top of page

Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for July 11, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Hamm Selected by Tigers (MainStreetMaury)

Former Columbia Central baseball standout Jaden Hamm was selected during Monday’s portion of the Major League Baseball Draft, as the Detroit Tigers picked him in the fifth round.

Hamm, who went 11-7 with 167 strikeouts in 150 innings over three seasons at Middle Tennessee State, was the 143rd selection overall in the three-day, 20-round process that began Sunday night in Seattle as part of the festivities around the All-Star Game.

The 6-2, 197-pound right-hander is the second player with Maury County ties to go in the MLB Draft in as many seasons. 

Brandon Johnson, who pitched at Columbia State prior to a two-year career at Ole Miss, was the ninth-round pick of the Kansas City Royals last year after the Rebels won the College World Series.

Hamm is the first Maury Countian to be selected since ex-Spring Hill pitcher Zach King went to the Miami Marlins in the 13th round of the 2019 draft out of Vanderbilt. He’s also the first Columbia Central grad to be picked since the San Francisco Giants took Heath Slatton in the 18th round of the 2015 draft out of MTSU.

Gilbert Named to Ed Post (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura is pleased to announce that Michelle Gilbert has accepted a position with Maury County Public Schools as Director of Teaching, Learning & Assessment. Gilbert, a 25-year veteran educator, received an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in educational administration from Austin Peay State University. She also obtained additional coursework while adding an endorsement to serve as a school counselor. Mrs. Gilbert has served as an elementary school teacher at East Hickman Elementary School and as an elementary school teacher, school counselor, and assistant principal at Centerville Elementary School. She worked as the Principal of Hickman County Middle School and the Chief Academic Officer for grades K-12 in Hickman County. Over the last seven years, Mrs. Gilbert has served as the Director of Schools in Hickman County.

Mrs. Gilbert said on being chosen by Superintendent Ventura, “I am thankful for this opportunity and am honored to join the instructional team in Maury County.  Working on positive outcomes for students is a field I am passionate about. I am excited and look forward to working with teachers, leaders, and families to support our students.”

Superintendent Lisa Ventura stated, “Michelle brings to Maury County Schools a high level of experience and an exceptional instruction background that will be invaluable in our Teaching, Learning & Assessment department. We are excited to have Michelle accept this position and look forward to welcoming her to our team.”

New Restaurants Open in Columbia (CDH)

Columbia is home to several new dining and drink establishments over the last few weeks.

Columbia's newest coffee shop, Dutch Bros Coffee, opened its window to drive-through customers last week, offering hot and cold brews with creative flavors, plus tea and fruit drinks.

A line of customers anxiously awaiting their morning or afternoon brew has wrapped around the new signature blue-box building almost every day the coffee stand has been open.

Serving not only caffeine-loving people, the coffee chain also serves pups looking for a refreshing treat.

Customer Dalton Owens enjoyed a coffee drink, while his dog Shaggy Jack also slurped a cup of fresh whipped cream accompanied by a dog treat.

Northwest-based Dutch Bros Coffee, founded in Oregon by brothers, has a running tally of 671 locations across 14 states.

Columbia store operator Matt Coate said he's delighted the Columbia location has received such a steady turn-out since its opening day.

"We’ve had a great turnout. We love meeting all of the customers coming through to see what Dutch Bros is all about," Coate said.

He said Columbia is an ideal location to expand the chain because of its access to a busy artery, James Campbell Boulevard, where customers can be served quickly. He also said customers can expect friendly service along with an expedited drink.

"Our 'broistas' make coming through a fun experience," he said. "Dutch Bros also has an extensive menu with offerings beyond coffee, so it's great for people who want customized energy drinks, blended drinks, or teas or lemonades."

Dutch Bros is located at 813 S James Campbell Blvd. in Columbia. It's open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Cult Persona is serving up two-inch high gourmet quiches as well as sweet breakfast and snack items like cranberry scones, doughnuts, cookies and vegan options.

The two-inch high deep-dish Southern quiche has quickly become a customer favorite made with turnip greens and country ham for a mix of creamy and salty flavors with a bright hint of vinegar.

The coffee shop, boutique and wine bar also offers homeware novelty items like hand towels, locally-made pottery, handy bottle openers, as well as high-end chocolate bars and popcorn.

Cult Persona is located in the Columbia Arts Building off High Street at 307 W. 11th St Level 3 in Columbia. The shop is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is closed on Sunday.

For more information, visit the shop on Instagram.

Those who prefer Tex-Mex options, can find a solid menu at the new Chipotle Mexican Grill chain location on James Campbell Boulevard.

The fast-food staple has drawn new customers and provided an extra option for quick, healthy food in Columbia. A standard menu of rice, beans and protein choices in various combinations abound from tacos and burritos to bowls and salads. Meat-free and vegan options are abundant.

Chipotle, 610 James M Campbell Blvd. S. in Columbia is open from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Lunch options like sandwiches, burgers, burritos and more are also offered on the diner-inspired menu.

The restaurant, 1511 Nashville Hwy., is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For more information visit the restaurant on Facebook.

American Barrel, Columbia's newest up-scale cocktail cafe on 7th Street, offers Old World style with a modern flair, featuring a diverse small plate menu with creative cocktails made from homemade syrups with exotic flavors like elderberry, mint, orange and lavender.

Customers can find a classic Old Fashioned cocktail and downhome meatballs (with bourbon) as well as a Caprese salad, wine and local craft beers.

Owners America and Nathan Close renovated the historic building and say everyone has a "seat at the table" at the new cafe with indoor and outdoor seating.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The café is closed      Sunday and Monday.


If you are looking for a restaurant to kick-start your day, a hearty breakfast at The Stubborn Mule on Nashville Highway might do the trick.

The new breakfast and lunch spot offers breakfast classics like eggs and bacon as well as a filling meal of country fried steak, eggs, hash browns and gravy.

Lunch options like sandwiches, burgers, burritos and more are also offered on the diner-inspired menu.

The restaurant, 1511 Nashville Hwy., is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. For more information visit the restaurant on Facebook.

United Way/On Mission Sports Project (MainStreetMaury)

United Way of Maury County and On Mission Motorsports are thrilled to announce an exciting partnership that will send a local hero to California at no cost to them. This partnership represents a significant step forward in supporting and honoring these remarkable individuals who selflessly serve our community and country.

The partnership between On Mission Motorsports and United Way of Maury County aims to recognize the outstanding contributions of local heroes, whose tireless efforts and dedication make a profound impact in the community. These organizations seek to express their gratitude by providing an unforgettable experience for a deserving individual.

The selected local hero, will be flown to California at no cost to witness and participate in the adrenaline-pumping race event, taking place in Johnson Valley and Barstow from Nov. 3-5, 2023, presented by DP4 racing. Throughout the three-day event, they will have exclusive access to witness high-speed racing, meet top-notch drivers and even the opportunity to climb into the co-driver’s seat during a section of the race. This opportunity will serve as a well-deserved expression of gratitude for their commitment and service to the Maury County community and our nation.

On Mission Motorsports is a prominent motorsports non-profit organization committed to giving back to those who have served their country and is honored to partner with United Way of Maury County in recognizing a local hero. To be considered for this opportunity, you must be a veteran, first responder or active-duty military and go to the On Mission Motorsports website at and click on the ‘Nominate a Hero’ tab. Be sure to add UWMC in the notes section.

“United Way of Maury County is proud to collaborate with On Mission Motorsports on this exceptional initiative. It gives us immense joy to honor an outstanding local hero by providing them with a thrilling experience they will cherish forever,” said Laura Truelove, Executive Director at United Way of Maury County. “We believe it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the remarkable individuals who go above and beyond to make our community and nation a better place. We are grateful to On Mission Motorsports for joining hands with us in this endeavor.”

“We are thrilled to work with United Way of Maury County to send a deserving local hero to a captivating race in California,” expressed Jeff Goldsmith, President at On Mission Motorsports. “At On Mission Motorsports, we understand the importance of giving back and showing appreciation to those who serve our communities and country. Through this collaboration, we hope to inspire others to recognize and support the remarkable heroes among us.”

This collaboration between On Mission Motorsports and United Way of Maury County reflects the power of partnerships in creating meaningful experiences and recognizing the selfless individuals who make a significant impact on our society. By joining forces, these organizations aim to inspire others to acknowledge and appreciate the exceptional efforts of our local heroes. The local hero going to the race will be announced at the group’s annual fundraiser on Aug. 25, at the Memorial Building in Columbia.

For more information about On Mission Motorsports and United Way Maury County, please visit or

CSCC Grant (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College has received a Transformational Funding grant from the United Way of Greater Nashville, as well as funding from United Way of Maury County to create the Charger Child Care Program.

“We are very grateful for the United Way of Greater Nashville to offer this funding, which will truly transform the lives of these students and their families,” said Patrick McElhiney, Columbia State development officer and director of grants.

The funding for the grant comes from the United Way of Greater Nashville, provided through a donation by Mackenzie Scott. UWGN is using this Transformational Funding to prioritize high quality and affordable child care, early literacy and grade-level reading and workforce development. Beneficiaries of this funding must be residents in counties included in the UWGN footprint and Columbia State’s service area, therefore Hickman County and Williamson County. However, the United Way of Maury County agreed to provide funding to expand the program to support student-parents residing in Maury County as well.

The grant, consisting of $150,000, will be used to launch the Charger Child Care Program. This consists of subsidies to assist Columbia State student-parents with out-of-pocket expenses for child care. In the future, the hopes are that additional funding will be secured to expand the program into other counties in Columbia State’s service area.

“Student-parents have reported that child care cost is a major barrier to their opportunity to stay enrolled in higher education,” said Dr. Christa Martin, Columbia State executive director of access and inclusion. “It is unaffordable and sometimes not available, or the agencies have long wait lists for entry. Columbia State recognized this barrier and has initiated this new program with funding from United Way of Greater Nashville to provide financial assistance to our student-parents that qualify for the program.” 

The Charger Child Care program is administered through the Office of Access and Inclusion. Because Columbia State does not have an on-campus child care facility, the program provides subsidies to minimize out-of-pocket child care expenses for student-parents. Subsidies are calculated as a percentage of the fee for which the student-parent is responsible, after all other sources of aid are applied (social services, provider-sponsored discounts, etc.), on a sliding fee scale based on income level. Subsidies are paid directly to the licensed child care center.

“United Way of Maury County is thrilled to be partnering with Columbia State to make the Charger Child Care Program a reality here in our community,” said Laura Truelove, United Way of Maury County executive director. “UWMC is proud to support this initiative and help students fulfill their dreams of furthering their education.”

Columbia State student-parents residing in Hickman, Williamson, or Maury counties with child care cost hardships are encouraged to reach out to Cheryl Secrest, Columbia State Charger Child Care program coordinator, at to discuss their needs and the application process. Potential students with child care expenses that are an obstacle to enrolling are also encouraged to contact Secrest.

For more information on the Mackenzie Scott United Way of Greater Nashville Transformational Funding, visit For more information about United Way of Maury County, visit

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

Angela Dawn Lackey of Columbia, Tennessee and Business Analyst at Farm Bureau Health Plans for 21 years, died Wednesday, July 5, 2023. Visitation for Mrs. Lackey will be from 5:00 to 8:00pm Tuesday, July 11 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with the funeral Wednesday, July 12 at 11:00am at First Presbyterian Church of Spring Hill. Burial will follow at 2:00 pm at Kirkland Cemetery in Taft, TN.

Mrs. Patricia Sewell Fitzgerald, 85, passed away Thursday, July 6, 2023 in Columbia.

Graveside services for Mrs. Fitzgerald will be conducted Saturday, July 15, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. at Sunset Hill Cemetery in the Theta Community. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Franklin Man Charged with Child Rape (Tennessean)

An investigation is underway as Franklin Police work to identify several young children who were allegedly drugged and raped by a Franklin man. 

Camilo Hurtado Campos, a popular soccer coach, is being held for rape of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor. Detectives are expected to file several additional charges, according to a release from the Franklin Police Department.

Police were contacted by a local restaurant after staff found a cell phone left behind by a customer, later determined to be Campos. Workers took a look through it to try and find information that would lead them to the owner of the phone in order to return it. 

“What they found, instead, were dozens of unconscionable videos and pictures of children, and so they called police,” a spokesperson from the FPD said in the release. 

During an immediate investigation, detectives found hundreds of disturbing videos and pictures on that phone. In many of them, Campos recorded himself raping unconscious boys between approximately 9 and 17 years old.

The 63-year-old soccer coach has lived in Franklin for the last 20 years, with that time split between two neighborhoods: Hill Estates and, most recently, on Glass Lane in the downtown Franklin area. During off-hours, according to the release, Campos frequented nearby school playgrounds in both neighborhoods where he approached kids and recruited them as players on his team. After gaining their trust, Campos invited many of the kids to his home where he allegedly drugged and then raped them.

The rapes of at least 10 children have been found on Campos’ phone, so far. Working with local schools, detectives have identified two of his victims. Police hope that those familiar with Campos can help them put a name with the faces of the remaining victims.

Detectives say that the children in these videos were in such an unconscious state, that they might not even realize that they are victims.

If you or your child have been associated with Campos through the years, especially if he has been your child’s coach, Franklin Police want to hear from you at 615-794-2513.

Foreign Ownership of Farms (Tennessean)

As of July 1, no one on the U.S. Treasury Department's list of sanctioned individuals or a citizen of a sanctioned country can buy real estate in Tennessee.

A new law, signed by Gov. Bill Lee in May, is part of a wave of legislation that restricts foreign land ownership in the U.S. In most states, the laws focus on farmland.

Across the South, new restrictions have been proposed or passed this year in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Micah Brown, an attorney at the University of Arkansas’ National Agricultural Law Center, monitors laws that limit foreign ownership of American farmland. In the last two years he has seen a steady rise in states proposing these laws. This year, the number exploded, with nearly half the state legislatures now considering laws to restrict or ban some foreign ownership of agricultural land.

“Many of the lawmakers state their reasoning as national security and food security,” Brown said.

Federal laws are also being considered to strengthen the oversight of foreign ownership of U.S. farmlands.

In the past, most state laws restricted any foreign ownership. The latest laws mainly target what Brown calls “the big four,” China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. And China is often framed as the greatest threat, even though only a tiny fraction of U.S. agricultural land is owned by Chinese interests.

The largest foreign landholders are from Canada, with 12.8 million acres, followed by the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data from 2021. Chinese interests held 383,935 acres that year.

Politicians often point to a dramatic recent jump in the percentage of farmland owned by Chinese interests as a reason for concern. But most of that increase happened in 2013, when the Chinese company WH Group bought Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. That year, primarily because of the Smithfield sale, Chinese ownership of U.S. agricultural land rose from 69,295 acres to 248,503 acres. Of the 3% of U.S. agricultural land owned by foreigners, roughly 0.05% is Chinese-held, according to the USDA.

In the last few years, however, several high-profile, controversial Chinese land purchases, a corn mill near an Air Force base in North Dakota and a proposed wind farm in Texas, received national media attention and caused politicians to react across the country.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis have both embraced restrictions on Chinese farm ownership on the campaign trail, although the issue, like many agricultural concerns, is less partisan at the state level. A proposed Senate bill to increase federal scrutiny of foreign farmland purchases has bipartisan support.

Nashville Rail Line (Tennessean)

A Tennessee commission is urging the Tennessee Department of Transportation to tap into existing federal funds in an effort to establish passenger rail routes, with the highest priority placed on a potential Nashville-Chattanooga-Atlanta route.

In a new study, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations found the state needs passenger rail to offset rising traffic congestion levels and commute times.

A current Amtrak line from Chicago to New Orleans stops daily in Memphis, but passenger rail is otherwise limited in the state. Amtrak closed its previous Nashville station in 1979.

Establishing passenger rail can take decades, the commission acknowledged, and the study recommended increased intercity bus infrastructure to balance congestion issues in the meantime.

The commission recommended Tennessee establish a US-64 bus line to connect Memphis and Nashville, in addition to increased bus service along Interstate 40 and Interstate 81 to serve Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Bristol.

In its findings on passenger rail, the commission established three tiers of routes it recommended TDOT prioritize in determining potential costs and logistics of establishing passenger rail services through the state. The Nashville-Atlanta route should be the first priority, the commission said.

Amtrak has previously called a potential Nashville-Atlanta route a "sweet spot" for passenger rail, and estimated connecting the two cities could generate "$464 million in annual economic impact in the region and nearly $20 billion in economic activity from one-time capital investments."

In the second tier, a Memphis-Nashville and a Chattanooga-Knoxville-Bristol route were recommended.

In the third tier, the commission recommended a Nashville-Louisville route and a Memphis-Carbondale-Chicago route.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Do you enjoy tabletop games and would love to compete against others? Well this event is for you!

On Thursday, July 13, join Columbia’s Park and Recreation Department and others for an evening filled with board games, card games, puzzles and more.

It’s happening at the Fairview Park Recreation Center from 5-7 pm. Fairview Park is located at 871 Iron Bridge Rd, Columbia.


bottom of page