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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for December 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…

Courthouse Commemorating 120 Years (Press Release)

Maury County Government has been awarded a $5,000 matching grant from the South Central Tennessee Development District.

The Arts Build Communities, or “ABC,” grant will help the county commemorate the historic Maury County Courthouse as it celebrates 120 years of service to the community in 2024.

The grant will fund a community juried art competition open to Maury County citizens of all ages.

According to a press release, the theme will focus on "What does the courthouse represent to its citizens?" Citizens are invited to use their artistic abilities to design an original piece of art (all genres are welcome) that interprets what the Maury County Courthouse means.

“The Maury County Courthouse is an iconic and historic structure for the state of Tennessee.”

“Built by local architect J.E.R. Carpenter, before he went on to great fame as one of the leading architects of luxury high-rise living in New York City, this building has been the central focus of Maury county since it was built in 1904. It symbolizes much to our community. This grant is a wonderful opportunity to allow the citizens of the county to interpret and express what the building represents.”

The contest will start with a commemoration ceremony honoring the courthouse, which will include a proclamation by Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt, followed by an overview focusing on the history of the Maury County Courthouse by me, Tom Price starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan 11.

Maury County citizens will have from Jan. 11 to March 22 to submit their artwork to the Maury County Archives' temporary location at 1446 Oak Springs Drive, Suite 100 (the far end of Muletown Rec).

Art will be juried in four age categories: elementary, secondary, high school and adults ages 18 and over. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place for each category, and one grand-prize winner will be announced during Mule Day on April 6, 2024.

Rules for artist submissions include:

Artwork must be original.

All art intended for wall-mounting (drawings/paintings etc.) in the 18+ category must be submitted in a frame and wired for hanging.

All submitted art must be accompanied by a card with the artist's name, contact information, category, title and medium.

All art must be submitted by 3 p.m. Friday, March 22.

Art will be juried by five esteemed artists which include local photographers Sarah Gilliam and Ross Jaynes, as well as painters James Spearman and Margaret Warfield and sculptor Jennifer Grisham.

The winning submissions will be displayed at the courthouse during the 2024 Mule Day festivities. All submitted artwork will be placed on display at the Pryor Art Gallery at Columbia State Community College from May 13th-June 14th. The exhibit will open with be a gallery reception on May 13th.

For more information about the contest, contact the Maury County Archives at (931) 375-1500.

Rubix Groove (WKOM Audio 5:30)

The 80’s, 90’s and 00’s tribute band Rubix Groove will be performing for New Year’s Eve at the Mulehouse, located at 812 S. High Street in Columbia. WKOM’s James Dickinson and Lou Maddox got to speak to some members of the band over the weekend to learn more about what the party will be like…

For more information on Rubix Groove and the New Year Eve’s Party at the Mulehouse’s website at

Mid-South Gastroenterology (Press Release)

Mid-South Gastroenterology Associates in Columbia will join Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) on Jan. 1 and will be renamed MRMG Mid-South Gastroenterology.

The practice is located in suite 501 of the Maury Regional Medical Office Building and includes gastroenterology specialists Amit A. Choksi, MD; Dayaker R. Mallipeddi, MD; Robert W. McClure, MD; Srikar S. Reddy, MD; and Timothy Dickey, FNP, who specialize in disorders of the digestive system.

“We’re excited to add this outstanding practice to Maury Regional Medical Group,” MRMG President Nathan Miller said. “Patients can trust they’ll get the same great care from these fantastic providers while also benefitting from Maury Regional Health’s electronic health record and patient portal, providing access to results as soon as they are available.”

MRMG Mid-South Gastroenterology’s hours are Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. A physician’s order is required to make an appointment.

For a complete list of services and more information, call 931.388.8302 or visit

Tea Party (WKOM Audio 3:05)

On Saturday, the AP History class from Columbia Central held a commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party on the grounds of the Maury County Courthouse. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy stopped by to learn more about their historic project…

CPWS Names New CEO (Press Release)

After an extensive search, Columbia Power & Water Systems (CPWS) has announced the hiring of a new president and CEO, Jonathan Hardin. An experienced leader, Hardin served CPWS as the vice president of Water Operations since 2014 and interim president and CEO since March 2023.

Hardin’s diverse background includes serving as an environmental engineer on numerous large projects in support of municipal water and wastewater operations and intricate environmental cleanups involving the reclamation of heavily polluted former industrial sites.

“Jonathan has demonstrated excellence in leading the company over the last several months,” said Eddie Campbell, CPWS board chairman. “He has succeeded in bringing the employees together and has implemented a culture that is leading CPWS into the future. The board is looking forward to working with management to provide power, water and broadband services to Columbia and beyond.”

Hardin is a longtime resident of Columbia, along with his wife, Grace, and their three sons. He is an active member of the Alliance of Hazardous Material Professionals, the Project Management Institute, and the American Water and Wastewater Association and previously served a four-year term as a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee.

Columbia Power and Water Systems is a public utility owned by the residents of Columbia and Maury County, Tenn. Based on the belief that local ownership investment is good for any utility and community, CPWS’ local direction and control puts their community’s interests first. Serving customers since 1939, Columbia Power & Water Systems operates under the Board of Public Utilities of the City of Columbia. For more about CPWS, visit

Wreaths Across America (WKOM Audio 2:33)

On Saturday, the Wreaths Across America program, led by the Daughters of the American Revolution, held a ceremony at Zion Cemetery. Our own Delk Kennedy attended the program and spoke to DAR member and county commissioner Connie Green…

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

Mr. Hugh Earl Rhodes, 91, resident of Columbia, passed away Friday, December 15, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

Funeral Services are incomplete at this time. Oakes & Nichols funeral directors are assisting the family.

…And now, news from around the state…

Rep. Whitson To Retire (WilliamsonHerald)

District 65 Tennessee State Rep. Sam Whitson won’t be seeking reelection next year. After eight years representing the people of Williamson County, Whitson announced his retirement from the position in a statement to the Williamson Herald on Thursday. 

“It’s been a great run,” he said. “I had no intention of being a career politician when I first got into this. I did it because I felt our community needed new leadership, ethical and moral leadership. So, when I first ran back in 2016, it was a new experience for me.

"It was a commitment I made then to serve the community. It’s been really very rewarding. It’s been an absolute honor to serve the people of this district and county in our state.” 

Born and raised in Nashville, Whitson is an eighth-generation Tennessean and lifelong Republican. He received undergraduate degrees from MTSU, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma, and is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and United States Army War College. 

He commanded units at the company, battalion and brigade levels and served in staff in operational combat units at the platoon, company, battalion, brigade, division, and corps levels. A Gulf War veteran, he retired in 2002 as a colonel after serving 26 years as a Regular Army officer. He is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Pam, for more than 49 years. They have two sons and five grandchildren. They are members of Franklin First United Methodist Church.

Whitson referenced policies and initiatives he was most proud of for sponsoring as a representative. They included the Mac Hatcher Southwest extension, programs that financially support families with children with disabilities, programs that support public schools and initiatives protecting and supporting first responders. 

Some specific policies Whitson sponsored were HB0036 Mental Health Services establishing suicide prevention training standards for social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional, pastoral and alcohol and drug abuse counselors; HB0184 Ethics, requiring persons and entities to register with the Registry of Election Finance or the Tennessee Ethics Commission and various changes to campaign finance reporting; and HB0732 Public Records, establishing Law enforcement body camera standards. 

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Taylor Swift is currently on the world wide Eras Tour but hasn’t forgotten about Tennessee. She made a one million dollar donation to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennesse, reported USA Today.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee shared on social media, “Tornado Relief (Taylor’s Version). ‘The Swifts found their original Tennessee home in Hendersonville and Sumner County and remain deeply committed to its continued well-being,’ says Hal Cato, CEO of Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. ‘Taylor’s incredibly generous gift sends a message to her hometown, and the communities around it, that she has their backs during the long road to recovery following this devastating event.’”

Taylor Swift attended Hendersonville High School and maintains an office and home in the Nashville area.

This isn’t the first time Swift has made a donation to tornado relief in Nashville.  Back in 2020, when tornadoes also hit the area, she donated $1M towards recovery efforts.


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