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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 14, 2023

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

We start with local news…

State Eggs and Issues (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance and Breakfast Rotary for their Annual State Eggs & Issues. This event features a panel discussion and Q&A with Senator Dr. Joey Hensley, Representative Scott Cepicky, and Representative Kip Capley. The event will take place on February 24th from 6:45-8:00am at the Memorial Building located at 308 W. 7th Street in Columbia.

Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers, and include breakfast.

Members of Breakfast Rotary do not need to purchase a ticket to attend.

To submit a question or topic in advance for consideration, please email

For more information, contact Maury Alliance at

Woodard Elementary (WKOM Audio 4:23)

Yesterday morning, Woodard Elementary School hosted a fundraiser for the Miracle League special needs Sports Park. With more is WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy…

Music Video Features CFD (MauryCountySource)

Rising country artist, Josh Ross recently released the video for his song “Trouble” with the help of the Maury County Fire Department.

The fire department shared on social media, “We were honored to be featured in Universal Music recording artist Josh Ross’ “Trouble” music video. Thank you Josh for using this video shoot as an opportunity to promote the work of our first responders!”

“Trouble” was featured in the January 5th episode of Fox’s hit TV series “Welcome To Flatch” available to watch on Fox and Hulu. Ross celebrated the release of “Trouble” by joining his friend Bailey Zimmerman as the opener for three sold-out shows.

Ross was announced as one of Spotify’s Hot Country Artists To Watch 2023. On the touring side, he will be joining Lee Brice and Tenille Arts in April on the Beer Drinking Opportunity Tour and an extensive North American tour alongside Nickleback and Brantley Gilbert on the Get Rollin’ Tour, kicking off in June 2023.

Cedar Recovery (WKOM Audio 2:58)

Yesterday a grand opening took place at Cedar Recovery on Hatcher Lane in Columbia. Our own Delk Kennedy stopped by and spoke to the Chief Executive Officer, Joe Bond to learn more…

Shapard Lumber (MainStreetMaury)

A staple of the Columbia community, Shapard Lumberyard has been gracing the edge of the downtown Columbia business district for nearly 80 years. The longevity of a local business, owner Terrance Blakesleay says, is rooted in the heart of a community.

“To me, local businesses are the heartbeat of a community,” he said. “The individuals who work here and interact here grew up here or have kids who go to school here – they spend money here. We’re all connected and should have the heart to help one another and help to grow the community as one.

Shapard Lumberyard opened its doors in 1946 and has sat at its current location of 103 Cemetery Avenue in Columbia from day one. Blakesleay says trust and service has been one of the biggest reasons the business has been able to thrive through whatever economic seasons that have come along.

“We are striving to continue, even though local lumber yards are almost extinct these days,” he said. “What we have tried to do is create that niche to provide service and products that big box stores don’t have the ability to provide.”

Having an extensive background in the industry – not only as someone who worked with the business’ second owner David McLain, but with other local and national brands – Blakesleay has the knowledge and foresight to understand any issue a customer may bring in the door.

That’s one reason he and his team have pivoted much of the business to more than selling two-by-fours, including a full-service woodshop.

“We can take care of a project through completion for a customer or just get it to a manageable stage where they can take it home and finish it out,” he said.

One of the biggest moves Blakesleay has made is finding a niche with stone countertops. The fully customizable product has become so popular that his waitlist is growing daily.

“It’s not to compete with granite or marble – it’s a totally different product,” he said. “We design and make it from scratch, so when we finish the product and install it in your house, it looks like we just carved it out of the side of a mountain.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind product. Even if you pick the same color as someone else, it won’t be the same thing. As long as I can think it, I can create it.”

Wood is still the bell cow, however, and when it comes to unique – Blakesleay doesn’t skimp. If there’s a type of wood a customer wants, he’s likely already got some in stock.

“I battle every day and bug my vendors to see what’s coming in so local customers don’t have to travel to other places,” he said. “Local hardwoods are great; those are easy to find. When we’re talking about wenge, purple heart, canary wood, Bolivian rosewood – those are hard to get because they come from different countries.”

While Blakesleay is a native of Detroit, there is no other place he would rather call home. After serving in the Marine Corps, he made a trip to the area to visit family when an ice storm hit. That ice storm, however, was the biggest blessing he could have asked for because while “stuck” in Tennessee, he met his future wife.

The two have raised their children in the Columbia community and have found their calling at Shapard Lumberyard.

“I am a pastor in the community, so I have a passion to help my community,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to buy anything when you come in here. If we’re able to help you and be a beacon of light, that’s what we strive to do.

“What is at the core of a true person who owns a small business is unity and their willingness to want to prop up your community.”


Design Competition for City Flag (MainStreetMaury)

The City of Columbia has established a design competition to create an official city flag and Columbia residents are invited to take part in the process by submitting their original flag designs from now through March 15th.

The final, winning design will be announced on April 20. The City is excited to give the public an opportunity to participate in the design process, as it will reflect and symbolize our community. Designs can be submitted on the City’s website at

All entries will be judged based on flag criteria presented in the competition guidelines then narrowed down to three final designs. The public will have a chance to vote, from April 1-15, on the final three designs chosen by the Columbia Arts Council. The winning design will reflect Columbia's pride, rich history, promising future and embody what makes Columbia special and unique, using meaningful symbolism and minimal color & design features.

“I couldn't be more excited about this flag design competition that will result in the first official flag for the city of Columbia,” said Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder. “A flag creates identity, establishes symbolism, and promotes unity, and I can't wait to see the final product. Our community is full of creative individuals from all walks of life, and I am particularly pleased that this will be a public driven process. And, I am also excited that this project is being led, in part, by Nathaniel Bliss, a local Scout with Troop 111, who brought forward the idea as part of his Eagle Scout project. I encourage all members of the community to participate in what will be a project that will be historic in nature given its long term, lasting effects.”

Nathaniel Bliss is eager to see the end result of this process.

"I chose the flag design competition as my Eagle Scout project because I am interested in flags and what they represent, as well as the impact they have on a community,” stated Bliss. “I recognized that Columbia did not have a flag and felt it was time our city got one. A flag symbolizes a city, its history, culture, and people of all backgrounds. It unifies the community and provides something to rally around. As a proud resident of Columbia, I thought our historic city deserved such an important symbol."

Basic rules and guidelines include but are not limited to: (1) Submit an original flag design by March 15, 2023; (2) Competition is limited to Columbia residents only; (3) No compensation will be given for any designs submitted; (4) Only one entry per resident; and (5) All ages and skill levels are welcome to participate.

For a complete list of rules and information regarding the Columbia Flag Project, visit the City’s website at

Tennessee Reconnect (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host virtual Tennessee Reconnect information sessions during the months of February and March. 


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 virtual 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 


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

Mr. Shane Clark,62, passed away on Friday, February 10 at his residence in Columbia, TN. Visitation the family of Mr. Clark will be held at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 15 from 4-8 pm. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Mrs. Earlene Phaye Fowler Pipkin, 77, homemaker and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, February 11, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. A graveside service for Mrs. Pipkin will be conducted Thursday at 2:00 P.M. at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 5:00 P.M – 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mr. Dan U. Harmon, 80, retired architectural illustrator, long-time resident of Atlanta, GA and Columbia, TN, died Sunday, February 12, 2023 at his residence. A celebration of life service for Mr. Harmon will be held Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia TN. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Thursday from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Permitless Carry Age Drop (WPLN)

A recent decision by Tennessee's attorney general may soon pave the way for 18- to 20-year-olds to also permitless carry.

Permitless carry, sometimes referred to as constitutional carry, allows an individual to carry a gun without undergoing background checks or training. In 2021, Tennessee passed a law allowing permitless carry for adults 21 and over. A recent decision by the attorney general may soon pave the way for 18- to 20-year-olds to do the same.   

After the state began allowing permitless carry, a lawsuit was filed alleging the law’s exclusion of adults under 21 was unconstitutional. Last month, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti sided with the plaintiffs and signed an agreement that would allow that age group to carry without a license.

The settlement flew under the radar, but House Democrats say Skrmetti overstepped the legislative branch by not defending the state’s own law. House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, sparred with reporters over the decision.

“Well, there’s an agreement with the AG to come back, but we have to pass the bill to do it,” Sexton said. “We’ve been in conversations with the AG’s office. We understand what the court case said. On the House side, our plan is to pass constitutional carry 18 and above.”

Sen. London Lamar, D-Memphis, says Tennessee has some of the highest violent crime rates in the nation and this will make it worse.

“That would be, far more, one of the most irresponsible things that this state to do is give 18-year-olds, who are potentially still in high school, access to guns without any training, permit or military experience,” Lamar said.

Last year, Republicans introduced a bill to lower the permitless carry age to 18, but the bill never passed in the Senate.

While the judge hasn’t signed off on Skrmetti’s settlement, Republican leadership in the House say they are moving forward with a bill soon.

Governor Proposes TennCare Expansion (WPLN)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is proposing a significant expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, known as TennCare, using money from a new deal negotiated with the Trump Administration described as a “block grant.”

Basically, the state now gets to keep some of the money it’s been saving the federal government by offering fewer benefits and operating more efficiently. With this $300 million, the governor wants to cover more pregnant Tennesseans by raising the income cap to 250% of the federal poverty limit — roughly $34,000 for a single person household. And he wants TennCare to pay for diapers for the first two years of life, which would be a first for the nation if approved by federal regulators, the governor says.

“Despite enormous criticism from those who said we couldn’t or wouldn’t, we are going to do exactly what we said we would do when we pursued this shared savings waiver — expand services for the most vulnerable and provide those services to even more Tennesseans,” Lee said in his State of the State address Monday.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Kenny Loggins announced his final tour in January and now has added more dates to the tour to include Franklin, TN.

The “This is It” tour will stop at FirstBank Amphitheater on Thursday, May 11th with special guest Yacht Rock Revue.

In talking about the tour, Loggins said in a release, “It’s been an amazing journey since starting with Jimmy Messina in 1971, and I’m fortunate to have had such a long touring career,”  Loggins says. “I don’t see this as the end of my professional career, but certainly a halt to the grind of major touring.”

Find tickets at

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