7 p.m. on ABC.


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