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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 23, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Maury Crash (Maury County Source)

Two people were killed in a crash in Maury County on February 20th.

The crash happened around 4 p.m. on Highway 43 at the intersection of Old Zion Road.

Officials say, Richard Ashworth, 84, and Robert McArthur, 91, died after colliding with a semi-truck.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report says Ashworth was driving on Highway 43 in a Toyota Corolla when he stopped at the intersection before turning into the southbound lanes into the path of the truck.

The driver of the semi-truck was not injured.


Homeless Shelter in Library (MainStreetMaury)

With the rise of homelessness across Columbia, the Maury County Public Library has become a safe space for those looking for shelter. Now, Library Board Chairman Joel Friddell says the problem has escalated to the point of needing additional security.

“With the library being a public place, that’s where the homeless and drugged out people end up because it is a place to go to,” Friddell told the Maury County Admin Committee during its Feb. 7 meeting.

Over the holidays, Friddell said the rear exit of the building had become “an absolute mess of human filth” after somebody decided to make the stairwell their home. The library, which is still without a director following the resignation of Zac Fox, is also struggling with several vacancies. Friddell said a shortage of staff has increased security concerns.

“We had to lower the hours on the weekend because there were times we had two people in a building that is 16,000 square feet, and that was not safe,” he said.

Friddell said the library has been working with the police department on protocols, including the option to be escorted out by officers during afterhours. Fridell said the library has had to get the police involved in more than one occasion.

“It’s unfortunate that has become a necessity because of what we have going on in the modern world,” Friddell said. “It’s an issue the county is going to have to address and it’s an issue the cities are certainly going to have to address.”

District 4 Commissioner Connie Green agreed, saying, “We’ve got to wake up in this community and finally say we have a homeless problem, and we need to come up with a plan to deal with that.”

Last Monday, Feb. 13, the Budget Committee unanimously recommended approval of a $20,000 county monitoring system, which will allow access to the system outside of the library. The County Commission will have to approve the funding request.

“Because of the current library, you have to be inside the library to see what’s going on,” Friddell said. The upgraded monitoring system will also come with a trigger mechanism, which will send notifications to those authorized to use the system.

Though the rise in homelessness has caused concern, Friddell said the library can also serve a good purpose.

“There are some homeless people that the library serves well,” Friddell said, adding there is help available for those looking to apply for jobs on the computer. “There are some people that are just whacked out and doing drugs. Those are the people we want to think twice about being around the library.”


Kelsea Ballerini Performs at Worldwide Stages

Country music star Kelsea Ballerini became the first woman to headline CMT's Storytellers concert TV series on Thursday night with a performance at World Wide Stages in Spring Hill. 

The Nashville resident and Knoxville native performed songs from throughout her career including from her 2022 album Subject to Change and from the surprise EP she released on Valentine's Day, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. 

2023 has already been a notable year for the Lipscomb alum, and it's only going to continue to get busier. Her 2022 track "HEARTFIRST," which she performed on Storytellers, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Solo Country Performance. It was also announced recently that she would be the musical guest for Saturday Night Live on March 4. 

In April, Ballerini is set to host the 2023 CMT Awards. She is taking her Heartfirst tour to the United Kingdom in February and North America in March before embarking on a 21-city run with Kenny Chesney. 

Ballerini's CMT Stroytellers can be streamed on CMT's website and will re-air on Friday, Feb. 24th at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 25th 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Worldwide Stages, housed in the former Saturn Headquarters building in Spring Hill, provides soundstage and production facilities for music, TV, film and virtual production at a level never before available to the entertainment industry. They have multiple soundstages combined with thousands of square feet of luxurious green rooms and production suites, a private 70-seat theater for screening dailies or for intimate performances, grand lobbies and atriums for industry events, onsite Grade A commercial kitchen/craft services that can feed hundreds, and over 1,000 parking spaces, all on over 38 acres of safe, secure, beautiful rolling countryside in Maury County.


(Youth Litter Challenge (CDH)

In every town, the streets and roadways are often cluttered with litter and other forms of garbage, and in Spring Hill its leaders are working to promote a cleaner city.

And to do this, Spring Hill leaders are calling on the youth to participate in what is being called the Youth Litter Challenge, where participants will be eligible for cash awards.

"Spring Hill is getting even better at litter pick-up and recycling, and it shows," Mayor Jim Hagaman said. "We don't take anything that anybody does for us for granted, and we know that the citizens of Spring Hill will work to make that happen. We deserve a clean city."

The challenge encourages younger citizens to take part in litter pick-up throughout the city, recording each pick-up's progress in a litter pick-up report.

This project was spearheaded primarily by Alderman Jason Cox, along with the city's Waste Management Department. During Monday's regular meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Waste Management also donated $1,000 to the city as part of the program, which will be used as prize giveaways to participants.

Cox is also founder of the Keep Spring Hill Clean initiative in 2021, which was a big focus of his campaign to being elected to office.

"I've heard from members of our board and members of the community that they didn't realize how much litter was out there until they got out and actually did a cleanup," Cox said. "This is what I want to hear from our youth as well, They get out there, see it and now they realize that it is truly an issue, and they have to be a part of the solution."

Cox also campaigned to implement an Adopt a Street program with the city in 2022, which he said has now amassed approximately 13 miles in city streets being monitored for trash.

"It's really done a great job across the city, and some of it has been from organizations not even from Spring Hill, but those who recognize us and want to come here," Cox said. "Going into 2023, one of the ideas floating around was how to get youth more involved in recognizing that litter is a problem."

Part of the program's main focus is safety, since picking up litter on the side of a highway isn't necessarily considered safe by normal standards. The Youth Litter Challenge page on the city's website lists various locations that have been deemed a safe pick-up site and will be updated routinely as more areas are covered.

"We are always going to keep this list moving so they always have spots they can go and look," Cox said.


The Factory (WKOM Audio 2:14)

The Factory at Columbia is under new ownership and held their ribbon cutting and grand opening yesterday. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by to learn more about what the venue has to offer under new management…


Fire Stats (Press Release)

Columbia Fire & Rescue’s emergency call volume has increased nearly 19% over the past two years. 11% of that total increase occurred in 2022. In 2021, the permit volume for residential construction increased 27.9%. Nonresidential construction increased around 14.0%. Columbia Fire & Rescue is strategically planning to accommodate this growth. Columbia City Council recently approved a complete remodel of Fire Station No.1 downtown which will include necessary updates and create more space for adding personnel. Columbia Fire & Rescue was also recently awarded a FEMA SAFER Grant which will fund additional positions within the department. To ensure residents and visitors will continue to receive the best possible service, funding additional firefighters, facilities, apparatus, and equipment will continue to be a top priority.

Columbia Fire & Rescue is an ISO Class 1 rated Fire Department serving the citizens of the City of Columbia, Tennessee. With its humble beginnings as a volunteer service, Columbia Fire & Rescue has spent the last 150+ years creating a legacy of service that continues today. CFR currently serves over 43,000 residents in a 33-square mile area. Columbia firefighters respond to over 5,000 calls a year for all types of emergencies.


Community Rallies Around Friend (MainStreetMaury)

When customers walk into Grecian Family Restaurant and Bakery, Frank and Sasa Georgalos have made it their mission to make sure they’re treated like family. That extended family has been propped up through hard times by the Georgaloses more times than it can count.

From free Thanksgiving meals to spirit nights or fundraisers for local families of sick children — the list of generosities is seemingly endless for the local restaurant.

Frank was named the Grand Marshal in the 2022 Spring Hill Christmas parade for his generosity and community support.

That’s why when Sasa and Frank told the community Frank was sick and would be needing surgery, there was an immediate outpouring of love to the couple.

Frank underwent triple bypass heart surgery on Monday, Feb. 13, and was still in the Intensive Care Unit as recently as Sunday.

As a small business owner, medical insurance or large savings accounts aren’t always available and even when they are it may not be enough to cover the medical expenses, much less what it takes to continue operating their business.

That’s where the community support has stepped in.

A GoFundMe account was set up almost immediately once the news began to circulate through the city. As of Monday, more than $16,000 of the $50,000 goal has been raised to help the family.

On Saturday night, local musician Billy Willis lent his talents to a fundraising event at the restaurant, and many community leaders and members showed up in force to give back to the family that has given so much.

“It’s such a blessing to know that our friends and our community are behind us,” Sasa said. “We love Spring Hill and everybody there, and we are so happy they are here for us in our time of need.”

The family is still in need of monetary support, but also asks for the thoughts and prayers from the community as well. To donate to the cause, visit gofundme.com/f/the-georgalos-family.


Maury Regional K-9 Unit (Press Release)

As the second health care facility and first rural hospital in Tennessee to implement a K-9 unit, Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) has become a model for other hospitals in the state.

 The K-9 unit is an important component of the MRMC Security Department, which consists of 18 total security officers. Working in unison, the entire group patrols Maury Regional Health’s buildings and properties in Columbia to ensure a safe environment for all patients, staff and visitors.

 “The primary goal of the K-9 unit is to help deescalate tense situations, allowing staff and visitors to feel more comfortable and at ease when the dogs are present,” Administrative Director of Safety, Security and Environmental Services Mike Short said. “While the dogs help to contribute to a safer campus overall, we wanted to ensure they were personable: able to connect with and make people more comfortable when they are at the hospital. That can often mean stopping at nursing units to say hello to staff or brightening the day of a patient with a quick visit.”

 MRMC’s K-9 unit started in 2019 with Belgian Malinois brothers Max and Milo and their respective handlers security officers Scott Nations and John Holland. In 2021, Maverick, a Dutch shepherd, and Merlin, a Belgian Malinois, joined the unit along with their respective handlers security officers Chris Lovett and James Hill.

 Adding Maverick and Merlin to the team made it possible for a security K-9 to be available at the medical center 24/7.

 “Our job is to make things safer for our patients, visitors and staff,” said Nations, the K-9 unit supervisor for the organization. “People often seem surprised to see one of the dogs walking down the hall, but their presence can provide reassurance and bring a sense of safety to those we encounter.” 

 Prior to beginning work at MRMC, all K-9s and their handlers attend an intensive obedience and training program at Ventosa K9 Kennel in North Carolina, with a special emphasis on training for the unique needs of a health care environment. In addition to being skilled at deescalating tense situations, they are trained to detect upwards of 20 odors and are able to serve as a community resource if called upon by local law enforcement agencies.

 “At Maury Regional, we are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all individuals who enter our buildings,” Short said. “Sometimes in health care, emotions can run high. Having one of our K-9s on duty to respond to these tense situations can often calm individuals through their presence alone before it escalates. They can definitely change the dynamic of most any interaction by their very presence.”

 “They’re part of the team,” Nations added. “They get excited to come into work each day. They love seeing the staff — Max probably hears 150 times a day how beautiful he is — but they take their jobs and the safety of our staff, patients and visitors very seriously.”

 MRMC’s K-9 program is made possible thanks to funding from the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and the Maury Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, a service organization that funds special requests from departments of the medical center through fundraising activities and revenue generated from the operation of the hospital’s Gift Shop.

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 runsignup.com/MuleKick5K.


And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols 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.


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…

Tesla Opening Flagship Store in Franklin (MauryCountySource)

Tesla Motors will occupy 300 Shingle Way in Franklin, TN –  a 57,447 sq ft. building owned by TriOut Advisory Group. The building is being prepared to be the next location for Tesla Motors Flagship Store, making it one of the largest in the country.

TriOut Advisory Group is proud to partner with Tesla Motors to provide an unparalleled location for the company to showcase its offering of innovative vehicles. Projected to be open by the middle of 2023, Tesla will be open for full service in the heart of Cool Springs in Franklin, TN which will house a vehicle gallery, service center, and Superchargers.

The property was acquired by TriOut Advisory Group in late 2019 and is a single-story Freestanding Building built in 2006 that is nestled on a 7-acre lot. It is surrounded by Mercedes, Infiniti, and Hyundai dealerships. Positioned parallel to Interstate 65, the property is a 30-minute drive to downtown Nashville and a 12-minute drive to Brentwood, making it a hub for the largest metropolitan area in Tennessee. TriOut will work collectively with Tesla and the city of Franklin to ensure the property remains a beacon in the community.

From the Model S to the SUV Model X and the crossover Model Y and even the Cybertruck, there is much anticipation to see what will roll across this remarkable gallery being prepared for the residents of Tennessee.

Principal of TriOut Advisory Group, Mike Outlaw, stated “Having a partner like Tesla perfectly aligns with our values, to bring premier clients to our properties while preserving the local environment with our acquisitions. We can’t wait to provide Tesla with their new home in the wonderful area of Cool Springs.” TriOut is elated to be a part of this extraordinary story and stand with a true pioneer in the frontier of electric cars.


School Voucher Program Expands to Hamilton (Tennessean)

The Tennessee Senate on Thursday passed legislation to expand eligibility for the state's school voucher program, which would extend the program beyond Shelby and Davidson counties to allow Hamilton County to join.

The Education Savings Account program allows students to take public education funds and apply it to private school tuition.

Sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, the bill expands the program to include school districts that have five schools identified in the bottom 10% of schools in the state. The law currently includes districts with 10 schools in the bottom 10%.

The program was one of Gov. Bill Lee's early legislative wins in 2019, but the program stalled for several years through lengthy court battles. It kickstarted last year for a two-year pilot program.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Guns N’ Roses announced a 2023 World Tour and the powerhouse rock band will be at GEODIS Park in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday, Aug. 26.

Tickets will be available starting ``Friday, Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. local time on gunsnroses.com.

Nashville SC Season Ticket Members will be able to enjoy a presale window starting at 10 a.m. and through 10 p.m. local time on Thursday, Feb. 23. Go to Ticketmaster.com to enjoy this presale. Nashville SC Season Ticket Members will receive an email with their presale code and information.


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