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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 24, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Protecting the Duck (CDH)

The Maury County Commission urged state legislators to provide more guardrails of protection to the Duck River, Columbia’s main source of drinking water, Tuesday, by unanimously passing a resolution in support of a proposed bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, and Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald.

House Bill 0447 would expand the river's “scenic status” parameters, adding additional layers of protection to the waterway, such as deterring close-by development.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Feb. 28.

According to the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, current scenic river protections span from Iron Bridge Road to the Marshall County line. The new bill would further extend the boundaries of protection of the Duck River from Industrial Park Road in Columbia to the Hickman County line.

The county commission voted last fall to adopt the state Jackson Law, which limits development within close proximity of water sources, such as the Duck River.

The county commission's move to adopt the Jackson Law would restrict the parameters of certain development, including a proposed industrial landfill on the former Monsanto property that has drawn much public scrutiny.

Last fall, Baton Rouge-based Trinity Business Group applied for a Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation permit that would establish a tire processing facility at the former Monsanto chemical plant site in Columbia. The proposal sparked much concern from residents and elected leaders, which led to the proposed state legislation that would add further protections to the Duck River, one of the most biodiverse rivers in the world.

Leaders worry that the proposed tire processing facility, or landfill, could potentially produce toxic chemicals that could result in run off into the waterway. In addition, the former Monsanto Superfund site contains volatile and combustible pollutants like phosphate, buried underground, site studies show.

Past concerns have centered around polluted leachate seeping to the soil surface that could contaminate ground waters in the Duck River.

Residents showed up at the commission meeting Tuesday night, wearing green, to show their support of the eco-friendly bill.

Mary Susan Kennedy, longtime Columbia resident and mother of local century farmer Sam Kennedy read a statement from her son during public comments imploring county leaders to protect the Duck River.

Kennedy’s statement emphasized his desire to see the protections move forward since he lives and works alongside the river, which runs through his property, a farm that has been in the Kennedy-Delk family for over 200 years.

“The health of my family and farm depend on clean water,” Kennedy read from her son’s statement.

Additionally, former Maury County science teacher, Stephanie Sparks-Newland, has been actively advocating for protections for Duck River to keep the waterway healthy for the next generation to ensure educational and recreation opportunities.

“We’ll be screaming for joy across the county if we can get the protections,” Sparks-Newland said.

Commissioner Aaron Miller, who represents the 7th District where much of the Monsanto property lies, stated his support of the additional protections.

“We all enjoy or take something from the Duck River in the county,” Miller said. “We have an obligation to do what we can to protect it.”

Cepicky, who was present at the commission meeting, urged commissioners to make an in-person show of support at the 113th Tennessee General Assembly on Feb. 28.

Cepicky said the bill has a chance of failing if commissioners do not show adequate support.

Concerned citizens are also penning their hopes on TDEC rejecting Trinity Business Group's permit application for the landfill facilities at the old Monsanto plant, which is within a mile of the river.

In 2010, the Duck River was given the designation of “most biodiverse river in North America.”

While some species have already succumbed to extinction, an additional goal is to maintain the river’s wealth of over 500 types of species, some, which are found exclusively in the Duck River.

CA Student, Merit Scholarship Finalist (MainStreetMaury)

Derek Young, a graduating senior at Columbia Academy, has been named a Finalist in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

The Finalists were selected from a pool of 16,000 Semifinalists named in September 2022. All Finalists will be considered for the National Merit Scholarships to be offered this year.

The National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist certificate is a high honor bestowed upon graduating seniors due to their distinguished performance and high potential for future academic accomplishments. Finalist candidates are proven to have a strong combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous university studies.

Young is the seventh student from Columbia Academy to achieve this honor and the third in the last four years. He is the son of Phillip and Brandy Young, and brother of National Merit Finalist Phillip Young III (Class of 2020). He currently possesses a 4.60 weighted GPA and has received multiple university offer letters including the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Tennessee Tech University and Harding University. He is currently undecided.

The selection of some 7,250 scholarship recipients is in progress now and scholarship offers will be made by March 2023. Scholarship winners represent fewer than 1 percent of the initial pool of student entrants, based on official statistics released by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

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.

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.

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.

 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

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

Mr. John Alfred Churchwell, 100, former owner and operator of Churchwell Sign and Arts Company, died Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at his residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Churchwell will be conducted Friday 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mr. Robert Carlton Derryberry, Jr., 71, truck driver for Premiere and resident of Columbia, died Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Derryberry will be conducted Monday at 11:00 A.M. at Maury Hills Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Sunday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home and Monday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the church.

…And now, news from around the state…

Medical Marijuana in Tennessee? (WPLN)

Forty-one states have legalized medical cannabis to some extent. Tennessee isn’t one of them. Lawmakers both Democratic and Republican have attempted to create a system for medical marijuana, but all have failed. Some are so against it they won’t even pose the question to their constituents.

Memphis Democrat Jesse Chism is the sponsor of a bill that would put three questions on the 2024 ballot in November.

Should the State of Tennessee legalize medical marijuana?

Should the State of Tennessee decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana?

Should the State of Tennessee legalize and regulate commercial sales of recreational use marijuana?

It would be unusual for the state to approve a non-binding referendum, and the chair of the committee quickly shot the idea down. Kingsport Republican John Crawford used ballot fatigue as an excuse.

“Our ballots are getting so long now; a lot of people aren’t even completing the ballot,” Crawford said. “They vote for a few spots, and then, they don’t even go any further.”

The bill failed, and its quick death tells a story of how far Tennessee is from becoming a cannabis-friendly state. Other bills to allow for medical and recreational marijuana have also not advanced this session.

State analysts have estimated that legalizing medical cannabis could bring in more than $30 million dollars a year by 2025.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The 21st District Recovery Court (Recovery Court) will host its first-ever singer-songwriter night on April 10 at The Franklin Theatre. The intimate musical experience showcases the talents of Williamson County’s very own Tim McGraw. The superstar entertainer, author, and actor will perform some of his greatest hits in a songwriter in the round style event alongside Tom Douglas and The Warren Brothers.

The Stories Behind the Songs with Tim McGraw, Tom Douglas, and The Warren Brothers will be held Monday, April 10, from 7 – 9 p.m. at The Franklin Theatre. Tickets are available at

All proceeds from the event will go directly to Recovery Court to support its 20-year mission to end the cycle of addiction and crime in our community by providing accountability and compassion to non-violent offenders in the criminal justice system. 


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