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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 25, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Worldwide Stages Seeks Investors (MainStreetMaury)

Spring Hill’s Worldwide Stages, the premier production campus for the world’s entertainment industry, announced this week that it has launched its Regulation A stock offering to raise $75 million to build new soundstages and facilities to support the growing demand for music, TV, film and virtual production in the Middle Tennessee area.

The offering was qualified with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week and allows anyone to now invest in the company. The launch of the Reg A offering was covered by major financial news reports in Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, MarketWatch, Seeking Alpha, MarketsInsider, Morningstar and over 250 other global press outlets.

Worldwide Stages, located in a 320,000-square foot facility in Spring Hill, offers a luxurious and secure environment for A-list entertainers and production companies to rehearse, record, and film. The campus features four soundstages ranging from 3,000 to 21,000 square feet, thousands of square feet of green rooms and production suites, a private 70-seat theater, grand lobbies and atriums for industry events, on-site food and beverage service, on-site industry vendors and over 1,000 parking spaces on 38 acres of beautiful rolling countryside.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the Reg A offering to construct additional soundstages and amenities, as well as to acquire state-of-the-art equipment and technology to enhance its services.

“We are excited to share this opportunity with our community and invite them to join us in our vision of transforming the entertainment production landscape in Nashville and beyond,” said Kelly Frey, CEO of Worldwide Stages. “We believe that our campus provides an unparalleled value proposition for our clients, who can enjoy the convenience, comfort, security and quality of our facilities without compromising on their creative vision.”

Regulation A, or Reg A, is a type of exemption from registration with the SEC that applies to public offerings of securities. Worldwide Stages has chosen to proceed under Tier 2 of Reg A, which allows the company to offer its securities to both accredited and non-accredited investors around the world. The company’s offering circular can be accessed on the SEC’s website.  Individuals interested in investing in Worldwide Stages can visit the company’s investor portal.

Worldwide Stages was founded in 2019 by entertainment industry veterans and its CEO, Kelly Frey, was recently recognized by the Nashville Post as one of the most influential people in Nashville. Since its inception, the company has hosted numerous feature film and TV production companies and music artists on its campus. The new Amazon Studios/Nicole Kidman feature film “Holland, Michigan” was recently shot at Worldwide Stages.

For more information about Worldwide Stages and its Reg A offering, please visit or contact

Senior Centers Get Grant (MainStreetMaury)

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD) recently announced a total of $1 million in grants to senior centers across 82 of the state’s 95 counties: the most in the Commission’s history.

“As the aging population increases in our state, senior centers remain a vital resource to older adults,” said TCAD Executive Director James Dunn. “I commend Governor (Bill) Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for their continued support of these centers, and I’m grateful for the renewed appropriation that will serve to further improve the lives of our older adults from Memphis to Mountain City.”

Assembly allocated funding for senior centers and tasked TCAD with developing a competitive process to distribute the funds.

On July 5, TCAD published its application process for senior centers. Following the deadline, TCAD received 140 full applications: a record number in the grant’s history. After utilizing the competitive, objective criteria, 125 senior centers throughout 82 counties were individually awarded $8,000 grants.

Among the recipients were the Maury County Senior Center branches in both Columbia and Mount Pleasant, the Lawrence County Senior Citizens Club, the Lewis County Senior Center and Marshall County Senior Citizens.

In 2021, TCAD granted 80 grants to senior centers in 59 counties after receiving a $400,000 appropriation. In 2022, the Tennessee General Assembly increased the appropriation to $1 million giving TCAD the ability to award grants to 125 senior centers across 81 counties.

Keenen Honored by 4-H (MSM)

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture recognized some of its top faculty, staff, researchers and Extension experts at UTIA’s annual awards and promotions luncheon on the UTIA campus in Knoxville on Aug. 15, 2023. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute.  

UT Institute of Agriculture Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver hosted the award winners and celebrated their work.

“I’m excited to celebrate the amazing work of our UTIA faculty and staff,” said Carver. “These awards are well-deserved and represent our employees’ steadfast dedication to their work, the Institute and the people of Tennessee. The impact of their accomplishments and passion will be felt for generations to come.” 

Sarah Keenan, Extension agent in Maury County, was the recipient of the G. L. Carter Jr. Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent Award. This award was established by the late Dr. G.L. Carter Jr., whose Extension career began in 1949 in Greene County, where he served as a 4-H agent. He was also a Hamblen County 4-H member. Dr. Carter was the first in his family to graduate from college, later earning master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin. His 44-year career included working as the youth editor of a farm and ranch magazine; serving as a state 4-H staff member in both Tennessee and North Carolina; and helping to create the Journal of Extension, a professional publication for Extension agents and specialists. Dr. Carter has provided the funding through an endowment to recognize an Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent. 

“I am honored and excited to be receiving the G. L. Carter Jr. Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent award,” Keenan said. “Watching young people learn about specific topics and then put that information and those skills into practice is a truly rewarding experience for me. I celebrate this recognition with the many 4-H members, volunteers, staff and community partners who have helped make the Maury County 4-H program a success.” 

Keenan has been with UT Extension for 11 years, starting her career in Sumner County and then moving to Columbia in 2016. Today, she leads 1,500 4-Hers in more than 60 clubs. Among her many accomplishments, Keenan has coached eight 4-H Horse Bowl and Horse Judging teams that have competed at the Southern Regional 4-H Horse Championships, coached three Horse Bowl and Horse Judging teams that have competed at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup and co-coached an FCS Skillathon Team that competed at 4-H Western National Roundup in Denver. Her 2022 Horse Bowl team finished eighth in the country. 

During COVID-19, Keenan worked to ensure her 4-Hers received valuable learning opportunities. In collaboration with an Arapahoe County, Colo., agent, she organized a virtual exchange program between students in each state where they played online games, asked each other questions and shared about their 4-H projects. This program has since been replicated in 15 other states. She also formed a partnership with the Maury County Sheriff’s Department to have school resource officers attend Jr Camp. This model has been duplicated in numerous counties across Tennessee. 

Keenan earned a master’s degree in agriculture from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UTK and a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from Middle Tennessee State University. She received the Vernon and Ida Darter Award in 2022, the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals Distinguished Service Award in 2020 and the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals Achievement in Service Award in 2018.

Watershed Theater Production (Press Release)

Watershed Public Theatre announced that the first production of their 2023-24 season is the musical Anastasia, created by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally. Six performances will run September 15-24, 2023, at Columbia State’s Cherry Theater.

The stage musical is inspired by the 1997 animated movie of the same name and the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who was rumored to have disappeared during the fall of the Russian Imperial Romanov family. The story follows amnesiac orphan Anya who is looking for answers about her past, and the con men she meets who convince her that she could be the long lost Duchess Anastasia.

Spring Hill resident McKenna Steel, who recently appeared on the WPT stage as Mercutia in Romeo & Juliet, is taking on the lead role. “Anastasia’s story is beautiful and I love being able to bring her to life on the stage,” said Steel. “She exudes faith, hope and determination in the darkest of moments, something I think we all could learn from.”

“This production sets a company record for the most artists we have employed for a single project, confirming Watershed Public Theatre’s commitment to growing the arts community and supporting local artists,” noted WPT Executive Director Kate Foreman. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the talent and dedication of the team working on this elaborate production. Director Payton McCarthy has worked with WPT to assemble an incredible group of designers, instrumentalists, dancers and performers who are collaborating to bring this beautiful story to life.”

Performances are September 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:00 pm, September 17 and 24 at 3:00 pm. The production is hosted at Cherry Theater, located inside Hickman Building at Columbia State Community College, 1665 Hampshire Pike, Columbia. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for senior adults and $15 for students/children, available for purchase on Watershed’s website ( or in person at the performance.

June Lake Interchange Delayed (TDOT Press Release)

Continued delays in the project schedule of the I-65/June Lake Interchange in Spring Hill have caused the anticipated completion date to be pushed to late spring of 2024.


The original completion date was set for the summer of 2023. It was pushed to the winter of 2023 due to permitting and Right of Way delays, but with additional issues in unforeseen weather and unsuitable soil, the project is now expected to be complete spring of next year.


According to the contractor, Bell Construction, various pre-construction activities like acquiring permits and Right of Way acquisitions among other things took longer than expected forcing some construction activities into the wetter, colder months, slowing production and limiting available workdays.


On top of that, the mid-state’s wet summer has contributed to unforeseen soil and material issues, which kept crews from completing mass grading work on time.


The contractor will be assessed $15,000 in liquidated damages for each day past the contract completion date.


Motorists are advised to plan for extra travel time and slow down while in a work zone.

Hospital Expansion (MainStreetMaury)

Maury Regional Medical Center CEO Dr. Martin Chaney gave an update on the center’s $115 million facility improvement plan, which aims to expand access to care as Maury County continues to grow.

The expansion was first announced in June with a ceremony held on the front lawn of Maury Regional.

The plan includes an exterior renovation, two additional floors and an emergency department expansion and renovation, among others.

Speaking to the county’s Health and Environment Committee on Aug. 7, Chaney said two major practice renovations are currently in the works for both a pulmonary practice and OBGYN, which are scheduled for a ribbon cutting in the September-October timeframe.

“This is going to be a significant step up for women’s health in our community,” Chaney said.

“That should be opening up in September and then our pulmonary practice is in October. That one is on the hot seat because we’ve recruited several additional pulmonary critical care specialists.”

Chaney also updated the committee on the progress of the surgery center, which is in the process of expanding.

“We’re still on track. The architects have met with the surgeons and we are finalizing architectural plans and hopefully we’ll be moving on that project by the end of this calendar year with the hope of having it operational next calendar year,” he said.

“Lots of important progress is going on to meet our strategic plan.”

Speaking on the fiscal year, which closed June 30, Chaney said the hospital saw almost 17,000 admissions.

“These are the utilization indicators for last fiscal year,” he said, adding that ER visits topped 61,300, while births saw a 6% increase of 1,700.

“Our Maury Regional Medical clinics see a lot of encounters each year. A recent statistic that was shared with me is that we see over 600 new patients a month in our MRMG clinics. It just speaks to what we want to be and try to be for access to our community,” Chaney said.

Maury Regional’s improvement plan will be implemented over the next 30-36 months.

Funds will come from a number of sources, including a $60 million bond issuance and a $36 million energy as an asset service agreement.

Other sources include a state grant and vendor partnership.

Spring Hill Vintage Fire Truck (CDH)

The City of Spring Hill discussed revisiting its project to restore Spring Hill Fire Department's vintage Fire Belle truck and preserve a piece of the department's history.

Restoration of the antique fire engine, which is a 1957 Ford F-700 truck, was first introduced in 2014. It is now used annually at events, such as leading the Spring Hill Christmas Parade.

Fire Chief Graig Temple said the initial efforts to restore the truck included forming a committee, as well as raising funds via donations.

"They approached several other entities [for funding]. The Spring Hill Historical Commission donated $15,000 to the project, while several local businesses invested a lot of donations, time, effort and energy," Temple said. "This truck is very big in our fire prevention world."

Temple added that during the 2022 Christmas Parade, the truck was discovered to suffer "some engine problems," and that while the 2014 restoration brought the Fire Belle truck back to life in many ways, the work didn't include the vehicle's inner-working mechanics.

"The bearings in the crank case are shot, and the actual crank case is shaken to the point where it is going to fail. It's become very unreliable at this point," Temple said. "At this point, we are at a juncture and need to find funds to fix the engine, which is going to be between $6,000 and $10,000."

Temple, who presented the project to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, said he now seeks guidance and direction on how to secure the needed funding. The options could include money from the city's general fund, or once again taking the donation route, as was done in 2014.

Vice Mayor William Pomeroy asked City Administrator Pam Caskie if the money could come from city tourism funds, which she said could be possible.

"You can use up to 25% of tourism funds on non-tourism activities," Caskie said. "Though you might even stretch this one to be called a 'marketing tool,' and there is an adequate amount of money in that fund that would not impact it. So that's actually a good idea, if you wanted to pursue it."

Alderman Trent Linville asked if the availability of parts for the 66-year-old vehicle would be an issue, or possibly lead to more costs if it were to be custom-built. Temple said the parts needed would not be difficult to find. The tricky part, he said, is locating someone skilled enough to work on vintage engines like this.

Alderman Matt Fitterer said that, having the General Motors Plant nearby, there's always the possibility a candidate could be hired locally, or at least it's worth a shot.

"You could probably find three guys retired from GM that could take care of it on a weekend," Fitterer joked.

Caskie said, if the city were to take the tourism funding route, the Fire Belle Project would appear on the BOMA's September agenda as a resolution.

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

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.

…And now, news from around the state…

Special Session Update (TennesseeLookout)

Neither the House nor the Senate would budge Thursday, forcing a “standoff” to continue until next week as lawmakers try to negotiate an end to this special session.

Senators approved four bills Thursday requested by Gov. Bill Lee, including a $30 million spending measure, then adjourned until Monday at 4 p.m.

House leaders want more, but reaching a compromise will be difficult.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, said his committee would not reopen to consider any other bills. 

Finance Chairman Bo Watson took a similar approach, saying his committee passed most of the bills sought by the governor and did not feel inclined to take up anything else, especially with the state suddenly facing a financial pinch. Revenues have come in shorter than expected for three straight months, leaving a $380 million hole in the budget.

Senators approved a gun storage bill costing about $1.6 million annually for sales tax breaks on gun safes and gun locks, in addition to a gun-lock giveaway program; a measure requiring the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to make a yearly report on human trafficking, the first by Dec. 1; and a bill codifying the governor’s executive order to improve background checks for gun purchases. It requires court clerks to send notice of felony convictions to the TBI within three business days rather than 30 days.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally pointed out the Senate approved the governor’s bills and noted “there’s not a deal with the House.”

“I think it just depends on what they pass,” he said. “We’ve sent them four bills and they might amend those.”

For the most part, the Senate is opposed to a new blended sentencing bill for juveniles, as well as a measure to send 16- and 17-year-olds to adult court for gun-related crimes, mainly firearm thefts. Both of those are supported by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

The Senate also dislikes a bill to make autopsy reports for minors exempt from the state’s public records act. But it is being pushed by Covenant School parents in reaction to the deadly shooting that pushed the governor to call this special session. 

Lee’s call was so tight that it wouldn’t allow most gun-related bills to be considered.

Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari of Memphis hoped for stronger legislation to curtail mass shootings but noted Thursday her prediction was correct that this would be a session of “missed opportunities and misdirection.”

“We had the opportunity to really do some good things around gun safety to keep guns off our streets that shouldn’t be there, and the call of the session was incredibly limited,” Akbari said.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Columbia’s Premier Entertainment venue, The Mulehouse is full of activities this weekend.

ON Friday, August 25, 8pm, Cledus T. Judd will be performing.

Country music’s answer to Weird Al Yankovic, Cledus T. Judd had a similar approach to song parody, recording backing tracks that were as similar as possible to the original versions. Some of his most popular parodies include “Bad Breath” (his version of Faith Hill’s “Breathe”) and “My Cellmate Thinks I’m Sexy” (a parody of Kenny Chesney’s hit “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”), among so many others.

With over a dozen albums released, several songs that have hit the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and a plethora of comedy shows under his belt, Cledus brings the funny in a multitude of ways. Don’t miss the hilarity, and maybe even some inspirational moments in between all the laughs!

Did you love prom? Hate it? Ever wish you could go again, but this time maybe with your spouse or significant other? The Mulehouse is throwing “Second Chance Prom” featuring live music from “The 90s Show” playing the biggest hits from your glory days!

Saturday, August 26, 8pm

The Mulehouse is located at 812 S. High Street in Columbia.

For more information go to


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