top of page

Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 18, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Sumners Returning to Commission (MSM)

A familiar face is set to resume his former role on the Maury County Commission later this month.

During the March 5 meeting of the Admin Committee, Scott Sumners was presented as the choice to fill the vacancy in District 5 left by the January resignation of Vincent Fuqua.

Fellow District 5 Commissioner Brandon Nutt presented Sumners to the committee members.

“We will miss Mr. Fuqua and his experience in local politics, his intelligence and insight… I believe Scott will serve the people well and I look forward to the opportunity of working alongside him,” Nutt said.

Sumners served on the County Commission from 2014-22 but opted not to seek re-election two years ago. During his tenure, he served as chairman of the county’s Budget Committee.

“I believe my service to my constituents and to the county as a whole speak for itself. Circumstances have changed in my life to allow me to be able to do this again and I would appreciate your support,” Sumners said.

Sumners’ nomination was unanimously advanced by the Admin Committee to the full Commission, which will vote on the matter at its March meeting.

Tennessee Distillery Blackburn (WKOM Audio 3:20)

On Friday, Senator Marsha Blackburn paid a visit to Maury County on her 95 county tour. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy caught up to the senator and spoke to her about what she is learning from Tennessee voters about what issues are important to them…

Little Bellas (MauryCountySource)

If you’re out and about at Chickasaw Trace Park in Columbia on Sunday afternoons starting April 14, you may see a group of Little Bellas – seven to 13-year-old girls for whom mountain biking is their social medium. There’s no racing or “catching air” off big jumps – there aren’t even mountains. Instead, there are multiple opportunities for the girls to get together, encourage one another, and experience success as part of the new Columbia Little Bellas program.

Open to girls of all abilities, Little Bellas is a mountain bike program whose goal is to help young women reach their fullest potential. The program is a catalyst for the girls to learn about who they are, what they can do, and how to overcome what they think they cannot do. The aim is to create a community to empower women through cycling, accent the importance of goals and a healthy lifestyle, and emphasize a positive female bond. While this program is centered around creating a female camaraderie on bikes, it is most importantly about having fun in a constructive environment.

The person responsible for bringing Little Bellas to Columbia is none other than mom, mountain biker, and neurologist, Megan Hall, who was a beginner mountain biker herself just six years ago. She’ll be able to connect with Little Bellas on several different levels: with the “not yets,” as someone who was also new to mountain biking not too long ago; with the youngest shredders to the more advanced riders, who can see in Megan what can be achieved through skills progression and practice; as a mom who has those special “mom skills;” and as a neurologist, whose ability to get kids to wear helmets is a gift to all of us.

The Columbia Weekly Program offers eight recurring sessions from April to June. Open to riders of all abilities, the focus of each session is fun, allowing each girl to make new friends, learn new skills, and build confidence, all in a positive, fun environment.

In weekly sessions starting on April 14, mentors, girls, and program lead, Megan, will meet at Chickasaw Trace Park to focus on improving skills and strengthening bonds built outside of classrooms and away from screens.

The Columbia Little Bellas program takes place from April 14-June 9 and has space for up to 25 girls, ages 7-13. The program is on Sundays from 4:00-6:00 p.m. The 8-week program includes mentoring, awesome trail riding, snacks, and a Little Bellas custom jersey.

More information and registration for the Columbia Little Bellas Program at

Premier Chiropractic (WKOM 3:20)

On Friday, Premier Chripractic held a ribbon cutting at their new second location in Columbia. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to Dr. Erica Montelione about what the new facility can offer its patients…

Shoot for our Stars Tournament (1:32)

On Saturday, the Columbia Breakfast Rotary hosted their annual Shoot for Our Stars Sporting Clay shooting tournament. Our own Delk Kennedy stopped by and spoke to event organizer Rhonda King to learn more about the fundraiser…

Cruising on the Square (WKOM Audio 3:50)

On Saturday, Mt. Pleasant held their annual Cruising on the Square, antique car festival. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy visited the festival and spoke to a number of attendees…

…And now, news from around the state…

TSU Meeting May Be Last (Tennessean)

At 4:08 p.m. Thursday, the Tennessee State University Board of Trustees adjourned without any promise of returning.

A Republican-backed bill working its way through the Tennessee legislature seeks to vacate the board entirely and would leave it to Gov. Bill Lee to appoint new members. The move comes amid years of scrutiny over the historically Black university's finances and leadership and as the board searches for a new president. It also comes as the results of a forensic audit, commissioned last year by lawmakers, are still pending.

The bill has stirred intense controversy over $2.1 billion in historic underfunding of TSU by the state and disparities in how TSU has been treated by lawmakers. TSU leaders have pleaded with lawmakers to extend their current board and give them more time to course correct.

TSU President Glenda Glover said she hopes to get the conversation back on the $2.1 billion in historic underfunding of the university by the state. That number stems from a federal report of underfunding at several historically Black colleges and universities nationwide, with TSU topping the list. Glover revisited her proposal on how the state can pay back the underfunding over the course of five years.

She also said she's hopeful that Democratic Rep. Harold Love and others will succeed in reaching a compromise that will retain at least some of the current board members.

Glover also spoke to the ongoing audit, which some lawmakers have indicated is delayed because TSU had not provided all the documents requested.

"We have not been responsible for any delays pertaining to the forensic audit," Glover said.

In fact, she said, the firm hired by lawmakers to conduct the audit has often complimented the university for how timely it's been in its responses.

Zombie Drug Use on Rise (Tennessean)

A safe and controlled sedative intended only for large animals like horses is becoming an increasingly popular adulterant to substances like fentanyl, prompting flesh-eating skin ulcerations in humans — earning it the apt slang term of the "zombie drug."

Created in the 1960s, xylazine was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 1972 as an animal-safe pharmaceutical.

In 2022, the FDA issued a nationwide warning to healthcare professionals about the exposure of xylazine in illicit substances and its inherent life-threatening side effects.

Today, the misuse of the sedative is reflected in the increasing identification of its traces in connection to overdose deaths.

An affliction nearly every state is being confronted with, Tennessee is no exception. Emerging first in the eastern region, xylazine has now permeated the entirety of the state.

To the naked eye, xylazine is innocuous.

The colorless, odorless liquid needs but three milliliters (mL) to quickly sedate a 1,200-pound horse for a 30-45 minute procedure. This includes routine tasks like sewing lacerations, castrations and pulling teeth.

Using a dosage conversion of approximately one cubic centimeter (cc) per 400 pounds, a 100-pound dear would need 0.25 mL.

Xylazine goes by several street names like "tranq", dubbed for its tranquilizing properties in animals, and the "zombie drug" for its seemingly zombie-inducing behavior in humans.

It suppresses one's heart rate, blood pressure and substantially slows brain activity. A Central Nervous System depressant, it triggers the CNS's alpha-2 receptors, inhibiting the release of dopamine and resulting in sedation.

On its own, xylazine does not induce a "high" the same as something like fentanyl, whose potency is 50-100 times greater than that of morphine.

When mixed with opioids like fentanyl, whose effects alone are powerful, tranq is the catalyst in increasing lethality and prolonging a user's high for hours.

"Most people don't even know it's in the supply they are using," Dr. Eno Eyo said.

A family medicine doctor in Nashville, Eyo is a current addiction medicine fellow at Vanderbilt's Division of Infectious Diseases. He is the local expert and one of the leading researchers exploring the impacts of xylazine as an emerging illicit substance.

Regardless of inhalation, intravenous injection or intramuscular injection, those who ingest xylazine are at an acute risk of developing severe, rare skin diseases.

"The use of xylazine is leading to skin infections and necrosis," Eyo said. "Folks that use it by injection, they tend to have this skin infection, and a really bad one."

Such skin infections generally warrant amputation as a means of preventing the spread of necrotic tissue to organs.

Considering the increasing prevalence of its illicit emergence only within the last few years, Eyo shared the challenge in gathering human data and that spreading awareness is pertinent.

"It is out there, but it's hard to know where it is and where it's not," he said.

Most concerning about xylazine's presence in illicit concoctions is its unresponsiveness to naloxone (Narcan), the antidote used in opioid overdose reversals.

Eyo encourages calling for emergency care if an individual responds passively to naloxone.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The longest-running Country Music festival in the world is back! On Friday, the Country Music Association announced the initial lineup for the 51st CMA Fest in downtown Nashville Thursday through Sunday, June 6-9, 2024.  From free outdoor performances throughout downtown Nashville to can’t-miss lineups at Nissan Stadium and Ascend Amphitheater, attendees can catch hundreds of artists across 10 stages throughout the four-day festival.

The nightly shows at Nissan Stadium will see some of the biggest stars in Country Music, including Kelsea Ballerini, Brothers Osborne, Luke Bryan, Jordan Davis, HARDY, Jelly Roll, Cody Johnson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ashley McBryde, Parker McCollum, Megan Moroney, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, The War And Treaty, Thomas Rhett, Keith Urban, Lainey Wilson and Bailey Zimmerman.

Fans can access ticket options at


bottom of page