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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 18, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Columbia Façade Grant (MainStreetMaury)

The Columbia City Council approved at its August meeting additional funds for the downtown improvement grant, which are not to exceed $400,000.

The State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) administers the grant program. Previously known as the Tennessee Facade Grant Program, the City received program funds in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The additional funds will cover a second phase of the facade improvement grant. Proceeds will be used for a 50/50 mix of downtown and facade projects. Improvements will include an installation of bump-out curbing in downtown, installation of new trash can recycling receptacles and pedestrian wayfinding signage.

The remaining 50 percent of funds will be granted to sub-recipients using the criteria the city used in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The city also authorized the application for the Healthy Choices Grant, with funds going towards a splash pad in Fairview Park, set to be named “Blue Cross Healthy Place at Fairview Park.”

The grant is up to $850,000 with matching funds of $350,000 from the city.

Parks and Recreation Director Mack Regan said the grant is highly competitive.

“They give five or six a year, so we’ve asked the development district staff to come forward and assist us with that process,” Regan said.

With the city’s budgeted amount included, Regan said the grant will allow the project to be fully funded.

“With the dramatic increase in splash pads, we thought it would be a good idea to try to assist and gain monies where we could outside of our taxpayer funding,” Regan said.

“Not only that, it will allow us to increase and personalize the grant. Maybe we want to add something on the Duck River. We’ll have 16 features from ground to high water features.

“Roughly you’re looking at about a 40-year life expectancy in this. Although it seems like a lot of money, when you figure it out per year it makes it much more at ease.”

Regan said a public meeting is scheduled in two weeks regarding the status of the project. The meeting will be held at the Dr. Christa Martin Community Center.

American Classical Makes Appeal to State (TNLookout)

American Classical Education, a Hillsdale-College-affiliated charter school chain, continued its blistering critique of Madison and Maury counties’ school systems in its appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission, filed last week.

In letters attached to the appeal applications, American Classical board member Dolores Gresham — a former state senator — called the Maury charter approval process “illegitimate” and criticized the Madison board for a “lack of integrity in the review process.”

Both letters contain similar language and phrasing. There is also a spelling error where the school uses its Madison County proposed school abbreviation on its Maury school’s application. On a previous application, American Classical used Montgomery County in places it meant to put Madison County.

Gresham’s letters follow an escalation in American Classical’s rhetoric toward the local charter school approval process. Following denials in July, American Classical’s public relations firm Rotunda Public Affairs and Gresham sent press releases criticizing each school system’s academic testing numbers.

The nine-member charter commission appointed by Gov. Bill Lee will have to hold at least one public hearing on each school before deciding whether to overturn the local school boards. The charter commission often, but does not always, overturn local denials.

Based on past precedent, the charter commission will hold those hearings in September or October and decide later in the year.

Last year, Madison, Montgomery and Rutherford counties school boards denied American Classical’s charter applications. The decisions came after a video surfaced showing Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn saying teachers were trained in the “dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges” while on a stage with Gov. Bill Lee.

Lee linked Hillsdale College and American Classical Education during his 2022 State of State speech when he announced the charter network was coming to Tennessee.

In 2022, American Classical initially appealed the local denials but backed out of the process before the charter commission could make a ruling.

American Classical applied for charters in Madison, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson and Rutherford counties this year. The Rutherford school board was the only county to approve the school at the local level.

American Classical decided not to appeal the denials in Montgomery and Robertson.

Schools in Need of Staff (Press Release)

Although they are in a much better position in terms of staffing than the last two years, Maury County Schools are still looking to fill a number of positions. They are in need of teachers…especially math and special education teachers, school nutrition associates, and bus drivers. Don’t have your CDL? Training will be provided if you do not currently have your CDL license. For more information on job openings and how to apply, visit

Antonucci’s Opening (WKOM Audio 2:00)

A new Italian grab-and-go eatery in Spring Hill held a ribbon cutting yesterday. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by Antonucci’s to see what they have to offer…

Women in Business Lunch (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance and the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, August 30th for a Women in Business Lunch featuring Executive Leadership Coach and Consultant, Chandra Jarrett.

With a rich background in engineering spanning over 15 years in Corporate America and over two decades in the not-for-profit sector, Chandra brings a unique blend of technical and humanitarian insights to the table.

She has dedicated her career to helping individuals and teams unlock their untapped potential and discover their own unique leadership voice. Leveraging a range of tools, technology, assessments, and processes, Chandra helps improve communication, align visions, enhance execution, and boost organizational performance. Her passion lies in liberating leaders, with a vision to empower them to liberate others.

During this lunch event, Chandra will delve into the transformative 'Know Yourself to Lead Yourself' tool designed to help attendees understand our inherent strengths, recognize areas of growth, and develop the skills to become effective leaders in respective fields.

Join Maury Alliance at this exciting event to gain valuable insights and connect with like-minded women. Secure your spot today! Tickets are $20 and include lunch. Visit for more information.

Doctor Hits Milestone (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) offers its patients the latest in surgical technology, and a surgeon on the medical staff has reached an impressive milestone with one of the hospital’s robotic systems.

 Chad M. Moss, M.D., a specialist in general, robotic and breast surgery, performed his 1,000th procedure at MRMC with the da Vinci Xi Surgical System on Monday. He’s the first surgeon to perform 1,000 procedures at MRMC with the da Vinci robotic platform.

 “I’m excited to reach this milestone,” said Dr. Moss, who is a partner with The Surgical Clinic in Columbia and a medical staff officer at MRMC. “The da Vinci Xi robotic platform has been a great tool for us. It allows surgeons to be more precise and perform procedures in a less invasive way, which can lead to a faster recovery time for our patients. The robotic team at Maury Regional has embraced the technology and helped create a safe, efficient process that allows me to bring the best care to my patients.”

 Dr. Moss joined the medical staff at Maury Regional Health in 2014. He is one of 12 surgeons who perform robotic-assisted procedures with the da Vinci Xi at MRMC.

 The da Vinci Xi, which was first implemented at MRMC in 2018, is the latest generation of the da Vinci system. It utilizes advanced robotic, computer and optical technologies, including a high-definition and highly magnified 3D vision system and mechanical wrists that bend and rotate to mimic the movements of the human wrist.

 The system allows surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures in the areas of urology, gynecology, thoracic and general surgery. Benefits of the minimally invasive approach for patients typically include minimal blood loss and a faster recovery time.

 Edward Kightlinger, a patient who underwent hernia surgery with Dr. Moss, said he was thrilled with recovery following the procedure aided by the da Vinci. The retired naval lieutenant commander was back to his normal active lifestyle a few weeks following surgery.

 “The process was flawless from beginning to end, and the staff was fantastic and informative,” Kightlinger said. “I was up and moving about quickly, and I had no pain.”

 For more information about the da Vinci Xi Surgical System and the surgical services provided at MRMC, visit

In other Maury Regional news, Dr. John Forstall recently joined Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Pulmonary and Critical Care practice. He joins the growing team of 11 providers.

 Dr. Forstall received his medical degree from Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dothan, Alabama. He then went on to complete a residency and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. He is board certified in internal medicine and pulmonary medicine.

 MRMG Pulmonary and Critical Care is in suite 503 of the Maury Regional Medical Center Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. For more information, call 931.490.7775 or visit

Joey’s Italian Ice (MainStreetMaury)

Joe Curry wanted to bring a little piece of home with him when he decided to open up Joey’s Italian Ices, a new Italian Ice and dessert shop which sits right on the square in downtown Columbia.

Originally from Long Island, Curry and his wife Kristen moved to Columbia a year and a half ago with the intention of starting a business.

“When we came to visit we fell in love with downtown, so we were trying to find something that would fit down here,” Curry said, who owns the business with his wife.

“When we were thinking through what wasn’t here, we thought of Italian Ice,” he said of the treat, which he and his wife grew up eating. “It’s kind of like something that’s on every corner, where we’re from.”

The ices are made without any high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or dyes.

“A lot of people came up to us and asked if we had dyes in it because their kids had dye allergies,” Curry said.

“I really never heard about children being allergic to dyes. Once we acquired our machine, we decided we’re not going to use dyes. Once we decided we’re not going to use dyes, we wondered why we would use syrups. If we’re going to use natural flavor, we might as well go all out and do dairy-free.”

In addition to Italian Ice, Joey’s also serves soft-serve ice cream, creme Italian Ices and water ices. Over 15 options are dairy-free, fat-free and gluten-free.

“Even the creme ice we make with an oat cream, so they are still dairy-free at the base, but the ingredients may have some of the allergies,” Curry said.

Located at 812 South Main St, the shop is open Monday-Thursday from noon-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from noon-10 p.m. Sunday hours are from noon-8 p.m.

CSCC Graduates EMS Students (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College recently recognized 11 emergency medical technicians and 22 paramedics upon completion of their programs during the Summer 2023 EMS Pinning ceremony held in the Cherry Theater.


“EMS Academy faculty are exceptional at producing competent practitioners and I am thankful for the work they do for our students each day,” said Greg Johnson, Columbia State EMS Academy program director. “We are also fortunate to have an incredible group of clinical partners that pour into our students on each clinical experience they attend. The EMS Academy at Columbia State continues to deliver an outstanding job at readying practitioners each semester for the communities in our service area.”

Summer 2023 EMT completers achieved a 100% first-attempt pass rate for the national registry. The success of these students is phenomenal when compared to a national average first-attempt pass rate of 70% as of last year. The paramedic class also had a 100% first-attempt pass rate on the paramedic national registry psychomotor exam, compared to the national average of 72% as of last year.

“This makes several cohorts in a row with a 100% first-attempt pass rate on the EMT National Registry cognitive as well as two paramedic cohorts within the last three years with a 100% first-attempt pass rate on the Paramedic National Registry cognitive exam,” Johnson said. “These student cohorts continue to show the quality of a Columbia State education.”

EMT certificate completers also have the option to pursue the General Technology Associate of Applied Science degree by combining coursework from two certificates with general education courses to complete a personalized degree program, of which nine graduates completed.

An EMT provides basic life support at the site of illnesses and injuries, assisting with transport to the hospital. Paramedics are health care professionals trained in the advanced skills needed for rendering care to the critically ill or injured patient in the pre-hospital, industry or emergency room setting. Paramedics perform all of the procedures described for EMTs, plus give oral or intravenous medications, read EKGs (electrocardiograms), do endotracheal intubations and use additional complex equipment.

Each program provides students with the necessary didactic and practical training to perform life-saving skills. Additionally, students learn to work alone, as well as in a squad-based (team) environment.

“These new EMTs have demonstrated the ability to achieve academically and become valued emergency services team members,” said Dr. Kae Fleming, Columbia State dean of the Health Sciences Division. “Being an EMT from Columbia State is a source of pride! In the paramedic program, highly motivated students and exceptional faculty spend an intense year together, ensuring completers are paramedics that everyone is thankful to see in response to emergency situations. The program’s effectiveness is confirmed by a 100% first-attempt pass rate for the national registry and 100% in-field employment rates.”

Students who complete the one semester EMT-Basic certificate are promptly hired for entry-level EMT positions and have the option to continue at Columbia State for Advanced EMT and Paramedic credentials. Students who complete the 12-month Paramedic certificate are in high-demand for exciting positions with great earnings potential. 

For more information on attending Columbia State as an Emergency Medical Services student, please visit or email

AAHSMC Hosts Smithsonian Exhibition (Press Release)

The African American Heritage Society of Maury County is excited to have been one of six organizations statewide selected to host the Smithsonian exhibit, “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.” The exhibit is a part of Museum on Main Street program, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and Humanities Tennessee. Voices and Votes is based on a major exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History called American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith.

This traveling exhibit, presents a visual and interactive history of democracy. Across generations, visitors will see diverse and inspiring Americans who faced challenges and were determined to have their voices heard. Our democracy demands action, reaction, vision, and revision…every one in every community is part of this ever-evolving story. “While the Smithsonian exhibit will focus on the national stories of democracy in America, a companion exhibit, Voices of Maury County, developed by the Society will focus on some of the citizens who fought for democracy in this county,” said Jo Ann McClellan, the Society’s president

“Since the Society does not, yet, have a museum space, we are very excited to host this exhibit at the Maury County Public Library,” said McClellan. The exhibit will open August 19 and close on October 1, 2023. This will be free and open to the public.

About the African American Heritage Society of Maury County

Founded in 2012, the African American Heritage Society of Maury County is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization. It is a membership-based organization and is open to anyone interested in learning about the history of African Americans in Maury County.

Learn more about the African American Heritage Society of Maury County by visiting

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

Mr. Clifford Eugene Johnson, Jr., 72, employee of Kemper Insurance in Jackson, Tennessee, died Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at the residence of his daughter, Regan (Brian) Hartley. Funeral services for Mr. Johnson will be conducted Saturday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Jones Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home

…And now, news from around the state…

Music City Tourism (Tennessean)

Nashville's tourism industry raked in the cash this summer with several highly-attended music events and city-wide celebrations, according to new estimates by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.

CMA Fest topped the list for the most visitor spending, bringing in an estimated $74.7 million during its four-day run.

“The summer was chock-full of live music and brought visitors from all over the world to Music City, helping bolster the city’s economic activity,” said Deana Ivey, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp (NCVC).

“The city welcomed stadium tours and music events that drove hotel demand to new heights, along with visitation and exposure for the city.”

CMA Fest 2023 continued its streak as Nashville's largest annual tourism event. It produces the highest level of direct spending of any annual tourism event in the city, year after year. This year's 50th anniversary celebration was no different.

According to the NCVC, this year's fest saw the number of hotel rooms sold increase 3% from last year. Hotel revenue also increased 7.4% with an average length of stay of 4.9 nights.

Visitors came from all over the country, but the top states were Florida, New York, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio. Sixty-one percent of visitors to this year's fest said it was their first time, and 94% of the total attendees surveyed said they would return in 2024.

Nashville's Independence Day celebration was also a hit for out-of-town guests. The party brought in $11.6 million in estimated direct visitor spending, an increase from 2022's $11 million. The event also drove downtown hotel demand with an 8% increase over last year.

Out of the 250,000 attendees, 82.7% were visitors.

The nationwide concert event of the summer brought in a pile of money and skyrocketing hotel room demand for the entire weekend of shows.

Taylor Swift, who credits Nashville as her musical hometown, graced the stage at Nissan Stadium in early May for three nights, generating a total audience of nearly 212,000 people in total (and that's not counting those who watched the show from the pedestrian bridge).

Swift also set a record for the most attendees at Nissan Stadium for a single event during each night of her 3-day tour, ending with 71,000 fans on Sunday.

Hotel occupancy was a whopping 96% on May 6, and the three days combined brought in an estimated $2.2 million in hotel taxes alone.

Ed Sheeran swooped in a couple months after the Eras Tour and broke Nissan Stadium's attendance record once again, with 73,874 fans on July 22.

Sheeran also performed at the Ryman Auditorium during his visit to Nashville.

The 2023 NHL Draft was one of the high-profile summer sporting events this year, hosted on Broadway and at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville's NHL Draft was the most viewed on record, averaging 681,000 spectators, according to ESPN. Average viewership increased 49% compared to last year, and total viewership peaked at 903,000 viewers.

The NHL Awards averaged 247,000 viewers on TNT. It was the largest audience for the event since 2017.

Nashville also served as the backdrop of SEC Media Days. The top players of Division 1 college football from across the south gathered in Nashville for nationally televised events across media platforms.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

This Saturday will be a day for bringing the kids to the park, with Columbia Main Street's Farm Fresh Market, as well as games, fitness and more.

The weekend at the park, 102 Riverside Drive, kicks off at 4 p.m. Friday with Fitpad Fridays, hosted by the Armory Recreation and Fitness Center. Guests will be able to learn about the outdoor exercise machinery located across the street from the main park. Fitpad Fridays will run through 5:30 p.m.

Starting at 8 a.m. Saturday will be a special Carrot & Kale's Kid Zone at the Farmer's Fresh Market, which runs from 8 a.m. to noon. The Kid Zone will feature a special "veggie-themed" area for youngsters that includes games, balloon animals, treats and more through 11 a.m.

Also on Saturday, Columbia Parks & Recreation will host Playground Olympics from 3-5 p.m. The event will feature several events and age groups, such as fastest on the monkey bars, longest hang time and more. For more information about Playground Olympics, call (931) 560-1449.


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