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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 20, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Connect Columbia (CDH)

Determining how a town will look over the next decade is often decided through input from citizens, what they wish to see accomplished and what would provide the most benefit.

The city is seeking citizen input as part of an upcoming Connect Columbia comprehensive plan meeting, which will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fairview Recreation Center, located at Fairview Park, 871 Iron Bridge Road.

Kevin McCarthy of Development Services said this will be a great opportunity for citizens to share their ideas directly with city staff. Some ideas could include development like roadway projects and other infrastructure, parks and greenway space and other amenities to be included in the city's long-term Connect Columbia comprehensive plan.

"It'll be an open house style event where people can come and go, and there will be three interacting stations where they can give us updates to our comprehensive plan," McCarthy said. "It's a basic general overview that guides all of our month-to-month planning decisions. So, if you want to give input for how the city is going to look over the next 5-20 years, this is a good opportunity to speak into that process."

McCarthy added that the meeting is also a chance to tackle development issues before they reach the approval process at the planning commission or city council level.

"A lot of people will come out to speak about a piece of property that's already being developed under the standards that are in place now," McCarthy said. "People will take an interest then, but when they come to speak there's not a lot that can be done at that point, as long as someone complies with our standards. With this meeting, it's about looking ahead 20 years from now and how the standards will be updated to reflect that vision."


Shoot For Our Stars (WKOM Audio 1:28)

On Saturday, the Columbia Breakfast Rotary held their “Shoot for our Stars sporting clays fundraiser. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the event and spoke with event chairperson Rhonda King to learn more about it.


County Democrats Hold Convention (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Democratic Party held its biennial reorganization convention last Saturday, March 11 at the Maury County Senior Citizen Center.

James Dallas was re-elected as party chairman, while 19 district representatives from Maury County’s 11 county commission districts were also elected to serve on the county party’s Executive Committee.

Those elected were: Vicki Hale, First Vice Chair; Michael White, Second Vice Chair; Claudia Hoenicke, Third Vice Chair; Judy Ashmore, Secretary; Hodge Cook, Treasurer; Jai Lipscomb, District 1; Kathy Hannen, District 2; Tom Hannen, District 2; Amber Cook, District 4; Jim York, District 4; Renee Whitehead, District 5, Tamera Sangster, District 5; Stephanie Sparks-Newland, District 6; Mark Newland, District 6; Pame Moore-Morrow, District 7; Jeremy Humphrey, District 7; Rick Whittemore, District 8; Greg Hanners, District 8; Ed Campbell, District 9; Delayne Wear, District 9; Michael Cothran, District 10; Heidi Hoffman, District 10; Willie Jones, District 11; Kelly Larabie, District 11.

The party has also revised its bylaws. Now, the requirement of gender equity has been changed to include non-binary members as well as to soften the “one man, one woman” rule. Other changes include permanently appointing an out-of-district representative, removing the option to make former chairs ex officio members of the Executive Committee, and adding the Democratic Women, Young Democrats, and College Democrats as possible voting members.

As part of the reorganization, the party must also have a Convention Committee in addition to bylaws, rules and credentials.


Ogles Questioned About 2014 Fundraiser (Tennessean)

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles is firing back after funds raised in memory of his infant son are being called into question by several news outlets.

Andy and Monica Ogles raised more than $23,000 in a GoFundMe campaign after the death of their son Lincoln.

"Help us help other families," the description reads on the GoFundMe set up in 2014.

The fundraiser's initial goal was to buy plots at either Mount Hope Cemetery or Williamson Memorial Gardens and help other grieving families with the financial burden of burying a lost child. Contributions for the Ogles family poured in over the course of a year after the couple launched the campaign.

A spokesperson for GoFundMe confirmed that the money raised was paid out to the organizer of the fundraiser. Ogles is listed as the organizer.

A year later, however, Ogles told The Tennessean that there were unexpected regulations with the burials, and that none of the money had been spent.

Ogles, now a freshman congressman representing Tennessee's 5th district, was recently asked by News Channel 5 what happened with the money. He declined to answer in the moment, but his office later provided a response to various local outlets.

"What we raised wasn't enough for our original goal of a more significant memorial, so the purpose evolved from a memorial to direct financial support for families covering the cost of funeral expenses and other needs for their children as opportunities to help arose," the statement says.

Ogles then lashed out at the original story by NC5, calling the questions "disgusting lows."

"The smear campaign and muckraking against me is one thing, but questions about my son have crossed a line, and I will not tolerate it," the statement says. "Exploiting the death of any child in an attempt to gain some sort of journalistic fame is vile."

Ogles' spokesperson did not immediately respond when asked if financial documents would be released showing the payouts helping families or if they could connect The Tennessean with a family who benefitted from the fundraiser.

Pam Stephens, an owner of Williamson Memorial Funeral Home, organized an effort to help families. In 2015, she said she told Ogles other families had a similar idea and offered to pull the project together.

"All I know is I offered my help, and they never reached back to me," Stephens said Wednesday evening.

Stephens said the funeral home decided to move forward with their own fund to help families in need.


Clement to Speak at Clement (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host former congressman Bob Clement for a special presentation on March 30 at 4 p.m.

 

“Like his father, Congressman Bob Clement has enjoyed a remarkable life and career in public service,” said Dr. Barry Gidcomb, Columbia State professor of history. “Because it was Governor Clement and his commissioner of education, J. Howard Warf, who created the community college system in Tennessee, we thought it fitting to invite the congressman to speak at Tennessee's first community college and in Columbia State’s building named for Governor Clement.” 

The presentation is an opportunity for the community to visit with and listen to the former congressman, who has a unique connection to Columbia State.

“We're looking forward to hearing what Congressman Clement has to say about his life and career and the legacy of his father,” Gidcomb said.

The presentation is free and open to the public. It will take place on March 30 at 4 p.m. in the Ledbetter Auditorium located in the Clement building on the Columbia Campus.


Mule Day (Press Release)

The excitement is building as we are less than two weeks away from MULE DAY, the annual celebration and time-honored tradition held in Columbia, Tennessee the first weekend of April. This year’s family-friendly event, set for March 30 through April 2, 2023, promises to be one of the biggest and best yet, with a lineup of activities sure to excite visitors of all ages. The highlight of the festivities is the world-famous MULE DAY Parade happening Saturday, April 1st, led by this year’s Grand Marshal Mike Wolfe.

Mike Wolfe is an expert forager of American history who created and stars on History Channel’s American Pickers. He has a real heart for preservation and a passion for the beauty and stories behind forgotten objects and places.

Columbia, Tennessee earned the title of Mule Capital of the World many years ago. In the days before cars and tractors, people came from miles around to buy, sell, and trade mules in Columbia. Years later, people still gather in Maury County to pay tribute to the long-eared, beast of burden. MULE DAY began as Breeder’s Day in the 1840’s, a single day livestock show & mule market once a year. It evolved into a multi-day festival, and the parade was added in 1934. MULE DAY was discontinued during World War II then the Maury County Bridle & Saddle Club revived it in 1974. Since then, MULE DAY has been drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Thursday, March 30th Maury County Park opens at 10am to kick off the MULE DAY festivities. The schedule includes many mule-featured events throughout the day such as the Mule Pull competition, where teams of mules and their handlers compete to see which team can pull the heaviest load. Visitors will also enjoy craft vendors, a flea market, special entertainment and tasty food & drink options. Live Bluegrass music takes the stage at 7pm at Central High School, located next to Maury County Park. 

Friday, March 31st the gates open at 10am with live music on the main stage, an entertaining selection of mule-featured events all day, and a Liar’s contest at 7pm at Central High School.

Saturday, April 1st, the highly anticipated MULE DAY Parade gets underway at 11am in downtown Columbia.  Excitement builds for the arrival of the Grand Marshal, this year’s honored guest, Mike Wolfe, who officially kicks off the parade featuring a colorful procession through the streets of Columbia with hundreds of mules, parade floats, the MULE DAY Queen with her Court, and more. After the parade, activities move to Maury County Park once again for an afternoon of scheduled activities.

Sunday, April 2nd is the final day of scheduled events happening at Maury County Park such as the Riding Mule Show and the Mini Mule Show, not to mention the family-friendly attractions.

Whether you are a longtime fan of MULE DAY or a first-time visitor, this year’s event promises to be an unforgettable experience so save the date, gather your family and friends, and head to Columbia, Tennessee for MULE DAY 2023.

NEED TO KNOW INFO: Admission to Maury County Park MULE DAY activities Thursday through Saturday is $10 per person, Sunday is $5 per person, children under 12 are free. Weekend passes are available for only $20. Admission fee does not include rides. Parking is free.

The MULE DAY parade in downtown Columbia is free and open to the public.

For more information, go online to www.muleday.com, email info@muleday.com or call 931-381-9557.


Breakfast With The Mayor Series (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is kicking off their 2023 Breakfast with the Mayor series in Spring Hill with Mayor Jim Hagaman. This series will feature a different Mayor each quarter on their home turf for a Q&A led by Maury Alliance President, Wil Evans.

 The event with Mayor Hagaman will take place in the Dining Atrium at Worldwide Stages on Wednesday, March 22nd at 8am.

 To submit a question or topic in advance, email nperry@mauryalliance.com.

Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.


Mulehouse on Mule Day (Press Release)

Columbia’s powerhouse music venue, The Mulehouse, is taking the party outdoors for its inaugural, supersized live music event series and you’re invited. On Friday, March 31st, The Mulehouse is transforming its backlot into a mega music party featuring multi-platinum headliner Chris Janson and rising star Shane Profitt. The festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. and promise to hype all the senses with incredible live music, food trucks, a beer garden, multiple bars, and exclusive Mulehouse Party merchandise for purchase. General admission tickets are just $39 and available at Mulehouse.com. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Apr 1st, the party continues after the annual Mule Day parade ends. At 12:30 p.m. local favorite bands take the stage: Reeves Bros, Wentzel Bros, Yonder Grove, and Buck Sixx. The party isn’t complete without the return of the food trucks, a beer garden, multiple bars, cornhole, and Mulehouse Party merchandise. Gates open at 11:30am. For Saturday’s party, admission is FREE and open to the public.

Chris Janson is a “live legacy in the making” (Rolling Stone). Breakout country star Janson is a platinum-selling recording artist, high-octane entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, award-winning singer/songwriter and Grand Ole Opry member. The ACM award-winner has collected prestigious accolades that place him among country music greats. 

Shane Profitt is a hometown favorite, an emerging Country star from Columbia now signed to Big Machine Label Group Records/Harpeth 60 Records. This 22-year old is rocking sold out crowds at the historic Ryman Auditorium, touring with his chart-topping hero, Chris Janson, and writing modern Country tunes.

This off-the-charts weekend of party events is designed to complement what’s already happening during Columbia’s annual Mule Day event. “We remain in awe of what the Bridle & Saddle Club created as Mule Day so many years ago.  Even more impressive is how they have continued to build and sustain those efforts over the course over time,” stated Blair Garner, Founder of The Mulehouse. “I can’t imagine any other annual event, so beloved by the people of this town, that could even approach the positive impact Mule Day has on our community and local businesses.” Garner went on to say “Our humble hope is that The Mulehouse Backlot Concert Series becomes one more reason folks visit our beloved Columbia.  This year we have the great fortune to bring both Shane Profitt and Chris Janson here for this first new outdoor series.  We are so blessed to call Columbia our home, and so grateful for our amazing community that has shown nothing but support for The Mulehouse.”

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ABOUT THE MULEHOUSE

Located in historic downtown Columbia, TN, just 40 minutes south of Nashville, The Mulehouse is America's ultimate music resort, designed for music and entertainment within the restored walls of an old historic church. The Mulehouse is a 55,500 sq. ft. multi-use entertainment venue owned by Blair Garner, a Country music industry veteran and host of multiple award-winning syndicated radio shows. The adaptive reuse project, formally a historic church dating back to 1936, aims to elevate what artists and their fans can expect from a venue.  The result is a live event experience like no other for both in-person guests and those watching globally through the venue’s top-of-the-line live streaming technology. For more information visit www.TheMulehouse.com.


Mule Kick 5K (Press Release)

Hosted by the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation and presented by First Farmers and Merchants Bank, the annual Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will take place Saturday, April 1, at Riverwalk Park in Columbia.

Proceeds from the 2023 Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot provide funding for Maury Regional Health’s mobile medical unit, which delivers health care services to at-risk and underserved individuals throughout southern Middle Tennessee by providing basic health screenings, education and resources. A portion of the proceeds from the Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot will also support the Foundation’s Wellness and Aquatics Center Healthy Living Endowment and the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. In addition, the Maury County school with the most participation in the event will receive a donation to their P.E. program from the Foundation.

“The Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot is a great tradition for both Maury County and the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation that helps support our mission of providing important health care services for individuals who may not otherwise be able to obtain care,” Foundation Executive Director Joe Kilgore said. “We are excited to host the Mule Kick 5K and look forward to an exciting race!”

On Saturday, April 1, the race will begin at Riverwalk Park in Columbia with an 8 a.m. start time for the 5K and a 9:15 a.m. start time for the 1-Mile Trot. Both runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Participants may register for the race online at runsignup.com/MuleKick5K.


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


Darrell Craig Vinson, 69, a resident of Roswell, Georgia, passed away in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 after a short illness.

Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, March 21st at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Deacon Dan McCulley officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Banking Crisis in Tennessee (Tennessean)

When a global banking panic erupted into an ongoing social-media storm earlier this month, BluWave CEO Sean Mooney revealed his first instinct was to empty his Nashville-based company’s local bank account.

BluWave, a seven-year-old tech company, has thrived providing tailored business resources to private-equity firms. Mooney takes pride in the company's conservative budgeting and early success, but Silicon Valley Bank's meltdown on March 6 changed everything.

The failure of the top-20 lender and premier startup-funder posed a grave risk to the financial system, triggering a countrywide bank run on regional lenders. Despite the situation's severity, Mooney decided to hold steady after scrutinizing his local bank's debt and investment.

“Every business owner with cash in a deposit account was thinking: ‘I need to get a life raft.’” Mooney said. “I was planning on going to Chase on Monday morning. But I’m holding steady."

While federal intervention has alleviated the initial panic, the fallout continues. On Sunday, global finance giant UBS agreed to buy rival Credit Suisse, calling it an "emergency rescue" to prevent a financial collapse in Switzerland.

Customers are uneasy and regional banks are under heavy scrutiny as analysts comb their books for weaknesses —especially banks with high rates of young and unprofitable companies.

Stocks at prominent Tennessee banks Truist, Pinnacle, Regions, Fifth Third and First Horizon were still down by 20% to 30% last week.

But Regions Bank spokeswoman Jennifer Elmore said there’s no reason to compare the bank collapses in Northern California with its business model, based across the South and Midwest.

“We have a diversified business serving a wide range of consumers and established businesses of all sizes in different industries,” Elmore said. “Regions does not bank venture-capital-backed startups in the technology space (and) has a balance sheet that is resilient, sustainable and will consistently perform.”


Former Senator Changes Plea (TennesseeLookout)

Less than two weeks before a sentencing hearing, former state Sen. Brian Kelsey is attempt to withdraw his guilty plea and asking the court to dismiss five counts of a federal conviction on violating campaign finance laws.

In a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Kelsey requested that Judge Waverly Crenshaw reconsider his November plea, claiming it would be “unfair and unjust to allow” him to be sentenced for a crime “legally impossible” for him to commit.

The former Germantown Republican’s filing appears to claim the indictment was politically motivated and says he entered his guilty plea “with an unsure heart and confused mind” after his twin sons were born and while his father was on his “death bed.”

“During this incredibly stressful and confusing time, Kelsey was given a mere 48 hours to make a life altering decision – a decision made without fully understanding consequences that have come to light only after he entered his plea,” the filing says.

Kelsey’s guilty pleas each could net him five years in prison, three years of probation and a $250,000 fine.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

SLUSH Motorsports Festival is coming to Middle Tennessee next month.

The event will be on Saturday, April 8, 2023 at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon.

The SLUSH Motorsports Festival brings together drivers and fans to enjoy drag & roll racing, drifting, circuit racing, a car show, and burnouts.

Fans will have the opportunity to get in the front seat during races which will allow them to take a trip around the oval and experiencing the sights and sounds from inside a race car.

Drivers will have the chance to meet other influencers and professional drivers.

The SLUSH Motorsports Festival creates an environment for those who want to gather with a social club, family, friends, or network with those who share their passion for the sport.

For tickets and more information, visit www.tixr.com/groups/slushmotorsport.


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