top of page

Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 23, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Ogles and Others Vow To Fight Human Trafficking (

Tennessee U.S. Representative and former Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles joined other lawmakers in Nashville Tuesday afternoon in a promise to “fight like hell” against human trafficking.

Ogles and members of the Tennessee General Assembly joined the Tennessee Faith and Freedom Coalition to “declare war on the modern-day slavery of child and human trafficking and the renewed mutual quest to save children and women.” The press conference came on day two of the special legislative session tackling public safety.

Before Ogles took the podium, House majority leader Rep. William Lamberth (R-Portland) told reporters that for years, the General Assembly has increased penalties for human trafficking and increased penalties on those who abuse children.

“One of the things we have not done enough of, is drag this issue out into the light,” Lamberth said. “Have the TBI and law enforcement work together with the legislature to identify every single community where this is happening and then allocate needs towards that.”

Lawmakers have now filed SB7088/HB7041, which would require the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to submit a report on child and human trafficking crimes and trends across the state to the governor and General Assembly. Lamberth called it a “step in the right direction.”

Congressman Ogles then commended Gov. Bill Lee and the General Assembly for making anti-human trafficking a priority, stating they have a “legal obligation” to take action.

“We have a legal obligation to take action. We have a moral and ethical obligation to take action,” Ogles said. “But we have a biblical obligation to take action. We are to protect the least of these.”

Whaley Death (MainStreetMaury)

Lance Corporal Joseph Whaley, a 2022 graduate of Columbia Central High School, was killed during a nighttime live-fire training exercise at Camp Pendleton last week. 

Whaley was in his fourth week of training in the 13-week-long Basic Reconnaissance Course. 

The exact circumstances that led to his death have not been revealed, and the incident at the night live-fire training exercise is under investigation. Marine Corps Training Command said it is in “full cooperation” with the probe.

“An investigation remains ongoing into the matter and the command is in full cooperation,” a statement reads. “The family and loved ones have our deepest condolences as we continue to work with them during this difficult time. There is no additional information available, pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

According to the Marine Corps, Whaley’s military training included rifleman training at the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry East, at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Recruit Training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. At the time of his death he was listed as an infantry student.

Whaley was a lauded member and co-captain of the Columbia Central football team during his high school career and celebrated his 20th birthday on Aug. 9. A moment of silence was held ahead of the Lions’ contest on Friday night to honor the fallen Marine. 

He had been awarded the National Defense Medal.

Ella J Market Place (WKOM Audio 2:00)

A new boutique market place opened yesterday in downtown Columbia. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by the ribbon cutting ceremony for Ellen J Market Place to learn more about what the business has to offer…

Sleep Inn Variance Denied (MainStreetMaury)

The Spring Hill Board of Zoning and Appeals denied a variance to the designated number of parking spots required at a future Sleep Inn hotel, planned for Kedron Road. 

Currently, the city’s Unified Development Code requires two parking spaces per room in the hotel, which comes to 96 total spaces. The applicant, T-Square Engineering, proposed just 66 parking spaces.

“The parking reduction would take place on the front side of the building to be constructed on the site,” city staff report reads. “Staff finds the request not consistent with the UDC and does believe that the proposal will have a significant detrimental impact on the public good or any of the surrounding property.”

Mayor Jim Hagaman made the motion to deny the variance.

“There is no hardship to be found based on the submitted documents,” he said. 

Citizen feedback both online and during the approval process have been mostly negative toward a hotel being built in what is designated as a downtown area. Christie Smith, a nearby resident to the property, read excerpts from the city’s Spring Hill Rising 2040 plan detailing the type of businesses and buildings the city planned for the area. 

She then spoke about the potential for the property were a hotel not considered at the site. The property sits adjacent to Home Depot and behind First Farmer’s Bank across the street from Best Western.

“Envision on this property – instead of a hotel – a Spring Hill city center market,” she said. “One building, open flow, from one end to the other. One that gives nods to the roots of Spring Hill by supporting local farmers, business and artists. 

“This is the type of place that embodies the small-town feel and culture that the Spring Hill Rising plan has laid out to protect.”

Unfortunately, Austin Brass of the city’s staff noted that while the plot is inside the designated area, it is zoned C-4, which would allow the hotel to be built by right without approval from the commission if all other requirements are met. 

It is unknown whether the developer intends to appeal the decision to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Texas Roadhouse Supports MCAS (MauryCountySource)

You’re invited to Texas Roadhouse in Spring Hill on Thursday, August 24th to support the shelter and Friends of Maury County Animal Services who will receive 10% of your total food purchase between 3 – 8 pm.

Think of all the good that MCAS can do with that 10%!

Just show a flyer, which you can download at to your server, and they take care of the rest!

We’ll see you at Texas Roadhouse on Thursday!

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

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. Want to be a bus driver, but don’t have your CDL? No problem! Training will be provided. For more information on job openings and how to apply, visit

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.

CMYC Applications Coming (MauryCountySource)

Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council (CMYC) applications for the 2023-24 school year are now open. The CMYC is open to all high school students located within Maury County, public, private, and home-schooled. The 2023-24 term will begin in September 2023 and conclude in May 2024.

Mayor Chaz Molder stated, “The Mayor's Youth Council has quicky established itself as one of the more important initiatives we have at City Hall. Not only does it bring youth inside our buildings to learn about important city issues, but I've seen it first-hand plant a seed in these students of love and pride for their community. I look forward to welcoming the upcoming class and would encourage all high school students to apply for what promises to be our best year yet!”

The CMYC’s goal is to foster leadership and community involvement among Columbia’s diverse high-school population and to encourage students to become further interested in local government. The CMYC is composed of Maury County high school students who value academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership. Selected students will have an opportunity to actively participate in various activities and programs, including team building, working with the Mayor and other City officials, addressing issues affecting youth and the community, leading and volunteering in community projects, and learning about City departments and local businesses.

The CMYC members will be selected based on an application process that is made available to all Maury County high school students. The application process will close on August 25th. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by September 1st. CMYC meetings will be held monthly, in addition to community and volunteer projects.

CMYC applications can be found at

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.

Tennessee Reconnect (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host virtual and in-person Tennessee Reconnect information sessions during the months of July and August.


Tennessee Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship that provides free tuition for adults to attend a community college. The initiative is designed to help adults enter college to gain new skills, advance in the workplace and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or credential.


“We are thankful to be able to provide the local community with easy access to information about Tennessee Reconnect by hosting information sessions,” said Joni Allison, Columbia State coordinator of Adult Student Services. “Tennessee Reconnect provides a wonderful opportunity for eligible adults to retool their skills and attend Columbia State tuition-free.”


To be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, students must meet the following requirements:

Haven’t earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Have been a Tennessee resident for at least one year.

Complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid and be determined as an independent student.

Be admitted to Columbia State and enroll in a degree or certificate program.

Must attend at least part-time (6 credit hours).


To view the full list of steps to apply, or to sign up for an information session, please visit


August 24 2 – 3 p.m.


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. 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…

Tennessee Education to Get Letter Grade (Tennessean)

Every public school in Tennessee will receive an A-F letter grade later this year, and leaders are looking for public input on what those grades should mean.

The letter grades, required by a Tennessee law passed in 2016 that was delayed by testing issues and the coronavirus pandemic, will go out with the annual Tennessee Department of Education report card. The latest report cards illustrate performance on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the highest, for categories like achievement, growth, absenteeism, graduation rates and other factors.

The new grades are expected to be released in November.

"The state’s letter grade legislation is intended to provide a snapshot of how each school performed during the previous academic year and compare those results over time," the state education department said in a news release.

The department will provide a series of town halls and small group conversations open to the public, along with opportunities to to engage on social media and submit written comments. The goal is to discuss the best way to measure school performance and to create transparency in what the new letter grades mean.

"Tennesseans deserve an accountability system that produces clear information about how our schools are performing so they can best engage to support their student’s education," the release said. "Similarly, as students are already returning to classrooms following summer break, Tennessee schools and districts need clear information on how they will be measured this fall."

The department is looking for feedback from the public, and especially parents, students and those who work in education. Comments from the public on what their priorities are for measuring school performance and progress can be submitted until Sept. 15 to

You can also learn more via the department's Facebook page at

“Whether you are a student, parent, teacher, policymaker or an interested community member, school letter grades will empower all Tennesseans with the information they need to support K-12 public education and our local schools,” education commissioner Lizette Reynolds said in the release. “I encourage all Tennesseans to join us at a town hall or submit a public comment to share what you want to know about schools in your community and how they are serving your kids.”

The first few town halls were hosted earlier this month, with more to come. You can find links to the livestream and Facebook events for each event at

Thursday, Sept. 7: South Central

Location: Shelbyville Central High School (401 Eagle Blvd, Shelbyville, TN 37160)

Time: 5:30-7 p.m. CT

BNA Expansion (MauryCountySource)

The Nashville Airport reports it was the fastest-growing airport in the country the past two years.

And next month, six new gates will open which the airport hopes will serve as a growing gateway to Europe.

"We designed it to be warm and welcoming like Tennessee," said airport President & CEO Doug Kreulen. "With wood tones, but also the open air like our national parks, so lots of skylights."

If you haven't been to the airport recently, you might be one of the few. A record 22 million passengers traveled through BNA in the last year.

"It's just a whole new experience," Kreulen said.

Crews have been working on different phases of two multi-billion dollar expansions for six years. And they're getting ready to unveil the latest completed project September 27.

"We'll have 15 new restaurants and retail to my right, and to my left we’ll have six international gates to receive people coming in for overseas flights," Kreulen showed our cameras.

Nashville now boasts 99 non-stop destinations. That's more than double most mid-size airports.

And BNA hopes the new International Arrivals Facility will help Nashville connect to airports much larger.

"Frankfurt and Paris are probably our two top destinations we're close to hopefully securing one of these days," Kreulen said. "As soon as some of the airlines receive some of their new jets, Nashville's right at the top of the list."

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Lana Del Rey announced a tour that kicks off in Franklin.

The “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd” promotional tour will stop at FirstBank Amphitheater on Thursday, September 14th.

Tickets go on sale on Friday, August 25th at 10 am. Find tickets at


bottom of page