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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 22, 2023

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

We start with local news…

River Rescue (MauryCountySource)

On August 13, Columbia Fire & Rescue responded to a call to rescue two young sisters stranded on the banks of the Duck River.

CFR deployed Marine 1 to retrieve and return the young ladies and their inflatable raft safely to the boat ramp across the river.

This was a multi-agency operation with assistance from Maury County Fire Department, Maury Regional Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and the Maury County Sheriff’s Department.

Columbia Fire & Rescue reminds people to practice water safety. Always check the weather, wear a life jacket, and do not attempt to cross a body of water or swim in rapid currents.

Local Marine Dies (Tennessean)

A Columbia man was identified as the Marine killed during a live-fire training event at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California.

Joseph Whaley was in his fourth week of a 13-week Basic Reconnaissance Course when he died Thursday during a nighttime live-fire exercise at the sprawling base in San Diego County, the military said in a statement.

Military officials did not immediately release the circumstances surrounding Whaley's death and said the investigation is ongoing. The military said it was providing support to Whaley's family and peers.

Whaley graduated from Columbia Central High School in 2022, according to news reports.

Hickman Gas Explosion (WPLN)

A gas pipeline station exploded in Middle Tennessee, sending one person to the hospital Friday morning. 

Anyone within a one-mile radius of the pipeline facility in Hickman County was evacuated, and authorities have set up temporary shelters. 

Natural gas pipelines transport fracked methane, a greenhouse gas that is highly flammable and can act as an asphyxiant. Prolonged exposure to methane gas can cause permanent brain damage and death. 

To use gas for energy, either electricity or heating and cooking in homes, gas is extracted from beneath Earth’s surface and transported along pipelines. Gas is pressurized at stations periodically along the path of a pipeline. The explosion on Friday occurred at a pressure station on Highway 48 in Nunnelly, about an hour southwest of Nashville. 

The pipeline is part of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which is owned by Kinder Morgan, the fossil fuel company building a pipeline for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s new gas plant in Cumberland. The new pipeline will run through Stewart, Houston and Dickson counties and connect to this same system, which covers more than 11,000 miles from Boston to the Gulf of Mexico.

New School Opens in Spring Hill (TheNewsTN)

Spring Hill's newest school, Amanda H. North Elementary, celebrated its grand opening on Monday, Aug. 14, welcoming students into the grounds for the first time. 

The school, which is located on Wilkes Lane, is named after Williamson County' first African American principal, Amanda North, who began her teaching career in 1934 at Boxy Valley School, later serving as principal at Thompson’s Station’s grade 1-8 African American school and teaching adult education classes at Natchez High School.

"We cannot believe that we're all going to finally be together under one roof, so we plan to celebrate big," Amanda North principal Jill Justus said on the school's opening day.

The Williamson County Board of Education unanimously approved the name of the elementary school during their Feb. 20, 2023 meeting. 

 “I am delighted that the Williamson County Schools Board honored Mrs. Amanda North by naming the school after her,” Williamson County Historian Rick Warwick told The News in February. 

African American Heritage Society of Williamson County President Alma McLemore called North an “education icon” and said that the announcement was “a great moment and a great time in our community and our country's history.”

Maury Regional Gets “Best of Babies” (Press Release)

The first baby was born at Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) on Dec. 17, 1953. Since then, thousands of babies have come into the world at the medical center, including a record number this summer.

 In June, MRMC set its single-month record with 176 newborn deliveries, culminating in an annual record of 1,731 babies born in fiscal year 2023.

 The record numbers are a result of new families in the community choosing to trust MRMC’s nationally recognized childbirth services, according to Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD.

 “At Maury Regional Medical Center, we’re honored to be the place in our community where life begins,” Dr. Chaney said. “Our childbirth team does an excellent job of ensuring babies, mothers and their families receive the best possible care during their life-changing stay with us. We’ll continue to offer that same level of care as we grow alongside our community.”

 While the medical center reached record numbers in June, the deliveries haven’t slowed much in the subsequent months. In July, 158 babies were delivered, and August projects to have another high number, though likely not to the same level as in June.

 “This is a record we’re happy to break, because we take pride when our community entrusts us to provide the best care before, during and after delivery,” said Christina Lannom, DO, chief medical officer for Maury Regional Health.

 MRMC offers an entire floor dedicated to childbirth and gynecological care as well as eight specialists in obstetrics and gynecology on the medical staff. Additional childbirth services include a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), breastfeeding support, newborn care and expectant parent education.

 MRMC has been recognized with a “BEST for Babies” award from the Tennessee Hospital Association and Tennessee Department of Health for four consecutive years. The organization also earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Perinatal Care Certification.

 Learn more about the childbirth services offered at Maury Regional Health at

Blood Assurance Giving Back to Schools (MainStreetMaury)

As the 2023-2024 school year gets underway, many area high schools will have extra funds on hand thanks to Blood Assurance.

The community blood center announced that through its Heroes Grant Program, 53 high schools in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama will share a portion of $52,500, ranging from $500-$2,000 each.

In the Maury County area, Spring Hill High School received $1,000; and Mount Pleasant High School received $500.

The recipients are schools that held blood drives with the nonprofit during the 2022-23 academic year. The amount of money a school receives is based on several factors, including how many blood drives it hosted during the year, and the number of blood units collected. After receiving the grants, administrators from each school will determine where the money should be allocated.

“Blood Assurance receive approximately 15 percent of our blood from high school student donations. We know that these students are the future of blood donation, and we hope to educate and inform them of the vital need for blood,” said Linda Hisey, Blood Assurance’s community engagement and development administrator.

The Heroes Grant Program is funded through proceeds from various events that take place throughout the year, such as golf tournaments and benefit concerts.

“Blood Assurance is incredibly thankful for all of the philanthropic support we’ve received from the community,” said Hisey. “Anyone attending one of these events understands the importance of seeing the leaders of tomorrow excel in school.”

Since its inception in late 2021, the Heroes Grant Program has raised nearly $102,000 for dozens of high schools.

Students or staff interested in hosting a blood drive at their school this year should contact Kim Murphy at (423) 356-4368 or

Fire Explorers (MauryCountySource)

Are You Interested in a Career in the Fire Service?

Columbia Fire & Rescue’s Explorer Program is for young men and women who are between the ages of 14 – 20 years old interested in learning more about the fire service.

The primary goal of this program is to provide young adults with the opportunity to explore a potential career in Firefighting/Emergency Medical Services and challenge them to become responsible citizens and community leaders.

Link for more info and sign up:

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

Axe Throwing Comes to Columbia (CDH)

You won't have to travel to the Highlands of Scotland or the halls of Valhalla to enjoy a modern trend dating back centuries, if not millennia — drinking beer and throwing axes.

In fact, all you have to do is grab a few friends and head down to the former Frank's Bait Shop on 903 Riverside Drive to discover Columbia's newest hotspot for a weekend outing, Muletown Bearded Axe. The company, which opened in July, was founded by Josh Ranes and his family, who purchased the property two years ago.

As a former member of the U.S. Army and an MRI & CT Tech, Ranes was looking for a change of pace, not to mention a job he could be happy with. The whole idea of starting Columbia's first axe-throwing business, he said, came about over a family dinner one night.

"I figured I could add value to my business by focusing on different things, like investing in my own business. I have great tenants here, and it makes my life so much easier, Josh Ranes said.

"We were originally looking to do something similar to Frank's, but when I started crunching the numbers it just didn't make sense. When we sat down for a family dinner about a year ago, we were discussing what to do, not just with a higher profit margin, but a way to give back to the community, and so that's how we came up with axe throwing."

And while the trend of axe-throwing bars and restaurants have become trendy over the last few years, the Ranes wanted to bring something a little bit different, something more than your average spot. This includes offering customers several different gaming options, which range from traditional targets to Connect 4, zombie hunting, even the ability to upload a photograph from Facebook.

The latter option, Ranes said, can be a lot of fun with friends and family, or maybe if there is someone out there you don't necessarily like and just need to take some aggression.

"We're going to keep this interactive, and there are a few other games we'd like to explore," Ranes said. "You can load a photo of whoever you love or hate, and it's all in good fun. We just want people to have a good time here, because that's what it's all about."

Axe throwing can also serve a wide range of purposes, which can be therapeutic, promotes good team building for employee gatherings, or can be just a lot of fun with loved ones. Corey and Kelly Larabie of Columbia, for example, chose Muletown Bearded Axe as a great spot to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

"I think this is fun, and I would definitely come back to do this, because a lot of times the only option is to go somewhere and drink," Kelly Larabie said. "There also aren't a lot of options for kids to do that doesn't involve going to a bar. And the games up there just make it so much fun and interactive."

Since opening in July, Muletown Bearded Axe has experienced a steady first few weeks of success, while also setting its sights on the future, such as acquiring a full-time beer license, which Ranes said will go into effect later this month.

There are also plans to expand the property, as the Ranes own not just the former bait shop, but some of its surrounding properties and units. This includes space for a community garden and possible dog park, as well as a place for local food trucks to park weekly.

"We've got most of our units here remodeled, and over the next year-and-a-half we're going to redo all of the asphalt on the property, put a community garden and community park for people who live hear," Ranes said. "We are going to re-gate the back and redo the exterior, and also have landscaping. Once that comes together, I'll be looking at investing in more properties, but want to keep everything in Columbia and keep giving back to the community."

There are also plans for fundraisers, hosting special events for first responders and other ways to use the business as a tool to make the community better.

"We want to do something with the police department, and also the schools to do fundraisers," Ranes said. "All the money we make except for merchandise and drinks will be made out in a check to them. I want to try to keep everything in Columbia that I can, and so far we've made a lot of great relationships. It's really come together."

Muletown Bearded Axe's current operating hours are 4-10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 2-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. For booking, visit

Ranes said booking ahead of time is always a good idea, since stations and times are limited. The cost for games is $25 per person, per hour, with 10% discounts awarded to all military, first responders, law enforcement and Maury County Public School staff.

The business is open to all ages, though children between ages of 10 and 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and will be under close supervision by Muletown Bearded Axe staff. Axe enthusiasts, Ranes said, can even bring in their own axe for throwing, given it falls under the proper regulations of being no larger than 10 inches in length, and that it's built sturdy enough to withstand an hour of throwing.

"We have to make sure they aren't to big, small or dangerous, and if it's razor-sharp it's not going to stick," Ranes said. "You can play if you are ages 10 and up, but with the young ones we have someone stand back so they can be supervised, that they aren't running around or doing anything dangerous. Safety is number one here, and believe it or not some of the [kids] throw better than the adults."

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.

9/11 Memorial (Press Release)

Join the City of Columbia and Columbia Fire and Rescue as they conduct their annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. Located at Firefighters Park at 1000 S. Garden Street at 8:00am on Monday September 11th, local leaders will honor the brave men and women of emergency services. The public is invited to attend.

Maury County Fair (MauryCountySource)

The Maury County Fair will return on Thursday, August 31st and run until Monday, September 4th, 2023.

All the family fun and entertainment you love will soon be back!

This year, the fair festivities begins with a Rodeo, taking place on Thursday of Fair Week. Several other popular events will be happening like the junk car jump and run and the Saturday motocross races.

In addition to the back arena fun, all your favorite animal shows and exhibitor competitions are back this year too! The kids zone will see a variety of live, exotic animals and science shows that will amaze kids of every age.

For more on the fair and updates, visit

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

Mr. Gerald Rolf Martin, 93, retired from Monsanto, died Friday, August 18th at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday at 1:00 P.M. at Riverside United Methodist Church. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols. Burial will be at Polk Memorial Gardens.

Mr. Roger Anthony Riddle, 67, retired sales manager with Service Partners, died Saturday, August 19th at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be Friday at 1:00 P.M. at Graymere Church of Christ. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 3:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at Graymere Church of Christ.

…And now, news from around the state…

State Offers Hunting/Fishing Workshops (MauryCountySource)

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation, one of the largest and oldest nonprofits dedicated to conserving the state’s wildlife and natural resources, is reconnecting residents with the Tennessee outdoors through its hands-on hunting and fishing workshops. For the remainder of 2023, the Federation has 15 workshops scheduled across the state with six located in Middle Tennessee.

Designed to equip participants with essential skills, these workshops are ideal for becoming a self-reliant hunter or angler. No matter the specific topic, each workshop aims to address some of the biggest challenges faced by novice outdoorsmen and women, such as rules and regulations, access to land, and finding resources through the outdoors community.

“With so much opportunity in the state, we want to empower our participants with the confidence needed to explore any outdoor pursuit they’re interested in,” says Jeb Beasley, Hunting and Fishing Academy manager. “Once they’ve had that first positive experience, we hope it’ll translate into a lifetime passion.”

The workshops are part of Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s Hunting and Fishing Academy, which offers Tennesseans opportunities to expand their knowledge and passion for the outdoors.

In addition to workshops, Hunting and Fishing Academy also provides free virtual classes for those looking to learn new skills and dust off old ones. All virtual classes are free, and anyone who registers will receive a recording of the class afterward. To learn more and sign up visit,

Tax Revenue Up (MainStreetMaury)

Tennessee finished the fiscal year collecting more than $22 billion in taxes and fees, which was $2.5 billion ahead of the state’s original budgeted estimate for the year.

The total was up $1 billion from a year before but growth slowed near the end of the fiscal year.

In July, the state finished $153 million ahead of the budgeted estimate and $46.3 million ahead of last year.

“Annual revenues for fiscal year 2022-2023 exceeded our original budgeted estimates, but totals fell short of the funding board’s revised estimate from last fall,” said Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Jim Bryson. “Although collections were lower, this presents no issue in closing the fiscal year. A combination of expenditure savings and unanticipated surpluses from other state revenue sources will balance the year. Any further concerns will be addressed in our next budget proposal.”

Tennessee ended the fiscal year $252 million behind the revised budgeted totals used in this year’s budget.

The state collected $13.8 billion in sales and used taxes for the fiscal year, nearly $1.5 billion above what was budgeted. In July, sales and use tax collections were $1.2 billion of the $1.7 billion in total collections and sales and use taxes exceeded what was budgeted by $129 million.

“Monthly gains were led by sales tax receipts reflecting June consumer activity and corporate tax payments,” Bryson said. “When combined, all other tax revenues declined compared to July 2022.”

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

Tennessee gas prices moved four cents higher, on average, over last week. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.47 which is 30 cents more expensive than one month ago and three cents more than one year ago.  

“Gas price increases early last week gave way to lower gas prices over the weekend. The state gas price average actually saw a three cent decrease from Thursday to today,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “For this week, drivers should continue to expect volatility in pump prices, especially as we head into peak hurricane season. Pump prices typically increase if a tropical storm threatens refineries in the Gulf Coast – particularly along the Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi coastlines. These refineries are the primary suppliers of gasoline for Tennessee. The extent of price increases varies depending on the severity of the storm and the extent of any damages sustained by the refineries or supply chain.” 

Quick Facts

68% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.50 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $3.24 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.78 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 6th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Regal announced it will once again partner with the Cinema Foundation to celebrate National Cinema Day on Sunday, Aug. 27, at all Regal theatres across the country. The 2023 sequel to last year’s one-day only event will offer $4 tickets to all movies in all formats along with a Regal special $4 small combo concession offer.

National Cinema Day celebrates the power of movies to bring us all together by encouraging guests of all ages to revisit the incomparable theatrical experience. As we come to the end of a summer blockbuster season for the ages, join Regal for a day at the movies where every ticket is only $4, including these premium formats

For additional details or to purchase tickets to this exclusive event, please visit the Regal mobile app or website at


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