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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 21, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Remains Identified (Press Release)

In November of 2020, human remains were discovered in a wooded area off of Hood Road in rural Maury County. The remains were collected and sent to the medical examiner’s office. No cause of death could be determined. However, forensic anthropologists were able to give investigators a potential timeline and profile of the Jane Doe. Maury County investigators were able to rule out reported missing females from across the state. In November of 2021, the Sheriff’s office began working with a private lab in Texas to obtain a DNA sample for genealogy processing. In November of 2022, information was received listing possible ancestors several generations back for the Jane Doe. Using that information, the sheriff’s office was able to make contact with living descendants, and began to construct a family tree. In January of 2023, with the help of local genetic genealogist Gina Wrather, a potential identification of the Jane Doe was identified. After locating a nearest relative and collecting DNA, a sample was sent to the lab for comparison. On January 26th, confirmation was received positively identifying the Jane Doe as Amanda Newcomb.

The Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with information or who had contact with or knew of any associates of Amanda Newcomb between February 2018 and early 2020, to please contact the Maury County Sheriff’s office at 931-388-5151.

CSCC Parners with GM (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College has been selected for a partnership grant from General Motors through the American Association of Community Colleges to support the advanced manufacturing credentialing program.


I think this is a wonderful opportunity for Columbia State to increase our partnership with General Motors,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “It's looking forward to identifying the training needs and programs for a changing manufacturing industry.  We're excited to work alongside of GM and to be one of the seven community colleges nationally selected to participate.” 

The partnership includes seven other community colleges across the country that will share the best practices for integrating advanced manufacturing credentials. General Motors Corporate Giving is donating a $600,000 grant to the American Association of Community Colleges who will then administer $40,000 to each of the colleges involved.

“We're innovating forward, and I think it's a really good opportunity for us to have this partnership,” said Anton Busuttil, general director of operations, revenue growth and efficiency-focused leadership at General Motors. “This grant allows the American Association of Community Colleges to study and share best practices on manufacturing nationwide. I'm very excited for the opportunity to strengthen this partnership as we move forward.”

Colleges receiving the grant will participate in an initial study to launch students into a higher skill set bringing elevated wage opportunities. AACC will provide technical assistance as well as develop collateral for the colleges to offer thorough programs to elevate skills training for advanced manufacturing.

“Our community colleges are the key link between students and meaningful career paths,” said Walter Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Working with respected leaders in the manufacturing industry such as General Motors will allow us to ensure that there is a solid bridge between skills education and the skills needed to succeed in today’s modern manufacturing facilities.”

Noir Nail Bar (WKOM Audio 2:00)

Yesterday, a ribbon cutting was held for Noir Nail Bar, a new spa in Spring Hill. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by their grand opening to see what this business has to offer…

MidSouth Classic (CDH)

University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers triumphed over the Austin Peay State University Lady Governors in the 8th annual softball Midstate Classic at Ridley Sportsplex in Columbia last Wednesday.

Without a cloud in the sky and chilly temps, a crowd of 3,000 watched the home team, or Lady Vols, grab their eighth consecutive win over the visiting team at the annual tournament that precedes the regular South Eastern Conference season schedule.

"It gets better every year," Columbia City Manager Tony Massey said. Massey has been organizing the game schedule each year since 2014 with UT Lady Vols being the home team each year. The city hosts the Lady Vols, providing the team with lodging and meals during their stay.

"This is a great opportunity for local residents and visitors to see UT play. It's a nationally known brand, and we have lots of alumni in the area."

Hundreds of youth girl’s softball players and fans from around the Southern Middle and Middle Tennessee region awaited the chance to get an autograph from their favorite collegiate players after the game.

"One of the neatest things is watching all of the young softball players and teams show up to watch college athletes play," Massey said. "This might be the only time they get to see a collegiate game. These players are heroes to them."

Columbia Central High School played an introductory game earlier in the day followed by Columbia State Community College facing off against Motlow State Community College.

Massey also said the Classic allows collegiate teams and visitors in the crowd enjoy what Columbia has to offer, such as restaurants and entertainment, and stays in nearby hotels.

Tennessee Elite travel softball team members, Brinley Carlton, Shayla Anast and Brylee Rofrano, all 8, enjoyed the game, while also getting their gameday Midstate Classic poster, signed by all team members of the Lady Vols and Lady Governors.

UT fan Jimmy Dugger watched the game decked out in his alma mater's colors, an orange blazer and baseball cap, in show of support.

"I am honored to have our Lady Vols come to our town. We are so blessed and privileged to see this game every year. I am looking forward to them coming back next year," Dugger said.

Two Firefighters Get Promoted (MauryCountySource)

The Columbia Fire & Rescue announced two promotions. Deja Dixon and Riley Luke have been promoted to Driver/Engineer.

Driver/Engineer Deja Dixon has been with CFR going on 4 years. She always goes above and beyond to complete any task assigned to her and does so with a great attitude. She is a hard worker and sets a great example for all to follow.

Driver/Engineer Riley Luke has been with CFR going on 5 years. Riley does an excellent job of motivating those around him to work hard and do their best. He is a great team and leader within our department, the press release stated.

Columbia Family Raises Money for Operation Smile (MainStreetMaury)

Columbia’s Cody Smith reached a 15-year milestone when he participated in the 2023 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va., on Saturday, March 18.

This is the 15th year that Cody and his family took the long trek from Columbia to attend the event. The Smith family has been participating in the Shamrock Marathon and the Operation Smile Final Mile since Cody was an infant with a newly treated cleft condition. Each year the family sets a fundraising goal of $3,500, but after exceeding their goal in 2022, the Smiths have set their sights on raising $3,600 this year.

Operation Smile sponsors the Shamrock Marathon’s Final Mile, a culmination of an ongoing walking and running program for elementary-school children which promotes lifelong fitness. The children participating run or walk a total of 25.2 miles in the weeks leading up to the marathon. They run the “final mile” of the marathon during the weekend of the race. Many children also raise money for Operation Smile, learning at an early age the value of giving to others.

Cody has had the opportunity to be grand marshal for the Final Mile each year since the second year he participated in the race. Since Cody is now 15 and has aged out of the Final Mile, the Smith family has recruited his little brother, Luke, to carry on the tradition. This year, Cody ran in the Shamrock 8K and joined Luke at the front of the Final Mile run.

“Each year we travel to Virginia Beach and get the opportunity to reunite with friends and family for this great cause,” said Jamie Smith, Cody’s mother. “The friends we make with this organization become lifelong friends. As a parent, it is special to see your child take a condition that he did not ask for and use it for good. No one knows what these children go through, and it is special to watch these unique kiddos help others by just being present and telling their stories.”

In addition to participating in the Operation Smile Final Mile, Cody is also involved with other initiatives that help him connect to other kids with cleft conditions.

“I have been working with Operation Smile since I was 1, and now I am 15 years old,” Cody said. “Every year, I raise money for kids all around the world who have cleft lip and palate like me. We have raised over $50,000 since we started. Last year, I participated in the International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) in Miami, Fla., and I also participate in monthly Cleft Connect calls.”

Cleft Connect is a monthly online meeting for students living with treated cleft conditions worldwide. Through this platform, kids just like Cody get to bond over shared experiences, offer advice, and even develop lasting friendships.

“Through the calls, I get to connect with other people who have somewhat of the same condition as me,” Cody said. “I feel welcomed in the call because I know I am one of them.”

For the Smith family, Operation Smile has been a warm and welcoming respite from life’s challenges, and they are willing to travel far and wide to support the organization.

“Nashville does not have the footprint that Virginia Beach has with Operation Smile,” Jamie said. “We would travel anywhere to share this great cause. The Magee family does not know what their organization has done for our lives. We are forever changed and grateful. We look forward to many more years with Operation Smile and hope to travel the world with this organization.”

More information on the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Final Mile can be found at

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."

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.

For more information, go online to

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…

Abortion Exception Bill (TennesseeLookout)

A bill to allow very specific exceptions to Tennessee’s abortion ban passed a key House committee Wednesday.

The legislation would allow doctors to perform an abortion in the case of an ectopic and molar pregnancies — a rare, noncancerous tumor that develops as the result of a non-viable pregnancy — or when a doctor determines it’s necessary to prevent the mother’s death.

Rep. Esther Helton-Haynes, R-East Ridge, and Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, are sponsoring the legislation filed as House Bill 883.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, the state banned all abortions. The law doesn’t specifically allow doctors to perform the procedure to save the mother’s life. Instead, doctors can use saving a mother’s life as a defense in court.

“I believe removing the affirmative defense will protect women,” Helton-Haynes said to the committee.

It’s one of several Republican-led bills dealing with Tennessee’s law that bans all abortions. Tennessee Right for Life — which opposes all abortion — endorsed different legislation dealing with abortion exceptions, House Bill 778, also sponsored by Helton-Haynes and Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston.

But, Helton-Haynes said the amendment to House Bill 883 is the same one Tennessee Right to Life endorsed in the other bill.

Rep. Bo Mitchell said despite the bill allowing some exceptions, he still opposed it because it doesn’t allow for an exception for rape or incest.

“We should not have a draconian law that harms women,” Mitchell said.

Dr. Amy Gordon Bono, who practices in Mt. Juliet, acknowledged afterward the bill offers a step forward by eliminating the affirmative defense, which would require physicians to defend themselves in court for performing an abortion to save a woman’s life. But she still raised concerns about the measure, saying “doctors are not going to be able to practice patient-centered care.”

Questions were raised during debate about when a physician would be able to end a pregnancy to save a woman’s life or whether the doctor would have to wait until she nearly bleeds to death or strokes out.

“Whenever I am making a decision to help a patient, I always want to put my patient first,” Bono said. “And I need my good-faith medical judgment in order to do that.”

The language in the bill was changed to substitute “reasonable judgment” for “good-faith judgment.”

An amendment approved in February by the House Health subcommittee, which was replaced Wednesday, provided more “clarity” for physicians, Bono said. She noted patients will suffer because doctors won’t know how far they can let patients go before they “teetering” on the brink of death.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

A 1990s rock band will be hitting the road this summer celebrating its most successful album in its anniversary year, and they’ll be stopping in Nashville in August.

3 Doors Down, the multi-platinum band from Mississippi, will hit amphitheaters across the U.S. for the “Away From The Sun Anniversary Tour,” produced by Live Nation. Named for the band’s sophomore album, the tour will see the band play the full album as well as other massive hits.

The tour includes a Nashville stop at Ascend Amphitheater on Aug. 18, 2023.

Joining 3 Doors Down is Candlebox, for what is slated to be the band’s last US tour to promote the 30th anniversary of the band and their final farewell studio album being released later this year by Round Hill Records.

Artist presale and VIP packages will be available starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 21. The general on-sale for the tour begins at 10 a.m. Friday, March 24. Tickets can be purchased at


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