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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for February 3, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Body Found in Santa Fe (Press Release)

At 7:00pm Tuesday evening, Maury County Fire received a call to retrieve a body found in the historic Fire Tower in Santa Fe.

County Fire units utilized high angle rope rescue operations to make their way up the condemned fire tower. The condition of the tower, cold temperatures, fog, and darkness made the operation especially complicated.

On scene command requested mutual aid from Spring Hill Fire Department to utilize a 100 foot aerial tower.

Rope rescue equipment was utilized in connection with the tower to retrieve the body. Crews worked for 3 hours in difficult conditions to deliver the body to the family.

The firetower is a restricted area not open to the public.

No other information is available at this time.

Maury Alliance Annual Meeting (CDH)

After Maury County was named as the fastest growing county in Tennessee in the most recent U.S. Census, business leaders in Maury County say "we're ready" to build upon the momentum by securing the future workforce.

Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance unveiled its new campaign "We're Ready" as part of the Align Maury workforce initiative at its annual celebration at Puckett's Restaurant on Tuesday night. Almost 300 business leaders gathered to celebrate the county's consistent economic growth and plans for the future.

"Its primary focus is to help our existing industries in Maury County and our employers continue to be successful by filling their employment vacancies," Wil Evans, president of Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance, said.

Evans acknowledged that almost all of the industries and businesses in Maury County are looking for workers in some capacity due to recent worker shortages in an array of industries since the pandemic.

"Our number one initiative is workforce development and talent pipeline enhancement," Evans said.

The Alliance began its initiative to develop a strong workforce in 2020 by hiring consultants to complete a workforce alignment study. The study provided an in-depth review of Maury County's workforce and provided over 30 recommendations to improve the connections between educational institutions and the workforce. The "We're Ready" campaign is part of that effort to draw people and businesses to Maury County.

Dennis Fisher, 2023 Align Maury Steering Committee Chair, explained the "We're Ready" campaign's objectives found on the new website

"Maury County is no longer our little secret. More and more families and businesses alike want to call us home," Fisher said.

"There's something special about living in Maury County. We are invested and ensuring the area has everything our residents need to make Maury County a great place to live."

He cited a few of the attractions that seem to draw new residents and businesses to Maury County such as Maury Regional Health's hospital and healthcare services, Columbia State Community College, the manufacturing industry, low taxes, attractive real estate and its close proximity to Huntsville, Alabama and Nashville.

Because of those things, Maury County has experienced much economic growth over the last several years.

From 2014 to 2019, Maury County added 125,000 jobs and saw total earnings rise 15.1% during those five years.

Evans shared a few more economic milestones for Maury County in 2022 at the annual celebration.

Eleven new projects were announced in 2022, leading to:

The creation of 3,364 new jobs

$151 million dollars in new annual payroll

$4.83 billion in new capital investments

Three major economic highlights were made in 2022, including Ultium Cells battery expansion, Fiberon's relocation to Columbia and Brazilian Professionals relocation to Mt. Pleasant. Those projects resulted in 820 new jobs and $593 million in capital investments.

The chamber has grown to almost 600 members and has celebrated 44 ribbon-cuttings in 2022.

The county has also experienced small business growth. From 2010 to 2020, the county has seen a 25% growth in self-employed entrepreneurs.

"We are ready. We are ready to work," Fisher said. "We've shown time after time that our workforce has what it takes to service a wide range of business needs from automotive production to advanced manufacturing to research and development."

He also named corporations that have made a strong name in Maury County, including Groove Life, Smile Direct Club, JC Ford and Landmark Ceramics, calling the county an "innovation hub."

"We are ready to innovate. Columbia State is committed to preparing our region's workforce to meet the demands of a modern economy," Fisher said. "The school consistently partners with our K-12 schools and employers to celebrate growth and make Maury County an innovation hub."

Also to the burgeoning arts scene and makers at the 12,000 sq. ft. Columbia Arts Building, Fisher said, "We want to support your dream."

The Align Maury Advisory Panel will review, prioritize and implement other recommendations to build Maury County's workforce.

The annual dinner ended with awards, including former Columbia vice mayor Christa Martin receiving the Chairman's Award for her service to the community and Columbia Pastor Russ Adcox being announced as the next Maury County Chamber board chairman.

Centenarian Remembers (CDH)

Arriving at Ms. Leola Parham Shouse Beard’s home last week, the company of family and friends gathered around her rocking chair, where she sat with a collection of blankets under a lamp that served as a spotlight of her 100-year-old history.

Covered wagons drawn by mules, hauling water for baths and laundry, while coping with hardships brought by World War II was "just living" to Beard.

During a recent visit on Sugar Ridge Road, Beard shared her stories with family and friends, claiming her part in the “Greatest Generation,” a term that describes people born from 1901 to 1927, who were shaped by The Great Depression and lived during World War II. On the wall in her living room hangs a couple of newspaper clippings – one of her mother, who was also featured in the newspaper when she turned 100 and another in which her mother is with Spring Hill resident Alicia Fitts’ grandfather, who also reached centenarian status.

Fitts, who is actively involved in helping Maury County document its history and engage the community in related events, organized the get together that followed shortly after Beard’s 100th birthday on Dec. 4.

Beard, born to Frank and Lizzie Parham in 1923, said reaching this milestone in her life was never part of a conscious plan.

“I didn’t ever think how old I might get to be,” Beard said. “That didn’t ever enter my mind; I just raised a family like everyone else did.”

Growing up during the Depression, Beard recounts her story with no hint of accolades for enduring hard times, stating simply, “everyone just did what they were supposed to do.”

Working and taking care of a family in which, biscuits with butter and sugar were considered a special treat, Beard’s demeanor is pleasant and her focus remains sharp.

As she moves from one story to the next of the folks in her lengthy life, she mentioned the kinds of things she spent her time doing over the years, pointing to a stack of quilts she stitched together, one of them by collecting old handkerchiefs.

Beard’s son, Lloyd Shouse, a pharmacist who now lives in Spring Hill near the Thompson’s Station area showed photos of family members across the years, framed and fading.

Recalling stories of her son, Beard lit up the room with laughter, as she told of a day when they ran out of dishes.

A young Shouse used a high chair to climb to the counter to reach them.

“The chair got scooted over to the cabinet,” Beard said. “And then, the crash. Every dish I had in the world … And what I did instead of kill him — I just started crying.”

Shouse climbed under the bed to hide, and the family replaced the broken dishes from Groves General Store – dishes she still uses today. Before her home was built in the Sugar Ridge area, Beard lived in a small area near Santa Fe, called Hill Town.

“I don’t even think they call it that now,” Beard said. “It was a good place to grow up, though the people there didn’t think so. But what did they want during the Depression time?”

Her husband at the time and Lloyd’s father, Hervie Shouse was a sharecropper who lived off a wage of $1 per day, while sometimes being paid partially in corn. “$1 a day was a pretty good wage then,” she said.

Shouse said his father had siblings he had to help support, leading him to drop out of school to support the family. At one point, Shouse said his father did the hard work of clearing “new ground” to plow for 50 cents a day. “That’s how the family subsisted,” Shouse said.

Beard always took care of the home, she said, and that was the work.

“It wasn’t heard of to have a job somewhere,” Beard said.

But the work was always ongoing, Beard said, as she recalls the chore many kids will never know of toting buckets of water for the family to use.

“That was just typical,” Beard said. “We didn’t think it was hard. It was just living.”

When Beard was in third grade, her family moved from Water Valley in Santa Fe with a wagon pulled by mules, walking the distance from Water Valley to their new Spring Hill home.

Whooping Cough was a major concern during Beard’s time, causing the death of one of her younger siblings when they moved.

Beard’s father, Frank Parham, built the barn that now sits unused near what is now The Crossings in Spring Hill among other homes in Spring Hill, one of which Lloyd lives in today.

Beard shares that one great memory was when her father returned home from the sawmill with a surprise – a battery operated radio.

“Boy did we ever have a crowd that Saturday night as good as the Grand Ole Opry,” Beard said, recalling neighbors showing up, tracking mud inside just to get a listen.

Beard continued to share stories with terms unknown to many today, like Decoration Day – in which families would take bouquets and other decorations to family gravesites – a tradition that some still honor today.

And of course, many have heard their elder relatives talking about having to walk to school in the snow for miles?

Beard said the walk to school was actually two miles in the snow, as her father would lift Beard’s sister, Bessie Walker up onto his back, while Beard followed behind in his tracks.

During her daily routine now, she looks most forward to a visit from her postman, whom she befriended and has plenty of other visitors to keep her company, including a daytime helper.

He usually shares a moment with Beard, rather than just dropping the mail and leaving.

As for how she’s doing today, Beard enjoys living out the remainder of her story, one of a full life, with her hope resting in God and a strong love for family.

Omega’s Market Your Family You Don’t Know (MainStreetMaury)

Ted Danson won’t be standing behind the bar when customers walk into Omega’s Market and Diner, but that won’t stop staff members from calling them by their name – well, at least a name.

“We try to learn everybody by name,” proprietor Omega Caruthers said. “If we don’t get it right, we’ll try again.”

The reason, though, is because Caruthers – affectionately known as ‘Ms. Omega’ – considers every person who graces her door family.

“We are the family you don’t know,” she said. “It makes you feel important when you come into a place and they know you and may even know what you’re going to order before you ask.”

Treating customers like family and serving up delicious home-cooked style meals has made Omega’s one of the most popular restaurants in Columbia. Tucked away at the corner of Woodland St. and Cemetery Ave. in the College Heights neighborhood, the place may not be easy to find.

Was it scary to open a business without a large following of customers in a place that is off the beaten path? Certainly.

“My kids asked me if I got old and went crazy, but I told them no, I know my gift,” she said. “I know what I asked God for and He has led me to this place. I know He didn’t bring me here to leave me.”

Her faith is what gave the Maury County native the strength to not only open the business, but to thrive in it. Ms. Omega said there wouldn’t be a business without God and His blessing. Her faith, however, was key when she walked away from her job and had no benefits, no income – nothing – and opened the doors.

“This just lets me know that all the things that I’ve asked for and prayed for in my life, that God has brought it all to fruition,” she said. “I know that He’s a good God and my faith is always going to be a very important part of everything I’ve done in my life.

“This just shows me that God is true to His word. Do the best you can to serve Him and He’ll take care of the rest.”

Ms. Omega’s son, Shaun Harris, said the food is exactly like what he’s been eating his whole life. The same food she would make at home, for church or for pastors is the same food you’ll order at the window and have delivered to your table.

From fried pork chops or maybe meatloaf or chicken and dressing to side dishes like macaroni and cheese, turnip greens, fried okra – the Southern-style cuisine doesn’t get much better that what Ms. Omega puts down.

Shaun said his aunt takes the orders and keeps the line moving before he takes care of the cash register, food running and other little things.

“As long as the phone gets answered and somebody’s writing down orders, we’re going to keep it moving. Mom does the cooking and I take care of everything else,” he said, “Everything else is a piece of cake.”

Speaking of cake, don’t forget to order dessert, though most of the time it’s the pie that gets folks talking. Whether it’s pecan or chess or anything else on any given day, there is no shortage of sweet treats for everybody.

The crew shows up around 8 a.m. each day unless there is a special event or catering order, and they’ll start serving lunch at 11 a.m. until they close at 4 p.m. – just in time to pick up dinner for the family you know on the way home.

Name the Snowplow (MauryCountySource)

The City of Columbia Public Works Department is hosting a ‘Name A Snowplow’ contest!

The public is invited to submit the best and most creative names for 4 of the City’s snowplows. Submit your entry via email at

The winning names will be assigned to the snowplows at the City of Columbia Public Works facility. Winners will receive a $25 gift card, an opportunity to have your photo made with your winning snowplow and be recognized at the Columbia City Council meeting to be held on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.


• One entry per person

• Entries are limited to no more than 30 characters (including letters and spaces), and one to two words.

• Entries will be accepted in order received and duplicated names/entries will be excluded

• Members and staff of the City of Columbia are not eligible to enter

• No profanity or inappropriate language

• No politically inspired names


• Voting period is now – 02/09/2023 at 3:30 p.m.

• Public Works employees will vote on submissions names

• Winning names will be announced Friday, February 17th

• Winners will be notified by phone or email taken from entry form

• Each of winner will receive a $25 gift card

• Winners will be recognized at the March 09, 2023 City Council meeting

• Elementary school winners will have an opportunity to have their winning snowplow appear at their school

• Winners will be published on Facebook, Instagram and the City of Columbia website

MRMC Wear Red (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) is encouraging individuals to help promote awareness of cardiovascular disease by participating in National Wear Red Day on Feb. 3.

 The annual event provides an opportunity to show support for heart health by wearing red. Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 killer of both American men and women, accounting for more than 800,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the American Heart Association. Here are more facts:

 ∙ Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in three deaths in the U.S. every year

 ∙ About 11% of American adults have been diagnosed with heart disease

 ∙ 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease

 ∙ Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease

 ∙ The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men

 ∙ Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol

“Increasing awareness about the threat of this disease is imperative to changing these statistics,” said Maury Regional Health (MRH) CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “Both men and women should be aware of the signs and symptoms and contact 911 immediately if they think they may be experiencing a heart or stroke-related problem.”

 Cardiovascular disease can often lead to heart attacks and strokes, where symptoms can sometimes be hard to spot and can even present themselves differently in women than men.

MRMC is recognized as a Chest Pain Center with PCI by the American College of Cardiology and holds certification in the treatment of heart failure from The Joint Commission. Learn more at

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

Mr. Gerald Ray Walters, 79, retied conductor for CSX Railroad and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, January 28, 2023 at St. Thomas Mid Town. Funeral services for Mr. Walters will be conducted Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 10:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Santa Fe Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. and Saturday from 9:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Ms. Sara Katherine Duncan Parks, 69, died Saturday, January 29, 2023 at Novant Health in Huntersville, North Carolina. Funeral services for Ms. Parks will be conducted Saturday at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mrs. Sharon Kaye Beard Teal, 51, cosmetologist, died Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at her residence in Manchester. Funeral services for Mrs. Teal will be conducted Sunday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Godwin Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Maria Lee to Get Bone Marrow Transplant (Tennessean)

Tennessee first lady Maria Lee finished the first phase of her treatment for lymphoma and is preparing for a bone marrow transplant, the governor's office announced.

"While there are difficult days ahead, Maria and I have great trust in the Lord," Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement. "We too are praying that God brings peace and comfort to all Tennesseans who are facing challenges in their own lives."

The first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma in August and began treatment immediately.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, though it can affect other organs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Despite the diagnosis, Maria Lee has kept some public appearances, which included attending the governor's inauguration festivities in January.

Governor Taps Tarwater (Tennessean)

Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday appointed Knoxville attorney Dwight E. Tarwater to fill a Tennessee Supreme Court later this year.

If confirmed, Tarwater will fill a vacancy left by Justice Sharon Lee, who last year announced plans to retire at the end of August 2023. She is the last justice on the court appointed by a Democratic governor.

“Dwight is a highly qualified attorney who will bring significant experience to the Tennessee Supreme Court,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “His understanding of the judiciary’s appropriate role and commitment to the conservative principles of judicial restraint make him well-suited for the state’s highest court, and I am proud to appoint him to this position.”

Kristi Davis, a judge on the Tennessee Court of Appeals, and Tom Greenholtz, a judge in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, were both in the running for the pick.

Tarwater marks Lee's second Supreme Court justice pick in as many years.

In Tennessee, a governor makes appointments to the state Supreme Court. But under a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution, the appointment requires legislative approval. Justices then face retention elections every eight years.

Tarwater previously served as Gov. Bill Haslam's general counsel and is currently a partner at Paine, Tarwater, Bickers, LLP in Knoxville.

Final Story of the Day (MauryCountySource)

Can you believe we are only two months away from celebrating Maury County's latest Mule Day?

While Mule Day always consists of the traditional festivities like the Mule Day Parade, the annual Columbia tradition typically begins with the Mule Day Pageant, where one lucky participant will be named this year's Mule Day Queen.

This year's event will take place starting at 7 p.m. Saturday at Columbia State Community College's Cherry Theater, 1665 Hampshire Pike.

For more information, and all other upcoming Mule Day 2023 events, visit


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