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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 8, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Battle Creek Principal Named (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura proudly announced Mr. Mike Kinnard as the appointed principal of the latest addition to Maury County Schools, Battle Creek High School, during the school board meeting held on January 2, 2024.

Battle Creek High School, located at 130 Battle Creek Way in Spring Hill, is set to welcome 9th and 10th-grade students for the 2024-25 school year. The school has approximately a 2000 student capacity and occupies 300,000 square feet on a spacious 50- acre campus. For more information, please visit the school's website at

Mike Kinnard is a 1977 graduate of Columbia Central High School. Kinnard received his Bachelor of Science and Master's in Curriculum and Instruction from Freed-Harman University and Educational Specialist in Educational Leadership, focusing on brain-based instruction from Nova Southeastern University. Kinnard started his education career as an English teacher in Lewis County and later became principal at Harpeth High School. In 2013, Kinnard joined Maury County Schools as assistant principal at Spring Hill Middle School and, in 2019, moved to Battle Creek Middle School as assistant principal. In 2021, Kinnard became principal at Battle Creek Middle School.

Expressing his gratitude, Mr. Kinnard remarked, "I am sincerely thankful to Superintendent Ventura for entrusting me with the opportunity to serve as the principal of Battle Creek High School. The establishment of this new school marks an exhilarating chapter for Maury County schools and the local community. I am truly humbled to collaborate with everyone who has contributed to the realization of this endeavor. Having been a part of Battle Creek Middle School since its inception in 2019, I eagerly anticipate continuing my service to the families and students, witnessing their growth and supporting their academic, athletic, and personal pursuits."

Superintendent Ventura stated, "I am extremely proud and excited to name Mr. Mike Kinnard as the Principal of Battle Creek High School. Mr. Kinnard has the experience and expertise to make high-quality academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs at our new high school. He has high expectations for staff and students and has worked tirelessly to see Battle Creek Middle School achieve great success. Battle Creek Middle School, as designated by the TN Department of Education, boasts a B letter grade, a level 5 in growth, and highquality athletic programs. I am confident that under his leadership, Battle Creek High School will flourish." Maury County Public Schools eagerly awaits Mr. Kinnard's positive impact on Battle Creek High School, fostering a culture of growth, achievement, and success for students and staff alike.

Lawrence County Fire (

Lawrence County Fire and Rescue said units were dispatched to a report of a fully-involved residential structure fire in the Gandy Fire District — more specifically, in the 200 block of Mt. Lebanon Road — shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 6.

When the first crews arrived, they said they found “heavy wind driven fire conditions,” so an extra tanker and manpower from the Lawrenceburg Fire Department responded to the scene.

According to officials, personnel launched an aggressive attack against the blaze and dragged one vehicle away from the home.

Since the scene was in an area with no municipal water supply for fire suppression, Lawrence County Fire and Rescue said tankers shuttled water from a power fill site a few miles away, which was set up by crewmembers at Stribbling Road and Grandaddy Road.

First responders brought the blaze under control, but they said the fire continued smoldering throughout the day and next night.

There are no reports of injuries resulting from the blaze. Meanwhile, investigators are still working to determine the cause of the incident.

Fire officials stated that the house was ruled a “total loss” following the fire, along with two vehicles and a side by side.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they deal with the loss of their property and personal items this morning,” Lawrence County Fire and Rescue wrote on Facebook.

Maury County Caregiver Charged (MauryCountySource)

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Medicaid Fraud Control Division into money missing from accounts of home care patients has resulted in the indictment and arrest of a Columbia woman.

In June 2023, after receiving referrals from Adult Protective Services, TBI agents initiated an investigation into an allegation that a caregiver for several home care patients in Maury County was using the victims’ debit cards to make fraudulent, personal charges on an online gambling site. The investigation identified Cynthia Dobbins as the caregiver responsible for the theft from the victims’ accounts.

On December 14, 2023, the Maury County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Cynthia Taylor Dobbins (DOB 09/21/1985) with four counts of Financial Exploitation of an Elderly/ Vulnerable Adult and four counts of Theft of $1,000 or less. Dobbins turned herself in at the Maury County Sheriff’s Office on December 29, 2023, and was released after posting a $10,000 bond.

CPWS Adds to Leadership (MSM)

Following the announcement of a new president and CEO, Columbia Power & Water Systems (CPWS) continues with three more leadership appointments. Ashley Maddux has been named executive vice president of Administration and chief financial officer, Glenn Jernigan has been named executive vice president of Technology, and Richard Kelly has been named executive vice president of Operations.

“Between Ashley, Glenn and Richard, we have assembled an experienced team of passionate and incredibly talented leaders who have become vital members of the CPWS team as our service territory continues to rapidly expand,” said Jonathan Hardin, president and CEO at CPWS. “I’m incredibly grateful for them and all of our 154 employees, who have a combined 1,870 years of service at CPWS. We have the best team in the business, and I’m honored to be working alongside each of them as they serve our community every day by keeping the lights on, the water flowing and the internet connected.”

Maddux is a longtime employee of CPWS and in her new role will lead all aspects of CPWS’ financial operations, customer service and billing operations, and oversight of other administrative functions. 

Jernigan, who joined CPWS over 15 years ago and established the broadband service at CPWS, will lead CPWS’s Information Technology department in his new role. 

Kelley, who joined CPWS in 2021, will continue to oversee power and water operations for CPWS, including partnering closely with Hardin and others on the expansion of CPWS’ water treatment facilities and power operations to provide excellent service to our customers.

CPWS also wants to recognize Ryan Massey, who was recently promoted to vice president of Power Operations after moving up at CPWS for over 20 years, and Aimee Hull, who was recently hired as vice president of Human Resources and comes to CPWS with over 20 years of progressive HR leadership experience.

Other recent promotions include:

Jenny King promoted to director of Customer Service;

Robin Dickson promoted to director of Accounting;

Brad Tebben promoted to director of Broadband Operations;

Shane Andrews promoted to director of Water Distribution; and

Tom Lunn promoted to director of Water Production.

These directors bring a wealth of knowledge to their new roles with over 100 years of combined service at CPWS between them.

Blood Needed (MauryCountySource)

As Blood Assurance prepares for the new year, the community blood center is asking residents to donate the gift of life to close out this season of giving.

Entering Friday morning, the nonprofit was in critical need of all blood types, especially O-positive, and O-negative. Additionally, platelet donations were urgently needed.

“December and January are always detrimental for community blood centers due to holiday travel, frigid weather, and illnesses, such as the flu,” according to J.B. Gaskins, CEO of Blood Assurance. “Blood Assurance has faced some enormous challenges in the weeks leading up to the new year, including supplying a large quantity of additional blood units to hospitals in Middle Tennessee, treating patients with injuries sustained during the deadly tornadoes.”

The call for donations comes on the heels of National Blood Donor Month. The month of January marks the 54th anniversary of National Blood Donor Month. Enacted in January 1970 by President Richard Nixon, the proclamation pays tribute to voluntary blood donors, while encouraging new donors to give the gift of life.

“Our non-profit is still experiencing one of the largest shortages we’ve seen in five decades,” said Gaskins. “We hope our community understands the importance of donating before, during and after National Blood Donor Month, by recognizing that blood isn’t something that can be manufactured. A single blood donation can save three lives.”

Donors can give back by scheduling an appointment at, calling 800- 962-0628, or texting BAGIVE to 999777. 

Tennessee Reconnect (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host virtual Tennessee Reconnect information sessions in January.

Tennessee Reconnect is a last-dollar scholarship that provides free tuition for adults to attend a community college. The initiative is designed to help adults enter college to gain new skills, advance in the workplace and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or credential.

“Tennessee Reconnect provides a wonderful opportunity for eligible adult learners to attend Columbia State tuition-free,” said Joni Allison, Columbia State coordinator of Adult Student Services. “We offer multiple information session dates each month to allow easy access for prospective students who would like to begin or return to college.”

To be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, students must meet the following requirements:

Haven’t earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Have been a Tennessee resident for at least one year.

Complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid and be determined as an independent student.

Be admitted to Columbia State and enroll in a degree or certificate program.

Must attend at least part-time (6 credit hours).

Jan. 8 from 6 - 7 p.m.

Jan 11 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 18 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 22 from 6 - 7 p.m.

Jan. 25 from 2 - 3 p.m.

Jan. 29 from 6 - 7 p.m.

To view the full list of steps to apply, or to sign up for an information session, please visit

Courthouse Commemorating 120 Years (Press Release)

Maury County Government has been awarded a $5,000 matching grant from the South Central Tennessee Development District.

The Arts Build Communities, or “ABC,” grant will help the county commemorate the historic Maury County Courthouse as it celebrates 120 years of service to the community in 2024.

The grant will fund a community juried art competition open to Maury County citizens of all ages.

According to a press release, the theme will focus on "What does the courthouse represent to its citizens?" Citizens are invited to use their artistic abilities to design an original piece of art (all genres are welcome) that interprets what the Maury County Courthouse means.

“The Maury County Courthouse is an iconic and historic structure for the state of Tennessee.”

“Built by local architect J.E.R. Carpenter, before he went on to great fame as one of the leading architects of luxury high-rise living in New York City, this building has been the central focus of Maury county since it was built in 1904. It symbolizes much to our community. This grant is a wonderful opportunity to allow the citizens of the county to interpret and express what the building represents.”

The contest will start with a commemoration ceremony honoring the courthouse, which will include a proclamation by Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt, followed by an overview focusing on the history of the Maury County Courthouse by me, Tom Price starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan 11.

Maury County citizens will have from Jan. 11 to March 22 to submit their artwork to the Maury County Archives' temporary location at 1446 Oak Springs Drive, Suite 100 (the far end of Muletown Rec).

Art will be juried in four age categories: elementary, secondary, high school and adults ages 18 and over. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place for each category, and one grand-prize winner will be announced during Mule Day on April 6, 2024.

Rules for artist submissions include:

Artwork must be original.

All art intended for wall-mounting (drawings/paintings etc.) in the 18+ category must be submitted in a frame and wired for hanging.

All submitted art must be accompanied by a card with the artist's name, contact information, category, title and medium.

All art must be submitted by 3 p.m. Friday, March 22.

Art will be juried by five esteemed artists which include local photographers Sarah Gilliam and Ross Jaynes, as well as painters James Spearman and Margaret Warfield and sculptor Jennifer Grisham.

The winning submissions will be displayed at the courthouse during the 2024 Mule Day festivities. All submitted artwork will be placed on display at the Pryor Art Gallery at Columbia State Community College from May 13th-June 14th. The exhibit will open with be a gallery reception on May 13th.

For more information about the contest, contact the Maury County Archives at (931) 375-1500.

…And now, news from around the state…

Supreme Court Nominees (Tennessean)

A panel on judicial appointments named three finalists Thursday for an upcoming vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Governor's Council for Judicial Appointments selected Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Mary L. Wagner and Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Camille R. McMullen and J. Ross Dyer as the finalists from a pool of six applicants after holding public interviews, the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts announced.

Gov. Bill Lee will then make a nomination for the seat, subject to confirmation by the Tennessee General Assembly. The new justice will take Justice Roger A. Page's seat on the five-member court after his retirement on Aug. 31, 2024.

Under a 2014 amendment to the state Constitution, a governor makes the appointments to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which then require legislative approval. Justices then face retention elections every eight years.

This will mark Lee's third appointment to the court.

Here's more on the three finalists.

Mary Wagner, 39, has served as circuit court judge for the state's 13th Judicial District, which covers Shelby County, since 2016. First appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to fill the seat after her predecessor's retirement, Wagner was elected to the seat in 2018 and reelected four years later. She handles exclusively civil cases.

According to her application for the Supreme Court seat, Wagner has lived in Tennessee her whole life, aside from attending the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2003-2006, where she studied political science. She earned her law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where she graduated fourth in her class.

Before becoming a judge, Wagner worked at Memphis firm Rice, Amundsen and Caperton, where she mainly handled family law, personal injury and commercial disputes, according to her application.

Wagner is a member of the Memphis chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization. She received the Chancellor Charles A. Round Memorial Award for Outstanding Judge of the Year from the Young Lawyers' Division of the Memphis Bar Association in 2019.

Camille R. McMullen

McMullen, 52, was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in 2008. In June 2023, the court elected McMullen as its presiding judge, making her the first woman and first African-American to lead the 12-member court.

McMullen earned her law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1996 after attending Austin Peay State University from 1989-1993, where she studied political science and was elected student government president in her senior year.

Prior to becoming a judge, McMullen was a prosecutor at the state and federal level for 11 years. While an assistant district attorney in Memphis, McMullen was the lead prosecutor in the 1999-2000 high-profile cases involving the deaths of two children at daycare centers in Memphis, according to her application. McMullen prosecuted white collar, firearms, drug, economic and fraud related crimes while working for seven years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Memphis.

J. Ross Dyer

Dyer, 51, has once before been tapped to fill a seat left by Page, the Supreme Court justice retiring in August. Haslam appointed Dyer to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals in 2016 after Page was selected for the state's highest court.

Dyer earned his law degree from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law in 1998 after graduating from Millsaps College in 1995 with a degree in business administration.

After graduating from law school, Dyer worked with the Tennessee Attorney General's Office representing the state in criminal appeals. In 2004, he was named the manager of the Memphis office of the Attorney General's Office, which he held in 2014.

From 2014-2016, Dyer served as the county attorney for Shelby County.

SHORT - Wildhorse Closes Doors (MauryCountyNow)

A mainstay on Second Avenue in Nashville has just closed its doors.

The Wildhorse Saloon announced on social media, “Since 1994, Wildhorse Saloon has been a beacon of Nashville’s vibrant music scene. We’re excited to announce that 2024 marks the beginning of a new chapter for this iconic venue. As we step into this promising era, let’s raise a glass to the past and toast to the brilliant future ahead. Our heartfelt thanks to patrons, artists, staff, and everyone who contributed to making Wildhorse Saloon the legend it is today. We extend our deepest gratitude to all who graced our stage, danced on our dance floor, and sang along to the music.”

It was previously announced that Wildhorse will rebrand as Luke Combs’ bar called “Hurricane.” The multi-purpose entertainment venue will feature a 69,000-square-foot complex with an indoor/outdoor capacity of nearly 3,200 people and will be customized to reflect Combs’ passions for music, songwriting, whiskey and sports into a new Nashville experience.

The new experience is projected to open in summer of 2024. While the initial information did not say what month of the summer it might welcome guests, however, it would make sense that they would want it to be open for CMA Fest in June.

Sales Tax Supports Education (MSM)

The state of Tennessee spent 43% of the state sales tax on education last fiscal year and 56 cents of every dollar of state and local sales tax went to education in that same span.

Sales tax accounts for most of both state and local tax collections in Tennessee. The state collected $13.8 billion in sales tax of the $22 billion it collected. There was $4.3 billion in local sales tax collected out of nearly $4.7 billion in total collections over that same span, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue’s Annual Report.

Tennessee’s tax and fee collections were up from $20.9 billion in fiscal year 2022 while sales and use taxes increased from the $12.8 billion collected that year.

For every $1 of sales tax collected overall in the state, 56 cents goes to education with 28 cents to the state’s general fund and 16 cents to local governments.

That’s $7.8 billion of the total $18.1 billion going to education with $5.1 billion for Tennessee’s general fund, $4.2 billion for counties and $666.8 million going to the city it is collected in.

Another $104.1 million goes to Tourist Development Zone tax captures, $18.4 million to the Border Region Tourist Development Zone near East Ridge and $1.2 million to a special zone.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Duck River Trail Run 5k & 15k will take place on Saturday, March 30, along the scenic trails of Chickasaw Trace Park located just northwest of the city of Columbia, Tennessee.

Net proceeds from this event benefit Maury County Parks & Recreation and efforts to continue the preservation and care of Chickasaw Trace Park which provides a quality place for families and individuals to gather and recreate.


Date/Time: Saturday, March 30, 2024 | Run begins at 8:00am

Location: Chickasaw Trace Park | 1419 New Hwy 7 Columbia, TN 38401

Pre-registration: $27 for 5K | $32 for 15K


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