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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for June 30, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Woman Killed by Falling Tree (

A woman was pronounced dead at the scene after being struck by a fallen tree as a severe thunderstorm swept through Maury County.

Maury County Fire Chief Richard Schatz said firefighters responded to the 4000 block of Kedron Road in Spring Hill. The woman, who has not been publicly identified was reportedly standing in her driveway when the tree fell. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Due to the severe weather that moved in yesterday, Nashville International Airport issued a ground stop for arriving aircraft. The ground stoppage was lifted at 2:45 p.m.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Excessive heat can be dangerous and put vulnerable people at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can cause dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, and weakness and lead to heat stroke.

Spring Hill Fire (MauryCountySource)

Over 30 fire personnel from multiple agencies responded to the Pipkin Hill’s neighborhood for a residential structure fire on June 28, 2023.

Crews arrived to find a deep seated attic fire. Crews made an aggressive attack and worked in extreme heat for over two hours to bring the blaze under control.

Spring Hill Fire Department was assisted by Columbia Fire, Maury County Fire, Williamson County Rescue Squad and Williamson Health EMS.

The cause of the fire is currently undetermined and under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s office.

Grant Awarded to Maury IDB (Press Release)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter announced today 10 new Site Development Grant recipients.

 The grants, totaling approximately $5.9 million, are designed to help communities invest in infrastructure and engineering improvements to land economic development projects and achieve Select Tennessee site certification.

 “We’re committed to providing rural communities with the resources needed to support continued investment and create quality jobs for Tennesseans,” said Lee. “I thank the General Assembly for partnering with us to fund these 10 additional industrial sites and look forward to the economic growth and opportunity that will result from these projects.” 

 The Site Development Grant program, part of the Rural Economic Opportunity Act, works in tandem with TNECD’s Select Tennessee program. Since 2016, TNECD has awarded 153 Site Development Grants across the state, totaling more than $60 million in assistance to local communities and generating approximately 6,400 new jobs for Tennesseans.

 “The latest round of the Site Development program will bring 10 Tennessee communities one step closer to achieving Select Tennessee Site Certification,” said McWhorter. “Shovel-ready sites are in high demand, and through this program, we are working with local leadership across the state to bring this needed infrastructure to every community.”

 The grants awarded this round include $100,000 to the Industrial Development Board of Maury County, Tennessee for due diligence studies related to their Innovation Campus Site.

Applications were reviewed by an advisory committee made up of TNECD, Austin Consulting, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Department of Transportation.


Each application was supported by the community’s senator and representatives in the Tennessee General Assembly.

CSCC Receives United Way Funding (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College 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, recently 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


The African American Heritage Society of Maury County will continue its quarterly lecture series with the theme “Democracy in America” on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at 10 a.m. at the Maury County Public Library located at 211 West 8th Street in Columbia, TN.

The speaker, Dr. Learotha Williams, will discuss the contentious election of 1876 and the resulting Compromise of 1877 which effectively ended Reconstruction and the promise to protect the civil and political rights of the formerly enslaved.

Dr. Williams is a professor of History at Tennessee State University. In addition, he coordinates the North Nashville Heritage Project, an effort to encourage a greater understanding of the history of North Nashville. His most recent publication is I’ll Take You There: Exploring North Nashville’s Social Justice Sites. He is a native of Tallahassee, Florida, where he earned a doctorate in history from Florida State University.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Founded in 2012, the African American Heritage Society of Maury County is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to preserve the heritage and history of African American of Maury County, TN.

Three Maurians in Leadership Middle TN (MainStreetMaury)

Leadership Middle Tennessee celebrated its Class of 2023 on Tuesday, June 13, at the Adventure Science Center. The graduates completed an 11-month experiential journey to learn more about the 10 counties in Middle Tennessee.

“The Class of 2023 is passionate about Middle Tennessee,” said Lee Rucks, President of Leadership Middle Tennessee. “I know these leaders will continue to give back and make an impact on our communities.”

The 2023 Maury County graduates are: Deysi Cook, Caledonian Financial; Thad Jablonski, City of Columbia; Missy Stahl, City of Spring Hill.

Leadership Middle Tennessee is a regional leadership program founded to engage community and business leaders in the 10-county region of Middle Tennessee. The program starts with a series of 10 monthly day-and-a-half issues-focused sessions designed to give participants a greater understanding of the critical issues in the region, motivating them to use their skills to become regionally engaged. Participating counties are Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties. One class of approximately 40 members is selected each year.

Mulehouse Update (CDH)

The Mulehouse's current financial position regarding its impending liquidation and foreclosure underwent a few changes this week after its owners decided the venue will now file for bankruptcy.

Initially, The Mulehouse announced earlier this month its plans to hold a liquidation auction Monday, inviting potential investors to seek future ownership of the 812 S. High St. venue. However, once it came time for Monday's auction, spectators were met with news of owners Blair and Eric Garner's decision to instead file for bankruptcy.

This meant Monday's auction would be canceled until further notice, auctioneer Ron Ramsey said.

"We knew from the very beginning that this would be possible," Ramsey said. "Any time you have a foreclosure like this, you have the right to either pay it off before the foreclosure or file for bankruptcy. What this means is they go before a bankruptcy judge and come up with a plan on how to repay. It's hard to see what'll happen because of this."

Ramsey added that, despite the decision to cancel the auction in lieu of the impending bankruptcy, he believes the Garners have a well-thought-out plan in place, but in the end it is still a business which struggles to make ends meet.

"They seem like super nice people just from talking with others and seeing their Facebook posts. I believe that with 100% of my heart, but still you've got to make your payments," Ramsey said.

"They have a great vision, but you've still got to balance your checkbook. Hopefully, they get something worked out, and we may be back. There are lots of things that could happen here, but the bottom line is there won't be an auction today."

City Manager Tony Massey, who was in attendance during Monday's would-be auction, said he and city staff remain curious as to who will take over ownership of the building, which despite changing hands would remain a music venue per The Mulehouse's 10-year operating contract.

"We're curious to see what's going to happen, with the auction being forecast, but it was announced that the Garners have declared bankruptcy," Massey said.

Since the foreclosure announcement, the former First Baptist Church's marquee has read "Ain't Goin' Nowhere," and currently has shows and events scheduled through the fall months.

For a complete schedule of upcoming Mulehouse events, visit

Since opening in May of 2021, The Mulehouse has hosted a slew of performances, comedians and special events, including artists such as Columbia's own "American Idol" Top 10 finalist Cassandra Coleman, Miranda Lambert, Uncle Cracker, comedian Killer Beaz. Craig Campbell and Jim Messina of famed 1970s duo Loggins & Messina, just to name a few.

The Mulehouse is also Columbia's first state-of-the-art venue to feature live streaming broadcasts around the world, as well as top-notch lighting and sound provided by teams, who have worked with top touring artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Metallica.

In May of 2022, The Mulehouse also hosted a special marker dedication as the venue was featured on Tennessee Music Pathways, which identifies venues and sites around Tennessee that hold a particular significance to the state's arts and music history.

On Mission Motor Sports Hero Race (Press Release)

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, CA from November 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: 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 our 2nd annual fundraiser on August 25, 2023 at the Memorial Building in Columbia, TN.

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

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

Mr. Billy Dale “Bill” Edwards, 78, retired Machinist for Brooks Machine Works for thirty-years and resident of Columbia, died Tuesday, June 27, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Edwards will be conducted Friday at 2:00 Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 1:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Mr. Russell Scott Troope, 52, electrician with General Motors, Inc., died unexpectedly Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at his residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mr. Troope will be conducted Saturday, July 1, 2023, 11:00 AM at Parkway Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Maury Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday from 3:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Parkway Baptist Church, 1500 Tom J Hitch Pkwy, Columbia, TN. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements. 

Mr. Robert Lee “Rob” Elliott, Jr., age 58, passed away unexpectedly on June 26, 2023, at his residence in Columbia, Tennessee. A Celebration of Life for Mr. Elliott will be held on Sunday, July 9th from 2-4 pm at the Southern Tre Steakhouse upstairs in the Magnolia Room. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Private Universities Can Open K-12 Schools (Tennessean)

A new Tennessee law allows school districts to partner with both public and private local colleges and universities to plant public schools in their communities.

The schools, also known as laboratory schools or training schools, can range from pre-K through 12th grade and must be run in partnership a public school district. First established in the 1820s, lab schools are typically high-performing, with smaller student bodies and a focus on innovative teaching and learning practices. They also serve as a training ground for pre-service teachers, similar to the clinical model used by medical schools.

Under previous law, the path was easier for public colleges and universities to establish the schools. While it did not outright bar private universities, the new measure amends the law and paves the way for more institutions to join the effort. They qualify for the same funding and adhere to the same standards as public schools, and must negotiate contract details with a local district.

Rep. Caleb Hemmer, D-Nashville, first introduced the bill in the House. A public school graduate and father, he sees it as a positive move that expands quality, free education options for Tennessee kids.

“I’m a firm advocate for a strong public education system," Hemmer said. "I’m excited about the prospect of expanding something that works really, really well across our state in collaboration with our higher education institutions.”

At least three universities already run lab schools for a variety of grade levels in the state: the University of Memphis, Middle Tennessee State University and East Tennessee State University. All three lab schools have been around for more than 100 years, and some are among the highest-performing schools statewide.

The law requires any college or university that wishes to start a lab school to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and have its primary campus in Tennessee. While qualified private religious universities can open lab schools, they are still subject to state and federal regulations, including those governing the separation of church and state, Hemmer said.

He said his initial bill proposal was met with excitement from his colleagues, setting off a bipartisan effort to see it through. Several Republican co-sponsors joined Hemmer's bill. Sen. Dawn White, R-Murfreesboro, sponsored the Senate version of the bill, with Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, joining as a cosponsor.

“Education has gotten so politically polarized," Hemmer said. "This is a bipartisan, common sense solution."

TCAP Scores Released (Tennessean)

Statewide scores for the 2023 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program were released Thursday as heightened scrutiny around third graders continues due to a new reading and retention law.

The law, which took effect this year, used the English language arts section of the TCAP as the sole measure for determining whether third graders would advance to fourth grade. Those scores were released May 19 for third graders, setting off a fast-moving timeline for parents and schools to schedule retakes, apply exemptions, file appeals, and enroll third graders in summer school or tutoring to avoid holding them back from fourth grade.

While roughly 60% of third graders fell short of the state's reading proficiency standard, it's not clear how many will ultimately be retained after exemptions, summer school and appeals unfold.

Overall scores across all grades posted gains in each category tested: English language arts, math, science and social studies. State leaders touted the progress, especially as they work to continue the fight against pandemic learning loss. This year's scores largely match or surpass pre-pandemic levels.

“Tennessee’s strategic education investments have resulted in encouraging gains for students across every subject and grade, including strong reading improvements,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a Thursday news release from the Tennessee Department of Education.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

This weekend start your 4th of July celebration early with lots of family fun activities, fireworks, good food and a whole lot more.

1. Rotary 4th of July at Maury County Park

Columbia kicks off its 4th of July celebrations with the Rotary Club's annual 4th of July Parade at Maury County Park.

The event will start at 9 a.m. Saturday near the Kids Kingdom area of the park, beginning with an Honoring Ceremony, followed by a children's bike parade.

Pets are also invited to dress up in their best patriotic flair to participate in the parade.

Not far from the Rotary 4th of July Parade will be another fun Maury County Park attraction for classic car lovers.

The Red, White & Blue Car Show will run from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In addition to the chance for local collectors and enthusiasts to show off their pride and joy, the car show will also serve as a charity event benefiting Columbia Counseling Ministries.

The event will also feature six food trucks, live music by Classic Vinyl 931, prize giveaways and more.

For those interested in registering, there will be a limited amount of premium parking spots available. Registration is $20.

For more information, visit


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