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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 22, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Tallgrass To Close (CDH)

Tallgrass Meat Company, a small business in Columbia featuring meats and products from Tennessee Farms, will unexpectedly close its doors for good on March 3, after operating for five years, despite rising in popularity and recognition along the way.

Owner Casey Weber, who has lead the charge in bringing locally raised and lightly processed meats to customers' hands at its brick and mortar store on Garden Street, said he realizes that many patrons and friends are surprised about the announcement.

The popular meat store's closure comes on the heels of being named Small Business Startup of the Year in 2020 by the state Small Business Administration, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.

To many, Tallgrass Meat Company became a model of how a small business can not only survive but thrive during COVID-19. Despite economic hardships the country experienced, Tallgrass seemed to be a beacon of light in downtown Columbia, nestled as one of the first stores anchoring a new wave of small businesses in the renovated shopping complex, New South Marketplace on Garden Street. Lime & Loaf, Needle & Grain, Grinder's Switch Winery, and Little Juice Co. also inhabit the shopping center.

This week, customers are flocking to the store to stock up on what's left of the local meat offerings from lamb chops to ground beef, cuts of chicken and house-cured bacon by closing day, March 3. A line of loyal customers filed out the door, spilling onto the sidewalk, following the announcement earlier this month.

On Feb. 8, Kansas-native Weber, who grew up in a farming family, made the "shocking" announcement on the shop's Facebook page.

Weber explains in the post that being able to provide high-quality consistency to customers has been a struggle too great to overcome over the past few months for the growing business. Weber recently explained that he has been unable to employ enough workers to carry out the high workload. In addition, the business has absorbed much of his time, away from his growing family, of four children, a wife and newborn.

"In fact, finding the words have been difficult, especially with all the great things that we have been able to celebrate over the last few months ... ," Weber said.

"The recent weekends that we have taken off have only reinforced that Tallgrass cannot continue to exist as the custom butcher shop that it has been; while simultaneously providing consistency to my customers and income/time for our employees and my family."

Weber thanked the community and loyal customers for their support as well as his family.

"Thank you to my friends and family for their sacrifices both working and never seeing me, but still supporting me," he said. "Thank you to our customers, my regular customers, you not only kept the lights on, but encouraged me at a depth of genuineness that is hard for me to fathom to this day.

"I never imagined the successes, the relationships built, the depth of kindness, and graciousness in words of strangers and friends on difficult days, the volatility and survival, the solace of long hours, the pride and joy from preserving and most of all the appreciation of 'little things,' one could say the secret of life."

Tallgrass is not the only popular small business in Columbia to recently close. Vanh Dy Asian fusion restaurant and Wok-N-Grill, both family owned, shut its doors soon after Christmas despite community support due to decisions based on family.

Goods at Tallgrass are available while supplies last. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The shop is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Tenn Pin Alley (CDH)

Columbia's largest all-in-one family fun center is about to get even bigger, if you can believe it.

For decades, Tenn Pin Alley has served as a popular spot for all ages to engage in timeless and modern activities, such as bowling, teaming up for a game of laser tag or getting the high score on one of its many games located in the expansive arcade zone.

In 2019, Tenn Pin reopened after a brief hiatus for renovations, bringing a new steampunk theme to the indoor area, expanding its food menu and other upgrades. In 2020, the facility debuted a new indoor attraction to add to the mix — bumper cars.

For 2023, Tenn Pin owners Derek and Brandee Ransom are preparing to turn their sights on Tenn Pin's outdoor area, with plans to add an 850-foot 20-car go-kart track, an 18-hole miniature golf course and expanding the parking lot with an additional 65 spaces. There are also plans to upgrade the main building's exterior, making it more aesthetically appealing. Not to mention the upgrades will make Tenn Pin more visible to drivers along James M. Campbell Boulevard.

"We are excited about this, and it's been a long time coming," Derek Ransom said.

Construction on all aspects of the project, the Ransoms hope, is estimated to be completed by the end of this year or early next year. However, the goal is to at least open the go-karts and mini golf by the spring. This will also include further renovations and expansions to the facility's gaming arcade to allow outdoor access to the new attractions.

"We're hoping we can get those attractions open by Mule Day, because I want us to have a float in the parade," Brandee said.

Go-karts and mini-golf are among the many great traditions found at these all-encompassing entertainment stops.

And while Tenn Pin's new additions are keeping those old traditions alive, they are doing so in a modern way, one that makes the equipment not only more efficient, but safer.

For example, the go-karts used are powered by electricity, making them more environmentally friendly and less harmful compared to vehicles powered by gas. There is also a remote control safety feature in the event a driver spins out or gets stuck on the track.

"That's the big thing now, having electric battery technology," Derek said. "You can do a lot with it, like pump in the sound. It's pretty impressive what you can do with these new cars."

Of the 20 cars available, 14 of them will be single-rider, with the other six as double-riders, so an adult and child can ride together in a two-seater.

The idea for bringing go-karts and miniature golf to Tenn Pin Alley has been a dream for many years, the Ransoms say.

But as with many major plans, projects and developments, it was met with a few setbacks.

The idea for expanding seemed like it could one day become a reality. That is, until the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on many aspects of the business. However, it could have been a lot worse considering so many other businesses were forced to close during that time.

"For a lot of businesses in a lot of other areas, they weren't able to overcome it, but we kind of were," Brandee said. "We took all of the precautions, did all of the things, but business just continued to grow. Part of that is due to the growth in Maury County, but part of it too is people discovering us who didn't even know we were here."

Overall, Tenn Pin remained closed for 52 days during the pandemic, which gave the Ransoms time to explore other ways to benefit the business, such as launching a Tenn Pin food truck. This not only brought the food aspect of the business to the public but has also turned out to be a useful resource for charity events, fundraisers and nonprofit work.

"It's been a great way to support the community, because we send it to the schools a lot and to different events," Brandee said. "One time we even tried sending it over to the hospital, just trying different things to help out where we could."

Since returning to "normal" business life, the Ransoms say whatever setbacks they might have faced during the COVID pandemic had no lasting effects on Tenn Pin's continued success. If anything, business couldn't be better at the moment.

"We are doing better now than pre-COVID, and I think that's because people wanted to get out of the house and do something social and active," Derek said. "That's really what's driving this here, that our business has amped up, and that Maury County as a whole is growing so much. It's pushing us to accelerate our plans to expand."

With the new attractions, along with the planned parking lot expansion and building exterior upgrades, the Ransoms hope the project will bring new life to an already bustling family fun stop, while creating new ways to have an all-in-one fun experience.

"We want to continue to grow with Maury County and be the one-stop shop for family entertainment," Derek said. "That is our goal."

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

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

Kiwanis Yard Sale (CDH)

Rummage sale enthusiasts near and far are marking their calendars for the upcoming annual Kiwanis Club of Columbia Yard Sale, one of the largest in Columbia, scheduled for Feb. 25 at the Memorial Building downtown.

Held from 8 a.m. until noon, the yard sale will benefit Maury County Imagination Library, an initiative of the Kiwanis Club to improve reading in early school-aged children. The Imagination Library mails free books monthly to children in Maury County from birth to age 5, who are registered for the program.

The yard sale has been a constant in the community for almost 19 years.

Kiwanian Dwaine Beck, who has served as yard sale chairman on and off for 15 years, said for some, the yard sale marks one of the most anticipated community events of the year.

"It's a community event," Beck said. "Some people have told me that the yard sale Saturday is their favorite day of the year. People come and find treasures. Some people in the antique business buy treasures there and resell it.

"It's an amazing 24 hours. Donors help us fill the Memorial Building on Friday, and it's gone by noon the next day."

Visitors can expect to find items such as household goods, furniture, knick-knacks, books, glassware, sports equipment, toys and much more.

Imagination Library was started by Dolly Parton in her home county in east Tennessee as an early literacy effort. It has spread to all 95 counties in the state and several foreign countries. It was launched in Maury County in 2005, and the Kiwanis club has been an annual supporter.

This year's yard sale is dedicated to the memory of Doris Beck, Dwaine Beck's mother and devoted volunteer since the yard sale's inception, who died late last year. She was wife, mother, and grandmother to the Becks, and an accomplished seamstress who made dolls for newborns at her local church Jackson Heights Church of Christ.

An avid yard sale shopper herself, Doris Beck served as the yard sale's annual pricing specialist, which came in handy with all of her shopping experience, Dwaine Beck said.

"She loved yard sales and was always glad to participate for nearly 20 years. She loved to bargain," Beck said. "Not only did she help with Kiwanis but going to yard sales on Saturdays was one of her favorite activities."

Beck remembers his mother spending hours the day before the annual yard sale placing stickers on hundreds of various items from household objects to antique furniture.

"She was a member of the pricing team, and she'd be there all day Friday for set-up helping to price items. Her longtime experience as a yard sale shopper was a great help in that effort," Beck said.

Hundreds of shoppers are expected to visit the sale from all corners of Southcentral Middle Tennessee.

"There is always a line at the door about an hour before the sale begins. We have to say 'no early birds please.' We have a countdown and open the doors at the stroke of 8 a.m.," Beck said.

To donate, bring any gently used household items and furniture to the parking lot behind the Memorial Building Friday, Feb. 24 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The only clothing items accepted are winter coats.

Items not accepted include clothes (other than winter coats), TVs, sleeper sofas, computers, printers, and monitors.

What the Kiwanis Club does not sell on Saturday, they will donate to the Lion's Club, which holds a yard sale later in the year.

"It's a great recycling event. We are keeping stuff out of the landfill. One man's trash is another man's treasure," Beck said.

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

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

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.

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.

Mr. Frick Hodges Hickman, 74, real-estate agent for Caldwell Bankers and Barnes, died Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Hickman will be conducted Saturday at 11:00 A.M. at First United Methodist Church in Columbia. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Natisha Brooks Announces for Mayor (Tennessean)

Natisha Brooks, a former educator and self-described "Christian conservative constitutionalist," recently announced her campaign for Nashville mayor.

The campaign will focus on increasing funding and resources for mental health initiatives working within the police force and schools.

"We need a mayor that can work with the state legislature" to secure funding for those programs, Brooks said.

Brooks also wants to see increased funding to grow Nashville's police force and reduce response times.

She said property taxes in Davidson County are too high, noting some residents who own their homes are not able to afford property taxes as home values increase.

"We want people to know you can make it in Nashville," Brooks said. "We don't want people to feel like they can't afford to live in Nashville."

Her other areas of interest include improved transit, particularly for commuters from nearby suburbs, and ramping up Nashville's homelessness response.

Previously, Brooks campaigned to represent Tennessee's 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives but lost in the Republican primary on Aug. 4, 2022.

Brooks retired from her role as director of the Brooks Home School Academy last year. Her education career includes work at Hillsboro High School and time as an educator in Orange County, Florida.

Brooks is part of a growing field of candidates for the 2023 mayoral election, several of whom have launched campaigns after current Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced he would not run for a second term. Other candidates include Metro council members Sharon Hurt and Freddie O'Connell, economic development veteran Matt Wiltshire, former AllianceBernstein chief operating officer Jim Gingrich, Tennessee state Sen. Jeff Yarbro and former Nashville school board member Fran Bush.

May 18 is the qualifying deadline for the Aug. 3 election.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Enchantment abounds in a magical 2023-24 HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC Season, Presented in Partnership with Nissan and filled with the hottest titles direct from New York and on tour. Featuring six Nashville premieres, including a two-week engagement of the Tony®-nominated Best Musical Disney’s FROZEN; MRS. DOUBTFIRE, based on the beloved film and directed by four-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Zaks; FUNNY GIRL, featuring one of the greatest musical scores of all time; the Tony Award®-winning reimagination of Bob Dylan’s legendary songs in GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY; the inspiring story of the Queen of Rock n’ Roll, TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL; and BEETLEJUICE, the Broadway smash hit based on Tim Burton’s dearly beloved film.

The 2023-24 Broadway at TPAC lineup also includes the highly-anticipated return of WICKED, the sensational untold true story of the Witches of Oz, and the Tony Award®-winning musical comedy HAIRSPRAY.

In addition, TPAC will have two limited engagement presentations, including THE CHER SHOW, the Tony Award®-winning musical featuring 35 of her hit songs, and ANNIE, the timeless classic that has reminded theatergoers for decades that sunshine is always right around the corner.

“Over the past 42 years, TPAC has presented a variety of compelling, inspiring and entertaining performances, and we are proud to offer this uplifting Broadway lineup of powerful stories of hope, self-discovery, and the importance of family and friends,” says Jennifer Turner, TPAC President and CEO.

To purchase season tickets and review the full benefits, pricing, and seat map, visit TPAC.ORG/Broadway


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