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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 21, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Spring Hill Fire (MauryCountySource)

A Spring Hill home was destroyed in a fire on Sunday afternoon.

According to a Spring Hill Fire Department social media post, at approximately 2:34 p.m., crews were dispatched to a single-story home in the Southern Springs neighborhood where they found "heavy fire" coming from the rear of the home.

Flames also damaged a neighboring home, but resulted in no injuries throughout the two-hour operation.

Mutual aid was provided by Columbia Fire and Rescue, Williamson County Rescue Squad, Maury County Fire, Williamson Fire and Rescue, Spring Hill Police Department and Williamson EMS.

Lawrence County Tornadoes (CDH)

A few residents and business owners are assessing damage to their property after two EF-0 tornadoes ripped through Lawrence County, including the town of Ethridge, late Thursday afternoon, uprooting large trees and damaging structures.

After surveying the area, the Nashville Weather Service confirmed Friday evening that the severe storm produced two tornadoes that touched down in Lawrence County in addition to an EF-1, which hit Marshall County Thursday.

Mature trees along the tornadoes' paths were unearthed in Lawrence County, while a popular antique store and rural residence sustained the most damage when high-speed winds reaching 85 mph tore through the area. According to NWS weather forecaster, Matt Reagan, the first tornado touched down in rural Lawrence County at Granddaddy and Gore roads, spanning 3.7 miles, while the second tornado touched down in Ethridge, spanning 5.5 miles.

No injuries were reported.

Linda Staggs, co-owner of 13-year old business Heart & Soul Antiques and Collectibles in Ethridge, was sitting Thursday on the porch of the popular antique hub she owns with husband David, when she realized she was in the path of a possible tornado.

"I was on the phone with David, and he said he heard it was coming near the store, so I got up to turn on the radio," Linda Staggs said. "When I did, that's when it hit. I ran to the bathroom and waited it out."

The violent winds demolished the porch structure at approximately 4:30 p.m., where Staggs was sitting just seconds before, damaging the roof and dozens of pieces of Amish-made furniture displayed outside of the store.

The antique store, a 27-year-old warehouse encompassing 2,500 square feet of treasures from glassware to Amish handmade furniture and local jellies and jams, is situated in the heart of Amish country where it's not uncommon to see wagons led by horses amid busy Hwy. 43.

When she emerged, she exited the building through the back door since rubble blocked the front entrance.

"I didn't realize the damage until I made it outside. I was lucky. It could've been a lot worse," Linda Staggs said.

Owner of the building David Magee said he is still assessing the damage and the timeline of repairs to the building.

Despite the external destruction, Magee and the Staggs said they are "thankful" that no significant damage affected the inside of the building or the inventory inside, or people.

"I am just thankful Linda was not injured," said Magee, who owns about 32 leasing spots in the area.

Linda Staggs said her phone has not stopped ringing since the building was hit.

"People keep calling to see if I am OK," she said. "That's one thing about small town life. Everybody knows you. We call each other. We check on each other."

The Staggs said they are looking forward to getting back to business as usual at the store that draws customers from all over the U.S. and the world, as far away as Iceland.

Approximately 10 miles down the road further into rural Lawrence County, Sam Outlaw — area resident since 1991 — helped roofers and his neighbors cut through the branches of a massive overturned tree that smashed into his roof on Thursday, damaging his home's facade, front door and windows.

"Thank God, my wife and I were in the basement at the time. We didn't know it was coming," Outlaw said. "I knew it was a possibility for a tornado to be in the area, but we didn't know it would be this close until it hit. I heard a roaring."

Six large mature trees were ripped from his acre-plus yard and adjacent property like wilted weeds in a flower bed.

"It must've happened in just seconds. It's truly amazing how this much damage can occur in such a short period of time," Outlaw, a retired state workforce development employee, said.

On Friday, he said the cost of the damage is still being assessed.

"You never anticipate having to go through something like this. Storms have come through this area before. You always know it's a possibility, but you don't plan for it."

He appreciates the help from his neighbors the most he said.

"They volunteered their time. It's no less than tremendous," Outlaw said.

CPD Names Officer of the Year (MauryCountySource)

The Columbia Police Department recognized Corporal Scott Baublitz as its “Officer of the Year” during a recent Knights of Columbus annual law enforcement appreciation dinner.

The event was held at the Saint Catherine Social Hall in Columbia. Each year the Knights of Columbus sponsors an appreciation dinner for all local law enforcement agencies.

Cpl. Baublitz is an eleven-year veteran of the Columbia Police Department and is assigned to the Bravo Patrol Shift.

In 2022, Cpl. Baublitz worked diligently in assisting with community outreach projects that went beyond his scope of patrol duty assignments. Baublitz’s exceptional dedication and work ethic has always been apparent in any of the many assignments that he has held with CPD.

Throughout his career Cpl. Baublitz has proven to be a self-motivated officer, seeking education and training opportunities that have proven to be beneficial in his service to the citizens of Columbia and The Columbia Police Department.

Firefighter Mulch Sale (Press Release)

Maury County Firefighters are hosting their annual mulch sale fundraiser on March 4th at their Carters Creek Pike station.

On Saturday, March 4th beginning at 8am, locals can drive through Station 12 and purchase black, brown, or red mulch in support of Maury County Fire personnel. 

This fundraiser will directly support and equip Maury County volunteer firefighters to serve our community.

“This annual fundraiser allows us to provide critical lifesaving equipment for our amazing volunteers. Our members tirelessly serve all of Maury County. Your support is greatly appreciated.” says Chief Peder Jensen of Station 12.

"We are excited to share that the Chief of Spring Hill Fire Department has ordered mulch for Spring Hill fire stations, Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt has ordered mulch, and so many more community members! We appreciate the outpouring of support as a volunteer department. Events like this are essential to our ability to serve the community."

Last year, the fundraiser raised thousands for the department and allowed members to update equipment.

The event will also feature local food trucks.

Maury County Fire Department is a volunteer fire department that has served Maury County residents since 1970. They provide essential fire and rescue services to over 600 square miles and 19,000 properties.

This department is able to operate due to the support of Maury County Citizens. If you can’t attend this fundraiser, you can donate to Maury County Fire year-round at

If you’d like to preorder your mulch or have any questions about this event, please email

New Family Nurse Practicioner at MRH (Press Release)

Karalyn Champion, FNP-C has joined the staff at Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Endocrinology. Endocrinology is a specialty which treats diabetes, thyroid disorders and conditions relating to the endocrine system.

 Champion received her master’s degree in nursing from California State University in Fresno, California, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina, where she graduated summa cum laude. Before Champion became a nurse practitioner, she worked as a registered nurse for four years. She has worked as a nurse practitioner for nearly eight years.

 Karalyn Champion, FNP-C, joins Dr. Bushra Osmani and Dr. John McRae at the practice. To be treated at MRMG Endocrinology, patients must have a physician referral. Services include care for adrenal disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, parathyroid disorders, pituitary gland disorders and thyroid health.

 MRMG Endocrinology is located at 854 W. James M. Campbell Boulevard, suite 100, in Columbia. For more information, call 931.490.7050 or visit

Winter Freeze Plant Damage (Press Release)

This past December was a rough month for many outdoor plants which include ornamentals. Symptoms of cold damage should be apparent in the landscape and nursery resembling dead tissue. Freeze damage can also be identified by symptoms including cracking or splitting in woody trunks or stems, flaccid or discolored foliage, scorched foliage, or flowers, wilting foliage or sagging branches. According to Maury County Ag Extension, although unsightly and worrisome that the plant could be dead it is advised that leaving the plant alone until Spring could be the best course of action. Pruning now could further damage the plant if still alive by exposing living tissues to cold temperatures ahead. Once the plant has begun to grow in healthy areas and the cold has passed, it will be easy to see areas of the plant that are necrotic and need to be pruned. Any slimy, softened, or watery tissues that present a rotting odor should be pruned. Only dead tissues should be pruned as over-pruning will stress the plants. Look for green healthy tissues and stop pruning so that the plant can begin recovery from those sites. Over watering during this time can stress plants by promoting new growth rather than aid recovery. Moderate watering or drip irrigation is recommended. Avoid applying fertilizers for the same reason as it will promote too much growth to a damaged plant.

Maury Regional Announces New Board Members (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) recently announced Lesbia Martinez and Jordon Shaw have joined its advisory board for the 2023 term.

 Martinez has more than 20 years of experience in business leadership at various local environmental abatement companies. She currently serves as president of Central Fire Restoration and Cleaning LLV, course director at Tennessee Environmental Services LLC and general manager of Cumberland Environmental Resources Co. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Instituto Bilingue Guatemalteco in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

 Shaw, a military veteran and former county commissioner in Maury County, has 25 years of experience in the IT industry. He is currently the chief technology officer for the National Safety Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Bethel University, a master’s degree in information systems from the University of Phoenix and a Doctor of Business Administration from Argosy University. He’s also working on a second doctorate in artificial intelligence from Capitol Technology University.

 “I want to thank Lesbia and Jordon for their willingness to represent the Maury community and serve on our advisory board,” said Maury Regional Health CEO, Dr.Martin Chaney, MD. “They both bring decades of proven leadership experience that will only further enhance our board. We’re blessed to have them.”

 MRMC announced its 2023 board of trustees and advisory board members in January. For a full list of members, visit

New Spring Hill Library Plans in Jeopardy? (MainStreetMaury)

A new Spring Hill library may be pushed once again down the capital improvements budget based on a discussion at the most recent Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting in the city.

While the city was grappling last budget season with funding a new police station or library – ultimately opting for a new police headquarters – Alderman John Canepari requested the city begin thinking about a fire station to service the new interstate interchange and surrounding areas.

His recommendation of placing $3.5 million into a fund for a future fire station and budgeting funding for architectural plans are – ironically for the BOMA liaison to the library board – threatening the library project for a second year in a row.

The reasoning for moving ahead with the fire station, however, is simple – cost. A new fire station would cost about $7 million, while the library could potentially be four times that amount. Due to Canepari’s forward thinking, half of the project’s cost is already funded.

City Administrator Pam Caskie also noted that sales tax revenue is far ahead of projections, which could potentially reach a point where the city could pay for the station without borrowing funds.

Currently the city’s three stations can’t adequately cover a large portion of the city, which has caused the department’s ISO rating to suffer.

“When we look at this statistically and we look at our ISO ratings and our response times and so forth, this is going to make an immediate impact once this station is up and running to bring our response times more in line with where they’re supposed to be,” said fire chief Graig Temple. “We are graded on the 90th percentile, and some of our times that we’ve calculated are in the 50th percentile.”

Temple said building the new station would immediately decrease response times by 25%.

Additional costs would include staffing and equipment, which would cost $1.5 million initially, with salaries and benefits as annual costs. Fire trucks have already been purchased and are expected to be available in the fall of 2024.

Library director Dana Juriew presented to the board, highlighting the bevy of programs the library provides to the community, while Canepari prefaced her presentation by listing several additional programs.

Canepari noted the library was widely utilized, even closing in on the same level of use as the much better funded Brentwood Public Library.

“We’re not that far behind in people that use the library than Brentwood – they just have more money,” he said. “And our people and programs are better.”

Canepari estimated the library had been pushed to 96th on the Capital Improvement Projects list out of 100 projects the city needs to complete, and vowed to bring up the issue of more funding in this year’s budget cycle.

Caskie said the city has plans to budget $37,000 for a sketch of a future library plan to make sure the potential building would fit on the parcel of land the city hopes to utilize.

Meanwhile, the fire station would serve as a community hub that would include a fortified space where citizens can gather in the event of severe weather and workspace for police to work from if necessary. Additionally on site are plans for individual bunk rooms that would be available to accommodate male and female firefighters, a large gym space, commercial kitchen and specialty training equipment.

“We’ve incorporated all that together as a very functional space. We’ve just tweaked everything and made it a very functional space. We’ve also gone room by room in this facility. It matches a lot of what we’ve done in other stations,” Temple said. “So, again, there’s nothing here that’s really new, we just tweaked everything and made it more efficient for our purposes.”

Vice Mayor Kevin Gavigan was curious if the two projects were mutually exclusive or if the two could be built either simultaneously or back-to-back. Caskie said the two would likely not be able to be funded in the next budget.

If the BOMA decides to apply for a site plan through the planning commission, the city would have three years from approval to begin construction. The timeline Temple provided, however, would have the building completed by November 2024.

Mule Kick 5K (Press Release)

Hosted by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and presented by First Farmers and Merchants Bank, the annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will take place Saturday, April 1, at Riverwalk Park in Columbia.

Proceeds from the 2023 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot provide funding for Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which delivers health care services to at-risk and underserved individuals throughout southern Middle Tennessee by providing basic health screenings, education and resources. A portion of the proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, the Maury County school with the most participation in the event will receive a donation to their P.E. program from the Foundation.

“The Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot is a great tradition for both Maury County and the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation that helps support our mission of providing important health care services for individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain care,” Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore said. “We are excited to host the Mule Kick 5K and look forward to an exciting race!”

On Saturday, April 1, the race will begin at Riverwalk Park in Columbia with an 8 a.m. start time for the 5K and a 9:15 a.m. start time for the 1-Mile Trot. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Participants may register for the race online at

“The Mule Kick has become one of the great annual events for Maury County, and we are honored to be involved again as presenting sponsor,” said Brian K. Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of First Farmers. “We’re thankful for the tremendous work of the Foundation in helping to serve the health care needs of others throughout our region.”

In addition to presenting sponsor First Farmers and Merchants Bank, sponsorships ranging from $350 to $2,500 are still available for those who are interested in marketing exposure at this event. For additional information, contact the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation at 931.380.4075.

To learn more about the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation, the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot or to make a direct gift to support the mobile medical unit fund, visit

Mr. Harry David Underwood, 90, retired Teacher, Principal, and Coach for Santa Fe School, Culleoka Unit School, and Spring Hill School, died Friday, February 17, 2023 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Underwood will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Lynnwood Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. -7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mr. Victor C. Beck, Sr., 94. a resident of Columbia, Tennessee passed away on Sunday, February 19, 2023 at Life Care Center of Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Beck will be conducted Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 1:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mr. Christopher Lynn Brock, 62, employee of Graphic Packaging International and resident of Williamsport, died unexpectedly Sunday, February 19, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Brock will be conducted Thursday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 4:00 P.M.- 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

TN Quit Week (Press Release)

The Tennessee Department of Health joins partners across the state for the eighth annual Tennessee Quit Week, Feb. 20 to 24, to encourage Tennesseans who want to quit using tobacco products to take advantage of the state’s free resource, the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

‘’We know more than 11-thousand Tennesseans die each year from smoking-related illnesses,’’ said Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Ralph Alvarado. ‘’Help is available for those who want to make it a priority to live heathier lives, and are ready to quit smoking, vaping, or using tobacco products.”

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the U.S. and annual health-care costs in Tennessee directly caused by smoking are $3.10 billion.

Besides calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, Tennesseans can text “QUIT” to 615-795-0600 or access for free coaching and nicotine replacement patches, if eligible.

“It’s Quittin’ Time in Tennessee” information and resources are at Tennessee Quit Week 2023.

All services are free to Tennesseans and can double a tobacco user’s chance of quitting successfully.

Pregnant women who smoke are encouraged to contact their local health department to learn about the Baby and Me – Tobacco Free™ Program for education and support, and participants can earn free diapers each month for up to one year.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Are you interested in learning more about the fire service? Sign up for Columbia Fire & Rescue’s Citizens Fire Academy!

CFR’s Citizens Fire Academy is a FREE 6-week program open to all citizens of Maury County age 18 & up. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn more about their local Fire Department through classroom and hands-on activities!

10 positions are currently available! Classes are set to begin on April 17th! To find out more information or to sign up today visit:


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