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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for January 9, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Maury Alliance Annual Meeting (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance on Tuesday, January 30th for their most anticipated event of the year as they celebrate their accomplishments for 2023 and recognize the transition of their volunteer leadership. 

This will be a lively night of entertainment and networking celebrating business and industry in Maury County with dinner and beverages by It's Chef Jess and live music featuring The Velvet Troubadours.

Purchase tickets to the Maury Alliance Annual Meeting now to guarantee a seat at their biggest event of the year!!

The event will take place from 5-8pm on January 30th at the Memorial Building, located at 308 W. 7th Street in Columbia.

For more information visit

New Anesthesiologist at MRMC (Press Release)

 Andrew Steven Walker, MD, a specialist in anesthesiology, has joined the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center. He is associated with Cardiovascular Anesthesia Associates.

 Dr. Walker received his medical degree at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis, Tennessee. He completed his residency at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 Dr. Walker is board certified in anesthesiology.

Spring Hill Census (Press Release)

Following years of exponential growth in the City of Spring Hill and surrounding areas, the City is now conducting a special census to get an up-to-date population count.

A special census is a process outlined in Tennessee statutes to update the population of a Tennessee county or municipality in the years following the U.S. Census Bureau’s counts collected at the beginning of each decade.

In Tennessee, certain revenues collected by the state are distributed to counties and municipalities based on the population reported annually in the Certified Population of Tennessee Incorporated Municipalities and Counties. Unless a special census has been conducted and subsequently certified by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the population count from the latest decennial census is used.

Since the 2020 Census, the City of Spring Hill is estimated to have increased in population by roughly 10,000 people which could earn the City an additional $2 million in funding. That is money that could be put toward:

Hiring additional firefighters and public safety staff

Street maintenance, and

Infrastructure improvements

Make sure you and your family are counted in the City of Spring Hill 2024 Special Census. You can submit your information by following the link that you can find on the City of Spring Hill’s website at, as well as on the City of Spring Hill’s Facebook page.

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.

Grinder’s Switch Winery (MauryCountySource)

Two years ago, Grinder’s Switch Winery, located in Centerville, Tennessee, opened a tasting room in Columbia. It has become a great place to meet friends and unwind with a glass of wine and a charcuterie board after a busy day. This will be the second year they will offer a Galentine/Valentine’s Day wine and cheese pairing event. It will take place on February 19, 2024.

Bring a friend or a romantic partner to this after-hours event. The one-hour activity will include tastings with six cheeses, fruits, nuts and chocolate. There will be three seatings, one at 5:00 p.m., another at 6:00 p.m., and the last at 7:00 p.m. It is a great way to celebrate the day of amour with that special someone or a gal friend. 

Last year’s event offered artisan cheeses from The Bloomy Rind, as well as Goo Goo Clusters dark chocolate bon bons. Besides the wine and cheese, there will be a photo op for you and your sweetie or buddy to help remember the beginning of a great evening. Participants may want to follow-up this activity with a great dinner at one of the marvelous restaurants downtown. Reservations for the wine and cheese tasting are required.

The winery has been named by “Southern Living” as one of the South’s best vineyards. A visit to the winery offers guests an opportunity to tour the vineyards, do a wine tasting, and peruse the local gifts and hand-made crafts available in the gift shop. It was started by Joey and Gail Chessor as a “hobby gone out of control” ten years ago, and it has become a family business. 

While the Columbia tasting room is sleek and modern, the Centerville home-office is located in a hand-built log cabin surrounded by 110 rolling acres. The winery sits on seven acres of the family’s farm land. About 15,000 gallons of wine can be produced there per year. 

“[Our philosophy is to provide] Southern charm and sophisticated taste,” says their website. Their wines have won a number of awards. 

At the Columbia location, they have slowly been offering a more sophisticated menu to pair with their wine by the glass or wine slushies. While the menu started with just one charcuterie platter, the House Board, they now offer a Hummus Board and a Dessert Board. They also offer Spicy Whipped Goat Cheese Toast, Caprese Salad and a Pimento Cheese BLT Sandwich. 

Grinder’s Switch offers a selection of both sweet and dry wines.

Grinder’s Switch Winery is named after a location just outside of Centerville, which is little more than the railroad switch for which it is named. The name Grinder’s Switch is also the fictional hometown of comic character Minnie Pearl, created by comedian Sarah Cannon, who grew up in Colleytown, located near Centerville. 

They are open Tuesday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 1:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. They are closed on Mondays.

Blood Needed (MauryCountySource)

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

Just last week, 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. 

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

Mrs. Ann McCormack Reddick, 91, of Columbia, TN, passed away on January 7, 2024. Funeral services for Mrs. Reddick will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 5:00 P.M. till 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mrs. Juanita Ann Overbey Taylor, 93, resident of Columbia, passed away Saturday, January 6, 2024 at NHC Columbia. Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Greg Gwin officiating. The family will visit with friends from 12:00 P.M. till the time of service at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Condolences may be extended online at

…And now, news from around the state…

Legislature Back in Session Today (Tennessean)

Tennessee lawmakers will return to the state Capitol on Tuesday to kick off the 2024 legislative session, which is expected to largely feature Gov. Bill Lee's education voucher proposal and the lingering aftershocks of a divisive 2023 session and an August special session that produced little action on gun safety.

It is the second year of the 113th Tennessee General Assembly, meaning lawmakers could still consider bills filed for last year's regular session in the coming months.

Meanwhile, new bills began trickling in last month, and lawmakers will likely have until the end of the month to file their legislation.

Here's a look at some of the top issues lawmakers may grapple with through the spring.

Five years after barely pushing through a limited school voucher program, Lee now seeks to expand his signature program statewide. Key Republicans are backing the governor, but it's not necessarily a slam-dunk deal yet.

Lee’s proposed Education Freedom Scholarship Act would offer 20,000 students about $7,075 to attend a private school or cover other educational expenses. The first 10,000 slots would have an income requirement and in 2025, the program would expand to universal eligibility.

The governor's office has said funding for the program would come from the General Fund but Lee has not yet released proposed legislation, so specific details are still under wraps. Lee and his office continue to dance around whether the proposed bill will include explicit accountability measures like the testing requirements the state imposes on public schools.

"Private schools already use a variety of national norm-referenced tests and TCAP scores to measure performance, similar to their counterparts in traditional public schools," Lee spokesperson Elizabeth Johnson said in December.

"While details are still being finalized with legislative leadership, parents are the best form of accountability, because they have their child’s best interest in mind and will hold schools accountable to that end. Ultimately, parents make the best decisions for their child and know when a school is the right fit for their student's needs. Often that means sending kids to their local school district, but a child’s future should never be dictated by their ZIP code."

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, are concerned about the long-term costs of a program underwritten by the state General Fund. Meanwhile, some suburban school districts have slammed the proposal as an existential threat to public education in Tennessee that will drain resources from public schools and fund private schools with little to no oversight.

Democrats have long opposed the voucher program in any iteration. All eyes may be on the nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers still in office who opposed the 2019 legislation to establish the voucher program in Davidson and Shelby counties.

The August special session ended with a whimper after Senate stonewalling sparked animosity between the two chambers and controversial House GOP leadership decisions on public signage prompted an immediate lawsuit.

Lee in November confirmed he does not plan to bring back an extreme risk proposal in 2024, an effort he attempted to launch in April by floating draft legislation with a speech saying "we owe Tennesseans a vote."

Lee's plan faltered immediately. Republican lawmakers moved to adjourn the spring session without addressing the plan, with the House GOP particularly motivated to close up shop after weeks of high-profile gun control protests and ensuing backlash from the Tennessee Three expulsions.

Lee pledged to bring lawmakers back to address the issue. The pledge drifted into the summer before the General Assembly returned in August, where once again political infighting defined days of highly charged public protests and a legislative agenda that resulted in few significant bills.

How lawmakers address Tennesseans' continued concerns about gun violence — or if they do so at all — will likely remain a top issue in the legislature this year. Recent polling from Vanderbilt University and an exclusive Tennessean/Siena College poll shows a widespread majority of Republicans and Democrats support gun safety reforms similar to Lee's proposal and Democratic-backed safe storage laws.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Jurassic World Live Tour, an exhilarating and unpredictable live, family entertainment experience that brings the wonder and thrills of Jurassic World to generations of fans, will be roaring into Nashville playing Bridgestone Arena for six action-packed performances from January 26-28, 2024. See captivating scenery where dinosaurs from the iconic franchise, including fan-favorite Velociraptor Blue and the Tyrannosaurus rex, take the stage.  The production features more than 24 film-accurate, life-sized dinosaurs, with scale, speed and ferocity, operated by animatronics and performers. 

Jurassic World’s unmistakable score combined with projection and practical scenery transforms the arena into the dense jungles of Isla Nublar, where real Gyrospheres roll through the valley and scientists work to unravel a corrupt plan and save a new dinosaur from a terrible fate.  With pulse-pounding stunts and an original, authentic storyline, Jurassic World Live Tour is guaranteed to make memories that will last another 65 million years.

Guests will be able to start the adventure early with a special Pre-show Experience included with all ticket purchases.  By arriving one hour before showtime, audience members can see their favorite Jurassic World dinosaurs and vehicles up close and personal, including fun photo-ops with Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and the iconic Jurassic World Jeep and Gyrosphere.


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